BootsnAll Travel Network

March 27th – On The Buses


Originally uploaded by roupiesontour

The overnight train to northern Chiang Mai was full so we decided to take the VIP government bus. The bus terminal is frantic with activity and at 6pm everything stops to stand for the national anthem – it feels a bit like that game you used to play in the playground – statues. As the outsider you feel like everyone is watching you so what do you do – pretend to know the words and lip synch rubbish or just smile knowingly? I just smiled like I knew exactly what was going on. The buses are as luxurious as Mexico and we managed to get a good night’s sleep before arriving in Chiang Mai very early the next day.

We had arranged at our hostel in Bangkok to stay at the sister hostel in town. Big mistake – the rooms were fine but it was sooo out of town, we would have had to take a taxi in just to get food etc. It also felt very empty like we were the only people staying there. We ended up staying there a few hours and then moved onto the lovely Top North Guest house in town – which also had a swimming pool and evidence of other human life. It was actually great staying here as they also arranged cheap trips and restaurants and night markets were all within walking distance. The pool was a great bonus and as soon as our bags hit the floor it was straight in to the cool water. It is still 34 degrees here and you just wilt in the heat.

We booked a couple of trips – the first one was that night to the night safari. It is held in a different place from the zoo but well worth a visit. You get to walk round a huge lake to look at various animals at night – leopards, monkeys, cats, white tigers and other smaller creatures. It really is a different experience seeing them at night as even the smells are different, you seem to use your nose more. Although we were the only people on the tour we had 3 tour guides accompanying us as a couple were learning and they were more excited than us as had never been before. 1 girl had come to Thailand from China to work – she had been here a year and was still finding it hard to pick up Thai with all it’s strange language characters and intonations. It makes you feel so guilty that I don’t even speak Spanish and all the characters are the same – it’s just the words that are different. Imagine how hard it must be to learn everything from scratch including all the characters.

The actual safari takes place in trucks through designated “drive through zones”. You actually get 2 tours – one for the big game and another African type tour. We met lions, tigers, hippos, bears, deer, antelope, giraffes, zebras that roamed right in front of you and the cutest wild boar with the tiniest little piglets. Of course everything is in the dark so you can see by spotlight and camera flash is banned. Well for most people – we had a huge group of Eastern Europeans – Russian I think behind us who thought it was fine to use flash all the time – everyone kept telling them off but they just ignored it. In the end the tourists and myself took it upon ourselves to explain in sign language that the flash was bad for the animals eyes. I’ll probably wake up tomorrow with one of the animals heads in my bed but honestly some people arrrghhh!

The night finished with a laser and light show on the water – very high tech and music sounded like it was straight from a Disney parade. You all know the tune – the one that will not get out of your head for days afterwards – no matter how hard you try.

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