Chiang Mai

Oh my Buddha

We’re currently on the day train to Bangkok, since the night train was booked up before we tried to get our tickets.

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We finished our three day trek in the hills up north yesterday, and it was really fun. The first day consisted of a pretty steep, strenuous hike to a hill tribe village, where we stayed for the night. The hills were very pretty, but staying in the village was… strange. There were at least a hundred tourists staying in this one village, with several being driven up specifically for this experience, unlike our outdoor experience-themed trek. It just felt like tour companies are exploiting the other-ness of the villagers and making them a sort of spectacle. Our guide, Mike, grew up in one of these villages, though, and he seemed pretty aware of the effects of these tours. He was awesome.

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The second day was an easy hike to a couple of waterfalls, and a stay in a jungle camp. Some villagers taught us how to fish in the river, which consisted of rerouting the water and making pools of it, which you drain with bowls to find the fish. It was a lot of work for little reward, but the small, spicy fried crabs were delicious.

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Mike cooked our lunch with bamboo and banana leaves.

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The last day we rode elephants, went white water rafting and rode bamboo rafts. Riding the elephants was… Unpleasant. They don’t treat the elephants well at these camps for tourists, and the results are pretty sad. If we had been able to book a trek without the elephants and stuff, we could’ve, but they were all much more expensive. We hesitated before the ride, but since we were already there and had theoretically paid for it anyway, we did it.

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Anyways, now on to Bangkok!

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Same same, but different

Yesterday we had a pretty relaxed day wandering around Chiang Mai and getting a Thai massage.

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This is a picture of Wat Chedi Luang, in the middle of the old city. Because it’s one of the biggest and most popular temples, it has some of the best people watching I’ve seen so far.

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At night we decided to check out the hip university area, which coincidentally is where I (Emily) stayed 8 years ago. There used to not be much over there, but now it’s filled with fancy, bizarre malls and clubs/bars. We wandered around feeling under dressed for most of the places that actually had people in them, but then we found this fancy beer bar made out of a shipping container that could have easily been in Hayes Valley in San Francisco. Road House was even playing on TV. That area was totally too cool for school.

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Today we took a fabulous cooking class out on an organic family farm. They taught us how to cook 5 (!) dishes and gave us a recipe book, so if you’d like a recipe, let us know.

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We’re leaving for our trek tomorrow for three days, so we’ll be mostly out of touch. Once we’re back on Monday night… We don’t know what we’re doing since we’re having trouble finding a spot on the train to Bangkok. 😦

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