Chiang Mai Grand Canyon
While us Global Grad-der’s have managed to avoid the wrath of British winter due to the cold streak being about a week after settling in Chiang Mai, we’ve had the exact opposite problem. For Thai standards, the country has had a particularly hot winter, meaning that temperatures have averaged somewhere in the high twenties or thirties every day. Hence, we went on a venture to look for somewhere to cool down.
WHERE DID WE GO?
Chiang Mai Grand Canyon. The place was formerly a quarry but has since become flooded with forty metres of rainwater. Rather than just being a waterhole, the Grand Canyon has something else which is what attracted the students to it: It’s been converted to an inflatable-infested water park. While not matching quite the show Total Wipeout, there was just as much potential for hilarity with its obstacles, climbing walls and slides.
Georgia, Molly, Louella, Tom, myself and hostel owner Apple’s son Harley chose to go and explore the park, located a little out of the Old City where we’re located. Upon entry, we already got to see the Hollywood-esque ‘GRAND CANYON’ sign built into the wall surrounding the park.
Entry was 550 Thai Baht (Approximately £13.50) which included access to the park for as long as our hearts desired wanted, life jackets and one go on the zip line located above the park.
WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE GROUP?
Meanwhile, Anju and Jordan didn’t fancy getting their feet in the water decided to head elsewhere to go and explore the local viewpoints. While venturing just a few hundred metres from the park (and even getting a view of it from their chosen location), the pair decided to get their tan on as well as getting a few photos with the Grand Canyon sign since there was a scenic swing placed near their bathing point. Upon reuniting with the group, the Grand Canyon-ers noticed their tanning session had been a success.
The rest of us had a much less relaxing day as after stripping down into our swimming gear and ensuring safety first by putting our life vests on, the trip down into the canyon begun with a steep slide. Those of us who didn’t risk going first ended up squirming upon realising both the speed and how far the others were flung at the end.
Afterwards was a small swimming stretch which wasn’t a problem before the obstacle course begun. We quickly came to realise how much of a challenge it was when seeing how difficult the ladders were to get up.
On top of having to go across the soap-and-water covered obstacles, there were also other challenges around the park. These included ladders, small platforms and rope swings. One slightest mistake and we were plummeted into the cool water below and would have to swim and attempt to haul ourselves back up on the course again. This was much easier said than done.
A few hours of slipping, swimming and sliding later, we went to get some lunch from the restaurant built within the canyon. While there was a selection of sickeningly sweet-looking drinks on offer, we collectively decided to pick water instead. On the food agenda were spring rolls, garlic bread and pizza. This was cooked to order and rated, although it cost a little more than the 40 Baht (£1) street food the budgeteers of the group like myself have been having.
Although the girls felt exhausted, after lunch was Round 2. The slide which we entered on was closed this time around, so we entered via a walkway by the restaurant. It felt almost like a celebrity’s welcome with (freezing cold) water fountains coming in from either side before we returned to the obstacle course once again.
The afternoon was an oxymoronic mix of both lazing and crazing as we tried some of the more extreme obstacles of the course. The morning was mostly spent seeing who could last the longest on the obstacles without falling off, so the afternoon was a venture over to the jumps and slides.
First off was an obstacle which was a combination of the two. After either sliding or ambling over to it, students had to climb up a ladder to get to the top. While the climbing wall was also a slide, we made sure to take it with an degree of caution as we didn’t fancy a rung in the face. Despite a couple of stumbles, everyone made it.
On the top were several opportunities to take a leap of faith or shoot down one of the two slides on either side. Or, as a small group of us did, we got to go on one of the most advertised parts of the Grand Canyon.
At the bottom of the obstacle was a pillow-like one which had some inflation but not a considerable amount. While an individual or small group would sit on one end, another person would jump from the top, their weight sending the others flying.
Once we had our fill there, we went to explore another obstacle which we couldn’t figure out solely based on appearance. Upon climbing it, it became clear that it was a see-saw. When one side became too weighty, the group plummeted into the water below. As only five students decided to climb up- all bar myself, this happened pretty much every time someone got up.
Before heading back, we had one last lap around the course although it involved a lot of lying around and aimless swimming. With the warm winter heat and all the running around, it was an exhausting day out although one which was raved about.
After the final ‘attempt’ of the course, the group headed back up to the top of the canyon, retrieved our belongings, had a quick shower and dressed up. Several of us were contemplating whether to go initially due to it taking a big chunk out of our budget (while Global Grad recommends £1500 – £2000 for the full South East Asia semester, some students are attempting a £50 a week challenge), none of them regretted it after the day out.
After joining up with the Anju and Jordan, the group headed back to Chiang Mai Old City for showers and relaxation after a long albeit immensely fun day out.
About the author
Jasmin Dawling is one of Global Grad’s January 2019 students and is completing a full-time Bachelor’s degree with the Open University in International Studies. While this is her first time formally blogging, she has had plenty of writing experience in the past, from novel writing since the age of six to working on the school newspaper. Apart from seeing the sights of South East Asia and working on her degree, Jasmin spends most of her time either procrastinating or writing down her novel ideas, be it on her travelling-inspired new ideas or the 7-part series she’s been toying with for almost ten years.