Spending time with some great people in some great places.
Chiang Mai is a vibrant city located in the Thai Highlands. It is one of those places people always insist you should visit as it has far fewer tourists than Bangkok, and is much less sweaty.
On one of the days I had time to see the Kayan People. It's a pretty controversial tourist attraction as a lot of people argue that they're in Thailand as Burmese refugees and are being prevented from returning home. They often aren't allowed to gain full Thai citizenship and get a minuscule amount of the money the 'attraction' makes.
In Kayan culture brass rings are fitted around a girls neck with more being added the older they get which leads to deformation of the neck and shoulders which give the appearance of a long neck.
The village which we went to was bizarre to say the least. It seemed very artificial and was purely set up to make money by the girls posing for photos and then trying to sell you trinkets they had made. You can see why the village is often described as a 'human zoo'.
Wat Rong Khun is this crazy temple in Chiang Rai which we visited, designed by the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. This place had statues of Predator outside and paintings of The Matrix, Star Trek and even one of the Minions from Despicable Me inside; it was amazing!
The place was entirely white with silver detailing and mirrors covering a lot of the surfaces. Of all the temples we went to this one wins hands down.
These two ladies looked about 130 years old but were very excited to have their picture to be taken. They were part of one of the tribes deep in the mountains north of Chiang Mai.
With more young people from these tribes going to university it means the older people left behind have to do their best to make what money they can from the few tourists passing through.
Doi Inthanon is the tallest peak in Thailand standing at 2,565m above sea level. The views at the stop were spectacular looking out over the Mae Chaem District. In late 2013 the mountain had frost for the first time in years however the day we climbed it the weather was beautiful and you could see for miles.
Doi Suthep is the mountain with twin peaks which Chiang Mai sits under. We climbed it to visit the Wat Phra That temple. The amount of gold leaf used on the temple was incredible and it was packed with Thai people offering penance for the new year.
We spent a couple of days on houseboats in Mae Jo where people live all year around. They are on a massive reservoir with various islands and stay afloat using empty plastic barrels which are then anchored to the bottom of the lake. If you've seen the Top Gear episode where they end up on the floating houses in Vietnam, then these are a pretty similar thing.