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 my girlfriend and I planned to travel to Mae Wang to hopefully 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. For instance 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 1 hour 15 minutes. The journey to Mae Wang municipality was simple yet subsequently the road becomes steeper and 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 still, to a Cafe deep in the forest. While there were restrictions, here we could still sit and have our coffee given the far-flung location. Additionally, there were Elephants meandering around the vicinity, 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 certainly fantastic and we could already see elephants as we parked. One of the staff ushered us to follow him on our scooter, driving through rough tracks of the main elephant camp. The track continued further into forest as far as the bungalow-style lodging and accommodation facilities. Our room was one of the most elevated, adjacent to the restaurant, with views over the other bungalows. During the afternoon we walked to see the elephants and then the river below, before cooling off in the plunge pool. Our dinner included Pad Thai and Yam Khai Dao, two of many delicious options available. We had our food served to the room which felt more convenient and relaxing. Breakfasts comprised a range of options from Rice Porridge to Eggs and Sausages, Fried Rice and Fresh Fruit.
Brief Excursions and Meals
On our first morning we drove into Mae Wang to explore the market and buy lunch, Kanom Jeeb and Salapao. En route back, we found a Cafe amongst Mango trees and ordered iced drinks to replenish in the midday heat. I felt that 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, visited a local temple and enjoyed iced coffees. Our lunch comprised of Sticky Rice with Grilled Pork Skewers and Khao Gan Chin, both firm street-food favourites of mine. After another short walk and a swim our dinner consisted of Pork Panang Curry and Chicken and Rice with Oyster Sauce.
Activities not related to Elephants
Early on the first morning we ran the track leading out of the resort and along the main road. Subsequently, we explored the river further, paddling across the rocks prior to a downpour which was pleasantly cooling. Originally, we 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 views of the clouds circling over the mountains were spectacular. Another activity involved my girlfriend filming the ride from the guest lodgings across a wooden-beamed bridge and to the main road. This was particularly thrilling as there were sharp turns and the bridge was of considerable height with water below. Check the video out on the Jeffo Blogs Instagram Highlights (jeffo_blogs90).
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.