Here’s part 1 of how we stayed active during our travels in CHIANG MAI!
Chiang Mai was the very first stop in our ‘gap year’ of travels and I think it holds a special place for us because of that. We spend a total of 10 days in that vibrant bustling city over the lantern festival in November 2018.
We landed. FINALLY! What felt like a million years of flights, layovers and time-zones. We were in Thailand.
We splashed out for the first 3 day in Thailand for a (relatively speaking) expensive AIRBNB accommodation. Rather than jumping right into it and finding a more affordable hostel we thought we would treat ourselves. Because, WHY NOT?! It would give us a few ‘us ‘days to get adjusted to things and enjoy some relaxation and alone time together.
All the planning leading up to this was over. It was now time to have some fun.
Fun ended up being Jet lag for all of the three days of our stay there. We’d be exhausted at 7pm at night but waiting until 10pm to go to sleep. Sleeping for 2 hours then being awake from midnight until 5am when we would get sleepy again was the routine. I have never experienced such a thing.
Fitness wise: We tried to combat the jet lag. We drank tons of water, cooked our own food and got exercise by making use of the most ineffective apartment gym that was available to us. It ended up being mostly body weight exercises in that space and swimming laps in the outdoors pool. We walked lots to local markets in those first few days to get our baring’s of the city. It didn’t help.
Fresh air should fix it. This is what I have READ during my time researching the dilehma.
Outdoors: The TREK that was our Favorite part of Thailand
As we were in a gorgeous country we wanting to do some hiking/trekking. There is a plethora of options out there, however there were a few MUST HAVE things we were looking for:
- Not supporting animal riding or abuse of local wildlife
- Avoiding Large tour companies with lots of people doing the trek at a time
- It needed to be ‘off the beaten trail’
We did some research and booked Thai Eco Trek Adventure for a 3 day Trek. It has been incredibly reviewed on TRIP ADVISOR so we sent them an email as recommended. This company was so incredibly wonderful. Very responsive. Not overtly expensive and it ticked all our must haves. It’s NOT a tour company,it’s run by local tribes people.
As we were in slightly off peak season our 3 day trek ended up being a private outing for us. Just us two, the two guides and 2 doggo’s. Usually there would be more people on the trek during peak season, but we were grateful that the trek wasn’t cancelled for lack of interest on those days! It was magical. We gave them a 5 star review.
Eco Trek: 3 day trek. You have to book via calling or email. Details on their website : http://www.thaiecotrekadventure.com/
Cost: 3600Bht per person = approximately 110USD
We were picked up from the AirBNB and drove for about an hour south to a local market for them to pick up supplies for the next few days for us. It was a great experience seeing how the locals shop as well as they got snacks as sustenance for us before the start of the first days trek! There were these AMAZING coconut balls that I have yet to find anywhere in Thailand since.
Tip: if you find those coconut balls. Stock up.
We drove another hour and a half until we reached the Obluang National Park. Our wilderness playground and campgrounds for the next 3 days.
Once we made it to the village we left our large bags in the truck and just took what we would need for the next few days. We were each given a large water bottle and then we headed off into the depths of the wilderness in the direction of our camp for the next few nights.
Seasonal note: As it was literally the last few days of the rainy season we made sure we brought:
- Extra change of clothing including extra socks (we tried drying everything by the fire each night as it was still quite damp outside for line drying clothes but it resulted in very smokey slightly damp clothes for the next day) just bring and pair of things more than you think you would need!
- Running shoes (sandals won’t cut it, hiking shoes would be best during this time of year as everything was a bit muddy)
- Bug repellent (strong stuff) as you are in South East Asia with all the rain we didn’t want to chance getting bite by something malaria-ey. It was also incredibly handy as there were a lot of land leeches! Our guides taught us to spray them with bug spray and they fall right off!
The first days hike was about 6 hours. Not too strenuous but definitely not an easy hike by any means. After only getting a few hours of sleep the night before it felt a lot tougher than we were expecting. We got to the peak, enjoyed the view through the mist and clouds and had the most lovely picnic lunch. Took a little rest before heading down to the lodge/camp we were to be spending our nights at.
This was a memorable experience for us wandering through the locals rice fields on our way to camp. Most of the staggered hills of rice in that area was grown for the local peoples use not for commercial use.
It was so stunning . Bamboo huts were assembled in a small clearing, situated beside a series of waterfalls. Our amazing guides set up the fire pit for us, showed us the grounds and our room. We took a cold shower and then enjoyed a lovely traditionally cooked meal. There were 3 options made (a curry, a veggie dish and a sweet/sour plate) all of this with an ample side of rice. They had bottled water or sold beer if you were feeling like one. We skipped the beer the first day, the journey was reward enough and sat by the embers of the fire for a spell. We headed to our room where our standard issue hard mattress (with amazingly soft bedding) and mosquito netting awaited us. We fell fast asleep shortly after it was dark. It was 8pm.
The best cure for jet lag.
This was the hardest day. After an overflowing amount of eggs and toast in the morning we set off on the second day of hiking. Starting first through the local village we were taught about local life. Everyone gets a chicken and a pig. We said hello to ALL the local children in school and then we were off.
When we were looking for ‘off the beaten track’ we found it. We were macheting our way through the forest carving our own path! It was still very mucky and steep so we were sliding our way up and down the mountain side. One of most intense full body workouts we had all year! We didn’t really mind so much that we couldn’t see the view through the mist when we stopped for lunch at the peak, we were famished. Food never tasted so good, and again there was plenty of it. Body fuelled, we set off again down the hill side.
Our one guide had a knack for creating things out of foliage, so by the end of the hike I was wearing all the plant creations (a banana leaf watch, fan and a flower crown.). We got to try local fruit that was ripe and growing in the area, saw coffee bushes, tried bark from cinnamon trees. The senses were overloaded and it was amazing.
We got a ride back the last part of the journey in the back of a pickup truck to the camp. A beer was had and we stayed up slightly later to enjoy the vastness and clearness of the night sky. With no light pollution to be seen I saw more stars than I have in years.
Well rested and well fed, the morning of the 3rd day was the easiest trek and the most enjoyable. We followed along a river nearby and got to see multiple waterfalls! We also had a fire and a delicious bbq’d chicken for our last lunch beside one of them.
We had our last stop at the Maetear Waterfalls. We were told that mostly locals make use of this waterfall even during peak times it’s never busy. When it’s later in the year the waterfalls in this area are clear and blue, we unfortunately were a little early in the season and the excess rainfall made them all a bit murky. We still had fun regardless, but they were very unpicturesque!
This was a shorter day and we said our farewells and got driven back to the city, stronger and richer from the memories we made the past few days.