The Smoky North

Date: 28/03/2007 | Author: Gabby

Chiang Mai was really really hot, not as humid as Bangkok but a few degrees warmer.
We were staying in a hotel just outside the city called Lanna Mantra. On the banks of the Ping river. Thankfully, it has a pool. The kids happily cope with the heat if they are within 5 metres of it!
We were spending a few days there as we're booked on the The Gibbon Experience on 30 March (the earliest day we could book in) and it seemed like a good place to while away a few days. We spent time doing school work (in between cooling dips in the pool) and went to an amazing Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang, about an hour's drive from our hotel.
It was lovely to be back in Chiang Mai again. I spent quite a lot of time there when I studied Thai massage in 1993 as well as when I was travelling with Helen Beales in 1989. The town has grown a lot but I did manage to find an old favourite, The Riverside restaurant, where the food is great and they sell pretty palatable wine (NB our alcohol consumption since arriving in Asia has plummeted). Going there brought back a few memories from my other visits to Chiang Mai.
The air was dramatically better than it had been but it still wasn't great. The Thai, Laos and Burmese farmers all employ the slash and burn methods of farming during March and April every year. The effects are worse this year because of the long, hot dry season this region is experiencing (yet another part of the world where water is becoming an increasingly precious commodity). Florence developed a really nasty cough while we were there. The guilt I felt for bringing her here was insurmountable and for the first time on our trip I didn't want to be where I was. I think my feelings were exacerbated by the lack of sleep I had experienced for the 2 nights Florence was ill. I took her to the Lanna Hospital for a check up - less than 30 minutes and 10 later we were on our way, armed with medication and masks, in case the air quality became any worse.
Fortunately, by the time we were ready to head to Chiang Rai, en route for the Thai/Laos border, Florence was feeling a little better and the cough had subsided (as had my guilt). I just hope she's well enough for the one and a half hour hike to get to the treehouses at the Gibbon Experience and hope that the air doesn't get any worse.............

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