21 May The “Group of Seven”s motto they take to Cambodia: Try anything once!
After experiencing the craziness of Bangkok, Thailand’s largest city, our newly named Group of Seven headed off on a 12 hour overnight bus ride to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. By the time we got there, most of us had barely slept on the bumpy bus, but our excitement and aw for this beautiful city kept us awake and alert as we headed off to see our first and most famous temple in Chiang Mai, Doi Suithep. First impressions of Chiang Mai: relaxed and laid back, green and full of culture… A nice refresher from the go-go pace of Bangkok. The temple Wat Doi Siuthep sits on top of a mountain, overlooking the entire city. The inner area of the temple sparkled and shone bright gold in the sunlight, a phenomenal sight.
After receiving bracelets blessed by monks we returned home for much needed rest before heading off to a Thai cooking class. Now, I may speak just for myself in saying I really don’t care much for cooking, but making Pad Thai, spring rolls, papaya salad, and curry was a lot more fun than I had been anticipating. Our cooking instructor. A (Yes, his name was A), kept us at the edge of our seats laughing throughout the evening, and our food tasted delicious! Needless to say we all felt like expert Thai cooks by the end and a few of us were highly considering a career in selling street food in Thailand…
The following day was spent at the beautiful Elephant Nature Park. The park is a special place, run by a small Thai woman named Lek with a massive heart, she takes in domestic elephants that have been injured, exploited or abandoned throughout the country. Spending the day with these majestic giants was incredible. We fed them, bathed them, took pictures of them, and learned about their sad but important history. We can only hope that more people like Lek help care for these beautiful creatures and we can do our part by helping care for these creatures when traveling and taking part in elephant tourism. Trekking is not the way to go folks!! Getting up close and personal is way more memorable!
The next day we saw a change of pace with a yoga and meditation class in a beautiful studio a midst a serene garden, complete with a delicious vegetarian lunch, fruit for dessert, and tea. And of course the event could not have been complete without every one in the group tasting tiger balm. Based on the theory that the best things for your skin are things that you can eat and won’t make you sick, we all decided to give it a try. Needless to say it didn’t taste great, but none of us got sick, so we’ll continue slathering tiger balm on ourselves with confidence. Crickets in Bangkok, tiger balm in Chiang Mai, I don’t even want to know what we’ll try in Cambodia!
The rest of our stay in Chiang Mai consisted of shopping in vibrant night markets, monk chats and witnessing monks chanting, and who can forget our wild night out complete with lady men dance shows, singing along to Adele and Radiohead live covers in a local bar, dancing on the tourist night strip, and shwarma.
Yes, there’s A LOT to do in Chiang Mai. I know we’re all sad to leave this place, but the journey must continue. Next stop, rural Cambodia to do some volunteering with an eco tourism group in Banteay Chhmar!
We’ll miss you, Chiang Mai!
Hannah & The Discovery Crew (aka The Group of Seven).