Day 43: No Need To Rain On Our Parade

Wop wop wop wop wop wop, heeeeeeey sexy lady!!! This was the sound to which Sarah and I were woken by at nine thirty a.m., it’s a good choice to have as an alarm as it makes you wake up happy. We needed that because on this particular morning we weren’t given the luxury of a lye in, as we had to be checked out by eleven and the both of us wanted breakfast. If you ordered food in the canteen of the hotel you were allowed the pass code to use their internet, instead of having to pay for a whole weeks usage. We went online to discover where our next hotel would be, it turned out it was an hour and a quarters walk away from our current location, this made the decision to get a lift that much easier.

During breakfast I ran upstairs to grab the bags from the room and checked us out, we then paid up for the food and left the rather nice accommodation. We walked to the main road where we waved at a couple of red trucks, it wasn’t until our third attempt that the driver actually stopped. It was a friendly couple that were behind the wheel, they agreed to take us to our next hotel for a cheap cost of thirty baht each (roughly sixty pence). We paid the lady she asked if we wanted to go anywhere else, we said we were thinking of visiting the Tiger Kingdom, to which she said ok. After some bartering, we got a return journey for a cost of seventy baht each (one pound forty). We told her we’d like to get settled in our new place before going, to which she obliged and agreed to return at one o’clock that afternoon.

The hotel was very nice, it was the first place we’d stayed in our forty three days of travelling where we’d paid a bit extra and got a lot back for our money. We were still paying very little, it was thirteen pounds a night for the both of us and for that money there was a gym, a swimming pool, en suite bathrooms, lovely chilled out areas, and a glorious dining area. We checked in at reception where to our surprise we had a concierge take our bags on a trolley to our rooms. We all rode the elevators to the fifth floor, and proceeded to our room. Not knowing what was kosher in this situation, I tipped the man twenty baht (forty pence… when translated that seems cheap, ah well, he appeared happy enough). Here, we did what everyone normally does and tried out everything, light switches work? Check, tv work? Check, showers? Check, you get the point. After our investigation of the rooms functionality, to burn some time, Sarah read her kindle and I blogged. Before we knew it, one p.m. had arrived and as promised, so had our lift.

We walked out of the hotel only for Sarah to be complimented, once again, on her looks… “so pretty, you beautiful,” would be the usual sentence. Wanting some attention myself I jumped in front and pretended the lady was talking to me, to which she said “and you, so handsome,” it might have been forced but I got what I wanted. We told the driver it was just Tiger Kingdom we wanted to visit and with that we set off. The ride was a good twenty minutes to half an hour, when we arrived the car park was full of vehicles. Inside, we had the options of which sized tigers we’d like to sit and have photos taken with. At first I was going to do the biggest and the smallest, in the end, I did the same as Sarah and chose to do the smallest. We paid the highest price for this option because you got a more hands on approach with the little ones, as they were less likely to tear your head off if they had enough of you. We queued up with everyone else and were all given separate group numbers which would be called out in turn when it was your go (much like a better version of Argos). We appeared to be waiting for ages at the small tiger enclosure, as other people who bought multiple tiger size tickets seemed to have priority. Eventually, we grew tired of waiting and handed our ticket to the lady to which she said we’d be next. We read all the rules before going through the gate, but by the time we got in the cage with the stripy characters they were all riled up from too many tourists going ahead of us. This made for tricky pictures because they wouldn’t stay still, seeing as they were young they just wanted to play with each other, however, whenever this happened one of the trainers would pick one up and move them apart. We both felt like it was a massive waste of money as other people were getting better pictures than we were, and the ten minutes we got in the cage was determined by wether we were with a tiger or not. For the best part, the pair of us were chasing after one at any given time, meaning our time ran out before we got that perfect picture. We should have paid a bit more money to have a photographer take pictures for us.

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We walked around the reserve to see what other sized tigers they had, and to our surprise, they had around thirty to forty, they even had a lion. As nice as it was to see the large majestic creatures, I did feel bad as certain ones were pacing back and forth in their small cages. I think it was down to the sheer volume of people who were visiting which was causing them to be that way, either that, or it was the trainers poking and prodding them just so the tourists could get a good photo. It seemed like a poor decision to pay to see the younger tigers, as even the ones slightly older than ours had just as much playful energy. Before we returned to our driver, Sarah got some great shots of the larger tigers play fighting in a mini swimming pool, and as you can see in this picture they appeared to be enjoying themselves…

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We recieved a business card from the lady, incase we wanted any more lifts during our stay in Chiang Mai, then proceeded back to the hotel. When we arrived we went back to our room, where Sarah attempted to Skype her sister before she went to work, unfortunately, like normal the signal wasn’t that great. With that we went to the hotel’s restaurant to order dinner, I had a lovely dish of fried rice with chicken and to wash it down with I had a blueberry fruit shake. When I was done, I left Sarah there to mess about with pictures on the tablet, while I went to visit the hotel gym as by this point it had been well over fifty days since my last visit to one. I nipped back to the room to get changed and went to the third floor to pump some iron, unfortunately, when I stepped through the door, there were two things that annoyed/ disturbed me.

1.) The dumbbells didn’t go any heavier than ten kg.

2.) There was a sweaty Thai man training in nothing but a towel, which he had wrapped around
his waste, as if he’d just stepped out of the shower.

