Chiang Mai should have been a lot of fun, but really we just weren’t feeling all that great. Wilder and I took a couple of days to recover from our gastro-intestinal distress and then Peyton ended up with a touch of it too. Our accommodation was pretty but rather rustic, with a toilet you couldn’t flush paper down and lots of mosquitos. I am covered in bites.
As we were marshaling ourselves to get out the first morning to see the city, Wilder commented that the Davidson-Turners were going to be in Laos soon. This is another RTW family with teenagers that we have been corresponding back and forth with hoping to meet up. When I asked him where they were then he replied, “I don’t know, something like MangChai.” A light bulb went off. Chiang Mai? “Wilder we are in Chiang Mai.” Turns out Wilder thought we were still in Laos. A quick facebook conversation confirmed that they were indeed in the same city and we made plans to meet for dinner. This turned out to be the highlight of our time in northern Thailand. The family: dad Sean, mom Carol, daughter KJ (16) and son Cal (15) were great fun to talk to and hang out with. They are from Florida, also on a 9-month trip, and are all around super cool people. So we got to spend an evening comparing notes with one of the few families that can really relate to what this experience has been like. Priceless!
The next day we set out for Tiger Kingdom. This is a tiger-breeding program that allows you to go into the cage with the tigers and pet them. Sounds dangerous right? That was my concern. It turns out the oldest tiger you can pet is under 18 months old, but it still looks plenty big when you are holding onto his tail. I liked the babies; this one was about 6 months old.
Next we went to the Maesa Elephant Camp. Here we saw a show where the Elephants did everything from play soccer to paint pictures. Then we got to ride them. Asian elephants look different than African ones – besides just the ears. The kids liked the African ones better but I preferred the Asian ones – they were less pretty but seemed to have more personality. We all liked them in the wild though rather than in captivity.
Both the tigers and elephants were really huge and magnificent animals. We felt very privileged to have the opportunity to interact with them and see them so close up.
Our plan was to take an overnight train back to Bangkok to catch our flight to Sydney. This would have been the cheapest and easiest option. Unfortunately by the time Mark and I made it to the station to buy the tickets the sleepers were sold out. So we ended up on the 12-hour day train, which after it hit someone (yes I said it hit someone) turned out to be a nearly 15 hour trip. The man was still alive when they took him away in an ambulance, and we pray he will make it.
Next we will have to get a hotel for one night in Bangkok, hang out all day and then board an overnight plane. After that when we are due to arrive at 7am Sydney time our apartment won’t be ready yet so we will have to hang out till mid afternoon. That is about 3 full back-to-back days of travel, not something we are looking forward to. Still we are ready to see Asia in our rear view mirror and are really excited about our upcoming week in Sydney.