I had an absolutely wonderful long weekend in Chiang Mai with the Samakee crew. We headed up Thursday night (flew Air Asia which was 30 minutes late, as I’ve heard is always the case) and had free airport transportation to the hotel when we arrived. We booked our hotel online through bookings.com and it was a steal! The hotel was called Chiang Thai House and was about 10 minutes walking distance from the night bazaar and walls of the Old City. I would highly recommend it… the rooms were clean, cute and comfortable, breakfast was good and the shower head was perfect!
Immediately, I fell in love with this city. The pace of life is so much slower than in Bangkok. Everyone was friendly and the city felt much less congested. It had quiet streets lined with used book stores, fruit smoothie stands, markets, markets, more markets, art shops, yoga studios and incredible Wats. For those of you reading from home, I would compare Chiang Mai to downtown Kingston as Bangkok is to downtown Toronto. Much more low key and easier to breathe!
On Friday we spent some time wandering the Old City, walking barefoot in the sacred Wats and checking out the neat shops. We took a pickup taxi to the Thai Silk Factory where we all did a little Christmas shopping.
From 3:30 – 8:00 we went to a Thai cooking class by a company called Basil. Check out their website: http://www.basilcookery.com/home/! First our instructor Tom took us to the local market and taught us all about the different herbs, vegetables and spices. I wish I did this the day I moved to Thailand.. I learned so much!
When we got back to the kitchen we made a 6 course meal! I chose: Spring Rolls, Pad Thai, Hot and Sour Prawn Soup, Red Curry with Bamboo Shoot, Stir Fried Minced Pork with Holy Basil and Deep Fried Banana. I told Matt that after this class he’ll fall more in love with me. We’ll see about that..
We ended up packing up our leftovers to take back to the hotel because it was just too much to handle! We definitely needed to walk it off before bed, so Tom to drop us off at the Saturday night market to do some exploring. I got a new pair of Thai style pants, a bottle of Chanel perfume (it’s probably fake, but I don’t know the difference) and a pair of rip off Ray Bans for under 30 USD. I love Thailand.
On Saturday we were up bright and early to go to Patara Elephant Farm. It was by far the most amazing thing I’ve done since landing in Thailand. This is the link to their website: http://www.pataraelephantfarm.com/. The farm promotes “ethical and meaningful tourism and happy elephants,” and from what I could see they held true to their motto. The idea is that each person becomes an elephant owner / caretaker for the day. We learned how to read elephants for physical and emotional health, how to care for them properly and some history about elephants in Thailand.
When we first arrived I had my eye on a male elephant who was swaying back and forth, back and forth.. looking totally unimpressed and impatient. The guide kept saying, “He hungry, hungry.” When the guide was pairing us up with our elephants, he first pointed to a timid female elephant for me. Apparently he could tell by my body language that I had my heart set on the swaying, impatient male. He laughed and then introduced me to Poo Jan. Poo Jan was majestic with such a bold personality. While we were trekking through the mountains, he was determined to get food kept holding up the line to grab leaves with his trunk.
They gave us traditional Thai elephant riding pants to protect our skin from their thick hair and taught us some basic commands (emphasizing the word “how,” a command that originated from India meaning ‘STOP’). My inner thighs are still aching from holding on so tight.
We made our way to a small waterfall where we washed our elephants from head to toe.
At the end of the day we met a baby elephant that was only 15 days old. She stepped on my foot, which made me laugh because I literally got stepped on by an elephant.
On Sunday we decided to sleep in (until 8:00, it was amazing!), wake up slowly and practice yoga. We found a small studio inside the Old City and enjoyed some much needed stretching after a day of trekking.
The rest of the day we walked around Chiang Mai checking out the markets and taking it all in. The city had a welcoming, chill vibe and I’m already planning to go back! Overall, a fabulous weekend with a group of people that I LOVE traveling with. I’m looking forward to our many more adventures to come!