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Saturday 22 Jun 2013
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Flying with the Gibbons in Thailand

Hibsa and her husband Salaam drove us to the airport the next day for our flight up to Chiang Mai. We had booked the Flight of the Gibbon zipline adventure for the next day which included a free night's accommodation. We'd chosen the Eco Resort Chiang Mai which turned out to be a really good choice. Although it wasn't in the centre of town, it was a lovely quiet oasis set in its own grounds. Each building had its own personality, set in gardens with a big swimming pool at the back by the old school house. Our first night was in a deluxe room and we liked it there so much we booked another night in a twin dorm. We went to the travel desk to book some activities for the next couple of days and settled on a two-day hill trek with a village homestay. While we were there we met an English woman called Rachel who was travelling solo, so invited her to join us for dinner. Based on the advice of the lady on the desk, we tried the street cafe across the road from the hotel and came up trumps with an excellent Pad Thai and Tom Yam soup.

We were picked up and driven an hour or so out to the jungle covered hills north of Chiang Mai for out Flight of the Gibbon adventure. They have over 7km of ziplines and abseils between 32 treetop platforms spread out through the jungle. We had 8 people in our group and two guides, Hobbit and Ton (!), who were completely nuts and great fun. We had body harnesses with attachments on the front and the back. On most ziplines we were attached on the front and whizzed down in a seated position. On a couple of lines we could go down tandem lines attached to each other, which was great fun. The best one was when we were attached by the back of our harness and got to do a bungee-style leap off the platform and whizz down on our fronts. Our cheeky guide got bored of waiting for people to jump and started pushing us off anyway just to hear us scream! The whole thing was great fun. At one platform we caught up with the previous group, which contained a rather large Australian woman and her family. She made a joke herself about waiting for the fat lady, but Hobbit joined in and took it a bit too far after she'd gone. He apologised the to the Aussie about insulting his grandmother, only to discover she was actually the guy's mum! We were all crying with laughter but he kept going, digging himself an even deeper hole. After that he stayed at the back of our group, too scared to meet the Australin woman on the next platform!
At the end of our adventure we were provided with a delicious full lunch and taken up to a local waterfall, where we climbed a ridiculously steep and slippery set of steps all the way to the top of the 7th tier of the waterfall. It was very pretty, but we were exhausted by the time we got back down.

The Sunday Market in Chiang Mai is known as Walking Street. This is the biggest night market and generally where the best bargains can be bartered as it is where all the regular stall owners come to buy stock for their own night market stalls. I miscounted how much money I had with me, which was probably a good thing as Thai markets are definitely one of my weaknesses. I ended up with three scarves, a pair of shorts, several small purses and postcards. If I'd had more there was a real danger of buying a beautiful handmade patchwork bedspread made by the Hmong tribes of the Myanmar/Thailand border... Probably good that I didn't have the money as I could never have got it in my rucksack!

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