A Travellerspoint blog

Celebrating in Pai-Lanterns!

..please keep in mind in this edition of the croftee blog that whenever I say "champagne" i really mean "sparkling wine." there is NO champagne in Pai

sunny 26 °C
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  • pheeeeeeewwwwww!*

That is the sound of the entire world heaving a HUGE sigh of relief that we don't have ANOTHER republican president. It was around 11 AM Thailand time when Obama stepped up on Aljazzerra News to give his acceptance speech. I was in an open air restaurant called Tik Kitchen on the main street of Pai, Thailand. I looked around the table and saw Canadians, French, Germans, Thais, and Dutch; all eyes glued to the television. A few of us were tearful, others were smiling and clapping our hands, still others were just silent with relief.

Obama's speech was good. I'm not going to say great, because I've heard him give better, and I known he's capable of more. But the speech was not over done, which is to say he did a good job in not rubbing his victory in anyones face. He did a good job in including a historical perspective on change: and myself and others got caught up in the "yes we can!" refrain he's become known for.

That evening there was celebration in the air. I hunted all around Pai for champagne, and finally found some in, of all places, a bakery. One by one, two by two, familiar faces and new ones gathered at Jekko's Bar. It's a tiny stand right on the street with a few stools outside, and Jekko is playing his laptop and keeping the mood up-tempo.

Dam and Jane toast to Obama over Mai Tais
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Around 15 of us had gathered, and I asked the bartender for 15 shot glasses, amid resounding cheers and camera flashes, Croftee burst open the champagne. She poured out 15 little shots of champagne and passed them round to everyone, including the bartender.

Amir (dutch), Ingo (German/American) and MOI-toasting champagne!
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Amir and Croft and some LOVELY orchids!
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We all raised out glasses and toasted Obama, Yes we Can!, To a Bright Four Years, and No More Bush!

CLINKS!

But that wasn't all we had to do.

In the thai tradition of OUT WITH THE OLD, we walked down the street to a lantern vendor. We all purchased lanterns and then skipped, frolicked, and generally made merry down to the bridge over the Pai River.

Croft, Amir, Jane, Dam, and Roman with lanterns in hand.

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The mountain air is cool compared to the heat of the day. The water of the Pai river rushes under the bridge and seems to celebrate with us. As we light the wax inside of our lanterns, motorcyclists and pedestrians pass by and slow and stop to watch. The Thai tradition is to write on the inside of the lantern all the negative things that have happened in the last year and let it go as the lantern rises to the sky. We all have had etched in our hearts the oppression, manipulation, and lies of the world leader of the "supposed" greatest country on earth, who for the last 8 years has abused his power and wrecked the reputation of nation. Our intentions were to set fire to this past, and let it float away into the atmosphere, into the past-not to be forgotten, but to apart from us so that it can not hurt us anymore.

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It was a really spiritual night spent with many friends. But much more fun stuff is to come.

Except for a minor setback: I did get really ill the next day, and I"d intended to go to Sappong. Instead I spent the day and evening throwing up. No good. They tell you to beware of any fruit of vegetable that hasn't been cooked or peeled, and I've followed that advice to a tee, except for some sliced raw tomatoes I had for breakfast the day before...the culprit perhaps!?!?

If you get sick in Pai, don't worry! Everyone gets sick on their travels at least once, its nearly inevitable. In a place like Pai, you're likely to make so many friends so quickly, that someone will be there to take care of you. Once you're up for eating, there are tons of good veggie noodle soup places to sooth your aching tummy. There are also good places to get freshly baked whole wheat bread (usually hard to find in Thailand), and of course ginger ale can be had at the 7/11.

Luckily by 9pm I felt well enough to emerge from bed for the aforementioned noodle soup and I even watched a movie at the movie house. Its cool because they have mattresses and pillows all set up on the floor and several rooms, so you can pick your DVD among, literally hundreds, and watch!! I watched Knocked Up. It was an astonishingly good film, considering it's subject matter!! The characters were all developed with a surprising amount of complexity-the issues were pertinent, and the humor-well-just too easy to relate to!

I've got more AMAZING stories and PHOTOS of what happened today! Stay tuned!

Posted by LadyCroft 04:17 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Pai-licious!

...and a new president! yey!

sunny 24 °C
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I had a stellar day today!!

