Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand was our number one spot to travel to before baby.  We decided that a trip here was in order and spent 5 days in the wonderful and charming city.  Before leaving Penang, Eric and I were feeling a bit underwhelmed about going back to Thailand after spending Christmas in Koh Saumi.  Chiang Mai was a pleasant surprise and our favorite location in Thailand, so far.  The city is quaint but big, full of tourists and still authentic.  We spent our time visiting temples, shopping, hanging out with elephants, eating, relaxing and enjoying cooler weather. Here is our visit to Chiang Mai in pictures.  Enjoy!

Temples, Temples, Temples

A day with the Elephants at the Elephant Nature Park
Our number one reason for visiting Chiang Mai was to spend time with elephants.  Elephants are revered and iconic in Thailand and much of SE Asia.  Our day at the Elephant Nature Park provided an up close experience with elephants that have been rescued from abusive situations.  This reserve provides a forever home for elephants after they have been decommissioned from logging or saved from abuse. We enjoyed feeding the elephants their favorite snacks of watermelon, bananas and pumpkin.  In the afternoon, we joined the elephants in the river to help bathe them.  It was a great day!

Shopping and Relaxing
Although there are no pictures of our shopping adventures, Chiang Mai had the BEST market we have been to in SE Asia.  Each Sunday vendors from nearby villages line the streets selling their handicrafts and food.  The Sunday market was at least 2km long and filled with lots of finds.  We spent 4 hours shopping and didn't even complete half of the market!  Pretty amazing!  
We also stayed at a fabulous guest house, Seven Senses Guesthouse, where we were pampered and taken care of.  The staff loved having a pregnant woman to cook for and they kept me well fed and full of mango sticky rice. 
I can see us returning to Chiang Mai, and I rarely say that about places we have already visited.  A great city in Thailand, where tourism isn't overdone and hospitality is fantastic.  The cooler weather doesn't hurt either!!

After 5 days, we hopped a quick flight to Luang Prabang, Laos!  Stay tuned for those details soon.

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