Getting to Chiang Mai is always an interesting event, with the Tour Party starting off in Dubliners close to Dubai International Airport with a few sociable sherberts, check in for the seven strong group went extremely smoothly, then through immigration to retire to Mc Gettigans in Terminal 1 to start the Tour in the right manner. With a short delay to the Thai Airways flight the Tourists found themselves with over two hours to get tucked in. Boarding the flight, gave the Tourists at least an hour of being alcohol free before the drinks trolley finally came round, Gris at one point during the 7 hour flight being told discretely by the Cabin Staff, that he was frightening the other passengers!!!
With no time to spare in Bangkok, except for a very quick lung burner for five of the party, we were whisked onto our Boeing 747 for the short hop up into the north of Thailand and our final destination of Chiang Mai. Touching down at 9am on an extremely warm morning in Chiang Mai, the humidity was horrific, especially after a sleepless night with countless glasses of whatever being consumed; we were transferred to our modest headquarters for the week, the Pornping Tower Hotel, located in the heart of the Night Bazaar, and close to all the local amenities.
The advance party were there at reception to welcome the new arrivals and to start proceedings for the first traditional event of the Tour, especially for the Tour Virgins (Jonathan Houghton & Julius Mooney), this consists of a ritual of making them drink a half bottle of Sam Song Whiskey, equivalent to most normal tastes, of downing undiluted paint stripper. With welcome speeches and event etiquette covered over a few cold sociable Chang’and Singha’, it had reached midday and the lads were left to their own devices prior to Captain’Cocktails at The Lotus for 7pm.
Captain‘ Cocktails is the second tradition in the Darjeeling Chiang Mai calendar, where we gather at The Lotus to partake in Mai Thai’s and nibble on various Thai culinary delicacies, the benefit to the Tourists being that the Club Captain pays!! For that two hour period it allows the Tour Party to bond and get to know each other, before heading of to explore the wonders of Chiang Mai’s nightlife.
Saturday morning saw only five of the Tourists head of to the golf course, with AT starting off well by having misplaced his phone and wallet, we finally got away 15 minutes behind schedule to arrive at Maejo Golf Resort with still plenty of time prior to out 11.45 tee time. Rather than splitting into two groups it was unanimously decided that we would all stay together as a five ball and hire carts to get us around the course, with competitions terms decided and financial remuneration agreed we got underway. Five hours, ten beers and some ordinary golf having been played, Chris Dommett took the honours, being the honourable man that he is paid for post round meal and drinks. Mindful of the time and the impending Welcome Party, we hopped back on the bus to take the 45 minute trip back to HQ.
The Welcome Party is the third traditional event, where all the participating teams are collectively together for a night of reacquainting themselves with past foes, in a good natured way of course, and to be introduced to the Team Guides for the week, Darjeeling were allocated Poy and Bee, one for each team, little did these sweet innocent Thai girls know that they had the unenviable job of looking after this group of degenerate and decrepit bunch of so called cricketers for the coming week. More welcome speeches from the Chiang Mai Sixes Committee, and as the free booze ran out so did the Darjeeling youngsters to find more exciting places to continue the festivities and think on the next phase of the tour – the cricket!