Helen and Randall on the road

A bit about our adventures 2011-2012

Posts Tagged ‘Thailand

Thursday 24th – Sunday 27th November: Chiang Mai

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After our adventures with elephants the rest of our time in Chiang Mai was mainly a chill out and chance to catch up on postcards, reading and laundry. Our hotel had a relaxed courtyard:

Breakfast in the courtyard of our hostel in the old city.

but for food we preferred the tiny cafe run by the enterprising Eing just down the road:

Chiang Mai by night was very lively:

The canal that surrounds the old city, lit up by night.

Enterprising ‘mobile bar’ set up on the back of a Songthaew, not licensed, but moves around the city.

The huge night market – housed in a warehouse-type building as well as running along the street -mostly sells generic tourist tat, although if you look hard there are a few interesting stalls, such as one selling hand-made clothes from natural dyes and fabrics, or the paper stall selling hand-made paper made by Burmese refugees to raise money for their community. The best thing we saw was this live blues band who apparently play most nights – the Thai guy has a blues club in the night market building:

However the depressing number of ‘English bars’ and ‘Pool bars’ that were basically hostess bars didn’t say much that was complimentary about the ex-pat community; there are obviously ‘issues’:

On balance I would love to spend more time in Chiang Mai province, but I’d skip the town and stay in a boutique hotel such as Limeleaf Eco-lodge outside.

The journey to Chiang Kong on the Thai-Laos border on Sunday took only 5 hours including a stop-off at the bizarre White Temple in Chiang Rai:


Written by helenbcn

November 26, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Thursday 24th November – Patara Elephant Farm

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The train journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai was long but picturesque – 15 hours instead of 12 because of flood-related diversions. On the way we saw some of the devastation caused by the flooding. The railway tracks were now obviously above water, but next to them and all around were homes and small businesses, and of course agricultural land, completely swamped. On the houses we could where the high water mark had reached – at least a metre higher.

We arrived in Chiang Mai around 23.30, hopped in a Songthaew (shared taxi/minibus thing) and checked into the Awana Guest House.

Early start meant grabbing a packed breakfast from a restaurant down the street and getting picked up at 7.30 by a minibus from Patara Elephant Farm to be an ‘Elephant Owner for a Day’. Their philosophy is based around rescuing and recovering, then breeding healthy Elephants to build the population, as the Asian Elephant population has been declining significantly in Thailand.

First we got to meet some of the elephants:

Did somebody say bananas?

Just a few months old. One of 6 babies they have on the farm at the moment.

Overfamiliar  baby elephant!

Then we got to put on stylish mahout smocks:

Randall not sure about this as a fashion statement…

We all had to get to know our elephant, learn how to check their health, and then do the ‘Elephant Skincare’ (cleaning and bathing the elephant) before we got to go on the trek to the waterfall for lunch:

Helen gets to know Mah-kah-su. The mahout smock is supposed to help.

OK, she likes me. Even in this outfit.

Dusting an elephant is harder than it looks…

Randall takes the lead.

Randall’s big pregnant elephant.

Poo checking. Part of the overall health check. At least that’s what they told us.


You can do it, put your back into it…

Yes, ALL of the elephant needs washing…

Mum and baby elephant. Baby elephant…toooo cute for words!! (They have several, a testament to their breeding programme)

Very funny. All wet. (Elephant humour)

My elephant wouldn’t do either the foot thing or the trunk thing so my ascent was rather less elegant than it might have been. Remember that scene from ‘Temple of Doom’??

That’s better.


It’s a long way down from here!

Riding an elephant is harder work than it looks, particularly on the steep up and down track we took, so lunch break at the waterfall was very welcome!

As was a chance to swim with the elephants:

First, mount your elephant. Elegant, no?

See – he couldn’t stay on either!

Mahout on poo-fishing duty.

Beautiful waterfall. And Randall.

Baby elephant got the job of hoovering up the leftovers.

Randall finds a soulmate.

Mum gets a share of leftovers too.


Posers #2

Even elephants need a kiss from time to time.

Finally it was time to say goodbye to our elephants and hand them back to the experts, the guides who had looked after us all day:

The Experts.

And give them a final feed. Easier said than done – it’s difficult to get elephants to share:

This was a really wonderful day – we can’t recommend it enough – a must do if you are in the area. Book in advance via their website – they limit numbers to ensure one elephant per person and plenty of attention. Thanks Pat and Dao, Jack, Ben and all the team at Patara!

Written by helenbcn

November 24, 2011 at 11:40 pm