Thursday, March 14, 2013

Letting hair down at Chiang Mai

I want to wrap up my travelogue of Thailand so that  I can start talking about Cambodia. But yeah, though I couldn't get that mystic feeling in Thailand compared to Cambodia, Chiang Mai was definitely beautiful and offered me solace.

I did skip the usual zoo, the temple on the cliff top and those kinds. To me, I saw how I can take advantage of the place and the coziness it has to offer. Chiang Mai had lots to offer and I did go berserk. Here are few things that we indulged in and have no regrets of any kind in choosing Chiang Mai.

Zip lining: I have this bucket list kind of thing where I want to try all the adventurous stuff available. My ultimate aim is to do tandem sky diving and sea diving. I had zip lining in the list, sure I wouldn't be happy with the miniature ones where its done if you zip line 10-50 mts a couple of times. I wanted an adrenaline rush for at least a couple of hours. So whcren I found out about the zip line adventure that takes you deep through the jungles of 1500 years old Thai rainforest, I would not forgive myself if I missed it. As usual, had to pursue Velu a lot since he is scared of adventures of any sort. I put my foot down that if he is not going, I want to do it alone. So we plunged. The experience was AMAZING!

Over 5 km of zipline gliding through the luminous green treetops and canopies for 3 hours. Not only do you experience the fun of it, but also get to enjoy the stunning vistas of the forest. Since it was a rain forest, it rains every noon and wow! when it rained, it was just wow! And so I zip-lined, abseiled, rappelled, climbed rope ladders, crossed suspended and monkey bridges and flew from one platform to another like a monkey up above from the height of 1-2 km. There were a couple of ones which were scary and others didn't want to do, but who cares! I went ahead and was thrilled, the sky rangers were friendly and funny and kept the enthusiasm throughout. The trail among the vegetation  and trekking at Mae Kampong falls and its 7 wondrous cascade was enchanting.

A wild but beautiful mushroom on the way up to the waterfall

One of the many cascades of the waterfall. Walking alongside the waterfall was beautiful, the sprays of water making it electric.

Trailer; trying my hands on free climbing

Walking on a suspended bridge

Abe-sailing from a tall rain forest tree

Taking a break on a tree top

Waiting for my turn

Another of the bridge. I don't have snaps when we were zip lining. You need to be more than a monkey to be zip lining and clicking photographs! :)

Thai massage : The very first moment we stepped into Khao San road in Bangkok, I so wanted to experience Thai massage. But it seemed sleazy in that place, its more of attracting tourists than offering a traditional Thai massage. Since there was a discount for Thai massage from the store we booked for zip-lining, didn't want to miss this too. The massage at Chiang Mai is worth and must not be missed than at Bangkok, Pattaya or Phuket. They are all touristy, the practice is more religious, spiritual and traditional. 1 hour of massage was soothing, all joints and muscles in the body welcomed the unique experience. I wanted to try once again but somehow missed it since the last night was spent at walking through the night markets.

No, no photos of Thai massage :)

San Kamphaeng Hot springs and Mineral Bath : Remember my post on the Calistoga hot spring at California? There are numerous hot springs in Northern Thailand. Its mostly frequented by locals and San Kamphaeng was one such hidden gem. I think I could count the number of foreigners there - hardly 10 including us. The locals come here for a picnic, spend some good family time and take a hot mineral bath and wind up. The hot spring is located around 35 km from the town and is surrounded by trees and verdant hills. The water has a high sulphur content and is rich in restorative and curative properties. Since its not touristy, the entry fee and the fee to take a bath is nominal. Another amusing thing is at the entrance, you can find a shop selling chicken and quail eggs. We saw Thais buying them and I didn't really understand why. Then I recalled reading about the practice. Buy some eggs, let them boil in in a well near the hot spring, eat it and go bath! The hot spring was continuous unlike what the one at Calistoga where it go calm and resurge after every 20 minutes. I will have to mention the mineral bath. For 100 or so baht, you can sink into a tub of steaming hot mineral water and relax your senses. It was rejuvenating and refreshing, and you get your minerals baby!

On the way to hot spring

See if you can read this

The hot spring. It was tall and zzzzzz non stop spewing out sulfuric water.

A well near by. You will know its purpose soon.

To boil eggs!

Cooking instructions

20 metres beyond are picnic area and the channel of water where people can dip their foot in and enjoy their eggs.

It doesn't end here. I have more adventures at Chiang Mai to share! More later.


  1. Whoa! Can't get more exciting than this, can it?! Your travelogue certainly inspires me to take the trip down there, sooner than soon! And yes, right now, I'm all green with envy :)

    1. RGB,

      Long time no see! Welcome back! You should go! :)

  2. Replies
    1. to leave it in between, I just fell off while zip lining... all your fault.

      Did you do that "hoooooooooo......." too??


  3. What makes your travelogues so different from the 'I was there, I was here' stuff is the extent of your involvement, B! You really went wild, didn't you! :-) Me Tarzan you Jane stuff, uh?

    That zipline gliding! I googled images and went agog! how did you go, sitting, hanging upside down or in a glider? Cool, B, you are awesome!!!!

