Swimming With Elephants.

After 5 weeks, Thailand is over.

Chiang Mai was finally here and this means our last destination in Thailand… I can’t believe Thailand is over! Time has gone so quick and it almost feels overwhelming that a year has nearly gone. My aunt recently messaged me saying she can not believe I left Australia 2 months ago, yet it seems like only yesterday I left.

The first day we reunited with our beauty Benny who we had met 4 weeks ago in Koh Phi Phi. She has to be the most beautiful person we have met on this trip and we just love her! We grabbed some food from a local place full of all the locals which I loved and chilled with her, catching up on what has happened since we last saw her. We checked out the city which was really cool, and straight away I fell in love with Chiang Mai. The vibe was great and it was so cheap!

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Reunited with out love – Benny!

Art and cooking. 

The following day we went to a 3D art museum and Natalia and I were acting like big kids, posing in front of all the cool art pieces. It was so cool and we was in there for hours. The art work was so creative, this has to be the best museum I have been to so far! What made it even more fun was that it was empty so we could act as silly as we wanted!

Later that evening we went to a Thai cooking class called Mama Noi. Finally I could get to learn how to cook my favourite Thai dish – PAD THAI! I seriously love this dish, and now I know how to make it at home. We had a great team of people on our cooking class which made it even more fun. We made a variety of dishes and were able to take them home with us. BONUS – This meant we didn’t have to buy lunch the following day!

Chilling with the Elephants.

I can not explain how excited I was to be with the elephants, I don’t think I slept the night before. As soon as I arrived in Thailand all I kept thinking about was spending time with the elephants. We arrived at the sanctuary and I almost felt like I was dreaming. This has to be my favourite day whilst travelling so far. At one point I remember standing amongst the elephants just staring thinking am I really doing this? We was able to feed, give the elephants a mud bath and swim with them in the lake near by. Again we had a great group of people whilst doing this. Prior to travelling I was never a animal person, however now I want a pet koala and elephant! At one point I was in between two elephants and panicked thinking I was going to get squashed! The mud bath well… We were basically standing in elephant poo!

Later that evening we went to a night market and got some really cool ice cream where they make it in front of you. You could get any topping you wanted, I opted for the Oreo and white chocolate – YUM! This was called Anursarn night market, however it was quite pricey considering.

 

Total wipe out.

I have always watched Total Wipeout and thought I could do that, it looks so easy! That’s a lie –  I was so rubbish my family would cringe with embarrassment if I ever went on that show. It was so slippery and although I tried to do the course, most of the time I would just crawl. I did not look the slightest attractive doing this course but more like a whale on land flapping around trying to get back into the water. All of my decorum went out the window, half the time  parts of my body were out which I particularly didn’t want out,  where my bikini bottoms would rise up my bottom as I slipped. I dread to think what the workers were thinking. The funniest part is when I fell in the water and couldn’t physically get back up onto the course and so this tiny little Thai man tried to help me out. Imagine a small Thai man, around 5 ft 4 weighing 9 stone helping the jolly green giant out of the water – The pain of that poor man! Surprised I didn’t drag him in the water with me.

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Saturday night markets.

I always wanted to be one of them people who get up at 7 am and go for a walk and have no idea where I am heading. I spoke to a girl in my room who does just that, so whilst everyone was asleep me and this girl went on a walk.

I always believe you cross paths with people for a reason, whether good or bad. Siobhan was in our hostel dorm and we went for a walk early one morning, and it just made the day better. This girl spoke so much sense to me and was so uplifting. I could have spoken to her all day, she was so positive. I remember I said the following to her:
” I don’t know if I am ready to go home, I don’t feel like I have changed.”
Her response was the best response I have heard.
“We have so much pressure as backpackers to have this life changing experience that we will go home as this different person, you just need to enjoy this experience and not put so much pressure on yourself.”
WOW! I didn’t even know what to say apart from thank you. There was a relief that I don’t have to go home a completely different person whereby I am unrecognisable. However that evening we discussed family and I said:
“I feel so much closer with my family and appreciate home so much more, even the little things like cooking, having my own bed etc.”

