Saturday 14 May 2016

Chiang Rai & Chiang Mai

Back in 2014, I travelled around a bit of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam with a pal and adored it, so was keen for Phil to experience some of things I had seen and done, and also do some new stuff together. Phil was able to take another two weeks off work so we booked an outbound flight to Chiang Rai in the North, and a return flight two weeks later from Koh Samui, an island in the South.

We arrived in Chiang Rai in the evening just in time for the Sunday food market. We ate lots of new street food (including our first taste of grasshoppers!) and watched some traditional live music and dancing. The following day we visited the famous White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) which was beautiful. It reminded me a little of Rivendell from Lord of the Rings, but maybe that's just me.

White Temple, Chiang Rai
White Temple, Chiang Rai

Later that day be got a tuk tuk down to Chiang Mai where we tried the city's local dish - Kao Soy - and shopped in the Night Bazaar where we bought hundreds of Thai pants at £3 each - what a barg.

The following day was spent at a farm with the Asia Scenic cookery school. It was great that Phil and I were able to learn how to cook some Thai dishes together as we are now really excited about cooking some of them again when we live together in Singapore. We made (and ate) spring rolls, Pad Thai, soup, curry and banana fritters before rolling back to our hostel.

Asia Scenic Cookery School, Chiang Mai
Asia Scenic cookery school

We spent two more days in Chiang Mai at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary a few hours drive north of Chiang Mai. We were lucky enough to be with a great group of people so had a good laugh and some interesting conversations. We had a similar mindset about going on this particular tour - we had all heard so many horrible stories about elephants which are treated badly out here; poked with sharp sticks, made to do tricks, and ridden by tourists. This particular tour was based at an elephant sanctuary where two families of elephants had been rescued from being abused at another camp. We could all tell immediately how happy the elephants were; as we fed them, bathed with them and washed them.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Elephant hugs and kisses

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Mud bath with the gang

The rest of the group headed back to Chiang Mai but Phil and I stayed the night with one of the families up there in the mountains. We spent the evening playing with kids in a waterfall and eating and chatting with our host Mr Somm until nightfall.

Waking up to the sound of clucking chickens, snuffling pigs and barking dogs in the middle of the mountains was surprisingly wonderful. We both felt kind of liberated being so far away from phone signal, cars and buildings.

Waking up with nature

After breakfast Mr Somm and the two of us took one of the elephants on a walk through the jungle along the river. Another surreal experience as the huge, pregnant elephant daintily stepped through narrow pathways and river crossings.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

The two days we spent at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary was something we will both remember forever and we now both have a new-fangled love for these gentle giants.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

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