Tiger Sanctuary, Chiang Mai market,
06.06.2012 - 20.06.2012 27 °C
We decided that it was time we took our overdue trip to Laos but getting there from Langkawi in Malaysia was going to take approximately 14 hrs by coach...VIP coach, just to get to Bangkok. Then we would stay a night in Bangkok which turned into 2 nights and we took another coach; which promised to be VIP but was no where near it god knows what economy was like! This journey was another 14 hours....supposed to be. So if you are an avid follower as I know some of you are, there is never an uneventful journey with us and this one has given us more memories.
The trip to Bangkok went well, the coach was good and there was even a hostess on board handing out snacks and juice, we had blankets too. We arrived around 6 am and were able to get a good room and slept which we only had to pay for that night so we had a night free. Bangkok....well if you haven't been there in Khosan Road it is bar after bar with a bustling street of people bouncing between bars and street stalls. You will hear a strange popping noise from some of the men smacking their lips together followed with "you want ping pong show?" This is exactly what you may think it is, a show of women that thrust ping pong balls out of Lady Town (to be polite). Apparently, as I didn't want to see the show, sometimes you get a bat and you can try to hit the balls coming out. I couldn't think of anything worse! We sat at a table to have a beer, which is welcoming in the heat there. We were there about an hour when a seller came over to us and handed us a very crude embroidered bracelet, there is no way I can repeat what it said....it was bad! She pointed over to a guy sat a few tables down, as I looked a waitress came over and handed me and Chloe two large beers. I told her we hadn't ordered them and she pointed to a man sat a few tables behind us. Then....I swear this is true ........a rose seller came over and handed us roses.....from a few tables opposite us! How bizarre! It gets better......the guy that bought the roses then bought us balloons! Next two plates of food were plonked down in front of us courtesy of the guy who bought the beer. We couldn't eat the food as it was overflowing with chicken and being veggies....its a no no. So it would be rude to the staff and the guy to send it back so we decided to get the tissue napkins and pick out the chicken to feed the stray cats and dogs around. Had we been meat eaters then this amount of chicken would have pleased anyone but I was stuffing it in my pockets, purse and in my hands, as was Chloe but there was still too much. I stuffed the noodles in a large tissue bag I made and dumped it in the bin near the toilets and voila......our plates were empty! Funny thing was not one of the generous guys came and spoke to us....they didn't try it on or anything....it was very strange!
When we left Bangkok I already felt abit suspicious of our journey because we had to wait an hour over the arranged pick up time only to be dropped off somewhere else to wait there an hour. When we finally got going the coach wasn't up to much....no where near our other coach...no hostess, blankets or snacks. We were supposed to arrive at 6am but at 5.30 apx the coach broke down about 15 km outside of Chiang Mai. They ordered tuk tuks for everyone but again I grew suspicious as the driver divided me and Chloe and two other girls from the other men and couples which meant there were four girls in the tuk tuk. This meant we were vulnerable and I knew straight away there would be a problem. The two girls were friends that had clearly fallen out due to their lack of conversation etc and both were worried about this leg of the journey. I saw the driver hand over the money to take us to our guesthouse and I asked him if the tuk tuk would take us all the way and he confirmed it would. Well what a load of rubbish that was, we got into the city about 7am and he stopped outside of anger guesthouse telling us we all had to stay there. I told him we had booked somewhere else and that he had been paid to take us there. This is when he told me he didn't understand any English albeit he then demanded more money to take us to our accommodation. The two girls rang their hosts and were picked up...this happened because they were on a package deal to travel in the jungle whereas we were not....no one to phone and not a clue where we were in the city. The girls left and we sat in the back of the tuk tuk refusing to pay any more...we were going to sit it out. The Thai lady from the guesthouse came out and said "You pay more...he need to go home if you don't pay he take you to his home" I say she said it but really she had such a screaky loud voice she annoyed me but I wasn't going to let her get the better of me so I said calmly "he's been paid, we will not pay more, ok then we will go to his house." At this point Chloe is tucking into a bag of crisps and Oreos telling the lady she is spoiling her breakfast....it was quite comical looking back. She said in that voice again "Lady are you crazy! You are in Thailand now! His family no speak English!" Obviously I know this but you know what you get fed up of getting ripped off and today I was going to stand my ground. "Thats ok, we can teach them" I said calmly. So guess what happened next..... He drove for about half an hour into the middle of nowhere and we are surrounded by fields with the odd house nearby, stopped the tuk tuk taking the keys out and went and sat up the road! Well....we sat it out for another half hour and by this time it was coming up for 9am, luckily a taxi drove past so we flagged it down and were just about to get in when the tuk tuk driver ran over to the taxi speaking quickly in Thai....apparently he told the driver we had refused to pay him but fortunately for us the taxi driver saw right through him and took us to our guesthouse. It certainly was an experience but on hindsight maybe I should have just given him more money. But if I did this thing will go on and on with other travellers....it's all a scam and there are plenty of them in Thailand but that's not to say everyone is out to scam you because they are not.
Chiang Mai is beautiful and it was a shame we didn't have longer there. We went to the night market which is the biggest I have ever seen any where. It is streets and streets of stalls selling everything from clothes, lights, food, shoes.....you name it you can get it. We walked around til about 1130pm and got to our guesthouse at midnight and guess what......they had only gone and locked it all up so we couldn't get in. After half hour of banging on the door and ringing the bell we were met with a not so happy landlady. The rooms were really beautiful too, wooden floors with lovely sculptured beds, all wooden building.
We spent some time visiting the Tiger Sanctuary where we actually got to touch the tigers of all sizes. That was pretty scary of me as I couldn't get it out of my head that it might just turn on me and bite my head off....a normal reaction I think but Chloe didn't seem to be bothered about this and practically lay on one of them. There are photos on the face book page, it's difficult to load them on this site.
People say that the tigers are drugged but whilst there they grabbed a large leaf and waved it around near the tiger pool to which the tiger run up to grab it and splashed in the water.....amazing....they were not drugged at all, they usually sleep during the day. This was a short visit and next we were on another coach for our trip to Laos.....watch this space!
I forgot to mention that we also spent a day on a zip wire course in the jungle. This was brilliant fun and didn't cost too much for the amount of time we spent there. They give you a harness and then you are with a group of about 6 others and we managed to get through 40 odd obstacles ranging up to 40 meters high flying through the jungle and some were virtual drops which were awful! You have to stand at the edge of the tree, because it's all built of wood around the trees in the jungle and then you lower yourself down,however, you are at the mercy of staff there who control the level of speed that you go down. I stood at the top and in the most polite way without showing fear, because I was petrified and didn't want them to know, pleaded my case why they should let me down slowly. They seemed very sincere and slowly lowered me down before saying "is this speed ok?" of course it was and just as I was about to nod yes they let go of the rope which sent me in a rapid decline until I was inches away from the ground. I screamed! How pathetic of me! Still I guess it's a natural reaction, even though I was the only one to scream like a baby!