I was quite surprised at myself as I was able to do the whole stack of weights on the machine (which was probably only fifty kilos), and I was still strong enough to do some bench/ shoulder work with the dumbbells (thank god, otherwise not being able to lift ten kilos would have ended me). It’s no secret that having a poor diet and the occasional night out drinking will take it’s toll on the body, and during my time travelling I have struggled to keep on any weight I worked so hard to gain back home. I knew I was going to get skinny again, but didn’t know it would happen so quickly, to demonstrate my point here is a before and after picture of when I was at my heaviest, and of how i look now…

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When I left the gym, I returned to the lobby where I found Sarah. After I had a quick shower, the pair of us headed out to meet Brandon and the guys at their hostel. I thought I’d take his t shirt with me so when we reached his hostel I could return it. We spent the best part of an hour trying to find the building, in the end we gave up as it had started raining, and in Thailand when it rains it pours. We hopped in a truck and asked to be dropped off at the night bazaar, from there we could make our way up to the parade which was supposed to be happening for the next two nights. Due to the rain we thought it was going to be cancelled, with that we wandered around town before stopping in a McDonald’s for some fries and a drink. When the rain died off a little we made our way to where we heard the parade would start. We followed the road until we reached a bridge, here we saw lots of people lighting Krathongs and sending them off down the river. The whole while I was still carrying Brandon’s white t shirt, it was beginning to look as though I missed the guy so much that I had to have a piece of him everywhere I went. When we were done at the bridge we walked back towards the night bazaar, on the way we were distracted by the swarms of people walking towards us, in the distance we saw a flashing red light coming from a parked police car. Like a couple of moths we made our way towards the lights, until to our surprise, it was the start of the parade. With a clap in the sky from a firework the parade began, it resembled that of a carnival back home with people walking in front of man made floats (only instead of floats, it was some form of construction carried on the shoulders of ten people). We were here for ages while Sarah snapped away with her camera, when we eventually gained some distance we reached the entrance to a temple.

Here, on the grounds of the temple you could buy a lantern to set alight and send into the night’s sky with a monk. Sarah was eager to take a picture of every second of each person that did this, meaning we were there for…. oh I don’t know….. AN HOUR OR SO!!!!!! I was beginning to grow very tired of waiting around because in my opinion, none of the pictures differed from each other. If you’ve got a picture of one person lighting a lantern you don’t need any more. When Sarah felt as though she had enough photos we left, only for her to decide she wanted to go back in and light one with a monk herself, leaving me to take the pictures. When I fought off the urge to smash the camera on the floor, this was the result of the activity…

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For once Sarah was happy with my photography skills and with that we soon left, not before Sarah snapped away at some more lanterns taking off. We walked down the road avoiding the people in the parade until we got to the corner of the street, here we saw lots of famous landmarks from across the globe in material form. Each one was made of a wire skeleton, wrapped around them was a thin cloth like material, and inside they had lights to make them really stand out. After admiring the leaning tower of Pisa, the Eiffel tower, the Taj Mahal etc etc, we walked through the food market which was set up specifically for the event. Sarah bought herself a drink before we continued down the road to head back to our hotel. During our return journey there were more bloody lanterns, it got to the point I wanted to tear each one apart if it meant we’d actually walk somewhereminstead of stopping every five minutes. Sarah then asked if I’d like to light one with her, begrudgingly, I said yes. We paid fifty baht for the largest one they had and set fire to the ring in the centre, we held on to it for quite some time before letting go, during this time Sarah would constantly let go to take more photos leaving me to struggle with the darn thing. At one point I did consider tying the camera to the lantern and wishing it all the best as it floated out of the Earth’s atmosphere but saner heads prevailed. After ours took off successfully into dark blue night’s sky looking like an orange star twinkling away growing smaller and smaller, Sarah continued to snap away at other people’s lanterns, claiming she still hadn’t claimed that perfect picture she so desperately wanted. Eventually, we got moving again and headed home, but not before witnessing a group’s lantern sink into the river, I felt as though that was sweet justice after having to witness so many take flight. It did look impressive in the sky as there were around fifty to sixty floating away, I imagined it would be better the next night because that would be the last night of the festival and hopefully the sky would be clearer, with the weather being better also.

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I asked Sarah during the walk back if we were going the right way, she said yes….. WRONG, we ended up walking the long way back all around the outside of the old city. For those of you who don’t know, it’s probably around five miles in diameter to which we walked about three. It wasn’t that bad as by then the evening was clear and we got to witness lots of cool sights along the way. Dotted in the river every so often would be floats of Buddha, or other religious designs, one of which was a miniature White Temple. We were reaching the last corner of the walk back when Sarah wanted to stop and have her picture taken with some lit up elephant creations, we took it in turns to do that, then, continued on our trek. Eventually, we were on the home straight where something else caught our eyes, it was the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. Sarah took my picture beside my animal… the dragon (or as they call it, the great snake). When we were set to leave, annoyingly, a group of Asian boys lit up a lantern only this time it was different, theirs had a firework type object hanging from it. It took off and fired off several bangers, when it the fuse had burned enough it sprayed out a bright white light, Sarah took some more photos of this then we walked home. Back at the hotel I showed her the gym to which she struggled with the ten kilo dumbbells (making me feel extremely strong), the pair of us then returned to our room where we enjoyed some watermelon (purchased on the return journey) and movies in bed.

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