After leaving Dubai we were headed back to Singapore for a 10 day stay as our swappers from Brighton England were enjoying a holiday at our place in Koh Samui. This gave us a great chance to meet up with as many people as possible and see the guys we missed when we were last back in June. The 10 days flew past, everyday was a different event, some days were packed with morning and afternoon visits, plenty of playing and swimming for the kids who were overjoyed to be reunited with their friends. We always love coming back through Singapore and really enjoy seeing old faces, in fact some people must be thinking…. 'Jeez, didn't these guys leave this country?' Thanks to everyone for making the time to see us and for offering us the option to stay at many of your homes, we are, and always will be forever grateful!
As with most year's visits here we managed to co-ordinate our stay with friends from Australia, whom we met when they lived in Singapore. Greg, Allison, Jared and Amelie were all in great form and the kids spent all day in the swimming pools or kids club, leaving the adults to get up to speed on what's been going on over the last year. Highlights of the trip were, as always, eating great meals, drinking many beers, relaxing, cheap beach massages, chewing the fat and soaking up the scenery.
Luckily greg is quite handy with a camera and took some great shots for us, Jared is working on editing his reels of GoPro footage into a 2.5 minute soundtrack backed masterpiece, let's see if he comes through with the goods!
Chiang Mai is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand, the name translates to "new city" and was so named because it was the new capital, founded in 1296, succeeding Chiang Rai (founded 1262) as the capital of the Lanna kingdom.
Our first day here was a brilliant one, we all got the chance to become Mahouts for the day! A Mahout is a man that rides, looks after, commands and loves elephants. Usually, a mahout starts as a boy in the 'family profession' when he is assigned an elephant early in its life, they then remain bonded to each other forever, forming an unbreakable kinship. The elephants we were helping that day had all been rescued from either being overworked or from travelling circuses that used them to perform acts in front of paying tourists.
We had to change into traditional Mahout dress (so that the elephants recognized our clothes and their smell) and then fill our bags with bananas to feed the voracious beasts! After a banana lunch we walked the elephants down to the river where we got to swim and play with them, which was great fun. Bath time over we all loaded into a pick up truck and drove into the local village to harvest some sugar cane for their afternoon snacks, before feeding them more bananas and long grass and then finally bathing them again!
A long and exhausting day, but fun was had by all!
One trip we did with Yul was to see Wat Phra Doi Suthep, a temple built on the mountain overlooking Chiang Mai. The temple is said to have been founded in 1383, the king at the time placed a relic on the back of a white elephant which a monk followed into the jungle and up the mountain until it stopped. It was at this place that the original temple was built and over the centurys it has been constantly added to, making it the temple it is today.
After a busy morning we were back to the home stay for a tasty lunch and a swim in the pool to relax and cool off, Although Samuel had other ideas! Becoming a little too confident in his own ability, he decided to attempt a total kamikaze jump into the pool, which resulted, in the pool wall winning, emphatically.
Luckily Yul was on hand to drive Dan and Samuel straight to the hospital emergency room where he was stitched up. A big thank you to Yul for being so helpful as driver, translater, and confidant during the whole ordeal. The hospital nurses and doctor were exemplary and professionally dealt with the situation. Samuel received 3 stitches inside the wound to knit back the tissue, and then a further 11 stitches on the outside, to his credit Samuel was a very brave boy, and thankfully stayed very still during the procedure.
Of course, upon our return to see a very worried mummy and 3 sisters, he was super proud to show off his bloody (literal) plaster!
Once back home with the ingredients we were straight into the kitchen with Yul as our mentor and master chef to help guide us through making our dinner. Fresh rice paper spring rolls, yellow chicken curry, chicken and cashew nuts and fried clams in garlic and black pepper sauce.
Yes, it all tasted awesome!
Dan decided to join a kayaking trip that Yul was running for some other guests and enjoyed a 2.5 hour paddle down the river through the jungle, it was hot, damn hot, but rewarding work.
Thank you to our wonderful hosts and new friends, we will be back to visit again someday, and hopefully Dan will get the chance to play golf with Yul next time!