|Khao San Rd|
|Fist meal in Thailand - street pad thai in Bangkok|
|Mango! Best place ever|
There's an old quarry near Chiang Mai that people go to swim in, and they call it the grand canyon. We rounded up a big group of people and hired a songthaew (shared truck) to take us. The water was really nice and there are a couple cliffs to jump off of. Supposedly they're 9m and 15m, or I've also heard 10m and 20m, but I think they're more like 7m and 15m. Anyway, I did not jump off the higher cliff because I have nothing to prove and I knew it would hurt and a girl at our hostel messed up her knee landing, so I didn't. But it was a lot of fun and they have rafts and other things in the water that make it a great place to nag out and spend an afternoon!
|The grand canyon|
Chiang Mai also has temples scattered all over its old city so those were fun to see as well. There are markets every day and the night markets are fun, but the huge ones happen on the weekends. The Sunday market was extensive and very crowded! There was also a lot going on because we were there for the king's birthday, which is also Father's Day because the king is the father. It's taken very seriously. (Edit: the king died on 10/13/16. RIP Dad)
The night before we planned to leave for the small hippie city of Pai, I felt nauseous and was sick all night. The road is notorious for its many switch backs, so I was not looking forward to the drive. Luckily the driver was very nice to me and let me sit in the front seat and even bought me gatorade, but it was still an extremely unpleasant experience. Somehow I made it the 15 minute walk from the center of our town to the hostel. It was the hardest walk of my life. Because we couldn't check in right away, I found a porch area with plenty of hammocks, cushions and mattresses where people could hang out. I met several other sick people, and learned that a lot of people had gotten the "Pai-rus". The whole previous day I had spent with someone who had also been sick in Pai before she went back to Chiang Mai, so it made sense. Luckily most of the people we had ridden with from our hostel in Chiang Mai to Pai decided to chill out for a day too, so I didn't miss out on much. By the time I felt better, we had formed a pretty great crew and spent our days renting scooters and riding to waterfalls, the Pai canyon, caves, and around the beautiful area. There were normal markets throughout the day, and every night the main streets turned into a walking area full of food and crafts and tons of tourists. Pai is a wonderful place and a vortex just like Pokhara in Nepal - almost everyone stays longer than they intend, and some people never leave!
|Views from the bike|
|Hot springs and mud masks|
|road to the farm|
|hanging out in the kitchen|
|Making the mixture for the floor in the cob cottage. There was plenty of elephant dung involved|
|Helping work on an earthbag house. These are rice bags filled with clay, mud and rice husks that are stacked in a circle and then pounded down so it is actually quite strong.|
|We also helped smooth out the walls on the ground floor|
|Starting to build a house with mud bricks we had helped make and leave out to dry a couple weeks earlier|
|We made banana bread almost every day in the solar oven|
|making thin bamboo strips so we could tie the leaf shingles onto the bamboo structures for the new kitchen roof. Peedee tried to teach us how to make them but his were pretty much the only ones that were worth using.|
|We nailed these beams up temporarily so we could reach to put the roof on. They were also a great place to do pull ups and by pull ups I mean one pull up. I didn't want to embarrass myself by trying any more.|
|Fire, friends, guitar, cat.|
|I made a friend|
The next morning we had a delicious breakfast, did a gift exchange, found some secret hot springs, make veggie burgers for dinner, and watched Love Actually. It was a great first Christmas away from my family.
|our beautiful tree|
|We had a gift exchange with homemade presents, wrapped in banana leaves|
|secret hot springs|
I finally had to leave because my visa was running out and I wanted to go hang out with some elephants! So I made my way back to Chiang Mai for a couple days and then on to Chiang Kong and across the border to Laos to board a slow boat bound for Luang Prabang.
|Last morning on Thai land before crossing the river into Laos|