    The bridge looked so scary. V_E_R_T_T_I_I_I_I_G_G_G_O_OOOOO!

    Another thing: Do you think you can provide the logistical details and itinerary of your trips? That would be useful for those who are planning a trip there. Like the places you went, the hotels you stayed at, the expenses, you know.

    1. Balan,

      I am so glad you feel my travelogues are interesting. Keeps me writing. Haha, I did go wildly wild! yeah!

      Hahaha, its adrenaline rushing isn't it Balan? I went hanging sideways, upside down, sitting and floating in the air types. I also did rapelling, jumping down a tree, walking on a monkey bridge all high above the ground. Its once in a lifetime fun Balan.

      You bet! the bridge thing was awesome esp when you walk seeing whats down :P

      Balan, I would be glad to share all the details with you, including the breakup and budget. I can give pointers and contacts as well. But I am not sure if I want to put it here; how many people may find it useful? Do you think I should start doing that?

    2. Your next trip should be to Mount Everest! :-D

      I can see that some of the readers would have already visited the places you mention and would say, 'Yes I too was there last summer it was so wonderful you brought back so many memories or Oh I have had my holidays there every year' etc. But I am sure many others like who haven't been to say, COSTA RICA :-), would love to learn the logistics - at least one can plan and daydream! Such details can be a kind of PS at the end of the post, you know.

      Btw, how can one change the comment thing like yours - replying to the comment right along with it? That makes it more intimate than the @Insignia!

    3. Oh you know where all I want my next trip to be? Everest, NE, Rajasthan, Varanasi, Morocco, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Vietnam, Mongolia, The South Americas.....:-/

      I better clone myself Balan and make money quick!

      Sure thing, I will add the travel details henceforth. Thanks for pursuing, I know you had mentioned even earlier.

      I have mailed you how to change comment settings. Let me know if it worked.

  4. Wow! Zip-lining over the rainforest must be amazing. The pics are so inviting, I just want to go to Thailand next! The hot springs is beautiful too!

    1. I bet! It was one of its kind experience. You know it started raining for an hour, it was pouring yet we continued to zip line.

      Hot springs was another heavenly experience; esp the bath :)

  5. ah!! zip lining.. I had to check for the images in google to know what it is.. scary .. but i think its worth trying it :) Hot springs and eggs ;) Like Balachandran says, it will be useful if you write one such post because, you have triggered the Thailand hormone in many of your readers :)

    1. He he. It wasn't :) I would love to share the details but it would be generic. I can share on a need basis Ramya. depending on individuals interests

  6. B, I guess that your travelogues are now standing on their legs more by the pictorial descriptions than the words that you write. I mean even if you just post the photos they have begun to tell the story.
    I liked the Tarzan spouse dangle on the vine. Well the helmet gives you away! Along with Tarzan ( your spouse) it would have called for the title "Tarzan and Jane in Thailand".

    The rope bridge and the tall tree are wonderful.

    1. Anil,

      Oh! you know, my spouse is not for all these adventurous stuff. All he wants to do is find a shack near a beach and sip beer all day. I had to pursue him a lot for this. He was scolding me for walking with speed on the rope bridge!

  7. Ow wow! Great going, undoubtedly an exciting trip. Lovely shots.

  8. Oh this must have been absolute fun to Zip line for 5 km! Thailand is amazing indeed!

  9. I remember posting a comment to this post and to balan's message earlier from my phone, but it is missing... i am never able to post comments from my phone... interesting...

    anyway, the first thought after seeing your pictures was, "how oculd you forget to pack your pants bindu! :-)"

    but really, nice post and fabulous photos. i was zip lining through cubicles at office today after reading your post! :-)

    1. Hahahahaha

      I really didn't take many pants Gautam. I am learning to pack light. Yeah, for zip lining, I didn't have any pants that were suitable for it. So I opted for shorts :) I was also worried about the baggie or cargos getting stuck on a tree branch and me dangling mid air!

      This really worked well for me. Happy Office Zip-lining!

    2. whoever invented clothes and made them complusory for tropical places? :-p

    3. Lol! Are you teasing me Gautam?

  10. Hi, B, just felt I missed to add something to my comment. In fact we ( I , Balan and another close friend gopt together at my place in TVM yesterday evening and your Blog and the photos were a subject of brief discussion.
    I must add that your photos and the crisp writing are complimenting each other. Certainly the pictures are looking better as you gradually carve a niche .

    And we were complimenting you for the zest you have to travel and we were patting your back . Guess you felt the itch in the eyes when someone talks about you ha ha!

    1. Oh how privileged I am Anil to be a topic of discussion among close friends catching up after long time. I am glad me and my blog and photography were worthy of your time.

      Haa I got all of your pats on my back. Oh yes! I also had non stop hiccups and was wondering who could be talking about me :)

  11. Wow! What an adventure filled trip you had... loved the abe-sailing and free climbing... the walk on that bridge must be scary but so exciting. Hot springs and boiling eggs... Aha!!

    1. Thanks Shilpa. Yeah it was sheer fun!

  12. Hi Insignia! Looks like you visited us at Flight of the Gibbon! Love the pictures of the gibbons :)


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