Chiang Mai

I really like Chiang Mai! My first stop in Thailand, there’s something about this city that just feels right. A lot of what I did here over the last 3 days was not picture-appropriate, such as walking in markets and getting massages.  So I’m putting all my days into one post!

I arrived in the afternoon, on the last day of Songkran.  Songkran is their New Year’s Festival in which the country partakes in a 3-day massive waterfight.  I didn’t arrive in time to get my own watergun but I was soaked many times over on my outing that evening.

My hostel offered free rides to the weekend night market, so I decided to check out the Saturday one.  I met a really nice Dutch girl on the ride down, and we ended up spending the next few days together.

The market was amazing! I got some amazing food, and just wondered at all the beautiful things that I couldn’t fit in my bag to bring home.  I realized at the end I took zero pictures, so here’s a few things that caught me eye. Mom, don’t we have those bears?

The next day I walked around the old city to see some of their temples.

From here I went to the three kings monument and met my new friend Odelia.

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We got an amazing hour long foot massage (so good!) and then decided we needed more rest so found a great cafe and hung out there for over 2 hours.  We were sitting beside a little waterfall, they had giant koi fish, and great live music.  Plus the food and drinks were delicious!

From there we split – Odelia heading back to the hostel, and myself going to see more temples.

In the evening I went to the Sunday Night Market and bought way too many things.  My perfectly packed bag is now stuffed to the rim.  Oh well, only 7 weeks to lug it all around!

Yesterday I spent the day with elephants (BEST. DAY. EVER), and today I returned to my temple going ways.

An iconic temple in Chiang Mai, the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple is located on top of a hill.  While you can drive most of the way up, you still have to climb 309 steps.  Very fun. It was very foggy for my entire visit, so I couldn’t see the great views of the city.  But that also meant the temple wasn’t so crowded, so that was nice.

From here I headed back down the hill and got a Thai Massage – so good! I also checked out the folklife museum, and walked around the city before getting dinner by the water and walking around the weekday night market.  Though I didn’t buy anything material, I did get a very fancy ice cream!

The perfect end to a perfect few days.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

Today was THE BEST DAY.  The fact that there are elephants in Thailand is well-known. The temples are decorated with them, carvings and textiles fill the markets and they take up such a big cultural presence everywhere.  There are many excursions to see elephants, and most happen out of Chiang Mai.

I knew I wanted to see them, but I wanted to do so in an ethical manner – so no riding. And I needed the company I choose to also treat them well.  So I picked Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, and had the absolute best day.

Upon arrival, they let you feed the elephants banans and sugar cane, while also supplying them with lots and lots of corn husks.  Their skin is a bit like sand-paper and I was definitely flinching each time a trunk came near me. There were ten elephants (including one baby!) and 40 of us, but if never felt crowded.

From there we had a bit of lunch, and then they provided some traditional clothes for us to wear for our next interactions with the elephants. I was trying to get a selfie with the lil’ guy, but he is super playful and pushed me over – very strong even at a young age.  The worst part is that I didn’t even get the photo!

From here, it was time to cool down with a relaxing mud bath.  We rubbed mud into their back to help with the itch as they can’t scratch their backs.

And then it was time for a rinse!

All the while that we are in the water with them, they are pooing like crazy.  Thankfully they just eat veggies, so it is just a little wheat ball.  But still, these guys just eat, pee and poo all day, and only sleep 3-4 hours a night.  The staff here live here so there are always around these elephants to make sure they are well.

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And then we had time for one last hang and feed before we had to leave.

It was an amazing day, that’s going to stay with me for years to come.

They had a photographer on site as well, so here’s some more better quality photos: