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May 24, 2006

Back from the Wilderness

So we're back from the Woods, overall the trek was hillarious.

Certaily wasn't amazonian bush-whacking through unchartered jungle, but equally we weren't walking along National Trust footpaths. We walked for about 3-4 hours and covered about 6km a day, so it was pretty relaxed. At points we were fording rivers knee deep or wobbling across single log bridges over small rivers. :o)

So it started on Monday, having met our fellow travellers in the head office we all bundled into the back of two 4x4s and drove for nearly an hour out of the city into the hills to the Elephant Camp. We were treated to a baby Elephant doing some tricks before being dispatched in pairs/threes to be taken on an Elephant ride through the Jungle. The ride was pretty uncomfortable but was certainly amusing as we were thrown about in our rain soaked seats trying to hang on while wearing our high class plastic ponchos.
My Elephant was called 'Muddah' and pulled off some pretty impressive moves up and down the various muddy/slimy slopes.

After that it was off for lunch and then onto the trail to begin the trek. Guiding us on our adventure was Nui, Eddy and Rainbow (who seemed to tkae too much care over his haircut to be a treking guide but nevermind).
The walking was broken up with stops at various waterfalls along the way - some of which we swam in. In the afternoon the rains came but we continued to truge uphill in torrential downpour and hill fog. We eventually got to our hill village and our hut which was to be our accomdation for the night.

Day two dawned overcast and wet and for some slightly hungover due to the massive amount of beer that was drunk. More walking lead to another waterfall and more swimming. Afterwards the merry band of trekkers continued winding their way through the various paddy fields and jungle which surrounds Chiang Mai. Lunch was had at a village on top of a hill, we arrived just as the clouds broke and had a great view over the various valleys beyond. The weather broke again in the afternoon so it was another long 2 hours truding in more torrential rain to our 2nd mountain village and another dry nights sleep (aided by more beer and more awesome food cooked for us by our guides)

A breakfast of pancakes greeted us the next morning so recharged by that we headed on to the bamboo rafting camp. Our raft made from 8 bamboo poles lashed together and was steered from the front by a local guy with a bamboo pole - he basically punted the raft along. 3 people would sit down in the middle then 1 person would be at the back with another pole to (try) and help the guy at the front steer. I ended up being the guy at the back so spent the 30 odd minutes ducking low hanging trees and trying my best to push/turn the raft away from the worst the rain swollen river had to offer. It wasn't quite Class 5 white water but it was certainly alot worse than the Thames with various fast tight turns and rapids to keep things interesting.

Afterwards we dried off and jumped back into a 4x4 for the drive back to Chiang Mai. That evening (last night) we all went our for a meal at a local restaurant and some more beers afterwards. We eventually got back to our hostel at 3am and crashed into bed.

We had a brief look around the Night Market so tonight we're going to go back and try and grab ourselves some bargins...

Tomorrow we leave Chiang Mai and fly south to Krabi to (hopfully) get some sun, sand and snorkelling done (and maybe some climbing) ;o)

I may get some photos up on the website soon :o)

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2006

I'm Going for a Walk...

This will be done in bullet point styleee.

- Spent Today looking around the city.
- Went to a temple on top of a large mountain overlooking the city, t'was covered in gold and very bling
- In afternoon evening we looked around the Sunday Market, which was huge - 1 square and about 4 streets, didn't really see all over it in about 3 hours.
- Tomorrow I'm going treking in the forest/Jungle south of here. 3 days and 2 nights. Doing elephant riding, bamboo rafting and general hiking to waterfalls etc. Should be fun - I am however going to get s***caked in mud because...
- The rains have come early, it's been alternatling between broken sunshine and torrential rain all day. Bugger.

Anyway, See you all in a few days

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 06:07 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2006

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

So here I am in Thailand!

