Sunday, March 23, 2014

Chiang Chiang Chiang...

Chiang of Mai

For five long days

I thought you were my city

But I found out

I’m just a tourist within your walls


Now if only I could stop singing Chain Chain Chain by Janis Joplin every time I mention Chiang Mai.


Chiang Mai was filled with activities. We started off by exploring the city and stumbled across the Insect and Amazing Science Museum. It was run by a little, old women who was one of the nicest people in the city. She took photos of every visitor and would email the photos to the visitor. We learned all about butterflies, beetles, mosquitoes, and malaria. Later that night, we perused the night market. It was like going to a county fair! We started with some street food, and soon found ourselves getting our feet sucked on by fish! Yes, these were little fish that eat the dead skin off your feet. It tickled more than anything else I’ve ever felt. The fish would try to get in between your toes. When you pulled your feet out of the water, one or two stuck on for a couple seconds until they realize water is more important than gross, dead skin. We did a little shopping and finished our night with ice cream.

To be blatantly honest, I may overindulge in massages. So, I know a good massage from a bad massage from an amazing massage. Throughout all of Thailand I must say the best massage was at the women’s prison in Chiang Mai. The cost is going rate, just over $5/hour. You start off by changing into the provided cloths and a women washes your feet. During the massage you’re trying to ignore your curiosity of why your masseuse is in the slammer. At the end of the massage, you relax in the garden with a cup of tea. The only thing I would change about the whole experience is the Women Prison’s sign. I was lost for half an hour and asked for directions at least three times. After passing the prison and searching again in the opposite direction, I finally found it. I guess it’s fairly normal not to advertise the location of a prison. It’s also abnormal to have inmates give massages. I have no idea who was the brains of this little fundraising idea, but I tip my hat off to them!

Before leaving Chiang Mai, we HAD to watch a Mauy Thai fight. This was very entertaining. On the first three fights I won three hundred baht. Quit while you’re ahead, so I pocketed the money and was done betting for the night. There was one fight with older kids, but the rest was mostly 10-14 years old. At one point, all the younger kids got in the ring and were blindfolded. When the ref blew his whistle all the boys stated charging one another blindly! Ha! You only see this stuff on YouTube! The ref even got socked a few times. It was a great time, and by the end of the fights I only somewhat knew how Mauy Thai was scored.

The next day we set off for our trek! The first few stops were touristy, as per usual. We hit the butterfly and orchid farm, then the market. Finally, it was elephant time! This is what I had been waiting for!! We arrived at the camp, and in five minutes and with no instruction, I was on the elephant’s neck while Suzie was in the chair. Let me tell you, elephant rides are not nearly as smooth as you’d expect. Here we were, in the middle of nowhere, on a dirt road, riding the largest elephant at the camp with no instruction. I would be lying if I said wasn’t a little nervous, so I moved up to the seat with Suzie. We bought bananas for the elephant, and before we knew it, the ride was over. I couldn’t help but think, was that it?! I guess so... We continued on by hiking to a waterfall with a natural, rock slide! Weeeeee! Of course Suzie and I had to try it. Another two and a half hours later we were at the village. Sadly, I saw more westerners than locals.
Day two on the trek we saw another waterfall, tubed some terrifying class I rapids, and bamboo rafted down the river. By sunset we were back in Chiang Mai. That night we laid low because the next day we were motobiking to Pai!!!! J

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