A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: abi_phillips

CHIANG MAI - Elephant Land!

14TH - 18TH MARCH

Yes a few days behind on the ole blog sorry! The Islands are lacking on the wifi so apologies.

On the 14th we arrived in Chiang Mai after a very comfy sleeper train. We met 2 lovely Thai people actually; a man who treated us to supper on the train which was very nice and being on a budget and all we were very grateful!! (don't worry we did offer to pay!!) Then a lady sat opposite Soph came on the train at the next stop and chatted until bed time! She was great fun and made the hours pass by quite quickly! Her husband was from Hereford and now obviously has moved out to Chiang Mai with her - how small a world is it!! His family had a butchers in Hereford, with the surname 'Watkins" but as we both said, most people are related in Hereford so could be anyone!!

We stayed in a lovely guesthouse, called SK house 2 and we just loved it. The atmosphere was relaxed, the rooms were big and tidy and it had a swimming pool and roof terrace to sunbathe on which was great! The staff were lovely there and most helpful. On arrival we met a couple, Martyn and Ruth who were 22 from Swindon. We started talking to them and asked them about the elephant trekking and they really recommended us to go to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre. Its the only place in Thailand where the elephants go to school. They are treated very well at this place and it is the home to the Royal Elephants. We were hyped to go there after Ruth and Martyn had told us all about it so we went there the next day!

And oh wasn't it worth it!! We had to make our own way there but we managed by going by a little green bus which was very crammed but luckily was only an hour journey so heaven compared to what we have been used to!

We arrived at The Mahout Training School at 9am and that's when our fun day commenced! There was 4 of us together, us 2 and 2 girls from America who were in their late 20's who were a good laugh! We each had our own elephant, Soph had the monster out of them! Her's was 11 foot 5 and weighed 3.5 tonnes and mine was a female who was 10 foot and didn't quite weigh as much as the giant!! We each had a Mahout (trainer) who helped us throughout the day with our elephants. We spent pretty much the whole day with them, using their command words to command them and make interaction with them, we rode them, fed them and bathed them at the end - AMAZING EXPERIENCE!! We watched an elephant show too which was very impressive, especially the paintings the elephants produced! We got to see the baby elephants - really weird looking but cute at the same time - if possible?!! And then also visited the elephant hospital where there was three injured; one had a broken shoulder and leg due to falling whilst labouring, one had trodden on a landmine and the other had a skin disease but all being treated and well looked after by what we could see! They even had water therapy baths for them!!
Our day was over by about 4pm - and we did not want to leave!! We got dropped off by one of the staff on the side of the highway (very fast road!!) and waited for our little green bus back home. We waited for an hour and half and no bus went past (apparently one was meant to go past every 30 mins) but it didn't. We weren't sure what to do as we were in the middle of nowhere and panic started to arise. Luckily, a lovely Thai couple had pulled over and asked if we wanted a lift back to Chiang Mai - never in our lives have we been so thankful!! Apparently, they had driven past us and seen us looking worried/scared/bored! Typical us!! So we got back, insisted on giving them some money for the journey but they wouldn't take it! So if that incident isn't travelling for you I don't know what is!! After a great day out, we soon headed for bed that night!

The next few days were spent just relaxing and wandering around. We visited the markets but compared to the ones in Vietnam they were pretty rubbish! The weather was very hot there (35degrees+) so I was in my element sunbathing and Sophie (water baby) in the swimming pool. However, I still think Soph caught more sun than I did whilst she sat in the shade!!

We committed ourselves to watching the England vs Wales match but wish we never bothered stay up for it as was such a rubbish game but I skyped home after which made it a little bit more worthwhile!!

On the night of the 17th we said goodbye to SK House (both quite sad to leave Chiang Mai actually) as had a whale of a time but we had a sleeper train booked which we needed to get on to take us back to the muggy, busy Bangkok! We splashed out on this sleeper and both went for the bottom berths which the beds were equivalent to a double bed, or very close too! I did have to laugh, Soph had a rather large guy (emphasise on the "rather') hehe!! on the top berth which I found hilarious! Thought he was going to squash her as the top beds aren't the most generous!!

