Archives for April 2013

The Open Road

For our last adventure in Chiang Mai, we decided to follow a friends advice and take a motorbike ride around the Samoeng Loop, around the mountains surrounding the city. Renting a motorbike in general was one of the best decisions we made during our stay in Chiang Mai. For just 200 baht a day (roughly $7.00) we could rent a motorbike, versus taking taxis or tuk tuks which often came in around the same price per day if not higher. The advantage of the motorbike was that we saved money and we also saved the hassle of having to track down transportation and then haggle with them about a fair price.

samoeng loop chiang mai
Samoeng Loop

We left early in the morning and planned to spend the whole day making our way around the Samoeng Loop and also making pit stops along the way at local attractions. Along the trip we:

Saw elephants! Ok, this was my favorite moment by far. You know how much I love elephants. Well, when we were riding along, I looked over and spotted elephants from a distance. I may or may not have yelled in hubs ears that I saw elephants and that we should pull over. I blame the road noise, I had to yell. It seemed like we had stumbled upon the back entrance to one of the elephant conservation parks where they kept the momma elephants and new babies.

patara elephant farm
We made sure to keep our distance but the curious little one kept getting closer and closer. As tempted as I was to see how close he would get, I did not want to see how fast the momma elephant could rip through her chain, so we left.
thai elephants
We headed back up towards the road to sit and watch as one of the workers hosed down both mom and baby.
thai elephants

Enjoyed the gorgeous roadside views.

Samoeng Loop
Played in the Mae Sa Waterfalls. This place was awesome to spend a few hours hiking and swimming in some of the waterfall pools. There are a series of around 10 different waterfalls, all on the same inclined hiking path. The lower ones are safe for families to swim in while the higher ones just offer great views but faster moving water. Notice how hubs shorts are wet? Yea, that’s what happens when you’re not careful on slippery rocks.
Mae Sa Waterfalls
Mae Sa Waterfalls

Found some choice words at local temples

thai temples
Saw old and new collide. TIP: the red truck is a mix between a taxi and bus. In the back there are just two long benches where people pile in and it makes pit stops along the route dropping people off. It can take longer depending on who else is in there with you and where they are going but can save money.
motorbike rental thailand
streets of thailand
We’re so glad that we rented a bike for our stay in Chiang Mai. We loved the ease of it (even though there were times when the driving and traffic were a little scary!) and also being able to see so much more of the city and the country side. It was the perfect end to our favorite city.
motorbike rental in thailand

A Place to Rest Your Head & Stuff Your Face

Those are the two most important things on a trip right? While hotels don’t make or break a trip for us, it’s always an added perk when we actually look forward to going back to our room at night (because trust me, we’ve had many a times in our budget traveling that we tried to spend as much time out of the room as possible). Thankfully Chiang Mai was not one of those times.

We typically gravitate away from large chains when we travel and instead look for small, locally run boutique hotels. We feel that we can get to know the hotel staff more personally and not be as segregated from the culture of the country we are visiting. In Chiang Mai we really lucked out in this department because Qi68 was by far my favorite hotel we have stayed at. The owner Qi really makes this place stand out. He goes out of his way to help the guests make the most out of their stay in Thailand by helping find unique restaurants in the area and help book local day trips. And that’s not even the best part. Qi also makes some of the best breakfasts I have ever eaten. Every morning, hubs would turn to me and ask if I could replicate it back home. The answer was always ‘I wish, dear.’ because each dish served every morning was so unique and different. I wish I would have grabbed some photos of them but it was gone before the thought ever crossed my mind!

Qi68 chiang mai thailand
This six room guesthouse’s ambiance is so peaceful and every element and piece of furniture was handpicked by Qi and his father when they built it. Staying here was one of the many highlights from our trip to Chiang Mai and we wouldn’t hesitate staying there again when we visit.
stay at Qi68 in chiang mai thailand

Another one of our favorite things about Chiang Mai was the food! No surprises there. We loved walking around the small backstreets and deciding where we would try next. The only trouble was deciding where to eat since the streets are often lined with unique little spots.
Among our favorites was the outdoor stands located at the night bazaar (good food to give you energy for some good bargaining). We went around from stand to stand collecting little parts of a meal (pad thai, Thai tea, dumplings) before we sat down at the little plastic tables in the middle of the square and dug in.

night market in chiang mai thailand

Here are some more of our favorite restaurants to try and what we loved there:
Rachadamneon-Green Curry
Ms. Cornery-Fish and Chips
The Corner Restaurant- Banana Egg Rolls (our favorite dessert along with the roti pancakes!)
The Good View- this was our favorite restaurant. It’s located just north of the Nawarat Bridge. Not only was the food great but the views of the river were spectacular and they even had live music at night. I recommend getting the green curry and the Thai tea.

where to eat in chiang mai

Hanging By a Wire

zip line thailand
We made sure to bring our Go Pro along to capture for photos and video!

