Day 5 in Thailand: time for Elephants. Who does not want to play with an elephant? We booked with the Blue Elephant Thailand tours. This tour was attractive because it starts off in the mountains riding and bathing elephants, from there we head to zip line, then to tiger kingdom and a bonus trip to an orchid farm. We rub our eyes and walk down to the car waiting to take us on this next adventure. This is our first time seeing Chiang Mai in the daytime so my eyes are wide open as we ride to the elephants. First we stop at a food market so our guide Kai can pick up our breakfast. We pick up honey pork, sticky rice and some beef. Kai seems to come here often because he talks with all of the vendors discussing what is fresh and what he wants.
Up, up, up we go to the mountains. It’s time for a quick lesson from Bobby our mahot guide. A mahot is an elephant trainer, they are paired with the elephants from the beginning and train them throughout their lives. We dress the part and sit down to learn some Thai commands. These will help us when we are riding our elephants such as “left, right, lift your truck, lift your leg.” As we yell these words in Thai I take a look around me and laugh at where life can take you. With a basket of bananas we head down- play time!
Bobby introduces us to a pregnant elephant, she’s 9 months but still has 15 months to go. Rough girl friend. There are only 4 of us on this tour which is amazing. We each get a chance to ride a younger elephant about 12 feet tall. Here we practice our Thai- left! right! forward! backward! good job! Elephants, unlike monkeys, like to see you smile and pat them. They like that social positive enforcement. After we each get a spin, its time to get on our own. Now the real way to ride an elephant is bareback. The elephant has a rope around their neck, you give them a command in Thai “lift your foot!” and up comes the foot which you step on at the knee, grab the rope and swing yourself up. Piece of cake.
After we walk around for 40 minutes we bathe the elephants in the river. One mahot bathes his elephant as it rolls in the water clearly having a great time. We head back to the bus to change and head on to zip line! The zip line location is a quick ride from the elephants. We suit up and head to the lines. We have two guides with my friend and I. This is the most private zip line you could be on. Normally large groups go together and it takes forever between platforms. Not with this tour! We could go through the course at our own speed. The last platform was 400 feet long and 40 feet high over looking a river and a mountain side. I take off and immediately flip upside down for spider position screaming the whole way. This was definitely one of the top places I have zip lined. And I would absolutely recommend it. Quick 20 minute break with some snacks and its time to go to play with the tigers!
I would not recommend this if you would consider yourself an animal activist. I even had to admit it was sad seeing these gorgeous animals drugged to sleep basically entirely unaware of what was going on around them. All things considered though I know they need to be this way so I can pet them. The best part was seeing the baby tigers, they were not drugged so you could actually play with them.
The last stop on the trip was the orchid farm. Truthfully we did not even know that this was apart of the tour. All the orchids were beautiful but at this time we were dead tired. We quickly walk through and return to the bus to head home.We spoke with our guide Kai the entire trip. He seriously made the experience! His english was great, he was very educated and always answered our questions. As we are driving back we are talking about thai massages and he says he knows the best place. Since it was close to our hotel we asked him if he could drop us there instead. Hospitality in Thailand is incredible and he says of course he will take us there! The place is called Best Thai Massage I believe- perfect. It is located right in the Night Markets of Chiang Mai- double perfect. They have an opening for 2 at 5pm- triple perfect. It’s going to cost $15 and its 2 hours long. Wait what? We have found heaven.
2 hours later we excite into the packed markets with people preforming on a stage and vendors selling everything from pants to paintings. We grab some pad thai and a spicy soup with pork meatballs and start to people watch. After we do some shopping we head back to our hotel room. We are utterly exhausted from the day and we have a 7am flight to Bangkok tomorrow. I pass out loving my experience in Chiang Mai and mentally add it to my “must return to” list.