Bangkok, Thailand… I was warned of its chaos but it still
somehow surpassed its reputation. Luckily, I was taken in by a dear friend and
her family, it truly made my time there enjoyable (thank you Ika). On my last night we went out just like old
times so that I was properly sent off to the airport with just a few hours
sleep and a slight headache.
As I took a taxi to my Chiang Mai guesthouse (hotel), my
body and mind finally began shake off the Bangkok hustle. The laid back atmosphere
of the Old City reminds me of a beach town in the mountains, as if you should
be walking around barefoot with a coconut in your hand. The winding streets are lined with tons of
little restaurants (they all seem to feature the same menu), hostels, shops,
and a temple around every corner. The
air is filled with the sound of birds chirping and motorbikes zooming down the
narrow streets swerving around dogs that stroll wherever they please.
I arrived at the Elephant Nature Park office early and was
immediately greeted by a very happy dog that still carried the shave marks and
scars of his recent amputee surgery.
This was the first sign of my adventure to come…
As we entered the valley and knowing we were close to our
destination, it was quite a shock to say the least to see the trees on the side
of the road part to reveal elephants strapped with saddles, carrying people,
winding up the mountainside.