elephants and cooking class

I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since I left for Thailand and I’m only half way through documenting the trip. Chiang Mai (after the very long train ride from Bangkok) was amazing! I loved it. Minus all of the mosquito bites I got. And here are the photos.

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The elephant experience was amazing. I did a bit of research before heading to Thailand because I wanted to have more of an experience than just sitting on an elephant, so I found a place that actually does a lot in terms of elephant conservation. It was still a little crazy and there were moments it definitely felt a bit exploitative, but I would do it again.

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And the mahout and guides were so great. One took my iPhone and just snapped tons of photos. So happy to have the photos.

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Getting in the water with them was maybe a little questionable. I mean, the river itself was a little questionable…mostly because we’d been “white water” rafting (it was dry season…it was more like low water scraping) up the river earlier and there were so many people just hanging out in the river, eating, doing who knows what else…

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After the river rafting and elephants, we went to this tribal village which was a little crazy. Kind of like a reservation back in the U.S., only these are Burmese tribes. And also a bit like a zoo, in that you go there to basically stare at these people. Kind of weird, but interesting, too.

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And that night, after such a long crazy day, we got ice cream and it was awesome. I also got to go for a swim in a nice, clean chlorinated pool.

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And the next day was our cooking class. One of the guys at work recommended this place and I have to say, it was awesome. This was probably my second favorite thing from the trip after scuba diving. No ambivalence here. Just awesome cooking. And some really interesting people. The inside jokes Maria and I now have from this day. Amazing. But I also have some great new recipes in my repertoire. I’m just sad now, looking at these photos, that I didn’t try and buy (or steal) the dishes. Talk about gorgeous.

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So, in my original itinerary, I had planned on us taking the night train back to Bangkok and then hopping on a plane to Cambodia. But, after the one night and the unpredictable timing of arrivals and that we couldn’t get a private car, I asked Maria if she’d mind if we just stayed another night in Chiang Mai and flew to Bangkok and then connected to Cambodia. She was down with that, so we ended up staying another night and getting what was possibly the best foot massage I’ve ever had in my life. Amazing!

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And then we were off. And I was covered in mosquito bites.

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one night in bangkok (well, one night and one day)

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Rough life, I know, but you can’t fly within 24 hours of diving, so I was forced to lie on the beach for the morning. And while lying on the beach all by itself would have been enough, it got even better as I watched this guy take photos of his girlfriend. There were even wardrobe changes. It was amazing. And so entertaining.

IMG_3701 And then it was time to head to Bangkok…and on the way I bought what I thought was a bag of Pretzel M&Ms. But no…it was Crispy M&Ms! Such a happy surprise. It was like the universe was smiling down on me.

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Bangkok from the air. Pretty amazing.

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A nice welcome during my cab ride into the city.

Maria flew in the from the U.S. the same night I flew in from Phuket, just a bit later. It was so fun to have her join me for the rest of the trip!

And now, here’s what I have to say about Bangkok. If you are a twenty-something looking for spring break all year long with no ID checks and all the booze you could possibly want, Bangkok is a good start. But, there are other awesome things about it, too. That said, 24-hours plus a little was enough time in the summer heat. I got to enjoy the markets, hang out in the pool, float on the river, checkout the a museum, a Buddha, and some palaces, witness a lot of stupid behavior and debauchery, and have a Thai massage (or what I have now come to refer to as the Thai Tranny Torture Treatment).

In any case, it was lots of fun and left us with some awesome/crazy/funny memories, which is about as much as one could ask for.

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Happily sunkissed and so excited to be getting in yet another pool Someday, I will have my very own pool. For now, I’ll just be grateful for the fact that my skin isn’t getting nearly as damaged as it would be if I currently had access to one all the time.

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Everything about this is wrong. And stupid. And I guarantee you this kid will live to regret his drunken decision.

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The view from the pool on the roof of our hotel.

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Maybe the weirdest history museum I’ve ever been to. But this hanging mobile thing was cool.

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The Reclining Buddha.

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We left Bangkok the following evening on a night train bound for Chiang Mai. As you can see the train station was basically the Thai version of Grand Central. Or something like that. And the train ride was…interesting. I’ll just go ahead and tell you that the train ride back, for which tickets had already been purchased, ended up being viewed as a sunk cost. More to come.

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