Adventure to Chiang Mai, Thailand

Whoa! You guys – Thailand has been up at the top of my list of places to visit someday – it was right up there along with Greece.  We’re so grateful for the opportunity to be in Asia for work, we took full advantage of it.  After Beijing we hopped on a plane to Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Thailand is home to many of my favourite things:  jungle, spicy curry, fresh tropical fruits, beautiful temples, bright colours, Thai massage and of course – elephants!

We stayed in a really cute small hotel in the heart of the City.  The city is a small square and used to be surrounded by a wall [some remains of the wall still exist].  The hotel captured the Thai vibe perfectly, and was just right for a 4 night stay.

When planning our trip, we initially were going to do three full days of guided tours to fit in as much as possible.  Well, we woke up the first morning feeling pretty exhausted.  Many of the things we wanted to see/do are actually outside of the city, so they require a lot of planning and a lot of transportation [it’s about 3 hours each way just to the famous White Temple!]

So, for our first adventure, we decided to just stay in Chiang Mai and hire a tuk tuk driver and had him take us around a handful of Wat’s [Buddhist temples] around the city.  There are over 40,000 Wat’s in Thailand, and over 300 in Chiang Mai alone!  We wandered into about a handful of them.

For our second adventure, we thought again about doing a tour to some waterfalls, temples and sights.  Then, Dan had the genius idea to just rent a motorcycle and see the sights on our own, again at our own pace!  This was one of the best decision’s we’ve made!  Dan was in heaven driving a motorcycle again! And the route he chose, was perfection.  We made our way through the jungle and the mountains to explore some waterfalls, an orchid farm and some local villages.   The roads were windy and the views were spectacular.  It was truly a perfect day.

The first waterfall we visited was Bua Tong aka the “Sticky Waterfall”.  The rocks are formed from limestone, so it creates a sticky effect allowing us to be able to climb up the falls!

 

The second stop was to an orchid farm:

Third stop was the Doi Suthep–Pui National Park, which had 10 levels of waterfalls!

Just look at that fantastic scenery from our ride!!!

Ok, so our third adventure is the big one.  Beware of the photo overload that is about to take place.  This is ELEPHANT DAY!!! We did go through a tour company for this day, and overall it was a great experience.  I would highly recommend the company we went through as our guide was fantastic and it was a private day of us with him and our elephants!  The day started with our guide taking us to a local market [at 6 am!] to get our fruits, veggies and food for the day.  Our guide took us to a market that was about 45 minutes outside of Chiang Mai near his home village.  It was really cool seeing this local community.  We drove another hour into the mountains to arrive at the Elephant camp.  Upon arrival, I got real Chang fever [Chang = elephant in Thai!] We were supposed to take our time and enjoy our breakfast that we had bought at the market, but I couldn’t wait to meet my friend for the day.

After breakfast, we made snacks for the elephants.

We then got to go meet our elephants for the day.  It was such an amazing feeling, as soon as we turned the corner, two huge elephants came running towards us [with a baby elephant behind!] as they knew it was snack time!  This was an important half hour for us because it acquainted us with our elephants and we had the chance to get comfortable with them and learn about them.  I instantly fell in love with my elephant, Lucky.  She was mamma to baby Dahlia – who walked around with us all day.  Dahlia was so fun to watch because she was just a year old and was so clumsy!

We did the “Elephant for the day” program, so we were each responsible for our friend for the day.  This included, keeping them fed, taking them for their walks, bathing them and more feeding [they eat A LOT].  So after getting acquainted, we took them for a long walk through the jungle.

After about an hour of walking, we stopped so baby Dahlia could play and roam around on her own.  This was fun to watch the elephants interact with each other, and watch Dahlia get in trouble and test Lucky 🙂

After a long walk, it was bath time!

Our time with our new friends ended with some more feeding time and snuggling.  I had the hardest time saying goodbye!  They are incredible animals, and each one has a different personality.  It was an unforgettable experience!

Now for other things we loved!

Thai massages!  Oh my, these were unbelievable!  We fell in love with a beautiful spa. That was designed like a cave!  We ended up getting 3 massages from this place! We tried one other spa too, but ended up coming back to our favourite 🙂  I’m going to miss these – and they are SO cheap!  These spas were really nice and we would pay the equivalent of about $15 for an hour massage!

The Night Bazarre! Our hotel was just a few streets over from the famous night bizarre.  The whole street [and many of the side streets] transform into a vibrant night market.  We found ourselves wandering through here every night.  Of course we picked up some awesome souvenirs along the way J We enjoyed exploring all of the little nooks and crannies of the city that came alive at night!

Thai Food!  Holy moly was I in food heaven!  Most of you already know this about me, but Thai food is my favourite.  And I’ve been drooling over the idea of real Thai curry noodle dishes since we booked these flights! We indulged in all the green, yellow, red and massaman curry they had to offer!  As I’m writing this post on the plane back to London, I’m already wishing for more!  The reality of the food lived up to my high expectations, and actually blew them out of the water.  Take a look at some of the amazing restaurants and dishes we had [it’s ok to drool]!

Tuk Tuk’s!  Seriously this is the best way to get around the city.  They’re so crazy, but oh so fun!  I wish they had these in London…and they were as cheap as they were in Thailand 🙂

 

Thailand was such an incredible experience.  And such a refreshment in culture in comparison to China!  The Thai people were so warm and welcoming.  We were always greeted with a smile and the locals have so much pride for their city and culture.  I really cannot wait to go back and explore other areas of this beautiful country.  4 days was just not enough!

It’s been quite the month in Asia.  An experience we’ll never forget.  We had significant language barrier the whole time, but one thing we learned and will take with us:  smile’s and laughter are universal 🙂

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