Asia Thailand

Elephants, Tigers in Where? Chiang Mai!*

When my little sister arrived, I was so happy to see her that I couldn’t hold back my tears. After Amy and Chan settled in to our Airbnb apartment, we made our way out to the Saturday Market to walk around, eat some mango with sticky rice and some BBQ pork and pancakes. We found the street that had about 15 bars on it and had a few drinks to celebrate being together then returned to our apartment.

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The next morning we were picked up in a truck with some other tourists and headed to see the elephants. Seeing all those big pachyderms roaming free beside the river was unbelievable! We gathered together to learn about them and what the sanctuary was all about, then we got to actually meet the elephants and feed them bananas and sugar cane. There was a five-month-old baby too! We had to peel and squish the bananas and put them in his mouth for him because his trunk wasn’t strong enough yet to grasp it and put it in his tiny mouth himself! He was so “gigantically” tiny — and really curious and a bit timid. It was so amazing to be standing amongst these massive, intelligent and majestic creatures! We then went for a walk with them through the jungle, watched them trample everything in their way, eat from the trees and climb up and down hills like it’s nobody’s business.

After a delicious Thai curry lunch, we all helped make some ‘medicine’ for the elephants. They explained that this mixture helps them poop! It included bananas, palm sugar, rice, and a few other things. Once it was ready, the guides called and the animals came RUNNING!! We had to make sure we got out of the way. The poor baby was a bit late and had to push his way in, then had a hard time picking any of it up. One of the elephants who arrived first was eating it so fast; they love this stuff! We continued the afternoon with a MUD BATH with the elephants!! One of them loved it so much that he was dancing! He was rocking back and forth and putting one foot in front of the other, it was amazing! Then we moved to the river to watch them bathe. One of the elephants just loved the water and lay right down on his side, one of the guides told me to go lie with him, so I did! But they thought it would be really fun to throw buckets of water in my face, so it really wasn’t that enjoyable after all … We bought some handmade souvenirs from the locals before reluctantly heading back in our truck. I asked one of the guides if I could bring the baby with me, but he told me they don’t like the city. It was hard to leave but I’d had so much fun that I was glowing for the rest of the day.

chiang-mai-cooking-2We decided to go for dinner at The Service 1921; it was such a fancy place! Expensive by Thai standards, but, for the quality of the experience, cheaper than back home. It was very elegant and themed! The staff were all dressed up in 20’s outfits and when our waitress came to our table, she offered us a “mission” for our meal. She provided us with our drink menu in a “Top Secret” envelope and our food menu on a key ring. The food and service were amazing! After we finished, she showed us around the rest of the restaurant where they had different 20s British-styled rooms, including an interrogation room, mapping room and a secret room where she had to open the bookshelf to let us in! I have never had a dining experience like this before!

The following morning, Amy and I headed off to our cooking class, stopping at the market first. The class was held on an organic farm with many dogs! I learned to make a coconut chicken soup, Penang curry paste, and a Penang curry dish, as well as a stir fry. We made some Thai milk tea and enjoyed dessert together.

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We picked up Chan and caught a red truck to Tiger Kingdom. We decided to see the smallest and the largest tigers. The babies were only five months old! I was a bit skeptical coming here, as I heard that they may drug the tigers. But, there were many good reviews and my experience turned out to be good. These are cats and they sleep a lot, but the ones we saw seemed to be a bit active, especially the babies; they were running and pouncing on each other. We had about five minutes with the baby tiger before the guy said, “OK, thanks!” like our visit was over. He took some pictures of us. We moved to the biggest tigers. A staff member was playing with them; he had a long stick with a box on the end and was waving it around. The cats were going crazy for it! One of them jumped and fell backward into the pool (they enjoy water too?). We had our picture taken with the largest tiger and got to spend more time with him than the baby. I was definitely more careful moving around this one; I wouldn’t want to startle him!

 

*said to the rhythm of “Lions and Tigers and Bears — oh my!” by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz

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