Whilst Tiger Kingdom got the thumbs down, Tiger Kingdom in The Town gets a definite thumbs up. Whilst I’m certain that we can justly be accused of hypocrisy in that TKITT no doubt partly funds TK, it’s quickly become our venue of choice not least because it’s only ten minutes from the guest house, serves great food and is one of the few places you can get a decent bottle of wine.
We headed out at 7:00 p.m. with every intention of having a quick dinner and a couple of drinks. Before we knew it we were heading home at 1:30 a.m. having been entertained by three fantastic bands who played a mixture of old and new, Western and Thai.
Highlight of the night (for us if no-one else) was this Beatles classic…….
Location: Baan Thai Cookery School, Chiang Mai
In total we were a mixed group of twelve made up of people from the USA, South Africa, France, Germany and the UK. We started with a trip to the local market where we were introduced to many of the ingredients that form the backbone of Thai Cooking.
Back at the school we had to choose four dishes to prepare from scratch. We then split into groups to be taken through how to prepare and cook our selections. It was great fun, with everyone having to suffer the consequences of eating the food that they had prepared, especially where they’d been a bit too generous with the chilli – ourselves included!
Here’s some of the dishes we prepared………..
Pretty damn good, even if I say so myself!
In the afternoon we headed to the elephant camp so that those who had booked to ride elephants could do so
After our experiences in Mae Rim we were uncomfortable with the prospect of seeing more elephants wearing chains. As it turned out this was a much more natural environment with the elephants left free to roam for much of the time we were there. What it did do was allow us to see the animals close up and to feed and touch them
This morning we went white water rafting north of Chiang Mai. We booked through a company called Peak Adventures and after being picked up at the hotel we were taken to the office to meet the rest of the party which consisted of two German adrenaline junkies and six girls in their early twenties who’d been out partying to the early hours of the morning. An hour into the journey we’d already had two unscheduled stops so that a couple of the girls could throw up? Travel sickness? I don’t think so!
The white water rafting took place on Maetang river. In the wet season the river runs a torrent and the rafting takes about an hour. Today the water level was pretty low meaning that the descent would be much more leisurely. That said, we were still taken through the full safety briefing and told what to do in the event that one of us got thrown from the raft.
Thankfully everyone was paying attention as halfway down the river one of the girls in our boat flew out, lost her paddle, disappeared under the water and resurfaced just before hitting her head on one of the rocks. Fortunately she was quickly hauled into one of the other boats, her paddled recovered and, other than a few bumps and bruises, was no worse for wear. Exciting stuff!
and this is where you fall out!
The temperature today is 36 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit) and it’s forecast to get hotter by the weekend. Humidity is around 25% so it’s just about bearable.
April is forecast to be even hotter before the wet season hits in May (and yes, we packed an umbrella!)
Many Thais deal with this by taking an afternoon siesta but unlike the Europeans this takes place wherever there’s a flat surface, usually a bench, on which to catch forty winks
As you head up towards Mae Rim it soon becomes clear that this is the area for ‘natural’ attractions
First you pass Tiger Kingdom where it’s rumoured that the tigers are drugged to make them docile. Next you see the Monkey Centre and Monkey School where we saw a monkey being held on a chain outside the entrance. After that you’ve got the Snake Farm where the snakes and other reptiles are allegedly kept in small, cramped cages and given minimal care. Then you pass the crocodile show where there are also allegations of mistreatment
Finally you have the elephant village. We didn’t visit but were able to see some of the animals from the roadside. At first glance you see them as the majestic animals they are, then you look a bit closer and see the chains around their ankles
Even after the trip to the waterfalls and the Botanical Gardens you’re left with the feeling that this is a pretty depressing and upsetting place
Today we headed off to a place called Mae Rim, north west of Chiang Mai. After an early start, progress was halted when the scooter got a puncture. We pulled over to the side of the road and after an initial ‘oh shit’ moment, we spotted a Honda dealership on the other side of the dual carriageway.
Do you speak English? I asked the receptionist. ‘A little’ she replied.
I pointed at the scooter and said ‘my scooter has a flat tyre’.
‘So you want to buy new car?’
Full marks for spotting the sales opportunity but not quite the answer I was hoping for!
Fortunately, a few hundred yards down the road, was a bike mechanics . The sort of place that has half a dozen bikes in various stages of being stripped down and reassembled, and a set of tools for every eventuality. Needless to say within ten minutes we were back on the road
Mae Rim is an area full of natural attractions, some more so than others (more on that later). We headed for the Mae Sa waterfalls where you can walk up a riverside path to a series of eight waterfalls.
The only pool you can swim in is at the foot of waterfall 5 which provides welcome respite from the heat
After another roadside lunch we headed off to the Botanical Gardens, the highlight of which was the fern garden which is the closest we’ve come so far to a tropical jungle. The paths were carpeted in moss and the trees and ferns were full of authentic jungle sounds (or maybe it was a just a CD – available in the garden shop at ‘Special Price for you’!)