The Jungle Book

Day two in Chiang Mai started off with a visit back to our favorite market and our favorite coffee lady and her sweet husband.  We ordered coffees, a fruit smoothy and ate steamed eggs and rice…very yummy!

Then we headed off on our first big adventure…a trek through the Thai jungle!  We started our trek with a stop at the Butterfly/ Botanical Gardens right outside of Chiang Mai.  The orchids and flowers were completely breath taking.  It was so beautiful to see God’s intimacy and attention to detail through the perfect design of each flower and each unique and graceful butterfly.

From there, we headed about an hour North, following the Ping river into a very rural and very beautiful area….the drive in itself was beautiful…but it got even better when we reached our destination…put on the grossest smelling life jacket and helmet, had absolutely no instruction, and went white water rafting back down the river seeing lush, beautiful landscape along the way.  I wouldn’t say the white water rafting was very thrilling (there were like 3 really small rapids) but it was incredibly beautiful and refreshing (the day was SUPER hot and the water was SUPER cold!)

After our rafting adventure, we headed deeper into the forest for the most anticipated (and my favorite) part of the day…ELEPHANT RIDING!!  In South Africa, we have been to Addo Elephant park quite a few times and we love getting to see such huge, powerful, beautiful creatures in such close proximity…but in Addo, the elephants are wild and very intimidating….this was an entirely different experience…a very up close and personal experience!  We got to ride the elephants through the jungle and see gorgeous landscape…but the most impressive thing to me was the gentleness and the agility of the elephants.  These huge creatures gently and effortlessly navigate through thick vegetation,across rivers and up hills…and sitting on their backs is as comfortable and smooth of a ride as an SUV on GA-400!  Looking at the intricacies of the elephant, the tick padding on their feet, the unique “fingerprint” on their ears, the spotted beauty of their skin, the strength of their trunks, I was again reminded of how “in the details” God really is.  It was completely amazing!

After the elephant riding, we were ready for a break and again, really hungry…so we headed to the base for lunch.  Neither of us were expecting much  considering we were in the middle of rural Thailand…but we were very pleasantly surprised by a beautiful buffet lunch of fresh stir fried veggies and tofu, sweet and sour red and green peppers and onions with fresh pineapple, pad Thai noodles and sticky rice.  YUM!  We ate a lot and then got ready for our next adventure…a trip further down the river on a National Geographic style bamboo raft!

The lower part of the river was very slow moving, calm water that weaves through little villages.  We got to climb on the raft and ride about an hour down the river just observing the scenery and getting a taste of life in the more rural areas.  It was a very relaxing mode of transportation!

At the end of our “river cruise” we had one last adventure…an hour long hike to a waterfall!  We started our trek off the side of the road and walked deeper and deeper into the jungle.  We were surrounded on all sides by banana trees, mango trees and coconuts EVERYWHERE!  If I was ever to be stuck in the woods Bear Grills style, this is THE place that I would choose!  The hike was beautiful…but the waterfall was even better.  Our hike lead us to a incredibly tranquil oasis in the jungle…it was relaxing to the maximum…and the best part…there was a lady there with a tiny little cart MAKING FRESH PAPAYA SALAD!

Oh my goodness, what could be better than a beautiful waterfall in the middle of Thailand and fresh papaya salad with crab meat in it!  At this point, I wasn’t even hungry, but you know I was first in line for the salad, and I enjoyed every tangy, sweet bite!  The perfect end to a perfect day of Thai adventures!