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Chiang Mai, Thailand

Elephants, cooking and a few temples for good measure

sunny 32 °C

After our night train to Uttaradit, it was surprisingly easy to get the bus towards Chiang Mai, where we changed to a local bus at Lampang to go to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. We had hoped to be able to do a 2 day homestay program with the elephants, but they were all booked up. They did however have accommodation within the reserve for £16 a night where you stayed in a bungalow with a veranda about three times the size again.

That afternoon, we watched elephant bath time and the elephant show. The elephant show was so cute, with the elephants taking a bow as they were introduced. Over the next half an hour, they showed off their skills from logging, to throwing balls into a basket with their trunk to 'playing' musical instruments. The final part had three elephants doing a painting with their trunks. One did some flowers, while the other two painted elephants. They were really quite impressive pictures.

After the show, you're allowed to feed the ellies sugarcanes and they all stand in an orderly line along the showground perimeter, trunks waving to receive their sugarcane.

The following day we rose early to go to see treatments at the hospital. There was one elephant who liked like he had caught his foot in a trap as the bottom was a bit mangled. It had clearly healed, but he was still not putting any weight on it. Poor thing. There was another one having blood samples taken, but he was fine, if anything being awkward as all he had wanted to do was eat while this was going on.

Afterwards we headed across to the bathing area, where we changed into elephant training outfits, mahouts, ready to help with bath time. The outfits were denim shirt and trousers. The trousers were one size with a denim ribbon to do them up. I inadvertently had put mine on backwards and not done them up properly and so after about 10 minutes you could see my bikini bottoms. This provided much amusement to the workers who laughed even harder when I'd turned them round but didn't know how to tie them and so one of the Thai ladies, while giggling sorted me out. Chris' weren't done up properly either but they left him be.

We climbed up to the loading platform before getting on to our ellies, on their necks, right behind their heads. We rode them across to the water, where Chris'elephant proceeded to fill up its trunk in order to shoot me with water. My ellie unfortunately would not retaliate. We were soon in the water helping to clean them. Chris' continued to shoot me and his Keeper taught him to say 'bong bon' which made his ellie shoot me. I tried this with mine, but it just lifted its trunk to the top of its head and sprayed me in the face. I tried once more, talking to it on the side in Chris'direction before getting a face full of water again. Although Chris wasn't being sprayed, he was being dunked right down to the point where he nearly fell off, which gave a new opportunity to splash h his neck to ensure he was almost as wet as I was. His hair managed to stay dry, whereas mine was as wet as someone who had just stepped out of the shower.

Washing the elephants was so much fun and will definitely be one of the highlights of our trip to Thailand.

Afterwards we visited the baby elephants in the nursery who had cool hairstyles, sticking up nicely. Their miniature trunks were so cute.

To finish off our trip at the elephant reserve, were went for a half hour stroll across the water and through the forests by elephant, this time on a seat on its back,

We took the bus to Chiang Mai, which has a historic wall dividing the new and old parts of the city. Here, there's the usual collection of ornately decorated temples, but it's most famous for its courses. We enrolled on a one day Thai cookery course where you make and eat 7 traditional Thai dishes from scratch.

The trip began with a visit to the local market to get the fresh ingredients needed for the day. Afterwards we headed to the house where the course was being run and picked the relevant herbs and chillies from the largest herb garden I've ever seen.

Throughout the day we prepared and cooked soup, noodles, stir fry vegetables, sweet and sour, papaya salad, mango and sticky rice, green curry and panang curry using curry paste we'd made ourselves. The course was great fun, particularly when we 'cooked with fire' to do the stir fry. At the end of the course, we enjoyed a delicious lunch out on the veranda. Let's hope when we try and recreate the dishes at home they taste just as good.

In the evening, I went for a back, neck, head and shoulder massage, which turned out to be a back of body, arms and chest Thai massage. This was so painful as I had some woman (and I'm pretty sure mine was a woman) trample up and down my body. I am unsure as to how this can even slightly be described as a massage.

On Friday, we are taking a minibus to the Lao border town of Chiang Khong, ready to take the slow boat to Luang Prabang.

Posted by Roaming Rolts 02:12 Archived in Thailand

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We are very jealous of the elephant sanctuary but looking forward to a Thai meal at yours when you come home :) We did warn you about the massages!!

by Mum

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