We’ve jumped on a flight from Bangkok, couldn’t face the 10 hour train journey, as we’re still flash-packing! Lovely flight, brand new plane, big screen, all the mod-cons (who’d have thought it in Asia!)……..I was sad to land, which is very unusual for me as I hate flying. BIG up to Thai Airways!
Well, what hasn’t been said about Chiang Mai? Centre of tourism for the whole of Northern Thailand. There’s nothing you can’t do here, so we picked a few activities……..mainly ones that would suit Freda, so avioded Bungee jumping and white water rafting, we’ll save them for New Zeland, when she’s a bit older (and the bungees are higher). So we visited temples (where I was made to wear a dressing down, cos I’m such a hussy) and did other sedate activities.
Starting with Freda’s favourite, food, we did a Thai cooking course, which was brilliant! We went to Sammys organic cooking class. We both wanted to learn how to cook Thai food that tasted like real Thai food, as it’s always a let down when cook at home. I discovered that this may be because I don’t have, lemongrass, galangal, Thai lime etc. growing in my garden like the teacher Sammy did! His farm was lovely, where we did the cooking class and everything apart from the noodles seemed be be grown in his garden somewhere. Can’t really speak for Freda, but I reckon Mitch and I can now cook a mean Thai meal.
Next up we went to the Elephant Nature Park. It has led the movement to abandon rides and shows and put elephant welfare at the top of the agenda, In place of circus routines, visits are focused on interaction – the day is spent wandering with Mahouts and their charges, helping feed and wash elephants. The elephants here have been rescued from logging camps and tourist shows, and instead of being subjected to hooks and chains, they are allowed to form their own family groups and follow as closely as possible the natural behaviour of a wild herd. It was a great day and really opened our eyes to how badly these amazing animals can be treated.
So, with my animal welfare rant over, we then headed up in to the hills out of Chiang Mai to the Mae Sa valley. With elephants on the brain we couldn’t resist popping into the Elephant Poo Paper Park, literally makes paper from poo, it was very cool. Freda enjoyed making various items out of poo and getting her hands dirty!
Then headed up to our last posh hotel for a while, the Panviman, to be greated with a smelly, dark, very tired old room………but, don’t worry in true Sharpison style after a little gentle complaining, we got upgraded to a suite with an out door jacuzzi bath, possibly the best view from a bath possible, much more to Freda’s tastes.
While at the hotel we did a few trips down the valley to an insect park, an interesting array of insects, we all had our own particular favourites and our own special phobias, Freda took a lot of persuasion to hold any!
Next the Mae Sa waterfall, where we were gob-smacked, not by the scenery but Fredas ability to trek right up to the top without once moaning. The second she steps out of the hotel at the moment, she complains that her legs are too tired to walk. On our way back to the hotel, as Mitch was was too tight to pay for the hotel taxi, we had to try find a local bus to get us back. This failed so we hitch hiked, luckily most Thai people are so lovely!
Even with its extortionate taxi prices, and that’s saying something as we live in London, the Panviman managed to redeem itself with great food, great views and a lovely pool. Although after too many days in swimming pools Freda’s hair has started to go green! Wooops! Don’t worry I’ve chopped the green ends out!
After our last slice of luxury for a while we headed back to Chiang Mai to a small AirBnB just out of town. We did very little apart from hung by the pool, enjoyed the most western shopping centre I’ve ever been to in Aisa (although maybe not the Pokemon show that I dragged Freda too)! It’s very funny traveling with children because the things you would ordinarily avoid like the plague, you love! Well almost, for a short while!
We’ve tried to be responsible parents, but keep getting laughed at when we insist on transport with a seatbelt, so we’ve had no choice but to reset to local standards, use Tuk Tuks and the local bus Songthaews. Although not complying to EU standards, Freda loves them and that’s the main thing, Better to die happy in a pink bus!!
Last thing we did in Chiang Mai was the amazing, but random, 3D art Gallery, once again only when travelling with children! The pictures speak for themselves.
So we’ve now left Chiang Mai and are heading up north to do a 2 day boat trip down the mighty Mekong to Luang Prabang. We are currently in Chiang Rai slurping Chang beer on the banks of the enormous but placid river Kok.
Chiang Mai for all it crazy in your face tourism, was a delight to experience…….great food, fantasitic night markets, beautiful temples and unforgettable memories!
Don’t forget t check out Freda’s new VLOG.