We hope all of you are doing well! Here is another chapter of our novel to read at your leisure.
Two days ago we went to Baan Chang Elephant Park, a elephant excursion recommended by Lonely Planet. We were picked up at our hotel by a driver and a guide named “Jimmy” or “Crazy Jimmy” as he likes to refer to himself.
An hour later we arrived at the elephant park with our group of 12 people. We were each given the equivalent of scrubs (but for hippies) because they say the elephants absolutely stink and your clothes will never be the same. So we all changed in to matching blue hippie scrubs and headed over to an open area with about 45 elephants all chained down by one leg (something we felt a bit uncomfortable with). Each elephant was accompanied by their “person or trainer” known as a mahoot. Jimmy told us about where the elephants were rescued from and the mission of Baan Chang. Then we were taught how to feed the elephants bananas and sugar cane. At one point Jimmy called Daniel and I to come up and try something, and another couple approached him at the same time. Confused, all four of us shortly learned that we had almost the same names: we were Daniel and Lauren from America and they were Daniel and Laura from Germany (and with a Thai accent Lauren and Laura sound like “waurahn” anyway). Very funny.
We met one elephant who had previously been trained to give kisses, which entailed wrapping its trunk around you and vacuum sucking your check. One of the weirdest feelings I’ve ever encountered because it with both ticklish and terrifying in that I thought it might suck my flesh off. Then we all leaned some basic elephant commands (which for all intensive purposes could have been complete bullshit and just fun for Jimmy and the mahoots to hear us shout) and were taught how to get on/off an elephant—it made boarding and riding a camel feel like second nature (something I never thought I’d say in my life). We rode the elephants bareback, on their necks, because they say that the wooden chair platforms aren’t good.
Around 12 we all had lunch together inside. Vegetarian pad Thai and pineapple. Pretty decent. When we were finished we went back out to the open area and were assigned an elephant (one per couple). Ours was named MeeNaa and was rescued from logging work in northern Thailand. At the beginning I rode on her neck and Daniel on her back, half way through we switched. Aside from having a sore butt within 10 minutes of riding, the exposed parts of my calfs were chafing due to MeeNaa’s wiry black hairs—lets just say a mud bath wasn’t sufficient, she could have used a deep conditioning.
At the end of the ride the elephants all went into a deep pool of “water” to bathe and almost everyone got in along with them to scrub them. Almost everyone excluded our new friend Laura and I, as we were informed that the elephants are happiest in the water and when they’re happy they poop—a lot. So basically everyone in the water was standing waist deep in elephant poop soup. Since elephant bathing time is considered bonding time, Daniel and MeeNaa will remain much closer than she and I, but I’m ok with that.
Smelly and sore, we showered and changed back into our clothes and got back in the car to go the hotel. After second showers at the hotel we met up with Laura and Daniel for dinner at a restaurant called Cooking Love (also recommended by Rakow). The food was ridiculously good as was the company. After dinner we walked around the old town of Chiang Mai, went to the night bazaar (same stuff everywhere), and went back to go to sleep.
Yesterday we went to Thai Farm Cooking School in Chiang Mai. We got picked up from our hotel by a cute little woman named Benny. Benny put us in the back of an open truck with 8 other people (two bench seats facing each other) and we headed to a local Thai indoor/outdoor market. On the way to the market we filled out a form of what we wanted to make from a menu of 4 dishes and a dessert. At the market Benny brought us around to show us different Thai herbs, spices, meats, and produce. She showed us 3 different types of chili—one which she took the liberty of calling “mouse poop chili” due to its size—and then quizzed us on which one was the spiciest. After the group being told “you fail!” after guessing each size, she screamed out, “I’m the hottest! So sexy” and proceeded to swirl her body. Needless to say, this woman was on her game the whole day and she totally made the cooking class 10x better than it already would have been.
At the cooking school our group of 10 had our own outdoor eating patio and indoor cooking hut. Benny took us around the outdoor vegetable garden where we tasted and picked different herbs and produce to cook with, while dressed in traditional Thai cooking attire; red aprons and sombreros. For whatever reason Benny couldn’t remember Daniels name so she just decided to call him Peter the whole day. I think that by the end he actually responded to it.
The facility was awesome and Benny was an excellent instructor. For our first dish we made soup. I made Tom Yum (vegetarian) soup and Daniel made Tom Kaa (coconut milk) soup. For the second and third dishes I made yellow curry and tofu with cashews and Daniel made red curry and tofu with basil (Benny made rice for everyone). Before we sat down to eat our group asked our driver to pick up beer for us. Lunch was delicious! For our fourth dish (which we took home for dinner because we were all too full to eat) I made pad Thai (using Benny’s special sauce recipe) and Daniel made vegetarian spring rolls.
Throughout the day, as we were cooking, Benny went around the room taking selfies of herself on our cameras (with us in the background). For dessert we made mango sticky rice (coconut milk with palm sugar and salt). Before we left Benny added us on Facebook and then the car took us back to the hotel around 4. Thai Farm Cooking School was definitely a trip highlight!
For the rest of the night we planned out our island travels, ate our pad Thai and spring rolls and passed out early because today we drive to Pai. Pai is a small hippie town filled with Israelis and chillers. The drive takes about three hours because the roads are ridiculously windy.
Lastly, and most importantly, Daniel has expanded the Scott Jacks School of International Language* to Asia. All syntax and pronunciation looks and sounds like ESL (English second language) Asians—replacing “L” sounds with “R” and “W” sounds, completely eliminating the use of the plural, and repeating the same word for emphasis (e.g. “I want nice nice car, not bad bad.) So happy to report the *SJSIL is alive and thriving.
From the Asian branch teachings of SJSIL “Hope you enjoy. Keep you post!”
Waaaarahhn and Peter