I decided to catch a 2nd class day train for the 10 hour journey from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai. I know many do the night train but I’m glad with my choice as those I’ve spoken to who got the bought train were all worn out from it. It wasn’t too bad, music and book kept me entertained. All I did when I arrived was grab some food from the Sunday night market. I underestimated the size of the vege spring rolls so ended up with basically 2 full meals. But hey, it was tasty.
So, 7 nights in Chiang Mai, plenty of time to explore.
I spent my first full day wandering around the city, checking out it’s many temples and also a park. I was staying just inside the old city, on the east side, which is a great location. The city is a lot more chilled out than Bangkok, much more preferable.
Wat Chedi Laung is in the middle if the old city. You can ‘t go inside, it’s an old building (originally 14th century) and I thought it was really impressive.
I got chatting to an American guy in the street as I wandered around and he mentioned he wanted to chat to a Buddhist monk. I’d noticed that there was a monk chat drop in by the above Wat so we went along, and joined by a Brazilian guy chatted to a couple of novice monks about the rules and principles of Buddhism. Really cool to learn about, giving some perspective to everything I’ve been viewing as a backpacker.
In the evening I headed out with my Austrian room mate Goodee to grab some food. There is a lot of choice in Chiang Mai, great for my vegetarianism!
Tuesday and to the Elephant Nature Park! OK so first off I scratched my head on some barbed wire which totally sucked but it’s ok and healing fine (all my shots up to date so all good on that front). Right so the Elephant’s! I’d researched (including on WordPress) and chose this park due to it’s no riding policy and how out rescues and cares for sick/injured elephants. And not just physically sick, much care is put into the mental wellbeing of them and they are all treated as the individuals that they are. Our guide explained which were fine to touch and which weren’t etc. And remember, no food no friend!
Our guide took us to see a few different groups, we fed a few of the Elephants and at the end we bathed one by throwing water over in the river. The elephant’s love play water!
It was also cool that there was a big veggie buffet for lunch. As well as the elephant’s there were rescued dogs roaming around (400 I think the guide said) and a whole load of rescued cats too, and some Water Buffalo. I loved that mix of animals.
In the evening me and Goodee went for food again and I was super happy as I had a really great vege Green Thai curry, the kind I’d had in England in expensive restaurants but wandered if i’d actually find that good a curry in Thailand. And for a fraction of the price.
Wednesday I met Derek from Canada who I’d been at the Elephant park with to book a day trek for the next day, then me and Julia (Aussie) who’d also been at the park headed up to Doi Suthep to see the holy temple located on the mountain.
The afternoon we spent chatting and had a few beers in Dada Kafe before grabbing some food in Chiang Mai’s well known Night Bazaar.
Thursday, trek day! To Doi Inthanon national park! Me and Derek by 2 couples, a guy and girl from France and a guy and girl from French speaking Switzerland. We had a Thai guide and a Karen guide, plus a Karen kid with the Karen guide. The Karen people are one of the hill tribes who live in the area. We treked for around 6 hours, including an hour stop for lunch and maybe half an hour or so at the Karen village we finished in. The scenery was really cool, we saw a waterfall, some great forest and then rice fields and passion fruit crop that the Karen work.
Our guides cooked us food in the forest, including a vegetarian meal for me that was really awesome.
After the trek when we were back in the city me and Derek went for a pizza and a couple of beers to unwind.
Friday and Saturday I took it easy. Friday me and my room mate Alexandre (another Canadian guy) were eating at a vege restaurant (Taste of Heaven, it does really great vege and vegan curry and various other stuff) when Derek randomly spotted us and joined us for a walk to Wat Umong which is a nice temple area outside of the main city area. There was turtles in the pond there too! Back in town we also stopped by Wat Chiang Man which is one of the nicest temple s in the city, in my opinion.