CHIANG MAI เชียงใหม่ ELEPHANTS ช้างไทย


We were in a very secluded area, with random houses and small villages spread out. At one point we made a turn as we climbed higher and higher into the mountains and I couldn't believe my eyes. I did a few double takes. There was a large valley with green as far as the eye could see, and elephants scattered throughout. If I didn't know better I would think I was starring at a picture, a painting, something not real. It was incredible. We proceeded to see scenes like this along the way, and once I spotted the first elephant crossing sign I got so giddy I could hardly contain myself.

 
POSTS ON THAILAND
Bangkok

We pulled up to a large building built quit literally on the side of the mountain. We were showed to the bathrooms where we changed into our swim suits and clothes we wouldn't mind getting wet. A young boy and a man I assumed was his father pulled up in a pick up truck with tons of rafts. Mr. Nong told us he would be waiting there for us and we were to go with them to go river rafting. There were no seats, but we were starting to get used to driving in the back of cars, so we hopped in the back and headed further up the mountain. Now THAT was a ride! Once we got to our destination they pointed to the helmets and life jackets thrown in the back. They didn't speak a lick of English, and us Thai, so it was a hand signal game from that point on. They pulled a raft out of the back of the truck, and the older man left. There we were, in the middle of nowhere Thailand, with a kid no older then eleven, a raft, standing on top of a cliff. The boy practically picked up the raft by himself and threw it over the cliff. Now I have been white water rafting before and know how heavy those rafts are, I was stunned. He then started climbing down. He didn't say a word but Trevor and I realized we were supposed to follow him. We scaled the side of this mountain down to the river. It wasn't that far, but it was steeper then I would normally be comfortable with, haha. We got the raft in the water and off we went, rafting down the Mae Tang River. It was gorgeous! The rapids were small, so it wasn't a crazy intense experience. Just enough bounce to keep you entertained, but not too much to have me freaked out that the nearest hospital was who knows how far away. It was actually really fun, and at moments very serene. At one point coming down the river we turned a bend and there right in the middle of the river was an elephant, sitting. Yes, sitting. I think it had to be one of the cutest things I had ever seen. There were a few people washing him, and we both got excited thinking about how we too would be doing that soon. We continued down the river for an hour, pointing out wild life and gazing at the incredible views. You would spot people's houses built along the river. At point we came across big group of women and children hanging out and they all got so excited when they saw us. They were fervently waving at us, and giggling. I waved back too and I am sure I had some big dumb grin smeared across my face. It was such a fun little moment shared. Us so excited to see them, them so excited to see us, and just wanting to show the other how excited we were to be there meeting. I LOVED it!

Also along the river we came across a group of young men, Americans in their early twenties. They were tubing down the river while holding their beers in one hand and yelling "DUDE! HI!" at us. They seemed pretty excited to see some familiar faces as we passed on by, and they gave me a good laugh as I watched some of them flip over into the water because they couldn't balance waving and holding their beer while trying to stay centered in their donut tube. It was pretty comical and absolutely hilarious. Before I knew it our little guide had hopped out of the raft and was tugging us to shore. We helped him get the raft put away and he pointed to a steep staircase and motioned us to follow him. Lots and lots of steps later we were back at the building we had originally stopped at. At the top of the stairway to heaven as I was calling it, was Mr. Nong waiting for us on this shaded patio with tables. There was an amazing spread of food prepared for us for lunch. We had an amazing view of the countryside and river while we ate probably the BEST meal of the whole trip. I stuffed my face with no shame. Two young ladies had made all of the food and I couldn't get over how good it all was. We had a lovely lunch talking to everyone there, taking in those views, and eating some traditional, local Thai Cuisine. After we were more than satisfied we headed to the elephant camp. A funny side note, some guy had taken a picture of us while in the raft and of course wanted to sell it to us for way too much money. We bought it because he was so pushy, and since we hadn't brought our camera we figured we could have it to document the river rafting. Of course we left in the back of the car! Oops! So no photo of us going down the river, haha.


Seriously, YUM!

