Provincial travel to ‘Chiang Mai Elephant Friends‘
Thailand experienced a recurrence of COVID-19 in April meaning restrictions returned, most notably a ban on eating in restaurants and cafes. This occurred during the time we planned to travel to Mae Wang to encounter Elephants. Several days before we checked that the resort we wanted to stay at were accepting guests, and thankfully they were. Further, we researched certain activities we could undertake in the circumstances. We were able to have Breakfast and Dinner on the premises which was a welcome comfort. Above all, we felt grateful that we could still travel given most of the COVID cases were in Chiang Mai city.
Journeying by Scooter and Experiences with Elephants
Travelling from the city to Chiang Mai Elephant Friends, a distance of 50km, took us just over 1 hour. The journey to Mae Wang municipality was simple yet after the road becomes twisty, eventually reaching Doi Inthanon. Nevertheless, this stretch of highway leading to our resort, approximately 15km, offered fabulous mountain scenery. Before checking in we continued past the resort, where the road became steeper, to a Cafe deep in the forest. While there were restrictions, we could still sit and have our coffee given the remote location. There were Elephants present, a fabulous sight and we interacted with them by feeding bananas.
Chiang Mai Elephant Friends – Sightings of Elephants
The setting of Chiang Mai Elephant Friends was fantastic and we could already see elephants on arrival. One of the staff ushered us to follow him, driving through tracks of the main elephant camp. The track continued into forest as far as the bungalow-style accommodation which was elevated and overlooked other bungalows. In the afternoon we walked to see elephants and the river below, before cooling off in the pool. Our dinner included Pad Thai and Yam Khai Dao, two of many delicious choices, and was served to our room. Breakfast comprised of Rice Porridge, Eggs and Sausages, Fried Rice and Fresh Fruit.
Brief Excursions and Meals
The first morning we drove to Mae Wang to explore the market and buy lunch, Kanom Jeeb and Salapao. We found a Cafe and ordered iced drinks to replenish ourselves from the heat. Indeed, the route reminded me of the Samoeng Loop because of the expansive forest around us. After we finished some work, our dinner comprised of the flavoursome Steamed (Nile) Tilapia Fish with Lime. Likewise, on our third day we scooted to Mae Wang, visiting a local temple. Our lunch included Sticky Rice with Grilled Pork Skewers and Khao Gan Chin, both firm favourites of mine. After a short walk and a swim our we had a dinner of Pork Panang Curry and Chicken, Rice with Oyster Sauce.
Activities not related to Elephants
Early on the first morning we ran the track out of the resort and along the main road. Later, we explored the river further, paddling across rocks prior to a pleasantly cooling downpour. We had considered hiring a raft but the weather on the day wasn’t favourable with a storm incoming. When the rain again fell before dusk the view of clouds circling over the mountains was spectacular. Another activity involved my girlfriend filming the ride from the lodgings across a wooden-beamed bridge across the river to the main road. This was particularly thrilling as there were sharp turns and the bridge was of considerable height.
Journey back to CM
We slowly made our way back to Chiang Mai as, compared with other recent trips, the distance was short. Our morning Cafe stop was at The Rectangle Coffee x Tower, a scenic spot and interesting building to enjoy Iced Coffee. In addition, you could climb up to the second and third floors to experience the 360 degree mountain views. On the whole the trip was fantastic, highlights include waking up to Elephants (almost) and the general location of the resort. Since returning to Chiang Mai in 2021, I’ve been fortunate to accomplish several provincial trips without too much disruption.