Feb 10-25, 2019
We arrived into Chiang
Mai at our so cute homestay. It was the first time we had a little kitchen in a
month! It’s crazy the little things that you get excited over.
We took to the streets
to explore. So so so so hot. And the air quality was still the pits – I was
beginning to wonder when the air quality was going to get better. After 12 days
in Myanmar where it seemed like I was choking on the air, I was craving some
fresh ocean breezes. Sadly, we were still landlocked and were to be for another
month until we saw the ocean again.
We decided to buy
masks given how tragic the air quality was. It’s not any cooler behind a mask,
let me tell you.
Chiang Mai is a town
that, IMHO, is set for tourists. There’s tourist things everywhere. It also has
some pretty incredible temples located right in town which we visited.
The next day, I THOUGHT
we had to leave for the Chai Lai Orchid which is a place where we were visiting
elephants. We packed everything up (on my order), and we were waiting for the
bus to pick us up until the people at the homestay said to us “But you stay one
more night!” I finally clued in that we were a day ahead of ourselves. Thank
goodness it was Valentine’s day otherwise I’m sure would have hear more from
Luc about my grave mistake.
We decided to find a
fish spa to pamper our feet. OMG, the fish eating your feet is almost
unbearable with the feeling it gives you. I ADORE my feet being tickled and
touched but man oh man this was almost too much! Eventually it got better. You
just had to power through the feeling for about 3 mins. Later on we headed to
the massive night market and wandered around, bought a wet bag that I’d been
eyeing up since I say the MM Families in Koh Tao, and also a couple of shirts.
Starting to get a bit tired of all the markets that are everywhere. It seems
like the market is always a place to “see” in the top 10 things to see in “name
Chai Lai Orchid
The next morning was
the actual day to leave so we packed up (again) and waited for our red truck to
bring us to the elephants.
We arrived and I asked
if the one day tour could be split into 2 half days which ended up not being an
issue. So we immediately got to head to the elephants and feel them. The
elephants are like no other animal I’ve ever been near. It’s almost like they
are communicating with you on an emotional level. There’s this intense draw to
be with them, near them, and it’s almost like they are giving you their love. I
can’t really explain it but it seemed like all negative emotions I might have
been carrying, just melted away when I was near them.
We did a little walk
through the forest where Luc and Vivi rode on one of them bareback. The mahout (elephant’s
person) said that it’s ok, as long as it’s not for very long and you’re not on
a big heavy metal seat.
that we went in the water with them. The babies are adorable. Again a truly
special experience bathing them and connecting with them. It was fun to watch
them play around.
that we hopped into the back of a truck and headed to the rafting point where
we were able to raft down a river with a guide at the front. The scenery was
spectacular. The only thing that was a little lame is that you rafted past elephants
that were still being saddled up with heavy metal seats where multiple people
were riding them. It’s hard to believe that this is still being done even
though it’s widely considered poor practice.
The next morning we had breakfast and hopped into the back of a truck again and headed to where we were to do a half day hike. The hike was challenging but beautiful! We got to swim in two different waterfalls and lunch was prepared for us. Our guide made bamboo sticky rice over the fire. So delish! We walked through a hill tribe where we got to watch them weave and learned a bit about our guides family.
next day we spent the morning chilling out at the restaurant that is there overlooking
the river. The elephants stroll past, there are rafts that float back and it’s
just to calm. Chai Lai Orchid is
such a special place for me. It’s a place that rehabilitates elephants and
gives them a better life but it also is a place where women who have been
involved in sex trafficking are able to come and get out of that world, learn English,
and train in the restaurant industry to gain further skills. This organization
is called Daughter’s Rising. I felt
so good being here not only because of the surroundings but also because I felt
a little like I was giving back by spending my dollars at this place. You can
volunteer here and even take home stray dogs that end up here. I was sad to say
good bye but hopefully I’ll be back one day.
drove like a bat out of hell back to Chiang Mai. Not sure but the driver we had
was driving like a maniac. I have such a hard time telling people who drive like
this to slow down. I feel like an old lady but I just get so anxious when they
are weaving in and out of traffic, pedal to the metal and screeching to a halt.
Luc, correct me if I’m exaggerating.
stayed for 2 more days in Chiang Mai. One day was a planning day, where we’re
going next, buying plane and bus tickets, applying for Vietnam visas, and then
we got massages…… and Luc got a haircut! FINALLY!!
We had been lugging Vivi’s
car seat around with us wherever we go and we’ve used it only a handful of
times. Luc and Vivi have been trying to strategically forget it places. I’m
getting a bit tired of carrying it but never using it. We’ve been riding on
boats, busses, back of trucks, cars without seatbelts, airplanes, rafts, and I
can count on one hand, how many times we’ve used it. So I got on a Chiang Mai mom’s
group and gave away the car seat. So long and thank you car seat for protecting
my little girl.
