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Today was an Amazing Day!

USA | Monday, 10 November 2008 | Views [743]

Felicia watching Khom Loi launching at Mae Jo University

Felicia watching Khom Loi launching at Mae Jo University

Saturday, November 8     9:50 pm Thailand / 7:50 am US

Our day started out with an easy 60 minute jungle trek in Maekampong, about 1 hour & 10 minutes north of Chiang Mai. We were able to learn about the village's ability to make tea from the trees and to see Arabica coffee beans (only found in Thailand, Burma, and Laos). We then climbed up stairs by the Maekampong Falls. There are 7 levels but we only made it up 4. Samyuet even came with us(he usually stays in the van or chats with the other drivers), but he was pooped by the 4th level. On our way up, we got to try some wild apple-thing - not quite sure what it was. But the rind was 1/4" thick and the fruit inside resemble a squishy orange with a large seed (tasted super sour but pretty good). We then took a break and luckily Ryan and I brought water with us because we were pretty toasty (the stairs were pretty steep and we were in altitude). We felt bad for Phong and Samyuet so we offered them some water. Samyuet declined, but Phong accepted. Since he didn't want to drink directly from the bottle, he tried to pour water into his mouth. He got half of the water on his shirt instead of his mouth and I was laughing so hard that my sunglasses slipped from the top of head and fell about 30 feet down into the valley. Our poor tour guide had to climb down and rescue the foreigner's sunglasses. Only I would have something like that happen! On the way back to the village we switched to a concrete road with downhills as steep as Fillmore street according to Ryan. Our quads (thighs) were definitely tired by the end.

Thank God for zip lining with Flight of the Gibbon next! We were fitted for our harnesses by our 2 guides, Chai and Oh. We drove 5 minutes to our 1st platform where Oh gave us all the safety instructions (ie feet up when you near the platform so you don't hit your legs on the way in; "brake" = use the hand-held bamboo stick which they initially joked was to hit nearby monkeys with; and DO NOT unclip the carabiners at all- only they can do it for us). We had 18 platforms (9 zip lines); 2 cross bridges; and 3 areas where we had to be lowered down by ropes to conquer. It was SO fun!! Chai was the crazy guide who'd shake the bridge to scare you as you were walking; fake-start you as you started out so you end up hovering above the rainforest; or fake you out by clipping you to him while he pretended to zip off! The most scary parts were being lowered down by the ropes, especially the first one where we had to go stomach first (Spiderman-style) cuz the rope was attached to our backs! We also got to zip line together which was fun except for a bad landing. No injuries though! The last platform was SUPER high up and we had to be lowered down whatever way you want- it was totally fun too (but scary cuz the ground was WAY down there!). I went wimpy style: seated and then lowered, but Ryan was a daredevil and went belly first! That was a great experience for us both and we'd do it again except tell the guides to push us harder so that we'd go FASTER!!!

We then returned to our hotel for a quick shower and rest before driving to Mae Jo University to enjoy the launching of thousands of Khom Loi balloons. These balloons were from 2 feet tall to 4 feet tall and were made of white crepe paper on the outside. To get them to float, you light the inner fuel area (tissue paper dipped in cooking oil) over a candle and wait until the hot air fills up the balloon enough to fly away. The reason for this celebration is to wish for good luck and to float away the bad luck or evils in your life. This marks the beginning of the Loy Krathong festival in Chiang Mai (a HUGE celebration, like New Year's Eve in the States). When we arrived at the university's temple grounds, we already saw hundreds of people. After we ate dinner, there were at least 10,000 people gathered on the lawn! We then waited as the festivities progressed (traditional Thai dances and then Buddhist monks chanting and praying). And then all the candles on the lawn were lit and we were allowed to fill our balloon (a huge 4-footer!). On the signal from the presiding abbot, we all released our balloons. We could see thousands upon thousands of balloons float up into the sky and we felt lke we were in a cloud of balloons. It was SO amazing! On top of that, fireworks were set off and still are continuing right now. And will be until the end of Loy Krathong (our last day here: 11/12). What a great day today was! Tomorrow off to Doi Inthanon National Park where it will be 40 degrees at night. A huge change from 80 degrees in Chiang Mai!

Tags: chiang mai, flight of the gibbon, khom loi balloons, mae jo university, thailand, zip lining


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