Firstly Obama won, hurrary!

Amir and I went to a waterfall just east of Pai. It was a nice ride out, passing little huts and villages. The waterfall was in a really shady canyon and you could walk right up to it, it was ankle deep. The force of the water was pretty tremendous, it made it really fun to get right underneith!

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Above is Amir and I at various stages of exploring the waterfall.

Then we went to Pai Canyon. It was a pretty neat little geological formation. I have no idea how a canyon like that is formed. A nice view of the west out over Pai, it would be nice to see the sunset there!!

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Then Amir and I went back to town and enjoyed a DELICOUS BURGER! The Burger House is owned by an american who put togather a really good burger-all the toppins, lettuce tomato, onion, ketchup, frenches and GASP! REAL MAYONAISE!!! gobble gobble gobble..I'm a full happy girl.

So tonight a bunch of us are getting together to celebrate! I found Champagne (not easy to do here) and we're going to light off some lanterns!!

Here's a photo of Gavin and I last night at the Monkey Bar! Gavin, I'll miss you!!!

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Posted by LadyCroft 04:27 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Elephant Riding in Pai, Thailand

I want one...an elephant that is...as a pet....sort of. okay not really.

sunny 28 °C
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What an amazing day! *slap* another mossy bites the dust.!!! Dusk is falling in Pai. The sky is pink, and a few brave stars have begun to twinkle. The vendors have begun to set out their wares: textiles, leather, trinkets, handicrafts, useless bobbles and as well as very desirable home goods. Hippys, bohemians, Rastafarians, travelers of all varieties, expats, and locals are beginning to fill the streets brim to brim, as the air cools and the colors of the sky hint that another beautiful evening is approaching.

Today, I rode an elephant. I LOVE ELEPHANTS! We drove about 15 minutes outside town and it was 4 of us: a British couple and a Canadian lady and myself. Our elephants were waiting for us, happily chewing huge bamboo-like shoots. We climbed up on a platform and I was the first to scramble on the back of the elephant. Karla the Canadian was in front. Wan was our guide, and he sat with his legs around the elephants neck. As we headed out the British couple, especially the female, expressed quite a bit of discomfort. She had expect us to be in some kind of seat. I’m glad we weren’t because the seats I’ve seen look like they sway back and forth and this was “real” elephant riding.

Karla the Canadian and I on top of Elephant
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What you see when you're on the back of an elephant
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Now I'm on the back of Mai. What a great place to sit and watch the scenery pass by!
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We walked along the road for a few minutes, then turned off onto a dirt path. It was good that there was blankets beneath us because the elephants skin is very thick and their hair is really prickily. My calves went beyond the length of the blanket and got pretty irritated, but no matter: riding was fun. It wasn’t really uncomfortable: I really enjoyed it. After a time, however, the couple had enough. They opted to get down and walk…so I asked Bop, their guide, if I could have their elephant.

So now it was just me and Bop and Karla and Wan on our two beautiful elephants. My new elephant, Mai, was quite a bit bigger than the first. I was easily 10 feet off the ground. Bop let me sit up front, and he stood on the elephant’s back behind me! I sat right on his neck, my legs just behind the elephants ears. She kept flapping her ears, which felt nice, as the sun was very hot. There is lots of room atop an elephant, really. I could lay back, hands behind my head, or crawl around if I wanted too. Mai’s head was SO frekkin big!!! I would scratch behind her ears and pat her head: I think she liked it.

It was really hot, so when I saw water ahead I was ready for a swim. I sort of peeled my shirt off as we approached the water and flung my glasses and bag to the ground and in I went, elephant, Bop, and me. We waded right out to the middle of the river, and Mai sat down with us on her back. Bop has her trained to splash water out of her trunk of demand, so I got a thorough soaking. But that wasn’t the only trick Bop had up his sleeve. He then commanded Mai to roll over…half way…so that I fell off into the water! Then Bop flipped off the elephant into the water himself. We spent about half an hour splashing about. Mai seemed to really enjoy sitting in the cool water, splashing water on herself all the while.

I swim with Bop the guide and Mai, the elephant outside Pai
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Fun with Bop and Mai in the River Pai
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Bop and Croft...Mai is below us.
IMG_0790.jpgas sad when we had to go home. I really enjoyed the elephants and I daresay the nearly 3 hour experience was worth the 16 bucks I paid!!! Gotta love THAILAND!

