After a superb couple of days in Krabi, I boarded a plane to Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand which was known for its markets, elephant camps, temples and general laid back vibe.
I arrived at TR Residence to find that it was everything I had imagined and more! Although I arrived earlier than they anticipated, I was still checked in. Whilst I waited for my room to be prepared, the guest house owner provided me with a map and showed me how to navigate around the city. I also booked onto a tour that consisted of a half day elephant camp experience, hike to a nearby waterfall and bamboo rafting.
After settling into my room and having a quick nap, I went exploring around the town. Walking through the streets of Chiang Mai, there was certainly had a different feel to it (apart from the cooler temperature).
After dinner, I made my way to the Saturday night market. Whilst attempting to walk there, I stumbled upon a few temples.
I struggled to find road names and it was getting dark so I decided to jump onto a local bus. I told the driver to take me to the Night Market. Unfortunately for me, there were quite a few markets going on that evening and I found myself at a market that was not quite the hustling and bustling marketplace I had envisioned. After asking around, I realised that I was at ‘The Night Market’ and I actually wanted to be at the ‘Saturday Night Market’. I found a tuk tuk and began bargaining with the driver. One thing you have to remember about Thailand is that bargaining is their way of life. They actually expect you to bargain and its all part of the fun. However, I must say I did struggle with it to begin with. I just felt like I was being extremely cheeky! I could tell that the tuk tuk was trying to over charge me and I wasn’t having it.I stated my price and he just laughed at me, so I proceeded to walk away (not that I knew where I was going, but it was all a part of the act). As I anticipated, he called me back and we settled on a price.
There was so much traffic leading up to the market and there were so many people. It was quite an exciting atmosphere. From the different aromas of food to the pashmina scarves on display, I was certainly very happy to be there.
I bumped into another foreigner (well actually I asked her about where she got her hair done) and funnily enough we were both teachers in South Korea. I ended up falling in love with mango and sticky rice that evening. What an amazing combination!
The next day, I woke up early for my much anticipated day trip with the elephants with Siam Elephant Camp. I was picked up from my guest house and transferred into the mini bus with the other tourists . The drive to the elephant camp was about 1hr 30 mins and it was so nice getting out of the city!
We were asked to change into mahout (elephant trainer) clothing and we were taught basic commands. We were then given a chance to feed the elephants before we were given the opportunity to ride them. I had specifically chosen a camp that only allowed you to ride bare back and hopefully treated the elephants well as I had heard many stories of maltreatment and elephants being injured from the seats they place on them. All in all, it was a good experience, although the focus was most about getting pictures with the elephants rather than spending time with them. I met three girls from Chile and they were super nice! Two of them had quit their jobs and were now spending their money backpacking across Asia. Brave!
After practising the commands, we rode elephant through the forest which was extremely scary at first but was really nice.
We then were asked to bathe wash the elephants. This sound fun in theory, but the water was freezing!
By now, I was super hungry but we were only given bannana crisps to keep us going. We then walked about 20 mins through the forest to see waterfall before visiting a hill tribe village. The Karen tribe, were people that lived in the Myanmar hills close to the Thai border but fled into Thailand from political unrest. The Karen men tend to be farmers whilst the Karen women stay home weaving things that they would later sell.
After finally eating some local food, we made our way to the last part of our trip – Bamboo rafting!
That evening, I then went to the Sunday Night Market which is the most popular market in Chiang Mai and one not to be missed! It was even busier than the Saturday market and it was far bigger!
That’s it for Chiang Mai. I had an awesome time there and I would recommend visiting. Last stop is Bangkok – The city that never sleeps!