Wednesday, January 2, 2013


For our first full day in Chiang Mai I scheduled an awesome adventure that was something I'd been looking forward to since I found out it was something I could book.  We were waiting in our hotel lobby ready for pick-up by 8 am.  We got in the van where a few other people were waiting and then we continued to pick up others throughout the city.  Remember when I mentioned that the double decker bus ride in Hong Kong was what I determined riding inside the crazy Harry Potter magical bus would be like?  Well, this van ride was like riding in the crazy magical Harry Potter bus at warp speed inside of a washing machine on spin cycle.  After a long, long, scary drive and a dangerous, bumpy entrance to the establishment we got out of the van and....ELEPHANTS!!!!
The minute we got out of the van we were given bananas and there was an elephant standing right there for us to feed.  We were then ushered into the main lobby and given clothes to change into.  Then we met Joe, who gave us a short tutorial about the Thai Elephant Home.  We learned the differences between Asian elephants and African elephants.  African elephants have two "fingers" on their trunk and Asian have only one.  Both male and female African elephants grow huge tusks; only male Asian elephants grow large tusks.  Females have short little "teeth".  African elephants are much bigger than even the largest Asian elephants.  Asian elephants come in small, medium, and large.  The ones at Thai Elephant Home were considered medium.  They have different feet too.  Also, Joe claims that Asian elephants are smarter.  :)

Then we learned some of the mahout (elephant trainer) commands:
Then we paid respect to the Elephant Buddha Ganesha. 
And then....ELEPHANTS!!!!  We got to go down where our elephants for the day were kept and we got to feed them bananas.  This girl really wanted that banana I was holding.

Actually, I think she wanted the whole bunch.  
How cool is this?  A whole row of elephants?  That I could touch?  And feed?
Well it gets even better. Joe showed us how to get on an elephant.
And then we all got on elephants!!!

This was just practice and the real fun was to come.  We each got on our own elephant and took off riding into the jungle!  My elephants name was Ruby and I loved her.

Notice how in each of the pictures above she is eating?  This was a common theme with my dear, sweet Ruby and I don't think I could have had a more kindred spirit of an elephant.  I have a video that illustrates Ruby perfectly but I can't get it loaded.  :(  If you were to watch it, you'd see a procession of people riding their elephants on the trail through the mountainous jungle.  And then after the last person exits the screen you wait...and you wait...and you wait some more.  Because Ruby was stopping to eat you see.  And then eventually Ruby and I show up in the shot.  And then we stop so Ruby can eat some more.  And then we walk and you see Ryan right behind me.  And then you see the whole procession stop.  Because.  Well, because Ruby stopped to eat.  It took  me and Ruby longer to pass the videographer on that mountaintop than it took the six riders in front of us.  And that makes me smile. 

I think these pictures are so cool.  Although I'm not sure what's going on with Ryan's extra passenger there.  I will have to ask him about this.  I think she might have been someone that signed up to help at the elephant camp for a week because I know she wasn't one of the mahouts.  She must have been tired of walking and hitched a ride.

Once we got to our mountaintop destination after quite awhile of riding, we stopped to have lunch.  They brought out pad thai packaged in banana leaves.  Yummy.

When we were done we got to feed the banana leaves to the elephant that was chilling out by us like a docile dog.  Actually, better behaved than a dog because I know my dogs would have been completely up in my business the entire time if they knew I had something good for them to eat.

Then we gave some elephants mud baths!  Ryan's elephant Boo Yun, was one of the elephants that wanted a bath and I was excited because Boo Yun was such a sweet, calm, big elephant that I just wanted to love on.  And then she blew mud all over all of us.  Several times.  I think Ryan was matched with the perfect elephant for him.  The elephant below is not Boo Yun but the picture of us below that is after mud bathing Boo Yun.
Then we started our descent.  Look how muddy Boo Yun is in these pictures.  Hehe.
Then we made our way down to the river to wash off our elephants.
I got sprayed in the face:

And then I got a smoocher:

And then I got lifted in the air:

After the elephants were sufficiently washed off we headed back to camp. 
Where we got to see a baby!!!!  SO CUTE!  He tried to eat Ryan's phone.  I wanted to take him home.

After a shower, fresh pineapple, and foot and hand soaks we were given CDs with pictures and videos and then taken back to town.  We were the last ones in the van; therefore, we ended up in the very front.  I guess no one wanted to sit up there after the scary, crazy original ride.  It was okay because we just fell asleep anyway.  Surprisingly it was a really tiring day.  I think maybe because I was in complete awe and sensory overload the entire time.

Later that night, we ventured to the Night Market for dinner and a little shopping.  For two pasta dishes, one veggie dish, a Coke, fruit smoothie, and Chang, it cost us 9 USD.  I couldn't believe it.  Also unbelievable is that we ordered that much food in one sitting.

Yes, this was the most flattering picture I had of both of us.  My bad.  We were hungry.
 We were so tired, though, that we didn't make it long before I requested we go back to the hotel after a stop by 7Eleven.  I picked up some "American Cheesy Paprika" chips I just had to try.  I really wanted to see what the interpretation of "American" was, especially because I'd never seen a flavor like that in the US.  I decided they definitely were not a flavor that would fly in the US.  They weren't bad.  They were just different.  Just like Chinese food in the US doesn't taste like Chinese food in Hong Kong/China and Thai food in the US doesn't taste quite like Thai food in Thailand and so on and so forth.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful post. The pictures are great and it looks like the elephants were an amazing experience. I am really trying to get caught up on your trip....I promise Havew a wonderful weekend!