Early hours of the 18th we arrived into a very empty and deserted Bangkok and had the day to chill there. We tried to get the boat and ferry to go to Koh Tao (South Islands in Thailand) that night to save on accommodation but we failed as it was fully booked. So we had some breaky and then went on the hunt for a room for the night. Luckily the room we had had great air conditioning so for the majority of the day we spent our time in there with the aircon turned right up!! We shared a local Thai bbq fish that evening which was very good and then headed for bed, buzzing for the early wake up as you could imagine!

So we loved Chiang Mai and both thoroughly pleased we went to the elephant conservation centre! (Thanks to Martyn and Ruth) Although quite expensive, it's a memory that we will both have for a lifetime!

Sorry I am trying to attach some photos but the computer says no!!

Posted by abi_phillips 05:18 Comments (0)

Hoi An here we come!!

The place for tailoring!!

Wednesday 6th March

After a rather long, grotty 12 hour journey on a sleeper bus we arrived in Hoi An (right by the river) and caught a taxi to find some accomodation. After a little while we managed to find a 'hotel' (not a hotel compared to the one we had in Nha Trang that was for sure!!) The hotel was quite unclean for the price so we said we would move next door but they obviously wanted the business and dropped the price to 6USD a night for us each rather than 8, so we stayed and adapted to the room!
We were feeling tired so Soph went for a nap and I caught up on my emails with friends and family. We then ventured out - in the dull, dark, dreary weather which was a bit of a shock compared to Nha Trang where the sun did shine at times!! It even started to rain when we were out walking and exploring. 9/10 shops here are tailoring shops. If you want a smart suit, shirt, dress; Hoi An is the place!! We've both said we are going to bring our family out here and get them suited and booted!! If England had this service, they'd be doing well I feel! There was hundreds of tailors, literally! And the service is very fast! So to lighten up our moods during this dark, damp day we did a little bit of retail therapy and hit our bank balance well!! A little - I mean, about 5 hours!! Typical girls eyy! We both had some dresses made for us (3 for Soph, 2 for myself and I did buy a north face jacket which I will take with me for the north and NZ. A fake I know, but hey ho! Cheap!! So after a thoroughly well spent day (money wise) and enjoyment we had some food and hit the sack.

Thursday - The next day we had our fittings for our dresses/collections so again day 2 in Hoi An was another 'mooch' around day - dangerous!! But we didn't go as mad this time, quite sensible in fact! We dined out, had some lovely Vietnamese dishes and some cold, refreshing fruit shakes through the day. Again, the weather was cold compared to what we have been used to (wearing hoodies and trousers) but a little brighter than yesterday. So the last two days we've walked endlessly around the pretty town of Hoi An and bought some rather good bargains and goodies. I decided to hire a motorbike for a few hours in the afternoon, dare devil I know! It cost me 5USD and I had to fill up on my own accord. Which was very entertaining to say the least at the petrol station! Especially when I couldn't pop the button to open the petrol catch! But we got there and I had a good old blast around the city. I managed to accidentally go down a one way street the wrong way, so a rather angry Vietnamese man came out shouting and waving his arms which entertained me, broke my flipflop whilst attempting to put the stand down (when picking up Soph from the hotel for a ride on the back) and ran a red light just to cause some excitement to my experience of driving the streets of Hoi An!! Picked Soph up and we went for a bit of an explore, we soon got to just with the balancing of the two of us and we were away! Both loving life on the motorbike! By this time it was approaching night time, and I was failing to find the lights (had a bit of a blonde moment) but found them just in time for darkness! We went around by the river which was so pretty and such a sight to see. They hang up colourful lanterns all around the shop corners, through the streets and on the bridges - fascinating! We've got pictures from these last few days which we will put up when we can. The computers here are so slow, so bare with us please!

Friday (today) we picked up our final dress and had some breakfast in a local cafe. We also sent our buyings from Hoi An back home, which cost a bit (we decided to go by Airmail as there wasnt' a huge difference in price compared to sea mail and it takes very little time compared to shipping it over) but there was no way we could fit it all in our rucksacks, and being girls didn't really want our dresses scrunched in a bag for another 3 months or so!! We are waiting for our bus now which will take us to Hanoi (North), as you can tell we LOVEEE bus journeys (haha) but this one is a killer - 500 LONG MILES so its a long 'un! Wish us luck! You have to feel for us!!!

Posted by abi_phillips 21:22 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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