Getting back from Thailand was extremely difficult. I was definitely not ready for reality back home, nor was I prepared to leave the serene haven I was surrounded by. It took about a week for me to shake off the mild depression I was experiencing, and the jet lag that consumed my existence (dramatic I know). Anyways, because I enjoyed my trip so much, I felt the need to write and share my experience. 🙂 Here are a few pictures before I share our journey and experiences in Thailand.
We flew into Chiang Mai around 7 pm, and arrived at our AirBnB at approximately 8 pm. Our AirBnB stay from Monday night to Saturday morning cost us $90 (not bad at all). The airport taxi cost us about 250 baht ( about 7 U.S. Dollars), which is higher than the usual 150 baht offered to those staying within the Old City parameters. Our studio apartment was about 10 minutes away from Old City, so it was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the livelier part of town. We stayed off of Huaykaew Rd, conveniently located near the Chiang Mai University and the Night Bazaar, local coffee shops, restaurants, and laid back bars.
Day 1 – As soon as we made it to our apartment, we decided to venture out, explore our surroundings, and grab some food. We had walked for less than 5 minutes before we discovered “The Harbour,” a cluster of restaurants, food trucks, coffee shops, and bars. We decided to grab some food at an “All you can eat” Hot Pot restaurant. It cost us 199 baht ($6) per person. Despite it being the quieter side of town, a Monday night, and about 10pm, it was very busy outside… and I LOVE that. It was late by the time we wrapped up, so we walked around for a bit before heading back home.
Day 2 – Woke up early, given the time difference it was easy to adjust. Grabbed some food nearby, a sim card for my phone (so we can use the internet for navigation) and decided to rent a scooter. I am very much against motorbikes (traumatized from seeing multiple motorcycle accidents), but decided to conquer my fears. Rented a scooter/motorbike (whatever) from Vanessa’s (by the way she is great) for the next 4 days, and the total cost was 450 baht (great deal)! You do have to leave a copy of your passport and a 2,000 baht deposit at the rental, but you get that back once you return the bike. So anyways, I found myself on the back of what I have always considered a huge fear of mine, hollering,”slow down,” “be careful,” “watch out!” With time it got less terrifying, I promise, and I am proud that neither of us got the infamous ‘Farang Tattoo’ the entire trip! Farang means foreigner, and the Tattoo references an injury afflicted by the motorbike, most commonly by the exhaust pipe on the right side of the bike. Apparently, numerous foreigners in Thailand are injured on motorbikes during their visit, hence the appropriate nickname.
Anyways, we rode the bike up to see the Wat Doh Suithep temple about 45 minutes away from our place. The drive was gorgeous as it took us through a lushes mountain top surrounded by numerous gorgeous viewpoints. We stopped at a small rest stop where we enjoyed quick refreshments and beautiful views. We continued the rest of the way until we reached the temple. It was gilded, ornate, and so very peaceful. It is one of the most popular temples in Chiang Mai, so it’s worth the visit.
Once we finished exploring, we got back on the scooter and rode to the old city. There we finalized the purchase of our Elephant Park visit, and grabbed lunch. We walked around and Dalga (my husband) insisted on going to a spa, I obviously didn’t object. The spa we stumbled upon was called Deep Relax, it was on the pricier side but still much cheaper than the states. I opted out of the massage, and went for a mani pedi instead. My feet were fairly crusty so I needed one BAD. The mani pedi was average in my opinion, and the massage was above average, per Dalga’s scaling. We then headed to the Night Baazar by our house and wandered around a bit, did we did up doing some shopping. There were some great deals relative to the quality of the items being sold, overall, it is definitely worth a visit to pick up some memorabilia from Thailand. At this point we were absolutely tired so we ate some not so delicious sushi, at the Bazaar (tons of places to eat) and had some dessert and then called it a night.
Day 3 – Woke up early for our next adventure! Mapped the trip to the Sticky Waterfalls (Bua Tong), and stopped to grab breakfast on the way at the Blue Cafe. The trip there took about 1 hour and a half, and most of it was scenic. Once we arrived I fell in love. The waterfall was hidden among a children’s camp ground, where we were greeted by the cutest kiddos, grinning, and waving hello. We then walked down a hill and came across the waterfall, and of course people climbing the “sticky” rocks beneath the falling water. The rocks were made of what appeared like porous limestone, that created traction when in contact with skin. I would say this was one of the top highlights of my trip.
After we climbed up and down the waterfall (took pictures of course), we left and headed towards the “Chaing Mai Grand Canyon.” The drive there was also lengthy and took another hour and a half, but it was certainly worth it. Upon arrival we encountered enormous cliffs with a still lake below them. People were cliff jumping, sun bathing, and listening to music. There were three points at which one could jump from, the small, medium, and high cliff. The highest point was about 16 meters (about 50 ft or so), and I did not intend to jump that one. It doesn’t sound like 16 meters is high but it sure looks high!! I jumped form the middle sized cliff, I would assume that its about 11 meters high or so. My husband jumped the high point several times and reported that it was in fact nerve-wrecking. We met some other tourists cliff jumping and we all decided to meet up later that evening. It was already getting dark so we headed back home to get ready for dinner and then a meet-up with our new friends.
For dinner we went out to a very lively restaurant located on the riverside of the Ping River. The restaurant was called the Good View Bar & Restaurant, and was very packed with live music playing. Like I said, the ambiance was spectacular, the food on the other hand was average, and the drinks were miniature. I would still recommend going there, if you enjoy a lively environment. After dinner, we went out for drinks to a place called THC Rooftop Bar (No, they did not sell MJ, sorry.) We met up with a few of the other tourists that we met earlier that day, and socialized for a bit. I recommend dressing casual, since my husband and I were a tad bit overdressed for the occasion. We ended our night around 2am, and took a taxi back home.
