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Goodbye Thailand – hello Laos!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

I finished off my time in Thailand with a fantastic day at the Elephant Nature Park in the Mae Taeng Valley. The park is run by hippie-vegetarian lady Lek, who loves elephants and has been saving them from circus work, logging and street begging since 1995 (you can bump into elephants used for begging on the streets of Chiang Mai).

Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng Valley

Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng Valley

After driving for an hour north we arrived at the camp throughout the day spent time with them, feeding them fruit, bathing them in the river, walking with them and seeing the little 5 week old elephant. It was amazing!

Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng Valley

Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng Valley

Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng Valley

Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng Valley

Some of the elephants had broken legs, damaged feet from land mines and there is even one with a broken back, so we weren’t allowed to ride them.

This elephant's foot was hurt when he stood on a land mine

This elephant’s foot was hurt when he stood on a land mine

Feeding the elephant was a very slobbery activity with them curling their trunk around your hand and sucking the food up in to their mouth, but the bathing part was the best for me. I got absolutely soaked but it was worth it.

Feeding the elephants

Feeding the elephants

Feeding the elephants

Feeding the elephants

We started by throwing water over ‘Naughty Boy’ (nicknamed because he keeping bashing everyone with his trunk) then I scrubbed his trunk with a stone.

Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng Valley

Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng Valley

Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng Valley

Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng Valley

We walked over to where the little baby elephant was kept, in a special pen mainly to keep Naughty Boy from squashing him, before we headed home. It was a great day.

5 week old baby elephant

5 week old baby elephant

I also explored the old city in Chiang Mai before leaving. The weather was scorching by midday so I headed off quite early and saw the main Wats (temples).

Exploring Chiang Mai with Mr. Bandit

Exploring Chiang Mai with Mr. Bandit

Old City Gate in Chiang Mai

Old City Gate in Chiang Mai

Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai

Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai

Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Phra Singh

Wat Phra Singh

Monk on a mobile

Monk on a mobile

Wat Phra Singh

Wat Phra Singh

Wat Phra Singh

Wat Phra Singh

Chiang Mai Arts & Cultural Centre

Chiang Mai Arts & Cultural Centre

Today while packing by bag to go to the airport I saw that my airline had crashed in Laos yesterday on BBC news (the pilot lost control after strong winds from Typhoon Nari swept the plane off course) so after a nerve wracking morning and a very rickety flight in a tiny place (with only 9 passengers!) I safely arrived in Luang Prabang. I have never been so happy to land!

Luang Prabang is the ancient capital of northern Laos and it’s set in a valley next to the Mekong so there was some stunning scenery on the way in.

Flying over Luang Prabang

Flying over Luang Prabang

It’s really small for a city with a population of only 60,000. I cycled into town over a bit of a wobbly Indiana Jones-style bridge to the main street where there are loads of little French restaurants that I’m looking forward to trying and I have booked a adventure tour for Saturday, so plenty going.

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