We boarded a night train from the busy Bangkok central train station, unsure of what to expect but imagining the worst. Thankfully, our night train experience was whole lot better than we could have possibly dreamed and we arrived twelve hours later in Chiang Mai, the second largest city in Thailand.
I have to point out that I was groggy and confused for a good couple of hours, possibly something to do with my rude awakening that morning by a Thai train guard telling me to wake up because we were nearly there. But all of that faded away very quickly because then elephants happened and I’ve been walking around in a happy daze ever since.
I had been apprehensive about visiting elephants in Thailand because I had heard so much about cruelty and mistreatment, but the Lampang Elephant Conservation Centre is a wonderfully ethical place where the elephants are looked after lovingly. It’s even home to the first elephant hospital in the world. The highlight was definitely riding and bathing my own personal elephant, and by bathing I mean trying not to fall off as my naughty elephant had fun splashing around in the water with the others. It’s something I don’t think I will ever forget and my mouth ached from smiling for hours after.
A sunset visit to the beautiful Doi Suthep temple above the city in the hills followed, and a trip to the night bazaar too. We only had an hour or so to explore the city in daylight the following day before we were on the road again and we both agreed that it wasn’t enough and we wish we could have spent longer in beautiful Chiang Mai.