Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure Link-Up Adventure #3: Elephant Riding and Island Hopping

Since I’m still on vacation, Week 3 flew by with lots of adventures big and small to embrace. If you are new to my fifty-two weeks of adventure project, you can read my introduction post and Brenda (the original creator)’s blog for background. You can participate in this link-up by writing your own post about your adventure and mentioning/linking to this post. Then simply use the button at the bottom of this post to add your link to the collection. Be sure to check out the other links for inspiration from your fellow adventurers! As always, you can add a link here even if you didn’t participate last week or aren’t planning to do all 52-posts. This is a no-pressure zone.

Adventure #3 – Elephant Riding and Island Hopping

After Bangkok, we headed north to Chiang Mai. I was especially excited to see Chiang Mai since a dear friend of mine (and fabulous writer whose blog you should go read NOW) grew up as a missionary kid here. It’s a totally different perspective to look at everything and imagine my friend calling this place home and wondering what it must have been for this place to be home and yet to never fully belong to the people and the culture.

Chiang Mai is a nice place to visit because the Old City (where there are about a bajillion temples and lots of touristy things) is quite small- just 2km by 2km square – so it’s very walkable. It’s much smaller than Bangkok, so even though it’s become very touristy in the past few years it still gives visitors a better idea what life is like in Northern Thailand. Chiang Mai is also very close to the border of Laos and Myanmar so it’s a popular stopover for people traveling to and from those countries.

Temple in Chiang Mai

Temple in Chiang Mai

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I was wearing shorts which was "disrespectful to the Buddha" so I got to wear this sweet Harry Potter robe instead.

I was wearing shorts which was “disrespectful to the Buddha” so I got to wear this sweet Harry Potter robe inside.

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The Buddhas I was disrespecting. I believe the sign said these were the Buddhas in the posture for preventing family members from fighting.

Pathway up to the mountain

Pathway up to the mountain temple

Temple on top of a mountain in Chiang Mai

Temple on top of a mountain in Chiang Mai

Our biggest adventure in Chiang Mai was probably elephant-riding. Elephants are some of my favorite animals. They are so expressive and beautiful and graceful in spite of their size. There are many places that offer elephant riding and shows in and around Chiang Mai, but we researched a lot to find a place that we felt wasn’t just exploiting the animals or treating them cruelly. The group we went with is actually an elephant rescue facility. Their elephants have been rescued from villages further north and across the border in Myanmar where they were being used for hard labor. The trainers at this camp only use verbal commands with their elephants – no hitting of any kind – and the elephants spend most of the day freely wandering around the camp, not tied up or in pens. Tourists come in and ride them for 30-45 minutes a day and you ride bareback, not on one of those chairs which are bad for the elephant’s back. These elephants are not taught to do tricks like painting or any other unnatural elephant behaviors.  I know there are people who feel like riding elephants at all is exploitative and I understand that, but we felt like this was a once in a lifetime experience and the money we paid for the experience went to paying the caretakers and providing food for the elephants who all seemed very happy.

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Our elephant was a spunky 14-year-old female named Pui Pui. Like most teenagers, she mostly wanted to not listen and eat everything in sight. We had many (terrifying) moments when she charged off the path to pull a small tree up by its roots and munch on it. 🙂

See where that other elephant is down in the corner? That's where we were supposed to be at this point...

See where that other elephant is down in the corner? That’s where we were supposed to be at this point…

The only thing she seemed to like more than eating was bath time. What a cutie!

The only thing she seemed to like more than eating was bath time. What a cutie!

Another popular attraction in Chiang Mai is the Tiger Kingdom where you can pet and play with tigers of all ages. While it killed me to miss an opportunity to pet a tiger cub (I would have died with happiness), we felt like this was more exploitative as these animals are all bred in captivity for the sole purpose of being a tourist attraction. I was a little disappointed since tigers are so awesome, but ultimately I think we made the right decision.

