Chiang Mai 26th – 29th November

Chiang Mai 26th – 29th November

With no more planning to do, my first day I could actually get out and explore without having to think and what and where I was going next! I spent the day wandering around the old town which is a very nice place to wander around, a welcome contrast to Bangkok. I spent some time in a really nice cafe overlooking a temple and watching the world go by while researching which elephant experience I wanted to go to and making sure it was definitely an ethical one. In the evening, I headed to the night markets looking for food and to see what they sold. I had found that they opened at 5 so I went at around 6, in time for supper, only to find that even then, they weren’t really open! Classic Thai timings! Thankfully there were still plenty of food stalls open for business so I just made sure to take my time and when I was done, then the markets seemed to just about be open! I had ordered another pad thai but this time was laughed at when I asked if there was any fish/meat (fish sauce doesn’t bother me) and she said of course there wasn’t as it was a vegetable pad thai but you can never be too careful, as shown by what happened in Bangkok!

The second day, I went on my elephant sanctuary tour to Happy Elephant Home (click for a short YouTube video). This. Was. Amazing. They are such majestic giants and being that close to them was an experience I won’t be forgetting. We started the tour by changing into some traditional clothes and chopping up sugar cane to feed to the elephants. They use their trunks for so many things, it was amazing to see. They used the tip to grab the food and then they cradle it until they have enough pieces to eat. If there was a bit on the end that was too hard, they used their feet and trunk to chop that bit off. It was all very dexterous and really impressed me! However, they really wanted their food and were frequently following me and diving into my basket of food which is a little intimidating simply because they are so big!

The sanctuary had a few very small dogs who were not at all bothered by these giants roaming around with them.

We then took them down to the river and swam around with them as they bathed and the re-muddied themselves. The baby of the group was hilarious, blowing bubbles in the water near his mother and running around all over the place.

My final day was spent wandering around the town again, this time with 2 people. We visited various temples throughout the day and then, when one went off to a cooking class, I went to get a Thai massage with the other woman. We had bonded a little earlier over our fear of getting a massage as we’re both seriously ticklish but we both felt we really couldn’t leave Thailand without getting a Thai massage. Someone I’d met during the hostel pub quiz had suggested a place that trains prisoners while they’re in jail and then exclusively hires ex-cons at their shop so we headed there, hoping we were going to be able to withstand the massage!

A bit of quiet greenery in the SW corner of the old town
A fun place to have some lunch. It was like a tree house with wooden floors and the edges were raised to become tables

Things didn’t start well with the washing of our feet. Both of us were squirming all over the place and just couldn’t sit still no matter how much we tried! However, thankfully the massage itself was very very firm and therefore hardly ticklish at all. In parts it was mildly painful as she dug her thumbs into various knots all over my body. Overall, I quite enjoyed it though and I felt very relaxed and refreshed afterwards.

That evening, I headed back to the night markets with my similarly massage-fearing-friend for some food and, after a bit of peer pressure, I finally bought myself some elephant harem trousers just so that everyone in England knows I’ve been to Thailand on a gap year style trip!