Yi Peng and Loy Krathong Festival Chiang Mai #2

Welcome back to Yi Peng Festival 2017, today I would like to share with you the rest of my festival photos I took in Chiang Mai.
In my last post I talked a bit about the festivals themselves and the ceremony we joined in the city.
The ceremony was really beautiful and around ten we decided to go to the east gate bridge in order to see the rising of the lanterns. You definitely can’t miss the bridge since there are thousands of people walking down the streets of Chiang Mai to the east gate.

Although it was very very crowded, (we were barely able to make our way down to the river without getting lost) we even met a friend we made in Bali which was so cool since tens of thousands of people attend the festival every year.

However, we bought a lantern for 50Bath and „joined the spirit“- it was magical! I will never forget this feeling of almost unbearable happiness!
As there is also the Loy Krathong Festival at the same time, we later went to the river and let my little boat float away. Unfortunately it got stuck, nevertheless it was an amazing experience!

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Have a good week!

xx

Yee Peng Festival #1

It’s the second of November 2017, we are in Chiang Mai and excited for the annual Yee Peng (or Yi Peng) and Loy Krathong Festival. We met a Scottish and an American guy in our hostel (Gonkaew Hostel Chiang Mai, very nice place with free tea, coffee and toast the whole day, they even have free breakfast) and spent the day with them.

During Loy Krathong, people build small floating boats and release them on the river. I even made one myself in our hostel, they taught us how to build these little boats out of a trunk of a banana tree, banana leafs, flowers, joss sticks and candles. The women at our hostel told me that adding a hair to your boat is supposed to save you from bad luck.

Yee Peng is the famous lantern festival where thousands of people release floating lanterns into the night sky. It is magical! There are actually two different „kinds“ of Lantern Festivals, one is celebrated in the city and the other one is at Mae Jo University.
The second one is especially for tourists they told me and it costs about 80-100$. The festival we attended in the city, was completely free (besides the lanterns of course).

We went to a ceremony with lots of lanterns in the city and later went to the East Gate of the city, in order to get to the bridge across the river, where most people release their lanterns. It was magical to see all the lights rising into the sky and thousands of people celebrating.
In this post I am sharing with you the pictures I took at our first stop, in the second post, I will finally show you the other pictures I took at the bridge.
Hope you enjoy ♥️

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Chiang Mai by Night

If you plan to travel Thailand, make sure you won’t miss out Chiang Mai in the north of the country. We took a night train from Bangkok for about 10€ which brought us to the beautiful city. The night train was more comfortable than expected and to be honest, a very cool experience. We booked the train a day in advance in our hostel and it was so easy to take the train.

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We arrived in Chiang Mai at around eight in the morning and took a red cab to our hostel. Travelling in Thailand was quite easy to be honest, there are always tourist offices and people in the hostels who will love to help you with your planning. Additionally, it is very cheap! Just make sure to compare the prices and don’t forget to negotiate a bit!
Our hostel was the „Eco Resort“ which was really beautiful.
However, there were almost no other guests and it was quite a ghost town.
The people weren’t really nice, since they accused us of towel stealing which was really unkind. My friend forgot her towel in the bath room and didn’t bring it back to the room. Consequently, they found only one towel in the room and thought that my friend’s white hoodie was missing towel and asked her to show it to them. I was so annoyed. They finally found the towel in the laundry but didn’t even apologise for the circumstances.

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„Downtown Chiang Mai“ is surrounded by a „creek“ which forms a square.
Inside of this square, you can easily get from one temple to another by foot, if you plan to visit Doi Suthep you need to take a cab.
There are different night markets, almost every evening – every night, another spot.
We visited one of these markets and were really impressed. There was such a big variety of fresh cooked foods. Thai food, vegetarian food, desert, fruits and smoothies. We totally fell in love with the Thai version of Crêpes with Mango!
After we had dinner, we had a look at all the different stands and bought lots of souvenirs.
They had everything one could wish for: sarongs, customised leather bracelets, platesand bowls, clothes, art, bags and more – I bought a petite wallet for only 10 Bath (≈0,25€).

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After having filled our bags with gifts for family and friends we discovered some beautiful temples and attended a ceremony in memory of the former King Bhumibol Adulyadej who died in October 2016, it was beautiful!
Looking back, I totally fell in love with this magic, bubbly city!

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I hope you enjoyed reading this, have a good week!

xx, Sophie

Elephant Sanctuary

Hello everybody and welcome back!

I know it has been a long time since I posted the last blogpost but I tried to enjoy Thailand to the fullest and took a little break from blogging.
Please do not get me wrong, I love to share my experiences and pictures with you, but sometimes I felt like I had to leave my camera at home and try to enjoy the moment without thinking about pictures, Instagram or even blogging.
Actually, I did not plan to go on a „digital detox“ or something, I took this break intuitively and I do not regret it. Of course I took pictures and texted my family and friends, however I tried to appreciate and enjoy the moment like people did thirty years ago, that time when all this internet, social media stuff was still in early early progress.

Anyway, little update: I spent the last three weeks in wonderful Thailand and headed to Australia yesterday. So, I am a bit behind my blog schedule.

