Playing with Elephants and Walking Around Chiang Mai City Center and Night Bazaar
Chiang Mai Travel Blog› entry 38 of 41 › view all entries
What an amazing day in Chiang Mai! This place is great! I like it a million times better than Bangkok. Though Bangkok was full of tourists and relied on the tourism just as much, Chiang Mai absolutely caters to tourists.
On Wednesday morning, I woke up early and went down to the breakfast buffet bar. I had made to order eggs, with toast and fruit. The food was delicious again. Everyone was so friendly and accommodating at the breakfast bar.
Then I went to wait in the lobby for my tour guide. My tour guide, Thas, was so friendly. She was the first female tour guide I’ve had on all my trips. She was young and knowledgeable, though her English was a bit patchy.
I signed up to go an Elephant Safari Excursion today. I had initially wanted to go to the Elephant Nature Reserve, based on a friend’s recommendation, but when I found out they didn’t have any tours there until late March, I found another tour to another elephant camp.
My friend had recommended the Elephant Nature Reserve because she said it’s the most humane. I can understand now why she thinks that.
I decided to go on a full day tour, which included a trip to an Elephant Camp at Mae Taeng where we would see an elephant show, participate in an ox-cart ride through the village, go elephant riding, enjoy a traditional Thai buffet lunch, go on a bamboo raft ride through the river, and visit an Orchid Farm.
Though I was excited to see the elephants at the camp, I could tell the elephants provide the source of income for many of the villagers in this area so I wondered if the elephants were being exploited.
When we arrived at the elephant camp, we got to see the elephants being bathed. Then they paraded out for an audience of about 100 tourists welcoming all of us to the camp.
Thais told us Chiang Mai relies heavily on tourism. She said people in Chiang Mai either live off of farming, or tourism. One of the things she mentioned was that Thai women want to be fair skinned; for them being lighter was more desirable, so she didn’t like being in the sun, because she didn’t want to get any darker.
After the elephant rides, we got to ride a cart pulled by oxes. We went through the village and got to see how people live in the village. We then rode elephants for about an hour. The elephants walked across rivers and through villages with us on their backs. Each elephant had a mahout (elephant trainer) riding on the front on top of him to ensure the elephant took us exactly where we were supposed to be dropped off. We visited a souvenir shop afterwards. Then lunch was served. It was a buffet style lunch that had all kinds of foods. The meal was good. There was a little bit of everything to suit anyone’s taste.
From there, we got to ride on bamboo rafts through the river.
I was on the raft with Keiko and the two girls from London. The ride through the river was so relaxing. I could have easily fallen asleep on that raft.
When we finished riding the rafts down the river, we were taken to an Orchid Farm. The flowers there were so pretty.
I really enjoyed the tour. We were dropped back off at the hotel at around 4 pm. I decided now I wanted to go walk around the city center and the Night Bazaar.
The guy at the front desk told me to catch a “Red Car” to the city center.
So I quickly found a “Red Car” (they’re literally all red) to take me to the city center for 20 baht (not even 1 US dollar). Great!
Wow! What a lively city.
There were people everywhere. Not once did I feel unsafe. This town is such a tourist hot spot. I stopped at one corner café that overlooked a busy intersection, sat at an outdoor table, ordered an egg roll meal with an iced coffee and took my time eating, people watching and enjoying the warm weather.
Then when I was ready, I walked back towards the hotel, and flagged a red car down. One stopped for me quickly and took me tight back to the hotel for 20 baht.
I had such an enjoyable day! I like Chiang Mai!