We arrived in Chiang Mai around 7.30 pm on Thursday the 15th although the bus journey was only about 5 hours it seemed to be longer than some of the previous journeys we have taken. We headed out for a bite to eat and then settled in for an early night ready for a day of chilling around the pool on Friday. As an added bonus when we checked into the hostel a nice man who formally worked at the hostel but who now just hangs out around here brought us all a nice cold bottle of Chang (beer) which was very much appreciated.
Friday, we awoke after a nice lay in and headed to the hostel pool, located a 2 min walk down the road from the dormitory part of the hostel. Here we chilled out mucking around in the water, laid in the sun and drunk a few more Changs and simply enjoyed being in the 30 °C sunshine. Sorry to those of you back home in wintery England. Whilst at the pool we started talking to 3 girls from Manchester who were also staying at the hostel and undertaking a similar trip to us. Both groups got on well together and we spent the next few days hanging out the 7 of us. Come the evening of Friday we had by this point had a few Changs so were feeling a little tipsy. After another quick bite to eat we headed back to the pool area which also contains a bar and now decided to start drinking rum. The bottle Sam Song rum cost 500 baht around £10 split between the 4 of us and was really nice, however by the end of it we were probably a little more than just tipsy. We were joined by more hostel guests as well as some of the locals who worked at the hostel and partied the night away. I must admit there was even a point in the night where once again I lost a game of odd on and ended up in the pool with nothing but my birthday suit on (sorry mum). After an enjoyable night, we headed back to the hostel.
The following morning, we awoke with somewhat sore heads but were once again just looking forward to spending some time around the pool as the previous 3 weeks have been pretty full on so some time to relax was definitely in order. Once again, we spent the day lazing around by the pool this time drinking more water than beer and enjoyed another chilled day. Come 4pm the rum was back out and another night on the town was on the table. We donned our funky shirts and headed out. This time we headed to Chiang Mai’s party hot spot Zoe on Yellow which was an area filled with outdoor bars with a main stage in the centre with a DJ and dance floor. Here I probably had one of my most enjoyable nights of the trip so far. The music was amazing and the atmosphere incredible everyone was out for a good time and that’s exactly what everyone had. We danced away until around 12, 1am before heading back a little disjointed. Me and Connor were in one taxi and made it back a little earlier while Ollie and Fred came home a little later on. Somehow Freddie and Ollie managed to get separated a little bit and while Ollie was in the taxi home with some lads from the hostel he somehow bumped into Fred who had managed to convince a local to let him give her a seaty on the back on her bike while she directed him to the hostel. The ensuing video of Ollie in the back on the tuk tuk taxi and Fred cycling after it made us very much die with laughter the following day. (For those who don’t know what a seaty is it’s basically where Fred was standing up while peddling the bike while the woman sat on the seat of the bike as he pedalled)
Come Sunday we were over the partying so opted to have a nice chilled day (once again). Unfortunately, the pool was closed on a Sunday, however, the hostel staff had arranged for those that wanted to, to take a trip to a nearby lake where you could chill out swim and get some food. Around 12 of us from the hostel went and spent around 3 hours chilling at the waterfront. It was a very cool setting with little huts dotted around the lake’s edge where you could relax and then food outlets would come take your order and supply you with drinks if you wished. For lunch here, I opted for a simple pork and rice dish (every dish is with rice) the lady asked if I liked spicy food to which I replied yeah, its fine. Normally I don’t mind a little bit of spice and so far, every time I’ve been asked this question in Thailand the spice level hasn’t been too bad, so I expected no difference here. How very wrong I was! My head was well and truly blown off and that was even after picking out the chillies, I dread to think what I would have been like if I had eaten them as well. After our bite to eat we sat around the lake relaxing and I read my kindle. Although the locals were swimming in the lake none of us decided to go in due to fear of how clean the water was, plus I had a few cuts so didn’t want these getting infected. Come Sunday evening we were certainly not up for another night out so spent the evening skyping back home and then sat and watched England play football on the hostel TV. Additionally, a local Thai guy who is friendly with the hostel owners named Tone and who we had met on the previous nights out came to join us. The previous night he had shown us some card magic tricks which blew my mind he was so good! So when he joined us on Sunday I knew I wanted to see some more and he delivered. His card tricks are unbelievable, and I spent more time intrigued talking to him and being blown away by his magic than watching the football. We even played a little bit of blackjack and poker whereby he proceeded to tell me the cards in my hand. (Don’t worry I wasn’t stupid enough to play for money as he would of well and truly done me out of my life saving). We also had a quiet night Sunday as we were up early this morning for our elephant sanctuary tour.
The tour was run by a company called Blue Daily Elephant Sanctuary and I had meticulously researched the best companies to ensure the elephant’s welfare. I didn’t want to be part of the problem where elephants are miss treated and ridden at their expense for the sake of the tourists. This sanctuary lived up to my expectations and I would recommend it to anyone. Although only a few years old they have 9 elephants from the same family which they have rescued from bad tourism practices and harsh working conditions. Now the elephants spend their time being well treated and looked after while spending some time enjoying the company of tourists. The drive to the sanctuary in the mountains took about 1.5 hours and towards the end got pretty twisty. I even saw water buffalo working in the local rice fields. Once we arrived we were greeted by a 9-month-old baby elephant and their mother who we both got to feed. We then moved onto meat 3 more elephants that we would spend the rest of the day with. Here we prepared a healthy mix of rice balls, seed and some fruits to feed the elephants along with sugar cane and banana. I was even hugged and kissed by the elephant which was amazing but also a little sticky haha. After feeding the elephants we then had our own lunch which was great before we hiked through the forest a little way with the three elephants before reaching a small waterfall and bathing the elephants in the foot of the falls. This was such an amazing experience to be up so close and personal with these amazing creatures who seemed to be having just as much fun as we were bathing in the water. Once again, I was squirted in the face from the trunk of the mischievous 5-year-old elephant which was really something unique. I also couldn’t believe how graceful the elephants were trekking through the steap jungle. You don’t expect elephants to be like after seeing African elephants roam savannas on the TV, but Asian elephants are comfortable at home in the natural environment of the mountain forest. In summery the day was a truly amazing experience and one I will never forget being so close and intermate with these amazing creatures. I hope all the elephants are treated as well as those at the sanctuary we visited, however, I fear unfortunately they aren’t although attitudes are certainly changing, and animal welfare is becoming a priority for tourists. The industry can certainly thrive if the elephant’s welfare is everyone’s primary concern.
Our last few days will be spent enjoying the festivity of the Loy Kathrong which I shall update you all about in the next blog. Until then thanks for all the continued support regarding the blog I’m glad you are enjoying it and I do read and see all your comments.