After the injuries and sickness of Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Ton Sai, my travel buddy Kala and I decided it was time to head north, to Chiang Mai.
We took a flight from Krabi as it was only £35ish and took 2 hours, rather than a full day on the train or bus.
At our dorm in Krabi (Pak Up Hostel, would highly recommend) we met a guy called Paul from Exeter who was on the same flight, so the three of us checked into the same hostel, Safe and Sound, which it turned out had only opened a week before so was super clean with hot showers and free hair dryers – seriously, that felt like the biggest luxury, I can’t even explain!
On our first day we explored the town and I set out to find a cookery school to book a course for the next day. A Thai cookery course was one of the things I most wanted to do in Chiang Mai and it didn’t disappoint.
First thing in the morning I was collected from the hostel and taken to a market to shop for some ingredients. We then went out to the school’s organic farm, where we had a tour and all fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices were shown to us and explained how they are traditionally used.
We got to cook five different dishes, with a choice of two or three for each mad veggie options available too.
I made a coconut soup with shrimp, green curry with chicken, sweet and sour stir fry with chicken, pad Thai with tofu and mango sticky rice for dessert.
The recipes are actually not that difficult and we each got a recipe book to take home, so I’ll be treating everyone back home to Thai banquets soon.
All of the evening we spent in Chiang Mai involved night markets, street food, drinks and card games on the hostel roof terrace, with some great new American friends, Max, Devon and Brian.
The next day however the fails returned. I had planned to go on a rock climbing trip with Kala and Max, and got a taxi as they were both cycling.
You might think a taxi driver would understand a map of his own city, but no. He took me to the wrong place FOUR times, I’m the end forcing me to get out and walk. By the time I got directions and found he place, it was too late and the tour had already left.
After the initial anger and tears, I decided to make the most of a day with no plans and go see some elephants. I did a lot of research to find one where there was absolutely no cruelty – no saddles, no hooks, no dancing, tricks, painting etc.
I settled on Ran Tong and was so glad I did. The minibus took about an hour to get here which gave me a chance to get to know the other people on the trip.
When we arrived we were greeted by a Swedish mahout who explained what we would be doing. We fed the elephants bananas, then got paired up with the elephants we would be riding.
I was super lucky and got one to myself, so I sat right behind his ears and set off on a mini trek. His name was Puy and he wasn’t the best behaved, preferring his own route to the one we were meant to take, but got along pretty well. A bonus was that the mahout took my phone and took lots of photos for me so I wouldn’t have to pay to buy them at the end.
We ended by going down to the water and bathing with the elephants, getting pretty wet in our sexy mahout outfits, then showering and having dinner. I would definitely recommend visiting an elephant place like this, just do your research to make sure they’re happy and well treated before you go.
On my final day in Chiang Mai, Paul, Brian and Devon rented motorbikes to ride up to the temple in the hills. I jumped on the back of Devon’s and after 5 minutes of passenger anxiousness enjoyed the ride.
The temple itself was pretty cool, the first I visited in Thailand and definitely a good choice. The view of Chiang Mai was outstanding and worth the entry fee for that alone.
So all in all, Chiang Mai = winning.
Check back soon for an account of my time in Laos, which I can promise you goes right back to my normal standard of failing….