Cavendish couple finally get to explore Thailand
The water wasn’t expected to recede for another six weeks. The cancellation of the guided segment of their tour meant they couldn’t get to Ayuthaya or Kanchanaburi.
“We had planned to go swimming under the seven tiered waterfall and visit the floating market on the Praya Chao River — we couldn’t do that, the water was way too high,” Day explained.
Having to rebook flights and pay for more hotels was frustrating, she said. But not even the heaviest rainfall in 50 years was going to dampen their desire to see Thailand, or as much of it as they could under the circumstances.
Instead, they managed to chalk it all up to experience and make the best of a bad situation.
“The upside of it is that it was really educational,” she said.
From their base in the Thai city of Chiang Mai, they were also able to make day trips to the neigh- bouring countries of Laos and Maynmar ( formerly Burma). There, they visited the golden triangle, once the site of the world’s second largest opium trade.
They took river cruises down the Mai Ping River, and Mekong River to cross the border into Laos.
During their odyssey, the couple travelled by traditional songthaew, an authentic but primitive Thai taxi; dined on traditional Thai cuisine; visited a tea plantation where they sampled 10- 11 different kinds of tea; had ring side seats at a Muay Ti boxing match, Thailand’s national sport; slept on bamboo planks and board- covered concrete floors; spent time with Buddhist monks; trekked through the jungle on elephants; and saw homemade king cobra snake, scorpion and tiger penis whiskies being brewed in Laos. The aroma from the mixture was enough for them to decide not to taste the local homebrew.
They visited the ruins of Sukhothai, Thailand’s capital before Bangkok. While in Sukhothai Province, they took in the Loi Kratong Festival, a Buddhist holiday that falls on a full moon. The event attracts some five million people. They also visited Sukhothai Park, a UNISCO world heritage site
“We went jungle trekking in Northern Thailand with the Akha tribe, who live a very basic way of life,” Day said.
But the highlight of the venture for Day happened during a trip further north to spend time in the jungle with the Palong tribe. It was there she met and quickly bonded with a four- year old girl from the tribe.
“I felt like I connected with her instantly. Her name was Yune.”
Language barriers and generation gaps proved to be no match for their mutual attraction. Day said Yune taught her their traditional dance and showed her how to weave with grass.
Day took such a shine to the young girl, she ended up sponsoring her to go to school, something her family couldn’t afford to do.
When the time came for her to leave, Day said Yune didn’t want to say goodbye.
“Through the interpreter she thanked me and told me I would be very lucky. She would be a very good girl and do her best in school because she was given the opportunity.
“She told me she would never forget me her whole life and she wanted me to come back and visit her.”
Yune’s family doesn’t have access to email, but the interpreter does, and Day plans to continue the lines of communication with Yune through him.
Day said she’d like to return to Thailand in a couple of years “to visit Yune just to see how much she’s grown and learned.
“That was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. I think the best thing in the world you can do is to do something good for somebody else. And to give a child a chance to learn to read and write, that’s giving them a future. For me that was really important.”
Pointing out everything is really cheap in Thailand, Day said they brought back some Thai rum, which cost 150 baths (Thai currency) a bottle ($3.50-$4 Canadian). She also picked up a wooden fish carving, some clothing and jewellery.
“That’s about it because you don’t have room for a lot in a backpack.”
Besides their most recent adventure in Southeast Asia, the globe trotting Cavendish couple have already visited the Inca trail and Amazon River in Peru as well as the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
What exotic parts of the world are in the couple’s future travel plans? “I’d like to see Greece and India.” And if things ever get peaceful enough in the Middle East for travel, she says, “I would love to see the Pyramids of Egypt and the ruins of Petra in Jordan.”
And, of course, she looks forward to returning to Thailand, hopefully when the waters have receded and they can take in all the places they couldn’t get to on their first visit.