Wednesday, 31 March 2010

After staying one night in a hostel with no air conditioning and one small fan, we learnt our lesson and moved 2 doors down to a hostel that had both. Although we were giving up a free pool (small, shallow and with enough chlorine to burn skin and eyes). Chiang mai from what we could see, was made up of a new town and old town, though the architecture in both was exactly the same. The only difference betwene, was the old town was surrounded partially by a very new looking wall, and a very new looking moat. Most of the entertainment though was in the so called old town.

Our first full day we booked ourselevs into a cooking course. Similar to the lao course I took, we had a brief tour of the market, being shown some leaves, seeds and a variety of different coloured liquids (normally the fermented fish at different periods of decomposition). Thern we went back to the school and choose our dishes we wanted to cook. There were about 50 people doing the course altogether, and once we decided on our chosen dishes, the groups were divided into about 5 or 6. I made a chicken and noodle dish, spring rolls (which looked very professional if not slightly overstuffed), a penang curry with accompanying curry paste, a chicken and coconut milk soup, and a grenadin waterchestnut and coconut milk desert (which i will def be trying once i get home). We left feeling very stuffed, with only enough energy to go to the night market and buy some stuff we didnt need. The market here was similar to most other markets we had been 2. The streets were closed off to traffic, and stalls and stalls lined the pavements and food vendors filled the roads. You could buy anything from pen knives, t shirts to random little wooden trinket thingies to little toy frogs that made a croaking sound when you ran a stick along the grooves on its back (very popular in bangkoks khao san road).

The next day in chiang mai, I got myself onto the 'jungle flight' tour. This is a day long activity which involves being covered in a series of hooks and harnesses, and whizzing along zip wires 50 metres above the rainforest in the trees canopy. Me with my wimpish fear of heights, I thought it would do me good and it was well worth it. With 22 platofmrs, spiral staricases wrapping around trees 40 metres above the ground, suspension bridges and zip wires ranging from 50-300 metres long, it was a fantastic day. There were 6 others in my group - some who were equally nervous as me. The first platform was a mere 2 metres off the ground. When it came to my turn to go, I was hooked up to the ropes and pushed off. I was supported with a hook from my front was i was in a sitting postion. It took a few more go's until i finally had the nerve to let me hands hang free.

There were also a number of 'abseil' points, where you were hooked up, swung over a 50 metre drop and.... dropped. Some people requested a slow descent, but once i got my nerve I was plummeting with the best of em :D. Hooked onto the back, allowed you to face down onto the forest floor. The disadvantage is there is nothing really to hold onto. Advnatage, you can pose like superman as you flew across the jungle. It is also harder to leave the platfrom as you physically have to jump off - took a lot pf psyching myself up to jump off a 60 metre high platform.

The next thing on my mind, was the ever anticipated pesah which unfortunately was fast approaching. After meeting a jewish woman from south end, whilst I was getting a fish massge (obviously) she said the seder she went to in bangkok last year was amazing, so off i went to track down the chabad chiang mai. Not far from the hostel I booked the seder at 10 quid ahead. It was in a hotel off the night market. Accompanied with my ticket, i pushed past rows and rows of policeman, threw rows and rows of metal detectors and bag searchers, and i FINALLLY got into the seder room. There were a good 500 people there, most israelis but i sat on the english table. I have never been to a seder big than 40 before so it was an experience. We sang all the songs whilst we waited for the food, and I left before, if not during the grace after meals at the modest time of 10.30. It wasnt COMPLETELY perfect though, as they had potato instead of parsley, some sephardi crushed date concotion for charoset, and only small slices of egg dipped in salt water (a far cry from my 3 eggs). I came away with a smile on my face though, and feeling somewhat homesick :(. Needless to say i wont be keeping pesach this year, as without eating noodles and rice i would starve.

The next day I had a bad tummy, which im hoping was from the food i bought at the market the previous morning, and NOT from the seder. Later that day we caught our bus to bangkok. It was one of the better bus journies as the bus was nice, comfy seats and we watched avatar before i dozed off. At 5am we arrived in bangkok and shlapped back to our old friend the khao san road. We got a hostel for 100 baht a night (about 2 quid). You really do get what you pay for. As our time in thiland was coming to an end, we wanted to get rid of all our baht without having to get anymore out, so with that, cheap was really the only option. On the fifth floor, the room had a fan that barely moved, beds akin to slabs of concrete (covered with bizarre plastic sheets) a toilet shared by what seems like most of bangkok, and the beds themselves are shared with the local cockroach population, and being on the khoa san road, music and the sound of lady boys (and the noise of locals advertising ping pong shows and tailor made suits) is heard loud and clear through our windows (which dont shut) till the sociable hour of 10am. A great neon sign hangs right outside our window which the lack of curtains help little to stop. We were there for one night so we thought we might as well put up with it. Unfortunately money was too low to go to the floating markets so we just spent the day pottering around bangkok. I took a stroll to see the red shirt protestors, walked around the area a bit eating skewers from streets vendors and eagerly awaited dinner time - more skewers :). 2moz we are leaving on a jet plane to india. Landing in new delhi at 9pm, we have no guide books so we are basically going in blind. We have booked a cheap hotel just off the main bazaar. Lets hope we dont relive the same experience as we did with the first hostel we booked in bangkok - the 40p a night drug den...

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