There are a couple of students I help with writing skills at night, and yesterday I was thinking about a topic they could write a short paragraph on. I was thinking about some personal experiences that they might have had, when one of them said, “‘My teacher always goes out…’ will be good,” which was true and made me laugh. That’s when I started explaining them how having less time makes us appreciate the things around us more (and I bet they knew that already!). And that was also when I remembered I have to share so many experiences on this blog.
I have experienced so much of Thai culture but there still remains so much to see. Through the field trips, I met and got to learn about indigenous people. I spoke with people I knew I would never meet again, which made me make the best out of those opportunities. While these opportunities were provided by my internship site, Tera and I did a lot of exploring on our own, too. I posted about some on my weekly posts earlier, but have to write about last few weekends.
Elephant Nature Park
This trip was arranged by Bonnie, whom I mentioned earlier during this internship. She took the four of us (all IWU interns in Chiang Mai) to this elephant park which is located about 37 miles outside of Chiang Mai city. To get there, we had to board a van at 8 am and Tera and I left around 7am from our site, which is located across the other end of the city.
Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary that houses rescued elephants and helps them rehabilitate. These elephants are brought in injured from work such as logging in the forests, tourism and trekking. The first thing we did when we got there was feed an elephant from behind the railing. An elephant eats food worth 10% of its body weight and we had a bucket full of watermelon and bananas to feed. After we fed him, we proceeded to a tour led by our guide (the one who drove us from the city).
He was our point of contact throughout the visit. He introduced several elephants to us – their name, age, how they were injured, when they were rescued and their daily interaction with others. I remembered riding on an elephant in the streets of my hometown when I was 8 or 9, maybe. I felt so bad realizing now how it affects their health and body.
At the beginning of our tour, the guide told us about the two kinds of elephants – Asian and African, and how to recognize them. African elephants have larger ears and more wrinkled skin. Among the African species, both male and female elephants have tusks, while female Asian elephants do not. We saw elephants who were blind, old and the ones who chose another to hang out with! We also watched them bathe in the river across from the park.
The location of this sanctuary – away from the city, surrounded by mountains – is perfect for abused animals who need rest, care and love. The park not only helps elephants recover, but dogs and cats as well. They accept volunteers to play with injured dogs who hop around in their wheelchair. A couple of dogs were struggling to move around but others were in good spirits and got excited to see us looking at them. (I assume they wanted to play but we couldn’t do that on this visit).
Mae Ngat Reservoir
This is the outing I briefly mentioned in one of my last posts. We spent the afternoon on a floating house and the view from the house was absolutely mesmerizing. I went canoeing twice and then jumped into the water for a bit. The last time I swam was around 9 years ago, so I had completely forgotten how to swim. Nonetheless, it was a nice time with the colleagues and students. I also spent some time with a group of students playing cards. Though there are a number of floating houses lined next to each other, they still allowed us to play music loud. As far as I remember, the playlist was a mix of pop, electronic and hip hop, which made for a perfect afternoon. On our way back to the parking lot, it started to rain and we were able to see a rainbow above the mountains, which made for another spectacular view.
Saturday Bread Market
Markets are very popular in Thailand (just like in India but probably less crowded). This bread market serves different kinds of bread for a pretty decent price, and like any other market, there were also other items to buy like clothing and jewellery. We had to leave quite early for this market as well, because they run out of bread by 10 am. Two students, Tera and I left around 8 from our school, and ran into an ERI staff member at the market (which was surprising and fun). It was so crowded that we had to wait 20 minutes to buy bread. We looked around until then, and came across a variety of food items, handmade stuff, etc.
Sunday Farm Market
This past Sunday, some students, Tera and I went to visit the Sunday Farm Market, where vendors sold everything from clothes to ceramics to jewellery to handbags and gifts. We tried lots of different food items and one of my favorites (dessert, though) was mango ice cream with chilli. It sounds unusual, and it did to me, too, but because I love spicy food, I was eager to try a very sweet ice cream with chilli sprinkled on it. And there was live music, too!
They also had a little room that served only organic food, where a few people ate this unique mixture of flowers and ginger-garlic paste (I think).We then headed to the section of the farm where people sold vegetables and fruits, ran into another ERI staff member and walked to the end of the farm. It was around 1pm and the farm closes around that time so everyone was packing up. We then decided to go to Magokoro Teahouse.
Magokoro Teahouse and Matcha Cafe
This is one of the most popular tea shops in Chiang Mai. To get into the cafeteria, we had to wait around 40 mins in the room next to the cafe, designated as the waiting room. There were 4 groups of people waiting before us and the waiting room was (kind of) full even when we finally got to go inside. We spent a good amount of time hanging out and trying six different kinds of tea (some of which we felt were same!). I and two other students ordered three different teas and took turns drinking from each cup. Initially, we felt all of them tasted the same and gradually realized that they weren’t. Like I mentioned, it looked like a pretty popular place so if you visit Chiang Mai, stop by and enjoy some matcha tea.
Imperial Resort and Sports Club
Last Saturday, some students decided to go swimming at a resort nearby. Of course, Tera and I joined them. We took a ball, speakers and headed to the place by bikes. We weren’t the only ones, though. There were few groups of people enjoying a swim on a not-too-chilly evening. Our group (at 11 people) was the biggest and it was absolutely amazing to hang out in such a large group. We had snacks, swam and played in the pool for nearly 3 hours. I love that we live with the students, eat, hang out and study together.
This coming weekend, some students and interns are going to Pai, one of the most popular tourist destinations in northern Thailand. We also have an important (and slightly longer) field trip coming up next week. I’m sure I’ll have a lot to share about both the trips soon!