The last few weeks have been rather mental over here. Between winter festivals, extra classes after school and on weekends, Chiang Mai Trips, elephant trekking, white water rafting, mountain biking and not forgetting the arrival of our new puppy….. It’s been hectic to say the least! Decisions have also been made… BIG decisions so now my nearest and dearest know I can share all!
I’ll start with the winter festival. Winter has reached us here in Thailand…. I thought this would not be any different from the Thai summer i.e. hot hot hot… I couldn’t have been more wrong!!!! It is still very hot during the day however in the morning and at night time it is bitterly cold!!! So cold I have had to get two pairs of jeans sent over from home and now have a nice selection of jumpers, and a nice hat and scarf set. However this is not necessarily a bad thing as going to bed is finally something to look forward to, gone are the days of waking up feeling like you have fallen into a swimming pool of sweat and I can finally cosy up in a nice quilt. (Which I have found out is the BEST thing EVER when it comes to sleep!!) The winter festival also came to town; I wasn’t expecting much…. however it was quite something!
A huge field that is usually just a waste ground was transformed into a hive of
activity. Hundreds of stalls selling everything from kitchen utensils to shoes, from clothes to candyfloss! The festival also included many shows. Some of these were HILARIOUS! We started of with the cowboy show which consisted of a dozen Thai men dressed head to toe in cowboy gear and taking turns to spin a gun on their finger… that was about it! There was also a snake show, a Katoy or lady boy show… not like the ones I have told you before but more like a beauty pageant where they were insanely beautiful and are the types of lady boys that catches out men here sometimes!
There was also a ‘freak show’ consisting of a floating head, a girl in a shell and Siamese twins connected at the belly button so neither had legs (really it was a girl sitting beside a mirror! Ha!) There were loads of kid’s rides and even the good old carnival games you would get at home (I won a ruler…woo!)
Then for my favourite part of the festival…. the home-made fireworks competition. Locals brought along fireworks they had made from bamboo shoots stuffed with ingredients such as magnesium and set them alight. The first night was judged on the length of time the firework went off for; the second was all about size! It was like nothing I have ever seen!!!! For starters you would NEVER be allowed a home-made fireworks competition at home, secondly the health and safety side was even shocking for Thai standards. The fireworks would shoot up 30/40 meters into the sky and go off like a jet engine, yet they were lit with the tiniest of fuses and the people who set them off would just wander slowly away as sparks went flying everywhere. Thirdly the spectators were only about 25/30 meters away from the show, might sound a lot but if you could see these fireworks you would understand why this was not far enough! A couple of times we were even hit from the sparks the firework shot out.
Then just as we thought the health and safety couldn’t get any worse, one of the fireworks was lit and exploded (whilst the man was only a few meters away) and sent a fire ball shooting off to the side causing a fire in the grass. There were shouts for the fireman (as they at least had a fire engine at the competition) Andy, Tracy, Owen, Joey and myself were all sitting on the back of the engine so quickly got off…. just as the driver locked the wheel and spun round at full speed not looking behind him and almost taking us and a couple other Thai’s right out!!! He drove up to the fire and could not get the water to hit the fire. (They use fire engines that Britain used in the 20/30’s) the driver decided to manoeuvre the fire engine to hit the fire from another direction… only to come within centimetres from knocking down Joey!! After 5 minutes of trying to put out a fire which could have been put out with a couple buckets of water, the fire engine swung back to its starting position…. and then everything became very clear. The driver stumbled out of the vehicle and staggered over to us. Before we heard him we could smell him, he was STINKING of Lao Kow a very VERY strong Thai rice whiskey. He was steaming drunk!!! Everyone cheered and he seemed quite proud of himself so went back to find his drunk. Just as well there were no other big fires in Phrae that night!!!!
Last weekend Andy and I took another trip to Chiang Mai. We wanted to
do something exciting and found a great deal for an action packed weekend. We were picked up early on the Sunday morning and driven into the mountains where we began two hours of white water rafting. It had rained for the first time in about 3 months the night before so the rapids were brilliant!!!!! We got paired with another couple who were good fun and made for an interesting raft! Was quite hard work towards the end as my arms began to get rather tired! However this was only the beginning of the day! We were then taken to a lunch spot where we had some ‘cowpat Guy’ or in other words chicken fried rice! Was very nice!
We were then taken to an elephant camp where we got to play and pat a baby elephant which was only two weeks old! It was tiny and was defiantly showing off for us as it ran about and jumped on the fence even at one point chomping down on my arm. The mother elephant was in the enclosure as well and seemed to be quite content with us playing with her baby as long as we didn’t ignore her and fed her sugar canes!
We were then moved over to our elephant, a 30 year old (quite young!) that
Ate anything put in front of it including the wooden platform used to get on the elephant! We both got on a went a trek down to the river, through the river to the other side and up and over a big hill stopping so we could feed him some sugar canes and get our picture taken. This was my third time elephant trekking however it is easy to forget just how big these animals are!
After the elephant trekking we were driven to another area where we were given a mountain bike and set of down the road in a 10km cycle. Being back on the road on the bike around crazy drivers brought back some bad flashbacks of Russia and it took me a couple of Km to settle down on the bike and enjoy it. Just as I was getting my biking legs back a scooter pulled out right in front of Andy and almost hit him! Idiot drivers we thought and carried on.
However five minutes down the road we noticed the front of our group had stopped. As we drove closer we were able to see that the same scooter with 3 people on the back had obviously not thought about slowing down to go round a sharp corner and had come right off the road and down a ditch!! Luckily other than scrapes no one was hurt!
The rest of the ride was very nice and quite relaxing as we cycled though the rice fields and villages on the out skirts of Chiang Mai. Once at the finish line we were driven back to Chiang Mai where Andy and I both agreed on an early night!!
This weekend also brought about our new arrival, a 5 week old puppy! Really
we are only dog sitting for a friend for a couple of months to allow it to get older before they take it back. However it is so nice having a dog around the place again! And the puppy is SUPER cute!!!!! It’s even almost toilet trained, as it cries when it needs the loo so we have time to get it outside! Such a smart pooch! However we still do not have a name for the little one yet…. it’s a girl so any suggestions are welcome!!
Finally the last piece of news I have for you and possibly the most exciting news…. My time in Thailand is coming to an end. There is only 8 weeks left of term which will signify a year of being in this amazing country! However it is onwards and upwards, and after talking to my parents, my big brother and my nearest and dearest friends… I can share with everyone else….
IM MOVING TO AUSTRALIA!!!!!!!!
We will not leave until the end of April, so Thailand has not seen the last of me just yet!