I went to Thailand over a year ago and never shared the photos or details on the blog. Oops.
I'll be honest, it's been so long ago now that I don't remember a lot, but I do remember some things, so I thought I'd quickly share some photos and thoughts.
I've broken the trip into three parts: Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and islands Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta.
Here are the highlights from Chiang Mai:
Now, this is not a great photo is it? But I took it and I'm sharing it because the first thing that kind of blew my mind as soon as we arrived was that they drive on the left side of the road in Thailand. It was my first time being in a country where they drive on the "other side" of the road and I was excited about it :)
This fruit shake stand was a very short walk from our hotel and I drank my fair share of them. Mmmm.
I think Thai writing is so beautiful.
This woman was making pancake-like things (I think they were called "rotis"?) and she moved so fast. This was the first thing I ate in Thailand (not including snacks at the airport) and it was delicious! If I remember correctly, I had one that was banana and chocolate. Again, mmmm.
There were statues of buddhas everywhere. So stately and beautiful. I think I actually stopped in awe a few times.
Hands down, the biggest highlight of the ENTIRE trip was visiting this Elephant Nature Park.
We learned all about these incredible animals and the struggles that so many of them go through. I won't go into details here, but you can find so much information on their website.
Sharing a moment.
We got to feed the elephants, give them water, bathe them, and give them lots of love. I didn't want to leave. I fell in love.
My only goal on this trip: Kiss an elephant. Check!
If you're going to Thailand, please, please try and visit the Elephant Nature Park. There are lots of places where you can see and interact with elephants, but they treated the animals so well here and I learned so much.
Not the greatest photo, but these were the most delicious spring rolls I had ever had.
After we got back from the park, we ate the most delicious meal of pad thai, spring rolls, and Chang beer.
The night market was a neat experience, and we got lots of bartering practice!
The transportation in Thailand was cool. Not just driving on the opposite side of the road, but we rode in the back of trucks, on crowded buses, in colourful tuktuks, and in *gulp* the personal vehicle of a stranger.
I always laugh because at home (in Canada) I'm so careful, always buckling my seat belt, never riding with strangers, etc. How quickly things change and you adjust. (But of course, be safe and trust your gut!)
Okay. These tigers. Yes, the pictures are cool and the tigers are cute/majestic depending on their size. But Alanna and I felt so bad visiting them.
We had been looking forward to visiting the Tiger Kingdom and when we got there, we paid to see all of the tigers (they divide them by age). There were signs posted everywhere about how they treated the tigers well, that they are just sleepy, not drugged, etc., but we weren't convinced.
We just didn't like the way they were treated. The handlers would lightly hit them (playfully?) while they were sleeping to wake them up; I guess to make for better photo ops? Alanna and I kept telling them that it was okay, we didn't mind if they slept, that we were content to just pat them and look at them. (They are impressive just to look at!) But the handlers scoffed at us and tried to pose us, almost making us get into silly positions. (For example, they wanted us to put the tigers' tails into our mouths.)
All of this, plus the fact that they were in enclosures (I know, what did we expect?) made us feel uncomfortable and guilty. We left after only seeing two sizes of tigers, despite paying for them all.
Now, I'm not trying to make anyone feel guilty. I know lots of people who have visited the same place and enjoyed it. Plus, hey, we visited, didn't we? Alanna and I talked about it and agreed: We probably would have felt a little uncomfortable and guilty no matter what, but we think we felt more so because we visited the tigers AFTER visiting the Elephant Park. And after learning so much about how harmful captivity and certain treatment was to elephants, how could we not feel bad for the tigers, too?
I ate as much Thai food as possible on this trip. I was determined to try everything. This was tom yum soup and it was so good.
This is not the best quality photo but I love it so much. This captured a moment in between shrieks and laughing. Have you ever had a "fish pedicure"? Oh man! So tickly! We literally could not stop shrieking and we apologized many times to the other customers. They assured us they did the same thing. What an experience. But our feet were softer afterwards.
Please don't judge me. We ate here after a long day of walking around and neither of us was feeling well and we just wanted something that tasted like home. Oh, McDonalds. It was familiar. But! In my defense, it's kind of cool to try fast food in different countries because there are always different things on the menu. And isn't this Ronald McDonald statue kind of cool?
So, that's Chiang Mai in a nutshell. Bangkok, Koh Phi Phi, and Koh Lanta coming up!