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Checking out some temples.

Siobhan again said something that shocked me:
“Isn’t that something in itself and life changing, appreciating home and becoming closer with your family. Everyone should have time away from normality for a while just to appreciate them things. Rachel you have changed and you don’t even realise it. Imagine going through life not appreciating them things because you haven’t been away from it.”
WOW AGAIN! Can this girl seriously be my life coach? I have put so much pressure becoming this hippie, tree loving, spiritual person that I have not focused on the things that matter the most to me – My family. Whilst on this walk we checked out a few more temples – They really do mesmerize me!

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All you need is love.

In the the evening a few of us checked out the night markets which literally were on our hostel doorstep. They had everything from food to souvenirs to clothes. You name it they had it. However the thing I loved the most was the fact there was a million food stools, I went back to the hostel and a hour later went back out to the night markets to try more food.

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Saturday night market.

A place where there are no locals.

Natalia and I decided we would stay a bit further out from the city. We stayed at a place called Banyen Villas and we were the only tourists in site. I did not see any other backpacker, there were locals everywhere which was actually really refreshing. Here is where I felt like a traveller. The day we arrived was pretty late in the afternoon and we were hungry! The owners of the villas lent us there moped and we went to look for some local food! We found somewhere, there was signs for food so when we arrived this woman sat us down in her house and cooked us some noodles and rice.  It was a random experience but was great at the same time.

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Banyen villas. Chiang Mai.

There is not much to do where we are staying however it was nice to just chill and be in my own thoughts. I felt hungry so decided to go for a stroll and find something to eat whilst Natalia packed her backpack as we were leaving for Vietnam the following day. I popped to the local shops and ended up going into a local restaurant. Well I was the token English girl that everyone was avoiding as they could not speak English and I couldn’t speak Thai.

I wish I was a fly on the wall watching myself trying to communicate – It was hilarious. I was pointing at the menu and trying to say that I wanted to take the food away. Eventually I got my chicken and rice which tasted amazing! If you check out the food picture below I got a yogurt, bottle of water, chicken, rice and soup for 65 bhat which is around £1.50 – YESS!

Our final night was her and we checked out the area and found a really cute family owned restaurant – So the food wasn’t the best but it is these little experiences I will always cherish. We sat eating our fried rice whilst watching Thai TV with one of the children – We had no idea what they were saying in the programme however we were so engrossed.

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Watching Thai TV whilst eating our fried rice.

Thailand is such a beautiful country and every island and city is different. I have to say Chiang Mai was amazing and there is a lot to do. Phuket was my least favourite, I didn’t feel comfortable there. However I have learnt everyone has different opinions on everything. Lets face it my favourite ice cream is not my friends favourite!

So next stop Hanoi – Vietnam!
See below for tips.
Rae.x


Where to stay:
Chiang Mai Gate Capsule Hostel – The owner Mally is so gorgeous and I felt like I was at home. It was the best hostel I have stayed in whilst in Thailand. You also get discounts or free trips when booking anything through this hostel.
Banyen Villas – On the pricey side. They have a pool, however there is not much about but it is nice to chill for a few days and to get away from the hustle and bustle.

What to do:
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary – We done a half day and felt this was enough. However you can do a full day and stay the night.
3D Art Museum – Go with someone so you can take pictures with each other.
Mama Noi Cooking Class – We also done a half day and felt this was enough, we cooked a lot for the time we was there. We were also able to take the food home with us and were given a free cook book to take home.

Temples – There was loads of temples near Chiang Mai old city.

Night Markets – There are a few night markets scattered around. We checked out the main Saturday night market which was outside our hostel – Chiang Mai Gate Capsule. Anursarn market – However this can be on the expensive side.

Where to eat:
There is so much street food stools around and there are so many options.

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