Ice Cream for Breakfast

The best part of traveling alone is that you can do whatever the heck you want. For example, I’ve come to enjoy eating dessert first and Thai iced tea every chance I get. It allows a freedom otherwise unknown, and judging by the sheer number of solo travellers I’ve met, that freedom is addictive. With that said, you do fall into a lull with a few people you see daily. You eat together, sightsee together, and drink together. It’s comfortable and easy. However, eventually these people go one way and you go the other. Then the process starts all over again. Eventually, this will happen to me. I’m told it never gets any easier to strike out on your own again, but that I will meet people and the pattern will continue. For now, I’m in the company of great travellers. (Thank you Rich and Robert – and yes, I used your real names!) Tomorrow I will cross into Laos. Let’s hope my fellow travelers are as friendly in Laos as they have been in Thailand.
Now to the part I suppose all of you want to hear about – what I’ve been doing. The last four days in Chiang Mai have been simply amazing! I can see why people get stuck here. It’s so easy to do. On Saturday, I met some people in the Little Bird Guesthouse to rent scooters with. It seems that this is the transportation of choice for those residing in Chiang Mai. The locals ride around the moated city on their automatic bikes, sometimes with two or more riders on the back. Having a scooter of my own allowed a freedom I haven’t yet known while backpacking. My first ride on it, though, was terrifying. I couldn’t drive it at all! Also, they drive on the left side of the road here, meaning my instincts were completely opposite. My solution was to find a guy to drive it for me while I rode on the back. So my three new Canadian friends and I set off into the mountains to find the revered temple at Doi Suthep.
Legend has it that a white elephant carrying an important Buddhist relic lied down here to die. The Buddhists saw this and believed the elephant had chosen the mountain for a new temple. Today, tourists and locals enjoy the views from the complex. Additionally, many young men learn to become monks for a short period at the temple. Overall, it was a nice escape from the city and the hot weather.
Saturday night was spent eating in a restaurant off a sparsely populated Soi with a brilliantly nice Thai woman, drinking Thai whiskey mixed with Sprite from the glass bottle, and hanging out in a rooftop bar.
Sunday was a great day as well. We began the day on motorbike, heading north of town toward Mae Rim. We spent about an hour at the Tiger Kingdom where we had the opportunity to play with five month old tigers and full grown tigers. It was an exhilarating experience. They are such massive and graceful cats. Then we found ourselves back on the motorbikes looking for the butterfly farm. We failed in that quest, but did succeed in finding a national park. This was full of waterfalls – ten to be exact. In the heat of the day, it was nice to hike from waterfall to waterfall, swimming in the calm ones. The lunch we had of stir-fried chicken and egg outside the park was among the best food I’ve eaten on this trip. On our way back into town, we stopped by the Sunday Walking Markets, where I bought a new dress and almost got pickpocketed. Luckily enough, my friend was walking behind me and saw it all unfold. He stopped it before anything could happen. That night, we ate at the restaurant in the hostel and had a drink at the truck bar. This bar is set up in the bed of a pick-up truck like contraption. It sells cocktails out the back that you can drink while walking to the other bars across town. We took some mojitos while we walked down to the other reggae bar in town. Overall, it was a fairly early night.
On Monday, Rich and I woke up early to visit the elephant camp called Baan Chang. It was a most excellent experience. The day began at the camp, about an hour away from Chiang Mai, where we learned the various commands the elephants respond to. We also learned how to get on the back of the elephant without the use of a ladder, etc. The elephants were very well looked after and seemed very content in their homes. After practicing commanding the elephants and eating lunch, we set off on a bit of a hike up the hill. I “drove” the elephant for the first leg. We stopped at a shack where we fed the elephants some sugar cane and switched drivers. From there, we meandered down to the river. This was the best part as we then had the chance to bathe the elephants. This quickly progressed into a water fight between human and animal. The day ended with a long, rainy ride back to Chiang Mai. As it was Rich’s last night in Chiang Mai, he, Robert, and I spent the evening eating and talking at a restaurant where you cook your own food on the table and then at a shack of a bar down a random soi. The owner of the bar was very personable and chatted with us about living in Thailand and owning a bar. We were literally sitting on the side of a street drinking some of the most delicious cocktails I’ve ever had.
Today, Tuesday, I took an all-day Thai cooking course. It was brilliant as it was just cooking and eating all day. I successfully made my own Penang curry paste, Penang curry, basil chicken stir-fry, Pad See Ew, Tom Kha with chicken, papaya salad, and mango with sweet sticky rice. It was all delicious. This evening, I will begin my journey into Laos by slowboat. I have to take a bus to the boarder where I will stay overnight at a cheap hostel before arranging the border crossing in the morning. Then I will spend two days on a boat floating down the river. I hope that I don’t get too bored! See you all in Laos!

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2 Comments

Filed under SE Asia Trip

2 responses to “Ice Cream for Breakfast

  1. Diane

    I can’t believe that is my daughter being held up by an elephant! It sounds like you are really having the time of your life. Everything sounds so amazing!

    Love,
    Mom

  2. Alyssa

    I’m sooooo jealous you got to spend a day with elephants!!!! That is so amazing and something that I have always wanted to do! If you are up for it…when I am fit to ride…we should go to Thailand for the elephant festival and then go to a camp to ride them! I love keeping up with your blog! I hope you are having a blast and can’t wait to chat with you about all your travels when you get home!
    Love you!
    Alyssa

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