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Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Unexperienced Chiang Mai

April 18-30, Chiang Mai. First off, I want to apologize for the largest gap so far between posts. I had no intentions to leave it hanging like that, but it couldn’t be helped. Between traveling around Thailand with my family by day, I only had enough time for college research by night. Since my college decision deadline was closing in on me, I dedicated a lot of my energy in choosing the right place for my home of the next 4-5 years, but that’s neither here nor there. Don’t worry, however. I’m going to be telling you all about these last 2 weeks of April, location by location. So I’ll just start at where I left off, the Tamarind Village hotel in Chiang Mai.

We spent 2 more days in Chiang Mai and even though I thought I had experienced Chiang Mai to the fullest extent already, I was wrong. The next day we went mountain biking with a company called Mountain Biking Chiang Mai (pretty creative name huh?) I would definitely recommend this company if you were ever to desire an adventure like this. They have 4 different levels, from beginner to expert, great equipment, and friendly staff. I had never mountain biked before, but my dad, my brother, and I chose level 3, while my mom took level 1. We really had no idea what we were getting into, and we were all in for some serious biking.

The trails were exceptionally tough for someone who had never done it before and you could make it even tougher by taking the single track routes instead of the regular route. So I tried the single track. It turned out to be a lot like skiing, only with more rocks, dirt, sweat, and wheels. None of these helped the landing during my wipeouts; although it was still plenty fun. Trying the single track had a few benefits, but the greatest was that it focused my mind more on this new experience rather than rethinking of everything I had thought of last night.

We came down to a lake in the end to find a delicious meal and a gorgeous area to swim in. It was exactly what I needed to soothe my sore muscles. The massage that we received when we came home helped a bit as well. We couldn’t book it through the hotel, so we scouted out our own cheap location. However, just because it was cheap doesn’t mean it wasn’t amazingly soothing. If there is one piece of advice I can give you concerning Thai massages it’s to never pay more than 600 baht (20 dollars) for 60 minute massage. No matter how much they spruce up the description, it all turns out to be just as good. Most places will sell you a massage for 150 baht (5 dollars) so I wouldn’t recommend spending an extra 50 dollars just to get some oil or a few hot rocks on your back.

The days with my family became easier as time went on. I felt more at home with them and we opened up to each other more. It still wasn’t perfect, and it sure wasn’t the same as before, but it was definitely getting better. The next day we walked around Chiang Mai city and I showed them a few temples and exactly what to do at the temples. I actually saw something I had never seen before when I went to visit a temple I had been to before. After I said my prayers, I saw a monk whip out his iPhone and start taking pictures of the altar. I got a great laugh out of that when I remembered the monks I had lived with in China and compared them to this monk.

We had an early dinner before we set out to the Chiang Mai Night Safari. If you ever head out to Chiang Mai, this is another attraction I would recommend. They have everything there. Hyenas, white tigers, alligators, black bears, cheetahs, leopards, panthers, and plenty other crazy cool animals. My brother and I fed the largest freshwater fish in the world, we held baby tigers, and they even put on a light show for us to watch before we left. It was all amazing and when I left, I felt that these next 2 weeks would be better than I had expected.