No pictures on this entry as I’ve just uploaded them all to Facebook. I have added though a lot of videos to my you tube page which are really good check them out the links are at the bottom of this entry.
I spent 9 days here and had a incredible time. I didn’t want to leave after a week. I flew from Phuket on Bangkok Airways first flight from Phuket to Chiang Mai. At the airport you were greeted with dancers, music and flowers. I met a lot of incredible people who I hope to bump into again on my travels. I did a lot in this week so instead of writing about each day I am just going to write about each activity.
Hostel I stayed in Baan Khun which was just outside of the city walls. I slept in a female dorm of 8. The common area on the 1st floor is were everyone mingled or attempted a movie night. The manager Mama looked after every guest like they where one of her own. She was constantly feeding you and making sure everyone was ok. The rest of the staff were also friendly. I decided to spend the rest of my week at this hostel. The front of the hostel was a tour shop which made it handy if you wanted to book a trip.
Temples & Sunday Market There are a lot of temples with in the city walls of Chiang Mai. I spent one afternoon exploring two. One was at the other side of the city and had a golden Buddha inside. When I was exploring the grounds I walked into the monks chanting which was great to witness. The temples are so beautiful and colourful. The other temple was one of the oldest in Chiang Mai. When the walking Sunday Market takes place the temples also open up there grounds to be used for food stalls. I did go to the walking Sunday market. They close the Main Street down and all the side streets surrounding it. The market is massive and very overwhelming. The streets are lined either side with stalls selling anything you could imagine. In the middle of the road are performers and artists. Everyone else is shopping or eating at the food markets. I just shuffled along until I reached the end which took me over an hour.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Everybody usually heads up north in Thailand knowing that this is the place to see the elephants. I had been looking forward to seeing the elephants since the start of the trip. I booked my day tour through my hostel. Mama gave me a free bag, beer, water and breakfast to say thank you for booking the tour through her. I visited a sanctuary so I did not ride any elephants I looked after them for the day. There are a lot of people who think it is cruel to ride them but I personally just did not feel safe getting on the back of one so I opted for a sanctuary. The trip started at 9am with a two hour drive up into the mountains. One part of the journey is on a dirt track and the inclines plus pot holes makes for a bumpy ride. At the top of the dirt road is a village where we met our guide Ken. Ken guided us down a hill and across a bamboo bridge to where the sanctuary was situated. After some water we hiked up a muddy hill to see the first two elephants, a mother and son. The mother was 14 years old and the son was 1 years old. Kens family had inherited 50 acres of land which the elephants were free to roam. The mother had a wooden bell on her so you always knew where she was. We fed the elephants bananas, stroked them and obviously took lots of pictures. The baby elephant was very cheeky and kept playing with a young boy who was his Shepard. The young Shepard and baby elephant had such a nice bond they were constantly playing with each other. We then went on to meet the last elephant she was 54 years old and pregnant. Elephants are pregnant for 2 years she had already done one year so had one more to go, her belly was massive. When you rubbed her belly the baby elephant sometimes moved. This elephant had spent most of her life working pushing trees down and it was visible on her trunk where skin had rubbed away. After feeding all three elephants we headed back for lunch with the villagers. During lunch we heard the wooden bell and sure enough all 3 elephants where coming down the hill for their daily mud bath. The mud is good for elephants skin it is like a face mask for them. Once the elephants where in the mud bath we jumped in massaging the mud all over them. The elephants where also spraying themselves with mud which meant you were also covered head to toe in mud. After the mud bath the elephants led the way to the water. We entered the river one end and the elephants another. The guide and villagers were in the water with us helping us wash the mud off them but also making sure we were stood in the right place away from the elephants feet. The elephants sprayed themselves again with water and the baby elephant was constantly bopping up and down out of the water loving every minute. Once the elephants had had enough they went back up the hill which left us to have a splash around in the waterfalls and get cleaned up. After we had dried off we headed back up to the truck to return home after a amazing day.
Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park I found out about this place through a few girls in my dorm. I headed out for the day with a couple of other people to see what it was all about. The centre is set out of the city in a very green backdrop. The centre is made up of bamboo huts with a path leading you round. The centre uses elephant dun to create paper. You follow piles of elephant poo to guide you through the huts. Each hut explains a step in the process to creating the paper. At one of the huts you pick a ball of coloured poo and place it in the water and stretch it out over a panel. The panel is then hung out to dry and in 4 hours you have paper. The last few huts are for you to create your own poo poo paper park creation. The paper is already there for you and you pick what you would like decorate. I created a wallet whilst other people made journals, passport holders and cards.