Today I would like to share with you my magical elephant encounter in Chiang Mai, Thailand. At first I have to state that I really care about animal rights and we did our best to find a good sanctuary where these beautiful animals are treated appropriately.
I know that some animal lovers out there will say that they would not even go to this kind of a sanctuary, but I could not resist because I have dreamed of meeting elephants since I am three years old. These giants are my favourite animals and seeing them in real life was unbelievable.

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We went to a western travel agency in Bangkok who recommended the „Happy Elephant Home“ because the elephants can move freely in a big area, there are no chains, only an „elephant house“ (a roof with eight pillars). There is no elephant riding and no elephant shows. If you plan to go to an elephant sanctuary, it is crucial that they do not provide this kind of activities, since it is bad for the animals. You can book a half-day or a full-day trip at the Happy Elephant Home and it is all about caring for these lovely giants.

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The shuttle picked us up around nine in the morning and it was an one hour drive to the sanctuary. A friendly mahout woman welcomed us and told us we would say hello to one of the oldest elephants at first. I was so excited.
The mahout cut bananas for us and we met the first friendly giant who was quite happy to see us, obviously because we had food.
The lady told us that all the elephants in the sanctuary were rescued because they were abused for hard work. You could tell that the first elephant we met used to carry heavy stuff on his back, since he lacked hair at the front part of his back. She also had a blind eye and a disabled leg. However, she was not afraid of us and one could say that she is a picky eater, since she preferred the bananas that we had already pealed.

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The Mahout lady also told us that all the elephants in the sanctuary are ladies, since the men are kind of lone wolfs.
After having said hello to the elephants, we went to the wardrobe and got changed and well, we dressed up like actual mahouts which was amazing!
Additionally, they wrote our names in Thai language on our hands.

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We spent the morning with three elephants and one two year old baby. We prepared food for them and cut bamboo (I guess it was bamboo) into pieces and put it into our mahout bags. They were able to take pictures with them and later we went to a small lagoon with them where we washed them. Nine happy travelers standing in elephant poo and pee 😀
It was obvious that the elephants loved the people from the sanctuary, they followed them and cuddled them. The baby always tried to „eat“ the mahout lady, since it knew her her whole life.
I was really happy about this, since it is a sign that the animals are well treated in the sanctuary. We returned to the camp for lunch and they let us cook our own Tom Yum Soup. You have to put veggies and rice noodles into a sieve and dunking it into boiling water ten times in a row, put it into a bowl and add vegetable stock with tofu (or chicken) to it. You can add chili or tomato sauce, vinegar and spices afterwards and top your soup with peanut chunks. It was so delicious!!! For desert, we had fresh pineapple!

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Home made Tom Yum 

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After we had lunch, we cut some more bamboo and went on a hike with the big giants.
Again, there were no leashes or wooden sticks to make the elephants walk. They probably walked with us because we had food and also because they followed the mahouts. We walked to a river and even had a bath with them!
It was just magical. Lina and I laid down on one of the elephants and they blew water with their trunks. I did not want this moment to end.

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There was another elephant sanctuary or park on the other side of the river, but it looked more like a zoo and there were people riding on elephants which made me quite sad. However, I was really happy that we chose the Happy Elephant Home!

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All in all, it was an amazing day! Lina and I took pictures with my GoPro and her digital camera, but I did not want to bring my DSLR. There are also many videos which I will be sharing with you as soon as I can.
Additionally, there are no pictures of us at the river, since we decided to enjoy the second part of the day to the fullest, without being distracted by the urge to use our cameras.
We wanted to be aware of what we are doing and to live the moment.
We do not regret it!

 

Stay tuned!
xx, Sophie

 

One night in Bangkok, or three weeks in Thailand

Thailand. Islands, elephants, jungle, beaches, friendly people, Bangkok.
These are the first few words which come to my mind when I’m thinking about Thailand.
Lucky me, I am going to Thailand for three weeks in November.
We recently planned our trip which I will be sharing with you today.

After we will have arrived in BKK, we would like to take the night train and the ferry to Koh Samui, in order to go diving in Koh Tao and to join the full moon party on Koh Phangan, which will be on 3 November 2017.
I know this is very touristy and stereotypical but I guess if you have the chance to go, you will regret it if you don’t.

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Palm Trees, Koh Samui ’89
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Koh Samui ’89
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You may have noticed that these pictures look a little bit vintage and they are!
My mum used to travel a lot when she was younger and she also visited Thailand and Malaysia.
She took these pictures in 1989, using a slide film. I was very impressed when she talked about her travel experience and I decided to digitise her photographs.
I hope you enjoy looking at these pretty and old pictures!

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Koh Phangan ’89
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Koh Phangan ’89

If we still have time, we will take the bus to Krabi and Koh Phi Phi, but we decided that we want to be very spontaneous.

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Northern Thailand
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After we will have discovered some of the paradisiac islands we will probably fly to Chiang Mai, in order to travel back to Bangkok.
Hopefully, we will have the chance to visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai.
I am still not quite sure, if the elephants are treated appropriately. I will have to read a little bit more about this place, since I do not want to promote animal cruelty.

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Last but not least, we will be exploring Bangkok for a couple of days and celebrate my nineteenth birthday there. We thought that it might be less stressful to visit Bangkok at the end of our trip. We will see what happens and I am really excited!

I know that this post does not offer much travel relevant information but I thought you might enjoy these old photos. I am so curious in which way these places have changed the last 28 years.

Have a wonderful weekend!
Love, Sophie

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