Friday, September 26, 2014

Glamping with Elephants in Thailand

A view of the Mekong River from the my tent balcony

There are times in life when you just have to say, “I’m doing it” and pay the price later. In this case, the price was rather hefty, but totally worth it.

Visiting Thailand, riding an elephant and glamping are all things on my bucket list, and the Four Seasons Tented Camp in the Golden Triangle had all those things and more. It exceeded my expectations and is one my all-time favorite trips so far.

The tent from the outside

The trip began with a long 19 hour flight from Jeddah to Chang Rai that was immediately made better when the Four Seasons town car picked me up to drive me the hour past the rice fields to the Mekong River that borders Burma and Thailand.

 That’s right. To get to the tent camp, you have to take a Thai long boat that whisks you away to your exotic destination.

The tent from the inside - my version of camping.

The camp itself consists of only a dozen tents nestled in trees overlooking the river. They might look plain on the outside, but inside they are nicer than most hotels I’ve stayed in. There was a King sized bed, a giant tub, teak floors and when you unzipped the tent flaps, a view that was out of this world. Everything in the camp is all-inclusive including everything in the mini-bar and the cookies they have in this little cookie jar on the counter (I ate those immediately).

You can hear all the frogs and crickets outside your tent, and when it rains, you'll hear the soothing sounds of the drops against the canvas roof.  For people like me, who don't love camping, this is the only way to do it.

Elephants coming for breakfast treats

But the accommodations were just the beginning of my glamping experience. The elephant adventure was also incredible.

You know how some places claim you are going to ride a camel or ride a pony and all you get is five minutes with the animal as they walk you in the circle? Well, that doesn’t happen at the Four Seasons Tented Camp. You get all the elephant time you want.

They have 24 elephants that they rescued and are taking care of. So there are elephants waiting to be fed bananas every morning, you can sign up to bathe the elephants in the river, and you can do sunset or sunrise trekking with the elephants through the lush jungle and the hills by the camp.

 I even nearly ran into one during my morning run through the jungle. It was misty and there it was -- an elephant in the mist. It was so surreal to see her just there…in the road.

Me on my elephant

Then there is the ultimate elephant adventure and the reason you go to the camp. And that is the Mahout training. With the training, the camp staff provides you the denim outfit and shoes to wear, and then they take you down to meet your elephant who you’ll be hanging out with for four or five hours.

Having a moment with my elephant

During that time, you are sitting on the elephant (they are much taller than you expect). The staff shows you how to communicate with your elephant so that you can tell it where to go, to stop, to go faster and to let you off.

After the initial “OMG…this is so high” moment, I loved my elephant. I wouldn’t say that I’m ready to trade my road bike in to ride one, but it was an amazing experience.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

PHOTO MOMENT: Gail's Bakery by Marble Arch

This is Gail's Artisan Bakery at 4-6 Seymour Place (by Marble Arch tube stop in London).  She had just opened the shop that day and I couldn't resist taking a photo…and then buying some of her yummies.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Photo Moment: London at Night

London at night is magical!

The London Eye…I can't believe I hadn't been there since it was put up.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Photo Moment: Hyde Park

One of my favorites things to do in London is get up at sunrise and run Hyde park.  Which direction should I pick today?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Photo Moment: Snogging is Healthy

In London for the Nature Jobs Expo and couldn't help but take this pick….because who doesn't want a good 'snog'?