March 19, 2013
Chiang Mai was like a breath of fresh air from the pulsating and almost-dizzying energy of Bangkok. I felt as though the people were more gentle and there seemed to be more minutes in an hour. I flew into Chiang Mai at about 10 pm and was very pleased to find that the airport was just about a 20 minute drive to the city and to Amora Tha Pae, my hotel. I was glad to have included Chiang Mai in my Thailand trip. Before retiring for the night, I just had to squeeze in a visit to the Night market to get a little more feel of the Northern Thailand city but I didn’t stay out too late. The next day was to be a full day and I was going to need to rest.
Morning came and I just had to take an early morning stroll out by the moat and get breakfast at one of the diners close to the hotel. On my list of things to do for the were the following: 1. Maesa Elephant Camp 2. A visit to the tribes village 3. Tiger Kingdom It was a stroke of luck that the hotel had an in-house tour company, Siam-Lanna Travel. It was even more good fortune, that my guide for the day, was no less than the very accommodating proprietor of the company himself (which he only revealed to me later in the day), Mr. Nong.
Maesa Elephant Camp
Starting with a pleasant drive to the Elephant Camp, I thoroughly enjoyed the activities lined up for me. Especially the Elephant Show where you’d get blown away as you witness the elephants painting pictures beautifully. More than the show however, I enjoyed the awesome 45-minute elephant ride which took me to the hill-tribes village.
After the show, I got ready to meet my ride for the day, Mae Hamphong. She’s already 32 years old and has given birth to 5 babies. At first the ride was a bit bumpy, but once I got the hang of it, the Mahout (the elephant driver) and I casually made conversation in friendly, broken English.
The Hill-tribe Village
Mae Hamphong dropped me off at the entrance of the village where Mr. Nong was waiting for me. We walked into the village and met with the different indigenous tribes. Some have been relocated here from Myanmar (Burma) and have been given this area to settle in. It was fascinating how each tribe had their own elaborate and distinctive costumes especially the Akha and the Padaung (the Long-Neck tribe).
It took about an hour to go around the village and interact with the tribes. As per Mr. Nong, instead of giving the kids or the tribes-people money, it was more encouraged to purchase their wares instead. Giving the kids some candies would have been a great idea too but we didn’t bring any with us at the time. One more interesting thing I noted was that on top of the hill in the village, there was a Catholic Church made–apparently, these tribes-people have already been converted and baptized as Christians. Indeed, everywhere in Thailand, the mix of culture and religion is commonplace.
Mae Sa Butterfly and Orchid Farm/Restaurant
Famished after the activities of the first half of the day, Mr. Nong took me to the Orchid Farm, were a sumptuous lunch buffet was being served. The break from the heat was wonderful and gave me time to re-energize before I hit my next stop for the day, which will be in my next post, Tiger Kingdom.
In retrospect, the day was hot and tiring but it was energy well-spent. I cannot wait to come back to Chiang Mai with my family! Chiang Mai just has so much to offer.
If you’d like to know more about Siam Lanna Travel, you can call +66 88 400 6428 or like their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Siam-Lanna-Travel/515915851787620?fref=ts