There certainly are no shortages of activities in Chiang Mai to keep you occupied. While we were there we visited a number of Wats (Temples), sat and talked to a young monk about his religion and practice, wandered the markets and ate local dishes, had thai massages and explored the quieter less touristy neighborhoods. Many backpackers will do a day at the Tiger Kingdom, the Elephant Sanctuary, the Cobra Show or spend a night watching Muay Thai Boxing. We decided to do a two day trek into the mountains where we would ride elephants, visit a local village, swim in waterfalls and go white water rafting. Oh, i should mention that to do all of this only cost us 1100 (approximately $40)
The first stop on our little adventure was to an Elephant farm. Both Danielle and myself were pretty eager to sit on the elephants necks, while the others in our group sat in seats on their backs. Such gorgeous creatures, they carried us into the jungle stopping just about every other minute to grab some leaves to eat or throw their trunk back into our faces in hopes of being fed some bananas. My elephant was pretty stubborn and if i didn't give him a banana, he would blow his stinky snot from his trunk all over my legs- luckily i had a massive bag of bananas to satiate his demanding appetite.
Our group separated after and myself, Danielle, two Aussies named Mel & Troy, and a Brit named Julian, were left to wait for another truck to come pick us up. We ended up being forgotten about and left with an FM radio and a deck of cards for almost 3 hours. To look on the bright side of the situation (which you so often have to do while traveling) we really bonded with our forgotten comrades and it made for a pretty hilarious story.
From the elephant farm, we met up with the rest of our trekking group - a brother sister duo from Germany, two young Swedish guys, and an incredible 75 year old Belgian man and his Nepalese wife. We spent about 3 hours climbing up stopping to take in the majestic views. Once we got to the small village of Lahu, we were taken to our raised bungalow that overlooked a massive valley of flowing green hills. We played with the local children, had massages from the local women, then had a massive DELICIOUS dinner together. The small village children came and sang to us, and despite their relentless badgering for money, we still found them endearing and pretty damn cute.
After a night under the stars and our mosquito nets, we trekked on. The morning fog that flowed through the hills in the distance was stunning and made our early hike all the more enjoyable. After a steep decline, where i fell a few times scraping up my knees, we made it to a massive waterfall. We all went for a refreshing dip then continued on to our white water rafting adventure. All of us managed to stay inside the raft and didn't have to do much paddling- our thai guide was insistent on steering us practically alone. Where the river calmed down, we came upon some bamboo rafts which our guide made us hop on. It was a pretty big joke as we sat chest deep in the water, moving as slow as molasses. Just another experience to look back at and laugh about, great memories.
We said our goodbyes to the trekkers staying on another day, then drove back to chiang mai for one final night before our trip to Pai. We were definitely sad to be leaving chiang mai, our experiences there and on the trek were amazing and such an incredible start to our trip.