So I met up with Gavin again, and we ate dinner. I had a delicious red curry and rice (spicy!!) and he had Pad thai, and we spent less than 3.50 between us. Tonight I’m going to try to make some plans with people to get out and see the country side tommrrow. *smash* there goes another mossy. Time to move

I’ll keep ya updated. Lots of loooove!

crofteepoo

ps. Here are some pictures I had trouble uploading last week!

Monkey Love. A little statue at GAPS guesthouse in Chiang Mai
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The walk way to GAPS
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The Reclining Budda up close bearly fits in the photograph, never mind the temple.
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Croft and "Raggs" or Rachael-from Surry, England in Chiang Mai
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The LOVELY Sarah-Nat's Guesthouse, Chiang mai
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Me about to dig into some Thai Fondu, Chiang mai
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Temple in Chiang Mai
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Posted by LadyCroft 03:26 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Chiang Mai

Wat Po: Bangkok Thailand
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Jay showing off Thai Fondu
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Temple of the Reclining Budda, Wat Po, Bangkok...
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The beautiful budda behind me, in one of the many temples in Chiang Mai
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Me outside the same temple in Chiang Mai
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It's not letting me upload more than 2 photos per blog. So please check out my gallery and you'll find all new pictures in it. THey're not labled yet, but there're in there somewhere, and I'll keep working on it.
Some thoughts from the last few days:
no matter what you do, cold showers, dabbing with cold towels, one just remains slick with sweat, face shinyness constantly. Drink water, LOTS of water!
It rains here, suddenly. and then its over. Its like someone dumps a bucket on your head and then the water runs out.
The mossies here are capable of bowling you over. like one nearly knocked me over...someone told me that they are the national bird of thailand. They're not that aggressive though, interestingly enough. THey sort of come by check you out, and maybe every 3rd or 4th one will actually try a nibble...strange creatures....
There are less mossies here at NATs G.H. I suppose because there isn't any foliage. But there is a mossie living in my bathroom because they hang out in the standing water. ick.
Two days ago I took it nice and easy. I was really too tired to enjoy it fully. Once settled in GAPS guest house this I walked around a bit. I took a delicoius breakfast of fried rice with pinapple, and a banana smoothie...they make killer smoothies here! Then I walked and walked and oogled and talked to some tour operators, but honestly Everything is so tourist-oriented, i'm not even interested in doing tours out of Chiang Mai. I think I'm going to head to Pai on Monday and check out tours from there. This place kinda reminds me of Panama City...well, better of course, but its just too full of tourists really--kinda ruins the beauty of the place. None the less, that's no reason not to enjoy what Chiang Mai offers. And it does offer a lot. There are tons of used book stores and shops full of really beautiful fabrics and clothing. If you can get by paying 3-8 dollars for tee-shirsts, skirts and scarfs in Bankok, you can get it for less here, and if you pay like 20-25 bucks for something, its like the most beautiufl thing you ever saw...I've got my eye of several articles of clothing that I'll buy if I kep my expendutures low here over the next few days.
That evening I met an english bloke Jay whom I've been talking to online for months now. We fianlly met and walked to the night market. Golly they sell everything you could ever want there!! THen we walked down "thai street" so called because nothing is really oriented towards tourists, meaning that everything is cheap, although somewhat more difficult to know what your getting ahead of time. No matter, we knew! We had Thai fondu! They gave you like a clay double boiler with coals in the bottom and soup in the top and we ordered raw meats and veggies and cooked them in the broth...it was SOOO good, and aout 100 B, like 3 bucks! mmmmm I was still exhausted, so around 9 we called it a night and I went back to my A/'C room and slept like a damn log...zzzz. I had a good breakfast this morning, included int he price. scrambled eggs, pinapple, toast and marmalade, and GOOOOD THai coffee.
I moved to NAT's GH yesterday morning but took off early in the day to explore the city. I saw some really beautiful temples and Their photo's are included in this blog but unfortunatly there are many more photographs that I can't include at the moment. By evening I was really craving company, but having spent the day walking about alone, I didn't get to know anyone. I wandered down to the night market and was drawn into an irish pub, as I usully am. There I met a really nice ex-patriot kiwi gentleman, who chefs at a local high end hotel. We hit it off well, got a bite, browsed the markets, then ended up dipping into a thai boxing match. wow!
The thai boxing was obviously pretty sugar coated, and winners and losers were determined from the beginning but they still fought fairly hard, and the punches sounded convincing. The main event was when 2 little boys, i mean LITTLE, maybe 10 or 12 years old, came out all greased up and ready to fight. And they fought well!! They went 5 rounds and neither of them won... but it really got the crowed riled up. Then Kiwi man and I played a few rounds of pool. He was a perfect gentleman: i really appreciated that. Its much nicer talking and socializing with older men who have careers and interests and other things on their mind than what a 20-something-year-old does. We parted without even a peck on the cheek, although I might have wanted that but was too shy to initiate myself.
This morning was a bundle of success in terms of making friends. I decided to have a quiet day just hanging out in the commons area. There are SO SO SO Many crazy characters here!! There's Sarah, the receptionist-don't reminder her she's a boy, she doesn't know it. She's outragiously hilarious and quick tounged and she's taking a bunch of us out tonight for a night on the town. Rachael is coming, a tall blond from Surry, England whose been teaching english in the hill tribes out here. Katie and Sara are coming too, two pretty American girls who i just met moments ago. Kon is coming, a Thai boy and I think a relative of Sarah's: Yon, whose outfit today looked like an exploded pink and orange highlighter attacked him and whose into biking the countryside, kyacking, camping and yoga. Big Boy, I have NO idea his name but Sarah calls him that, a german that keeps to himself through a haze of smoke and reads books-he's really nice, just reserved. Hopefully Alexander won't be coming, if we can all avoid him, he's perfectly harmless, but possibly born without a personality. He sort of hangs around the hostel in a drunken stupor, most of the time, pathetically mullin in his solitaryness, asking all the girls to go out with him, or trying to latch on to other peoples ideas, but offering no impedus for doing anything of his own accord. I have no idea why people like him travel. ANYHOW, there's probably more people coming too, and we're going for Sushi and the night market and then to a Reggae bar! fun!
Okay, i'm out, there are people waiting for the computer. Lata!

