The three days of travelling to get to Chiang Mai from Luang Prabang in Laos was a test of endurance involving 12 hour days sitting on hard wooden seats on a noisy boat. It was the closest we’d come to relenting and opting for a flight instead but we have made it all the way through Asia without flying and it would have been a shame to have cracked now so the more environmentally friendly, but far slower, mode of transport it was. As it turned out we were glad to have taken the boat as the boat journey was interesting and we got to meet fellow travellers Dave & Mey on the boat and have since spent much of our time in Chiang Mai with them, having a lot of fun in the process.
Last week we took a trip out to the Elephant Nature Park, a bus ride away from Chiang Mai. They do really great work rescuing elephants from lives where they have suffered unspeakable brutality at the hands of their owners. Although seemingly little publicised, cruelty to elephants is endemic in Thailand – an attitude that doesn’t seem to fit with a Buddhist country who has the elephant as a national symbol. What we learnt was that in almost all cases a working elephant is an abused elephant and most spend their lives in misery. On a previous trip to Thailand I have been elephant trekking, suffice to say that I would never go again and would implore anyone to do the same. The day itself was a fantastic experience – we got to meet the elephants and feed them crazy amounts of bananas, pineapples and cucumbers. Elephants are definitely clever creatures as they rejected the cucumbers – a sure sign of intelligence! After that we got to wash them in the river requiring the stealthy skills of elephant turd avoidance as the floating feaces drifted by. It was so much fun spending time with the elephants and seeing their different personalities and social groups – a really worthwhile and enjoyable day, even the bit where we got charged by a baby elephant and another elephant stole my shorts and swung them around with its trunk!
That aside we did a significant amount of football watching (an unpleasant experience when England are involved given the crap performances), went on a day cookery course a nearby organic farm and otherwise spent a lot of time relaxing and drinking with Dave and Mey.
One thing I feel I should mention here, as it was particularly prevalent in Chiang Mai, is the stupid squeaking shoes that so many South East Asian parents insist on making their offspring wear. The shoes have an absurdely loud squeaker (like in a dog toy) in the soles so that every time the child takes a step they squeak. They drove me insane especially when you’re lying in bed with a hangover and all you can hear is an incessant squeak, squeak, sq-squeak from downstairs. ARGH!!! They definitely top my list of the most irritating and pointless inventions ever.
Anyway, back to the story. After Chiang Mai we headed to Bangkok where we met up with Rightee at the airport and then spent the next couple of days being drunk, having hangovers, groaning at England matches again and forgetting to retrieve clothes from laundry shops once we’d left Bangkok.
From Bangkok it was down to the southern island of Koh Tao where we have done more drinking and relaxing as well as a great day’s snorkelling yesterday and not a lot else. Tonight we are going to have the usual tortuous couple of hours watching England.
And think that just about rounds things up for the moment, pip pip!