Arriving in Chiang Mai was a breath of fresh air – literally – hot air, but fresh (unless you’re behind a tuk tuk, then not so much) . Gone were the fumes, beggars, children left on overpasses all night, harassment by Thais lying about your destination being closed so they can take you somewhere you don’t want to go, and best of all, the rubbish & smells. Chiang Mai is clean, clean, clean. And laid back. We jumped in a songthaew (red taxi ute with covered bench seats in the back – mind your head) for 50 Baht each, and were dropped on Muang Moon to look for accommodation. You do not have to look far, there is accommodation to suit all budgets, and LOTS of it. We found ourselves at the Chiang Mai Inn, large room with en suite and air con (not great, but did the trick) for 350 Baht per night. Everyone wants to sell you a tour, so as advised by my bible (Lonely Planet Guide) I checked we could stay there without having to buy one. Seemed okay. As it happens, we did buy one, but only on our 5th day there. Did a one day trip for 900 Baht each with Mr Jungle. Picked up at 8.00am with huge hangover from night before where we weren’t going to drink – well that was a huge fail. First stop breakfast and elephants. I love elephants and I want one, only about 1,000,000 Baht to buy, but I’m guessing the upkeep is probably fairly major too – may have to content myself with cats & dogs, oooh, and horses and goats and chickens. And if we end up in Oz perhaps a camel – but I’ve heard they have severe grumpybumgonnahurtyouuificanitis. That said, elephants are really gentle considering how many ways they could kill you if they so wished. I got to ride on the neck, but apparently I wasn’t a competent driver so got shifted to the seat on the back – way, way more bumpy but still awesome. We stopped to buy bananas and immediately the end of the trunk was waving in my face saying gimmee – I gave, who’s gonna argue with an elephant? When we finished we were told to stand directly in front of our elephant, and it whipped it’s trunk down between my legs, and up, up, up I went – unfortunately the landing wasn’t what you’d call graceful as my legs gave out and I landed on my bum – to the elephant’s credit, it did not squash me like a fly. From there we were off to a local village (not the Long Necks, which was okay, as I’ve heard it described as a human zoo) where we viewed and bought some of their woven products. Karen and I both bought beautiful hand woven scarfs, and Karen also purchased an amazing table cloth which she is going to use as a wall hanging or bed spread – way too nice for a table cloth! My memory gets a little hazy at that point as I believe I may have sobered up enough to enjoy the full force of the hangover, no, hang on, I remember, we went for a walk to a waterfall. It was very hot. Our guide thought it would be funny to get a long piece of grass and tickle my neck whilst yelling at me to freeze because there was a spider on me. Suffice to say Jacky (guide), Karen and James thought it was a lot funnier than I did. I froze and yelled back “GET IT OFF ME”. There may have been some swear words too. There certainly were afterwards. So we set off to the waterfall where we couldn’t swim because rain had turned the water stew brown. But there was a bar, with beer, in the jungle. So whaddya do? Obviously you drink. Next stop was for some lunch, my taste buds had reasserted themselves by this stage and I vaguely remember it being nice. Then bamboo rafting down another stew brown river, which, although we got saturated, was really very pleasant, great views drifting past, stunning iridescent dragon flies, water snakes and just a chilled hour or so. This was our last activity before heading home. Great day out.