Tiger Temple I visited Tiger Kingdom to mainly meet the baby tigers. I have been to the one in Bangkok which I was not a massive fan of as the animals were very sleepy and chained up. The one in Chiang Mai is suppose to be one of the best, I did want to have a look to compare. It feels like you are at a zoo when you arrive it has a very fancy entrance where you pick what package you would like. I picked just to see the a baby tigers whilst the people I was with did the big and baby tigers. You get given a number and you wait outside of the cage until a guide is free to take you round. Before you enter the cage you have to wash your hands, change yours shoes and read the rules. The rules where not to stroke the tigers head, do not touch the tigers paws, do not try to play with tiger, approach from behind and you had to take your own pictures as the guide was focused on the tiger. When we enetered the cage it shocked me how lively the tigers where just like big kittens playing. Some tigers where asleep and others where playing. We sat behind them and got our pictures and moved onto another tiger. I do have one funny picture of me freaking out cos a tiger ran straight behind me, you can just see a orange blur in the corner. The whole experience lasted 15 mins. I wondered around the park after and saw baby tigers one month old and a Siberian tiger. The cages looked clean and pretty big it was a lot better standard then the one in Bangkok. Even the big tigers where playing, I watched one play in the pool with his toys. I’m still not 100 percent convinced they drug them.
Cat Cafe I headed to cat cafe with a friend from the hostel for some afternoon drinks. Yes, this is a cafe just full of cats. It was a nightmare getting there as taxi drivers in Thailand always say they know where it is but don’t. After a hour of driving around asking for directions and having maps drown in mud by locals we arrived. The cafe was clean and did not smell at all. It was a modern theme with pillows on the floor and low tables. Cats were just wondering around laying on pillows, bags or tables. The cats looked well feed and were all very friendly. We got a few drinks and played with the cats for a while before heading back to hostel. If you are a cat person you will love the cafe the cats are gorgeous.
Lady Boy Show in Night Bizarre The lady boy show is all I heard about my first few nights in the hostel. I ended up seeing it twice cos they do different acts most nights. It is located in night bizarre which is another huge market area. They lady boys work the market getting customers in for their 9:30 show. I will upload videos of the acts cos some were mind blowing you just can’t get your head around them being a man. There are a few which you can tell but a couple were also sexy as well as being beautiful. They do target the men in the audience which is hilarious as some look terrified. After a hour of miming and dancing to classic hits in over the top outfits the host comes back in which is a little fat lady boy. She gets the men up on stage and gives them a little dance it is very funny, then she gets all the girls on stage for a dance to end the show. After the show the acts are all outside waiting for you to get a picture, for a price of course.
Mauy Thai Boxing On my last night in chiang mai I really wanted to see the boxing. A group of about 12 headed to the arena with ring side seats. I was nervous cos I don’t do well with violence. The arena is dirty with men running around trying to get you to place bets. There were 5 fights, one male, two female, one international and a comedy fight. The female fights where the bloodiest and the British fighter won the international one. You kind of get sucked into the atmosphere of everyone yelling waving money about I really enjoyed the experience. For the comedy fight they blind folded 4 men and then let them go for it in the ring. Before every fight the fighters walked around the ring and it looked like they were praying to each corner of the ring. At the end of the fifth round each fighter went to the competitors trainer and received a glass of water from them as a good sportsman like gesture.
Thai Massage I got my first Thai massage up north from a prisoner or ex prisoner I should say. They have a rehabilition program in chiang mai where they train prisoners in the art of massage. You can go to the prison to receive one but I had met a few people which got sent straight to the massage parlour in the city centre. I headed for the parlour instead of the prison. The massage starts outside on the deck where they wash your feet. They then take you inside to change into some lose PJ looking clothes. The massage was really good it didn’t hurt and it was really relaxing. They use there elbows, hands, feet and legs through out the entire massage.
Night time I spent my evenings feasting at the food markets, movie nights in the hostel, firework throwing over the river or going out for drinks around the city centre. Safe to say I did not get much sleep.