Thailand: Day 5, Chiang Mai

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This morning we moved from a charming guesthouse on the riverside, to a chic hotel in the heart of the old city. We are loving the convenience of this new hotel so far. Once we checked in, we hired a sorng-taa-ou (shared ride van) to take us out of the city for the day and show us some of the sites. Although we wanted to see Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, a famous wat on top of a big hill, and some waterfalls and perhaps have one exotic animal encounter, we ended up only meeting elephants and tigers while our driver earned a tidy commission for taking us to those two places.

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The elephant camp was very touristy and a little bit of a bummer. We thought the show might be sort of amusing because the elephants painted pictures and played soccer and played harmonicas, but we weren’t really into it and we left halfway through. The highlight was wandering through the camp and interacting with a frisky 5 month old elephant and being kissed and tapped by some older elephants. One of them was 62 years old. We would have loved to see a more conservation-oriented elephant camp, but didn’t feel that we had the time on this trip. The tiger kingdom was equally touristy, though I did get to scratch a tiger’s belly and take some nice photos. We still intend to see the wat and waterfalls soon, but hopefully we will be going with a different, more exciting form of transportation… (I’ll let you know what it is when it’s all confirmed.)

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For dinner, we were determined to have an awesome meal and we completely succeeded. At SP Chicken, we ordered half a rotisserie chicken, fragrant with garlic and lemon grass. The chicken came with a sweet garlic chili sauce and a sour, spicy dipping sauce. We also had pork ribs, som tum (green papaya salad, one of Jessica’s favorites), and sticky rice. Sticky rice is a staple food in northwestern Thailand and because it’s so sticky, you are supposed to eat it with your hands! I think it was our best meal so far.

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Tomorrow we are taking a cooking class for most of the day and checking out a few more wats in the evening. I am excited to learn how to make delicious Thai food because I’m pretty sure cooking knowledge is the best souvenir ever!

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