We stayed at this
place in the middle of town that was the smallest place we’ve ever stayed. There
was literally 3 beds and just enough room for our bags on the floor. It’s the
only place we didn’t get toilet paper and it wasn’t included. Say what?? Luc
said the guy could sell the toilet paper on the side and make a fortune. We
went to yet another night market and ate street food (it just happened to be
sushi on the street).
We took a 6 hour bus
ride to Chiang Rai and checked into our homestay. Although, the guy who owns
the homestay didn’t work out that we would be there so we got a room that was
tragic. The bed sheet had cigarette holes in it, no AC and it was just dingy.
The next day we moved into the room we were supposed to have. We still didn’t
have AC but the bed was much nicer as was the bathroom. The nice thing about
this place was that the pool was the focal point of the place so it was easy to
chat with other people about where they were from and where they were going.
Thailand has soooo many French tourists. We made some jokes about there was
probably no one left if France because they were all there! But what luck – we speak
French so it was easy to make quick friends!
We explored Chiang Rai
in the heat, and visited a hill tribe museum where we learned about hill tribes
and the opium epidemic that raged in Laos not that long ago (2012 was when they
started to put an end to it). We had hamburgers for lunch and walked through a
beautiful flower garden.
I remember the place
where we went for my birthday. Luc had gone for a run and spotted it and the
food was delicious. I had yet another burger for dinner. These two are starting
to make fun of my burger and French fry love. I think already by this time I
was starting to get sick of noodles and rice. This became a bone of contention
between me and Luc for 2 reasons:
- He doesn’t
like to spend a lot of money – ever. Many arguments and comments about me
spending more than he did on food mostly was beginning to really tear at me. I
had spent the last 5 years saving my money for this trip, I’m going to spend it
how I want. What I ended up doing was contributing $100 of my own money to make
him shut up for a while about me buying western food (always more expensive)
and cocktails (they don’t have wine and the beer is like kokanee – gross!).
food is always way less expensive so he wanted us to eat this all the time. And
it wasn’t good enough that it was sushi on the street, it had to be authentic.
This also became a “thing” that we fought about. So many comments and issues
about food and money that I just didn’t know would be such a problem
We’ve always, for the last 15 years, had arguments around food. It’s the most problematic
issue in our marriage hands down. Travelling just exasperated this issue. It’s
not until we get to Dalat, Vietnam where it comes to a head. More later.
We moved after 3 days
into Chiang Rai centre. We had great hopes of meeting up with the MM family but
they were all really sick and it turned out that Vivi also got quite sick there
with a fever so we never ended up seeing all of them (Luc met up with Cam to go
to a night market one night). We visited the clock and did a little meet up at
a hostel with live music.
It’s always so disconcerting
with your kid gets sick in a foreign country especially when it’s a fever. So
we stayed home and just rested while we tried to control the fever. The next
day the fever had broken but she was still experiencing issues with the toilet
so we tried to wait until we thought she was better before heading out to the White
The White Temple was pretty
incredible to see. It’s stunning and fairly new I think. It’s a little on the bizarre
We went to the
hospital after that. Reason being is that I wanted to get Vivi checked and get
some antibiotics if she needed it before we left for Laos the next day and we
wouldn’t be anywhere near a hospital if she got sick again.
The hospital was
AMAZING! So quick, clean, spoke English, and we got the drugs right there so no
need to go to a pharmacy. It was a better experience then going to the hospital
in Switzerland for my kidney stone. We were able to pay, it was so cheap, and
out in a flash. I felt a lot better about leaving the next day to go on a boat
ride for two days.
- Thailand is beautiful and set up for
travellers. It’s fairly easy to get around Thailand and most people speak English.
Getting money out of ATM’s was impossible for us (and we are later finding out
it’s hard in Bali as well) not sure why. We have Visa and MC and they both don’t
work. Also, in Thailand, not many places take credit card to pay for things
(restaurant, shopping, etc…), it’s few and far between so we always needed to
go to a bank to get money out.
- We’re learning more and more about each other…
The hot is really taking a toll on me and Vivi. Luc seems almost unfazed. For
me and her it’s just becomes so intense that it’s hard to even see straight.
There sweat pouring out of my face and it doesn’t stop which is nothing like I’ve
ever experienced and it’s so uncomfortable.
- I’m super surprised by the air quality here. I
couldn’t imagine living here full time given this. It also makes me so grateful
for living on the West Coast of Canada.
- I love watching Vivi as she learns, explores,
and meets new people. She’s such a great little backpacker and super resilient.
She tries new foods, new things, and is absolutely fearless.
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