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Saturday 11th July - Set off at 4.30am from Derby in the Charade. Steve and Robert come down with me, arrive at Heathrow at 7.30, check-in at 8.20, take-off at 10.15. Fly 747 with Pratt and Witney engines. Eight and a quarter hour flight to Delhi, two good meals and a film. Sit next to Len all the way. 10 seats wide, given an orchid when we get on board. One hour stop in Delhi, then three hours twenty to Bangkok, arrive 6am local time, midnight London time. Not sleep, much, another meal and a ripping yarn. When we walk off the aircraft the hot air makes me think that we are in the engine exhaust, but we are not. 30km drive to hotel, air-conditioned bus, Mr Supoj is our guide. 30 Baht is £1
Sunday 12th - Arrive at the Park hotel at 8am, Walked down to the park and railway station get a tut-tut back, B30. Have a good dinner at food centre and have little sleep. Talk from the leader at 2pm. Go to the Royal Place at 4pm in tut-tut, also see marble temple, see monks living quarters. Go to a traditional restaurant have a good meal and see traditional dancing. Three cockroaches, two inches long, in the bedroom.
Monday 13th - Get up at 5.30am, go on the canal (kalongs) at 6.30am, ride for an hour, see a real floating market, have some local food. See electricity cables along the canal bank.
Tuesday 14th - Go to see Golden Buddha, worth approx £50M. Meet some guy who takes us to a special Buddhist ceremony, then a meal and a few beers. Go back along the canal. He asks for 200B for the canal man. Get train to Chiang-Mai, set off at exactly 6pm, very good scenery. Have two meal in the restaurant car, very stylish. Watch people working in the fields. Train is a diesel with 20 coaches. Buy a half bottle of Mekhong whiskey for 40B, have a bit of a party. Camera stolen.
Wednesday 15th - Good nights sleep, wake up with a hangover. Train is late into Chiang-Mai. Get lots of people looking for my camera, report to the police on arrival. Go on a visit to local works, silver smiths, silk ties, wood carving, all solid teak. At 6pm go for a walk round the night bazaar and then for a good meal, 43B
Thursday 16th - Go to visit the local university, hill-tribe research centre. Drive up to Doi Suthep, mountain temple, 3400 feet, misty on the top, very steep drive. Come back down and go to the Daret restaurant for dinner, a Japanese man talks to me in English. Walk round local markets, no Europeans.
Friday 17th - Morning call at 7am, breakfast as usual of fried ham, two fried eggs, toast, marmalade, butter, papaya and coffee. Take the microbus to Mae Sai, takes 2½ hours. Dinner of rice and fried vegetables. Start up a rough track to Akha tribe village, about 60 households, 500 people, arrive at 2pm, explore the village. Get talking to one lad and then others join in. Have a look at their school and see English numbers, posters about opium addiction, general hygiene, Buddha and Thailand. They have classes for two hours in the evenings. They have electric light and motorbikes. 9 km and rough road to Mau Suei. We give piggy back rides to the children, play fight with them, piggy back race with Dave. Michael, our guide cooks tea of rice, vegetables and pieces of meat, also nice potato soup. No rain, clear sky all day. No mosquitoes till after dark and then not too bad. Village is at 1600m elevation. Try out the local speciality.
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