North of Thailand (Part 1): Chiang Mai
After being in the South of Thailand for 3 weeks, I didn’t think I could’ve loved Thailand anymore. I was wrong. I absolutely fell in love with Chiang Mai and Pai (I wish I had time to do more of the north). It’s vastly different than the south but in the best way. This is the first blog post and to follow are my ride to Pai and Pai itself.
Sunday Night Market
I flew in from the south and was pretty exhausted so I slept pretty much the entire day and then woke up just in time for the amazing Sunday Night Market. I think I just got really lucky because I didn’t know that it was an actual thing but oh my god was it huge. Stalls after stalls after stalls of food, clothes, jewelry, and random trinkets. I spent about 2 hours walking through and didn’t even see everything. I somehow ended up buying a scarf… why would I need a scarf in Thailand… Idk even months after I still can’t tell you my reasoning. It was cute!
Every night, there’s a smaller market along the street that also sells food, clothes, etc but it just wasn’t the same as the Sunday one. However, it was still pretty cool to walk through and grab some dinner or snacks. I love markets so no matter how many I go to in Asia, they’ll keep exciting me. We went to Zoe in Yellow, that's always a good start to the night but they close early, Warm-Up for some live music, and one more place to end the night but I just can't remember.
Did you go to Asia if you don’t have a picture with an elephant? I can bet you 8 out of 10 people who’ve been to Thailand have at least been to an elephant sanctuary. It’s sort of a rite of passage. I wanted to go to one that lets the elephants be on its own and live as they would in the wild - no riding, no chains, no mistreatment. Although these sanctuaries all say they are taking good care of these animals, they still have hundreds of tourists come everyday to feed and bathe them, not really what would happen in the wild. But hey, I was one of them and I loved my experience. It’s better going elephant riding through the jungle where they get whipped and starved.
I went with Elephant Jungle Sanctuary because they were one of the more well known organizations and the hostel also gave me a discount. I opted for the all day tour because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with them since we were already driving 1.5 - 2 hours there. We had a little briefing in the beginning about the elephants and the organization then we changed into these cute patterned tops and spent the first bit feeling them sugar cane and grass. They are absolutely precious animals - so calm and playful! They would grab the sugarcanes right out of your hand and sniff your palm, looking for more. They hugged you with their giant trunks and chased after you for more food. Our group had a baby ellie and he was such a trouble maker. He’d chase you, try to climb on you, and sat down right at your feet.
Next we changed into our swimsuits and had a little mud bath party with them. We’d rub chunks of mud all of your rough wrinkly skin but we had to catch out because the workers would throw mud at you when you weren’t looking. I still had some open wounds at this point so it wasn’t the best idea to be in mud but when am I going to get to do this again?
The last part of the day was bathing them in the river. This was by far the best part! Since we were all covered in mud, both humans and elephants, it was a nice refreshing dip in the water. We were given bowls to use to pour water on them. It was such a cute and fun experience! The baby ellie was climbing over all the adult ones and just making a fuss of everything. He would spray water at us and splash us. It was so cute!!
It was an amazing day and I have such a warm heart for elephants after this day. They’ve become one of my favorite animals. Although I did notice a bit of mistreatment and harder handling from the employees than I would have liked, I still really enjoyed the experience and have full faith that they are doing all they can to provide an enjoyable living condition for the animals. I rather have them live here than be used in riding.
Thai Cooking Class
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the biggest fan of cooking nor am I that skilled at it but I thought it'd be fun to learn how to make some Thai dishes. I made Papaya Salad, Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai, Mango Sticky Rice, Khao Soi, and a curry paste. It process of each dish were surprisingly really easy and simple. The hardest part is having the right ingredients ready. During the lesson, our teacher provided everything so we just had to throw this in and mix that in. I won't have that luxury when I'm back home... I do want to try these out when I'm back though. Our teacher was hilarious! I wish I could've kept her in my pocket and brought her around Thailand with me. She would say like "don't eat this before you kiss your boyfriend because by the end of the night you will be single." I did it with Great Kitchen Thai Cooking School. I highly highly recommend it! The kitchen was spotless and the equipment were new. Meow, our teacher, was a gem! You'll love her instantly. Check out their facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greatkitchenthaicookingschool/
I did it with a group of girls I met at my hostel and also two other girls I met in Koh Tao. It was a really fun bunch! Unfortunately my friend Debs had to leave early because she was feeling ill. She'd been feeling out of it for awhile now. It sucks she couldn't continue the class!
Ladyboy Cabaret Show
When you think of Thailand, what are some of the first things that come to mind? Ladyboy. Yup, me too. They are everywhere in Thailand. Some are more obvious than others and some put me as a natural born female to shame. Nonetheless, a highlight of Chiang Mai was attending a ladyboy show. It was absolutely hilarious! The dancing, the music, the acting, the costumes, just everything was spectacular in a Ladyboy Cabaret Show type of way. There was one guy who sat in the front and was such a trooper. They pulled him up multiple times and started making out with him and he was into it. Well I'm not sure if into is the right phrase but he went along with it and was such a good sport. It absolutely made the show 10x better! They pull another guy up and gave him a seductive lap dance. I was in tears by the end and my stomach was aching from all the laughing.
Temples in Asia? No Way! Haha of course I had to visit a few temples during a city visit in Asia. So for a day I rented a motorbike and drove around the city to explore all the different temples around the city. The most popular one is just outside the city but you had to climb up a good number of stairs to get there and my leg was aching from the exhaust burn I got in Koh Phangan so I opted out of it. Instead I stuck to temples that didn't require a ton of stairs such as Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Buppharam. They were both really amazing. I got to witness a monk ceremony at one and the other had an amazing interior and ancient temples in the back.
Party Party Party
Although I came to Chiang Mai not wanting to drink or party that much because the islands wrecked me, I had to at least give Chiang Mai's nightlife a chance. We started with cheap happy hour drinks at the hostel then grabbed cheap alcohol from 7-11 so by the time we got to the party area, we were loose and ready to go. I went with the other girls and guys I met at the hostel and we shared buckets and bar/club hopped around Chiang Mai. It was really good fun!