Stories from Thailand: My Favourite Day in Chiang Mai

                            Tuesday 2nd February 2016 

Visting Elephants in Chiang Mai

I woke up at 6am for a day at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. At this point we were staying in Chiang Mai, in an amazing little hostel called Chiang Mai Gate Capsule Hostel. 

We were hustled onto a drafty tuktuk/truck at about half 6, and it was freezing. We were there with two girls from Israel who were travelling as their compulsory army posts had finished. One man, who was from Canada, was there doing experience in the Chiang Mai hospital in the trauma unit. He said the majority of causalities were from road traffic accidents which was not hard to believe, the road system had no system. One guy, who was amazing at photography was also there, and a few others. We traveled along a motor way for about half an hour, and then a steep pot-holed (is an understatement) dirt track for twenty minutes until we arrived at our destination in the mountains south of Chiang Mai. 

Here we glimpsed our first view of the elephants. My first impression was how happy and alive they looked. They looked so mischievous. They did not look like captors. They were such a charismatic and charming group.

We all changed into gorgeous colourful hand-woven tops (apparently these helped the elephants to see us better, but I think it may have helped to promote their hand made tops as well!)

We spent a while getting to know the elephants. My favourites were the grandma of the pack (who was pregnant), and the baby, who was two years old. We fed them sugar canes and bananas while inevitably getting all the selfies possible. 

We then made our way to river at the bottom of a small hill, stopping off to pick passion fruit on the way. We arrived at the river which was very cold, with the elephants following us down the hill. It was magical. The biggest elephant got in the water and we all brushed and washed her. Suddenly I heard the sound of a motor engine, and was shocked to be told it was coming from the elephant! It was so loud, and so unconnected to any sound I thought an elephant could make. After we had scrubbed her and got pictures, the baby elephant joined us in the river. He was very naughty and kept running through everyone, which was a little alarming and resulted in a few small injuries. We were definitely reminded that they were the dominant creature, but reassured by how gentle and careful their nature was (excluding the two year old slightly). 

After that we went and had lunch in an outdoor hut, with a long woven table. Lunch was noodles, fresh fruit and water. 

After lunch we played with the elephants a bit more. They are such beautiful, peaceful but also cheeky, and intelligent animals. I couldn't resist buying one of the woven tops, mainly because of how gorgeous they were, and because of how much time had gone in to them; they take 30 days to hand weave. Now it was time to leave and say good bye to the elephants.

We headed back into the tuktuk and embarked down the mountain. Such a lovely, humbling and happy experience with great people. We arrived back at the hostel around 2pm and chilled until about 5pm. We went out for tea at a Thai restaurant. I got chicken and vegetables in oyster sauce- such a favourite. We headed to Zoes in Yellow, a popular bar and met some friends from the hostel. We were then surprised by some friends we'd made earlier in the trip- Scott and Jay who had arrived in Chiang Mai about half an hour previous! We had an amazing night catching up and headed home, to end a gorgeous day.