A Little Video From Thailand

Monday, June 22, 2015

This summer is only about half over and I'm already sad thinking about leaving. There's no way I could fit all the great things in one video but these are a few of my favorite days.

Chiang Mai: Part 2

Sunday, June 21, 2015

We went back to Chiang Mai for one of our vacations because we definitely didn't get to do everything we wanted to. The city offers endless outdoorsy type adventures and we wanted some more. So glad we went back! 

We booked ziplining with Eagle Track for the first day we were there. You know I'm not a fan of heights right so I was praying for like 24 hours that I wouldn't HATE it. We picked the longest route so it had over 30 platforms and I needed to not be crying by the end of it. When we got there and were signing our life away one of the guides saw that my last name was king and he thought that it would be a pretty good pickup line to say, "Oh can I be your queen??"  Nice try but it was pretty funny anyways. 

Everyone made me go first because I'm so terrified of heights.  So my queen was there helping us before the leap and I told him I was pretty scared and he goes, "Don't worry...I'm here." I was thinking okay well if I fall to my death you being "here" doesn't really help.  But I went anyways and turns out ziplining through a thai jungle is the funnest thing eeeeeeever! 

The guide that wanted to be my queen was named Duo Duo but he wanted us to call him Darling...so there's that. He was pretty great at making me not so scared actually. He kept checking up on me at every platform and making me laugh and he did a few of the jumps with me too. He'd come swinging out of nowhere and scare me and saying, "Here's your queen!" My thai boyfriend for the day. He even gave me a leaf in the shape of a heart at the end. How romantic. This is me and him but my favorite part is Leslie's perfectly creepy photo bomb. 

After that we drove up to one of the more famous temples in Chiang Mai up in the mountain, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. It was just yet another beautiful temple.  There was a Buddhist a few weeks ago and everyone made a walking trek up to the temple, but we opted for a lift. 

We knelt before a monk and he said some sort of prayer, splashed us with water, and tied a white braided bracelet on our wrists. Hope it was a good prayer. 

For the second day we scheduled to do a day with elephants. We had already done a little elephant thing before by a tour that was recommended to us but we weren't really impressed. They rushed us through it and I wasn't very excited about how they were treating the elephants. It was like a place to pump tourists through. We found another company that was quite a bit more expensive (like 3x as much) but offered a lot more. It turned out to be AMAZING and so worth the money. 

The company is Blue Elephant so if you're ever in Thailand...go with them. Seriously. It was worht every penny and a different experience than a cheaper tour. The sweetest driver picked us up from our hostel and took us to this little market and bought us our favorite fruits to have later in the day. Mangosteen, mangoes, and rambutan.

We always drive in the back of these little trucks. I have a love/hate relationship with them. Much better than taxis or buses but I don't love sitting sideways going 80 mph. 

First they took us to Tiger Kingdom which is this famous zoo type place that houses tigers here.  I'm not convinced that this is at all a great treatment for the tigers so I'll just kinda breeze through this part. I got to be in a cage with little tigers and they were out cold the whole time so not super exciting. They're beautiful though.

Then they drove us to this place where the elephants live. There's a family that lives there too and they were so so sweet to us. It was a private thing so it was just our group and they spoiled us completely.

Before we got to meet the elephants they had us change into really attractive blue outfits and then they taught us commands to use with the elephants. I talked to our guide a little bit about the elephants and he said that every elephant has its own "mahout" which is someone that takes care of the elephant for life. He said that elephants can live to around 80 years old when they're taken care of well. Many times an elephant stays in a family and a mahout might pass down the elephant to his son when he becomes too old. Coolest family trade I've ever heard of.  

So we each got our own elephant to ride and its mahout came along. Good thing because as soon as I was on the elephant and he started going I could not remember the word for stop. At. All. They were huge and beautiful and it was the most incredible experience ever. We rode them around through the green jungle, through a stream, and back to the start where we got to feed them bananas. 

They handed me a huge basket of bananas and said BOONE and suddenly the elephants trunk was in my face wanting me to feed it. It ate them so fast I could barely keep grabbing another banana before his trunk was up. They wanted me to put a banana in my mouth and then the elephant would grab it out of my mouth.....they took a ton of photos and I feel like that is super awkward so sorry you don't get to see me make out with an elephant.

After that we got to ride them down to this pond and bathe and swim with them. Best water fight I ever had. It was so fun I can't even remember laughing that hard in so long.

You could just really tell that they treat the elephants well here because of the way they interacted with us. The elephants were actually playing with us and you could see their personalities. They didn't rush us through at all and the elephants didn't seem tired of what we were doing either (like they did at the other place).  There was a little baby who was rolling around in the water while I was pouring water over him. It was the cutest thing. And then one of the mahouts like motioned for me to come closer and then said something. Before I even knew it the elephants trunk was on my cheek and there was this huge suction.  He kissed my cheek! So cute! I was laughing so hard that he had him do it over and over.

