**Note: There are a lot of photos in this post so I made some of them smaller than normal- click on any of the pictures to see them larger/in higher quality.
After Yellow Mountain we headed back to Shanghai to take our finals. They alright for the most part- definitely not easy but we were not too worried. Before heading back to the US I met my sister in Bangkok Thailand for my week long dream trip. We were only in Bangkok for one night and half a day before we hopped on a flight to Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai I finally had the chance to touch a tiger!! It was my dream come true!!! We went to Tiger Kingdom and bought a package to pet all of the tigers- the baby tigers and small, medium and large sized tigers. The babies were cute but were pretty lethargic. The small ones were pretty cool and we got to get pretty close to them and pet them. The medium ones were also quite amazing and definitely my favorite. I would not consider them “medium sized” though because they were huge!!(As you can see from the pictures below.) We got really close to the medium ones and even were able to lay our head on them which was pretty nuts! I also got to rub their belly and they rolled over just like a puppy would- it was pretty funny.
The large ones were definitely more active than all of the rest and were a bit scarier but still awesome. Because they were continuously moving around we were not able to get a lot of pictures with them but it was okay because we still got really close and were able to witness them playing in the water. It was such a crazy experience, here we were in an enclosure just walking around with about 10 huge tigers just strolling right next to us- soo crazy!
After we hung out with all of the tigers, Jen and I decided to try out the fish spa tank. These fish are famous to Asia and are supposed to nibble/suck off the dead skin on your body. This tank was for your feet, and I had wanted to try this since I had been in Asia but was too nervous/weirded out– everyone said that it was a must try though at some point . Jen and I agreed to try it here. It was sooo weird. I put my feet in first and instantly the little fish flocked to them. It didn’t hurt but tickled soooo much! We both sat tensed, squealing every few seconds as the fish moved around our feet. We lasted for about 5 mins before we finally gave up because it was too weird.
After the tigers and the fish spa we stopped at the long neck village (total scam don’t go there). Its this villiage of people who wrap their necks with these wire things from a young age and stretch out their necks. Its really weird and creepy- we left pretty quickly haha. Once we got back to Chiang Mai we relaxed in our hotel for a bit before heading out to find a place to eat. We stumbled across this really pretty restaurant and decided to eat there. The food was decent- I had pad thai yummy my favorite! But it was so humid that sitting outside for too long was annoying and made us kind of nauseous.
After dinner we checked out the bar street and it was pretty crazy looking. It was empty that night because the town was pretty empty seeing as it was the off season, but we could just imagine how nuts it gets during their peak tourist season- it kind of reminded us of the bar street from Hangover II and we decided that it would not be a place for us and headed back to the hotel to sleep because we had a big day ahead of us.
The next day I had one of the coolest experiences of my life. We headed to Patara Elephant Farm to take care of an elephant for a day. This was so incredibly awesome. We were each given an elephant for the day and were responsible for feeding them, washing them, playing with them and taking care of them. I was given Bujien. The man in charge said that he was the wild and fun elephant and then proceeded to point to me and said that we seemed like we would be a great match. Bujien was huge. He was much much larger than any of the other elephants but I was not scared. Each person was given a poncho that was hand woven from a tribe that lived near by to wear over our clothing. They said that the trainers wear these every day and so the elephants see them and know that we are friends and not enemies and therefore they will trust us. We were also each assigned a local trainer who worked with the elephants daily so my guy and I headed up to meet Bujien and feed him some bananas. Bujien was so unbelievably cool and we definitely became friends right away.
After we fed them some bananas and washed them off to keep them cool, they taught each of us how to get on our elephant. Elephants are trained one of two ways usually for helping a person onto them. One way is for the person to step on their foot, after which the elephant slowly brings it up, bending its leg so that you can climb ontop of them. The other way is by standing on their trunk (in no way does this hurt them) and they raise that up so you can scurry up their trunk onto their head. Bujien was trained both ways. The first time I got on him, I stepped on his food and he lifted me up—as you can see from the picture below.
We then walked around a little learning some of the commands such as stop, right, left and go. After a while we began our trek through the jungle on our elephants. Bujien was a very chill elephant so he let me sit on top of his head while we rode! It was really fun- kind of scary since I was so high off the ground and did not really have much to hold on to, but he kept me safe. This does not hurt the elephant because we are sitting on their heads or right behind their ears. The elephants get hurt when those horrible carts are put on their back- they actually break their back. The farm that we went to was all about the safety and health of the elephants and that was evident in everything they did. All of the employees loved the elephants and the elephants loved them in return.
