Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – 14/1/2013

The temple is atop Doi Suthep, the mountain, and the way up is a 306-step staircase flanked by two long serpent statues. The climb is supposed to show devotion. It was established in 1383, to enshrine a Buddhist relic. A shard of bone believed to be from Buddha’s shoulder broke in two, one part being held in a wat at the base of the mountain, the second being put on a sacred white elephant and then enshrined in a wat built at the spot where the elephant died. A white elephant statue is located now at the top of the hill.

We did a day trip with Lanna Kingdom and had Kate and Mr A as our guides again. We took a cable car to the top and Kate took us around and showed us the temple. She took us in to a monk who blessed us and then tied a piece of string on each of the boys, Dad and Andrew’s wrists. A non-monk did Ava’s, Mum’s and mine, as a monk can’t touch females.

I had been really excited about seeing this temple and I’m not sure if it was the sheer number of people there or if it was just not as impressive as I had imagined.

After we looked around the temple we walked down the stairs where a snake is stretched along the top of each side of the stairs as the protector of the temple.

It wasn’t a particularly clear day so we couldn’t really see Chiang Mai city from the top but we all learned more about Buddha and Buddhism.

– Karen


Tourist Information:

Opening hours: 6 am to 6 pm.

Fees: 30 baht entrance fee; to get up the mountain, will need to hire a tuk-tuk, scooter, or other method of transportation. It’s a long walk.

Siam Rice Thai Cooking School – 13/1/2013


The Siam Rice Thai Cooking School runs several cooking classes through the day, and take participants through the full process, from buying ingredients at the markets to making curry paste with a mortar and pestle, cooking the food and (of course) eating it. Participants in the morning half-day class can pick a soup, a noodle dish, a curry and a dessert from the menu to prepare. There are many options available to choose from.

Price: 700 baht per person. If using seafood in every dish, 1500 baht.



After visiting the markets for fresh produce, we learnt how to use the pestle and mortar and cut the food correctly.

On the 13th of January, we went to the Siam Rice Thai Cooking School. First stop was the market, where the teacher showed us the ingredients for curry, curry paste, stir fry, soup and spring rolls.

After the food was prepped, it was time for cooking.

We then continued to the school, where we began preparing the soup, for which I chose Hot and Sour Prawn. We also began preparing a stir fry, I chose Chicken and Cashew Nut. After we finished we got to eat it along with our soup.

 Finally we got to taste our delicious creations.

After that we started on the curry paste and curry. We worked with a pestle and mortar to grind up the herbs and spices. After we finished the curry we continued to do the spring rolls which I completely messed up on, even though they were delicious.



Tourist Information:

Price: 700 baht per person. If using seafood in every dish, 1500 baht.

Can pick up from hotels.

Offer full-day, morning, afternoon and evening courses, with different menu combinations available at each time of day.

Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle, Karen Hilltop Tribe – 12/1/2013

https://www.renown-travel.com/temples/symbolism.html (for information on Chiang Rai

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand/chiang-rai-province/attractions/wat-rong-khun/a/poi-sig/1174389/357666 (opening times)

50 Baht per person for foriegners for entrance fee

Karen Hilltop Village Official Website:



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The wishing well at Chiang Rai, where you can toss a coin for a wish.

The wishing trees, here you can put your name on a medallion and hang it on the tree for 30 baht.

This beautiful, ornately decorated, gold building is in fact the toilets.  It represents the body and the colour gold on how people focus on worldly desires and money and that we should instead focus on the mind instead of material possessions.

At the start of the bridge are hands reaching out which are humans who have been cast into hell and represent desire, greed and lust.  The main white building is where you reach enlightenment.  

We did a river trip in the Golden Triangle Area where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet, its also one of the largest opium producing areas in the world.


Baanchang Elephant Park – 11/1/2013

The Baanchang Elephant Park is a visitor-funded sanctuary for exploited, abused and orphaned elephants. Many of their elephants have been treated cruelly in the past, and through education and awareness, Baanchang hopes to improve the lives of the elephants in their care. None of their animals are treated cruelly, or painted or trained for tricks. All elephants are chained, though this is for the safety of visitors and other elephants. The park is situated in the natural habitat of the Asian elephants, so they may live in a comfortable environment.

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No we are not in prison uniform, just in the uniform required for working with elephants.  Nan and Pop came with us on this trip.

Riding through the forest on elephants, how cool is that!

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Both the elephants and children relax and the elephant believe it or not was actually quite happy.

We got a taxi, then we got dressed in shorts and shirts. Then we fed the elephants. We learned the commands; bai means to go forwards, how means to stop, non long means to lie down. Then we had lunch, and rode our elephants. We got changed and got a t-shirt and went back to the hotel.

– Ava

Ava elephing around

We went in a taxi and picked up another family. When we got there we saw 24 elephants and one coming that night. We changed into some uniforms filled with pockets. Then we got to feed the elephants sugar cane and bananas. We saw a hyper baby and we got a kiss from it. Then we fed a blind elephant. We learned the commands for the elephants. They are bai (forward), how (stop), non long (lie down) and quai (left or right). We had lunch, then we rode on them through the jungle for one hour. We gave the elephants a bath and to say goodbye, they squirted us with water. Then we got dressed in our normal clothes and went to the hotel. Pop had a great birthday.

– Max

Max feeding and riding the elephants.

We were picked up by a minivan at the Secret Garden Hotel. Once we arrived at the Baanchang Elephant Park, we saw many elephants, 24 to be exact, with one more coming that night.

We got dressed in our uniforms: button-up shirts and shorts. Our guide, Sumit, led us to big baskets of sugar cane and bananas. He said to be careful with some elephants; a 40 year-old female and an elephant with a machete cut on her trunk.

We fed them food and I felt inside one’s mouth – squishy! A small baby elephant gave us kisses with its trunk.

After that we sat down at a bench and Sumit ran through the commands for riding elephants. Non long was for the elephant to sit down so you could hop on and off, bai was to move the elephants forward, and to turn you said quai and lightly kicked the left ear to turn right, and the right ear to turn left.

Later we had lunch; soup, sweet and sour, bread-crumbed chicken and rice. We threw all the bones into a pond to feed the fish.

After lunch we rode on elephants through the jungle. I went with Dad, who sat on the back and I sat at the front, so it could steer. We noticed the words Baanchang Elephant Park carved into the skin. I wondered if it hurt; probably not, as the elephants have thick skin. The elephant seemed very unstable, up so high, especially when going downhill.

Then we scrubbed all the elephants in the bathing hole. The elephants sprayed us, then we got dry and went off to get out of our uniforms. Nana and Pop bought us some t-shirts and we went back to the hotel.

– Tristan

Tristan enjoying his opportunity to pet, ride and bathe an elephant

When we arrived at the elephants we got changed into strange uniforms, denim long pants and a shirt. We then went to the feeding where there were twenty-four elephants. We also petted elephants and received a kiss from an elephant.

We were then sat down and explained the commands: non long = lie down, bai = forward, how = stop and quai and kick opposite ear = turn. We then had a turn of doing the commands.

After lunch we rode bareback on the elephants and found out how uncomfortable they are.

After that the elephants went for a swim and we got to spray them when they sprayed us.

– Josh

Josh enjoying riding the elephant and petting him with Max and Pop

Tourist Information for Baanchang Elephant Park:

The cost varies depending on which course you take; we took the one day Elephant Mahout training. These costs vary from as little as 2,000 baht for kids and 2,900 for adults, up to 15,900 baht for a single adult. There are many pricings, visiting times and courses available; see website for details.


Research by Tristan, journals by Ava, Max, Tristan and Ava, photos and captions by mum