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Well, what a busy week! After leaving Pai last Monday (and Charlotte and Lorna, who we won’t see now till we’re in New Zealand) we moved on to Sappong for a spot of caving.

Shouldering heavy rucksacks in the midday heat, we settled for the first guest house we could find – called Jungle House. It was rather rustic and farm-like, but was run by a lovely little lady called Da who made us feel so welcome – and she turned out to be the most superb cook!

We planned our trip to the caves for late afternoon so that our visit would coincide with the thousands of swifts that swoop into the caves to roost at sunset. The caves were as interesting as they were a sight, although you wouldn’t be able to tell from my snaps. Think a new camera’s the first thing on the list when I’m back home and get a job! After lots of walking and climbing, the rest of the evening was extremely relaxed and we all retired to the barn soon after we’d eaten. The morning wasn’t so serene… We were awoken by cockerels, a mimicking mynah bird saying ‘morning’, and some strange country-style music that was typical of an American horror movie! Nonetheless, it was another great experience to add to the list – and despite feeling like I was the victim of another cliché murder scene, we made it out alive!

After Sappong, we took a bus to Mae Hong Son – the next significant place on the northern Thailand ‘loop’. We spent two days here: the first we trekked up a mountain to watch the sunset, and the second we spent enjoying the customs of a local festival. Lots of tasty street food!

Mae Hong Son didn’t have much to offer, so we made the Sukhothai Historical Park, a World Heritage Site, our next stop. And I’m so glad we did. We’ve seen lots of Buddhist temples since we’ve been in Thailand. And I mean lots! But Old Sukhothai, with its well-preserved 13th-century Wats, was truly wonderful. We spent two days cycling around the parks; they’re split into zones and some of them are up to four kilometres from the main, central site. There’s something about Buddhism that I find so fascinating and captivating, and visiting Sukhothai made my view of the religion even more beautiful. Don’t worry … I won’t be coming home wearing an orange robe!

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