It's been a few days since I've written - sorry about that but as expected, internet connections have been few and far between so you're in for a treat (maybe) as I bring you all dear readers up to date with what's new.
We did Bangkok in a day with our illustrious guide 'Tong' visiting The Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Tong was an interesting and enthusiastic guide, who did the tour guide thing on his day off from working at the Old Bangkok Inn. His eyes were very strange, they were brown and snake like - turns out the latest in contact lens fashion amongst the smart and elite in Bangkok.
As you might expect, the temples were amazing, particularly the Royal Palace, where you learnt that the King is most revered and is the most important person in Thailand and is seen to be a reincarnation of Rama - half man/half bird. Clever guy and if you ever tried to enter into any debate about the King or the Royal Family, there is no comment as they just don't want to disrespect him or them.
That afternoon, I took Elliot for his first massage, which he was quite up for and I duly entered the parlour to be greeted by a bevvy of ladies. We were taken upstairs having chosen what 'style' we would like and escorted into two curtained off areas...and told to strip and given what was a facecloth - hardly a towel and within 2 minutes, a call came out from Elliot "do I have to take off my underwear as well dad?" It's at this juncture dear readers that I am afraid to say I cannot say what followed. What goes on on tour, stays on tour etc. but suffice to say Elliot has become a fully fledged, paid up member of the 'Manhood'....his Grandmother need not worry though ;-)
Next day was a travelling day as we ventured north to Chiang Mai. Met our driver whose name is 'Boy' and it sounds very colonnial every time I have to call his name.
Everything went smoothly and we eventually arrived at our 'Homestay' accomodation called The House of Clay. Driving into the premises and climbing up onto the first floor (exclusively ours) was like entering something between The Rainforest Cafe and the Tiki House in Disney. A magnificent teak building, big spaces and fans everywhere. No aircon here.
We were met by Art, a highly articulate person whose English is as good as anyone we have met so far. Having settled in he took us around his village and of course we were an attraction; this boy with unbelievable thick long hair and his dad with none at all. We walked through this market which was very quaint until much later when we were served a 2hr+ rendition of a local fable.........thank god for the best travel tip mentioned in previous despatches, earplugs. It's at this point I have to admit the second best travel tip, is one I did not follow but it is......a sink plug that you take with you. I've yet to find a sink that had one. Humbled.
Yesterday was spent in around Chiang Mai, the old capital of the province Lan Na and we visited amongst other sights, the Underground Empire of Wang Kum Kiam, only discovered in the late 8 or so years. Very impressive.
Last night we had a traditional Thai cooking lesson from the Mother of the house and it was spot on if I say so myself. Didn't realise vegetarian food could be so interesting. In fact we have done very well on the food front, only going off piste once to have Japanese (in Bangkok), which was fab as it's one of my favourite foods, but outside was an interesting array of women touting their wares to anyone that was interested. The fact I had Elliot with me probably saved me, but watching them tout and shout themselves wasn't pleasant to watch.
Today we've been to a rather large '10 step' waterfall and followed it by doing a White Water raft this afternoon. Both good fun and now we're sat in downtown Chiang Mai ready to eat and it's off to the Elephant Sanctuary tomorrow.
So on that note, I'll love you and leave you - next blog will hopefully give the low down on an amazing experience in the sanctuary but it's all been good so far. Laters dudes