Mesmerizing Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand

Mesmerizing Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand


Have you ever thought about action-packed getaway? Here is a hint: northern Thailand. Chiang Mai is one of my favorite cities in Thailand. I only spent three nights in Chiang Mai, but I could have spent more time there. There is so much to do and see in this beautiful region. Chiang Mai is a good base for any hiking activity. It is also very cultural. There are temples, festivals, cafés, nice restaurants and night life. I was time restricted, so I focused mostly on hiking in the jungle, elephant feeding, visiting Karen Long Neck Tribes Village and the White Temple in Chiang Rai.

Hiking and Sleeping in the Local Village

One of the most amazing experiences I had in Thailand was a two day hike in the Thai highlands. We had a funny guide who was saying „Oh my Budda!”, instead of „Oh my God!”.

We started our trip with a day hike to the local village high up in the mountains, where we had a small campfire party with local food and dances. We even had our convenient shop Seven Eleven. Next day when we woke up, we had a local breakfast and we kept on hiking to the next day attractions.

Chiang Mai Mountain Sanctuary

We did more hiking until we arrived at the Chiang Mai Mountain Sanctuary. We were hiking with elephants in the mountains of Chiang Mai and feeding them. This was an amazing experience I will never forget. We were provided with clothes to wear, bananas and bamboo to feed the elephants. I could spend hours with elephants, unfortunately our time was limited there, so we had to go to the next adventure.

Karen Long Neck Tribes Village

The jungles in the Chiang Mai province are a trekker’s paradise, filled with waterfalls, valleys, mountains and more interestingly, various hill tribes. I visited The Karen Long Neck Tribe. They originally lived in the hills of Myanmar and fled to Thailand due to political unrest in their country. Today, most of their villages are located between Chiang Mai and the Golden Triangle, the point where Thailand, Burma and Laos meet. The women of the long neck tribe wear heavy brass rings across their necks and shins. Every 5-6 years the rings are removed and they get a new one with an additional ring. The rings do not actually elongate their necks upwards, but rather push down on the collarbones, thus squashing the body down. After such a long time of wearing the rings, they could not unwear them because their neck muscles have weakened and now need the rings for support.

White Temple in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is a small town next to Chiang Mai. I would highly recommend a visit there because of the White Temple or Wat Rong Khun, which is one of the most beautiful temples I have ever seen in my life. The temple is entirely white with fragments of mirrored glass. The white represents purity and the mirror represents reflection. The main building of The White Temple is reached by crossing a bridge over hundreds of reaching hands. The hands represent human suffering and hell, while the bridge represents crossing over from death into a state free from suffering.

In the end, Chiang Mai fulfilled all of my expectations. I saw the nature, hiked in the mountains, experienced some local life and slept under the Thai stars. I fell in love with Chiang Mai, the elephants and the White Temple. What else to wish? Surely, it was a dream adventure.

Vocabulary

getaway – a place where one escapes for relaxation (krótkie wakacje)

hint – a clue (wskazówka)

feed – to give food to (karmienie)

temple – an edifice or place dedicated to the service or worship of a deity or deities (świątynia)

campfire – an outdoor fire for warmth or cooking, as at a camp (ognisko)

valleyan elongated depression between uplands, hills, or mountains, especially one following the course of a stream (dolina)

tribes – any aggregate of people united by ties of descent from a common ancestor, community of customs and traditions, adherence to the same leaders, etc. (plemiona)

brass – metal alloys consisting mainly of copper and zinc (mosiężny)

elongate – lengthen (wydłużać)

collarbones – the clavicle (obojczyk)

 

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