Chiang Mai

That wild, uncharted but actually safe destination in Asia you imagine in your head…where elephants roam, there are a million beautiful temples to pretend you are a tomb raider, the insects are as big as cats, and there’s something clawing at the door of your bungalow at night…that’s Chiang Mai! Check out what I did, and how you can have the same experience too.

Chiang Mai is a small town in the northern part of Thailand which initially I was completely disinterested in visiting. I wanted to spend my entire trip gallivanting around Bangkok, but, at the behest of my much more traveled friend, I was willing to shell out the 50 or so dollars…yes…50 dollars, for a flight to the city of temples. What I found was a hidden gem, something people like me only experience in a video game or maybe a good Netflix documentary.

The city feels in disarray, you can’t tell when you are in parts where people actually live, where there is commerce and entertainment, and where it is wild and rural. We had a bit of trouble getting transportation situated from the airport, but once we did, we were off to go on a tour of the larger temples in Chiang Mai.

I find it always impossible to describe the opulence of places of worship, and being a westerner, the deep need that I have to respect what i may find unusual or strange. Such as removing shoes, or the necessity to wear pants before walking into certain temples. Either way, the experience changed my life in ways I can’t quite put into words, but the photos may help. I was enchanted, enamored, and enraptured. There is a selfless dedication to one’s spirit and well being of others, and an obedience to divinity that I have never seen before. Chiang Mai captured this westerner’s soul.

After a day perusing the city, and having lunch and dinner, Teon and I decided to make the long journey to our Airbnb, The Chai Lai Orchid Elephant Sancuary. I found this special refuge for us to lodge in, complete with our own hut with running water and a mosquito net over the bed.

What we got, was more than I could have ever imagined. We arrived late, but not too late to admire the grounds before sunset turned to complete darkness. Our room was the size of a modest hotel room, completely wood, with a giant hole in the floor and a bed. There was also a bathroom. Sidenote, bathrooms in Thailand have a water hose you’re supposed to use to spray your………hole……clean, lol, instead of using toilet paper. Naturally, I found this fascinating and oddly perfect.

After assuring my travel buddy of every possible insect and animal sound being benign, I fell asleep. Awakening to complimentary breakfast and some quality time with the elephants. We got to walk with them, ride them, help bathe them, and take several photos. The grounds of the elephant sanctuary were well kept, and provided plenty of areas for the elephants to rest and rehabilitate outside of their daily “jobs”. There were also lots of snakes, frogs, insects and stray dogs to play around with. There were river raft rides as well, and lots of great hiking opportunities which I indulged in.

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Chiang Mai is as good as it gets.  A tremendous value for your trip, as long as you are willing to walk and forego a few luxuries, you can have an awesome outdoor experience.

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Thailand: Bangkok

Everyone is going to Thailand, …everyone is going to Thailand….EVERYONE IS GOING TO THAILAND! Here’s why, and what I did when I was there!

Thailand, specifically Bangkok and Phuket, are part of a unique mecca in southeast asia. Thailand offers a feeling of open minded, private, exotic luxury and adventure at an approachable cost. There is also a great allure for those of us who love to wander; beaches, temples, jungles, parks, bars, eateries, hiking, clubs, and modern and unchanged cities. Thailand is also VERY budget friendly. If you can get the flight,… and then suffer the flight, you can enjoy quite a bit with your dollar on this trip. Thailand really does make a compelling destination, I highly recommend it. I flew into Bangkok first, then skirted around the country over the following 8 days, finishing off back in Bangkok. First, a look at Bangkok…

Bangkok, from my perspective, is a big city set in a jungle. Immediately you notice the anonymity that you feel in cities like New York, LA, Paris and London; you are just a speck in a massive community and network of tons of people. There is a hybridization of man and nature that exists here; wildlife and nature are both pest and ornament, welcomed and trimmed back. The heat and thick air are unyielding, digging into every part of you. Its important to note that, culturally, Bangkok gives you a similar experience to big cities worldwide. You get the same bars, nightlife, shops, taxis, foot traffic and stress that you experience anywhere else.

I met up with my best friend Teon in Thailand, we stayed in an air bnb and spent a total of 3 days in the city before skipping to another part of the country. The gay friendly parts of the city are easy to find, and nobody seemed to really notice us at all. As i’ve observed in other parts of the world, your appearance and lifestyle are far less important than the amount of money you are willing to spend. The first night we enjoyed a late dinner before heading to bed.

The next day, we explored the city. I made sure to check out the mall, a few close-by temples, and we went out that night to dance and have a few drinks. It should be noted that Bangkok is commerce CENTRAL! The streets are literally lined with street vendors, selling anything you could possibly want. I saw everything from yeezys to bat blood for sale. There are also tons of food carts and trucks, I indulged in everything I could that didn’t have pork in it.

I’d give Bangkok a solid 6 out of 10. You aren’t missing too much, Thailand’s other cities are far more entertaining and alluring on many different fronts. Bangkok feels like the perfect place for a far away business meeting and night of familiar but novel revelry.

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