Celebrating Songkran in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai was a lot of fun during Songkran. We did the whole supersoaker-waterfest in the old city for a day, and decided after that we would fill our trip with some sightseeing. Having lived in Thailand for almost two years, we knew it would be pretty easy to find a driver with a minivan who could take us around to the typical tourist destinations for pretty cheap. I just asked a few friends who had been there over the past year, and they were all glad to share the contact information for their drivers. So, the next day we piled into "Mr. Su"s van, and set of for Doi Inthanon and Wat Inthanon, perched at the top of the highest peak in northern Thailand. The weather was gorgeous, and the drive was pretty exciting thanks to the people on the side of the road still throwing water at cars, but when we got to the top you couldn't see far. I guess they burn brush and clear property by fire, so the smoke spreads from afar and gives the sky a pretty thick haze.

It didn't matter, except we all became a little congested. Wat Inthanon has gorgeous gardens to ramble around, and afterwards little Nate strolled quietly into the temple on his own, kneeled down, and prayed to Buddha very respectfully. He still doesn't understand what he's doing. Or does he?

We stopped by a waterfall for a lunch break, and later stopped by a roadside stand for some fresh fruit- it was an easy, rambling day. We also stopped by the "long-neck village" which wasn't what I wanted at all, but oh well-I think Mr. Su was just trying to make us happy. Unfortunately, the karen tribe tourist stop isn't really our thing. I actually had a village that I had asked him to take us to: one which didn't have any souvenir shops or an entry fee, just villagers going about their farming, weaving, cooking, etc. Our driver must have thought his idea was better for us. Oh well...

We also spent an few hours the next day on a shopping trip, so I could pick up a few baubles, some hand-painted umbrellas, and some real Thai silk. The silk shop was our favorite, because they boys could actually see the life cycle of the silk worm up close, all the way to seeing them boil the cocoons and spin the thread out of them. 

Then we followed the advice of a fellow employee and headed over to the Chiangmai Night Safari. What an adventure! We first stopped for a quick bite to eat outside the gate at the restaurant, where you could watch the tigers, giraffes and zebras right next to your table! In the park you could go on two rides through the animal exhibits, buy carrots and bananas to toss to them, and sometimes even feed them directly from your hand! Once or twice Nate snuggled close, when we passed the more ferocious creatures, but most of the ride was a lot of fun. After zooming through the park in the dark, feeding animals, and watching a phenominal water fountain/light show, we had to return to the giraffes and say some heartfelt goodbyes:

It was also fantastic staying at the Centara, as always. Their boutique hotel on the outskirts of Chiangmai was gorgeous, well-kept, and had great staff there to help us. Our villa was incredible, with room for both the boys and a canopy bed for us, and of course the GIANT jacuzzi tub outside, that we used every day to scrub the dust and dirt off after our treks. I'm just at that point right now where if we must travel, its worth spending a little extra to not be cramped, but instead be just a teensy bit pampered. And have enough room to stash our purchases....