I felt like our stay in Chiang Mai was one adrenaline rush after another. And our trip with Jungle Flight zip line was no exception. I’m the first to admit Jeremy and I are more than a little a.d.d. when it comes to traveling. We’re all for relaxing, getting massages (and at $15 for an hour, who could resist?!) or lying by the beach. But for the most part, we keep this to a minimum. We’re just so antsy to see everything we can while we’re in a different places. We agreed, however, that once we left Chiang Mai and headed south, that would be when we would lounge on the beach(spoiler alert: that didn’t happen either. We spent a total of an hour on the beach before we found a cave and decided to ditch the beach and go explore. This is probably the reason why I came back from Thailand just as pale as I went).zip line thailand

While we were in Chiang Mai, we wanted to take advantage of every opportunity we could, and one of these opportunities was zip lining. It’s something we had always wanted to do and were were so excited we were able to do so in a large rain forest. There are several companies to choose from but we chose to go with a smaller company, Jungle Flight zip line, and we’re so glad we did. Not only did we find a special deal that made it about $65 per person (down from $89 a person) but the personalized attention and fun loving staff were some of the highlights of our experiences. Along with views like this:

jungle flight zip line thailand

We chose to do Course B which included 24 platforms and 16 zip lines and one 40 meter abseil. (I wasn’t so excited about this part as you can tell. Something about falling straight down just doesn’t get me excited. They didn’t exactly hold back on the speed either.)

facing fears at jungle flight zip line thailand
zip lining in thailand
One of the longest zip lines we were actually attached to the line from the back, making it more of a ‘superman’ feel. This was probably the scariest one for because unlike the regular zip lines where you sat down and could feel the tension on the line right away, this took a few seconds after you jumped off the platform for it to catch. Making it feel like a free fall over the large gorge below.
a great getaway to a jungle to zip line in thailand

 

Just Some Big Cats

I’ll be honest, hubs is just a little bit of an adrenaline junky. Anything that is even a little bit dangerous, he is all for. On our honeymoon, there was a day that he went snorkeling while I stayed on the beach. He came running onto the beach yelling ‘There’s a shark in the coral! You’ve got to come check it out!’ before running right back into the water. I remember thinking ‘that is definitely not the way to get me in the water.’ (I ended up going and seeing the harmless black tip reef sharks and it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, but that’s beside the point) The point is, when we found out about Tiger Kingdom, a place in Chiang Mai where we could get up close and personal with baby and full grown tigers, we couldn’t resist.
baby tiger at tiger kingdom chiang mai
When you arrive at Tiger Kingdom, you get to pick the age group you want to see. They have babies (2-3 months), small (4-8 months), medium (9-12 months) and large tigers (13-30 months). TIP: Go early! Tigers are most active when it first opens, the temperature hasn’t skyrocketed yet, and they haven’t been handled by a swarm of tourists. Also, when all of the tour groups come, the wait can take over an hour. We showed up just before nine and only waited a few minutes to get into each cage.
baby tiger at tiger kingdom chiang mai
play with baby tigers at tiger kingdom chiang mai
He was just two months old and kept trying to climb into my lap and up my shoulder to be cuddled
tiger kingdom chiang mai
The next age group we saw were the 4-6 month olds and they were also definitely the most active of them all. The ones that weren’t napping were busy running around jumping and playing with each other.
tiger experience at tiger kingdom chiang mai
tiger kingdom chiang mai
tiger kingdom chiang mai
With each age group you are accompanied by a trainer that leads you from area to area and watches out for any tigers that want to ‘play’ with you. This came in handy when hubs made fast friends with a young 5 month old tiger by the name of Michael. He would follow hubs around the cage and try to ‘play’ with him. Aka, sneak up behind him and try to swat or bite his leg. Even after the trainer would lead us to the other side of the cage, it wouldn’t be long until Michael was back. He managed to swat at him once but because he was wearing jeans, it only left a red mark, much to hubs disappointment (he’s the weird type that wants a scar from a tough animal).
get close to tigers at tiger kingdom chiang mai
I have to admit that when we went into the last cage and rounded the corner to see this:
grown tigers at tiger kingdom chiang mai
I was a bit nervous. I’ve seen tigers through a cage and a long distance away before but when we saw it up close and personal, it was a little intimidating.  Good thing these kitties were pretty tired by the time we got there and slept majority of the time.
The topic of drugging and punishment often comes up when talking about these animals. Before we went, I was extremely skeptical. I had heard stories of other tiger parks that taser their animals or give them drugs during open hours so the tigers will remain docile. My concerns disappeared when we arrived and they had numerous pieces of literature about what they believe and how they treat the animals. Not only that, but when we walked in, we could see into the full grown tigers cage as they ran after each other, tackling, playing and jumping in the water. The trainer was walking around in the cage working and the tigers took no notice to him.
They explain that these tigers are born into captivity since the park is used for breeding and preservation of the endangered Indo-Chinese species of tiger. They are used to being around humans from a young age and therefore people coming and petting, hugging or patting them does not phase them. Another factor is the fact that tigers are mainly active during night time and less active during the mid-day heat. This is the reason that the older tigers are asleep in the majority of our photos.
However, precautions must still be taken. For example, when the trainer is approaching a tiger, he takes a stick and bangs it against the ground to warn the tiger that he is approaching so as not to startle him. Also, we must approach the tiger from behind, if approached head on, they will think we want to play with them. Lastly, when we do pet or touch them, we must do so firmly. If we touch too lightly, they may think it’s just a fly and react accordingly.
tiger kingdom chiang mai
tiger kingdom chiang mai
My favorite part of Thailand, and specifically Chiang Mai, is the fact that you can get up close and personal with so many different animals. The city keeps you going with the endless possibilities of activities that it has to offer. Don’t worry, there’s lots of Redbull to help keep you awake so you don’t miss a thing (and at just 35 cents a bottle, how can you resist?!)