It has been a looong time since I last made a post, far too long. I did not have anything interesting to share and I did not want to write just for sake of writing, but I am back and I cannot wait to tell you all about my Thailand trip because it was AH-MAZING!
It was some what of an impromptu trip, which made the actual travel a complete nightmare because of poor planning, but that was completely my fault and I won’t bore you with those details. I went to Chiang Mai, a town north of Thailand with my favorite human. We chose to skip the usual touristic spots by the beach and I am totally happy about that decision (I am planning on going back to visit Phuket and the likes). So without further a do, here are the 5 things (out of the many) I loved most about Thailand!
1. The people
If you are a person with some sort of melanin in your complexion you’ve probably heard the sentence “I don’t see color” and chances are it was extremely condescending and irritating. Well I have to say that was how it felt being black in Chiang Mai (the actual phrase was never used). In my 8 days there my blackness was never made out to be a big deal or a rarity that needed to be pointed out unnecessarily, my hair was never touched, looked at weird or asked about. Every where we went we were greeted by the biggest most sincere smiles I have ever seen and felt. The entire vibe of the place and the people was so filled of happiness and peace it truly was therapeutic.
If you have been reading my posts you know that I have been struggling with belonging in a lot of places, from my home country Italy to my mother land Nigeria, so it was truly refreshing walking around without ever feeling the need to be in “defensive mode” and having to consistently validate my existence and truly just BE! With every encounter, even though we might have not understood a word of what we said to each other, we some how figured it out between a smile and a gesture!
2. The Culture
Upon my arrival I flew into Bangkok, and since that was my first time there it felt like it would have been a waste to not at least explore, even if just for a few hours while waiting on my flight to Chiang Mai. OMG am I glad I took that bus to the the Grand Palace. It was such a beautiful site to see. I am not going to give you the historical details because you know…Google, but just to think that this place was built thousands of years ago without any technology and it still beautifully stands today is absolutely amazing.
Chiang Mai was just as amazing, while there I visited the Wat Prthat Doi Suthep temple. I have to say I dropped the ball on the appropriate attire decor as my shorts were above my knee, but luckily I brought a coverall and I was allowed in. After the long trek up the infinite staircase to get there, I would have truly been sad -and sore – if I hadn’t made it in!
This place was stunning, through out there were smaller temples were people would go in to get blessed by monks and pray.
The last cultural piece I really liked was the respect everyone one had for one another, but particularly for their elders. To greet and to say thank everyone used their hands in a praying motion and bowed. I don’t know why that resonated with me but I decided to embrace it and that is how I said said hxbkhuṇ ( Kah Pun Kah – thank you) for the remainder of my trip.
3. The elephants
I mean truly this should be number one, but I wanted to keep your attention a little while longer! I do not have words to describe these animals. I was prepared for their size and to consequently be intimidated by it, but to my surprise they were the sweetest most gentle beings. One thing I knew I absolutely wanted to do while there was “hanging with some elephants” but at the same time I wanted to do it on their turf and not in a place where they were abused and trained to entertain us humans. My friend and I decided to go to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary which was an an ethical elephant sanctuary near Chiang Mai saving them from hard labor abuse and entertainment. There was no riding the elephants, elephants painting or walking on their hind legs for entertainment. We were actually there to “work” – and it was well worth it.
We started by feeding them bananas to get acquainted, no one makes friends faster than when food is involved. Apparently we weren’t feeding fast enough so, as you can see in the first picture up there they took matters into their on…trunk and took over the banana barrel! Next came the mud bath: did you know elephants can’t sweat? Neither did I! They keep their body cool by covering up in mud, so SPA day it was.
After every good mud bad comes an even better shower! We proceeded to the river and wow, these big animals turned into the cutest little things super excited about playing in the water. I’ve seen videos before but being able to experience it in person was absolutely amazing. Im pretty sure they were laughing!
4. The food
Let’s start with the fact that it truly does not take much to satisfy my palate, but good gawd…the food there was actually amazing. I’ve tried Thai food before but eh let’s be honest there is nothing like the authentic cuisine to know what you really have been missing out on. The “chicken spot” – not the real name but I don’t remember it, it’s a hole in the wall – with no actual walls – where chicken is cooked daily. Once what they have is gone they close shop, well we went, loved it and went right back the next day – no shame here! Not only it was really good, it was incredibly cheap, like 3 dishes and a drink for $4.50 cheap. (45 THB = $1.50)
Every night in a little city plaza there was a food and artisans market, and the pad thai there was really good too. As I type this I realize I was so in the moment I actually did not take pictures there so just take my word for it ok? To end our nights on a sweet note we made it an habit to go for street vendor’s Nutella and banana roti, the guilt was real but the taste was “realer” and made the gluttony totally worth it.
5. The adventures
Maybe it was the vibe and the beauty of the place, but while in Thailand I truly went out of my comfort zone and took on nature adventures I never thought I would have. The Bua Thong waterfall aka sticky waterfalls, are this super idillic multilayered waterfalls that are made of limestone and don’t have the slimy algae that most rocky water places have, making it “easy” to climb up and down. If I may say so myself I was kinda like Spiderman lol. For safety there was a rope and sticky or not, I never let go of it.
The waterfall was all the adrenaline rush I could handle, so we took it down a notch…or 10 and concluded in a much more chill and relaxing lazy way. We ventured to the Phuffin on the lake cafe, rode on a self driven roller coaster, took a quick walk across a shaky bridge, enjoyed the view at the Karen long neck village, checked out the night market (the food was super good there too btw!), drank some bomb caipiroskas, enjoyed – or endured- a Thai massage, listened to live music and got to all our destinations by riding super cheap red taxi or tuk tuk.
I wish I had time to do more, and just enjoy the Thai vibe a lot longer, but like most good things….it had to eventually come an end.
I truly enjoy winding down by smoking hookah and drinking hot tea but to my surprise ( and disappointment) hookah is banned in Thailand along with vaping, come to think of it I did not see or notice any locals smoking, only tourists.
There is a very visible other type of tourism…that involves older men and young “lady boys” which is how the local refer to transgender women who do not, or have not just yet transitioned physically. It was a bit uncomfortable/saddening to see mainly because it was obvious that money was the motivation and that these men come to the country to exploit that.
Everything is really REALLY cheap there, even though bargaining for prices its the norm, and kind of expected especially with the tuk tuk and taxi drivers, after a while we realized we were legitimately going back and forth over something that to us was only a couple of bucks. Basically yes, don’t let anyone play you, and let them know you know better, but at the end, giving in helps them more than it hurts you.
Well guys, this is as short of a summary i could come up with for this amazing trip, i hope you enjoyed and I hope to have something new for you soon! But dont hold me to it!
Ciao for now,