First stop on the way to our jungle trek was the elephant park. We were split onto four different elephants and when they asked who wanted to ride on the neck I eagerly volunteered. We rode around a large valley in the middle of the rainforest for about an hour. Being on the neck was a little scary at times–especially on downhills which felt like teetering on the peak of a roller coaster without a seatbelt!
Elephants are extremely gentle and loving creatures for their size. Every time we hit a milestone on the route my elephant would put his trunk up looking for me to praise him by patting it. One elephant had a real trainer on the neck so he was able to get their elephant to spray water on all the other groups as we crossed the river. Anywho put it on your bucket list, it was pretty incredible.
After this we drove to a remote village in the mountains from which we would start our jungle trek. We spent two and a half hours hiking through the mountains and valleys of the jungle before we arrived at our destination. Our guide had described the trek as easy after the waterfall hike that we had already completed. To our surprise it was not the leisurely stroll we all envisioned. At the half way mark our guide said to the local leading the trek “you not trekking you running.” So I guess Dong’s description did not account for deadly pace.
We took put our things in the bamboo hut we were to sleep in and went for a stroll in the local village. The people lead a very simple life but they are very happy. We had the most delicious meal of our entire trip for dinner cooked by locals. Following dinner the local children joined us for a campfire in traditional costume and danced and sang for us. In the morning the locals set up a small market for us at which we could purchase jewelry, scarves, or little trinkets.
Finally, we began our much more leisurely two hour trek back to the cars.
I finished the day off with a run around Chiang Mai, literally. Chiang Mai was, at one time, a completely walled city. Today you can walk alongside the “moat”–long ponds with beautiful fountains in them for 7km in a perfect square around the city.