The Elephant Nature Park was a wonderful way to start Danny’s break from school. We flew up this time apposed to taking the overnight train like the last time we went to Chiang Mai.
This time we flew to Chiang Mai. Last time we took the overnight train. Of the two trips I prefer the flight. When we got to the airport there are taxi’s waiting for travellers the price was agreed to be 160baht for 3 people to get to our hotel. It took about 30 mins to get to the hotel. Out friend who traveled earlier that day met with us after we arrived. When we took the train there was a table that had our hotel name on it and we got a ride that seemed odd but got us to our hotel at no cost.
Chiang Mai has mosquitoes!!!! This time we went in April and last time in July both times we had to contend with mosquitoes.
When we got the hotel, the front desk was helpful with the confirmations about getting picked up in the morning for the Elephant Nature Park. The same can be said about the front desk staff the first time too; We were able to book the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary the night day before going out. At 8:30 am the van arrived and off we went. There is an informational video regarding elephant safety and what elephants go through in Thailand. I may have cried a little while watching the video. This trip was already a very different experience from the last elephant sanctuary we went to in Chiang Mai. We rode in a nice van with AC and proper seats vs in the back of a red truck song tau style up a mountain that felt like we may fall off at any point. While on the back of the truck Danny said to me, “I love you.” I responded with, “We aren’t going to die.” I think I got motion sick at some point during that trip.
We arrived at the park walked into the park and got to feed the elephants as soon as we got there. We were given safety rules about where to stand and how to avoid getting injured. Apposed to the jungle, where we arrived at the top of a muddy path that we walked down and then across a rice field and then up the side of a mountain and then got a poncho (to protect us from mosquitoes? or to identify us as tourists? I am not sure) then we were taken to feed the elephants bananas. No safety video or speech was given about how to stay safe or how to treat the elephants but the guide answered all my questions and I had a lot of them.
I can’t say enough good things about the nature park. It cost a more to go to and you interact less with the baby elephants but those are not bad things. The jungle sanctuary was more about getting a good posed photo with the elephants and more interactions with the elephants and it cost less than half of what the nature park costs. If you didn’t plan ahead you might be able to book the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary on short notice. But if you plan ahead or if there is a spot available on short notice go to the Elephant Nature Park.
Also when in Chiang Mai you must get some northern Thai food! The only place we go is Bamboo Bee! Khao Soy. Bee even has a cook book for sale. I could eat here every day! I am sure that is what we did. Good luck at the new location. We will come back as soon as we can.
After going to the Elephant Nature Park 3 of us went to go on a tubing day trip. It was a good way to spend the day. floating and walking down a river, and then hanging out in hammocks with friends and food. It was a slow day so we got to decide when the day was over for us. Then we got a ride back to the area our hotel was in.
The final day we spend in Chiang Mai was mostly spent at Bamboo Bee’s restaurant! Such a good decision. Bee helped us get a ride to the airport too. 150 baht for the 3 of us back to the airport. Our 4th traveler traveled earlier in the morning on her own. I had to haggle to get the price of her taxi down to 150 baht.
Song taus are 20 baht per truck vs 7 baht in Bangkok. The tuk tuk we took in the morning to get to the meeting point was 60 baht for the 3 of us I didn’t have to haggle that price down as I thought it was reasonable considering the prices of the red trucks. (red trucks and song taus are the same thing, you flag them down and it goes on a predetermined route and you press the button to get off the truck then pay 20 baht per person in Chiang Mai)
After Chiang Mai the 3 of us went to Koh Samet. Koh Samet doesn’t have a western style grocery store except for 7/11. The place we stayed at was at the northwestern point of the island. There were some local places to get food which I had to double check the food items to make sure they gave us all the items I paid for. Both times we got shorted one item. If you want to have a fish for food get it early in the day by the evening the local fish shop is closed. We did rent a scooter and drive from end to end. It didn’t take too long to do but the island is a nature preserve so the roads had speed bumps everywhere. It was a good experience. I did feel like I got ripped off when booking the boat over but I take that in stride as part of the experience of being a tourist on holiday. We scheduled a car down that cost 2500 baht each way. We paid another 2400 baht to get to and from the island. The hotel we stayed at had two pools one shallow pool and one deeper pool. I was nice to actually be able to swim without touching the bottom of the pool. The beer and bar was a nice place to go get some food and chill by the water.
On the way back we had a 30 minute wait from when the people who where coming to get us said they would be there to pick us up. The driver that took us down was at the dock to take us back to Bangkok with in 5 minutes.
Danny experienced Songkran when he was driving the scooter to feed a friends cat. Getting doused by a bucket of water while driving is not the safest way to experience a water festival. I managed to avoid the festival except when I was in our apartments pools.
I enjoyed our holiday. It felt like a Holiday. I am so glad that we had some friends come out to visit! I had missed having close friends to spend time with. We don’t have much longer until we travel again.
Love to all me hearties,
Lori and Danny.
Up next… Summer Holiday in The UK 2016.
The experience at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary felt more like a tourist trap exploiting the tourist and the elephants. I asked about the pregnant elephants that they had there and the answers were a bit worrying to me. I felt like the environment was manipulated and that training the elephants to do tricks for people to take photos should not be the goal of a sanctuary. I feel like the people who are running this sanctuary don’t understand how to actually help the elephant exploitation problem. That being said I did also notice that the elephants at the Nature park were also encouraged with food to tolerate the people “bathing” the elephants but these elephants were not being encouraged to do tricks for the visitors.