This is my 3rd day here. I love it... it's insanely cheap to stay and eat and everything. The countryside is amazing... green and lush and warm. So, today is Tuesday, and I'm having a relaxing day. On Sunday, I went ziplining through the jungle. There'll be pictures soon, I promise! Yesterday, I went on a little 1 day do-everything trek. We rode in a songthaew, I think... I'm not sure about the spelling on that one. Clearly. Well, anyway, there were 10 of us in the back... like a pickup truck bed with a frame covering it and benches down either side. So, yeah. It was a little tight. So Gaz (this kick-ass Aussie) and I opened the tailgate and rode standing up on the back. I've got pictures of that too... I know you're all dying to see them! =) Then we visited this orchid farm and butterfly little... thing. I don't know. The night ended up with me getting really drunk with an Aussie couple, 3 British chicks and a Spanish Muay Thai boxer. I think I got back to the hotel around 4am, so keep that in mind as you read. Thanks. =)
The orchid farm sucked. I mean, it was pretty and all, I just didn't care. Then we drove to an Akha hill tribe village and took a look around. It was a little strange -- walking into this little house and there's a sick child laying in bed while our guide told us about the tribe's homes and whatnot... I wasn't really into that, but whatever. Part of the voyage, I guess, right? Next, it was off to see the wizard. No -- wait, off to ride the elephants. Usually, there are 2 people per elephant and they ride on a little seat fixed to the elephant's back. I say usually, because by some happy coincidence an English girl and I got to hop on the elephants head and ride the whole way straddling the damn thing. This was awesome! But, there are some pitfalls here... I mean, an elephant's shoulders are huge, and they move a lot when they walk, so you have to find this sort of rolling gait with your body. Not unlike riding a horse, just slower and more movement. And our elephant was a hungry hungry hippo -- she stopped to eat a lot, so I got a first hand view of an elephant tearing leaves off of trees with her trunk. Also, elephants are really filthy. Every time I patted her on the head dust clouds just flew off of her. So, very soon I was completely filthy as well. That was quite alright though, because our next stop was a 30 minute hike through the jungle, and over a river, and back again, and over again, and back again... I think about 8 times total. Mostly on rocks, but once (on the way there, and again on the way back) on a fallen tree trunk about 10 feet in the air, with nothing to hold onto or anything. I'm pretty sure this sort of thing would be frowned upon in America. I guess the elephants as well, not to mention the riding standing up and hanging off the back of a truck. All of these things, I suppose, are fairly common here. =)
The waterfall was nice... I'm sure it would have been better in the wet season, but it was still pretty impressive. We had a good swim in the pool up there by the waterfall, then shared some Thai cigars that one of the guys had bought from the hill tribe. Tasty... I think wrapped in some sort of leaf. Then we had lunch... pad thai (which was also wrapped in some sort of leaf) and fresh papaya that our guide jacked from a tree as we were bouncing along on the elephants. Then we rafted down the river for about an hour... first through some rapids (that would also benefit greatly from the rainy season, I'm guessing, because they weren't very rapid) on a white water-type inflata-boat. Then we traded those in for bamboo "rafts." I use the quotes because these things, by their very nature, float about 6-12 inches below the water. Not all the time, but after 6 people jumped on it, then yeah... so you're basically floating along, sitting on this long raft, with water up over your waist... this was not how they pictured it in the brochure. If I can find another copy of it, I'll do a little compare and contrasty time for you. It's really pretty funny.
That was it... we rode back to Chiang Mai and then I showered up and went out to meet the Aussie couple and the Brits for drinks before we went to the boxing match. On my way to meet them, I saw a Thai who owns a guesthouse here, who was also on the ziplining tour. He was eating dinner with his sister and this Icelandic woman who's been staying at their guesthouse since October. So they invited me to join them, and I sat and had a spicy, cold "glass noodle" salad with chicken and vegetables -- yum. =) Then I met up with the crew, along with an Irish guy, a Dubliner. I have no idea what his name was... because it turns out that Dubliners don't speak English, really. I have no problem with South Africans, Kiwis, Aussies, Brits, even the Icelandic woman's English was perfectly understandable. But not this guy. So that was fun. =)
And it turns out I'm out of time for the internet today, and I'm tired of writing anyway. So, stay tuned. I'll be back!