12.08.2016 - 16.08.2016
Now next up…we are done with the beaches and heading to Northern Thailand—Chiang Mai. This was the morning when we found out about the unfortunate events that hit Thailand. There were bombings in Phuket, Hua Hin, and Surat Thani the night before and the morning when we were supposed to leave. We didn’t really know what to do because Surat Thani is where we had to go to catch our ferry. We read up a lot on the bombings and it seemed that it was most likely done by people who were angry over the outcome of the referendum a few days earlier. The bombings also happened on the morning of the Queen’s birthday and all occurred in Southern Thailand. We decided that the best thing to do was to continue on our trip and get out of the South.
We first took a ferry to Surat Thani and then flew from there to Bangkok and then planned to fly to Chiang Mai. While we were in Bangkok and had 45 minutes to check in and get on to our next flight, Christian got a message from his family saying he had to come home because of what was happening in Thailand. It was weird for us because though we were reading all about this stuff online, no one in Thailand seemed to really be phased by it where we were. There was no chaos or anything, like one might expect. It all just seemed normal. After talking it through we all agreed our best course of action was to just fly to Chiang Mai and figure it out there because if anywhere were safe in Thailand it would be there. We got to our hotel in Chiang Mai late that night—Funky Monkey Guesthouse. It is a small guest house owned by a British man David and his Thai wife Nuy. They had two dogs Motley and Fat Dog too. The place was much nicer than any of us expected (considering it only cost us 8USD each per night!). The next day we had to wake up super early and head to Thai Farm Cooking School where we would spend the day learning how to cook many different Thai dishes. What better place to avoid danger than to head to a rural farm! On the way to cooking school though Christian got a message from his parents saying they were booking him a flight home that night and he had to come. Lili and I felt safe and agreed that as long as we no longer go to Bangkok for the last two days we should be good…plus no one was getting me to miss the elephant day coming up! On our way to the farm we first stopped by a local market to grab some spices and rice….and some delicious Thai Green Macha and Thai Iced Coffee! Then, when we got to the farm we got to learn to cook Tom Kha Soup, curries, stir fry, sweet & sour chicken, and some thai desserts. It was really good, but REALLY filling and unfortunately for Lili and I a few of the dishes went right through us…..lol. We were even given cook books at the end of the day to take back with us. When we got back to our place, it was time for Christian to pack and get going….lets just say he was not very happy about having to leave and missing the elephants.
The next day Lili and I decided to explore some of the local temples and do all of our shopping at night. We went to two temples….and at Wat Chedi Luang they told Lili and I we weren’t dressed right so they gave us purple bath robes to put on….so fashionable! It was a really cool temple and a lot nicer than the ones where we were surrounded by hundreds of tourists! At this Wat we also got to participate in a Monk Chat where you get to sit at a table with a group of monks and ask them any questions you may have. We sat there and asked them a few questions and got to talk a little. It was a little weird, but a cool experience! After that we went for a massage before heading to the markets….taking the saying treat yourself very seriously! Lol. The first market we went to was the Sunday Market. It was supposed to be really good, but we realized pretty quickly that the prices here were high and the market owners were NOT willing to bargain with us at all. So we didn’t really buy anything here but just got ideas on what we wanted to look for. After we walked through there for a while we headed to an authentic Thai restaurant. You had to leave your shoes outside and then walk up stairs and there were holes in the floor where you let your feet hang in the air below. The food here was really good and only cost us <2USD! Afterwards, we headed to the Night Bazaar. Here was much much less crowded and immediately the shop owners haggled with us extremely low. We got our prices down 40-50% from the price they originally asked for! We got bags, paintings, soap carvings, and much more. When mom found out I was here you would’ve thought she were too….seemed like she was getting a high just hearing about it and kept telling me to get her more! Lol. We ended up with a lot of good things…that I’m hoping everyone at home will like too! We walked nearly 7 miles and were absolutely dead at the end of the night and had the best day ahead of us tomorrow!
The following day was the day we have been waiting for the whole trip (and I think Tom was happy because mom would finally stop talking about it), time for the elephants! The place we chose to do the elephants was called Patara Elephant Farm. It is the only elephant breeding place in Thailand and they rescue the elephants that are abused or the other elephant places don’t want and don’t take care of properly. The trainers live on the farm and spend all of their time with the elephants taking care of them. They have a program called “Elephant Owner for a Day” where you get an elephant and get to learn about him or her and how to take care of him for a day. When we first got there we got to hang out with a baby elephant names May and her mother. They were super friendly and May, being four months old, was super playful. Whenever someone wasn’t paying attention she would take a running start and run straight into them. She grabbed a couple of people’s shoes and bags and would run away with them hoping someone would come chase her. One of the trainers told me to sit down and play with her so I did. She came running over and wanted to climb all over me and lay down on me….picture Tobey but weighing 250 pounds! I definitely got dirty and was not expecting a “baby” to weigh that much! After a little we had the founder of Patara teach us a bit about elephant care and then were places with our trainers and elephants for the day. Mine was named Maema and along with her came her baby NaPhu who was nine months old. For elephants, like our family, the way to their hearts is with food so we took the first half hour to feed our elephants bananas, bamboo, and leaves….and of course I had to feed NaPhu too! Then we bathed them a bit with water an finally it was time to get on. Mine was quite the tall one, but I got on a lot easier than I thought thank goodness! Then we headed off to a waterfall nearby while riding on our elephants heads. There was a lot of downhills, uphills, and it was super rocky, but it honestly didn’t feel much different than riding a horse….although definitely felt a lot easier to fall off! There were points when all of our elephants decided to suddenly run or mine kept stopping for a quick snack. Then we got to the waterfall and we all got in the water to bathe our elephants and brush them….I gave NaPhu a little bath too! Then, they were kind enough to give us a little bath too. After that we had some traditional Thai meats, rice, fruits, and desserts prepared for us which was absolutely delish! Then we went on one last ride with our elephants before saying goodbye. It was the perfect way to spend my last day on the trip, and definitely one of my favorite days in Thailand. I can’t even imagine what gram would have thought and said…although I am pretty sure she’d be right there with me riding her own elephant!
When we got back it was sadly time for me to get packing. 36 hours to get back home….oh what fun!! As much fun as I have had over the past three weeks I am incredibly stoked to get away from this food….I don’t think I can see Asian food for a VERY long time….exception for sushi of course.
Well, off I go….see you soon New York….only 36 hours, 6 airports, and four flights to go!