24.10.2008 - 01.11.2008 29 °C
From Lampang we had to get a bus to Chiang Mai as they don't allow the elephants to carry you that far. But not before enjoying dinner by the riverside sound tracked by a Thai group playing amazing soft rock covers. Brilliant.
In Chiang Mai, Kyla was enrolled onto a Thai Massage course and so finding myself with a bit of free time, I wandered around the towns streets and markets, meeting Kyla daily for lunch. After Kyla's course I had booked a tour out into the surrounding jungle for us where we could visit a couple of the traditional hill tribe villages as well as do some trekking. It was great to do a small amount of trekking again after what seems like ages however even more enjoyable was getting to ride an elephant again, this time not in the seat but on its bare back right up behind its head, feeding her bananas as we went (the elephant not Kyla)
After the hour or so elephant trek we made our way to the river where we boarded a bamboo raft and were steered downstream at speed by a skilled Thai gentleman. The man spoke little English so we aptly communicated by splashing each other. Invariably the gentleman won as he benefited from having a 3 meter long pole which he was using to punt along with when not slapping it into the water to drench us all in river water.
Making our way toward the Thai/Laos border we stopped at Chiang Rai where legend tells of a jade Buddha that had been lost by the Thai people, eventually retrieved before falling into the hands of Cambodians when the returning ship crashed on their shores. The idol was then stolen back and hidden by a monk, being sealed within a bricks and mortar pagoda. The story goes that one stormy night the pagoda, with its tall pointy peak was struck by lightning, cracking it open like an egg, revealing its holy green secret. There is a jade Buddha now displayed in a chamber at the temple however I believe the one the story tells of, resides down in Bangkok. Still, the stories a good one.
So I've moved from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, then to Chiang Khong before crossing the river into the neighboring country of Laos.