Friday, November 28, 2008

Chiang Mai and the airport crisis

The bus from Sukhothai to Chiang Mai took five hours. Immediately upon arrival, I noticed the immense diversity (especially in dining options) compared to the other cities I've visited during my travels. It seems as though there's a sparkling temple around every corner and an overwhelming amount of options for outdoor excursions and trekking.
I found a room in the Siri Guesthouse, where the owner is possibly the most genuinely kind and friendly Thai person I've met so far on my trip. Upon arrival he was blasting Dire Straits "Sultan's of Swing" on his stereo, I felt right at home. Yesterday I had a full day of mountain biking and river rafting in the jungle just south of Chiang Mai. For the mountain biking portion, I was lucky enough to have a private guide. He and I biked on a rocky dirt path, snaking along the Mae Ping river. The jungle was stunning.
When we arrived at the rafting camp, the crew was cooking lunch and strumming acoustic guitar (belting out "No Woman No Cry", mumbling through some of the lyrics). We filled our bellies with tasty stir-fry, rice and fruit, then geared up for the river. During our voyage, we came to realize our guide was a bit crazy. At one point on the rapids, he started playing air guitar with his paddle and laughing hysterically while our boat was hoisted up against a rock in the midst of raging rapids.
Unfortunately I left my camera at the guesthouse, but a girl I met on the outing took many photos. I'll post those as soon as she emails them to me.
I'm currently in Chiang Mai, making every attempt to take it slow and enjoy the moment. Today I plan on strolling around the Sunday Walking Market. Tomorrow I will be ziplining, like a gibbon through the jungle canopy:)
For those who haven't heard about the Bangkok airport crisis, read this article (this explains the most current situation):
My mom is scheduled to fly into Bangkok on Dec. 3rd. She's working with the airline to hopefully reroute for a direct flight to Chiang Mai. We had planned to stay in the North for a week then head to the Gulf of Thailand for a week, but it may not be as easy now with Bangkok airport closure. I'll keep you all posted.

The following photos I snapped in Sukhothai ((means the dawn of happiness:)) Historical Park. Two words: breathtaking, magnificent.

Elephant - is the national symbol of Thailand. Regarded as the beast of burden.
Wat Si Chum Chapel. Buddha with me if front showing the massive size.
View from Wat Mahathat.
Me on a bicycle in front of the Royal Palace.