We didn’t get to do as much as we wanted in Chiang Mai. First Katy was ill and pretty much bed-ridden for two days, then we realised that we had to leave early to sort out our Myanmar visa before the weekend. We didn’t stop to think that the embassy may not be open on a weekend; part-timers. I got to walk pretty much the entire city while Katy was in bed, and there are lots of things to do there.
We did manage to do a Thai cooking class, which we did with Seb and Sophie. This probably wasn’t the best class, and it definitely wasn’t value for money, but we had quite a good laugh. We started by taking a tour of the market, although Katy was quite disappointed when we didn’t actually buy the ingredients ourselves. We then had a tour of their herb garden before the cooking commenced.
We got to choose our three dishes from a set menu, and we got to work. Two years ago we did another Thai cooking course in Koh Lanta and when we got to eat our food I thought that maybe I should change profession, as it was some of the best Thai food I had tasted.
After this course however, it was a good job I stayed where I was. My spring rolls were wonky and far too thick. I got told off for putting chilli into dishes that shouldn’t have chilli in, and most of all the apron really didn’t do anything for my legs. Katy was very proud of her spring rolls (see right), and my massaman curry was pretty good.
That afternoon we decided to go to Tiger Kingdom just outside of Chiang Mai. It holds about 50 tigers in all, from a couple of weeks old to fully grown.
The good thing about this place, is that you can get into the enclosure and touch them. We paid for 15 minutes in the enclosure with the full size tigers…huge.
We had heard stories from other people they were all drugged and just lying around comatose, but that definitely wasn’t the case. We saw these tigers running around the enclosure, jumping in the swimming pool and playing with each other. So we were slightly nervous when we were told to get on the floor next to the tiger.
We got to see three different tigers close up, and it was a great experience. We had a few worrying moments when the tiger we were stroking would suddenly turn round and look at us. The keeper did try and settle us down by telling us that there weren’t accidents too often, and it usually only ended with you losing a finger or two.
The next day we got the bus down to Bangkok, which took about 10 hours. It was one of the best bus journeys we have had, with cakes and drinks served on the bus, a free curry lunch, air conditioning, films and a toilet on board. You can tell when you’ve been travelling for a while when you start getting excited about good bus journeys.
Getting the Myanmar visa the next day was fairly easy to do, but we were glad we did a bit of research. Katy found a blog that mentioned a printer shop five minutes from the embassy that helps you with all the forms and photos before the visa section opens. So all you have to do is hand in your forms and passport and then collect later that afternoon. It was chaotic for the people that didn’t have their forms filled out, so it was a good feeling to be in and out of there quickly.
The rest of our time here we’ve just been walking around the city and taking in the sights. We went to China Town to have some dumplings, which we’ve been craving ever since leaving China. We treated ourselves to a nice dinner overlooking the river at River City. Last night we went to Khao San Road in the afternoon before heading to Patpong in the evening.
We were planning on going to see a ping-pong show, but with so many people trying to rip you off, and the prices for beers and entrance, we decided that it was too expensive.
We did manage to try durian, which I have wanted to do for a few years now. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a spiky green fruit and it’s banned from most hotels because it smells of feet. Everyone has always told me that it tastes much better than it smells. Now that I’ve eaten it I’m not too sure I can agree. The only way to describe it is a savoury garlic-like taste.
Tomorrow we are getting a flight to Myanmar (Burma) for just under two weeks. We don’t know a huge amount about Burma other than that fellow travellers have told us. They’ve got very weird customs when it comes to money.
You can only exchange their currency inside the country, and they will only accept US dollars. The dollars have to be in pristine condition. Any folds tears or marks and they won’t be accepted. If the have certain serial numbers they won’t be accepted. Very strange. And apparently the local money they give you back in exchange is filthy, smelly and ripped. There are no ATMs in the entire country, so it means we have to take all of the dollars out in Bangkok and carry them around with us. If we run out of money, there’s not much we can do, so we will have to manage our money well.
There is very little internet there, so we’ll be in touch on our return…if we make it back.
Until the next time…