Posted by LadyCroft 00:38 Comments (0)

I made it to Chiang Mai

...but it wasn't pleasant...

sunny 25 °C

but it wasn't pleasant.....

When i got to the train station, the sleeper berths were sold out. I didn't want to wait another day in Bangkok, so I took a deep breath, and purchaced a seat for the 10 hour long train ride north.

It was already dark and raining when I borded the train. My seat was broken. If I leaned too far forward the seat would see-saw forward too, becomeing compltetly dislodged from its hinges. My tray table didn't fuction either-it was irrocoverably tied up to the latch with string. We were handed out blankets. that was good because it was airconditioned and pretty chilly in there.

Once the train got going, i realized that it was going to be a long long LONG night. The sound of the railroad ties passing sounded like hammering anvils right under my head. the train would go smoothly for a while and then unexpected jerk back and forth...LOUDLY. THere is no comfortable way to sleep sitting up. None at all. THey passed out what looked like a pretty good dinner, but I had already eaten an incredibly spicy meal at the train station, and just wanted to sleep. After a while of shifting this way and that I realized the bit of my blanket that touched the ground was sopping wet. I squeezed about a gallon of water out of it, and resorted to using only half the blanket, doing my very best not to touch the wet part.

Then luck came my way. The Thai girl next to me got off at a stop about 2 hours into the train ride. I now had TWO seats and could kinda wedge myself into a horizontalish position, trying to avoid her tray table, which didn't go up, and my wonky seat, which fell forward if the weight was put on it wrong. I woke up a few times, having had a few weird dreams. I was perplexed at having drempt...why, that must mean that I slept long enough to have acheived deep sleep and then REM sleep, sure enough it was 5:30 in the morning and the sun would be rising soon. YEY! I dozed a little longer and sure enough I began to make out the Thai country side. I didn't get a remarkable sunrised, as hoped, since it was pretty overcast, but it was nice seeing rural thailand pass by.