We rode for a while, joking with the trainers and enjoying the jungle scenery until we stopped for lunch. This was the best lunch I think I have EVER had. Jen, who is a picky eater even agreed. We had this fried chicken- which is famous to Thailand supposedly (atleast that’s what Jen claims), rice with black beans, sweet/sticky rice, and tons of other little bites and fruit. Everything was so delicious! I could not stop eating. It was nicely presented too! The table was lined with banana leaves and all of the food was wrapped in banana leaves, this is because the elphants love banana leaves- so after we were all finished with our meals, the elephants were allowed to come over and clear off the table. It was pretty funny
After lunch we continued to ride the elephants until we reached a small pond in which we bathed and played in the water with our elephants. This was so much fun. They filled their trunks with water and sprayed us and we scrubbed them down while sitting on their backs.
Finally, after about 30 mins of splashing around with the elephants, it was time to say goodbye to them and head out to another part of the farm where the babies were raised. On the way up the hill to the car, Bujien picked me up with his tusks and carried me all the way up the hill. It was pretty awesome. I gave him a big hug goodbye and thanked my trainer for helping me throughout the day. We then piled into the car and headed to see the babies. This was pretty cool. The photographer who was with us all day said that he was in charge of raising the babies and taking care of the mothers when they were pregnant. He showed us one of the babies and its mother and explained that the baby had developed an infatuation with him. He said that when the baby was born he spent the nights with him and the mother taking care of them and watching over them, and so the baby became very fond of him. It was adorable, everywhere this guy went the baby followed, and when the guy sat down, the baby elephant tried to sit in his lap. It was hilarious (you can see him trying to do that in the picture of Jen with the baby elephant–notice the hat and the extra pair of feet)!
After playing with the baby elephant for a while Jen and I headed back to Chiang Mai. We spent the evening walking around the large outdoor night market checking out all of the cool little gifts we could bring home for people. We bought a few little things for our friends and family at home, and some stuff for us before we decided it was way too hot and humid and headed back to our fancy modern hotel (The D2 hotel) to grab a quick bite and drink at the bar before going to bed.
The next day we headed to the airport to fly to Krabi to spend the next few days at a resort. Our hotel, The Amari Vogue Hotel in krabi, was absolutely beautiful (nice find mom!). Because this was the off-season it was empty which was great. They had a private beach and the most gorgeous pool I have ever seen—photos below. They also had three different restaurants, a Thai one, an Italian one on the beach, and a casual one by the pool that had sandwiches and a little bit of everything. Jen and I ate at every restaurant throughout our stay. The hotel was very secluded so we only left once to go into the town of Krabi- the hotel offered a free shuttle every day.
When we went downtown we walked around looking for places that plan day trips. We were looking to either deep water solo (rock climbing without ropes above the water so that when you fall you just fall into the water) or a kayaking trip. The companies explained that because it was the start of the wet season, it was not safe to deep water solo so no companies were going to go out. We settled on a kayak trip through some caves near Krabi. We still had some time to kill before our shuttle came to take us back to the hotel so we decided to walk down to a beachfront restaurant for some snacks and a drink.
The next day we went on the kayaking trip. The people who led this trip were very funny and continuously made jokes throughout the day. It was an interesting trip but nothing amazing. The caves were definitely cool and the scenery was beautiful but I wouldn’t have been devastated if we did not do this- but because of the rainy season coming we did not have many options. We did the half day—which was definitely the right choice! I would not recommend doing a full day trip for something like this.
After kayaking we headed back to the hotel for our last night in Krabi. We sat on the private beach and enjoyed some happy hour cocktails, taking in the beautiful sunset before heading back to the room to take a shower and eat dinner at the Italian restaurant.
After Krabi we headed back to Bangkok for our last night in Thailand. We went to a very nice restaurant with an amazing view of the city (thanks dad- for the suggestion and for the dinner!). It was a rooftop restaurant, but midway through our meal a storm began moving towards us so the restaurant had everyone move down one floor to their other restaurant that was indoors (still had a great view but it wasn’t open air). The food was good but obviously we were paying for the view. After dinner we walked back to the hotel, taking in some of the city, and went to bed.
The next day we walked around some of the markets looking for some tank tops for our friends back home and did a tour of the floating markets. Although it was very touristy it was a cool to experience. I would suggest it as something to do if you have an extra day in Bangkok and don’t really have anything planned, but I would not necessarily go out of your way to see them. They are kind of dirty and they have the same things that you can find at any of the other markets in thailand. And as always negotiate with the people because they will always give you a better price than when they first talk to you.
After this we headed back to the hotel and packed up for our flight back to The States. Stay tuned for the final post about my wonderful adventures throughout Asia!