When we arrived they had the riding clothes for us to change into. They were surprisingly very comfortable, and made of a very heavy and durable material. We waited for the rest of our group and got to know the other visitors who would be going on the ride with us. One of my favorite parts of traveling is meeting people from all over the world. I love getting to know about other people's lives. After our whole group had arrived we were given instruction about the elephants, what to do, what not to do, some commands, etc. We also learned all about elephants. We were educated on how they take care of them and how they live. I know riding elephants is very controversial. With that said I had done research before booking with Blue Elephant Tours. In my research I found that elephants live naturally in Northern Thailand, and figured that riding them somewhere they are native to was best. Also in my research I found that riding them bareback is much better for them then having a chair or seat on top of them. As strong as they are having that on top of them is not great for their spines. With all of that said I know that some people will be upset by this post, however I still wanted to share my experience.

Our group was taken down to meet the elephants, and we were all waiting in this big open area when what seemed like out of nowhere a heard of elephants came "walking" towards us. I say "walking" because honestly, it seemed like they were coming at us SO FAST. They knew we had food, and they wanted it! I won't lie, it was the most intimidating part of the whole experience. Having a huge group of elephants coming towards you... pretty intense! Feeding them the bananas was the best! It was so much fun and they couldn't get enough :) The trainers took some time to show us how to get up etc. and from there we were paired with a trainer and an elephant of our own. I was so nervous, and I think they could tell so they asked if I wanted to go on a smaller one. I happily accepted the offer.

I quickly learned that if I was nervous I probably should have gone with an older elephant. I apparently was on a baby elephant. I felt like I was up SO HIGH and I was on an elephant less then half the size of the one Trevor was on, I can only imagine how high up he felt and was! My baby was... rambunctious. Imagine riding a toddler? She was hilarious because she kept wanting to stray and find food. She kept lifting her head up and down a ton which made it very difficult for me to feel stable on top of her. She was insane! I was a tad scared, but absolutely loving it at the same time. I like that she had so much spunk. Did you know elephants never stop eating? They eat 24/7 and we all witnessed that first hand because on the trek all the elephants were constantly using their trunks to find food as we walked and just stuff their mouths without missing a beat. Trevor's elephant was massive, and they told us it was because she was pregnant! Then we learned that elephants are pregnant for... are you ready for this? 22 months! If I had to be pregnant for that long I don't think I would have kids. Almost TWO YEARS?! Insane.

We made our way through the gorgeous countryside and came up to the river. We all got off our elephants while they went into the water. This was one of the coolest things I have ever done, chilling in the river with elephants. We bathed them, splashed them, just had a lot of fun. At one point my guide showed me all the cool things elephants can do. He had her pick me and Trevor up by her trunk! You could really tell how strong just her trunk was, she lifted me up like I was nothing. In that moment I was happy a baby elephant was doing it and not one of the big ones... I would have wet my pants! She was loving it in the water, spraying water out of her trunk and what not. It was pretty incredible to be apart of. She gave Trevor and I some elephant kisses, and let me tell you, they are intense! Imagine a vacuum hose sucking on your cheek and that is exactly what it feels like, haha!

We got back on the elephants and continued the trek for about another half an hour. At one point while we were making our way out of the water I looked behind me. The sun was setting, and I could see this beautiful river disappearing out into the gorgeous Thai countryside. Here I was, on this magnificent creature, looking at all this beauty. It was not lost on me that this was something special. God's beauty all around me.

I didn't want the experience to end. I loved how much character these animals had. When we were coming around the bend back to the camp you could see a bunch of elephants walking around, eating, etc. Some of the elephants we were with started waving to them, and they continued to wave at each other. It was the sweetest thing. I didn't want it to end, and I gave her a little kiss on her head as I got off. What a surreal experience.
  
Elephant kisses are pretty intense!
  
Seriously, I look like a total dork here but this was awesome!

