What a day. Ever since we came back to Chiang Mai, our days have been packed with activities! They have been so busy that I usually don’t start writing my blog post for the day until 11pm! Today we went back to the river Laura and I did for rafting, went zip-lining, and went to the night market in Chiang Mai. We are actually staying at a bed and breakfast for the night so Randy woudn’t have to pick us up. I think that we would all say that we are literally exhausted from having so much fun.
Our day started out in a new van! I am not sure if Oh took our comment about not having enough room for our legs in the backseat personally or something, because he really upgraded our vehicle! We all could have almost had our own row!! Nuch was able to tell him where we went rafting the first time, so we were on our way. The rafting we found yesterday didn’t let you go on your own and was really expensive, so we figured it would be worth it to go back! We all would rather do something rather than just sit there and let the guide do the work, so this type of “off-river” bamboo rafting was perfect! Even though Laura and I already experienced it, today was a totally new adventure!
After paying our 150 baht (about 5 USD) another rusty pick-up truck came to pick us up! This time we all got to sit in the truck bed on some boards instead of in the cab! It was honestly one of the best parts of the entire experience! There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it wasn’t super hot yet, and the mountains provided the perfect backdrop! We were joking that we are like kids that get fancy toys and then prefer to play with the box. It doesn’t take much for us to be entertained!
Even though we knew what to expect, the entire experience was still hilarious. Laura and I thought that we would be able to show Beth and Paige how it was done, but it actually was quite the opposite. We even told them that we would go first on the initial drop so they could see our technique. However, just because we said that, it literally took us over five minutes to get past it. Beth and Paige could not stop laughing at us. To top it all off, I took a spill in the river. It was definitely karma for posting that picture of Laura falling on here. After lots of pushing and pulling, we finally got past it! After all of that, it probably took Beth and Paige a minute to get down the drop. Oh, the irony.
Because we went rafting in the morning instead of the afternoon like last time, we had the entire river to ourselves. Even though last time was a great experience, it was so nice not to have people yelling at us around every corner. We were able to meander at our own pace and fully appreciate the morning. We even connected our rafts, lodged them in some weeds and laid in the sun for a while. I think that might be the most unique place any one of us has worked on our tan!
Even though we rafted exactly a week ago, the river was a little lower. We bottomed out pretty easily, so we did a lot of pushing, pulling, and jumping with our rafts. It was a serious workout to get to the end! Especially after laying in the sun and feeling so lethargic!
We got to ride in the back of the pickup again on the way back (yay!) and enjoy the cool air after getting hot and sweaty on the rafts. The girls didn’t understand that I actually fell in the water twice “on purpose” to cool off! They seemed to think it was on accident 🙂
After rafting, we had about a 2 hour drive to where the zip-lining course was. We brought our peanut butter, bread, and other lunch items for the car today! Being in large families has trained us that eating out is not always the only option. Honestly, it was probably the best peanut butter sandwich I have ever had. Hard work makes food taste so much better. We thought our parents would be pretty proud that we were using their road trip technique in Thailand!
The fun thing about my GoPro is that I can immediately get the photos onto my phone using the GoPros wifi! Therefore, we were able to look at all of the videos and photos from the morning on the way. Luckily for me, we got my falls recorded and all of our struggles getting over difficult drops. There were literal tears we were laughing so hard. I was glad that I could provide such entertainment for my travel partners. I am pretty sure that Oh did not want to know what was going on in the back seat.. It was pretty much constant laughing for the entire car ride.
Oh provided us with this zip-lining location, so we didn’t really know where we were going. It ended up being really deep in the mountains. We just continued driving up, kind of like at Glacier National Park! We were a little concerned about the van making it at a few points, but we got there in one piece. After getting there and looking at the various packages, we decided to do the smallest package. They tried really hard to sell their biggest package, but we all just wanted to get a little taste for it. We also chose to go on the “Jungle Coaster” which is similar to the Alpine Slide at Lutsen. After getting our gear on and listening to a short (literally 2 minutes) safety presentation, we were brought to the platform!
One of the funniest parts of the day is that it started raining as soon as we got our gear on. Ironically, it made the experience 10x better! Not only could we knock zip-lining off of our bucket lists, we could also knock zip-lining in the rain off of the list!! It was a very unique experience. It’s pretty ironic that we had so much fun in the rain after we paid a lot of money to escape it. We are still hoping for sun on the beach- it wasn’t THAT unreal 🙂
The package we picked took about 30 minutes to complete. It started with about 6 different lines, and then we got to go over a rope bridge and do a “nature walk” to a higher platform. We also got to do a “honeymoon line” where two of us got to go together! Just imagine flying through the air, feeling rain on your face, and looking out at the lush jungle with mountains peaks in the distance. It was an incredible experience.
