This was definitely Mom’s favorite day in Chiang Mai (actually it was her favorite day in the two weeks we were on vacation!). Our first stop was Maesa Elephant Camp where mom was kissed by a baby elephant (!) among other fun adventures with these gentle giants.
I was initially concerned about visiting the Camp as I thought it would be degrading to the animals. Now, I’m certainly not an elephant expert, but the animals all looked healthy and seemed to be highly regarded by their handlers. Our guide arranged a behind the scenes tour for mom and I to feed the elephants. “Behind the scenes” turned out to be the living quarters for the mahouts (aka handlers) and as we approached, unseen by the handlers, it was clear there was a great deal of affection between man and animal (and thus allaying my fears).
A few pictures from our morning adventure:
Next we visited a Tiger Park where we could actually get in the cages with the animals! Not surprisingly, the girls were only allowed to enter the baby tiger cage (I’m sure they look like a nice appetizer to the bigger cats!). They were quite fascinated!
After petting the baby tigers, we were definitely lulled into thinking this wasn’t such a big deal. However, when mom and I got in the cage with the fully grown tigers, we both started giggling and were clearly unsettled. They were HUGE! It actually left me speechless (which does NOT happen that often!)! It was all fun and games until the tiger glanced at me and I realized he was merely tolerating me (and could eat me at any moment!). It was actually a pretty weird (and freaky) feeling to be that close to such a dangerous animal.
Following our near death experience (OK, perhaps only in our minds), we trooped over to visit the Long Neck Karen tribe, famous for well….I’m sure you can guess:
I have to admit, Mom and I hated this stop. It was interesting to see the ladies, but I felt foolish and rather awful going to view the “people in the zoo” so to speak. There was also an air that no one liked what they were doing (and they didn’t particularly care for us viewing them). Does anyone look happy in that picture above (well, besides me?)? We both felt guilty (why I don’t know) and bought 10 scarves apiece. We departed as fast as we could and I highly recommend skipping this portion of the tour if you find yourself in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Nevertheless Bangkok Chiang Mai is worth checking out.
We topped off the day with a fish spa near our hotel. First time I’ve seen this service although I understand it’s very popular in other Asian countries particularly Japan. It felt like ants crawling all over my foot! Mom kept pulling her foot out as she was seriously freaked out! Quite fun! A fantastic way to end a fantastic day!
Travel with Aging Parent final verdict on Chiang Mai: BIG THUMBS UP and mom and I would return!