Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (11 of 40)

elephant ride

burning butts and tongues…
“my butt is killing me and jeffs inner thighs are a burning…. we finally rode the chang.  his name was niompio, and was a male at the age of 30 years old.  we chose to go barback rather than the chair.  we were able to go for an 1 and a half, any long erwould have killed us both! but, we did it, we rode an elephant. 

we started through the dry forest, our helper dude ‘chicken’ on the head, stacy at the riens and jeff in the back holding on.  it was like riding the biggest horse ever – bareback… and then throw in the scaley ruff skin with three inch long hairs pointing into you.  and man was he slow!  and hungry. 

lets wok with tee

"lets wok with tee"

there was a few times when we both thought he was gonna roll us over so he could get to some food.  but after 45 minutes of riding on his back, we made it down to the river where he ‘bathed’ us with his trunk, and then doused us by rolling us over.  very intimidating the first few times feeling this giant elephant rolling over and sending you over too, only for him to maybe land on you.  but he didn’t. 

after riding him like a bronco and getting dumped on, we were completely drenched and cracking up.  great experience, but man were we sore the next two days….

‘let’s wok with tee!’  that was our cooking class.  we shopped around and went with this one.  when we arrived the first night just checking things out, we were immediately invited in to watch the current class going on and given whiskey and then served dinner…all for free. 

tee’s 34, from eastern thailand but went and holiday’d in pai 12 years ago and hasn’t left since, so he’s making his living through these classes. 

we started at 10am (no whiskey this early) and went over all the veggies and herbs most commonly used.  he realy just made you feel like you were at your own house, good tunes, casual and slow.  we picked out some curry pastes to make and then worked away. jeff made red curry paste which he turned into panang curry and i made masuman curry and dish. 

thai basil

thai basil

after 3 hours we had quite a feast.  then we took a break til 5:30 and returned to tee’s for stirfry.  we chilled a little more, drank some whiskey, got to know eachother a little more, learned all about sauces, and stir fried away… jeff made burnt red curry dish, i made holy basil with minced pork.  jeff then made our fav, green papaya salad, and i made tom yum soup… all along tee made dishes too that we picked out for him.  a great time, totally at our pace and retainable.  plus we’ve got a great cook book to go home with…..

we’ll have the dinner party when we get back and our in the mood for thai food again….”

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (10 of 40)

our little bungalow

our little bungalow

and we’re off…part 2
in the morning, everyone was up at the crack of dawn, and the whole family was up and about getting things ready for the day.  women were already returning from the forest with baskets full of dried leaves, to either use as fuel or as roofing, kids were running everywhere, water was boiling, roosters were kooing, dogs were barking, it was quite a lively village.  as jeff and i walked around the village there were a few ecstatic ‘hello’s’ but mostly stares. 

after a large breakfast of scrambled eggs, a whole loaf of white bread toasted for us, hot tea…. we were on our way.  our plan was to go up to a lahu village then over to another karen village and then to a cave, waterfall, and get lessons on more bamboo cooking uses.  we ventured on through some burn fields (created for rice paddie farms) on to the lahu village.

lahu village

lahu village

within 20 minutes we were at the next village, a lahu village.  so close together, but there were so many little differences between the two it was pretty amazing.  appearance all together was different, this one seeming a little tidier, not as many trees and bushes or fences either.  and a lot more cows – tons of cows.  the houses themselves were made slightly differnt materials: palm leaves as roofs instead of the teak leaves, and the siding was actual wood slabs rather than woven wood.  the language different too.  we hung at a house for almost 45 minutes drinking tea and watching the men talk over banana leaf rolled cigarettes and observing. mong, the local lahu guide is hilarious – especially after some moonshine or even red bull.  he mumbles to himself as the leader of the pack.  we’d always ask him what kind of terrain was ahead, and he’d say, oh, easy easy, no hill, and then we would arrive at a steap and long hill, but to him, it wasn’t a hill.  pretty amazing. 

whisky in a bucket!

whisky in a bucket!

at the next karen village we were given yet another large meal, similar to the others along with tea and soda this time.  we relaxed for quite some time, went with some of the locals to look at the local ‘coffin cave’ (a 5 minute walk from where we were) saw a large old wooden coffin, then waited till it was time to go meet the truck.

overall a fantastic experience – we do wish we could have finished out the trip, but after jeffs spider experience, we were all a little nervous to camp in the jungle itself.  so instead, the next day we went with our new friends to the pool in pai and chilled all day long at the pool drinking beer and eating french fries… can’t beat that!
at night we decided to go out and see what the real nightlife was all about.  we went to a bar called re-tox (vs detox…clever) that was all about drinking games – chalk boards covered the walls with ongoing scores between countries based on the speed of drinking, the quantity of drinking, anything from beer to shots
jeff & our new french friends!

