Zip wires, elephants and shopping malls

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Surreal surroundings

Well, has been a busy couple of days! On Friday I did Flight of the Gibbon, up in the mountains near Chiang Mai. The scenery was breathtaking, I'll put some photos up when I get round to it. I didn't see any gibbons unfortunately, don't blame them for staying away considering the amount of girly squealing which was going on. So we arrived at this little village called Mae Kompong, got kitted up in harnesses and helmets (which of course wasn't big enough for my ginormous head meaning it sat on top and I looked bloody ridiculous) then wandered off into the woods. We started on a platform on the side of a hill, got hooked up and zip-lined across to a second platform which was built around a large tree. From this one, we crossed a rather swingy rope bridge to another tree.

There followed two hours of zip-lining and rope bridging, with constant exclamations of 'oh my god this is surreal'. I was pretty disappointed not to have really seen any wildlife bar the odd little bird flying overhead but I enjoyed the surroundings and the zip lining was pretty fun too. The best ones were when you had to drop from a higher platform to one below, meaning you were clipped on at the back and had to drop down like a spider.

Anyway, so we got back to our hostel from there and decided to head to the shopping centre to have a mooch around. I picked up some stupidly cheap flip flops, a cinnamon danish yum yum and a variety of strange fruit. I had little spiky red rambutans, which taste alot like lychees, rose apples which I found a bit bitter and Mangosteen, which was absolutely delicious.

After we had flown like gibbons.
It looks like a passionfruit but you tear it open and inside are white fleshy seeds, which literally taste like starburst or something similar. Can see me consuming alot of those over the next few weeks!

Yesterday I visited the Elephant Nature Park, which was a day of mixed emotions. It's an elephant sanctuary as opposed to alot of the elephant places in this area, who put on shows for tourists. We got to feed and bathe the elephants which was amazing but we also got to find out about the training process that domestic elephants go through in Thailand. This was absolutely heartbreaking. We watched a documentary which showed how they are put into a 'press' which is basically a wooden cage without a top where they can't even turn around. For 3 days for females, or 7 days for males they are relentlessly beaten and prodded with sticks, which would be bad enough, but these sticks have sharpened nails attached to them.

A slimy elephant kiss
By the end of this process the elephant is exhausted, bleeding and has become completely submissive in fear. There was even an elephant at the park who was so disobedient that they poked it in its eyes until it was blind. This process happens to any elephant which gives rides or performs for tourists. It's big business here. So obviously I won't be having any elephant rides anytime soon!

Last night I went to the 'Saturday walking street' with some of my dorm mates, Noby and Nicole and an American called Andrea. It's basically a massive market but it's not as tourist-rammed as the Night Bazaar and has a much better variety of stuff. There's an even bigger one today near my hostel so I tried not to go mad but I got more flip flops, even cheaper than the ones I got the day before, a couple of presents for people and a pair of the ubiquitous 'fisherman trousers' which are these funny baggy trousers/shorts. I'd been sort of resisting the generic traveller-gear, but as I expected all the cheapest clothing fits into this category and I'm already a blatant backpacker anyway.

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Surreal surroundings
Surreal surroundings
After we had flown like gibbons.
After we had flown like gibbons.
A slimy elephant kiss
A slimy elephant kiss
Just washing the elephants...you k…
Just washing the elephants...you …
One clean elephant!
One clean elephant!
I always seemed to be the first on…
I always seemed to be the first o…
Yes, my head is too big for the hat
Yes, my head is too big for the hat
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes