Archive | November 2013

Elephants and Lady Boys

Time for our elephant update – something we had both been anticipating for a long while now! The first day however we spent in rural Thailand, trekking for an hour to a waterfall and then returning for lunch. Our guide, Jay, had cooked us fried rice and wrapped it up in banana leaves to keep it warm. Then we went water rafting – something we haven’t yet done on our travels. Although when we arrived at the rafting centre there was little to no instruction and we were all aboard the boat not having a clue what to expect! Luckily the rapids weren’t too big and we only got wet due to our instructor splashing us. The best bit was seeing elephants standing grazing on the river banks. At the end we caught a traditional Thai bamboo raft down the last stretch of the river. 
We slept over at the elephant camp and woke bright and early the next morning for our day at Baan Chang elephant park (Elephant Home in Thai). Kels and I were concerned at first to see them all chained up but we were told this was for our safety and the elephants safety. As they all come from abused and unhappy backgrounds they can be unpredictable when interacting with each other. Throughout the day we saw how they spent a lot of time with their mahout bathing, playing and walking around the park, and we understand that this conservation park is making the best of a sad situation for these elephants.
Firstly we put on the mahout outfit – fetching denim shirt and trousers! Then we learned the basic elephant commands for go, stop, left, right and down. We soon learned that the elephants would do pretty much what they wanted, mainly eating leaves from tall trees with you still on their back!
It was amazing to see these animals up close. Our teacher told us how to hold on to the ears of the elephants and use the elephant’s leg to jump up and swing your leg over. You had to do this pretty quickly as the elephant would start to stand up as soon as you got on!
After a practice we went on an hour ride on the elephants around the camp. We went on the same elephant – fondly named ‘big mama’ as she’s the biggest female elephant in the camp! Kels actually felt safer on an elephant compared to riding a horse! It was a great experience and at the end we got to help bathe them and clean them up. 
Our final night in CM ended with a typical Thai experience – a lady boy cabaret show! At the street market in CM every night the performers entertain audiences. There’s no fee to watch the show, you just have to buy a drink. It was really good fun – they sang current songs and old classic cabaret (like Whitney Houston). Our fave was a guy in drag singing ‘I’ll do it my way’ who progressively took all his makeup, wig and dress off until he was his male self!! Interesting to see! Sadly we didn’t have our camera for this so you’ll just have to use your imaginations haha. 
We’ve got another night in Bangkok before heading to the island of Koh Chang for some R n R for 4 nights. 
Lots of love to all xxx

Chiang Mai, Thailand

An update after a great 6 nights in Chiang Mai (CM):

As soon as we arrived we knew we would like it! It was a lot greener and calmer than bangkok (still pretty busy but more bearable). And the old city is surrounded by a wall and a moat, with our guest house being just outside these wall. 
Finlay’s guesthouse is run by a British guy called Keith and a Thai lady called Rattri – they were an entertaining pair and made us feel very at home 🙂
After an afternoon exploring the cafes, shops and lanes of CM we spent our first full day doing mountain biking. We opted for the ‘easier’ route which meant over 20km of bumpy downhill mountain paths! It was hard work but fun and the lunch in small huts on stilts over looking the lake made it all worth it. 
The following day we explored some of CM’s temples using a walking tour in our guide book (which is like our bible!). My (kels) favourite was a temple made of teak with a striking arch entrance and peacock motif over the arch.
After some recommendations by fellow travellers we signed up to a Thai cooking class for that evening. It was amazing! In 4 hours we made 5 dishes including the CM dish Kao Soi and our own spring rolls. Best part was eating it all after wards! We also had a look round the never ending night market and picked up a few souvenirs 🙂
To be continued….