We werent really sure what to expect from the overnight trains. I had used them on my last visit some 10 years ago but, ahem, that was a while back and alot has changed since then. Apart from my youthful looks 😆😆. Haha.
Well, I must admit, I was impressed with the cleanliness and comfort of these trains. Even though we were in second class. And it was a tad noisy.
Due to jet lag, I pretty much fell asleep straight away – even before the train left the station! But Bella wasn’t fussed as she loves the overnight trains as much as me. Its like ‘where can we go to do another overnight train?!’.
There was also the excitement of whether or not I’d roll over the tiny barrier on the side of the bed to the depths of the floor. Haha not really – they have two rope-like things on the sides on the bed to prevent this. I did not test the effectiveness of these.
I still have a fondess for keeping my phone so my small backpack also stayed with me in my suite.
So after pretty much sleeping the whole 12/14 hours, we arrived in sunny Chiang Mai.
Its soo different to Bangkok – its much greener and less hectic. You feel calmer just being there, after the Bangkok humidity and madness.
Bella booked our accomodation – obviously – which was a basic twin en-suite room with air con. It cost about £10 a night each, which is tad on the expensive side for here! Hahah – imagine what sort of accomodation you would get for that price in London – or even the UK.
We only had three and a half days in Chiang Mai. Our plans were inspect the town of Chiang Mai, visit the White Temple (I’d seen pictures of it on my facebook and instagram), visit an elephant sanctuary (meaning we didn’t need to do this outside Bangkok) and go to a luxury spa…. After all, all this sightseeing and travelling was exhausting and we deserved a massage… and pedicure. Hehehe.
The tours themselves were quite expensive – the White Temple tour was a full day for £45, including buffet lunch, and the elephant sanctuary day trip was £60. Thailand expensive, not UK expensive. Obvs.
I didnt mind paying more for the elephant sanctuary to be honest, as I feel this may somehow benefit the elephants. Maybe. The idea of the sanctuaries is to rescue elephants that have been used for elephant rides or in shows/circuses and give them a happier life. 💕. I have a bit of an elephant obesssion.
There were quite a few elephant sanctuaries that you could choose from, so we went with one called Elephant Jungle Paradise as the tour shop said this had less people on it. This meant less people per elephant and it was based in the jungle area, which was nicer habitat for the elephants. Sold.
Once we had booked our tours for the next two days and (crucially) our spa visit, we walked around Chiang Mai. It was gloriously hot and beautiful.
There are many gorgeous temples and a river that goes around the town itself. We took loads of photos and basked in the sun. Our daily step count went off the scale!! I also had a pad thai. This was a tad spicy for my korma limited taste buds, so I cried a little throughout. The Thai Long Island Ice Tea did not help in any way. Sadly, this was not a typical long island ice tea with alcohol in it. This one did not have alcohol (they should really change its name).
Bella also decided that her shoulder bag wasn’t practical, so we shopped for a rucksack to accompany her 20kg suitcase… I refrained from the ‘I told you so….’ look. Maybe I didn’t…
- Wat Rong Kung – aka the White Temple
Ahhhhh what a beauty this place is. Deffoooo worth the visit. The rest of the visits on this tour were a bit of a time filler if I’m honest, like showing us the Thailand/Maymar border crossing?! or letting us ‘step onto Laos’ for 15 minutes – plus charging us a fee for ‘landing tax’ and selling us alcohol with snakes or scorpions inside. I did not try or buy.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of such animals, but killing them to put in alcohol seems a tad cruel and unnecessary. Do people really need such novelties to buy alcohol?! The UK alcohol industry seems to do just fine…. My haunts in particular… 🤔
The bus picked us up EARLY (not at all to my liking) and we set off with a group of about ten people. The first stop was to a hot springs, where you could boil an egg for breakfast in the springs. Mum and I did this in San Pedro, Chile, which we loved.
None of the group wanted to try this (and Bella doesnt eat eggs) so off I went to cook breakfast. Early starts and cooking my own food – what kind of vacay is this?!
