Zip-lining, elephant retreat, wats, and more.
We have really enjoyed our six nights in Chiang Mai doing a huge variety of activities. The city has certainly been discovered by tourists from all over the world. Even though the population is close to our home town's, it feels more chaotic and centered around the tourist trade. We cannot leave our hotel without being offered rides here and there from tuk-tuk and songthaew drivers. Sadly, the level of pollution is getting to us. The smells of car and motorcycle exhaust mixed with the city's sewer smells can be nauseating at times. Luckily, the great food, friendly people, and special activities have made the week memorable.
Zip-lining in the rainforest!
We were picked up from our hotel fairly early and driven about 90 minutes away to the rainforest. The company, Flight of the Gibbon, was rated highly for safety and offered 18 zip-lines as well as some cool sky bridges throughout the jungle. The kids were especially excited for this adventure!
We even got to see a family of gibbons in the wild!
After the zip-lining, we enjoyed a great lunch and got to see a lovely waterfall.
When we returned in the afternoon, we went for a swim while DH went out for a foot massage. We walked to a Mexican place for dinner. This town has everything! I decided to check out the only jazz club in town - North Gate Jazz. The scene was incredibly busy on their open-jam night. I signed up to play the sad Casio keyboard without a pedal. The jam started at 8:30 and they still hadn't started calling musicians from the list at 9:45 so I took off. It was nice to see such a vibrant jazz scene in Chiang Mai.
We had another early morning and another ninety minute van drive into the middle of nowhere. This nowhere involved loads of elephants! Elephant Nature Park was unlike anything we've ever seen. It's a sanctuary for rescued and retired elephants. The elephants had disabilities and injuries from working in the logging industry, circuses, giving rides, or begging for money in cities. Some of the elephants had stepped on land-mines, had gone blind, or had simply been turned in by responsible citizens. We were able to feed, pet, wash, and hang out with the elephants.
One elephant was just two months old.
The sanctuary was also home to 400 rescued dogs and numerous cats. They roamed around freely. Some of the dogs even chased elephants and water buffalo!
We couldn't stop taking pictures! It was an unforgettable experience.
We returned to Chiang Mai and enjoyed a great Northern Thai restaurant called Dash. The owners spent a number of years living in Washington State and were very friendly. They even had a local IPA! The kids have had a record number of smoothies in the last few days.
On our last full day in Chiang Mai, I went for another polluted and sweaty run and then we had a great breakfast at DeLish Kafe. Yummy bagels! We made our way to the bus station to figure out how to buy tickets for our next destination, Sukhothai. After the bus station, we found ourselves in a new section of town near a mall. This mall had a great market with yummy food. So many dried fruits, fruits, the best filled waffle things, sticky rice, weird black jellies, etc...
We visited more historic wats in the old center. It was fascinating to see many monks chanting prayers. The embalmed monks were interesting to say the least.
We picked up laundry once again. How great it is to drop off a huge bag of laundry and return the next day to pick it up all clean and folded for around $6. We walked by the laundry place and saw our clothes hanging out to dry.
We really enjoyed northern Thailand but are eager to start our journey south.