AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Chiang Mai: Hike & Bike


Posted on Jan 13, 2014

There is one annoying thing about Chiang Mai, and Thailand as a whole. You can’t just go for a hike on your own. A hike is usually a multi day activity which you have to book, possibly a private tour but usually in a group. Single day treks will usually consist of maybe a couple of hours walking and then visit an elephant sanctuary, do some rafting and visit a hill tribe or two. Almost all the hikes do the same stuff. We finally accepted this fact and booked a tour which consisted of walking in the morning and mountain biking in the afternoon. The pictures looked good so we hoped it would be worth the extortionate amount of cash they were asking for. Morning We were picked up from the hostel around 9am and driven for one hour up to the national park just north of Chiang Mai. This gave us time to chat to the other couple we would be spending the day with, a couple from Auckland, New Zealand. This was interesting as we plan to end the trip maybe living and working in New Zealand and Auckland will be the most likely place we will find work and settle down. We walked for a couple of hours through the forest whilst our guide pointed out the flora and fauna of the forest. Quite interesting, his knowledge and love of the woods was obvious. He didn’t like people coming and cutting down the trees for firewood and building material. “Thailand Beaver” he calls the illegal loggers. The walk wasn’t that great, maybe 4 miles in total (I forgot to start recording the walk when we set off) and took a little over 2 hours. But, it was OK and we learnt some interesting forest knowledge. Our route through the forest © OpenStreetMap contributors Download Lunch We had lunch by a waterfall on the edge of the park. Afternoon After lunch we were given our mountain bikes and after a bit of practice and adjusting to get used to gears, plus making sure the brakes worked we set off. We rode on roads the whole way, some busier than others. The busy roads weren’t so good but the quiet back roads were pleasant. As we rode our guide would point out trees, temples and other interesting things in the landscape and tell us about them. We didn’t cycle that far, although realistically our level of fitness isn’t very good. On the whole it was enjoyable but it would have been better had we actually gone off road and if it had pushed us a little harder we’d...

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Chiang Mai: Cycle Ride


Posted on Jan 13, 2014

We hired a bicycle each for the day and decided to cycle to some of the more distant attractions in Chiang Mai. Our first stop was Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders. It’s only a couple of miles out of the centre of Chiang Mai and is an incredible place to visit. It is a private museum, housed in the converted home of Mrs. Rampa Rattanarithikul. She spent 50 years of her life studying insects, mosquitoes mainly. There are thousands of insect specimens in the museum, mosquitoes, beetles, butterflies, moths, stick insects, etc. There are also some fascinating fossils of early life of earth and plenty of shells and colorful rocks. We learnt a few interesting things in the museum and had a couple of chats with the doctor herself. She is now 80 years old and has had enough of staring down a microscope, but she still keeps up to date with the latest developments and is incredibly passionate about life and mosquitoes in general. After a very interesting hour we cycled further out of the city to Wat Umong. This was an interesting site as tunnels had been dug under the stupa. We need some variation because most of the Wats are so similar that we are starting to get bored of them. We then cycled back into the old town to visit our final Wat of the day, Wat Phra Singh. Most Wats are quite picturesque on the outside so we spent a while taking photos of the exterior. Chiang Mai has hundreds of Wats, so we have grouped them all together on our Flickr stream. You can see them all here. Posted from Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai,...

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Chiang Mai: Just can’t leave


Posted on Jan 13, 2014

When we arrived in Chiang Mai we had 4 nights booked in a pretty expensive hotel which turned out to be average at best. But, with so many tours and activities in the area we decided to stay a few more nights, and booked 2 nights at another hostel. We then kept finding yet more activities we wanted to do and asked to extend our stay by another 2 nights, but they were full. So we booked 2 nights at our 3rd hotel in Chiang Mai. When we arrived we asked to add another night to that initial booking. We are now approaching our 2nd night here and we have extended our stay by another 2 nights. This is the longest we have stayed anywhere on this trip, actually this is the longest we have stayed anywhere on any holiday we have been on together. We are used to constantly been on the move and travelling from place to place; even on a 2 week holiday. Our second longest stay in one place was a week (once in a chalet in Switzerland and once in a cottage in the lake district). I guess that speaks for itself in terms of the number of things to do around here and also of how much we are liking Chiang Mai. We now plan to leave on Saturday. Let’s see what happens… Posted from Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai,...

