Dayna’s Big Adventure, Part 2: Chiang Mai, Thailand!

After our lovely visit with the Chuns in Singapore, we left our gracious hosts and headed to our next destination, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Guess what, Ped fans? Ped means “diamond” in Thai!!! I love it!

The next few days were more fun than I could have imagined! Here are a few highlights (again, two asterisks indicate a must-do):

* Baan Orapin—We stayed at this wonderful bed and breakfast, which is both centrally located and well-maintained. The people there are so nice, and they serve a great breakfast out by the pool. Also the staff offered great suggestions on what to do during our visit..

The King of Thailand on a Chiang Mai billboard, and breakfast at Baan Orapin.

The King of Thailand on a Chiang Mai billboard, and breakfast by the pool at Baan Orapin.

* Two fun restaurants: 1) The Riverside Restaurant, which is within walking distance of the B&B; and 2) the Whole Earth Restaurant, which is a tuk tuk ride away. Both have lots of choices and offer wonderful Thai and Indian dishes.

* Night Bazaar—This lively spot is also a short walk from the B&B and offers a range ofThai crafts.

* Foot Massages ($6) and Thai Massages ($14)—a MUST in Thailand! If you have never had a Thai Massage, watch out! They will stretch and move your body like it’s never been stretched and moved before!

* Sergeant Kai of Chiang Mai Tours was our guide for a day, and he turned out to be both a great guy and also a true resource for getting to know Chiang Mai.He took us to the Tiger Kingdom. I went in with the baby tigers, but the big ones were very intimidating!

Keri and I played with the tiger cubs, while Kara and Angela bravely petted the adult cats.

**Sergeant Kai then took us to the Doi Suthep Buddhist temple. A jewel on the hill, this temple is not to be missed! It’s a 45-minute drive to the top of the hill by car, and the view once there is breathtaking! Painted with 22kt gold, the temple and stupa (which holds the relics) are amazing. We arrived at sunset, just as the monks began their evening chanting. A resident monk blessed us and sent us on our way endowed with sacred bracelets and luck. The drive back offered a stunning view of the city of Chiang Mai.There were also cute dogs everywhere because the monks feed them! (Lulu and Ella were happy to hear this.)

The gold-painted Doi Suthep temple, Keri with the monk who blessed us, and the hilltop view of Chiang Mai.

The gold-painted Doi Suthep temple, Keri with the monk who blessed us, and the hilltop view of Chiang Mai.

**Patara Elephant Farm —This was absolutely the best day of the entire trip! Pat, the guide and owner of the farm, was extremely informative and explained the farm’s mission is to preserve and maintain a breeding program for the protected elephants. They assigned me my own elephant, Boonpuk, and I became responsible for inspecting his health and also for feeding, cleaning, bathing, exercising, and swimming with him that day!

I led Bopuk to his bath, but the elephants decided we needed a little clean-up, too.

I took Boonpuk for a bath, but the elephants decided we needed one, too!

We spent nine hours with the elephants at the farm and in the surrounding area. The elephants are so gentle, and I discovered the truth behind the saying “memory like an elephant’s”! After just half an hour with Boonpuk, he knew who I was and watched me all day. I rode him for hours and even swam with him. I truly fell in love with this gentle giant!

Keri, me, and Kara on our elephants. Boonpuk and I commune  on the rocks after our swim, while Keri enjoys a dip with her elephant.

Patara is altogether different than other elephant “rides” that merely offer a quick 20 minutes on an elephant’s back. It’s a life-changing experience! It is the one thing you must do while in Thailand! You can even stay overnight at Patara. (To learn more, see the Patara reviews on Trip Advisor.)

Boonpuk and me—a match made in Thai heaven!

Boonpuk and me—a match made in Thai heaven!

Tomorrow, on to Phuket!


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