We arrived in Bangkok at 4:30pm on the 15th feeling a little groggy after the 11 hour flight which unfortunatly wasn't incident free, my water bottle leaked into the overhead compartment and upon opening promtly unleshed a deluge of water on the unsuspecting honeymoon couple sitting in the row behind. Arse :o(

After making ourway outside the terminal we caught a taxi to the Bus Depot and got on the 10 hour overnight "VIP" bus to Chang Mai - 700km to the north.
The Bus was great, fully reclining seats, 'hot' meal, drinks and snacks all the time entertained with bad Thai kareoke videos playing - complete with phonetic western subtitles...

we arrived in Chang Mai around 4:30am and got a "Sawngthaew" (Toyota truck with 2 benches under cover on the back) to the Hostel, a few hours sleep was all we got before investigating the streets to see what the city had to offer.

We had a 1 hour tour of the city by Tuk-Tuk, saw a few temples and visted one of the markets. We signed ourselves up for 3 days of the Cooking Course and following a 3 GBP meal (curry, rice and beer each) we crashed out in bed again.

So far the 2 days of the cooking course have been great. In the morning of each day you do an activity of some sort - on the first day it was a market tour the second vegetable carving.
You then learn how to cook 6 dishes throughout the rest of the day -everything from green curry, to leaf wrapped fish to spring rolls. You firstly watch one of the demonsrators cooking the meal and then you go to your own cooking station and have a go yourself, everything has been pretty sucessfull so far. After you've cooked a dish (or two) you sit down and eat it.

After each of the days I've been too full to eat anything untill the morning after.

we're doing that again tomorrow and we will then head up into the hills and do a trek of some sort, before heading south to the beaches of Krabi for some snorkelling and (injury permitting) some climbing!

More drivel when it happens

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 06:46 AM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2006

Counting the Cost

So that's it, After just over 7 months my time in Whistler has come to an end. I had one final day on Whistler in the sunshine playing around in the park before packing away my board for the final time.

Between opening day on November 5th and April 28th I had 72 days of Snowboarding, during that time I went from being about capable enough to link turns on Blues to being able to carve/straight-line all but the gnarliest of runs as well as doing a variety of Airs, Spins, Grabs and Grinds in the park.

Desite those heady improvements it wasn't all plain sailing. Due to a (still not fully understood or recovered) injury to my right knee I missed the whole of January (the snowiest month since records began). Later in the season another acrobatic missadventure saw my left shoulder take a bashing, it's now slightly lower than my right and still aching.

Due to those accidents my biggest expenditure during my stay was... Physio, Although not 100% of the final cost I know it's a big number - greater than my season pass - to be honest I just don't want to know. On the plus side I probably saved my liver some problems as everyone else spent their spare money in Whistlers many bars and clubs :o)

Although rather nasty, the injuries we as a house sustained were nothing compared to others - no details - but none of us needed crutches, stiches or surgury - or worse...

All in all it was an incredible winter, I've made some great friends and met some hillarious people. I would love to stay for the summer but there are other places I want to see, Whistler will just have to wait for another year...

Our last meal in Whistler was at... (drum roll please)... the Mongolie Grill - comeon' it would've been rude not to! We were joined by our friend (and one of Bens old bosses) Kristina and had a fun evening of exotic stir fry, beer and cocktails.

To help with moving all the kit Ben rented a car for the day, after moving Ben into his temporary accomodation with Kristina we filled the car with our gear and drove down to Vancouver - stopping off at Wendys and a pretty Waterfall on the way :o)

Having checked into the Hostel we all went for a 'final supper' at 'Simply Thai', one of the best Thai restaurants in the City! All in all the food was excellent - with spring rolls and purple dumpings for starters followed by Red Chicken Curry, Battered Snapper and Green Pork curry for Sk, Myself and Ben respectivly.

Myself and Sophie have 5 days in Vancouver during which time we're going to:
+ See the Aquairum - meant to be one of the best in Canada
+ Do the local Brewery Tour - we've been drinking the beer all season.
+ See the Capilano Suspension Bridge - A Bridge over a gorge and tree-top walkways.
+ Shop - well, maybe not *too* much

All that before flying out of here and starting the World Tour...

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 05:37 PM | Comments (1)