Ok, so being stuck in the bed of a truck for two hours was totally worth it for the amazing elephant experiance we had! The main way to get around in most cities is by these trucks with covered beds and bench seats in the back. They can fit anywhere from 6-12 people (or more, depending how many they decide they want to squeeze in there). All you do is flag them down, negotiate a price (in Chian Mai it seemed to be about 20-30 THB/person) and get in. Sometimes they stop for other people or there are already other people inside but they are usually pretty efficient. Its nice to be semi outside too, but covered from the sun.
I have created a thing called “Thai Time”, meaning, I double the amount of time I’m told something will take. Its actually proved too be true in basically every situation I’ve encountered.
Happy Elephant Farm:
It was pretty surreal being able to walk up and “pet” the elephants! Before coming too Thailand I had read up on the abuse of elephants at elephant parks and farms. Most Elephants that are ridden (usually with saddles) are abused and/or drugged. Because of this I was very cautious of where we went, making sure it was a legit preserve. I was assured Happy Elephant Farm was just this and was pleasantly surprised at how gentle the handlers were with them. The worst they would do is yell their names, but the yelling was mostly just so they could hear them. Elephants are extremely smart and are able to remember people after only being around them a few times. I could tell the elephants knew their handlers and it looked like they were pretty affectionate towards them.
When we first got there they alloweed us into the elepant enclosure for a few minutes just to get acquainted with them. We then changed into different clothes and took a decently long walk with the elephants to a river so we could bath with them! They are extremely cheeky, super sweet, but really only want food (at least at first). Gets a little scary when a massive animal is running towards you or sneaks up behind you. At the end, though, when we had no more food, and they were tired from the walk and the bath, they were the cutest. I could walk right up to them and put my forehead on theirs or they would rest their trunk on my shoulder. Such majestic animals. I love them even more than I did before.
Thai Cooking Class:
I had heard through the grapevine that Chiang Mai is the place to do a cooking class. Luckily, we were able to fit it in after the elephant preserve! In retrospect, we probably crammed too much into one day, but we had limited time so we had to do what we had to do.
They picked the whole group up at 4pm (which consisted entirely of couples, mostly newlyweds or recently engaged… and then there was Margaret and I, very romantic). We started off by going to a market so some typical Thai ingredients could be explained to us. Fun fact, there are 3 ttypes of basil commonly used in Thai cooking; thai basil, sweet basil, and lemon basil.
After the market we were taken the house where the cooking class would be held. There was a large dinning table set up and an outdoor kitchen for us to cook in! We were able to choose 4 dishes to make. My choices were, hot and sour soup, veggie pad thai, massaman curry, and mango sticky rice ( I was pretty excited about that one, being that it’s my fav). By the 3rd course I was stuffed. Couldn’t even eat the curry. I saved room for mango sticky rice, though, and it was delishhhhh! Actually, all the food was really good. If our hotel had a microwave I would have taken left overs for sure! The whole class lasted about 4 hours. Great experiance and I now know some little tricks to Thai cooking! For example, pad thai has molasses added to it and most dishes have at least a tablespoon of sugar.
(click the images for description)