Chiang Dao National Park, Thailand

I was picked up at 7am by our tour guide and it was raining. This was not a good start. We collected John, a French guy who was living in Singapore, and drove the 2 hours to the national park. I could see why this may not be something you would do as a tourist unless, like me, you are training or really have a desire to walk. It was far to the start of the walk and the rainy on and off weather was off-putting. And it didn’t stop. We walked all day in the rain, which was fine, it was an experience itself, but kinda ruined the view part of the walk. The clouds rolled over and although we clearly walked up to a high elevation, we couldn’t actually see to tell that. We crossed many streams and I made the mistake of letting my feet get wet in the streams early on, and then they froze for the rest of the day as the rain just kept coming. The choice to buy non-waterproof shoes, because your feet get wet inside from the heat anyway, was now being questioned.

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We walked for about 6 hours and arrived back at the vehicle. We then found out that due to the normally hot climate, Thai cars very often do not have heaters, only air con, and as it was damp in the air the driver needed that on, so we froze all the way back.  

Well that was until we had a small break from the drive back when the car slid off the road in the mud round a corner and ended up in a ditch! Not the break from the air con we had hoped for; we were stuck! After a short while of moving logs to try to get some purchase under the wheels that were in the ditch, another car came along, and then another and they decided to pull the big pick-up out with a tiny green jeep. This was surely never going to work, especially with rope that looked like it was for wrapping presents, not pulling 2 tonne trucks out of ditches. Oh and remember it was still raining at this point. More fun. Anyway, it worked, so I decided to take note that miracles do happen and not to underestimate a group of Thai men with some string and the equivalent of Barbie’s beach jeep I had when I was younger, blown up to real-life size and painted green! So we continued our cold journey back for 2 and a half hours and I was greeted with the typical shower here, where you either have a dribble of hot water or a bigger dribble of lukewarm water. I opted for the heat and stood there for ages in the trickle trying to get feeling back to my feet – I felt chilled through and longed for a bath; what a day! 

No surprises, I woke up ill. Well I say ill; my whole body hurt, particularly my neck and back. My Mum suggested it might be whiplash or at least soreness from the crash. I had another hot ‘shower’ and went out to get food. Banana vegan pancakes and a big mug of tea; that ought to do it. I then headed back and had the rest of the day under the blankets trying to sort out where to go next and STILL trying to get warm!  

I took a yoga class the next day at a place I found when walking around looking for laundry. I had massively fallen out of my yoga routine and hoped it would encourage me to get back on track. And also I still ached and felt I needed to get moving. It helped a little but I still felt unwell. The class was brilliant though, a strong, varied Vinyasa class and the bakery over the road served earl grey tea; it’s the little things :)

In true character, I left booking my bus to Pai until the last minute, literally, and nearly didn’t get there. I decided to go and have some time in nature, and Pai by the sounds of it was perfect for that. I heard it was a small town, in beautiful settings, with some waterfalls, a canyon and a general countryside chilled vibe. This was the opposite to the New Year’s Eve that I had been considering, but somehow the idea of doing the cliché full moon party (it wasn’t a full moon) on the beach with 35,000 others really didn’t appeal to me, and plus everything was hugely inflated; hundreds of pounds for a dorm, hundreds for the flight or bus and boat, and it was going to be a 2 day mission both ways – no thanks.