Welcome to the jungle!
So at this point, most of you reading the blog probably realize that we have traveled home to the states and are safe and sound residing in NY. Although it seems a bit silly to still be blogging about our travels after having returned home, it is important to us to finish up by sharing our amazing adventures in Thailand, as our time there brought us so much joy and a much-needed rest at the end of our journey. Anyway, if you are still reading, thanks for sticking with it ☺!
Chiang Mai is a smaller, less touristy city than Bangkok, situated in the Northern region of Thailand. The landscape is comprised of small mountains, rivers, and jungles. Our accommodation in Chiang Mai was a beautiful riverside bed and breakfast.
Our room was all dark wood with a private bathroom and a balcony. Some views from our room:
The B & B had a little pool, which came in handy in the 95 degree heat. Also, we loved that you could order complimentary breakfast at any time of day and they brought it to you anywhere on the quaint property that you desired to eat on that particular day- in the garden, on your balcony, poolside. It felt quite luxurious and cost next to nothing. They also brought us up the river into town on this lovely boat!
Our first adventure in Chiang Mai was a Thai cooking class. This is a popular tourist activity across Thailand. Our class was run by an extremely smart, creative, and aggressive Thai woman. She was aggressive in that she barked commands at us as we were cooking – “CHICKEN! NOW! NOW! CHICKEN! NOW!” -- so that all 12 woks being used produced absolutely delicious fare (and most of us had not cooked a whole lot of Thai food prior to the class).
We were impressed! We used the freshest Thai ingredients (fresh herbs from the garden) to create authentic Thai curries, stir fries, and soups. It was a pretty cool cross-cultural experience because the teacher was translating into English from Thai, and everyone in the class (except for us) was translating her English into their own language – Spanish, Hebrew, Chinese, French, etc. Whoa!
We also took a tour of some gardens and picked up our ingredients at the local market. Check out the size of these green beans!
This is a little shot I like to call “After and Before:”
The Thai people are aware of the fact that American and European palettes in general are not quite as accustomed to very spicy foods. In restaurants, often waiters will ask if you want your curry spicy. If you say yes, they will ask you if you mean “Thai spicy” or regular spicy. Nikki loves her some spicy food so she made all of her dishes “Thai spicy.” Check out this pic of her sweating out the green chili in her Tom Yum soup…mmm, mmmm good!
And check out Marin at the wok:
Adventure #2 in Chiang Mai was one of the major highlights of the entire trip and probably Marin’s absolute favorite experience. We went to Patara Elephant farm and spent a day caring for elephants. Patara Farm is located about 30km north of Chiang Mai. There are several places to have a variety of experiences with elephants in Thailand. We were very careful in our selection process as many of the sites do not treat the elephants well and make them do silly things like kick soccer balls with their trunks. Although you may be thinking, “I bet that would be cool to see,” it is actually quite harmful to the elephants. They can easily fall over and break bones. They do not recover well from such injuries and sometimes they do not recover at all.
At Patara, the idea is that you come for the day and care for 1 elephant in the same way that an elephant farmer would. We were in a group of 12 people, and each of us was paired with our own elephant. Marin had a 24 yr. old femaie (she was enormous!!!) while Nikki had a 7 year old male (smaller but big tusks!). We got to feed, bathe, brush, and ride our elephant. You also learn commands to so they will do things like lie down, come, stop, turn left/right, and lift up their trunks so you can feed them. The real elephant people knew how to get them to “speak,” spray water out of their trunks and all sorts of other stuff. We rode bareback (basically sat on top of their giant heads) as this is better for the elephants. Here we are living it up in the jungle with our buddies:
And did you know elephants love pedicures?
These guys were the cutest! And because you spent the entire day with 1 animal you really loved it by the end of the day. It was truly special! We fell in love ☺ Oh and there were 3 babies- about 2 months old each- adorable!
When we weren't cooking or bathing large mammals, we enjoyed the night market scene of Chiang Mai -- more massages, more fresh food, more cheap beer!
After about 4 days in Chiang Mai, we packed up and headed down to the South of Thailand for some R & R on a remote island and the final leg of our journey.
Tune in 1 last time for our experiences sunning, snorkeling, and smiling on the beautiful island of Ko Phangnan! xoxo Nikki and Marin
PS -- Do you think this monk is real, or a wax statue? We stared at him for 30 mins. and still couldn't decide!!!