Thursday, 6 October 2016

Massages, Mountain Temples and Elephants




Our second last day in Chiang Mai started with massages, and we were ever so slightly nervous...


I'm not going to lie, showing up for a massage and being guided in by a prison guard in uniform doesn't set the most relaxing tone, however our minds were soon put to rest.

We walked into a large room, with ambient lighting, gentle thai music humming in the background. With the wafts of tiger balm in the warm air, you soon start to feel everything relax.


The women are young, pretty and are very skilled. However, this was not the relaxing aromatherapy oil massage I was expecting.

You are asked to change into scrubs and the girls use their own body weight to manipulate your body into yoga-like poses for an hour, which elevates tension from parts of your body you never even knew existed! 

Coming out feeling like new women, we hopped in the back of our red truck which we  had rented for the afternoon to whisk us away up into the mountains.



As our red truck climbed high up into the mountains, we took some time to stop and marvel at the view while breathing in the fresh mountain air.



Before climbing further up to the highest point where we found Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which is one of Northern Thailand's most sacred temples.


It is perfectly nestled high up in the mountains surrounded by little shops and cafes ran by the locals.



There is plenty to feast your eyes on before you have even reached the temple.


Once you have braved the 306 step hike, you reach a sanctuary of peace and tranquility with the sun reflecting off magnificent golden structures. Clouds of beautiful butterflies flutter around and little bells ring gently in the breeze, making the atmosphere simply magical.



However, some people don't do stairs and choose to bask in the sunshine instead!



Hundreds of little bells are hung around the temple by visitors which are said to provide luck and protection. People write messages on them, however a local Thai lady told me that you can only hang bells with messages, in the temple. If you take bells home, they have to remain unchanged or their powers will not work.


So there is now one for me and my chap to hang in our new home.


It was incredibly hot as tourists and locals bustle around marvelling and paying their respects.





This chap was so sweet with his wee wooly hat on! How he survived in that heat I will never know...




The views were simply breath taking, even if a little cloudy.



and messages of wisdom are dotted around to provide food for thought...hmmm?


The day ended with dinner and cocktails as a mai tai was calling my name!


We also finally tried a local Thai delicacy dessert which we had had our eye on for quite some time.

Mango sticky rice - Simply rice cooked in coconut milk until gloriously sticky, topped with coconut milk and served next to the most ripe and sweetest fresh mango.

DELICIOUS.


The next day was a very early start and for once I was buzzing to be up with the early birds!

We were finally going to meet what I consider to be my spirit animal...we were going to meet the elephants.

Our small group of 8 were whisked away in a small bus up into the mountains to meet our new friends. It took about an hour and a half and while we were travelling, we watched a harrowing video outlining the torture these poor animals endure, through teary eyes. However it also highlighted the incredible work the Chiang Mai Elephant Nature park do to give these beautiful beings a second chance at life.



We arrived at our camp, surrounded by dense forrest and were greeted with refreshments before the introduction and briefing from our guide who is one of the elephant care taker - A.

Yes A is his name - fun fact, Thai people don't like to use proper names for naming children, they much prefer nicknames.



Soon it was down to business - bug spray the life out of yourself and smother yourself with suncream!

Then we were handed large bags of the sweet little bananas to share with our new friends and large bottles of water to keep us hydrated.


Before we knew it, these three ladies had sauntered over with the sweet smell of their breakfast beckoning them to the meet and greet area.



This gave us the chance to learn how to feed and interact with the elephants, with a comfortable distance so we can take some time to get to know these gentle giants and feel at ease in their presence, and the same goes for them.

 

It was love at first sight, I was smitten and wanted in on the fun as soon as possible!


Sammi took a moment to get used to these greedy girls while they snatched fruit out of her hands in a feeding frenzy!


However, it didn't take long for the friendship to blossom!




Now it was time to start the trek up into the mountains, which was just incredible. Just our little group of 8 and 3 beautiful giants gently plodding along beside us.

  


The only trouble was, these girls had spied our bags of golden treasures in the form of bananas, and so every two minutes we had cheeky trunks snuffling over our shoulders and into our bags full of treats.


So we certainly did take our time and I don't think there was a single complaint!



I'm going to leave this here now that you have had a peek into our magical day with the elephants. 

I have a whole other post dedicated to this incredible day, so don't worry I promise there is more to come soon!
Cat Xx









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1 comment

  1. Unbelievable how jelous I am! You both look beautiful and I'm glad you had such a great time xx

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