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Mike & Mag's World Adventure

Sawa Dipi Mae! (Happy New Year in Thai)

THAILAND | Friday, 18 April 2008 | Views [733]

Wow, it seems like ages since we've updated this blog.  We've been doing so much in Thailand that the time is flying. 

We were fortunate with our second attempt at snorkeling.  In Ko Chang, which is an island that is a national park we experienced the best snorkeling yet.  The visibility was superior and there were so many fish that a few times we got stuck in schools of parrot fish, squid, needle fish, and zebra fish. We can't wait to do more snorkeling and hopefully diving on the island of Ko Tao, which is world reknown for its reefs.

Mom has arrived!  We picked her up at 2am in the morning after several hours of flight delays.  We thought she was going to be exhausted and ready for bed, but instead we went to go get drinks at a bar in the popping backpacker district of Bangkok called Kho San Road. We've been doing a lot of shopping as the clothing and jewelry is my favorite here in Thailand.

Our first destination was Koh Samet, another island that is a national park and only a 4 hour bus ride from Bangkok.  Koh Samet is one of the few islands where the Thai vacation, verses the other islands that are mostly Falongs (white tourists). We spent the Thai New Year on this island and it was total insanity. 

The Thai New Year is such an important holiday to the Thai people it can be compared to Christmas, a time when families come together and get 3 days off for holiday.  The neatest part of the holiday as that it involves cleansing your body of old/bad luck for the New Year.  Since the New Year also happens to fall on the hottest time of the year it has morphed into the largest water fight on earth.  People of every age line the street for a week and throw buckets of sea, ice, river, tap, or whatever type of water they can get their hands on at people passing by.  You can't step outside your hotel without becoming completed soaked for a week.  We had such a blast throwing buckets and soaking everyone during the celebration. We kept asking ourselves, "why don't we do this in America for the 4th of July or the summer solstice.... it's so much fun!

After being beach bums, getting messages, and getting soaked on the island of Koh Samet, we made our way to Chang Mai, the mountainous region in the north of Thailand.  Here we booked a two day trekking tour.  On our first day we visited 4 Hill Tribes, one of which was the Karen (Long Neck Tribe) that wears heavy brass rings around their necks to stretch them and make them long.  Apparently the tradition started as a way to protect the women from being killed by the tiger, the neck rings functioned as a type of armor.

Soon after, we made our way to an elephant camp where we were loaded on top of elephants for a short ride.  I had a bit of a terrifying experience since our elephant trainer kept getting off our elephant and wandering off in the woods.  This left us alone with an elephant that was intent on going off the trail into the jungle, or over a cliff to munch on grass, trees, etc. I seriously thought I was going to die... I just kept seeing that video of the elephant that goes crazy and kills all those people as it runs off in defiance. But, ofcourse everything turned out okay and I lived through it. 

Later that afternoon we set off on our hike to the top of the mountain.  This is the point where mom and Mike thought they were going to die.  I don't think any of us were prepared for the difficult hikes that laid ahead of us.  Thanks to our very kind and patient Thai guides we all made it to the top of the mountain that evening; 3,000 ft in elevation.  That night we stayed at the village of a hill tribe that gave us all wonderful massages.  Our guides whipped up 3 amazing curries and then we played music and games all night.  We slept in what they called the "Bamboo Hotel" aka a bamboo shack that had the most amazing view of vast mountains off the porch.

The second day of our trek included swimming in a waterfall, white water rafting, and bamboo rafting down the river. Unfortunately, the white water rafting was more like rock jumping since it was the dry season, the water was so slow we got stuck nearly every second on a huge boulder. It was actually pretty comical. It was one of those things that they should have stopped booking the rafting trips due to the conditions but they don't because then they wouldn't have income...so what do we get?  A hell of a rocky river rafting trip.

Today we're catching a train back to Bangkok to meet up with Emily, Alexis and Jen our friends from Kansas and can't wait to see them!  We're thoroughly enjoying all the Thai scenery, people, food, etc and can't wait to share it with friends.  It's amazing that we're almost done with this trip; 4 months down one more to go!

Wishing you all peace and love,

Maggie, Mike, Joan

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