I must have been exhausted, I slept in. To most people that's like 10 or 11, to me that's 5:45am! I was able to catch up on some of my online teaching stuff (which has normally been keeping me up super late at night!) and take it easy (rather than rush) to make it to breakfast, which again was delicious! Breakfast buffets can be hit or miss, usually they offer the same exact thing day in and day out. This one switches it up daily! I love that!
After a nice relaxing breakfast it was time to pack up, check out, and head to the airport for my flight to Chiang Mai. To say that I was looking forward to this part of my trip was a huge understatement. I'm staying at an Elephant Reserve, where literally I can walk onto my balcony, enjoy a morning cup of coffee, and have elephants walking along, or bathing in the water. I may never leave. It's an eco hotel (that part may make me a little nervous...I'm an AC 4-5 star kind of gal, when I read about the rooms having bug nets I almost didn't hit "book") When I read more about the mission, I couldn't resist, tugged at the old heart strings! You can read more about it here.
I arrived at the airport nice and early (hello airport lounge)
Despite having just eaten breakfast there's something about free (and local) food that makes you hungry again. Or maybe it's just me and my love of food. So I ate.
When I arrived I had a scheduled taxi pickup. I quickly got a taste at how much more rustic this trip would be when I was asked to hold the trunk open for him. I then had to open my own car door. This is a big jump from my limo service I had in Bangkok where I never opened a door. Now that's not to say that I need a limo but I certainly won't turn one down. I'm not in Kansas anymore though Dorothy! Where I'm staying is actually an hour outside of Chiang Mai, into the mountains. Lots and lots of winding roads.
When I arrived I actually uttered the words "please say this isn't where I'm staying" but to the credit of Chai Lai, it was the other side of the river. Then I nearly shit my pants as I had to walk a slatted suspension bridge (with my Tumi luggage) as it shook under my legs. I had to convince my feet to continue moving forward.
When we got to the other side of the river it was breathtaking. Very rustic yes but gorgeous (with lots of Mosquitos, they love elephant poop you know?!). A river runs through it, there's a cafe with a great deck that overlooks it all and there are elephants walking by. Seconds after I recovered from the suspension bridge I quickly forgot because a baby elephant was 20 feet from me.
I was offered a lemongrass tea (I'm a lemongrass tea virgin and omg, I will be a lemongrass tea whore after that. Delish)
I was escorted to my cabin (I said a little prayer to the holy unicorn for the sake of my pampered ass) and took a deep breath as she unlocked the padlock that was the "lock" for my door. Inside I saw a big bed with mosquito net, and windows wide open. No AC. I might die. I run hot, like really hot, like AC set at 60 and I'll still sweat at night. But I'm not focusing on that. I'm focusing on the sheet peace and tranquility of this place. I feel so relaxed. No wifi in the rooms so I have to walk to the cafe to have access, that also gives me time to disconnect which I love. I'm really looking forward to a few days here, perhaps not the bathroom/shower situation but I'll adapt.
I ate dinner at the Chai Lai. The girls who work there are from the local village (it's part of the mission) and they are trying to learn a trade as well as English. The meal was recommended to me by one of the girls, I never would have picked it off of the menu but wow it was amazing. I forgot to write down the name of it but it's minced pork and all kinds of other amazing things. It was so delicious! Can't wait to try something else tomorrow!
While I was eating dinner I decided to book some activities for tomorrow, I'll be busy! I'm going to ride the elephants bareback through the jungle, feed them, bathe with them in the river, I'm also going to the Karen Longneck Tribe where I'll likely buy some of their beautiful woven goods, after that I will be bamboo rafting down the river! A long day but one that seems action packed too! I can't wait!
Time to crawl into my mosquito net cocoon and get some sleep. Travel tip. If you come here bring bug repellent. I did not. I look like I have chicken pox I have so many bites. Maybe if I keep drinking lemongrass tea and eating food with lemongrass they will stay away!
Sweet baby elephant dreams to all of you!
Flight: Thai Airways (I shopped pricing but ended up booking directly on their site, it was the cheapest price!) you can pay for meal, seat choice, bag, etc all there. The food selections are amazing and I think I got a bit carried away (especially for an hour flight!) the cost was approximately $35 USD for my flight.
Accommodation: Chai Lai Orchid, Eco Resort with an amazing mission that I simply could not pass up. They have day trips that they offer from the resort. They were booked pretty full so I had to split my stay between two different room choices). They don't have wifi in the rooms but do have it in the main lodge area. They can arrange airport pick up for you (you pay for the service). To book this place you must use Airbnb (it's the only way, their website will redirect you there)