Hiking in Doi Suthep

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Me and an Elephant Tree. If you looked further up it sort of looked like an elephant trunk coming down with it’s legs being the rest of the trunk.

I decided to do some hiking while in Chiang Mai so I found a mountain bike company that had an activity where you hike up Doi Suthep and then ride down.  I wasn’t too keen on the ride down, but very excited about walking up.  One thing I failed to check was the distance.  I knew the mountain was tall and they listed the hike as 1400 meters ascent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful foliage in the jungle

What I learned at the end of my hike is that with the uphill and the downhill we had travelled 40 km.  Less than half was the uphill but not sure by how much.  Our guide didn’t understand when we asked.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kilometer marker sign for the waterfalls.  We went right, but only saw one waterfall.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Found this waterfall.  This is before me and my small group hit the difficult part of the hike.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yay!  I’m all happy at the waterfall before I had to climb up, up, up!  I was totally the slowest one in the pack, but that’s OK.  I had a forgiving group that waited on me.  I could not breath in the humidity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cute little bridge over a creek.  I hopped the rocks, but I appreciated the covered bridge just the same.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s our group with the tour guide guy in the middle.  Behind the camera is Marie from Ireland.  This is a hill tribe village at the top of the mountain that fed us and gave me strawberry fanta for like a nickel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the way down we stopped by some beautiful views of rice paddies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View of the mountain from the bottom.  I was just glad to get out alive!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Me relaxing at our lakeside hut for lunch.  I got there early cause I decided to skip biking and ride down in the truck with the nice Thai guy that spoke no english but tried to hold a conversation with me the whole time anyways.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s the whole gang with a basket of beer and soda, waiting on our well-deserved curry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We all met up later that night to grab drinks and dinner.  Marie and I stuck it out late at my friend’s bar The Playhouse and proceeded to get slightly hammered… not quite drunk.

All in all, a good day!  But exhausting!

Walking Around Chiang Mai – Part 1

Chiang Mai is a great city to go for a walk.  The old city has a square moat and ruins of a wall around it.  Within the old city there are roads and little side streets called Sois.  Every day I go for a walk and discover something new here.  Image

This poor dragon statue is split down the middle, but it makes a pretty cool effect.Image

Found the Starbucks and all the westerners were chillin inside.  Image

This Tattoo shops sign was almost pretty enough to convince me to get one!  There are lots of tattoo shops to choose from.  And I’m told you can even get an old fashioned one done with bamboo by a monk.Image

Beautiful gate to one of the many temples in the city.Image

I often find myself drinking a Leo on a sidewalk cafe table watching the world go by.  There are 4 beers to choose from: Leo, Chang, Singha, and Tiger.  Chang is called a lottery beer, because it can have anywhere from 6-11% alcohol, every batch is different!Image

Corner of the moat near my hostel.  Do not go swimming in the moat.  People do all sorts of things like pee and throw trash in there.  Just giving you fair warning.  Image

This is the Soi near my house that has my favorite breakfast place called Breakfast World.  They have German, English, and American style breakfasts.  It’s super yummy and I always order too much food!Image

In Thailand, you see elephants every where you go.  I really like these elephant statues in particular.  They’re facing the moat.  Image

This is the Tha Phae Gate.  All the gates have names and they help you find your way home.Image

One of the many beautiful shiny temples.  Image

Pretty designs on the side of a temple.ImageThis statue is awesome.  It’s a lizard eating a dragon, guarding the entrance to a temple.

I have lots more pictures from Chiang Mai that I’ll post later.  Tomorrow I’m hiking up a 1400 meter mountain to see a temple and then biking down to a hill tribe village on a lake for lunch.  Hope I make it that far!

Spending the Night with Asian Elephants

DSCN4635

http://www.saveelephant.org/

I recently had the great pleasure of visiting and spending the night at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  I recommend any one going to Thailand visit this park.  Do not go to any other park where they force elephants, tigers, etc to do unnatural things for your entertainment.  Just come to this park and interact with happy rescued elephants.  Information about the park and all of their wonderful animal rescue projects are at the link above.

DSCN4589

By the end of my visit I had gotten very used to feeding elephants.  It’s really very easy, just hold the fruit and the elephant grabs it with their trunk and throws it in their mouth.  If you drop the fruit, just leave it, they’ll pick them up off the ground too.  Fun Fact: Elephants eat 10% of their body weight every day… and they weigh a lot!
DSCN4634

This is the baby elephant Navan at the park.  He’s only 2-3 months old so he spends most of his time nursing, playing, and sleeping.  Cute little guy!
DSCN4668

Mother and Child.  🙂

DSCN4656

At the main house, some of the elephants come right up to the platform where you can feed them fruit over the rail.

DSCN4686

Elephants love to get wet and then get dirty again to stay cool.  Here the mother and baby Navan are getting sprayed and they’re very happy about it.  Navan loves the water!

DSCN4707

Here is an action shot of me splashing the elephants in the river for bath time.  Every day the park does bath time where all the visitors go out in the river and bucket shower the elephants.  Rescue elephants don’t know how to roll in the water themselves, so we have to splash them.  There is one elephant raised at the park named Hope, he’s a 12 year old male and he has a bit of an attitude because he’s a teenager… so when it’s his bath time, everyone gets out of the way and he runs into the water and rolls around.

DSCN4723

After they’re clean, they get dirty again to protect themselves from the sun.  Shortly after taking the picture I got sprayed with mud and a drop landed on my lense.  But I expected just as much.

DSCN4767-001

My river front hut where I stayed with my friend.  It had 2 twin size beds with mosquito nets and we even let some of the stray cats come sleep with us.

DSCN4777

The park also hosts the second largest dog shelter in Thailand.  A lot of dogs are rescued from the floods when they were abandoned.  Volunteers can also help take care of the dogs as well as the elephants.

DSCN4786-001

Here I am feeding this elephant bananas.  They love bananas, pumpkins, watermelon, and pineapple.

DSCN4792

Mae Perm is the first elephant rescued by the park.  She’s very old and would not leave me alone till she had my last banana.  She kept following me and huffing and puffing her trunk at me, so I gave in.  Who can resist such a cute face?

DSCN4793I’m not going to go into the evil things the elephants are put through in Asia, because I want this post to be happy and positive.  But as the old saying goes, An elephant never forgets.  And this is true… these are emotional, intelligent, and gentle animals that deserve our compassion.  Please consider visiting this park if you’re ever in the area.  You can bring children of all ages and it’s an experience that no one will ever forget!