Chiang Rai & Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand

I’ve been travelling for several months now. Many people travel non-stop. I thought that was the coolest thing to do. But after a few months, I have to admit that travelling all the time is not my thing after all! Pack and unpack every 3 days is definitely not my cup of tea. I’d rather take my time.

I wanted to visit Northern Thailand, but as I’m a slow traveler, I wanted to learn about North Thailand rather than see and do everything. I’m not against temple visits (even though after a while, it tends to bore me) or other touristic attractions. I do some. Going so far away and not seeing anything would be stupid. But I don’t mind NOT seeing everything.

Anyway, so for North Thailand, I wanted to visit Chiang Rai & Chiang Mai.

But I also wanted to settled down for a bit and be useful. That’s why I volunteered 3 weeks at Care for Dogs in Chiang Mai (read the post here).

 

I started by going all the way up, to Chiang Rai, for a few days before going to the shelter.

Very comfy night bus, nothing like the Burmese ones. But I didn’t really feel safe during the 14h journey, especially after reading that over 22.000 people die on the road every year. And they only count people who die on site. If you make it to the hospital and die there, you do not enter the statistics… the Thai population is 68 Million. So let’s just say that you really risk your life here. Thailand is now the most dangerous country in the world when it comes to driving!

And it is not surprising when you see how they drive. They do not wear helmet on scooters, drunk drive a lot, and are regularly over 3 people on the same motorbike. I’ve even seen a couple, with a toddler while the mom was breast feeding the other baby….

Anyway, after a sleepless night on the bus, I got to Chiang Rai. 10 km away from the center of the city because, hey, why not, and also, it gives some money to their tuk tuk drivers friends…

The town is small, no high building, pretty relaxing. Not many cars, no traffic.

During these 3 days, I’ve walked around the city and visited the white temple, the blue temple, the black mansion (they do have something with colors in this city), a tea plantation, a long neck village (still have mixed feeling about that one though…), the Golden triangle (where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet) and some other cultural sights.

I really really LOVED the blue temple! Ok, blue is my favorite color, so it helps, but even without this, the details are impressive and so beautifully done, the light is grant, everything in this temple is just beautiful. And there are less tourists than in the White temple, so it is easier for the pictures too.

After the 3 weeks at the dog shelter, I stayed 4 days in Chiang Mai old city as i didn’t have a chance to visit it yet (the shelter and my homestay were 13 km away).

The only place I had seen apart from the shelter was the Grand Canyon, only 3km away. I went there on a Sunday. Nice place. Water was warm, you can jump in it, paddle, swim, eat and drink. Very touristy but nice for a cool relaxing day.

Chiang Mai is mainly known for its old city surrounded by ramparts and it’s relaxing way of life where digital nomads like to stay in the winter time when it is not too hot. All around is a new city with buildings, malls etc. The old part is very touristic, full of guesthouses, restaurants, massages salons. And many temples and of course the famous Saturday and Sunday night markets.

There again I’ve just walked around, visiting some temples and enjoying some well-deserved (at least I think) massages.

For my last day, I had booked a day at Elephant Nature Park, in their Sila sanctuary. A park recommended by the Animal Welfare society as I really didn’t want to visit a park where animals where abused and forced to perform tricks or carry tourists around. I wanted to observe them and take pictures (of course!).

A minivan with 11 other people came to pick me up at my hotel and we drove for 1h30 to the mountains. There were 4 adult elephants and 2 babies (Minnie, 6 months and Bella, 1 yo).

We gave them some bananas (man! they eat a lot !!), walked with them through the jungle, gave them a mud bath then a real bath in the stream nearby. It was really fun and we all ended up completely soaked!

The day was short as we left the sanctuary at 2pm, but at least I didn’t feel like we were bothering them. We would not have been there; their day would have been the same. They don’t seem to care that we watch them. They must think we are stupid humans…

And I made a little video here.

I think I’ll go back up North with a friend in May and most probably in September to work at the shelter for a week or two. I miss the doggies so much already!

 

 

 

 

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