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My time in Northern Thailand is drawing to a close, and I know this is a place I want to visit again. The days and nights have been so packed with excursions, bike rides and socializing with new and old friends (and the necessary recovery time from these adventures) that I have not made time to write about this portion of my travels.

The stories are percolating in my brain  – meanwhile I thought I’d post some photos of the highlights.

Unfortunately, due to a camera mishap I no longer have the great  photos of my Thai cooking class.

Wat Chedi Luang. This temple features an enormous chedi (tomb) built to house the ashes of an ancient king, but the whole thing toppled in an earthquake back in the 1500s. Now a partially restored ruins

Onward to visit Wat Phra Singh where i encountered some new friends - high school student monk novices who wanted to practice their English with me.

One of the more cryptic of many cryptic signs encountered here in Thailand. This one outside the temple, it somehow has to do with purchasing birds which are then released from cages for good luck

An orchid farm was our first stop on the two-day trekking tour. Incredible colors!

Another fun Thai sign, this one pinned to the inside of the restroom door. This is one of the more creative ones of many. Good plumbing not a strong suit here.

Next stop on our trek: A swim in the waterfalls at national park

Doh, our guide, cuts up fruit for our picnic lunch at the hot springs.

Pong Duet Hot Springs at the source. Don't want to get too near, especially since the air temp was already close to 100 degrees.

I wish I knew the name for this pretty beetle, spotted on the trail as we started the actual hiking portion of our trek.

Elephant ride!

Our elephant with his mahout (trainer)

Views of the river we are about to raft

They were actually still tying together these bamboo rafts before we got on.

Saturday trip to "the lake," really a man-made reservoir surrounded by floating bungalows where folks kick back for the day

My new friend Katherine from France

Creative picture taking. New friends

Mom and baby at Mae Sa Elephant Park, where we happened to visit on the day of the once a year Elephant Festival

70 elephants enjoy an "elephant buffet" at the festival

One of 10 waterfalls at Mae Sa waterfalls, Doi Suthep National Park

Sunday Walking Street Market, Chiang Mai

Massage row at Sunday Walking Street

Street musicians, Sunday Walking Street