SHARED BATHROOM I'M AFRAID
22.02.2013 - 28.02.2013 33 °C
"Where is the room?'. In draining heat in the jungle village, after several hours of sweaty trekking jungle the guide gestured towards a shared hut with granite hard beds. "Where is the toilet?". The guide pointed at a hole in the ground. "Where is the bathroom?'. The guide nodded towards the moderately flowing river.
This was alfresco accommodation, far away from the rigours of Bangkok. But how did we get there? We took an overnight sleeper train. It was supposed to be 14 hours but it took 16. The AC was a bit over zealous and it was a bit chilly that night. The buffet car was glowing with heat and energy that night however. Karoke was playing all night. Lots of drinking and dancing of the kind you would not see on a Virgin train. The star of the show was this senior policeman who was partying till the early hours, gun in holster and getting his picture taken with every westerner around. I was happy to observe this jolly spectacle, however several staff members had to talk me out of jumping train after the 3rd time airing of Gangam style. North Korea has a good motive to invade South Korea for that punishing ditty.
I got up early the morning after to observe sunset over the undulating verdant hills. Sipping my coffee I looked around and noted that the Buffet car doubled as the hangover carriage. At 11.30 we arrived at our destination Chaing Mai. Although the 2nd biggest city in the country is a place that everyone seems to like. Infact it is one of my favourite Asian cities. It is less frantic than Bangkok. A raging torrent of traffic wages around the ring road, however the compact historical centre is leafy, dotted with wonderful temples, cobbled streets and ideal for cycling (which we partook in). It is a big city with a small town, laid back feel to it. You never know what you will find when cycling. We came across a major celebration at one of the temples. Food and drink was flowing. A wedding I assumed. I was still puzzling as to what the occasion was when we were dragged into the celebrations and practically ordered to tuck into the food. So much joviality. some of the locals took photos. Finally mystery resolved when I spoke to an English speaker. "So what actually is going on here?". "Oh its a funeral". The dead in Thailand know how to party.
At the funeral we even came across a brit, a brummie woman who was also dragged in. After a 5 minute conversation she announced that she had come to Thailand to find herself. At the same venue a German woman was scratching her head over the map and was physically lost. We put the 2 ladies together - the pan European lost and found duo and made are way before a life story kidnapped the day.
Of course most people come to Chaing Mai for a jungle trek which we did. This was all done as a convenient package. It included 2 full days of trekking. The final day was composed of a short walk, bamboo rafting (perfectly relaxing) and an elephant ride. The guide was excellent, very informative, with a strong echo angle. It transpired that he was a champion of organic farming in Thailand. Prince Charles pop over you leach dodger.
There was an international bunch of tourists (much younger than Joe and I) including a young Dutch couple. "So what do you do for a living?" I enquire. We are both Barristers I thought they said. "So if I get into trouble when someone plants drugs on me you will set me free" I joke. Puzzled expressions. "We are Barritzas. We work at a coffee shop". At least a good cup of coffee on death row is guaranteed.
As for the accommodation, it beats the Hilton hands down. The first night I quickly went to sleep following natures lullaby. Frogs, cockerals, pigs and other undisclosed sounds joined in on the chorus. On the 2nd night someone had left the light on I noted as I nipped to the toilet at 3am. No torch required as I noted the moonlight bathing down on us. I looked above at the nights sky. Why do you need 5 star when you have all the stars in the universe.
Finally we waved goodbye to Thailand but not before we had a farewell meal with some friends made on the Trek. We splashed out and went for an unlimited sushi bar. The most complicated meal in my life. Witness the stack of 10 plates and the appearance of liver and prawns in the boiling soup that had been placed with no finesse.
Goodby Thailand and hello Indonesia