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Chiang Mai: Thai Cooking Class


Posted on Jan 10, 2014

In the UK we loved Thai food. We used to make a decent green curry, but we always bought the paste and just added coconut milk, it was simple and tasted pretty good, but we always wanted to be able to do better. So whilst we’re in Thailand what better to do than take a cooking course. There were many cookery classes in Bangkok but they were pricey. Chiang Mai has the same classes but most are about half the price of those in Bangkok. We chose Siam Rice and had a great day. The meat and veg was already quite prepared for us, we only had to chop some of the veg and then cook it. It was good for an introductory lesson to what the main ingredients are in Thai food and how they are prepared. Nothing advanced. First we made soup. I chose a spicy soup with Thai Basil. Annemarie chose the same. I added 5 chillies to give it some kick, but then because I was making the spicy dish I was handed another two large chillies and a tablespoon of chilli jam to add. That pushed it over the edge and gave me a bloody hot soup! Then we made a stir fry. This was followed by a noodle course. My noodles were boring and simple to make. Annemarie chose Drunken Noodles, a dish made in spectacular style with the wok in flames. Followed by a salad. I made a green mango salad which had fish sauce as the base. I didn’t expect to like it but was really surprised that the flavour became sweet and tangy and not a horrible salty taste that I was expecting. Annemarie made a papaya salad to try and compare to a dish she’d eaten a few nights ago. She didn’t really like the version she made… We then has to make our curry paste as the base for the curry we would be making later. The ingredients were added to a mortar and smashed with the pestle until it was a thick paste. This took around 10 minutes of smashing and was tiring work, but the paste at the end was very bright and colourful and the smell was delicious. It’s amazing to think that just the few ingredients we were given, after been chopped into smaller pieces could be ground so easily into the bright paste we were left with. We then made the curry from the paste. Annemarie made a red curry and I went for my favourite the yellow curry. Last up was pudding. Almost everyone went for the sticky rice with mango. The...

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Annemarie really wanted to go and spend a day with elephants, but many of the elephant touristy stuff in Thailand seems to be quite exploitative. The elephants are made to carry people for long periods of time in baskets on their backs. Woody’s Elephant Training was different because he doesn’t use the basket; the basket isn’t good for the elephant because it can easily be overloaded and force the elephant to carry too much weight. He runs a sanctuary for elephants so they don’t have to work (except a bit of time carrying us around his sanctuary). Our first task was to climb up onto the elephant and get used to sitting there. The command Yo Kar makes the elephant lift its front leg, you then use the leg as a step, along with the ear and a bit of flab for handles and climb up onto the elephants neck. Demonstrated here by me: Watch this video on YouTube Once we had all practised climbing on the elephant we then had to learn how to control the elephant. We had to make it go left sigh and right kwar, also stop YURT! Watch this video on YouTube We then had the fun task of cleaning up elephant poo. Lucky us! But that only took a few minutes. After lunch we went for a short trek with our elephants, two to an elephant. I was up front controlling the elephant with Annemarie sitting on the back. It was well trained because it did everything I told it to do. Riding an elephant isn’t too difficult if they are going slow but when it lowered its head to eat I fell forwards which was quite worrying and felt like I was going to fall off. We walked for about 15 minutes then stopped to give the elephants a break (and a treat) and also for us to rest and gripping with our legs is actually quite tiring. We then rode maybe another 10 minutes back to a river and lake. Most people then got in the water and swam and scrubbed and played with the elephants. After the elephants had been brushed everyone could sit on the back of the elephant while it swam around the lake. It was a really good day and we learnt something about elephants. Woody really cares about the elephants, to him they are family and he treats them as such. He says he does his best to keep the elephants safe and happy and considering that work for them consists of less than 30 minutes carry people and standing for photos they seem to have...

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