Chiang Mai Day #2 Kennett’s Tour
And here with go with Chiang Mai Day #2 Kennett’s Tour. I am calling this one The Day of Firsts, which will become evident as you read on. What a day. We started it off with a nice lay-in, followed by a superb buffet breakfast at The Empress Hotel. I have to say I ate the very best congee I have ever had, and continued to have day after day it was that good. I think the big difference here was that they use pork, and chicken stock not water. It’s killer! Add some soy, chili flakes, fried garlic, and top with some chopped shallots – BOOM.
A little mix-up with the concierge regards our preferred travel mode, despite showing pictures of a red jeepney, the car version of the tuk tuk. We got walked to a car, no thanks. Everyone thought Mary was Thai so started to rattle off to her (something that continued throughout the holiday wherever we went by the way ha ha!). So finally we decided let’s just take a wander down to the main road and flag one. We were so lucky to meet Mr Kim, who became our taxi and tour guide for the rest of the vacation, what a top guy he was.
We love taking tuk tuk because you get to see more, it being open air, you get the smells and weather of the country, you can stop wherever and whenever you want, you are not crammed in with a load of other tourists, you don’t have to stop at the mandatory shops trying to sell you shit, and because it is just seriously good fun. You can work on a rule of thumb that you can rent one of these out for the whole day for about 5-700 Baht, so it is incredibly cheap too. So here comes Chiang Mai Day #2 Kennett’s Tour, now that we have sorted out our transport.
The fermented tofu is an acquired taste to say the least. You want to have a face screwed up like a prune because of the salty, ammonia flavour, then get in to this. I had it once before when in Indonesia, and could not resist the urge to have a go again. It is still just as bad as the first time I tried it, but hey Ollie and I are game for anything.
Whilst driving along Mr Kim stoped and shared with us some things to do on the way to the destination we had chosen. Ollie screamed out a desire to do one of them, so off we went to shoot some guns. It’s holiday time after all.
Ollie shooting = First #1.
Chiang Mai Day #2 Kennett’s Tour, then turns its focus to elephants. Off we zip to Maesa Elephant Camp, +66 (0) 5320 6247. It’s a fair jaunt there, but beautiful scenery all the way, so well worth the trip. Make sure you check the show times and also when you can ride them, or have some fun splashing about with them as they bathe. These are pre-determined times, so if you are going alone without a tour, give them a call. We had a ride booked and then the show afterwards, and when we arrived it was lunch time so off we went to the restaurant. Maybe, like me, you doubt food on offer in zoos, attractions and the like. Well this place proves that absolutely wrong as a theory. I am so so glad we stopped here, and ate here.
Mary, Ollie and Amy went for the noodle soup. If only pictures could smell. The broth was supreme quality. Up there with the best beef kway teows back in Singapore. Here’s the lovely ladies preparing the guys dishes fresh, ever so fresh. And so delicious. All watched over by about 20 elephants just behind us. Amy and I popped to see the elephants and one came past with a “driver”. The elephant took the hat off the driver, and placed it on Amy’s head – too funny.
Now I will just call out on views of animal exploitation and the like. But there are 79 elephants in this camp. The drivers work with them for circa 15 years, so they are truly family. They are well looked after. They truly did seem happy, not lethargic and pacing up and down. And are clearly safe away from poachers and the like after their white gold. With that I am happy, but of course you would rather see them wandering free in the jungles of Thailand. Just saying like!
Chiang Mai Day #2 Kennett’s Tour, now goes to the jungle. Off we go on a short elephant trek, atop two 25 year old elephants. Beautiful things they are. These drivers were the guys I was mentioning that have lived and worked with these elephants for 15 years. They are mates. They chat to each other, no beating, or hitting here. Funny thing at one point was that I dropped my flip-flop, only to be retrieved by the versatile trunk of our lady elephant, delivered straight to my hand. Bless her.
Elephants painting = First #2.
Next up for Chiang Mai Day #2 Kennett’s Tour, is Tiger Kingdom, www.tigerkingdom.com, +66 (0) 5386 0704. One I could not turn down to be honest, despite the cages being bloody small, but again they are alive, safe, well looked after, and have great relationships with the keepers. The guys we met had been working there 15 years, and looked after our tigers since birth. Read on, more to come on this topic later. But seriously I could not, not do this.
So first you choose from Giant Tiger, Large Tiger, Medium Tiger, Small Tiger, Smallest Tiger, and then you go in and have some time with your choice. You go in to the cage with 1 or 2 keepers, and then you are standing next to your choice, as in touching it close. Ollie and I went in together with two tigers, so we could take pictures of each other. Amy went in with smallest tiger, which happened to be a 4 month old lion cub, born at the facility.
Tiger Kingdom = First #3.
Why do I say feisty, well she grabbed her round the legs at one point. Only playing, but you saw the power and speed of this cat, even at the age of only 4 months. The keepers had to calm her down and then Amy could go back in. More pictures to come from the pro photographer in the cage as we were not allowed in. Can you see Ollie and I in the window watching nervously?
Yes you do have to sign a disclaimer, in that if you get mauled, dismembered or eaten it ain’t their fault.
What a day Chiang Mai Day #2 Kennett’s Tour was. Now we need go back and get showered and changed for dimmer time. But let’s grab a quick Singha for the journey home in Mr Kim’s jeepney. A beautiful trip home it has to be said.
Dinner tonight was at the place I photographed yesterday funnily enough. The one that does the dinner river cruises. This is The Riverside Restaurant, The Old Riverside 2002, +66 (0) 5324 3239. What a find – thanks again TripAdvisor. This became an absolute favourite. Great location, great food, great staff, superb live music wafting through the night air, 3 levels to choose from, the cruise option if you’d prefer, and all for a very reasonable cost of $129 – which is incredible for what we ate and drank this night. Superb work Riverside, we’ll be back to see you guys, of that I am certain – fantastic night for us thank you. This is a MUST visit folks.
I massively cocked up and did not get a picture of my Tom Kha Gai, and what a shame because it was one right up there re flavour. But one tiny complaint to Riverside. I don’t know if you toned it down because of the white face, but it was not nearly enough spicy. You had sweet, sour, salty but were massively missing one S. Although I rectified it by asking for chopped chili and threw half a bowl of that in. SORTED!
Last up for today is a little video clip I call Shooting. Me shooting a Glock, and the elephants shooting penalties.
There you have it folks, Chiang Mai Day #2 Kennett’s Tour, the Day of Firsts. What an absolute cracking day. Amazing sites, sounds, food and new friends made. We are seriously loving Chiang Mai. It is such a varied place, every corner you turn there is something new to see and do. To me it is a blend of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and strangely enough Japan. Go figure. It is truly a MUST SEE destination one day in your life, especially if you live here in Asia, its a hop-skip-jump away. I hope you like the blog folks – ENJOY!!!