Jungle trekking in Chiang Mai

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The first day in Chiang Mai

After our late arrival at the hostel, there was not much to do. We just decided to grab some food from the night market down the road. The traditional local food in Chiang Mai is khao soi. I ofcourse wanted to try it and was not disappointed with the dish. We ate it everyday during our stay in this city. After trying something new, we went to check out the rooftop bar at our hostel. We met some nice people there who asked us to come with them to the Night Bazaar in the city center. We went with a group of 12 with the local taxis called songthaew. It’s like a red pickup truck with benches for people to sit on. The taxi is made for a maximum of 10 people, so 2 people were just hanging off the back while driving trough the streets.

After our fun trip to the night bazaar and getting a drink it was time to go to bed and get some rest.

The second day we didn’t do anything, just decided to stay at the hostel and pack our bags for the next day jungle trekking.

Day one of our jungle trek

The day started out early because we would be picked up at 9am. Ofcourse in Thailand time doesn’t really work like that, so we got picked up at around 9.45am. Our guide for the trek was an older guy living in a jungle village in the mountains of Chiang Mai, called mister P. We drove in the 4×4 for a while before we stopped at a local market close to the jungle. There he bought us some food for during our trek and we were back en route after 5 min.

The first activity on the list was bamboo rafting. We were super excited to try this, but were a little disappointed to find that we would be rafted by other people. So while on the raft we just decided to enjoy the amazing view and completely relax. The raft was made out of a single layer of bamboo so we got completely soaked. Luckily we were warned beforehand and came prepared with our swimwear. The rafting got a little intense a few times, especially when we got stuck in a tiny waterfall. We had to hop off in the cold water to get the raft unstuck.

After the fun rafting experience, we were brought to the “entrance” of the jungle. Here we first got our fried rice lunch after which we started our trek. We started at the hottest time day and had a lot of climbing to do, so we did not trek really fast. Mister P had no trouble climbing the mountain, especially considering he was 72 years old. After a 3 hour trek we arrived at Mister P’s village where we were greeted by a lot of local kids trying to sell us their bracelets and trinkets. Mister P and his family cooked for us, while waiting for the food we wanted to explore the village and enjoy a beautiful sunset on top of the mountain. The food we got tasted so good after a long walk. After eating for 3 people, we went to bed at 8pm in our bamboo hut.

Second day of the trek

Sleeping in the hut was not a fun experience. After being in a hot environment for almost 3 months, we were not used to the cold anymore. We got also woken up quite a few times because of all the animals in the village. The worst part was that today was the longer part of the trekking, so we really could’ve used our rest.

After a simple breakfast we headed out towards our next stop, the waterfall. We trekked for a little while and arrived at the waterfall. Ofcourse we decided to try and swim in it, but it was a little to cold to enjoy it. We stayed there for a while and started the trek again. Now we were headed towards a small hut for our lunch. Here we ate pad thai again and got a pickup to the Elephant sanctuary.

For us it was the first time we would get close to actual elephants. We were told that the elephants were treated really well and taken care of. When we arrived we saw the elephants being fed and we got the chance to feed them ourselves. After feeding them we could wash them in a small river and play with them in the water. Nissa is usually scared to death of all kinds of animals, but it seemed like the elephants were all her friends. She managed to get really close and washed the elephant herself, not being scared even once.

After washing the elephants we got to see a small baby elephant with its mother. What we didn’t know at the time is that they were taking away the other elephants we had just washed. After meeting the baby elephant we got back to the center and noticed the other elephants were gone. Nissa went exploring and found them on top of a hill chained behind some trees. We were blatantly lied to because they told us this was a “sanctuary” and the elephants came here to recover. But the moment the visitors turn their backs, they chain the elephants for the rest of the day.

Meeting the elephants was a fun experience. But after the fact we did a little more thorough research and found that washing elephants is actually really bad for their wellbeing. We felt guilty to have participated in those activities and learned our lesson to do better research before we book something.

The final day in the city

We were a little bummed out from the elephants from the previous day. But we tried to make the best of it, we still had a wonderful time trekking and seeing the jungle. This was mostly a resting day where we watched a movie, did the laundry and got ready for our next stop in Pai. While waiting for the laundry we decided to visit the old part of Chiang Mai and visit a few temples. We did a route covering the 8 biggest temples inside of the center. Some temples required an entrance fee. Considering we already did loads of temples we werent really interested in paying for visiting the temples.

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