Chiang Mai Travel Journal
One of the best parts of traveling is walking. Strolling city streets, trekking a jungle, or wandering the edge of the ocean - walking allows you to slow down and soak in your surroundings.
We spent four days in Chiangmai, Thailand, continuing our trip from Cambodia. Almost as soon as we set our bags down, we set out on foot to see the city. It was much bigger than we expected. A tree-lined canal ran down the center of town and we followed this past street vendors and restaraunts and even a pet shop. We passed students who seemed like they had just gotten out of class, and the world famous tuk-tuks speeding down the road.
Coffee is up and coming as an industry in Thailand (I was reading an interesting article on the airplane about it). It seemed like on every corner, a cute cafe had popped up with all the right buzzwords - "life begins after coffee", one sign read. Others boasted free wifi, "real" lattes, and artisan roasts - hilarious and amazing. I would be lying if I said I didn't get a coffee at every other shop we passed. My personal favorite was the See You Soon cafe, which served their drinks in sweet little mason jars atop marble countertops, surrounded by lots and lots of plants (my fave).
The city was quiet most days, with a gentle hum of ongoing activity. The artist in me was intrigued by the blend of ancient culture and modernity. The trendy coffeeshops sat just next to gilded buddhist temples, crowned in extravagent gold leaf from centuries ago. On some corners it felt like classic Thailand like you imagine, on others I could be walking an alleyway in San Francisco it felt so like home. We took a cooking class, making Tom ka gai, Pad Thai, fresh spring rolls and sticky rice. We shopped at one of the markets for thai basil, rice paper, and spicy chiles.
Then we stepped back in time as we learned to care for gentle giants. Our day with elephants will always be one of my favorite memories. We were careful to select a place that cares exceedingly well for these creatures, rescuing and rehabilitating them while simultaneously educating people about them. We fed, bathed and exercised them - I was paired with Patu, which means sunflower. That made me smile. She was a small elephant but I still felt so high off the ground! We rode bareback up through the jungle and their trumpeting made us imagine we were in prehistoric times. We also got to play with a baby elephant, not more than a few months old and so active. We took some pictures together before he tried to eat my bun.
Next we'll fly to Krabi, to soak up some sunshine on the coast. See you soon, Chiang Mai.