The gateway to northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is the country’s second-largest city and is a hive of luxury and activity. Here in our new column ‘Postcard From’ we show you how best to spend your time in the ‘Rose of the North’.
I leave the sumptuous confines of my enormous bed at The Chedi – one of Chiang Mai’s slickest hotels, described accurately as ‘Japanese ryokan meets Louis Kahn’ – heading 35 miles north along a misty road to visit 32 elephants and their prospective mahouts – a unique start to any day. Following the flow of the scenic Mae Ping river, we pull up at The Elephant Training Center in the rustic Ta Yaak village which lies surrounded by rocky hills. The young elephants are already up and into their morning routine, a training session of learning forest working skills, discipline and how to exist without their mothers. Perfectly regimented, I watch as they wash, walk in single file, trot about in pairs and in procession, crouch down and pick things up. It’s a moving experience and I buy a couple of souvenirs from the on-site Lisu hilltribe shop.
TIME TO SPA
A bit tired from the drive and my early start, I book myself in for a Blackberry Therapy at the stunning, 3,100 sq m holistic Dheva Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai. This therapy, aimed at stressed-out execs, is 50 blissful minutes long, and during that time I successfully forget about emails, mouse clicking, typing and messaging as tension in my arms and hands floats away.