Yesterday was one of the best days of my life! Diane and I went to the Patera Elephant Farm which is located in the hills north of Chiang Mai. (www.pataraelephantfarm.com) to be elephant owners for the day. Basically you get to know and do as what one of the elephant owners would have to know and do with their elephant throughout the day. We learned how to approach our elephant (we were each assigned one), how to unchain it, clean it, learned about it's poo, walked it, feed it, and washed it in the river. We then got to ride it through a mud/water system for foot care - the muck helps with keeping their toe nails filed down. We then took our elephants up to a waterfall for lunch and to watch them play in the water.
Riding an elephant is not that hard once you figure out how to haul your butt up on to one and getting off of it is fairly easy (they kneel down and your slide off the head), however the whole riding thing does a number on your hips! You essentially ride up on the elephant's neck and your hold your knees up in a folded position behind their ears. Once you legs start to quiver in utter pain and exhaustion, you can put them down and ride with them straight. For the little, skinny girls - that hurts too but for those of us with larger hips, not so bad. Needless to say, both Diane and I are sore today!
My elephant's name was Mae Boon Dee (something like that) and I fell in love with her instantly (and I think she with I!) She was just such a gentle soul and was so much fun to be around. She LOVED to eat and grazed the entire time we were walking. She is also an avid "logger" as I called her - she loved to snap logs while we were walking - me not so much given that I was sitting on top of her while she did this and was always worried that I would get hit by a stick!
At the elephant farm there were 3 baby elephants - ranging in age from 10- 12 weeks old and so bloody cute and friendly! It was so hard not to love them! Their mamas were really good about letting us play with them. There is a really good chance that these elephants will be released into the wild when they are old enough. This farm that we went to both rescues and rehabilitates elephants but also runs a breeding program and in the past 10 years has been able to put 7 elephants back into the wild. I know it may not seem like much but it is a step in the right direction.
So far the only colour that I am really sporting on this trip are shades of blue, purple and ugly brown - all from my various and assorted bruises that I mainly got from my ill-fated landing while ziplining. Although some of my massages are leaving me a little coloured. Important to note that if you look at me the wrong way I bruise! My one leg looks just lovely! Although it is hotter than Hades here - it is about 33C with about 60% humidity - so needless to say I am sweating non-stop - it is worse than India where I was dewy all the time. When we were in Bangkok the humidity was around 95% so this has been a little better. I am just hoping that when we get down to Koh Samui that it is 33C with very little humidity and a lot of sun so I can bake for a while!
As previously mentioned, I have been wanting to get a Thai massage and did so the other day. Let's put it this way, I probably won't be doing that again any time soon and will just stick to my regular foot massages. I wasn't violated in any way like the first massage, however he sure loved to dig deep into certain pressure points and seemed to have a love affair with my IT bands on my left leg. They weren't loving him so much and neither was I! Holy painful! Then he did a number on my triceps as well - who need that pressure points in your triceps could hurt so much! I am hoping that down in Koh Samui that I will be able to find a good massage place - I am really enjoying these $6 foot/back/shoulder/neck massages!
One thing I have noticed about Thailand which has totally surprised me is how good the meat has been. Normally when I travel I don't eat the meat b/c it always tastes a little off - but not here. Their chicken is great and so is their pork - and the bacon. . . . oh the bacon at our hotel in Chiang Mai is so amazingly good!
Diane and I are off to Koh Samui later this afternoon. We were supposed to leave at 4pm but got an email from Thai Airways this morning saying that our flight was cancelled and we are rebooked on a 5pm flight - which is all fine and dandy except we had to check out of our room. We are able to use the hotel until we leave for the hotel at 3:30pm but most of the common areas are not A/C but rather open air and fanned so we are both sweating like little pigs!
Last night, both Diane and I agreed that while the adventure portion of the trip has been amazing, our bodies probably can't take anymore and we are both really looking forward to the relaxation!