Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Elephants, Tigers and Massages, Chiang Mai

We came to Chiangmai with few expectations but high hopes.  I had heard about people heading here when I was in Thailand previously but I never made it this far north and really wanted to come here on this trip.  We did know that the area had many cooking schools which we were keen on checking out and we met a British couple in the Bangkok airport who had been on a trek in the area which they recommended.

We arrived at about 6:00 in the morning after an interesting overnight bus ride from Bangkok (that is another post in itself), and headed straight to MD House, our home for the next 4 days.  Fortunately our room was ready for us and after a short nap we headed to the restaurant for breakfast and then found the travel agent connected to the guest house.  She made a few recommendations and we were soon booked into a cooking class and a trek and had a name of a place to pet some baby tigers.  We were very excited!!

But first, a massage!  There are spas everywhere you look and a 1 hour massage only costs 150 baht (($4.78 at todays current rate).  We met a woman from Galliano Island who had been in Chiangmai for a month and she pointed us towards "the best massage she'd found".  Fantastic!  We ended up going to Siam Spa everyday for the remainder of our trip (thai massage, reflexology, facial, pedicure - we just went down the list and tried as many as we could!)
Our usual position at the spa - Thai Massage
Chloe's usual position at the Spa - Harry Potter

Next, Tiger Kingdom.  The reviews on trip advisor were good - no drugs appear to be used on the tigers, the aim of the program is to breed the tigers so they do not disappear into extinction, the handlers are respectful of the tigers,... I had a little knot in my stomach before we went as I generally don't like going to places that take wild animals out of their natural environment and enclose them in small areas but, when else would we get an opportunity to pat a baby tiger and this trip is about experiencing different things from different cultures.
This little guy had been wrestling with a buddy before
getting lifted up onto the table.  His friend was underneath
and they would swipe each with their huge paws when
they saw an opportunity.  This guy was about 4-5 months old.

The baby tigers were adorable!!!  They were playful and wrestling with each other when they could get close enough for a pounce (good, it appeared that they were not drugged!).  Chloe cuddled up with 2 of the youngest ones and they both fell fast asleep.  The handlers quickly approached, ready to wake them up so that we could get a photo opportunity with their little eyes open but we managed to convince them that we were glad they were feeling comfortable with us and they obviously needed some sleep.
(You're welcome to check out my review on trip advisor if you want a review of what I thought about Tiger Kingdom under attractions in Chiangmai - it's called Mixed Feelings and I am Galmc)
This was 1 of the 2 really little ones (about 2-3 months I think).

Riding an elephant is scary - especially when the "driver" is an inexperienced  Canadian (albeit one with a very positive, 'just say yes' attitude) who ran out of bananas (admittedly that part was my fault when the bunch tumbled from my lap and our elephant quickly gobbled them all up).

We are all really enjoying Chiangmai and are so glad we made the trip north.  The people are friendly, the area is beautiful and the city has a good vibe.  We can understand why so many foreigners settle down here for a while.


  1. I am totally going to that massage place when I hit Chiang Mai! Not sure about petting a tiger but the elephant ride looks fun too! Great write-up and thanks for the tips. Hope you guys are having fun.


    1. Siam Massage and Spa near Klang Vien Hostel address: Moonmuang Soi 5. Say hi to the ladies from the Canadian Family. I'll get a picture up on the blog soon and they have pictures of Chloe posing with them on their phones! Check out Where we Rested Our Weary Heads for our accom. in Chiangmai. Will e-mail you soon!

  2. hi, I have chelsea here and trying to figure out how to send a message so hope this works. What a journey you are on....remember to experience the experience you are experiencing right now. All is well here..very cold ,like -30 week...probably 60 degrees different. We also were in Thailand..Chaing Mai ,Phuket when Earl was in korea. Looks like you're having fun travelling the world! Hope to hear from you soon! :)

    Chelsea and Islay

    1. Thanks for the message Islay and Chelsea! We really are appreciating our experiences and trying our best to "live in the moment". Having our location change about every 3 or 4 days forces us to appreciate where we are and what we're doing; if we didn't I think we'd be burnt out by now and heading home. "home" is where we are at the moment - right now Siem Reap, Cambodia.

  3. I'm hoping for a dinner date with chef Chloe went you get back. I her you about the baby tigers, also wonder how the elephants are treated? He/she looks so majestic carrying the "royal family".

  4. I am still not sure how I feel about the elephant ride Deb! On the one hand it's a local company employing local people, elephants are fairly well treated as far as I could tell, they are fed and otherwise taken care of. Is it much different from people who own horses and charge for trail rides at home? Pondering,... Dinner is on!