(Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand)

In June of 2014, I taught a class in Shanghai, so we decided to make a long weekend out of it and visit Chiang Mai, Thailand. No, these two places are not really near one another.

We stayed at Rachamankha, which we found on Trip Advisor. This was such a perfect little hidden gem. This small boutique hotel was perfectly quiet, the pool was serene, and there was a lovely full breakfast every morning.

The first night we wound up at Hot Chilli for dinner. It was a short tuk tuk ride from the hotel, although probably walkable if we knew where the heck we were.  The restaurant was casual, but had an elegant feel with lots of draped red fabric, and tables with suspended swing benches. We enjoyed our pad htai and pad se ew so much that we returned the next night. Our other dinner was at the hotel, and the meal was great but about double the price (though, air conditioned so money well spent !).

We spent one day at Patara Elephant Farm. This is not a touristy “stand next to the elephant and take a picture” deal. This is a full day of being an elephant mahout. After learning how to feed and check the elephant’s health, we donned our loaner mahout outfits and mounted up for an hour ride to a waterfall. There was no saddle – you sit right on its head with your knees tucked behind its ears. They seem a LOT taller from up there ! Once at the river, we scrubbed the elephants, and of course, got sprayed. Word to the wise – if you attempt this activity, wear jeans and LOTS of bug repellent. We were both covered in bites (but would totally do it again !).

We spent another day touristing around Chiang Mai. We went to Tiger Kingdom, where tickets are based on “size” (we cuddled the “extra small, medium, and large”). The little ones were my favorite because they are the most active. After that, we stopped at the Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park, because, well why not. Our last stop was Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a Buddhist temple perched on top of a hill overlooking Chiang Mai.

If you go: