My first night in Chiang Mai was eventful, I went to watch some Thai boxing with two guys from the hostel I was staying at. We drank some beer before leaving the hostel and continued to order rounds once at the boxing match. First impressions of Thai Boxing was that it was very stage, with the fighters throwing a few kicks here and there. By the third match we were all disappointed by the flighting but had agreed that they were good acters. It was at the end of the 7 sets that the fighting took a turn and you could hear the kicks impact on the skin of the other boxer. At one point two boxers rolled out of the ring and tumbled over the ringside tables taking the two lady’s sitting there with them. One of the ladies was knocked out cold and got carried out of view (I’m ashamed to say I took photos). We enjoyed the last few matches knowing that it was real and not just an act put on for tourists.
At the boxing match we met a group of Irish men on holiday who joined us for a trip to a few bars ending at the main social square for tourists. The bar is hard to describe. It was more of a cluster of small bars all open with loud music. Anyone who has been there will know Zoes Yellow Bar. After we took it in turns to buy shots one of the guys got us a bucket of what I believe to be vodka. The bucket tipped me over the edge and I did some dancing in the rain with one of the guys before heading back to the hostel to experience Thailand’s toilets up close and personal.
I did not have chance to feel hungover as my alarm was set for 7am to go ride the elephants and do some white water rafting. A very friendly taxi man picked us up from the hostel and after a long and bumpy two hour ride we made it to the first stop. The elephants were far bigger than I remember them being and I was not keen on how you had to get on to them. Firstly you go up to big hut and once one lot of riders climb off you get on by walking on it neck! Not so much fun when you are an animal lover like me. The elephant did not seem to mind this and was happily eating it’s bamboo so i quickly settled into my seat. We were soon walking up the steep, thin path with ease. But by this point I was terrified of it slipping as it had been raining all night making the small thin paths hardly big enough for a person, let alone a giant mammal. The elephant carried on but stopped and refused to move a lot. From what I had read online I was worried that they would look mistreated but from what I could see they had no scars ect and followed the commands with ease. The only thing I did not like was as we were leaving all the elephants were chained up with very little room to move around. This was upsetting but they do not stay there long it’s just so they don’t wonder off before returning to there home.
After the elephant ride we were taken to the water and shown some simple moves on how to move the raft and what to do if anything goes wrong. At that point we were reassured that nothing really does go wrong and that it’s perfectly safe. I’ve never done water rafting before and believed what they had said, feeling completely reassured and that it would be fun. I got on the raft with no hesitation. I had no idea of the hellish ride ahead of me.
The first 10 minutes were fine, we practiced some moves and got to jump out and swim in the river. This was incredible, floating down stream with only the sounds of the jungle and views of the canopy tops as we went by. Soon though it was time to get in the raft and face the first rapid. The first went fine, the second ones not so well. I kept getting thrown around the raft and at one point it nearly capsized. Halfway around a big rock getting thrown around I lost my footing and went flying in to the other guy from my hostel, he then flew out of the raft and into the fast flowing water in the middle of the rapids. I must say despite the cries from our drivers I could not stop myself from laughing at the guy getting dragged back into the raft. From there on each rapid just ended up with me having one more beating. By the end of the hour and a half trip I had a swollen wrist, bruises up my arms and legs and one nasty lump on my finger. I have never been so happy to be on dry land and I’ve spent 12 days at sea! We had lunch in the jungle then had a shorter taxi ride back to the hostel.