Chiang Mai; elephants, trekking and jungle adventures (part 1)

So, I’m a little bit of a princess at times; I love my girly things like makeup, my hair straighteners had to come with me to Thailand, danger generally scares me and the idea of stepping foot in a gym is like my worst nightmare. If you said to me a year ago that I would: be trekking through the hills of Thailand in sweltering heat, almost die at the hands of an elephant, sleep in a bamboo hut, or get pissed in the middle of the jungle I’d have laughed in your face. But all of those experiences happened to me; and these few days were the best ones in the duration of my trip, and most probably my life.

After an 11 hour overnight coach journey from Bangkok and settling into the cute little guesthouse which would be our home for a couple of days, we headed out on the back of a truck to begin our elephant adventures.

Despite what I said at the beginning of this post, I absolutely adore elephants and I was absolutely buzzing for this part of the trip, and rightly so! In all the excitement of travelling and all the new things you’re experiencing in such a quick time, it’s easy to forget where you are and how phenomenal it all is; it’s like an epiphany! You’re riding through the lush hills and mountains, taking in some awe-inspiring views, with a group of amazing new friends, and realise you’re all sat on a herd of f*cking GIANT mammals! Just to put into perspective how enormous the elephants actually are…

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Anyway, it became especially apparent how powerful – and clever – these land mammals are when upon hearing the cry of the baby elephant in the herd, one of the grown up nellies two of my pals were on blew his trumpet (couldn’t think of any other way to describe it) and ran – yes ran – past us all to get to the baby!! The lads were pretty scared at the time, and the girls who I was with and I were like “thank god that wasn’t our elephant..”

Karma truly bit us in the arse, as our defiant elephant – who was causing trouble most of the journey – got a bit freaked out over the sound of a car coming and went batshit cray! He ran across the road away from the rest of the herd, down a hill to a load of other elephants, almost causing a stampede! Me and the girls were holding onto each other for dear life, screaming, yelling “HOW!” which is the command for stop; it was absolutely mental and I genuinely thought those would be my last moments on this Earth…one of the elephant training guys managed to get our nelly to stop, and we were all okay; didn’t fall off and not even a scratch on us. It’s all funny looking back on it now…

Regardless, interacting with these gorgeous animals was one of the best experiences of my life. We bathed them, fed them, learnt the commands which give the elephants instructions, and I even managed to get on the elephant the bloody wrong way at first! Got there in the end though…

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On the very same day as my near death experience, I did something that scared the crap out of me just as much; zip lining! As I say, danger scares me – but it’s so exhilarating; I absolutely loved it! The vertical drops frightened me to death and the noise I made going down was actually inhuman! The normal horizontal(ish) ones were awesome! I felt like I was flying; swooping over the jungles and tree at such a great height, it was wicked!

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Finished off that day with a visit to the Long-Neck tribe in the jungle. This community originate from Burma, and the women wear brass metal on their neck to make their necks longer so they are more desirable to men; girls in the tribe get this metal fitted as early as 4 years old! I even tried one on myself and I’ve never felt more claustrophobic in my life!

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It was an incredible little community, with little wooden houses, stalls selling beautiful jewellery, clothing and other little bits and bobs; and we were even treated to a song played on the guitar by one of the ladies.

So yes, my first few days in Chiang Mai were dramatic but mostly incredible; on the way back from the hill tribe we even saw a street party with people pissed as a fart at 6pm! Pretty much sums up the craziness of this country. Onto part two

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