Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chiang Mai

If you read any entry, read this one.  Chiang Mai is definitely one of the coolest places I've ever been to.  Think of it like an Asheville, NC tucked into Thailand.  Local, fresh, hippie vegetarian food is abundant, and the scenery is breathtaking, not to mention all the adventures we were able to take part in.  Here we go...

Our quaint village style hotel room at the Tamarind Village Boutique Hotel.

An included buffet breakfast that Digyna and I devoured every morning.

Look at the beautiful dragon fruit on the bottom right!

Freshly squeezed juices.  The mixed fruit juice was my favorite!

Our hotel from the inside (remember, it's village style).

And now the adventures begin with a visit to Tiger Kingdom, where we got to pet and play with (and freak out near) tigers ranging in age from 5 months to 2 years old.

Here's a little guy; he's only 5 months old.  At first, I thought he must definitely be drugged because he just laid around and didn't even move. 

However, he and his buddies started pouncing on each other soon enough, and I felt assured enough that they weren't drugged.  The trainers explained they lounged around all day basically because it is so freakin hot in Chiang Mai.

This little guy is about 8 months old, and he sure is handsome. 

Look at him stretching out and me not freaking out at all.  ;)

Looks like someone got over their fear of being eaten alive pretty quickly.  This guy is the oldest they have at the kingdom; he is 2 years old.  The trainers were kind of ambiguous about where the tigers go after 2 years, but I've read everything from they are released to the wild to they are served as meat at the Tiger Kingdom restaurant.  I'm hoping it's not the latter.

The day after Tiger Kingdom, Digyna and I headed to Chiang Dao, which is a town in and around the mountains, for what we thought would be a day of leisurely biking.

We rode in this tuk tuk for an hour and a half each way.

The scenery was gorgeous, and we were happy to see a less touristy side of the Chiang Mai area.

This is the third tallest peak in Bangkok.  Sadly, I cannot for the life of me remember it's name.  And after we reached, we realized we were not going to be biking leisurely.  We would be mountain biking through treacherous terrain for 8 hours!  Digyna and I stuck with it for about 3 hours, but after lunch, we asked our guide to take us around in the tuk tuk.  We were exhausted (and we had both fallen pretty hard within minutes of the ride).  Our guide took us to the Cave of Chiang Dao, which was where the Burmese Army used to hide before attacking the Thai army.  It was huge and awesome, but, unfortunately, I don't have any pics on my iPhone from it.  I will try to post some of Digyna's pics later!

That evening, we tried to go to Khum Khantoke to experience traditional Thai dancing and dinner outdoors.  For you bachelorette fans, this is where Ashley had a date with JP when they were in Chiang Mai.

The set was beautiful and dinner smelled delicious, but it was unfortunately ruined by a sudden downpour of rain.  Digyna and I ended up walking to a mall and eating pizza hut, which, at that point in the day (10pm), was perfectly fine by us.

The next day, we went to Patera Elephant Farm (by far my favorite part of our Thailand trip) and were each given our own elephant to bathe, train, feed, and ride for the day.  I will probably do a separate entry just on this place, but here are a few pics to give you a preview.

The beautiful falls where the elephants bathe and play.

You can see one of the big guys just so anxious to come meet us all!

I believe this girl is named Bun Tuk.

She was quite mischevious. :)

And this big girl here is...

Me!  And the beautiful creature next to me is my elephant, Mai Wan Dee.   

All female elephants receive the title "Mai" once they become mothers. Wouldn't that be kind of fun if people did that too? I think I'll try calling my mom Mai Madhu. Will let you know how that goes.  Look out for the Patara Farm entry later.

On our last night in Chiang Mai, Digyna and I checked out the Sunday Walking Market, which was right in front of our hotel.  Honestly, at this point, we were sick of markets.  How many fake things can one buy, really? 

 But I did like seeing the banana trees above the market tents. It's the small things :)

And this is us checking out of our hotel and excited to head to the beach!

Next stop?

Koh Samui.

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