The next leg of our journey, contained one of the most exciting parts of the trip.....reconnecting with old friends from home. The day after our amazing Elephant adventure, we were picked up at our guest house by the Lundbergs, friends from Abbotsford who are serving for a year in Chiang Mai. It's interesting how Janice and I both wondered why we didn't see more of them back home and plan to fix that when we return. They are a great family and everyone had someone to connect with. Our day started with a trip up a nearby mountain to see a temple with a fabulous view. What a beautiful city Chiang Mai is.
From the temple, we headed out for lunch/dinner to the Lundbergs favorite restaurant. Typical to Asia, it didn't look like much (think carport) but had fabulous food and was super cheap (we fed 11 people freshly prepared Thai food for 12 bucks....total). After some hanging out and catching up, we headed out that night to the Chiang Mai night safari, a zoo that's really only open at night. It was definitely much better than I expected. We saw a laser show, and did two tram tours, seeing the animals at night, when they're more active. The best part was this walk around a huge lagoon. You actually got to see some of the animals quite close up. I had quite an interesting encounter with a leopard. Everyone had gone on ahead and it was just me and him in the dark. He kept jumping on the fence trying to eat me. All that was between us was a chain link fence, which I could easily have stuck my fingers through. Wonder how many kids have walked away sans digits???
The rest of our time in Chiang Mai consisted of a) visiting the huge Night Bazzar, which was super fun and had lots of very cool stuff. This is where we did most of our shopping. It also had a great place for foot massages and Janice and I snuck back one evening for a 4 footer (2 bucks each) for half an hour. A little out of my comfort level but something I could definitely get used to, and b) hanging out with the Lundbergs more. We had Christmas dinner together at a local restaurant and it was a real North American turkey dinner with all the fixings. The kids enjoyed hanging out together and riding around in the back of the pick up truck. That night, we headed back to Bangkok, this time by plane. The train up was definitely something you want to try once but 15 hours compared to 1???? For almost the same price.....not much to think about there. Once again, our ever faithful Thong Ta Resort people picked us up at the airport and brought us to the hotel for a brief bit of sleep.....we were off at 5 the next morning, heading for the beach....part 4.