Winter break is over and in the words of my students, “VACATION WAS TOO SHORT!” Even though it’s back to the grind, I’m excited to relive my Thai adventures with you all. I already miss the beautiful weather (legit, so perfect), elephant cuddles, lady boys, and delicious street food galore. Sigh. Alright, let’s begin!
On January 15, 2017 I made my way to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I had an overnight layover before I made my way to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I went to Malaysia last summer for a few hours (a result of another layover) and totally forgot that NO ONE TAKES CREDIT CARD THERE – restaurants, taxi drivers, convenience stores. Nobody. When I got to my Airbnb (KLIA 6ixth Sense) the host was kind enough to pick me up from the airport and even traded American dollars for Malaysian ringgit so I could eat dinner. Bless him.
When I was dropped off I felt a little uncomfortable walking around the area where I stayed (men kept staring and it was getting dark) so, I didn’t explore too much. I ate dinner at a nearby restaurant, took a long hot shower to get the airplane stench off of me, and pampered myself with a sheet mask. When you take the girl out of Korea her essences, ampoules, and creams go with her.
Travel skincare essentials:
- Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence
- Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule
- TONYMOLY Hyaluronic Acid Sheet Mask
- The Face Shop Chia Seed Hydrating Emulsion
When I arrived in Chiang Mai the next morning, I met up with my cousin Melissa whom I haven’t seen in a year! When we reunited at Chiang Mai International Airport there were tears, hugs, and a giant bag of Ruffles All Dressed Chips in her hand (all the way from Canada, JUST FOR ME!).
After grabbing a quick brunch we made our way to Wat Suan Dok, one of the 300 Buddhist temples in the city. It was built by King Keu Na of Lanna in the 14th century and lays just west of the Old City walls. The eye-catching white stones in front of the temple were beautiful, and I later learned that within them are the cremated remains of the rulers of Chiang Mai.
Walking for hours on the first day, we certainly worked up an appetite. I looked forward to my first proper meal in Chiang Mai since Thai food has always been one of my favourite cuisines. A dish I highly recommend is Kao Soi, a scrumptious curry noodle. I first ordered it at a restaurant called See You Soon, a wonderful place to relax, eat, and sip on a strawberry kiwi smoothie. You must go here if you’re within the Old City walls, especially if you’re vegetarian since they’ll cater to any dietary restrictions.
If you’re wondering why I chose Chaing Mai as my vacation spot of choice this winter, it’s because of these giant, majestic creatures.
I stayed overnight at the Elephant Nature Park, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. The park is a sanctuary that rescues elephants from the world of entertainment and loggers. FYI: NEVER RIDE AN ELEPHANT! Elephants are meant to be respected and observed, NOT to entertain us. Most of the elephants rescued were abused, blinded, chained, and starved from those who kept them as circus or riding animals. It is a sad reality and it was hard to face the truth, but it’s good knowing these elephants are safe and happy in their new home. Despite their adversities the elephants at the park are gentle, kind, and get along with the other animals who live there too such as the 4oo rescued dogs (INCLUDING PUPPIES!) and cats.
I paid $164 USD for the experience, which included a night in a quaint wooden cabin on the property, breakfast, two lunches, and a dinner (buffet style vegan meals), a tour of the park, a chance to make a meal for an elephant, feed them, wash them in the river, hike alongside them with a small group, and cuddle one every now and again.
The park follows the routine of the elephants. The gentle giants are never forced to do anything they don’t want to do that day. It was such a beautiful experience and I hope to go back.
Of course I vlogged my entire adventure! I didn’t even get into detail about Melissa and I attending THE LADY BOY CABARET. It. Was. Everything. You’ll see why we loved it in the vlog below.