Back to the Kingdom of Thailand

Simon writes:

Hi All.

Since my last post, I’ve made it back to Thailand, spent a few nights in Bangkok, and then travelled to Chang Mai in the north. In Bangkok I stayed a night with the host family, and had some genuine thai home cooking that was really yum. We ate spiced green plant a bit like hard thin asparagus, a soup with lots of things in it, and an egg mixture, all on rice of course. My Thai family now have two dogs living with them, and they are EXTREMELY effective guard dogs (read – they hate everyone not in the immediate family). Their house keeper got bitten twice and has now left. They have wisely decided against another. This does mean every visit to the home requires a bit of room shuffling as the dogs are moved from room to room to allow me safe passage around the house, but luckily I’ve not had to introduce myself to the dogs directly as yet. Also in Bangkok I spent an evening out with Ken and his friend at a restaurant/nightclub/bar/live music venue. The only other activity in Bangkok of note was a visit to the red light area with a couple of English country lads, and once we arrived, one of them fell asleep, so we had to carry him back to a taxi, then put him to bed. It was also interesting going out with some of the staff of our guest houses, and finding out that they really don’t like working there at all, the pay is shocking, and they really just want to find some rich man to marry and take them off to a western country!. In fact, there was actually a wedding in the guest house while I was there, between an Englishman and one of the Thai staff.

Chang Mai was pretty rushed, as I wanted to get down to the south of Thailand in time for this infamous full moon party, so I only had about four days there, three of which were spent on a trek in the Thai “jungle”. The Thai jungle looks uncannily like New Zealand in parts, and is even scattered with ferns. Their was often thunder and lightning in the distance, but we were fortunate to avoid rain during the day times. None the less, the tracked turned into a good solid foot of mud in some parts (nice and steep down-hill bits!), particularly right at the end, ensuring everyone got the real jungle experience. The evenings were spent lodged in some hill tribe villages, although they were obviously used to lot’s of western traffic, as the wore mostly western cloths now, and had typical refreshments available. Not very authentic as such, but still fun, and perhaps it’s better not to go forcing treks in every remaining “authentic” northern hill tribe area, as it inevitably turns them into tourist hot spots. The hill tribes had the cutest little pigs as pets!.

The trek included a ride on some elephants, and some bamboo and standard rafting. The Elephant part was so muddy, and I was amazed at the steep sloshy bits the elephants were able to traverse through, especially without knocking us off. I was lucky enough to sit on one right at the front, and without a saddle, which felt much closer (to the elephant), although was a little rough.

The last night I managed to catch up with Touch, an old friend I used to know when last in Thailand, and ate some supreme Som Tam (see previous posts for recipe), confirming this to be THE single most delicious edible dish on the planet. Chang Mai is famous for temples, and I’d thus far not had the oportunity to view any, so Touch took me on a night tour of some of the more famous ones.

I’m back in Bangkok now, between two night trains to the south. Bangkok is coming alive in preparation for the celebration of the Queens birthday. Her colour is light blue, and there are ribbons, posters and decorations everywhere, and heaps of people are wearing special light blue T-shirts.

Ko Pan Ngan, if similar to Ko Chang, will have expensive internet access, so I might be a bit slow on the email replies and updates for a couple of weeks.

Take care all, I’ll post again when back in Bangkok.

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