My roommate and I, plus three other friends we met at orientation, decided to take a trip to Chiang Mai since we had the week off from school. Here are some stories from our trip:
Day 1: Travel
We started off the trip on a stroke of luck. The plan was to take a 3-4 hour bus to Bangkok, and then to take an overnight train to Chiang Mai. After we got out of school on Friday, we thought we had about an hour to make it to the bus station just a 5-minute walk away from my house. Thankfully, however, my other roommate who was also travelling to Bangkok ran into a man who owns a restaurant that we frequent, and he told her the bus was leaving NOW. She comes running back into the house yelling that we have to leave, so we drop everything we’re doing, grab our bags, and take a taxi to the bus terminal, which happened to be a different terminal than we thought we had to go to. We barely made it!
But the stress does not end when we get on the bus. The 3-4 hour trip ended up being over 5 hours in Bangkok traffic on a Friday, and we still had to get to the train station. We were running low on time, so when we arrived in Bangkok we got a motor-taxi to take us to the train station, since we knew they could zip through traffic and get us there more quickly than a car. Thankfully the driver drove safely, because the whole time I was thinking “Oh my, this could end terribly!” When I arrived I ran through the train station, found my train, and literally only had one minute to spare before the train left. But I made it! And the overnight train, albeit the food, was quite nice!
Day 2: Temples
Lets just say that I fell in love with Chiang Mai on the first day. It is a beautiful city filled with temples, restaurants, markets, bars with live music, and beautiful scenery on the outskirts of the city. The first day we explored some temples, including Wat Chedi Luang. which was very beautiful. The details on the temples, the intricate paintings and glistening gold and red colors were quite a lovely sight! At Wat Chedi Luang I was able to witness an initiation ceremony of a monk, and also attended a monk chat with my friends, where we were able to informally talk to a few of the monks about their lives.
Day 3: Temple in the mountains and Grand Canyon
We went to a very beautiful temple in the mountains called Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The large, open temple area overlooks the city below, and shimmers magnificently with the sunlight on the golden structures. This temple is definitely a must-see if you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai.
We then went to the Grand Canyon in Chiang Mai, where you can jump off of the edge into a large body of beautiful water. It was a perfect way to cool off from the Thailand heat.
That night, we went to the Sunday Night Market, which was very cool. There was such a large variety of delicious food, paintings, and handmade items.
Day 4: Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
This was one of my favorite days. We traveled outside of the city, and spend the day feeding, bathing, and splashing around the water with the elephants. If you are interested in interacting with elephants, make sure to do your research before, as many companies that promote riding the elephants do not treat the animals with the best care.
Day 5: A day for relaxation
Day 6: Cooking class
This was another highlight from the trip. We went to Sammy’s Organic Cooking School, and learned how to make Thai food! We all had some options of what we wanted to make for the day, so I chose yellow curry, chicken-coconut soup, pad Thai, spring rolls, and a banana-coconut dessert. Sammy brought us to his home, which was lovely with a large garden where he grows many herbs and vegetables. My heart sang with happiness as we were guided through the process of making the curry paste and chopping vegetables, all while pleasant aromas filled the air. We first made and ate lunch, took an hour nap in the hammocks, and then we continued on to make out appetizer and dessert. And let me tell you, that meal was hands-down the best meal I’ve had so far in Thailand. As I ate my meal, I kept on thinking, “I can’t believe I made this!” What is great is that we were also given a cookbook, so I am excited to try to make some Thai dishes all on my own now. I highly recommend Sammy’s Organic Cooking School!
Day 7 & 8: Pai
Our hostel owner, who was ever so sweet and helpful, suggested that we take a short trip up to Pai, since we had a good while to be in Chiang Mai. So that’s just what we did. Getting there was literally quite a bumpy ride that had me feeling very dizzy all the way up, but once we got there I would say it was well worth it. Pai is a small town about three hours northwest of Chiang Mai, and is home to beautiful mountains, waterfalls, a lively walking street with lots of food and clothing options. We had Thanksgiving together in Pai, the next day we explored a lovely waterfall not too far away from where we were staying. If Pai is a place you are interested in visiting, I would suggest staying over for a couple of nights, as this would provide you with more time to explore and to take in the beauty of Pai.
Day 9: Sticky Falls
On our last full day, we went to Sticky Falls, which is a waterfall that you can climb up because the rocks are not slippery. It was so much fun, and very relaxing!
Day 10: Home sweet home