Ying and Yang.. in more ways than one.

Today I visited the Ying and Yang of temples (black and white), pretty ironic since I thought the experience was both good and bad. The trip also included a hot spring, blue temple and a Karen Tribe village visit. The temples were all pretty new, all built within the last 20 years. They certainly were beautiful, but the short stops, over commercialization and the large amounts of tourists negatively impacted my experience. You may find the following recap to reflect that, so I apologize. I did find some good things on the tour, but if I had the choice, I wouldn’t have visited these again, so just want to be honest!

Hot Spring

We pulled up and I was thinking, this can’t be it. It was just like any other market area in Chiang Mai but with a fountain in the middle of it. The fountain was the hot spring. People would pay to put their feet in. It could have very well been water coming out of the city pipes, it didn’t look natural at all. The coolest thing about this place is that they would sell eggs in baskets that you could cook in the hot water. The stop was only 15 minutes, after an 1.5 hour long drive that was pretty short, but there wasn’t really much else to do here unless you wanted to buy souvenirs.

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Continue reading Ying and Yang.. in more ways than one.

Elephant Kisses, not Elephant Rides.

I eagerly woke this morning knowing what was in store for the day, hanging out with elephants! First, was an hour and a half van ride to the North. In the van we watched a video on the history of the Elephant Nature Park which included some heart wrenching videos of elephant mistreatment. They torture these creatures to get them to do things for us, just for our entertainment (riding, circuses, street begging, etc.). I’m glad people are talking about it more and refusing to partake in riding elephants, without demand the bad businesses will hopefully die out.

Continue reading Elephant Kisses, not Elephant Rides.

Muy Thai and Pad Thai.

The plan for today was to go to a Muy Thai gym and take a class. The class wasn’t until 2pm so first I went on a hunt for Pad Thai. So far, I’ve had Pad Thai everyday, it’s my favorite at home so while here I’m on a mission to find the best ever. To date, there is one clear winner. A storefront on the main square, conveniently close to me.

Today I chose a restaurant near the gym. There were a lot of locals eating there so I figured it was good. I tried to take note of how to order. It seemed they wrote down what they wanted on a piece of paper and then sat down and waited for it. I must have stood out, because a lady came over before I had a chance and handed me a menu while pointing me to a table.

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After lunch I headed up to the gym which was on the second floor and was an open air room. The gym was super nice and I was a bit intimidated by all the people dressed more reasonably than I was, in boxing shorts. They told me to start running so I and one guy from France (who was living in the city to master the sport) began running laps. I had told them I’ve boxed before, but it was evident that I still needed instruction. My instructor, Nam, taught me the basic stance, proper techniques and then we began a 2 hour workout.

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The best part of the day was when Nam (who had been sort of teasing at me all day) grabbed a soccer ball and asked me to try and take it from him. I laughed in my head, knowing what was about to go down. I quickly stole the ball, nutmegged him and then told him to try and win it back. He gave it a good effort but was unsuccessful, and I was glad that I made up for some of the boxing I was lacking.

I attempted to watch the sunset on this rooftop bar but for some reason they were closed. Just didn’t feel like opening today I guess. It seems to be the trend on my travels that I miss a lot of sunrises and sunsets. Oh well, I was going to hang out with elephants the next morning!

Chiang Mai: Wanderlust and Talking with Strangers.

My first night and day in Chiang Mai I learned the definition of Wanderlust. I could wander these little streets within the main square (a wall from the old city partially still up) endlessly. In a way it kind of reminded me of a smaller New York City. In the sense that you stumble across little gems of restaurants and shops on every side street. Even at night, it’s bustling and during the day it was just as busy, yet not overcrowded. I mostly walked, although I really enjoyed the speed and breeze that came with a TukTuk.

I would keep going until I saw something worth stopping for (which was often, so I’m glad I didn’t have a scooter here). Some of the stops included a temple, a latte art winning cafe, a Thai massage spa, a hot food stand, an ice cream shop, a park with a book fair, a fruit market, a craft market, and so many more things! I ended up taking 29,000 steps in just one day, which is also why I ended with a reflexology foot massage. My favorite thing ever. Hands down better than any back massage. Although, a true Thai massage, is also better than any massage back home. It’s more effective in loosening your muscles and stretching you out, yet, it also relaxes you because they hit all of these pressure points.

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I brought my book everywhere I went so I could easily stop, relax and enjoy my latest novel. I forgot how much I love sitting down to a dinner with a book in hand. I don’t do that much at home because I will go out to eat with friends or read in the quiet of my bed. I wanted the first two days to be full of exploring the square, but I did book tours for Thursday and Friday. I had nothing planned for Wednesday so I ventured out Tuesday night.

I was ready for some company so I decided to head first to dinner and see who was around. At this point in my trip, I really have no fear in striking up a conversation with a stranger. I used a clever opening line to these Dutch guys next to me,“Is that beer any good?” haha but it worked and we ended up talking the rest of the dinner. Sadly, they had an early tour and wouldn’t be going out. Next, I went to a bar that was supposed to be popular.

I saw a girl sitting alone at the bar so decided she would be the easiest person to talk to. Turns out, she was hoping for a friend as well! She and I ended up hanging out together, and then had two guys come join us. Everyone was so much fun! We danced and drank cocktails called “lost in Chiang Mai” until closing time. Fortunately, the streets are easy to navigate and safe at night so I did not follow the destiny of my drink.

The only downside? I broke my favorite pair of leather rainbow sandals. I’ve had these sandals for EVER. They are supposed have a lifetime warranty but I wasn’t about to carry them with me until I could ship them back.