The family got a much-needed break last November when we visited Chiang Mai. It was unlike other family holidays we had spent in the typical 4-star hotels (with the exception of the villa in Bali) and visiting the recommended tourist attractions which included the typical zoos or animal safaris, cultural haunts, the death-defying theme parks and famous shopping districts. Chiang Mai was culture, adventure and nature rolled into one minus the theme parks!
A True Homestay!
JL Jacky Show Boutique Homestay is unlike any of our previous holiday accommodations. For one, it’s a family home converted into a family-run hotel. Lam and her husband Jacky pay great attention to detail. Suites come with unique Japanese, Burmese, Swiss or Thai-themed interiors. Each has a large sitting area, a kitchenette (cooking however is not permitted) and an en-suite bathroom with a spa bathtub.
Burmese Suite – Living area, Kitchenette & Bedroom
Japanese Suite – Living area, Bedroom & Bathroom
Thai Suite – Living area, Kitchenette & Bedroom
Swiss Suite – Living area, Kitchenette & Bedroom
We stayed 6 nights and Lam ensured that we experienced all four themed-suites. This certainly broke the monotony of returning to the same room. Lam and Jacky played the role of gracious hosts commendably. Our tour-guide for a day, Lam took us to the Elephant Safari, Long Neck Village and the Tiger Kingdom. Jacky cooks up quite a storm when guests dine in. Formerly a chef in Switzerland, Jacky whips up gastronomic delights for his guests. (P.S. his homemade jams contain chunky fresh fruits and he brings in gourmet teas from Switzerland.) A word of caution: Rooms get snapped up pretty fast so book early to avoid disappointment.
Trekking Up Doi Inthanon National Park
Situated atop Doi Inthanon, the highest mountaintop in Thailand 2565m above sea level, the Doi Inthanon National Park is a teeming haven of flora, fauna and bird-life. Trekking through this reserve gave us an opportunity to experience the pristine and energizing beauty of nature.
The Grandeur of Wachirathan Waterfall
The second major waterfall on the way up Doi Inthanon National Park is a real beauty. The thunderous roar of the water as it cascaded down 80m before making a resounding splash was, a treat of orchestral proportions to our aural senses. This impressive waterfall comes with plenty walkways allowing one to experience it from different angles. However, do exercise caution as these walkways tend to be on the slippery side.
Visiting the Tribal Village: A Unique and Enriching Cultural Experience
Lam took us to the Tribal Village. This was a cultural eye-opener and we witnessed the different tribes and their customary and traditional practices. One of the families we visited also graciously obliged to give us a tour of their home. Home is a thatched hut with no electricity. The interior is dark and the living space, crammed. Food is cooked over firewood. To sum it up, life is simple and basic unlike what we are accustomed to in Singapore but, it was heartening to witness the children romping around happily while the elders went about their tasks stoically.
Our First Zipline!
Prior to stepping off the launch pad, I turned to glance at our group as I was the first to go. With my heart literally in my mouth and foot dangling 40 – 50 m in mid-air, I jerked forward and I was flying! The experience was magical, unlike any other. ‘Flying’ at such a height was liberating. The view was breathtaking. Witnessing the wide expanse of the evergreen forest below me was unparalleled to anything I had experienced before.
My boys and I conquered our fear of heights when we were ‘coerced’ into signing up for the Flying Squirrels Zipline Canopy Tour package. However, I must say, this was definitely the highlight of our trip. The adventure tour is 2 1/2 hours long and combines ziplines with a series of exhilarating obstacles and challenge elements built high in the treetops.
We were absolutely satisfied with the attention the company paid to safety standards. Our flight officers were professional, friendly and fluent in English.
The Unexpected ATV Deal!
For thrill seekers, the ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) ride in Chiang Mai is an absolute must. Little did we know that we were going on an actual trek through tall grass, potholes, mud tracks, stretches of water and undulating landscape. We thought it would be around a simple circuit. However, having had paid for the package, we had to muster enough courage and rise to the challenge. All geared up, the ride was exhilarating not to mention very bumpy!
If we were given a second go at it, we agreed we would not have traded it for a circuit track. It was a once in a lifetime experience and really put to test our reflexes, coordination and resilience. A word of caution though, the tall grass and branches did occasionally graze us despite our safety gear. All in all, we had a ‘whipping’ good time!
In A Nutshell
Chiang Mai offered us many opportunities to try out different activities. I feel this provided the family greater scope for bonding. It gave us an insight into one another’s strengths and weaknesses and enabled us to collaborate and work as a team well. This really improved the family’s wellness quotient.
Wishing you and family many more great holidays to come, A Very Merry Christmas and A Great 2015 !