Posted by Megan:
Due to the time lost with Julia being crook we opted to fly from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai (much faster than the 3 day 2 night boat and bus journey overland). Chiang Mai is very vibrant and we both loved the hustle and bustle after being in sleepy Laos. We explored the famous nigh bazaar. Again I went a bit crazy shopping. We even managed to catch the All Blacks versus Romania game (much to the disgust to the English guy at the table across who wanted to watch the football).
The second day, we booked a day trip. First we stopped off to visit the butterfly farm and Orchid nursery followed by a rather traumatic stop at a snake show. We saw loads of poisonous and non-poisonous snakes. As we walked around the cages Ju commented on the ugliness of one of the pythons. It must have heard her as it snapped at her making a lunge straight for her face. Thank goodness for the wire cage but even so we squealed in fright. We watched the snake show which basically involved 3 men seriously pissing off some deadly snakes. I touched a Thai Cobra (the poison can kill a human in less than 1 hour) and then we both had our photos taken with a python around us to replace the ones that were lost in Vietnam. The difference was that the python in Vietnam was docile and placid but this time the snake keepers had spent the last 20 minutes riling these ones up. As a result I was far more scared this time even though the 3 of them were holding the snake (last time I held it on my own). It was so gross it started to wrap itself up my face and try and strangle me. Ewww. Oh well. I survived and the treasured photographic proof of my snake handling is again captured (Julias memory card ate the last one and it was lost forever).
Next stop was the Chiang Dao Cave, an enormous cave stretching about 1 kilometre long. We walked the first 660 metres inside. We had lunch in Fang and then continued to see a giant Buddha at a temple in Tha Ton. On top of the hill we had views across to Chiang Rai and the Burmese border.
We carried on deeper and deeper into the mountains to see the hill tribes. I was amazed to see Long Neck, Big Ear and Straight Leg tribe women. It did seem a little bit like we were visiting a human zoo, but I still found it interesting.
It was a long drive back to Chiang Mai, we arrived about 7pm into the thick of the massive Sunday night market. We lasted about 3 hours perusing all the market stalls before collapsing into bed exhausted! We didn’t even see all of the market – it was that huge.