It was very flat for a while, but I could see mountains to the west (i was sitting on the east side, sunrise side) Sometimes the flatness woudl go on forever in what looked to be farmland, tall grassy square grids extending far into the distance. The houses here look a bit more substantial than fijian ones, owing to the rain i imagine, or maybe the greater abundance of building resources, metal, timber, and stone. Sometimes we'd go through patches of dense jungily stuff.

It got quite a bit brighter and I perked up a bit, feeling more rested than I could have possibly imagined considering the ungodly positions I had assumed the night before. The neck and back were a bit stiff, but the tastebuds worked perfectly, adn when they passed out coffee in grubby little mugs I took it greatfully....and it tasted AWSOME! yum! who knew the Thai could make such good coffee!

Bathroom time. I expected something like Dante's 6th circle of hell: all defication and nastyness. Not so bad, actually. Sure it smelled a little icky, but it had toilet paper (i brought my own, just in case), and sure, I was squating over a hole...but at least the water worked to wash down the hole and wash my own hands in. not bad not bad.

I read my book for a while, and then switched seats with a fellow traveller, who had slept (or not) sitting up all night, and he asked for my little luxury spot so he could 'lay down' a while. Poor guy, he was so tall, he didn't look comfortable at all. but maybe I didn't either! anyhow I read for another hour and we stopped for long times at a few train stations, but I didnt notice anyone getting on or off. We were definatly late because we arrived an hour later in Chiang Mai than schedualed.

No matter! it felt great to stretch the legs. I purposfully ignored people yelling at me 'where you go? where you go?' or 'where you going--where are you from' etc etc. I just kept my eyes straight ahead and walked up to a map showing the prices of guesthouses around. I heard people yelling at me, but I didnt' look at them and they didn't approach me either. The only person to approach me pointed me to a tourist stand, which had a legitimate look about it, and wasnt selling anything. I found 2 others going to the same guesthosue as me, and we shared a ride to Julies for 30B each, just the price I was expecting. On the way we had a nice lady give us a map and point us all the things to do around town.

I went to into Julie's. It was packed. They only had one dorm bed available and that was only for 1 night. it was 70 B...thats like....nothing. 2 bucks maybe. They place had people sitting and cafe tables and all over cushions like some sort of thai-harem-people sitting smoking and sipping tea. I decided I'd check out GAP gueshouse also , for comparison's sake.

I'd heard it was more expensive, but had lots of perks, and stil lcheap compared to what I've been paying. A few minutes walk (thank god for a compass, it helps when street signs dont' mean anything) I aws there. GAP is BEAUTIFUL!!!! Its set amongst tropical garden folliage, blooming flowers and stone walkways. The gorgious teak guesthouses are really charming. I decided to stay here one night, even if it does cost 5 times Julies (450 B) which is around 14 bucks a night. It includes hot water showers, free internet, and my own AC room,which is pretty posh.

My bathroom is rockin too...its a lot like a marble tomb. Low ceiling (no one over 6 feet could do it), with a shower in the middle and a raised western style flush toilet and AHHHHH! GIANT MOSQUITOS! I thought they were male mossies and didn't worry about them until CHOMP, one tried to eat my leg. I actually felt him land...not like fijian mossies who are small and fast and light, but it was like an elephant hit my leg and oowwie it hurt when it bit! I've had a few more bite me since...NO FUN!

okay, so my plans.

I'm about to go out and find some food. I heard it's amazing up here and cheaper than Bangkok even. I also want to just walk around the city and see what I can see.

I think I'm going to look at some other guesthouses, I like staying in dorms because you meet more people. Its pretty quiet here at gaps, which is good, sicne I'm recooperating from a long and weary train ride, but I could save a ton of money and meet more people if i go somehwere else tommrrow night.

Julie's is an option, but I'd like to find somewhere a little less crowded...I like an ambience of like 10-15 people, rather than 15-50...its jsut a little overwhelming.

I'm also going to talk to some of the many tourists stands and try to get an idea of what the week will look like. I want to make it out to the Tham Lod Cave-and ride an elephant. Then I'll head north to Laos. I was told its about 1700 B for a bus ride to Lao, accomidation, breakfast, slowboat, accomidation, etc. IT's also easy to get a visa at the border for around 15 USD. But I'll find more out about that today.

PEAS AND CARROTS

crofteeelicious

Posted by LadyCroft 19:55 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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