Natasa only had 12 days for vacation. You must fly more than bus , buy tours, and try to pack in some time to just lay on the beach. (which I rarely do anyway). I rode the camels in Morrocco and wanted to ride the elephants in northern Thailand. I consulted the internet and found BLUE ELEPHANT THAILAND TOURS. They had something for both Natasa and I. She likes hiking, waterfalls and living with locals and I wanted to ride the elephants, go rafting and immerse myself in local culture too.
At $200 a day, each the tour had everything we wanted.
IT CAME WITH A PRIVATE TOUR GUIDE IN 4WD VEHICLE WITH LEATHER SEATS.
I’ve never done a tour like this, I usually have more time than money. Time wasn’t on our side, this time.
We started the day with our tour guide Jackie, shopping at the local market for dinner supplies.
THE PIG ENDS UP PLAYING A LARGE ROLE IN HILL TRIBE LIFE.
We finally get out of town and visit DOI INTHANON NATIONAL PARK.
WE HAD TO WAIT OUR TURN TO GET A PHOTO, I STILL DON’T GET THE ATTRACTION TO FALLING WATER?
Then we head to the TOP of Thailand, MT. DOI INTHANON AT 2565 meters (8400 ft.)
THE HIGHEST POINTS IN OUR HOMELAND IN JANUARY IS COVERED WITH SNOW AND COLD, BUT NOT HERE!
After lunch Jackie set us up with a trekking guide. He said he spoke english, no. I heard two words, “coffee” and “mango.” The Karen Hill Tribe people practiced slash, burn and move farming. The government, in an effort to save the forest, is encouraging sustainable farming.
THE HILLS ARE COVERED WITH THESE MINATURE GREENHOUSE FILLED WITH FLOWERS
This region has a wet and dry season, so they are only able to plant rice during the wet season.
THE WATER BUFFALO WERE EATING THE RICE PLANTS LEFT FROM THE LAST RICE CROP
The hike followed the river
THE BAMBOO WAS HUGE AND USED FOR LOTS OF THINGS, LIKE THIS BRIDGE.
They were saving the forest yet still growing “shade grown” coffee under the canopy.
YEP, THAT’S THE WORLD FAMOUS COFFEE BEAN
Of course we get to drink some. Its the best coffee I’ve had on the whole trip.
WOOD IS STILL USED (HEAVILY) FOR COOKING AND BOILING WATER
Thank goodness we have 4wd, I can’t believe the road to the Karen Hill Tribes village.
DURING THE WET SEASON IT MUST BE NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO LEAVE THE VILLAGE
EVERY HOUSE HAD A PIG UNDER THE HOUSE, TIED BY THE ANKLE SO THEY WON’T “ESCAPE”
So were cooking curried chicken,rice and vegetables.
NATASA WAS HAVING FUN HELPING OUT
Everything was going great, till they pulled out the BBQ rat.
I COULDN’T GET THE COURAGE TO SAMPLE THE LOCAL FAIRE
We were pretty tired from everything, so we partied till 8pm and then to bed.
WE HAD OUR OWN COTTAGE TO SLEEP IN
At home Natasa likes the bedroom cool, “freezing.” It’s pretty warm where we are
SHE SLEPT WITH 5 BLANKETS, I ONLY HAD ONE!
I was going to get another chance to have some of the local fair, BBQ rat.
I AWOKE TO LAST NIGHTS CATCH BEING BBQ FOR BREAKFAST
I decided to try some at breakfast. Jackie showed me the trap used to catch them.
THEY PUT SOME RICE IN THE BAMBOO AND IT TRIGGERS THE STRING TO CHOKE THE RAT
IT WORKS PRETTY GOOD
OUR HOST IS DIGGING IN TO THE RAT, THE BONES WERE A LITTLE CRUNCHY
It takes an hour to drive and an hour to hike to the elephant camp. You don’t have to ask Natasa twice, a hiking WE go.
I ACTUALLY LIKED THIS HIKE MORE THAN YESTERDAYS
NATASA WITH OUR TOUR GUIDE
You could tell we were getting closer to the elephant camp.
JACKIE CALLED THESE ELEPHANT COCONUTS
I read so many different things about the “elephant” camps. The elephants were used for logging. In an effort to save what is left, there is no more elephant logging. Elephants eat A LOT, this tourism helps maintain (feed) the elephants and allows me this pretty awesome experience.
I LEARNED NATASA WAS NOT THAT EXCITED ABOUT THIS PART OF OUR TOUR (can you tell?)
SHE DID BETTER WHEN WE RODE TOGETHER, I DROVE, SHE DIDN’T WANT TO
Then it came time to bath the elephants, were up close now.
HOW BIG IS AN ELEPHANT! DO YOU HAVE A LITTLE BIGGER BRUSH? PLEASE
All and all it was a great day, I think Natasa did pretty good considering she didn’t want to get near the elephants, at all.
ONE LAST PICTURE OF WHAT WAS A GREAT DAY, SO FAR
One more adventure awaits us, bamboo river rafting. Natasa wasn’t so hot on this one either.
ONCE WE GOT GOING, SHE SAID SHE REALLY LIKED IT!
I thought we were going on a mellow river rafting trip. It was till we hit a section of kids that loved to splash passing tourist on bamboo rafts. We had no choice but to fight back, but we end up soaked. Does that mean we lost? It was fun.
THIS IS A GROUP OF THAI ENGLISH STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONAL SPLASHERS
It was a long day and were finally back to our hotel, THE ADVENTURE HOTEL (the real name). We get the room that is entirely mirrors.
I HOPE IT’S NOT THE LAST TIME, EITHER!
That was 2 days in Chiang Mai, hope you enjoyed it? I know WE did.
THANKS FOR READING
MORE PHOTOS HERE
YEP, ADVENTURE “TRAVELLER” MASTER