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Thailand 2014 - Chiang Mai

THAILAND | Thursday, 13 November 2014 | Views [307]

After a couple of days relaxing in Sukothai, we headed up to Chiang Mai. The two Germans we met were on our bus, so we made some plans with them. We arrived in Chiang Mai on Sunday afternoon, just in time for the Sunday market. Chiang Mai is a walled off ancient town, with narrow streets and a lot of hippies. The Sunday market takes place inside the city walls. When we headed into town, around 6pm, it was busy, but quite nice. We browsed the shops, and found the food area for some delicious street food. After eating, we walked around some more, and by chance, bumped into the German guys. We ended up hanging out with them for a while, before heading home. Getting home was CRAZY. By the time we left, it was around 9pm, and I think that every tourist in the whole city was at the night market. The 10 minute walk home turned into an hour of trying to push passed masses of people. Eventually we made it and passed out!

The next day we explored Chiang Mai and tried out a few of the awesome restaurants in the town. We went to the travel agent and booked an elephant safari for the following day, and then met up with the Germans for dinner and drinks to celebrate Phillip's birthday.

The next morning we woke up bright and early and got fetched for our elephant day. Our first stop was a banana farm, where we picked up bunches of bananas for the elephants. We arrived at Woody's Elephant Camp and met the elephants and trainers. We then went across the road and got changed into traditional "Mahout" uniforms, and learned the Thai words for "stop", "left", "right", etc, so that we would be able to train the elephants. By this point we were super excited. We headed back up and fed the elephants the bananas we had fetched earlier. It was really an awesome experience. We then had some time learning to control the elephants. Climbing up onto the elephant's back, I experienced my first problem... I heard a tearing sound as I pushed my leg over the elephant's back, and got off with a totally ripped crotch of my pants. We sat on the elephant's back, rested a stick on its head (either on the left side, right side, or middle depending on the direction you wanted to go) and called out the Thai instructions. After doing a few spins around in circles / backwards / forwards, the elephants got a break, and we headed to the banana farm next door where the boys got to flex their muscles and chop down banana trees with machetes. We loaded the trees on a truck and took them back to the elephants, who devoured the entire trees. We then went for a DELICIOUS lunch (Thai curries) and fortunately I got a chance to change my pants! After lunch we got on our elephants and rode up the mountain. Robin and I were given the biggest male (I think because we are so big) named Magnum. He was not interested in following instructions, and just bee-lined for every bamboo tree he could find, and ate as much as he could before the trainers shouted at him to move on. We got up to a lookout point with a beautiful view of the green mountains, and just relaxed for a while so that the elephants could have a break and find some more food to eat. After a while we headed down the mountain to a river. The elephants were so excited for this part, and headed straight into the water and lay down. We then went in with buckets and scrubbing brushes, and washed them. Magnum almost fell asleep. The trainers then got them up, and said a new command to them, and they started having a water fight, spraying us with water from their trunks. We then moved over to a nearby dam and went swimming with Magnum.

I think for both of us, the elephants will be one of the highlights of our trip. We spent a long time researching elephant camps which really look after the elephants well, and I am so glad we did. Woody's Camp was great and I would recommend it to anyone. I think that I would have had a totally different attitude towards this experience if I had felt that the elephants were mistreated, or unhappy in any way.

We headed home, absolutely exhausted, and got some food and a couple of drinks for our last night in Chiang Mai.

Tags: chiang mai, elephants, night market, woodys elephant camp


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