A Few Days in Chiang Mai

When you volunteer at Elephant Nature Park you get picked up if you are staying within the walls of the old city. So I booked in at Parasol Inn at the corner of Praprokklao Rd. & Rachadamnoen Rd.

Chiang Mai was interesting, inexpensive, & friendly. Have a look at the map. You can see the ‘Elephant Nature Park Office‘ in the bottom right corner. You can go and get t-shirts, coffee, etc., & talk to the office people. They were very busy when I dropped in so I went across the road to the highly recommended Taste From Heaven for a nice vegetarian lunch instead.

There were so many restaurants! I stuck pretty close to ‘home’, enjoying the corner restaurant attached to the hotel, & my favourite spot The Writers Club and Wine Bar which was just a few steps away on Rachadamnoen Rd.

I even ate street food! How can you not? I’m very nervous about getting ill on a trip but the street markets do pull you in. It must be safe if you watch fresh ingredients being cooked right in front of you, right?

The Famous Sunday Night Market, called The Pae Sunday Walking Street, was so much fun. It doesn’t look like it on the map but the market is huge, stretching all along both the streets around my hotel! I stepped out & was surrounded by the aroma of delicious food being prepared to order, musicians playing and laughing, and vendors selling everything from exotic hand carved soaps to useful sun hats and inexpensive summer clothes. I felt like I was part of a giant party.

I really wanted a hat to take home to my hubby so I asked the lady, ‘How much?’ (Thao-rai ka). She told me the cost which was ridiculously cheap but I still asked, quite proud of myself for knowing the words, ‘Can you lower the price?’ (Lot-noy dai-mai ka). The sweet wee lady looked at me with surprise & then chattered away in very fast Thai. As soon as she realized I had used my entire Thai vocabulary, we looked at each other & started to laugh. I think I paid her double for the hat because I was so pleased with the experience.

I walked everywhere! Of course you always are aware of your surroundings, do not look lost, & keep your phone & money safely tucked away in hidden zippered pockets but I never felt unsafe. One day I went down to the Tha Phae Gate & loved watching the people. Then I followed the footprint of the old city walls, enjoying the summer day in January (!), discovering a wonderful park & wandering through interesting areas. I must admit I gave up & headed for home before I got all the way around but it was a good way to get to know the inner city. And I did pull out my phone & skyped my family at home! Very exciting!

Jack, my wonderful guide took me on adventures. I know I could have done it on my own, studied what temples to see & what markets to visit. But really? For 2500 baht for a day (about $100!) why would you not take advantage of a local’s expertise, driving, & guidance? I always like to take a day tour, hoping I’m contributing something to the economy of the country I’m visiting. I figure it’s a win/win – great for both of us.

The first day we left at 6:00AM to see the monks at the ‘Morning Alms Ceremony‘. I was very happy to be in a van as we climbed steep curvy roads to reach these young lads walking down the mountain gathering their breakfast. Jack was determined to have me blessed by a monk (thank you Jack!) but then I insisted it was time for coffee & he took me to the loveliest spot!

I got mixed up with all the temples. We saw quite a few, including the gold one, the silver one, the one with the bells, & the one where you wrote a blessing. I left a prayer for my family in a temple in Chiang Mai. That was pretty special.

Warorot Market in Chinatown and Somphet Market, a small food market, were fascinating visits. I liked the people. Some of the things they were selling, not so much.

I needed to visit the only elephant hospital in Chiang Mai. There we met Mosha, who lost her foot when she stepped on a land mine that exploded. The hospital fitted her with a prosthetic leg, & cares for her there.

I never did ride a Tuk Tuk or go on a Songthaew but wouldn’t it be fun? Maybe next time!

Monday morning I was ready & waiting to head out to Elephant Nature Park for a week. If you’d like to visit a sanctuary, it’s at evspath.com

Thanks for reading about my adventures.

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