From Tokyo we flew into Bangkok Thailand, but we'll be covering Bangkok in a different post. From Bangkok we flew to Chang Mai, a smaller Northern city in Thailand that's close to the Myanmar border.
The flight to Chang Mai was enjoyable as we got upgraded to first class. We also were entertained that the flight attendant kept insisting that Scott looked familiar and thought he was from the movie the Hangover.
When we landed in Chang Mai we got checked into our hotel and then walked a few blocks down the road to check out the night market. The streets were alive with all types of vendors selling food and other things.
The next morning we were picked up for a cooking class. There were four of us taking the class, us and another couple. We hopped in the back of a little truck that toted us to a local produce market where we got a tour with our chef. We learned all about the local fruits and veggies and the different ingredients that are essential to the flavors of Thailand.
After the market tour, we headed over to the home of our chef where we spent the rest of the afternoon whipping up the most delicious Thai food we've ever had. We each made a total of six dishes. To say the least, we were stuffed when we left. The chef was amazing and even gave us signed copies of his recipe book. We definitely recommend this cooking class.
The following day in Chang Mai was definitely an interesting one. We had arranged for a private driver to take us around. First, we stopped off at an elephant camp, where we got to play with some elephants and watch them bathe in the river. It was so amazing to be so close to the magnificent creatures. However, if we were to do it over, we would have rather gone to the elephant sanctuary where the animals are treated less like circus animals.
After the elephant camp we drove out to a hill tribe refugee camp. It is a camp that is set up by the Thai government that houses Bermese tribal refugees that have escaped persecution from Myanmar. The people are allowed to live in huts like the ones they would live in in their normal setting. They are also taught essential survival skills such as farming, and children are allowed to go to school where they learn in their own tribal language. Spending time at this camp was very humbling and eye-opening to the genocide that occurs. While we were there, we were able to help out a very special little girl named Maria. Maria and her mother, along with most of the other women in the camp spend a lot of time hand weaving fabrics used to make their clothes and other items from the fabric. This was definitely a highlight of our time in Thailand.
After the refugee camp we stopped off at an orchid and butterfly sanctuary. It was a nice way to end the day.
The following morning we hopped on a flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. Initially, we had planned on flying to Luang Prabong, Laos, however the day before we were going to fly into Laos, there was a plane crash in Laos on the exact airline/plane we were supposed to fly on. Unfortunately, it was very tragic, with zero survivors. After the crash, we decided to pass on Laos and fly straight into Vietnam.
When we got to Hanoi, we didn't exactly recieve the friendliest welcome. We were hassled by immigration while trying to get our visas, and they made it very clear that they were not happy with the American tourists coming into Vietnam.
Once we stepped out of the airport, the streets were complete chaos! There were so many motorbikes driving all over the roads in all different directions. Our minds were blown by the number of scooters and motos that almost were run off the road. This would basically be the case for our entire time in Hanoi.
With the exception of the staff at our hotel, we were always recieved with unfriendly glares and it was nearly impossible to walk anywhere outside without almost being creamed by a motorbike.
After our not so great experience in Hanoi, we had planned on flying down to Ho Chi Minh. But as our bad luck streek would see to it, a huge tropical storm clobbered central Vietnam causing hundreds of cancelled flights. We figured a flight to the South part of Vietnam shouldn't be affected…wrong! Due to all of the cancelled flights from the storm all of the flights throughout Vietnam were either sold out, or the prices had skyrocketed.
So, back to Bangkok it is! We headed back into Thailand where we were greeted with the familiar smile, and we were very grateful to be back.