Sorry to all Chiang Rai forum devotees. If I had been thinking with both sides of my brain, I would have posted a seperate report for each destination.
This is the next best thing.
Day 6.... We were picked up by the famous, much lauded Jermsak. By the time we finished our tour with Jermsak three days later, it was obvious that all of the superlatives used to describe this guy were accurate. It was the little things that made a huge impact - the icy cold bottled water just when we needed it; the hand towels to wipe the perspiration off, and the little bags of fresh fruit that he bought from roadside stalls were most welcome. HIs knowledge of the north is amazing and his patience and willingness to please his client is obvious. We won't put in all the details of our particular trip here, as Jermsak prides himself on tailoring an itinerary which suits each client personally. The driver we had - a lovely lady named Air, did a great job.
Our thanks must go to another TA devotee, Broder, who made mention of El Shadai orphanage in Chiang Rai. We asked Jermsak to build a visit to this orphanage into our itinerary. He was happy to do so. These kids are looked after by a man named Mr. Surasak and his lovely wife. 16 children in all, who receive no support from Government or aid agencies. This man has taken on the responsibility of educating, feeding, clothing and housing kids who, without Mr Surasak and his wife, would probably be fending for themselves. Some of the older girls would probably be in BKK earning a living working in bars and clubs, if it were not for this wonderful couple. We felt priviledged to be able to help in a small way. The faces on these kids "lit up" with excitement as we arrived with some "goodies". They have so little and receive so much joy from things that kids in our country take forgranted. Alison and I have determined that we will continue to support the orphanage financially on a regular basis. I strongly recommend a visit. It's a way of giving something back to the people of Thailand, because we all come away so much richer for the experience of visiting this country.
Our base in the north was the Hotel North - just near the night bazaar. A good, value-for-money, comfortable boutique hotel. No problems recommending it. The night bazaar was the best we came across in Thailand. Plenty of selection, not too crowded and traders who were more interested in their TV's than hassling tourists!!! Good selection of restaurants, and if you're tall like us, watch out for low-hanging signs on the streets!! They hurt.....
For readers who don't normally view the Chiang Mai forum, the full version can be found there.