Chiang Mai

9 Nov

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I have to admit that we have treated ourselves a bit on this holiday. We figured we were unlikely to be back here anytime soon and we wanted to make the most of it. Hence the absolutely beautiful hotel we’re staying in here in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. I have never stayed anywhere like it before or likely will do again but when you can get an air-conditioned room for the equivalent of £9 a night, you don’t have to pay a sheikh’s ransom to get something really special.

On the whole this is backpacker territory. Don’t get me wrong, this is a modern city on a more pleasant scale than Bangkok but you don’t really come here for the city itself. This is a city that still has rainforest around it and it has developed activities to bring the tourists in. If you want to hike in the jungle, go rock climbing or swing along a zip wire this is the place. Not being in the first flush of youth, the attractions for us were waterfalls and elephants. We were not disappointed. Just be careful which tours you choose, though, if you don’t want to support the drugging (at best) of tigers and truly tragic abuse of elephants. If an activity is not normal for an animal it has suffered to get it to co-operate. Things do seem to be gradually changing in Thailand but it is a change of mindset on the part of both locals and tourists that is required and is a far from straightforward process.

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It is possible now to get up close and personal with rescued elephants and more are treating their animals better so it is really worth doing a bit of research before booking anything. As it was, we’ve had an amazing time and have even managed a Thai massage and a bit of relaxing by the pool. Now we’re heading for the beaches!

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