Elephants and other wanderings

We leave Thailand tomorrow to return back to Malaysia for a day, before catching our flight to London. From there we’ll go and visit Gawain’s grandparents in Stafford where his mum and brothers will be, before heading over to Torquay to play in the British.

On Friday morning we decided to get a massage. The massages are given by blind masseurs who always give a good workout the place was recommended by our host and frequented by locals rather than tourists. Gawain went for his suit fitting and the finished product looks great! We ended up going on a half day tour to Doi Suthep, a buddhist temple and popular pilgramage destination, on a mountain just outside Chiang Mai. On our tour we also went to a hilltribe village of the Mong people. The village itself was quite touristic, with many things on sale which I believe the people make themselves. That part of the tour wasn’t so great. We also past the Winter Palace of the Thai King (who is revered here) which looked nice from the outside. We had to walk up 306 stairs to the temple, but of course the view from atop was brilliant and the interiors being absorbed in a bright gold colour.

That night we headed to the Night Bazaar which is situated 20 minutes walk from our accommodation. We walked up and down the street and found most stores to be similar. Of course haggling here is a needed skill (and some believe to be fun) though it is an acquired skill as well. After buying some long pants (due to our elephant trip the next morning) and having Starbucks we headed back. Even though our friend Chantal (an English chess player) was coming on Saturday, we were recommended by our host to do the trip that day as on Sunday there was a big Sunday Market.

We woke up at 7am to get ready to go to Patara Elephant Farm. This is #1 on TripAdvisor and after many discussions we decided to go with this and we weren’t disappointed. If you ever get to Chiang Mai both me and Gawain highly recommend this. It’s on the pricey side but well worth it. When we arrived we were greeted by Pat who explained to us the history of the elephants in Thailand as well as teaching us how to approach and communicate with them. We each had mahouts (similar to elephant keepers) who were by our side the whole trip and made sure the elephants weren’t too distracted. I was very frightened about hurting my elephant or upsetting her as she was pregnant. We checked their health, bathed them, fed them and had a long ride uphill on them. While we were walking through the rainforest it started to rain heavily. Gawain’s elephant was at the back of the herd. We later learnt that she rode there as it made all the other elephants feel safe. Ga’s elephant ate lots and as I was behind I saw the poop as well every few seconds. It would stop and eat and my elephant would wait patiently behind, then it would look ahead notice Ga had moved a few metres ahead and mine would run making it very sore for me. We ate a great Thai lunch with lots of rice and fruits! All in all it was a great trip! And we hope to come back or do something similar.

Yesterday we (Me,Ga and Chantal) had a relaxed day having a much needed massage then going to watch Harry Potter. In the evening we all felt tired so we took a break and then went out to the Sunday Market which was huge. We ended up walking to the “must see” temple though it was closed.

Today was spent cooking! We made 6 dishes each and ate them too. It was very interesting learning all about the different herbs and spices and now I hope Ga will help out with dinner! The food was delicious and fresh and left us all feeling stuffed. I also met another Kiwi on the trip which was nice.