THAILAND IS WICKED.
So we've been here over a week now and it's been pretty crazy.
We arrived the day the coup d'état and the 10pm-5am curfew began in Thailand. We were in Bangkok as well, where the majority of protests were held, meaning that the soldiers and police were out in full force so unfortunately we couldn't go out on the famous backpacker street, Khao San road. We spent most of our time in Bangkok in traffic trying to see temples or buying clothes in markets. The next day, due to everyone's recommendations, we got an overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai which we all liked much more than the capital. It was less polluted and full on than Bangkok and seemed like a nicer place to spend a few days.
We did an awful lot of activities in Chaing Mai. Day one, we went to Tiger Kingdom, where you can go in the enclosure with the animals which is amazing. We opted for the biggest and the 'small' ones, but next time I would have definitely gone for the 'smallest' as well as the new borns were in that section and they were adorable. They are more prone to biting as they are so young but they are so cute. It was hard to believe how dangerous tigers are when you were stood so close to one; stroking it and hugging it like a domestic animal. The trainers looked after both the tourists and the animals really well, so I'm glad we chose this place.
The next day, we did some exploring of the city and saw some temples; just some of the many temples we are going to see here in South East Asia. I'm already templed out and it's only been a week.
The following day, we did a Thai cookery course. Although by the time I get home I will probably never want to eat Asian food again, I thought it would be useful to learn how to make some of the delicious food I'm eating here, including a red Thai curry and spring rolls. The spring rolls were surprisingly simple, but I think the teachers made it a lot easier than it will be when I attempt them again at home. I also don't know how easy it is to find 'wheat flour paper' to make my spring rolls but I'll have a go.
Now my favourite day in Chaing Mai was our last day where we went to 'Woody's elephant training' and were taught commands to become a 'mahout' or elephant trainer. We rode bare back on the elephants, learning how to climb on them properly, turn left and right and go forwards and backwards before we rode them to the river where we went swimming and bathed the elephants. They were smaller than I imagined, but most of them were quite young. Woody has 15 elephants at his house and seems to look after them really well, and cares for the well being of the elephants. Some elephant parks aren't as ethical so I'm glad we chose this one as it was both cheap (£50 for a whole day of elephant fun!) and cared for the elephants. I would highly recommend this to anyone. It was amazing.
After Chaing Mai we headed to Pai. Pai is a smaller town with a really hippie vibe. There are mainly backpackers here along with Thai tourists as this is a peaceful place to come for a couple of days. The shops all seem to open later and there are lots of lovely bars and restaurants to go to in the evenings as well as some delicious street food which is also available. Pai tends to be more of a place for activities than sights, so although we walked to the 'temple on the hill' which was very nice, we decided here would be the perfect spot to have a Thai massage.
I heard they were a bit painful but it seems stupid not to have a proper Thai one where I'm here. It was a full body massage with no oils or anything and it felt more like a workout or a sports massage than any massage I have had before. They started to use their feet and elbows and punch parts of my body and although I felt a bit beaten up during it, afterwards I felt a lot better. She even managed to get rid of the knot in my shoulder which had been caused by carrying heavy backpacks too much.
We're off to Chiang Rai today just for one night, but we're hoping to see the White Temple which is meant to be amazing and then we're heading to Chaing Khong (on the border with Laos) for one night before we get on our two day slow boat trip in Laos heading along the Mekong river to Luang Prabang.
It's been pretty non stop so far and it seems like it's not going to stop any time soon either. We've already been here a week, and we'll be in Laos in 3 days.
I'll try to update this more but knowing me that seems unlikely.