Our first stop was Jungle Flight, a zipline adventure. I've already zipped in a handful of other places, but I think this is my last one, the ultimate zipline. The zipping was great...but the repelling! Eeks, my hands were sweating in fear. It's the highest zips I've ever done -- LOVE THEM! -- but the repelling were straight drops from as much as 40 meters...yikes! Then the hiking, in the mountains, about did me in. This trip I wouldn't be surprised if I lost weight! At night I'm so tired that I'm not hungry and we're hardly stopping for water, much less alcohol.
Yesterday, I became an elephant trainer at Patara Elephant Farm. This was a life changing experience. The elephants are like oversized puppies, eager to please, bouncing up and down on their heavy feet, ears and tail flopping. My elephant was one of the studs, Bodo, and he simply *loved* it when I bathed him in the river, scrubbed the muck off his body and splashed him with water, even got an elephant shower when Bodo sprayed me with water from his trunk. The finale was quite the feat as I scrambled up the elephant, stepping on the back of his foot, then his leg and up on top of his neck. I tucked my knees behind is ears and off we went to the waterfall where the elephants frolicked in the water -- and really frolicked is the word. They played in the water like little kids. It was so cool!
I even got to see twin baby elephants at this conservation elephant farm. As I stood on the wooden "bridge," one of the babies became curious and his trunk gently rested on my leg. I learned a lot about the elephants and that they are basically disappearing in Thailand. All the Thai have a healthy respect and love for this lumbering beasts with a big heart, and now I do too. The owner of Patera Elephant Farm, Pat, is passionate about the Thai culture, and his passion includes "saving" the elephants by breeding and educating the public.
We returned to our hotel, and as much as I'd have preferred staying, we had a site visit to Mandarin Oriental Hotel, an amazing step back. The architecture is old "school" Thailand, even though it's a newer building. It's as if I'd stepped back into time in an old Thai regal village. Awesome! From scrubbing an elephant's back to dining with the royals, just one of those days.
Next up...I'm transferring from Chiang Mai to Lisu Lodge further up the mountains of Chiang Mai. Tomorrow is an 8 mile biking tour of the villages. My legs already hurt from the hiking and riding bareback.
Until next time...Diana