Day 4 – This was our Spa Day, and so we woke up a little later than usual, and grabbed breakfast by the house. We had reservations at Cheeva Spa, which is supposed to be one of the top Spa’s in Chiang Mai. What’s nice is that they provide complimentary transportation to and from the Spa. At 1pm on the dot, we were picked up and taken to a peaceful sanctuary. We chose the Refreshing Package (2,500 Baht for two people), which is about $72. Upon arrival we were escorted to a private room where we were offered tea, and a hot towel. We sat down in comfy chairs and awaited our masseuse to begin the foot massage. Let’s just say we were in heaven as our feet were rubbed, and kneaded for 30 minutes. After the foot massage we were escorted to a separate room across the oasis spa, and were told to undress and prepare for the massage, and facial. As we lay side by side on our comfy massage tables, we received our aromatherapy massages, which lasted 1 hour. Soon after it was finished, we received a relaxing facial which also lasted 1 hour. After my facial was over, my masseuse braided and fixed my hair in a beautiful Lanna style up-do. We then were asked to sit in the lobby and enjoy a nice cup of tea and some Mango Sticky Rice with Coconut Milk (One of my favorite desserts!). Sadly our heavenly experience had come to an end, but we were starving and ready to grab some dinner. After we were dropped off back home we decided to skip the shower, and just go straight to dinner.
Before heading out to dinner, we had to drop off our motor bike, and got caught in a rain shower! Basically we were soaked but decided to keep the night going. We took a taxi to “Dash! Restaurant and Bar,” and I have to say this place was AMAZING!!! Amazing ambiance, beautiful location, great customer service, delicious food, and tasty drinks (filled to the brim). The price range was great for the quality. We ordered an appetizer, 2 entrees (seafood), and 6 drinks, and we shared a dessert! For all this we payed about $50. Wow, I must say I wish I could go back to this place… it was just decadent! Once finished, we took a tuk-tuk back home, and truly enjoyed the ride, as our driver was hilarious, making us laugh the entire time.
Day 5 – Woke up very early on this day, grabbed a quick buffet style breakfast at the hotel right next door to our place. Our transportation arrived around 8am, and we headed off to take care of the elephants! Our first stop was a an Elephant Poo Poo Farm where elephant poop was turned into paper, and sold at various locations across the U.S. and Canada. We got to make our own poo paper, and even crafted our own birthday cards for upcoming family members birthdays. After we finished, we were then driven to Baan Chang Elephant Park to take care of our two elephant’s for the day. We had purchased the Elephant Day Care – Friends Day package, where we fed, hiked, and bathed the elephants. Upon arrival we were asked to change into our Mahout outfits, and meet our two elephant’s for the day and fed them bananas and sugar canes. We then hiked together into the nearby forest and walked the elephants to some land with lots of sugar cane plants. These animals eat and poop all day long, it is amazing! We watched them eat, fed them, and learned about their history, health, and behavior. It was noon by this time so we stopped at an abandoned hut, sat on the floor and ate a very traditional style Thai lunch. It was just me, my husband Dalga, 2 interns learning about American culture (they were students studying tourism at a local university), and our tour guide. The food was delicious, and as we ate, we watched our elephant friends enjoying their own food. After lunch we spent more time playing and feeding them, and then hiked back to camp. It was now time for their bath, and so we all entered a small lake of water, and bathed the elephants, as they splashed us with their trunks. I was scared not going to lie. After bath time, we said our goodbyes to the elephants, and headed back to shower and change into our own clothes. You can tell this camp truly cared about their animals by the affection exhibited between the trainers and their elephants. These elephants were rescued and saved from unpleasant environments across all of Thailand, and were now being treated as they should, with care and love at the biggest elephant preservatory in Thailand. We were glad to have supported this cause.
Once we were dropped back off at home, we showered once again (I felt like there was poop on me), and got ready for the evening. It was sadly our last night in Chiang Mai, as Saturday morning we would be heading off to Koh Samui. We went out to grab some dinner, honestly forgot where we ate, but it was one of the many restaurants in the Old City, and it was decently priced. The food was good, the drinks were also very delicious. We then headed across the street to the Fish Massage place, and bought a Foot Massage and Fish Pedicure package for VERY cheap. We received a foot massage each for 30 minutes before we immersed our feet in cool water loaded with fish for our pedicure. The fish are called Garra Rufa, who are often referred to as “doctor fish” because they eat away the dead cells off skin… by the way this tickled so much, but was somewhat, in a weird way, addicting. Apparently my husband had more dead skin cells than I did, because they all flocked to his feet haha! By this time we were exhausted once again, and took a taxi back home, and passed out.
Day 6 – I was SO sad to leave Chiang Mai! I knew our trip wasn’t over, but I just knew that no other place could ever compare to the energy that I felt in this city. I felt so calm, peaceful, comfortable, and like I truly belonged. I felt no sense of judgement from any of the locals, and the people were so calm, and respectful. I genuinely enjoyed walking the streets, grabbing lunch, and soaking up the very essence of this city. Although I felt I was very detailed in this blog, I only talked about the main events of each day, and left out small details like lunch locations, small shops we visited while walking around the city, etc. Otherwise, this post would have been TOO long. Anyways, our flight from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui left at 12pm, and so we left the city to return once again in the future!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Blog, “Our experience in Koh Samui!”