Chiang Mai is the third biggest city in Thailand, and used to be the capital of the small Lan Kna kingdom (during the same period as Sukhothai). Between its market, its bars full of lady-boys (we got a lot of “Heeey! My friend likes you!), and its old fortification and ditch, the city has a very unique and enjoyable atmosphere.
We spent 4 days here and it doesn’t deserve less!
Mango sticky rice, one of the highlights of the trip. Way too yummy.
Learning Thai cuisine and Thai massage
That’s one of the first things we did in Chiang Mai.
Learning Thai cuisine was a lot of fun. We started off by a visit to the market with our teacher who explained us the different Thai ingredients. Most of them are pretty hard to find in Europe, so we’re not sure we’ll be able to replicate everything we learned.
We discovered that Thai cuisine is actually fairly easy, the hardest part really being gathering the ingredients. We had a lot of fun with the teacher (she was truly amazing) and our group, and the dishes we prepared were excellent.
The second thing we wanted to learn in Chiang Mai was how to do a Thai massage. We did some researches on the day before by getting a great massage, and then spend 4 exhausting hours to learn all the secrets of a good Thai massage.
We are now experts; try us 😉
The elephant camp
The north is also well known for its elephant dressage camps. Unfortunately, some of them are treating the elephants very badly, starving them or injuring them. We did some extensive researches to be sure to not give money to any of those camps, and ours seemed to have indeed happy elephants.
The day was truly awesome. After feeding the elephants and witnessing some tricks (have you ever been “kissed” by an elephant?), we learnt how to ride them and set of for a journey in the jungle.
Elephant kiss. Me gusta
We came back to take a bath with the elephants, as happy as they could possibly be, and a water fight with the tarmacs.
We then spent the afternoon visiting a Karen village and swimming at a waterfall, before going down a river by bamboo rafting. The ride was nice, but the funniest part was that every Thai groups coming here to eat and drink on the river were saying hi before systematically starting a water fight with us.
Chilling with some tigers
Before coming to Thailand, we read about temples where the monks are drugging the tigers to allow tourists to take pictures with them. We obviously condemn such practices and didn’t want to encourage it.
Yes, I’m talking about that kind of tourist picture
Therefore, we had the nice surprise to discover in Chiang Mai a park very similar to a zoo centered on tigers, which are raised with quotidian human interaction and never drugged.
And drugged they were not! Given how excited and fast they were when playing with the trainers.
Some were exited
Other more chilled out
We got in the pen and pet a few tigers with apprehension and fascination at the same time. The trainer explained us to never face the tiger or get to close to his head. We both had a “oh shit” moment when the tiger turned around and looked at us in the eyes, but apparently he was well fed that day. Good for us.
Thomas in his “Oh shit” moment
So yeah, we loved it. A lot.
The Chiang Mai region is well known to have some beautiful mountains, so we planned on making the drive to Pai, which is apparently beautiful (with 1864 turns!). Unfortunately we run out of time and were missing a day to really be able to enjoy that trip, so we decided not to go. We did rent a motorcycle and set off for a shorter day-drive in the mountains instead.
Although it wasn’t as many turns, the drive was a lot of fun and we made our way up to a temple at the top of the mountain. Driving the Thai-way, weaving in and out between cars and bikes was a funny way to conclude our day in Chiang Mai.
We took a plane to Krabi on the next day to start our journey in the southern islands of Thailand. More on that later!