After our experience of Bangkok we were pleased to be leaving, even if that meant via a 14hr train journey all the way up to Chiang Mai. Considering I’ve never been one for a camping trip and George is the biggest human on the planet, the idea of being stuck in a very small train carriage for over half a day did not excite me in the slightest. Despite my initial thoughts we had a great time! The carriage was cosy, not claustrophobic, and the gentle rock of the train sent me to sleep nicely. After a solid 9 hours sleep we arrived in Chiang Mai and it did not disappoint!
Day 1: Our first day was spent exploring the local area. We visited a variety of temples, ate our first Pad Thai (turns out this would be our staple diet for the next fortnight) and in the evening we went to the Night Bazaar- a huge market which consisted of all the things you didn’t know you wanted, but couldn’t possibly live without.
Day 2 & 3: These were hands down our 2 favourite days of our entire trip. On our second day we took a shuttle out of central Chiang Mai to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary where we got to feed elephants bananas, give them a mud bath, go in the river with them for an afternoon play and then make them an afternoon snack. It sounds weird but you don’t realise how big elephants actually are until you’re face-to-face with one, feeding it a banana.
After our day had ended we were taken to a village- home to the Karen tribe. Here we were shown our room, a tiny wooden hut with thin mattresses on the floor which we were also sharing with 2 french girls (lucky George). We were told to always keep our door locked in case stray dogs or elephants managed to get their way inside but what they didn’t tell us was that the lock was broken. It was a great laugh making George get up in the middle of the night to get rid of a dog which was making itself at home in our hut.
Day 3: consisted of a hike in the morning, and then another elephant-filled afternoon at a different camp. Our hike leader had lived in the village all his life and detailed what it was like growing up in such a remote area. He spoke of having pigs and buffalo as friends and showed us how to make a crown out of bamboo and leaves. He even showed us how to blow bubbles out of the stem of a leaf! After a 2 hour walk we saw over the hill the elephant camp, this time with 2 baby ones! We concluded from this trip that you can never get bored of interacting with elephants.
Day 4: I managed to persuade George that white-water rafting would be a good idea. Little did I know that the river we were paddling on was so shallow that every time you fell in you risked smashing into some pretty hefty rocks. George was terrified the entire time but I loved it (right up until the entire raft capsized in a rapid and I realised the chances of breaking a bone in my body were probably quite high).