Elephant Love at Chiang Mai
Trip Start Sep 21, 2012
26Trip End Dec 26, 2012
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Train turns out to be nice but I don't remember when we signed up for the arctic air con. It's freezing, a bit hard to face a 15 hr journey, even harder when it turned up to be 17 hr but at least we had a nice bed, one cabin only for two of us and a very nice view of North Thailand.
We arrive in Cheing Mai finally, it is hot! The guest house is nice, although a bit unfortunate to see a big fish in a tiny aquarium where he has to do a three points turn to turn around. I had to say a joke at the fish saying "Oh nice fresh dinner" his reply "You eat this fish and I eat You" from the Thai receptionist.
We looked for a few things to do and it seems like Chiang Mai is well prepared to receive tourists, Quadpad rides, Tiger kingdom, Fly Gibbons, Bamboo rafting, Horse riding, Monkeys, Aquatic center, Waterfalls, Lakes, Temples, Markets etc. With only 2 nights and a full day to explore this seems a bit of a mission but we decide to take it easy and just enjoy the jacuzzi upstairs see the sun set then whatever comes.
On the first night we decided to have a walk to the night market, the No1 trip advisor recommendation, although to be honest we find the same sort of products that we have seen everywhere else. The only good thing was before we get there we pass a big food market where Tash tried a squid on a stick, I wasn't brave enough. We have a pizza for dinner and check out the first sight of the famous lady boys, even a Thai Carmen Miranda, but just quickly walked away as they were inviting every one to a cabaret shown, we called it a quite night and went to bed.
The next morning the decision is made to rent a motorbike and go see the waterfalls, elephants and whatever else we can see. We get the bike for 150 bart for 24 hours (£3) and head to Mae Rim outside of Cheing Mai and after a little adventure through the winding roads we find the Mae Rim elephant camp. We arrive around 11am and the show only starts 13:30 pm so we head back down to find the Mae Sa waterfalls. Thailand very beautiful but most things are not free, it costs 200 bart to see the falls. But they are beautiful with 10 levels of falls although the water is pretty muddy so no swimming as we had hoped. Also we realise that the falls are down stream from where over 100 elephants use the river as a toilet, this water also passing through some other villages before getting to the falls. We so dip our feet in but avoid any change of further stomach upset.
We get back into the Elephant camp around 1pm to see them take a bath before the show and we also found we could go right up to them and touch them and on the instruction of the trainer would put its trunk around you and give you a cuddle. Both Tash and I were able to do this and it was pretty amazing to be so close to such a huge but gentle animal (although Tash was a little scared). It was lovely to see the elephants were happy and well taken care off by the trainer. The nicest thing to watch was when they were given a bath on the river where you could see they were in Elephant heaven! Each one would slowly maneuver their massive body to lay on their side and when the trainer started to give them a scrub they would close their eyes and stretch out their legs in enjoyment, it was really sweet. Next up was the Elephant show which was also great to watch and very entertaining. Over an hour we watched them doing things such as playing darts, painting, playing basket ball and football, you could clearly see how well trained they were and were always rewarded with a bunch of bananas or sugar cain given to them by an occasionally terrified tourist (we saw one guy do a tumble roll out of the way of a huge one which was pretty funny). And after we also bought some bananas and sugar cain which we fed to a cute baby elephant.
We set off on our bike again get some food found a place where we enjoyed a nice Pad Thai and then decide our next plan was to go to find a big lake near by. We find the lake but then another 40 bart to get to see it, well what can we do, lets pay and play. It is a nice man made lake but not very clear to swim so Tash enjoyed a little ride on the bike then we relaxed enjoying the view and headed back to the guest house it was a big day.