Thailand Part Two—Chiang Mai and the Grand Canyon

Back to Thailand! After checking out southern Thailand–Phuket, Phi Phi Island, and Nai Yang–and loving it, we were so excited for more pad Thai, green curry, amazing fruit smoothies, honestly all of the cheap street food in general. (Yes, this trip has revolved around food). But, even more exciting was the promise of elephants, massive night markets full of bizarre goodies, and the Grand Canyon.

Our first day was greeted with rain, clouds, and more rain–not surprising, though, since the rainy season is upon us. Trying to stay somewhat dry, we decided to indulge in an eating-focused day, and naturally, found an a amazing Mexican place with burritos oozing retried beans, juicy beef, and Pico de Gallo, The Salsa Kitchen. The next day we decided to rent a motorbike, regardless of the weather, and drive to the Grand Canyon water park.

It was a cloudy morning, but dry, so we found a motorbike shop nearby, and hopped on a bike with Chase driving with me shouting directions. Quick reminder, we do not have access to data/WiFi to update maps on our phones, so navigating is difficult. Making matters worse, Thailand drives on the left side of the road, and Chiang Mai is riddled with one ways sculpted by a square river surrounding the Old City, smack dab in the middle of Chiang Mai. Long story short, it is the most confusing city to navigate.

So, with my shouting left in 300 meters, and turn right in 1.2 km, we made our way through the city relatively easily, until a Thai police officer stood in the middle of the road, flagging us to the side for a ‘routine traffic check.’ Since Chase does not have a Thai driver license (surprise, surprise!!), the intimidating cop threatened a month of jail time or a 500 Baht fine. Obviously we paid the fine that was the equivalent to $15 US dollars, it was obviously a tourist scam trap… The only people pulled over had light skin. Once we paid, we were on our way again! Little did we know, that the estimated 30 minute trip would take us about an hour and a half…

The task of navigator was stressful, let me tell you. The map we were using was slow to update, all while trying to hold on so I don’t fall off the back. As I’m sure you can guess, I messed up an important turn, and we shot off in the wrong direction down the interstate. Stopping at a cafe to get some WiFi, we almost made it to the Grand Canyon before the rain hit… Almost. After 10 wet and scary minutes on the motorbike, we pulled up to water park (my twelve year old self would have gone wild here).

The Grand Canyon is a reservoir in canyon (imagine that), housing every blow up water toy you can think of: they have slides, trampolines to jump off of, blobs, it was awesome. After about three hours, we were so exhausted and sunburnt (me), that we made the trek home, but vowed to come back in a couple days for a round two!

Lucky enough, we had an excuse to come back. 🙂 The next day, Chase’s family showed up in Chiang Mai, so, we had a couple more days to check out the city with some familiar faces.

We made our way to the hotel we were meeting his family at in the afternoon, Na Nirand Boutique Resort, and had quite the evening of reminiscing of our travels and their experience in Bangkok.

The best experience of all is coming in a couple days, the elephant sanctuary!

More to come. 🙂