Thailand: Tourists For The Day

Once upon a time, D and I were young and childless and we traveled A LOT.  Both together and separately and we got really good at seeing the world and meeting people where they live, away from the air-con buses and tour guides.  At the end of each day, we'd study our guide books and decide what to do the next day.  If the weather didn't cooperate or something went wrong, we'd just do something else.  It was spontaneous and (mostly) fun.
  Fast forward to our family now.  We've learned a lot after traveling with kids for the last six years and at least for our family, spontaneous (mostly) doesn't equal fun anymore.  We've come to the other side, at least a little bit, and embraced the buses and guides. D and I could do it on our own but it's more fun for everyone if we don't.  So for our full free day in Chiang Mai, we hired a guide and driver from Blue Elephant Tours and spent the day after the wedding playing tourists.
We rode elephants:

Earth rode on D while riding on an elephant!

Sky felt like an expert, since she's ridden on elephants before, and kept giving her brothers pointers on the drive to the elephant camp

A view of the elephant camp

A mother elephant with her baby
(the baby was pretty new so the mahouts asked us to stay back a good distance)

After riding elephants, our next stop was going to be at a Karen weaving center.  I'd expected something a little more organized and educational for the kids. 
Well, this stop was still educational in it's own way and we did get to watch the ladies weave textiles.  Sky and I bought a few things and, with our drivers as translators, we got to talk to the weavers a bit.  They thought our family was pretty interesting! 

While Sky and I were looking at weavings and choosing colors, the boys found sticks and started fighting...  Boys!

Next stop, a water fall hike.  We picked this one specifically for Sky because she loves to hike
Look at her go!


How Water got to the waterfall

Water with one of our sweet guides.  They were both very considerate of our kids and made sure that they were comfortable and happy the whole day.

  Lunch was the one real challenge of the day.  The tour description said it would be at a river-side restaurant.  Silly me, I should have taken that literally because we did eat beside a river- see, it's right there off the edge of that platform, 20 feet down!
  The food was authentic and delicious and the big kids ate while D and I grabbed bites while trying to keep Earth from crawling off the ledge.  In the end, we ended up taking turns with him in the store above the restaurant so the other one could eat. 

  After lunch we changed into our swim suits and headed for the last event of the day- a rafting ride down the river.  We had watched others go by while we had our lunch and the kids were really excited for their turn.  For the most part, it was a sweet float with the current but every once in a while there were (little) rapids.  It was a fun way to end our busy day.

  There are times when I miss being able to wing it- just glancing at the guidebook and finding our own way but I love being able to enjoy the experience with my kids without any worrying about where to find lunch or a bathroom.  What about you?  Do you travel with your kids?  Do you prefer a guided tour or do you make your own way?

See where I'm linking up here


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