Monks and Elephants

Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
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Trip End Jul 27, 2011


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Where I stayed
A Little Bird Hostel

Flag of Thailand  ,
Monday, December 20, 2010

The first noteworthy sight after we disembark our night bus in Chiang Mai is people taking off their shoes and kneeling down in front of bare-feet, orange-clad, bald monks to get blessed. This is happening outside of a busy street market.

At first I still find people to be rude here, judged by our mini van driver who tosses our bags on the concrete floor like they are a sack of flour. Later, I discover that people are not as unfriendly here as in Bangkok. Still not sold on the 'land of smiles' claim though.

We spent our day considering day trips, booking one for the next day and visiting a local dance show in the evening. Of course we have our daily obligatory massages. We also discover an organic breakfast place serving home made goods for any breakfast desire, fresh juices and REAL coffee. Exciting, after several weeks of instant coffee. Nescafe became our methadone, but it just isn't the same as a nice, steaming, freshly brewed drip coffee. This is where we spend all our mornings and pick up food packs on those that we have to be up too early to eat there.

Our first day trip is alright. It includes a bunch of time-filling activities that we don't care for, such as gliding down a river on a bamboo float, riding an oxcart and visiting the lamest waterfall I have ever seen.

It does include a fun elephant ride also and a visit to an elephant farm. The latter I have mixed feelings about. It feels a little like a poor man's circus and makes me feel sad for the animals. I might have felt differently had I not seen them in the wild a couple of years ago in Botswana (see pix here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=204054&id=775400064). So we watch these cool animals make fun of a rowdy, stupid crowd of Israeli Guys behaving like silly teenagers, play soccer and basket ball and dance to music. It's kind of neat to feed them bananas and sugar cane. What severely impressed me though is their painting abilities. Incredible what they can produce, painting with their trunks. In hindsight, I wish I had bought one of their paintings.

We also very much enjoy a visit to a long neck hill tribe. And not just for the shopping opportunities. Incredible that this practice is still alive today. With tourism booming I suspect it is a way of making a living for these tribes that otherwise would leave them without income. Many of them are refugees that fled from Burma in the 80s and 90s and are only allowed to live in certain areas.

Our last stop on this day trip was Wat Doi Sot, a magnificent temple. 

The next day, we stroll around the city visiting more beautiful temples. Sadly, all my photos from that day mysteriously disappeared from my chip. I still have a vague hope I'll be able to recover them somehow with some recovery software. Tips welcome!
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