The spring didnt take long to heat up my egg, which I overcooked. Drats. Just as well I guess, as it would have been a bit messy to eat a runny egg without cutlery.
Can you see the wet patch circling the spring – that is boiling water shooting out of the spring sporadically. Dangerous business cooking an egg here.
Another lady was making roti’s, which I LOVE, so I ate one of those too. I was hoping to lose a bit of weight on this trip 🤔.
Bella did some shopping (the start of a frequent habit) and then we set off for the White Temple.
The artist is called Chalermchai Kositpipat and he decided to redesign this temple (in his home town) to give something back to the town itself and promote buddhism.
He has funded the project himself so as to avoid any investors having a input in the design of the temple. However, its still not finished so there is a small entry fee charge to assist with the maintenance. Everyone raves about the toilets – all gold and very plush.
Especially when you see the public toilets out here. There was one toilet on a vietnamese train that looked like something out of a horror movie. There was green lighting?! I’ll never complain about UK toilets again.
Anyway back to Wat Rong, I cannot describe how interesting or visually beautiful this place is, so I’ve inserted some pictures below.
Apart from the striking beauty of it (most temples in Thailand are gold) there was also the gruesome trees with heads hanging off them and the bridge of the cycle of re-birth, which I liked. The bridge, not the tree.
Inside the temple itself is interesting too as Chalermchai Kositpipat has designed unusual cartoon-like artwork on one of the walls as you enter the temple.. There are the twin towers burning and ‘superheros’ scattered around like superman and batman (and kung fu panda!). Oh and Michael Jackson and Elvis. The guide said the artwork implied the leaders of the west and east have created a war and superheroes could not save us. She also pointed out that Thailand, a buddhist country, had not been involved in any wars so perhaps there was something for us to all learn from buddhism.
Lastly, there was a tree that you could make a wish on by writing on a silver leaf and hanging it on the tree. LOVE THIS. I had lots of wishes as you can see. Oops.
I won’t bleat on too much as I appreciate this blog is long (as they all are!) but this was a wonderful day. There were no unnecessary tourist stops and it was just all about the elephants.
The vehicle we were picked up in was a bit off roady but once we got to the jungle, this made sense. Less roads more dirt tracks. Fun.
The elephants appeared to have free reign to move around the area as they wished. There was no riding and we got to feed them, get into a mud pool with them and then wash them with water.
Feeding the elephants was lovely, although one of them sneezed, or something like that, right on my ankle. I wasn’t sure what happened but there was a noise and then wet on my leg. I was a tad grossed out but I sort of smiled and walked away, after feeding it. I sort of wiped my leg dry with my other foot. Maybe it was a token of affection….
It was a bit weird getting into a mud pool. The mud gets right between your toes and sinks your feet into the depths of mudland. But before I left for this trip, I told myself I would step out of my comfort zone and embrace new experiences. Tara the brave. Haha. So into the mud pool I went. I also got flicked with mud water by another elephant. Or the same one. Hmm.
We then washed them down with water and this had to be the highlight of my day. There were two elephants rolling around in the water.
Now I’m no David Attenborough but the ones rolling in the water looked soooo happy. It literally made my heart burst.
They also got up and out when they wanted.
We also had a lesson making elephant medicine. And got to try eating it. Lucky us.
I know its hard to judge whether the elephants are happy or treated well in all the sanctuaries. But I have seen other elephants in Thailand being ridden by tourists or being chained to a tree by a small chain around its ankle. And these things did not make my heart burst.
I have created a you tube account so I can add my video footage for you to see. Aren’t I clever. 😊
- Fah Lanna Spa
Again brief. Word count. Wonderful.
For the price of £35, we had an hour long Thai back, shoulder and neck massage and pedicure. Amazing.
Its totes justifable after carrying my heavy backpack. These are the areas suffering the most. The toilets were also amazing too.
We discovered there was another spa that employs female ex-convicts and trains them in spa treatments in order to help them back into work. Really nice idea.
And then we headed back to Bangkok…. on another overnight train…. Yay.