Monday, July 07, 2014

Thailand Day 4-5: Chiang Mai - Snakes falling from trees...

With 3 days in Bangkok under our belts, we were off to Chiang Mai for the rest of the week! I was ready to be out of the busy, hot city and move on to a smaller, less hot city surrounded by beautiful hills and rainforests! Chiang Mai was definitely my kind of city. It had so much more fresh air, cool breezes rolling down the hillsides and enough once in a lifetime experiences to last us a lifetime!!

Day 4:

It was raining and misty when we arrived, so we quickly headed to our awesome hotel - Bodhi Serene Hotel in Chiang Mai - and settled into our room. Our view of the courtyard

View from our hotel room

We honestly had no plans to explore the city on the first day, so when the sun came out we headed to the pool. Aaron enjoyed some Singha beer and I got a daiquiri and we were in heaven. Chiang Mai was still quite warm and humid, but there was a breeze unlike Bangkok and with the clouds moving by overhead, it gave you occasional shade, which made it much more bearable.

the view from my lounge chair

Day 5:

The next day, Aaron and I hit the ground running... but not before another delicious breakfast at our hotel. This place offered more western breakfast options than in Bangkok, so I had waffles and of course a strange Thai fruit on the side. Still don't know what these are...

Then we headed out to walk the city and see the Wat Chedi Luang. This site was walking distance from our hotel. It is right in the middle of the city, so all around us are regular modern buildings. It is crazy how so much has built up around these sites.

another reclining Buddha 

Meditation as a Buddhist monk chanted

I must admit by this point all the temples were starting to look the same, so we were ready for a new Thailand activity. Since Aaron and I have such a fondness for zoos, we were really excited to go to the Chiang Mai zoo. We grabbed a cab, which is Chiang Mai is a red pick up truck with benches in the back, and headed across town to the Chiang Mai zoo.

The transportation options in Chiang Mai were a little more reliable than Bangkok, but our driver still stopped by the side of the road and tried to get us to go to a Tiger experience instead of the zoo.

Finally after a 20 minute ride through the streets of Chiang Mai, we made it up the hillside to the zoo.

Now, I do not consider myself an animal rights activist by any means, but I will admit that the Chiang Mai zoo was seriously lacking for basic animal care! The habitats were offensively small and the animals were not very well separated from the zoo visitors. multiple times I was one arm extension away from loosing a limb. It was also on our journey around the zoo that we keenly became aware that the animals of Thailand either hated us, or had an unhealthy attachment to us... but I'll get to that story.

Fact about the Chaing Mai zoo - you can basically pay to feed any of the animals! Case in point, our first habitat was the Hippos and this was where I felt oddly too close to the animals. But you could literally buy some apples and potatoes and throw them into the hippos mouth. And look at those teeth!!

I didn't feel the need to feed the hippos, but then we got to the giraffe pen and I was super excited about feeding them! You can so this at the Phoenix Zoo too, so I felt like it was ok... plus it was way cheaper! We bought some bananas from the man nearby and started feeding away! These are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

the giraffe was getting a bit pushy here

The look on Aaron's face is awesome
Aaron and I found all the animals super fun and interesting! They had the animals divided by region of the world. The Australia section was definitely fun with all the cute Koalas and Emus.

Again, you can actually feed a lot of the animals, including the big cats. they have raw meat that you stick on the end of a stick and shove through the chain link fence, which is also the only thing that separated you from the large feline.

Another thing we noticed is that some of the pens we came upon, at first glance, didn't have animals in it. Only upon further inspection, we noticed that some of the animals were able to get into the dried up moat section, which is supposed to create a barrier  between the visitors and the animal.

They also had a pretty lame reptile and insect section with oversized fake stuffed spiders.

 The Chiang Mai zoo sits on the side of a mountain, so its offers some pretty amazing views of the city below. There was a section in the back, where there was quite a bit of space between the exhibits and so it felt like we were just walking in the rain forest.

Chiang Mai below
It was at the highest point of the zoo that I realize I had only eaten some ice cream since breakfast and not nearly enough water. It was while looking at the North American deer exhibit that my body started to shut down. Aaron had to run a little ways to the nearest kiosk to get some gatorade for me to sip on and use to cool down. Fun story.
broken down monorail

Australian sheep
The photo above is one I took right before one of my worst nightmares happened. I was looking at the sheep when I heard Aaron say, "what is that??" I glanced over to see what he was referring to up in a nearby tree, when was appeared to be a stick fell to the ground mint 4 feet in front of us. Aaron took a closer look and then calmly said, "yep! That is a snake." It started slithering across our path and then I let out a scream that I think they could hear from miles away. Luckily we were near the entrance and this was our last stop before leaving, because I really don't remember anything after the word "snake" and all of a sudden I was outside the zoo near the entrance. Aaron says he had never seen me run that fast in my life. I mean snakes were falling from trees!!!

So it was time to leave the zoo...

After all the excitement, we decided to head back to the hotel and then venture out to get Thai massages!! There was a place right across the street from our hotel that made it only $7 for a full body Thai massage with tip! I am being serious when I say it was amazing! I was so relaxed and it felt so good after all the walking we had been doing all week. After the massage they also gave us this incredible Thai tea that we could sip on and I will dream of that tea for the rest of my life. Overall it was the perfect end to an eventful day.

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