We didn't do anything too exciting since we were both under the weather with either the flu or food poisoning. We hung out around the guesthouse, relaxed and caught up with some planning.
Before returning our scooter in the morning we got up to go back to Pam Bok Waterfall for a swim. It had nice area for swimming because it was sheltered and was deep right under the waterfall and since we were there early, no one else was there yet. We didn't see any big critters while swimming but we did see some smaller fish and insects.
We rented a scooter for 200 baht (8$ CAD) which seems to be the usual around here to get a scooter for one day. We visited Pai Canyon which was absolutely breathtaking. It was a bit scary walking on the narrow pathways but as long as you are careful it is lots of fun. We then took the scooter up to see where Pam Bok Waterfall was. After returning to Pai, we relaxed for a bit and then walked around the night market.
On the twenty-sixth we went to Pai via mini-bus. It was a 3 hour drive through the mountains on the infamous route 1095 winding through 762 curves before arriving in Pai. Our guesthouse was a short walk away from the busy market where tourists tend to hang out, which was super convenient and made our stay much more enjoyable.
We spent the day relaxing and walking around Chiang Mai. During the evening we attended Yi Peng and the Loi Krathong Festival. The streets were crowded with people.....so many people. It was hard to get down the streets, especially when the parade was on. The Yi Peng (lanterns) portion of the festival was our favourite. All around the city people would light up Chinese lanterns and make a wish before releasing them into the sky. The sky was covered with thousands of lanterns for the majority of the night. Loi Krathong means "to float a basket". Days prior to Loi Krathong you could by baskets made of various things to light a candle in and send off on the river. Loi Krathong is a tradition that is meant to pay respect to the water spirits. These are both held on the full moon of the eleventh month.
We were picked up at 8am along with 6 other people to go to the elephant camp which was about an hour away. Once getting to the camp we were given clothes to change into and then started our training course. We learned how to behave around the elephants and some vocal commands to use when riding the elephants:
"bon": trunk up
"dee dee": good
"map long": get down
When using these commands you had to almost yell to get the elephant to hear you. To get up on the elephant they would lay down and you would climb on or they would bend their front leg to make a step for you. After getting comfortable with the elephants we then went for a ride down the river. After our ride our elephant laid down in the river and we got to bathe him. There was no fence in sight although we assume there must have been. The camp had a washing area for the elephants, a river, lots of trees, forest, and bungalows. Except for the elephants that were being pampered/rode at the time, the rest were roaming around freely and swimming in the river which was nice to see. All of the workers carry around a basket of fruit to feed the elephants and to give to tourists to feed the elephants. Most of the elephants are born in the camp but some are rescues.
After we washed up after the elephant ride, we had a buffet style lunch which was included in the package. We then hiked to a waterfall with a guide. Our guide was quite the character and had lots of interesting things to tell us about the jungle. He also had a pet squirrel that he claims to have caught himself. He had a leash on it and it sat on his shoulders. The waterfall wasn't very big but you could slide down it into deep water at the end which was fun. Next, we went white water rafting. It was pretty relaxing except for some of the sharp rocks that we would get stuck on. Our guide on the white water rafting was very good at his job so we were in good hands and made it through the rapids just fine. Once we got to the main site, we headed back to Chiang Mai and got to our hotel around 6pm.
We started the day off by shopping for some supplies (sunscreen, bug spray, shirts). Once getting back to the hotel, we spent part of the afternoon at the pool. We then visited Wat Chedi Luang (temple). After aimlessly wandering around for a while we came across a small version of the Loi Krathong celebration which includes lanterns and candles floating on the river. The big celebration is on Nov.25 so we will talk more about it then. Chiang Mai has been great so far although everything is a bit expensive since there is a lot of tourists. It seems as if there is more Western food in this city than Thai food which also tends to be pricy.