jeff & our new french friends!

this night happened to be the canadian owners birthday so he threw himself a party.  we weren’t really sure what to expect but before we knew it we were joining in on some dice games and drinking a bucket of whiskey.  the group was kinda small, about 15 of us, so we partied on and then ventured out to some other bars come midnight.  we met a crazy and cool west african chick that had some amazing stories of hitching through sudan and such, some crazy french (see photos), scots, irish, etc… by the time we made it to the next bar, we were well on our way so decided to call it a night before it was too late.  later we found out the rest of the gang was out til 7in the morning… wow were we glad we didn’t make it out that long, we felt hungover enough as it was…. but now we can say we partied hard in thailand!

next on the agenda:  elephant riding tonight, cooking class tomorrow, then monday we venture on…….

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (8 of 40)

lahu men

lahu men

the trek
“on our 3rd day here in pai we ventured out on a trek.  after seeing all the places in chiang mai we were getting kinda picky.  we didn’t want to just take a truck and get dropped off at the village and then turn around and get back on the truck.  thats’ what most of tours looked like.  we found a local guide named toil that seemed pretty cool – he caught our attention right away.

so we signed up for a 3 day 2 night trek, 1 night in a karen village the other camping in the jungle.  we lucked out with just 1 other couple with us, vs the other treks who would go with around 15 people.

so we hopped in the back of toils truck and ventured off.  our first stop, the tourist police.  toil gave them photo copies of our passports and informed them where we were off to.  then the head police guy comes out to us in the truck and gives us almost a farewell speech, it was crazy.  he pretty much said be safe its dangerous out there, our lives are in toils hands so respect him, and then finished it off with saying he hopes we return.

our guide

our guide

wow, you should have seen all of our faces.  what had we gotten ourselves into ?!?!  (later, at the end of course, toil tells us he’s never had the guy say that before and it even gave him the shivers! but here we are, safe and sound… )

so, we drove 45 minutes northwest and then off the main road up a fairly bumpy dirt road – pretty much reminded me of the indiana jones ride at disneyland…grasping on the handlebars as ventured up.  we arrived at a lahu village.

all these ‘hill tribe’ villages are migrants from burma and china from hundreds of years past.  each has their own language dialect and culture.  we were greeted by two guys, as well as puppies, pigs, cows, and chickens, all roaming around.  we were also greeted by a local guy, named mong, who was to serve as our guide.

stay tuned and we’ll tell you all about the trek….”

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (7 of 40)

early morning

early morning

chiang mai to pai
“we actually survived beautiful bangkok! we have a few more things to do there but were going to wait until stacy’s mom arrives. after our overnight bus ride, which was a shitty bus with old uncomfortable seats we arrived in chiang mai.

the bus company has this little scam when you show up in town. they say that the bus can’t go into town so they need to drop you off outside and they will have their truck taxi take you into old town….so we all get out and load up into the taxi (around 10 people per) and they take us to a guest house where they offered coffee or tea.  its a good offer since it’s around 6:30 in the morning.

minutes later, after we woke up from our travels, they brought out a picture board that shows all the treks they offer in the mountains. 3 days, 2 nights, one day you hike then the next you ride an elephant through the jungle then you finish by riding a bamboo raft down a river – sounds pretty cool!  they sweeten the deal with a one night free room if you book it.

stacy and i are trying to get off the standard backpacker scam trail so we left for our guest house that we already arranged. i never thought i would be traveling with a cell phone but i have to say it makes thing easy in se asia.

once we were settled we went out to see chiang mai, the town everyone is talking about. a lot of the backpackers stay in the old part off town which is surrounded by a moat, and on the interior of that was a large wall around the city (now only the main gate is still standing). we search for what everyone has been talking about, but we only found a cool reggae roof-top bar and the night market where everyone goes to buy their gifts. stacy found some cool silver jewelry and a dress, as I found a chang wallet.

after we decided we weren’t really diggin on chiang mai, we fled and went up to pai, about three hours northwest on a windy road.  finally, a great place!  chiang mai was just too much of a city still for us.  pai is just the opposite.

killer pai breakfast - wild mushroom crepe and tomato salad

killer pai breakfast - wild mushroom crepe and tomato salad

hardly any cars on the road, maybe more motor bike, if even that, and bicycles.  it was described in the book as a little hippie town and that it is.  a little more touristy than in the past i’m sure, but still a great feeling all around.  now we’re staying in a killer little bungalow on the river just across from downtown, very cheap too!

the food everywhere has been excellent, all organic, some even vegan.  even the western food is great, though the thai is beyond excellent.  and of course, being the hippie town it is, lots of wheat grass shots, tons of different teas for every ailment out there, and then there’s the crystal wand therapy, reiki, yoga and good ol’ meditation… almost a little berkeley in the hills!”