Speaking of milestones, my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in March. We celebrated in a way that probably won’t surprise you if you know us – we took a very, very long flight to Thailand where we spent two amazing weeks in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and on the Krabi beaches. We saw and did enough to turn this into an excessively long email, so I’ll stick to the highlights and my top 5:
Jungle hike: As much as we enjoy beach time, we’re more “action travelers.” We like to get out and explore as much as we can, and our jungle adventure certainly fit the bill. Our guide picked us up at our hotel in Chiang Mai where we piled into the back of a pickup and drove out into the mountain forest. We took a bamboo raft down river (passing a herd of bathing elephants along the way), hiked a series of waterfalls, cooked lunch on an open fire, and even enjoyed coffee made and served in fresh cut bamboo. Along the way we sampled wild passion fruit, lemon grass, and other flora our guide grabbed, picked, or dug up along the way (although we both passed at the chance to eat ants and, thankfully, he couldn’t find a tarantula to cook along with lunch).
Elephants: We spent the better part of one of our days at an elephant sanctuary, Patara Elephant Farm, where we learned about and took care of our own elephant for a day. Before going, we’d heard a few tales about places that were a little less ethical about their treatment of these amazing beasts, sowe did a lot of research to make sure that our day was spent helping, not hurting. It was a humbling, never-to-be-forgotten experience to share space with these beautiful beings. Once you gain their trust (through the universal language of feeding them a LOT of bananas), their personalities shine through – some playful, others shy or stubborn. And, of course, the babies are hilarious and infinitely adorable. I’d recommend it to anyone, but please do your research.
Longtail boats: One of the defining images of Thailand is that of the longtail boat – long, skinny traditional crafts with an actual automobile engine and a 12-foot long propeller shaft jutting out of the back. We hired one for the day on the beach outside of our hotel and toured the small islands and karsts (huge, cliff-like rock formations that rise out of the water in the Andaman Sea). Our guide even took us to a hidden cove inside one of the karsts that wasn’t visible unless you knew exactly where to go. It was a gorgeous way to spend a day.
Food: I’ll admit to not being a huge Thai food fan before going. From my experience as something less of an adventurous eater, you can get into trouble with Thai spices pretty easily. That said, I threw caution to the wind and sampled the local fare – including more than one meal from a street vendor, and definitely more than one meal involving mango sticky rice. If you know of somewhere that does a particularly good job of making it (and that isn’t 8000 miles away), please do me know! Happy to say I passed on the crickets at night market.
Massages: Massage is practically a national pastime in Thailand. You can’t walk down any block without passing several places offering a long menu of options. At only about $8 USD an hour, it’s tough to pass up. Thai massage differs from what we’re used to here in the U.S. in that it’s as much about stretching as it is about rubbing muscles. It’s quite active as the masseuse climbs on a table with you and sits on you in various different ways, twisting and turning you for an hour. And you are best off with properly trained therapists – they actually train them in some of the temples which contain medical schools. I capped out at 9 massages in two weeks. I miss them.
As always, I love to share details about our trips and if you ever have questions about the land of smiles, give me a ring. I’ll help however I can!