Day 1 in Chiang Mai. We arrived on Thursday night to a Guest House that is nice enough. We have a private room with our own bathroom and a "shower." Its really just a hose stuck to the wall with a shower head that sprays water all over the bathroom when you shower, evidently no one ever heard of a shower curtain. Anyway, the AC is amazing since its about 90 and 95% here so being able to sleep with some AC makes all the difference. The woman who runs the house appears to have an affinity for tall people because she gives us much more attention than she gives anyone else in the house. The first night we met a great guy named Pascal from Switzerland. When I asked him where he was from he said, "The Mountain Part." I knew right then we'd be friends. Early to bed on night one, because we had to leave at 8:30am for our Elephant Trek, and we are still adjusting to the Time Zone. We have been up at 6 or 6:15 every morning without an alarm. Its almost like the real world...
We started the Elephant Trek with a group of 9 people, and with Paul and I being on the same elephant, we quickly lost the charm of the event and just wanted to get out of the sun and stop being squished into a set built for 2 Thai people. The elephants were nice, and really loved bananas, in fact, they loved them so much that they would take about 5 steps, and then beg for another banana. The trek was just up the side of the mountain and then back down. The only interesting part was when the elephant that one of the other people in the group was riding saw a cobra and flipped out a little. It was pretty impressive to see how quick and nimble the animal could be. I'm not sure that the couple riding it thought the same thing.
After the Elephants we went to visit a Hmong village which was very awkward. We went in, they were sitting there making crafts to sell to visitors and we were supposed to take pictures. I have to say, I wanted to leave as soon as possible. Plus I was sweltering and just wanted to get to the waterfall so I could take a swim. The waterfall which according to our guide was a 30-40 min hike (really 5) was amazing. The water was cool but not cold, the current was strong but it was deep so there was a place you could jump off and into it. Finally it had a sand bottom so it was very safe to jump into. (See Mom, I told you I'd do nothing dangerous). This was by far the best part of the day so far.
We hiked out about 10 minutes and then went to lunch. We had traditional lunch and got a chance to get to become even better friends with the other people that were on the tour with us. After lunch, we went bamboo rafting. This turned out to be one of the best things we have done so far this trip. Instead of the 10min promised by the guide we spent 45 minutes floating down the river on these long bamboo rafts and waving to all the families who were swimming in the river as well. There were only a few problems, with rafts getting stuck or people being left behind, but in the end everything was great. It was just like floating a river in a tube, except we didn't have any beers...
As we were getting off the elephants and heading to the Hmong village Paul and I discussed the fact that maybe we'd been mislead again. We thought the elephants were going to be the best part, and so when they sucked, we were really concerned that the rest of the trip would be no good. Glad we were wrong. The day wound up being awesome.
The ride back (in the back of the truck; OK I did something a little dangerous) was uneventful until we ran into a nasty thunder storm. It is the rainy season here now, and every day has at least one awesome thunderstorm run through, in fact, there is one coming through now as I type. The rain was being blown so hard that it was coming in the back of the truck as we were driving at 60kmh.
Things cleared up and Pascal and I went out around 8:30 looking for some dinner in the night market and a bar that might have some more people in it since the hostel we're staying at has very little in the way of other people. We found a bar that looked like it could be cool, and was pretty full when we got in there, but after being upstairs for a little while meeting some people from Holland, we went downstairs to find not a sole in the bar except for a few elderly gentlemen looking for some company (well not so much looking as negotiating).
I'm tired of writing, and you're probably tired of reading, so tomorrow morning before we leave for Ko Samui, we'll post another entry about our day today, second day in Chiang Mai.