Posted 20 September 2006
Well, what a cool trip this is turning out to be. I can say that I was in a country which was a constitutional monarchy one day, and a dictatorship the next. That sounds all very exciting, but really, it's not. Here in Chiang Mai, 12 hours train ride north of Bangkok, everything is normal. No ones uneasy or upset, life just continues on as normal. The only difference is that apparently, and I haven't seen them, there are military personel on the streets with automatic weapons. Unfortunately, it looks like it will have an impact on our tour, in 3 days we were hoping to cross the border into Burma for half a day, but the northern borders have been sealed. My tour guide has said there is absolutely nothing to worry about, and everyone believes that this will be peacefully resolved. I've seen the transmissions on tv, the military appears to have every intention to hand control back to the people as soon as possible.Anyway, onto my trip. Yesterday we took a 5 hour bus trip to Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya used to be the capital of Thailand, 250 years ago. Then the Burmese came through and destroyed every temple. So the king packed up and went to Bangkok. So, yesterday we went to the ruins of two major temples. They were quite amazing, these buildings were 700 years old. All the budhas had had their heads smashed off.In the evening we boarded the overnight train to Chiang Mai. Here we met the rest of my tour group for the next 6 days. Up until now it's been 3 of us, but now it's 15. Out of the 12 new people, 6 of them are Mexican exchange students studying at Macquarie University. The rest are Aussies, a young couple from the central coast, a girl from Newcastle, and the rest from Sydney. They're a pretty good group, everyones easy going, so there's no disagreements in what to do etc.We stayed up reasonably late partying in the dining car, a lot of backpackers were on this train from a large number of different countries. I've never had so much fun on a train before! I had just enough alcohol to put my straight to sleep, usually I don't sleep on trains but this time, no problems.We arrived in Chiang Mai at around 9am, went to the hotel, and then we went to the jewelery and silk factories. We got to see them make the jewelery and the silk, and I picked up some good bargains for presents for my family. After that we went to one of the temples, a big one up in the mountains. It was very ornate, but temples aren't really my sorta thing.