Another baby elephant kiss up there. Jealous?

One of my favorite things about Thailand is the respect people show for one another. People will bow to one another and the kids will bow to us as teachers. Love that. Even better is when an elephant bows to you at the end of the day. My heart is stolen. 

After that we went to a Thai boxing match and Thailand beat South Africa so YAY! 

Also Rotee is my favorite snack on the way home. It's this fried crepe type of thing with Nutella. It's probably not a good thing it was located right outside of our hostel....but how do you say no to that when it's like 50 cents??

On the third day we booked a tour to go up to the northern tip of Thailand. It turned out to be the longest day of my life.  The piled a bunch of us into a van so we were in a group with other people and it turned out to be an all day driving thing....like from 7 in the morning to 9 at night. I was the lucky one that got the back left seat and there was no leg room so my legs had to be folded in half like up on the seat with my arms wrapped around my legs you know? Yikes. Good thing I have the shortest legs. 

I think the amount of driving time coupled with the most annoying tour guide ever was what did it. First off they told us we were going to this place called the Golden Triangle where you can see Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand all from one spot. That sounded pretty cool. But then she said, "We need your passport." First off we didn't even have our passports and second off we can't leave the country because it will void our visa. There were other people in our group who also didn't have theirs. There was actually only two people out of our entire group who brought their passport, but for the 6 hour drive up there she kept saying over and over, "Okay so I need your passport because we're going to Laos." "I need your passport." "I need your passport." I was thinking....I'm still sitting in this van that I've been in all day. When did you expect me to get my passport???? Our exhausted glares probably got to her because then she said, "Ok I get my boyfriend to let you in for 300 baht."  Okay so for $10 you're going to sneak me in and out of Laos?


They took us on this quick little boat ride where one side of the river was Thailand and the other was Laos and then took us to this little market so that we would spend our money in Laos.  Worth the 6 hour drive up there? Uhhhh....no.  But I did get a couple new knock off North Face backpacks. You know I'm a sucker for that. You could also buy things like alcohol bottles filled with all kinds of snakes and scorpions and things like that that has been stewing for awhile. I stuck with the backpacks though.

The left side is Laos and the right side is Thailand. 

We also drove to the White Temple. This place looks incredible but again this was not my favorite experience. It was overrun with Chinese tourists pushing like they do and a guy on a loud speaker shouting at you if you stopped to take a photo.  

The temple itself is super interesting though. At the beginning it's supposed to represent hell and there are arms coming out of the ground. I wanted to take lots of pictures of hell but you're not supposed to stop there because of their beliefs so the guy with the louder speaker was yelling at me to keep going. I was thinking...yep you definitely belong in my version of hell.

Then you walk through into heaven. Turns out heaven is a room (where truly unfortunately you can't take photos) with walls completed painted in modern things like Hello Kitty, Elvis, Minnions, and much much more.  Insane. I hope I don't die while I'm in Thailand because I really don't want to go to their heaven...or their hell.

There was a couple other spots along the way of our tour but basically every stop was some sort of market trying to get us to spend our money.  One of the spots was a "hot springs" and it literally was a parking lot with a teeny tiny gieser with a gate around it........after living close to Yellowstone it was an absolute joke. But of course there was a market and I bought a little bracelet from this cutie. 

Our tour was so bad that the entire group asked her to head back home early.  We decided it wasn't worth another couple hours of driving to go to the Myanmar border and look at it. So, luckily we got to save ourselves from 2 hours of driving. Worst tour ever. The tour company's name is Journey if you ever want to avoid it. 

But best trip ever. Still got lots of love for you Chiang Mai.

A Temple In The Mountains

We went to Wat Pha Sorn Kaew which is a temple in the mountains a couple hours outside of Phitsanulok. I fell in love immediately.  It is so gorgeous and peaceful. There are places set up all over the place around the grounds for people to sit and mediate. Inside it is completely covered floor to wall to ceiling in shards of colorful tile and glass.

Most people there were surprised to see us because they probably don't see many tourists. Not only do we live in a not heavily tourist traveled city, but the temple is out of the way. The only way we knew about it is because our amazing coordinators took us there. There were lots of monks there walking around saying prayers with people following them. One monk saw us and kinda hung back waiting and as soon as we started talking to him he was all over that. I was really surprised how easy it is to talk to a monk. I guess I had this image in my head that you shouldn't even make eye contact with them, but they really want to talk and practice their English. This guy we found out has been a monk for about 6 or 7 years, from the time he was 23. After asking who we were and why we were there in broken English, he tried teaching us about mediation. It went something like, "Close your eyes for one minute. Think about sun and moon and happiness. Travel around Thailand and be happy."

SOUTH JENNI. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.