Up at 6am this morning to get to Chaba Guest House and pick up the mini bus for the Golden Triangle Tour. We drove to Chiang Rai hot springs and then on to the White Temple which has taken over 10 years to build and is still under construction. It has cost millions of Bhat so far (which isn't actually that much I guess when converted!). The owner only allows donations of up to $1,000 from any one donor.
We then went onto a boat trip over the Mekong River to Laos which was notably poorer than Thailand. Had the opportunity to try all different whiskey's marinated with various dead animals... scorpion, python, adder, gecko etc etc... surprisingly I declined the offer. Was mainly jungle on this side of the river and no real infrastructure anywhere. Lots of chickens running around...
The onto lunch before heading off to the Burma border town of Maesina. We visited a Jade factory but everyone agreed it was quite pricey. The highlight of the trip was heading on further to visit the Hill Tribes of Karen (the long necks) this was quite depressing... like a human zoo. The woman who at age 5 have 5 heavy brass rings put round their neck then have another ring added every year until the age of 21. They also have rings put round their knees. The purpose of the rings around the neck, other than to make them fabulously attractive to men is to stop tigers carrying them off by their necks in the middle of the night. The ones around the knees are to stop snakes trying the same old trick. Both Karen (Namibian friend) and I found it all very false and degrading. Though the women were all very sweet and happy to pose for pictures with anyone.
The 3.5 hour journey back went relatively quickly as it was dark by now. Apparently it poured with rain all day in Chiang Mai today so was good we were away.
Its first day at college tomorrow and am excited to start.
Am also thinking of moving to the Chaba Guest House which is nicer than here and has more students there that I will be studying with.