After only 2 days in Chiang Mai I’ve decided it’s been my favourite place that I’ve visited so far. I stayed right in the old town where everything is. After my night bus I went out early to avoid the midday heat and visited almost all the temples in the centre; I think I went to at least 8 in the space of 3 hours. It was lovely exploring the town before it was busy, even though I did get lost a ridiculous amount of time. I found a market and ordered the only vegetarian thing there which (I think) was sticky rice and a VERY spicey eggplant curry thing which was so spicey it was unpleasant. To make up for that I got a coconut ice cream from a lady selling them in the street. She put condensed milk, peanuts, rice and this strawberry jelly thing on it and it was sooo yummy and only 50p!! Street food is my favourite thing ever.
I visited all the temples within walking distance of the town which was at least 9, it was really nice just walking around on my own stopping everytime I saw a temple. The temples were beautiful and I spent ages in each admiring the paintings and sculptures. They had young monks that you could ask questions which I really wanted to do but I thought the language barrier would be too difficult and I didn’t even know what type of questions to ask.
That night I went to the Sunday night market on Walking street. This is a massssive market every Sunday from 4pm to 11pm which increases by 25 meters each week! It was full of beautiful hand made things like jewellery and clothes and bags, everything you can imagine from a market and more! My favourite part was the food of course and there was so much food. I got a Pad Thai which was a bit of a let down but was still alright, then I got these deep fried sweet potato balls which were the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I easily could’ve got another bag of them but they were a meal itself and I had no room left. After exploring the market some more and letting that go down I then had to get a waffle so I chose a cashew and chocolate flavoured one. I then had to roll home from the market and got very lost on the way.
The next day I went to Into The Wild elephant sanctuary which was such an amazing experience. Words can’t even describe the fun I had. I’m wasn’t sure about how I felt about animal tourism and especially elephants when they’re such endangered animals but this camp had only opened 5 months ago and the 3 elephants they had were rescued. The camp didn’t allow riding and no hooks and chains were used, the elephants were free to roam around wherever they wanted. I arrived and was the only person there so I had them all to myself! I started by feeding the elephants which was incredibly overwhelming because their mouth are so scary and as soon as they see you have bananas they’re all over you.
After I had got used to them we took them on a little ‘trek’ through the jungle and stopped in their bedroom (a big open space in the jungle). Here I fed them more bananas and cuddled them, even got a big kiss on the cheek from one! We walked back and after enjoying a massive plate of fresh mango that they had just cut off the tree we went into the mud bath. You step into this giant muddy ditch and sink about a foot into it, it was disgusting. I had to embrace the mud and get dirty (and I did get very dirty) and cover the elephants in it and rub it into their skin.
Then we washed them in the river which was wonderful seeing them playing and rolling around in the water and I even got lifted up by the trunk of one! After that I washed off and then sat around with the Thai people who live at the camp with the elephants. I think because I was the only person there that day that my driver stayed longer then usual, so I ended up cooking lunch with the Thai guys (who spoke absolutely no English) which was spicey squirrel curry and rice. They offered me rice whiskey shots which they were all sharing but I passed on their kind offer. I was taught how to use a slingshot and even managed to hit the water bottle that we were using as a target! We sat down to eat and after explaining that I don’t eat meat- which took a very long time- they prepared me more plates of fruit, I had more fresh mango, pineapple, longan berries (like lychees) and banana. Sadly it was time to leave, a couple of hours passed the supposed finishing time, so I said my goodbyes and we began the two hour drive back through the jungle to Chiang Mai.
I finished my marvellous day at a vegetarian restaurant with some girls I had met on the street who were also on the hunt for vegetarian food. There was so much choice and I ended up ordering a tofu burger after a big internal fight about getting Asian food or a burger, but it was probably only the 5th western meal I have ordered since being in Asia so I let myself off…