I arrived in Chaing Mai on Saturday night. I was not feeling well and decided to just rest in my dorm room instead of going to the Saturday Night Market which I love. I instead spent time chatting with the Australian guy I was sharing a room with. He worked at the hostel and with the co owned Elephant Sanctuary in exchange for lodging. It was a tad bit uncomfortable sharing a room with only one other guy so I had a hard time getting any sleep.

The next morning Mam the nicest woman ever picked me up for my private dessert making class. We made 3 different desserts from scratch and they were amazing! She only used fresh natural ingredients to flavor and color her desserts. She taught me as though I was going to open a Thai dessert shop in the US to make a profit. I told her I was just learning for personal benefits and had no desire to mass produce desserts. It was a long hot day of dessert making. Then she returned me to my hostel.

At the hostel I met some girls who were going out for the night. So I decided to join them. We walked clear on the other side of town to pick up a Dutch girl staying at a different hostel. After we got her we walked to Thae Pae gate where the opening ceremonies were held. It became rather boring for me so I decided to head to the Sunday Market where I walked around enjoying all the vendors and getting a foot massage. I then made a krathong, a floating flower like thing to put in the water for the festival. It was crowded and hot out. I had seen most of the market. Knowing I had another cooking Class in the morning I headed back to my room.

In the morning I was collected for my cooking class. The class was made up of all Americans and 2 Korean girls. I was the only person who went alone. But it was okay as I chatted with the married Indian couple from Washington DC. The class was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about Thai cooking. I can now make my own curry and 3 other dishes. We also went to the market where she showed everyone what the ingredients would look like when they bought them. I was really happy I took this class. It was an amazing experience.

I then took a small nap before heading out with the hostel girls to the Lantern Festival. It was a crowded zoo!! We purchased our Krathongs to float then tried to fight our way down to the river. Once at the river there were a million mosquitoes and no matter the amount of spray I was getting eaten alive!!!! After we floated the krathongs we walked down to send off our lanterns. It was beautiful. After about an hour of watching lanterns and being bug food I was ready to move on. They were not. So I went to the night bazar and looked around then I became too hot and retreated into the La Meridian Hotel. Where I spent $25 on a cocktail and a slice of cheesecake. Honestly would cost $5 any where else in Thailand. But I wanted to feel like a human again. I wanted real air conditioning and a server who was kind. I wanted fluffy white couches. I didn’t want to leave!!!

But I did and back to my crappy hostel I went. Costing me $6 a night.

The next morning I slept in and took my time getting ready. I went and had a Thai Massage at the temple next to my hostel. OMG!!! The best Thai Massage ever. This little woman was so strong and did a proper Thai trained massage. She stretched me out and worked out all my knots. They give you funky pjs to put on so that your clothes don’t restrict the stretches. She also places a towel on you so that she never has direct contact with your skin. It was amazing!!! And with tip it cost me $7 for an hour!!!! I met a really nice girl from Denver there. We walked around and looked into some shops then had lunch together. After lunch she had a cooking class and I went to check out a nice hotel and have a cocktail. The hotel was beautiful with a pool and a big fluffy white private room for $85 a night. I decided I was too lazy to pack and move. I would suffer for one more night. I met a Dutch girl while I was having a drink. We decided to make a reservation for outside this restaurant for 7pm to watch the parade. So I left to take a nap and change.

At 7 we met along with her German friend at the restaurant. We had a lovely seat to view the parade. The bugs were horrible and it was so hot out. I enjoyed the parade. It was completely in black and white and honored the King. I really enjoyed the parade. We then walked around. I didn’t feel like sending off another lantern so I gave her mine and went back to pack up my things to depart in the morning.

The hostel I was staying at was horrible and unhelpful with everything. They threw out the trash daily but that was it. I don’t think they changed the sheets or blankets often. Their main focus was booking the Elephant Sanctuary. If they treat the elephants like they do their hostel guests then I feel sorry for the elephants.

I’m going to be a not PC traveler for a minute. 2 years ago we did a wonderful Elephant riding experience in Chaing Mai. We rode on the bare backs of the elephants and had a wonderful day. They provided showers for afterwards and the animals seemed very well taken care of. Apparently this is a horrible thing to do to these poor giant creatures. They weren’t created to be ridden so the crazy liberal tourist has now created a demand for happy elephants that aren’t ridden but where you go to bathe them only. They now charge you more for this experience and make it more rustic (no showers) so you can feel like the elephants are kept in more of a sanctuary. It’s the same elephants!!! They are still held captive for your amusement! Do you really think an elephant that has for centuries been ridden and used for labor really cared that it gave a 200 pound tourist a ride once a day for an hour? Do you think it really wants to be covered in mud with you and everyone else everyday?!? My elephant 2 years ago hated the water and thought the mud was dirty so I was more than happy to skip the bath part with her. If you are paying money for an experience then that animal is being held for your entertainment! They are not wild! They were not rescued! The places that used to charge to ride them now just charge you to bathe them. They aren’t stupid. They are capitalists!!! They understand marketing. If you honestly think that you are a better person because you didn’t sit on top of the elephant than I guess whatever helps you sleep at night.

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