After we took showers at the camp and got into clean dry clothes we sat down to eat the rest of the fruit our guide had picked out for us from the market. One of the fruits was the best fruit Trevor and I had ever had. Trevor actually doesn't care for fruit, I have never seen him really like any kind of fruit. He LOVED this stuff. It is called Mangosteen, sometimes called the Queen of Thai fruit. These are such a treat, you almost feel guilty after eating them! They kind of look like a small orange but the texture is much firmer. It is very, very sweet and such a unique flavor to anything I have ever tried. You want to select fruit that are slightly soft when you squeeze them. A firm squeeze cracks open the fruit casing revealing the delicious sweet white fruit. Trevor is pretty much obsessed with Mangosteen and it kind of breaks my heart because the one fruit my husband loves is not really accessible here.
I am pretty sure we both fell asleep on the way back home, which was exactly what I needed. It was the perfect power nap to make sure we had the energy to go out that night. The night before while in a taxi truck we had seen this really happening spot with food that smelled heavenly. We made a mental note about it and wanted to try and find it for dinner. After a lengthy conversation we finally got on the same page as the driver and figured out where it was. We walked in and saw that is was kind of like a buffet. They had a bunch of raw meats, noodles, etc. in a buffet style bar in the center of the room. Each table was provided with a little clay burning stove to cook your food on. We kind of looked around to see if we were to seat ourselves or not. I eventually just asked someone who looked like they worked there where to sit and someone came out and showed us to a table. After that they didn't come up to us at all. We just sat there waiting. I finally realized that they weren't going to come out to us at all and I better go ask. I don't know what the procedure was but I kind of got the vibe they didn't want to come up to our table because no one spoke any English in that place. Soon we realized that everyone there was local. This was not the typical scene for a tourist. We were excited about this though, and realized it was probably why it was so hard to find in the first place. A bit off the beaten path. I went up to some of the workers and somehow managed to convey we would like a clay burner and to start eating. Finally a young man came out with two burners for us, one that cooked the meat, and another pot one that had water in it for the noodles etc.
Now the fun part... figuring out what the heck to make? Some things were more obvious than others, but Trevor was studying our neighbors and tried to imitate what they were making. The "soup" or whatever we tried to make was an epic fail. It was hilarious and we just couldn't get over how funny the scenario we were in was. TOTALLY out of our element, culture, everything, just struggling to make ourselves a meal. I loved every second of it. Getting them to bring us the bill also took a million years. There was a lot of laughter, and a lot of the food was really great, if I do say so myself!   

After dinner we headed to the night market again. It is basically the place to be in the evenings. We decided that we just had to see the show the lady boys were putting on. The night before when we had walked by you could tell there was such a party going on, and you could hear the music. We had some dinner and headed on over to the show. We got there a little early and decided to try and find a bathroom. I should have known better because I was an exchange student in Japan, but when I got into the stall and saw the little hole and no toilet paper I remembered that you are supposed to carry your own! We didn't have anything like that on us, and nothing nearby, so what did I do? In these situations you just have to resourceful. I dug through my purse and found a flyer for a Thai boxing match. People stand on the streets and hand these out like crazy so I had a few in my purse. Who knew they would come in handy? BAHA.

The show started and we were welcomed to what they called the Travaret! Get it, cabaret, Transgender? Let me just say this. This show had some of the best performances I have ever seen. The closing act was mind blowing. Everyone was lip synching, but the dancing was incredible. They knew how to put on a show and I was beyond entertained. If you are ever in Chiang Mai, you have to see it. I only hope you get the same people we saw perform. I am kicking myself that I didn't get a picture after with all of them. And honestly, some of those lady boys were gorgeous it just stunned you. Such a fun night. They had all the elements you want in a show, they were funny, talented, and kept you guessing and wildly entertained. We hopped in the back of a taxi truck and got ourselves into bed. We talked about how amazing the day was. The elephants, the food, the amazing show. We were not ready to leave Chiang Mai, but the next morning we were going to be on another plane headed to Koh Samui, and our time here had ended. I looked at Trevor and told him that today had been one of the best days of my life. Next to marrying him, I think it filled the next slot.

POSTS ON THAILAND
Bangkok Koh Samui
Thailand Extras

17 comments

  1. Justin calls mangosteen the "tree of life fruit" haha he loved it so much on the mission, i wanna try it too!

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    Replies
    1. Too funny! Trevor was saying calling it the same thing! haha

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  2. These pictures are so cool! Elephants are my favorite animal :)

    Haley
    haleyvalerie.com

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  3. Elephants and dolphins = my favorite wild animals. Love the pics!

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  4. your trip looks amazing! i cannot believe you got to be so close with elephants, it would be such a dream!
    -k
    www.kerryjune.com

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  5. Elephants are such amazing animals I would love to be that up close and personal with them, awesome photos

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  6. Oh my gosh this looks super amazing!!!! What a fun trip!!!

    www.stylebysuzy.blogspot.com

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  7. Are you kidding me right now??? This is amazing!!!! What an incredible trip!! Kisses and hugs!

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  8. Such an awesome post! Your facials while riding the elephant make me smile! Such an amazing time! :)

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  9. This trip looks amazing! I'm dying to have an experience with elephants, how fun! Approximately how much was your trip to Thailand? I need to start saving! I’m new to blogger and would love any feedback you may have for me about my new blog. http://the--arnolds.blogspot.com

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