While in Chiang Mai we also took a Thai cooking class that was delicious and loads of fun. We ended up being the only people who signed up for our time slot so it was a private class. We each learned to make 5 dishes. This was especially entertaining to me since Jonathan doesn’t cook at all. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably already seen some of these pictures. My favorite dishes were the khao soi and the mango sticky rice.

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From Chiang Mai we flew down to Krabi on the south coast of Thailand for some beach time. We are staying at Ao Nang Beach and did a day trip out to some of the nearby islands and other beaches. It’s achingly, breathtakingly beautiful here. Today is our final day in Krabi and tomorrow we leave Thailand and fly to Singapore for a few days before heading back home to cold, gray Korea.

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Maya Beach, only accessible by boat and most famous for being where the movie The Beach was shot (although that's not a particularly good or well-known movie). As you can see, it was VERY crowded, but still stunning. This photo is a raw image - no editing at all - that's how vivid the colors are by themselves.

Maya Beach, only accessible by boat and most famous for being where the movie The Beach was shot (although that’s not a particularly good or well-known movie). As you can see, it was VERY crowded, but still stunning. This photo is a raw image – no editing at all – that’s how vivid the colors are by themselves.

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Look at that stud! At Railay Beach

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There’s nothing more satisfying than a coconut on a hot day.

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Pranang Beach (or Phranang – I’ve seen it both ways)

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Food Boats! Like food trucks that float.

Food Boats! Like food trucks that float.

Seeing places like this makes me feel overwhelmed with gratitude that such beauty exists and that I get the opportunity to see it. This afternoon we were swimming in this crystal clear water beside these limestone cliffs and I grabbed my husband and said, “Look around! We need to remember this moment forever!” Because there will be days when Korea is freezing and our students are little brats and our coworkers are making life difficult. There will be moments when we are back in the USA when we are stressing about getting the car fixed and paying our rent. There may be moments someday in the (distant) future when we have a baby that keeps us up all night crying and we can’t believe how exhausted we are. But these moments we are sharing here now can never be taken away. And I hope that in the mundane, stressful, and even exhausting days in our lives we can look back on these moments and remember that the world is so much bigger than whatever our current problem is. I hope these moments can be a reminder that we have been given a life filled with more beauty than we deserve. And if I’m ever having trouble seeing that in the present, I hope I can look back to these moments and remember that all of life is a gift.

What were your adventures this week? Click on the button to add your link below or to view other bloggers’ posts. As always, this link-up is available for one week.

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34 comments

  1. I’m trying NOT to be jealous that you’re on a beach riding elephants and sipping coconuts…. and i’m in my office on a laptop….

    Maybe i’ll write an adventure about being at work 😛

    Like

  2. The 52 weeks of adventures is such a great idea! I recently moved to Rwanda and am determined to take full advantage of the opportunities that exist here. I love that you are capturing your adventures and documenting them along with your beautiful photos as a part of this 52 weeks challenge! Maybe I’ll have to link or post to yours one of these weeks.

    Like

  3. hi Lily! I loved this post. Thailand has always been in my mind, and I’ve seen many posts about it, but this one seemed more alive and real than many others. Thanks for sharing

    I have one question, what can you tell about music in Thailand?

    Like

    1. Thank you! That’s really sweet. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the posts. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about music in Thailand. I didn’t really witness any musical performances that were traditionally Thai during my time there. The music I did here had an interesting sound that was sort of a cross between what you would hear in China and India. Wish I had more information, but it just wasn’t something I encountered a lot of! Sorry!

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  4. I want to wear disrespectful shorts just so I can get to wear the awesome Harry Potter robe. 🙂

    SO fun to live vicariously through your adventuring!!

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    1. Hahahaha. I admit, at first I was kind of annoyed because hubby was also in shorts, but that was fine. But then I put on the robe and was immediately consumed with the desire to run around shouting, “Expelliarmus!” so my annoyance quickly faded. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the adventures!

      Liked by 1 person

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