Chiang Mai

Date: 28/03/2007 | Author: Dave

We spent 3 nights in Chiang Mai. Really just killing time till our crossing into Laos for The Gibbon Experience. We are staying at a lovely mini resort by the Ping River called Lanna Mantra. It seems to have only about 10% of it's rooms let at the moment. Has the smoke scared the tourists away? 10 days ago there was a state of emergency declared here but we are following the air quality graph and it is hovering down by the acceptable threshold. I say acceptable, until Florence starts to develop a cough, that is.
We are using a driver here called Pong. A lovely man with a very comfortable Isuzu station wagon. It is loaded with boy racer accessories. The two 'Sard-shift-technical-works' vision obstructing extra unnecessary meters on the dash are attracting my attention. Can't work out what they do. He takes us to an excellent elephant sanctuary and hospital. The elephants look very healthy and show us an amazing display of their skills. Very accurate kicking and pushing of logs. I know it sounds tacky but two elephants painted two quite respectable pieces of art. Better than some things I have seen in the Tate but not as good as Rolf Harris if you know what I mean. There are some very poorly 70 year olds in the hospital, a land mine casualty and a very cute 20 day old baby with it's step mother. Asia's first successful artificial insemination. A ray of hope for the Asian Elephant. The girls are now getting hot and bothered so Pong takes us home.
Florence is feeling unwell, coughing getting worse and with a slight temp so Gabby takes her to the Hospital. Our parental instincts are making us feel guilty for coming here but the hospital is excellent and puts our minds at ease. Gabby has quite a bad time with her that night and we are wondering if she will be too weak to walk into the jungle in just two days time. It is becoming clear however that we need to streamline our progress through this area. Pong takes us to Chang Rai and we reach the Laos border the following day with Florence's health improving but the smoke obviously thickening. This smoke is worrying me and I am constantly trying to equate it to situations I am more familiar with. Like sitting round campfires in Cornwall or the portaloos burning at Reading Festival. We cross into Laos and the smoke is if anything, worse.... but the locals seem to pay it no heed.

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