We landed in Chiang Mai and made our way to our hotel just outside of the night bazaar. We ended up running into some Americans who now live in China, Brenda and Olivia. They have traveled here frequently and gave us some great suggestions! We wandered through the night bazaar and ate some street Thai chicken wraps that are amazing…we may eat them on a daily basis.
We got up on Tuesday and decided to call up our taxi driver from the day before, Home, and have him take us on an outing, and thus began the most random of days. We started by thinking we were going to “sticky falls,” some waterfall in the area that is apparently not really known by that name. Instead we started with a quick stop at an orchid farm.
Then we were off and somehow ended up at a king cobra snake charming show. There was a kid who looked to be 10, but apparently is 15, who gave us a tour of the “grounds.” He kept kissing the snakes, talking incessantly, he even did a song and dance for us. He then told us he eats his medicine for his hyperactive autism. Then we got to the main “attraction.” They thought for some reason we were Mexican…probably because of my glorious tan…and thus ensued the most ridiculous experience. They started their snake charming with all these large poisonous snakes, with really loud US music playing, them talking on a LOUD microphone to us in Spanish with Asian accents and having snakes crawling towards us. I just kept looking at Deeter and asking where on earth we were and how did we get here. It was sensory overload for sure. And then imagine the narrators from that TV show American Ninja that are so dramatic and ridiculous…and they kept saying if this one bites you…in one hour…YOU DIE!
We should have known…they had pictures of Sylvester Stallone out front!
Then we were off to hike around Mae Sa falls in the Doi Suthep-Doi Pui National Park. There are ten levels of this waterfall and we hiked to the top. It was beautiful and pretty empty. Pretty sure we were the only non-Asians there. It was great to get out and do some normal stuff we love doing at home.
Next up was a hill tribe village community. We were able to see some Karen longneck women (the ladies who wear the rings around their necks) and see a lot of hill tribe people doing their typical crafts and daily work. AND there were elephants!!!
We then drove up a mountain to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep-a Buddhist temple on top of a mountain that overlooks Chiang Mai. There were a million steps to get to the top but a beautiful view of Chiang Mai. This temple was pretty, but much more ornate and gaudy than we were used to after Angkor Wat. We ate some street meat-this grilled pork thing that was delicious!
Then we headed back to the hotel and perused the night market! Overall, an amazing, random day!
Fun Thai culture facts we learned: Most people in northern Thailand have an arranged marriage and get married around the age of 25 once the males have had a chance to make something of themselves. Most of them now have around 2-3 kids, though it used to be much more. Divorce just really doesn’t happen here. Women work and are doing more and more of the jobs that men typically do. Kids are expected to go to school, but it’s not free, it;s $3000 baht per semester. There are 2 semesters annually with a break in between. right now there are 35 baht to one US dollar. Healthcare is not free and is difficult and expensive to access. University attendance is common. The primary religion is Buddhism. There are 4-5 regional Thai languages and then there is the general Thai language.
Day two in Chiang Mai=ELEPHANT DAY!!!!
We decided on visiting the Elephant Nature Park as it is the only one in the area that seems to be true to elephant rescue and isn’t mean to the animals. This however, meant no rides. We started out the day with our new friends from Spain, Maria and Alvaro and drove about an hour outside of Chiang Mai. The surroundings were gorgeous mountain place. We started by feeding four elephants who we would be hanging out with most of the day. I was in heaven. We fed them a ridiculous amount of watermelon and sugar cane-these animals eat constantly! They eat 16 hours a day, sleep 5 hours a day and spend the rest cooling off in the water.
Then we went on a mountain hike with our new friends. We got to feed them along the way…it was mesmerizing and amazing and unbelievable. These giant beasts just blow my mind. I got kinda tossed by one of their trunks at one point and man these animals are a force with which to be reckoned.
We stopped for lunch in the jungle with the elephants and then headed down to the river to bathe them. We climbed right in the river and hosed them down with hoses and buckets. We stopped at the main area then and checked out the littlest guy-he is 2 years old and five days exactly. He is a spunky little fella and makes me nervous. He is pretty unpredictable and really fast. He always has a big momma elephant at his side to protect him and she was stomping her trunk which is a warning sign to us that we were too close so back we went quickly.
Then it was back to town and a taste of Thailand at a local market. We ate some papaya salad, pad thai and Tom Yum and Tom Ka soup-allll of my favorite Thai dishes in Thailand! Today so far has been a lazy day, the rainy season we have been hearing about has finally reared it’s ugly head and so we are maybe gonna go walk through the Old Town here before long. So far Thailand has been phenomenal and the elephants were the most indescribable experience. Can’t wait for more of it!