The zip-lining experience ended with a ride on two very random contraptions. The first was a circus-like bike where one of us had to sit on the seat and the other person got to sit in the cart. It only went about 10 feet and we were very confused why it was part of the course. However, the next one was even more ridiculous! It was basically a wooden platform with wheels on it, with a rope attached to the back. One of the guides literally held onto the rope while pushing us down the ramp that was only 10 feet long. It was very confusing and very funny.
We then went on the “Jungle Coaster”! We rode in pairs, and it was actually really fun! Again, the views were pretty hard to beat. There were times we wondered if we were going to stay on the track, but we all survived. The ride back up to the top was actually longer than our ride down, but it was worth it! Our a package also included a Thai lunch and a T-shirt! What a crazy fun experience! Again, we were almost the only people there which made the day so much better! We can’t even imagine it in high tourist season.
We then headed back to Chiang Mai to check-in to our room and get ready for the night market. Again, we got to look at the videos from the GoPro and laughed the entire way back to Chiang Mai. I am pretty sure that I have never laughed so much in one day ever in my life. This GoPro has been paid off in priceless memories many times over!
When we got to Chiang Mai and asked Oh how much we owed him for the day, we told us that we didn’t have to pay! We were not sure if Randy and Nuch paid already or if he was just being nice, but we really appreciated it! We really hit the jackpot with drivers this trip! This was our last day with Oh because tomorrow the elephant sanctuary we will be going to provides us with a driver in our package.
After relaxing for a little bit and freshening up, we headed out to the night market. We were almost to the market when we saw a sign advertising massages for 200 baht! That is about 7 USD!! It only took one of us to slow down our pace, the massage lady approaching us, and a mutual look between the four of us to decide that it was happening. Instead of getting a full body massage, we all decided to get reflexology focused foot massages! Reflexology is based on the theory that every body part is represented on your foot. For example, you big toe is your head, so if you have a headache, you could theoretically massage your big toe. We actually learned about it in physiology and a lot of it is based on your nerves and where they are transmitted in your brain. It is actually really cool to learn about!
While we were enjoying our massages, an American girl came into the room where we were sitting. She was from Atlanta, Georgia and was traveling with a friend in Thailand for about a month. Later we met the friend and talked to them for almost the entire hour. They told us they were in their mid-thirties, between jobs, and traveling with money they had been traveling for a long time. One of the girls asked her friend what advice she would give to us young college students and she said, “Live way below your means and save your money while you are young! It will give you many opportunities when you are older! Pack your lunch and don’t get coffee everyday. Learn to be smart with your money!” It was really interesting talking to them! It is always fun to think about why people like that were placed in your life! They thought we were so cute and said we looked like the girls in Steel Magnolia. We were too young to get the reference, but thought that it might be a compliment.
The massage ended with a neck and shoulders massage and some hot tea.It was heavenly after our busy day. We all agreed that it was the best 250 baht we spent so far! Apparently I was the only one that knew it lasted for an entire hour, so the rest of the girls were so pumped that, “it just kept going!!” We will definitely continue to take advantage of these massages!
By this time, we were all kind of hungry, but just wanted something small, so we decided to see what Thai McDonalds was like. We have seen it many times and have wanted to compare so we figured we may as well. It was so funny walking in because it was full of Americans. We were a little embarrassed to be seen there, but figured it was probably expected of us so we may as well just go for it. Most of us never even eat at McDonalds in America, but it was a pretty cool cultural experience. We had a great chat over our Thai chicken and French Fries! Now we can check going to McDonalds in a foreign country off of our bucket lists, not that it was even on it in the first place 🙂
We then continued on to the night market! It is a huge market that takes place in Chiang Mai from 7pm- 2am. They even block of streets for it! We probably didn’t even see a quarter of it and we were there for many hours. However, we saw the same things over and over again, so you wouldn’t have to see the entire thing. We all were able to find some fun gifts for people back home and a few things for ourselves. The market had a lot nicer things than the markets we went to the last few days, so it was nice to feel like were getting good quality products for a good price.
We also got to work on our bargaining. This market didn’t have any signs with prices, so you had to ask the vendor what the price was and then go back and forth with them until you agreed on the price. We figured out really fast that if you acted like you were going to put it back, they would say, “Okay, okay for you you, (whatever price)” All it took was a wrinkle of the nose or slight hesitation and they would cave. It was kind of sweet! Some of us are definitely better than others, but we are all getting the hang of it.
It is really hot and humid here at night, so we got some gelato on our way back and it was the perfect treat to end our long day! We only have one more full day in Chi Mai and will be spending it at an elephant sanctuary! We will be feeding, bathing, and swimming with the elephants! We can’t wait!