After bus burnout we flew 1 hour from Luang Prabang in Laos to Chiang Mai, Thailand. We arrived on a Sunday which is the biggest market day and her indoors was overwhelmed with the choice of bargains while I escaped the shopping mayhem in an internet cafe with a large beer. It's a bit too touristy here for my liking but it's not too hard to escape the minibus tours if you try.
We rented a scooter and visited the nearby attractions including an elephant sanctuary where the talented trunked ones have been trained to paint. Yes you heard right, they actually paint, play football and various other impressive tasks.
There's also a somewhat touristy tribal village where the infamous 'long neck' women live. They never take off the metal bindings around their neck from a young age. Over time the neck elongates and if they were to take off the bindings they risk breaking the spine as the neck muscles would not be able to support weight of the head unassisted. It's all a bit bizarre as you roam around the village and you can't help thinking that at this point it's no longer about preserving the culture but more about fleecing tourists in a kind of carnival freak show.
Seven hours north of Chiang Mai is the most northerly town in Thailand called Mae Sai where we had to spend the night as we waited for the border to open and get our visas for Myanmar (Burma). Our original plan was just to hop across the border into Talichek, Myanmar for the day but after chatting with a French woman who had just spent a week in Burma we decided to head to a small town called Kengtung. It was a decision we would not regret as it is a world removed from tourists but more on that next post. More photos of Chiang Mai in the slideshow below.
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