Every Sunday, you can find the enormous "Walking Street Market" which criss-crosses through the Old Town with hudreds of stalls selling everything from ornaments to food to instruments - and everything in between. This is one of the main weekly events of the Old Town and as such is heaving with people - it was reminiscent of walking down Wembley Way after a football match. I took a video to show this - hope it comes across:
Especially striking were the stalls which sidled off the main street and into the Wats (Thai Temples). In these back-lit environments at night, especially with Monks chanting in the background, it was particularly breathtaking. Hopefully the video below captures this:
I was also impressed by the range of different lights on offer - I've tried to capture some of them here (we were only allowed to take photos of some of the stalls). 
And finally, we have to mention the number of music performers. They sit/stand in the middle of the road with the stalls either side and busk - some are great, some are not, but all added to the overall bustle and slightly surreal atmosphere of the market. See videos below:
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The chap in the video directly above is playing a saxophone made from bamboo. 

He was also selling alto saxes made from bamboo - incredible idea, and such an unique but lovely sound, but I bet they'd be very hard to play!

 
 
Until today, Lonely Planet hasn't let us down yet when it comes to restaurant recommendations, and we wondered if it actually would. Alas, it quickly became clear it will. 

We visited Pum Pui for lunch with great enthusiasm  thinking how nice it would be to eat some homemade pasta... alas, while the food wasn't bad, it just wasn't great, and nor was the service. It was all a bit "meh".

So, sorry Lonely Planet, strike one... However, I did get a really funny photo of Victoria with the pepper grinder, so all is forgiven!
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Victoria goes crazy for the pepper... although forgets her food hasn't arrived yet!
 
 
It's always great to meet like-minded people, which is what happened last night when we met Joi and Wes at the Cocktail Car (and then went on to Zoe in Yellow - photo above). 

Joi, who hails from Chiang Rai, just north of Chiang Mai, invited us to join them for lunch at a beautiful lake which is not that well known by tourists: located at Huay Tung Tao.
The lake there is simply breathtaking. Overlooking the foothills of the Himalayas, it is possible to sit in palm huts, eat wonderful Thai cuisine, and then swim in the lake. Paradise - and thanks again Joi for showing it to us! See for yourself:
It's just a shame they were leaving the following day - although I did get to say goodbye to them in a local pub where I was watching Man Utd (lose! bah!) - which happened to be where Joi used to work. 

@ Joi and Wes: it was a pleasure to get to know you, keep in touch and I hope we get to share a beer together again soon. Adrian and Victoria xx
 
 
Most evenings, just off the main street which runs through the heart of the Old City of Chiang Mai, you can find the "Cocktail Car". Parked in a nearby lane (or Soi) this 'took took' has been converted into a bar and consistently makes fantastic cocktails. They even have dance music playing out of rigged up speakers.

Run by 2 friendly chaps from Chiang Mai, and with a real mix of clientele, this is a really fun bar, and we shall be back! They also make excellent cocktails at very reasonable prices!

The other great thing about this bar is that we met Joi and Wesley. Joi is from Chiang Rai (just north of Chiang Mai) and  Wesley is from Holland, and are getting married next April in Chiang Mai. A really nice and friendly couple, we met at the Cocktail Car, hit it off, and went drinking at Zoe in Yellow, just up the road with plans to meet for lunch the next day. Joi and Wesley:
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Joi and Wesley
 
 
Although it is not much to look at from the outside, the food in this Indian restaurant is some of the best I have ever eaten. There's a reason why Lonely Planet Guide puts this as the number one choice of restaurant in the Chiang Mai Old Town district (there's some other excellent restaurants too).
 
 
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La Brasserie in the Beachcomber resort is so good we came here twice. 

Everything is made freshly to order (ie no fish oil for me) and the staff are incredibly friendly. Because we visited again, the chef even came out to say hello! We can whole-heartedly recommend the Red Curry, Massamun Curry and Sweet & Sour Chicken. 

Even better, you can sit on a veranda overlooking the stunning beaches.

 
 

The Trek Back Down

After a long hard trek yesterday, it was good news today: all we had to do was trek back down again and then we get to have lunch and then ride elephants! 

Although actually tougher than it sounds walking downhill for a 3 hours, it was much easier then yesterday's trek (!) and we got to see some amazing insects and other wildlife. Also, our new guide was pleased to show us different wildlife that perhaps we wouldn't have seen otherwise.

Elephant Riding!

Having finally reached the bottom, we had made it back to the paddy fields and then village where we had lunch yesterday. After a brief noodle soup snack, it was time to jump in the truck and head towards the elephants!

Riding elephants is bloody scary  It's official. And it's far from the sedate concept we had. Especially our elephant who was just cranky! Instead, it was like riding a rollercoaster with no seatbelt - but that said, it was great fun and elephants are really wonderful creatures :-)
 
 

First Stop: The Jungle Market For Much Needed Provisions

A pick-up truck collected us from the hotel around 9am, collected a few other trekkers on route and then we drove several KM out of Chiang Mai to a Jungle Market. This sells everything (and more!) you will ever need for a trek into the jungle: from raincoats to mozzie spray to bottles of water and bandanas, they sell everything. We quickly picked what we needed (a check sheet was provided by the trek organisers) and then set off for the first part of our 2-day adventure.
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Victoria tries on the raincoat she bought for the trek... just to make sure it fits ;-)

Bamboo Rafting!

From the market, we immediately encountered some great fun: bamboo rafting! Our 7 strong trekking team were split into 2 groups, and we boarded a bamboo raft and were introduced to Tuk, our 12 year old driver. Tuk was great: he stood at the front of the raft for the duration, and used a bamboo pole to steer the raft - often shouting "snake" and "crocodile" and hitting the water - as we tranquilly floated down the river to the foot of the hills. Delightful, and so peaceful.

Lunch At A Local Village

After fun rafting, we were driven another few KM to a local village where we were given rice and vegetables (it was not very gourmet!) and told to sunscreen well.

The Trek From Hell!

The trek was tough. It was great fun, and a personal challenge for everyone, but by jove it was hard work! Although it began in an easy and picturesque fashion by walaking through some amazing rice paddy fields, and crossing a stream, we quickly realised what we were up against as the paths quickly ended and we began to trek up hill nearly all the way to camp, in the peak of the sun for several hours. 
But the scenery was breathtaking, and we knew there would be a camp, waterfall, dinner, and beer at the end of it, so this drove us on!

Camp And An Amazing Waterfall

At very long last, we made it to the final waterfall - just he log bridge to cross and we're at camp. Needless to say, first thing we did was jump into the waterfall - clothes and all - to cool off. What an amazing and fun experience. The best big of all was the chance to have a shower under the waterfall the next morning.
After a well-deserved cooling down in the waterfall, time to pick a piece of wood to sleep on, chat, play cards and generally settle down for the evening. Amazingly, by 8PM we were all in bed!
 
 
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We've been soooo careful with what we eat, the water, ice, etc, as we aclimatise to the water here, and had managed to avoid any type of food poisoning... that was of course until we travelled up north to Chiang Mai. And of all things to give us food poisoning but a US chain: SUBWAY! (GRRRRRRRR!). We won't be having one of these again soon. Looks like a day in bed now - just hope it clears up by the time we head to the jungle tomorrow... At least I've managed to eat a bowl of steamed rice this evening.

 
 
Finally arrived in northern Thailand very late and shattered. Looking forward to hitting our bed and then a lie in tomorrow!