On the night train to the end of the tour

Chiang Mai has so much to do, and there is so little time. Despite the late night, early mornings are necessary to see special cites, such as the temple on the hill or Thai cooking lessons. Not that we could do both, we sacrificed the latter to see the monks. Nothing could be as embarrassing as last time, and after the bell debacle and the offering fiasco, it’s probably about time we got some good karma going.There is a lovely taxi/tuk tuk driver that has taken us everywhere in this city. He waits for us to finish pottering round and everything, he really is lovely. I’m glad it’s him taking us up the hill to the temple. It’s a hefty ride, and not helping any motion sickness whatsoever. This is going to sound stupid, but I didn’t realise how ‘on top of the hill’ it really was. The views on the way up were spectacular before we even got out of the tuk tuk.

Once we got out of the tuk tuk, my enthusiasm to reach the top died the second I saw the staircase to the top, now I understood why you could pay an extra THB20 to take an elevator up. Not that we did, we slogged it in the heat, which was definitely worth it. The top was much more impressive, the views better, and we had a bonus market to explore. Once at the top of the stairs, we saw the obligatory ‘foreigners this way’ sign, which I’ve come to expect out here. We didn’t have to pay that much extra, thankfully,

The temple was stunning, intricately decorated, and felt special. I feel like I have said that for most of the palaces we have visited, but it’s true, most of them are like that. They really do put a lot of effort into their temples, they are central sections of the community. It’s pretty cool. We wandered round the temple complex, and rang some of the bells, received a proper blessing from a monk, and then saw a tall monk. That sounds stupid, but he is the first tall monk, well above about 5ft10, we have seen!!! Standing looking over the city from the temple wall made me want to stay, Jade and I will definitely have to revisit at some point, there is just so much to do and not enough time.

The market was a real surprise. Trying to find portable presents for people that aren’t likely to break on the way home is proving a challenge, but this market helped. I want to get something from everywhere, so I now have my Thai gift to myself, plus a couple of extra presents that should survive the journey. Ideally, I will get everything for people from Asia, but we’ll see what I can manage to carry.

When we returned, we relaxed pre sleeper train to Bangkok. It was nice to hang out with everyone for one of the last times. The big momentous event of the day was Sally’s victory. 17 days, 17 DAYS is a long time to go Sal-dog! I feel better now as I know you’re no longer waiting to go! I am less worried about waiting on a sleeper train for you to go now, I wouldn’t like to have followed you into the loo after that.

We snacked up and boarded the train, which felt very different from the Vietnamese sleeper trains I have become used to. Instead of being in separate compartments, we were all in one carriage, with our own little sections. They chairs were like normal train seats, but at nights, the train men come through the carriages and unfold the seats into beds, and fold beds from the ceiling á la the ferry to Holland. Very cool. Sitting in that chair waiting for the train men produced one of the funniest moments of the tour. Melissa, you need to get your head stuck in more automatic doors, because it was hilarious! I still find it strange how you go to sleep in one place and wake up in another. Sleeper trains are strange. I like them.

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