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Published: March 13th 2016
On our original plan we weren’t sure whether we would go to Chang Mai. The easy route would be to go to Bangkok and either fly or train. It was due north and we needed to head south towards Singapore. Two things forced our hand one was if we flew into Thailand we got a 30 days’ visa as opposed to a 15 days one, the other was that Alison wanted to see some elephants. There wasn’t a direct flight so we took two Air Asia flights, the first a short hop to Bangkok then an hour north to Chang Mai. This city is known for three things temples, elephants and cuisine. We were going to experience all three during the next 3 days.
On coming out of the airport the first thing we noticed was nothing… for the first time since China there was nobody trying to flog us a taxi to the hotel or tuk tuk, we could instead calmly walk up and pick a taxi. The next thing we noticed is that Thailand, or maybe Chang Mai is a far more prosperous country than where we came from, our taxi was to be a large
4x4, a bit overkill really, but most of the airport taxis were that big. The driver wasn’t particularly helpful. He obviously didn’t want the job, it was a long road that our hostel was on, and as the hostel was new he didn’t know where it was and he couldn’t really be bothered!
Our hostel was
new and the proprietor was very proud of it, it was spotless. As we would find out in the following days, he was very helpful, in organising tours, taxis and giving us useful information about our stay.
After our travelling we just wandered the old city, exploring the temples, there are many Monks around the temples, they like to use their English and you can even ask them questions. On the Saturday and Sunday evening they have a walking market, these are huge, selling food, clothes and art, this was one of the most varied markets we’d seen.
Then our elephant excursion, Alison was very excited about this. We were picked up by the driver in the 4x4 and headed on a 2 hour drive right into the jungle high in the mountains. We were
to be members of the Karen tribe for the day, people that live on the Thailand Myanmar border. There are concerns regarding elephant tourism, and we wanted to get more involved than just riding them, and we didn’t want to be on a mass tour, there were only 6 of us as visitors for the whole day. The elephants we saw were owned by a family, who had been working with them for many generations. They told us about the elephant what they eat, the various types, breeding, how they find them by GPS, as they let them roam. It was an amazing day starting off by feeding them bamboo and bananas. How they used their trunks to pick up, tear and manipulate food was incredible. We then took them down to the river and washed them down, always conscious that these enormous animal could stamp on your foot, curtailing the rest of our trip. Next the task of getting on the elephant we were to ride them without naturally - without seat, it was an amazingly gentle, if prickly ride, we were 10ft up, going down inclines another 12-15ft up, terrifying at times, after a nice lunch, our guides
invited us to watch the elephants play….Nothing seemed to happen, then after 10 minutes all hell came loose, water splashing everywhere, such a noise, the guide said if they didn’t get them out they would be at it for hours. After a ride back to camp on the elephant it was then time to head down the mountain to Chang Mai- an amazing day.
Our last day we had a Thai cookery course, led by our lovely teacher Pui, who’s huge enthusiasm and personality, belied her diminutive size. We went to the local market to explore local foods, then returned to make spring rolls, Pad Thai, chicken and cashew nuts, curry paste and resultant curry, then scoffed it all down, we were stuffed. We’ve had a great time these 3 days and sad to move on, this time by train to Bangkok…….
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