Thai Cooking In A Pink Apron
Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Ongoing
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Today required a quick pack for Chiang Mai leaving two bags (filled with beachy type stuff) behind in storage to be picked up by us end of January as we complete our circle back in Bangkok. A one hour flight and $80 later we find ourselves in Chaingmai . As the second biggest city in Thailand, it's a much bigger place than we expected. We dropped our packs at the "Mini Cost Guesthouse"- it's a really nice place owned by an ex cop from Australia. We then wandered around trying to choose between restaurants. One thing about Thailand is that they love to eat, and you can find folks cooking from vendor carts in the street from sun up until well past sun down.
Chiangmai, like Bangkok, is full of travelers
On Day 2, after another futile search for a reasonable alternative to a Timmies coffee (can someone please send us an emergency shipment including a thermos of Tim's Double-Double!!), we head out and a short walk later we are in what appears to be a parade square with a staging area that is a gathering place today for some advance celebrations of the Kings 84th birthday (which is the next day)
After watching this collection of earnest individuals disappear into the Thai sunset we made for the somewhat famous Chiang Mai Night Market. It can get very " close" as you shuffle for blocks along with many tourists and locals alike. We discover an adjacent open air market with restaurants, eateries. and vendors with carts stacked one on top of the other. There was a band playing and an area for dancing. The whole place is flooded with various forms of cheesey lighting, creating quite an atmosphere. As we start to walk back (grateful Vic knows where we are as I am now so turned around), fireworks are going off in the night sky. Traffic is like rush hour almost all the time. And because the traffic alone doesn't create quite enough noise, there are small pickup trucks that are equipped with crude speakers hooked up to a PA system of some sort, and they drive around with these things belting out some sort of message or audio advertisement
Still craving a good cup of jo, we made for our beacon of consistancy in a world of chaos, MacDonalds, for breakfast. Even their coffee, though, is hard to drink- think that's it for me. The streets are busy and it looks like more celebrations are in the making but we're on our own temple trek, exploring as many of the Wat's as we can before reaching that point of temple fatigue apparently there's over 40k in Thailand and I think we've seen most of them). These are magnificant structures and still very much in use today, but there's very little information on any of them- Thailand could really use a compelling storyteller to bring these structures to life.
We hired a tuk- tuk and headed out of town to something called the home industry area. This is our first of many tuk tuk rides this trip. We have been in them many times before on other trips and although you have to slouch down somewhat to get the surrounding view in, I love them, they are a blast and a must do. The traffic here is still not as bad as India but still an adventure to say the least. Really just a tourist trap for the souvenir hunter (although the gem factory had Deb B's name all over it) you can purchase so many handmade crafts, it makes your head spin. We had quick visits at the paper umbrella, wood carving, gem and silk factories. Interesting to watch such talented people continue the trades of their ancestors.
Tonight is the Sunday night market, the " Walking Street" as the locals call it. I am so glad we went there when it first opened
A couple from Kelowna who we met in Bangkok talked up the fun of taking a full day of Thai cooking lessons. We really hadn't put this on our bucket "B" list even. As neither Vic nor I cook, Vic would say that I dragged him there and I would say that he dragged me there, but we had a blast (editors note: I went along with this just to see DH's reaction to completely foreign territory- a kitchen). We were met at 8 am in the morning by a lovely woman called Mam
We headed out to the night market, we decided to bite the bullet and buy a replacement camera for the one we lost in SanDiego. Not the best deal but a good camera never the least. On the way home we found a kind of floating, Thai kick- boxing match- different place every night. We bought a couple of tickets and in we went. You walked down a dimly lit lane way but were immediately hit with the smell of menthol and smoke. There were maybe a hundred plastic chairs at long narrow tables set up around the boxing ring and it was about three quarters full of Westeners, not too many locals at all. it was just after 9 pm and this was to go until midnight, with the last match of the night being the higlight- USA vs Thailand. The first match had just started and we found really good seats ( not too close as we had been warned) . We ordered drinks and then realized that it was two young female fighters in the ring. They were wearing gloves much to my relief as we had been told some of these fights were barefisted. The ring itself had a covered roof made of tin and coloured lights lit up the ring very well. Each fight was a maximam of five rounds but none of the fights went the full five other than the girls fight. It is a strange sport indeed. At the beginning of each match the fighters would walk around the ring their right gloved had along the top rope then at each corner placing his hands in prayer and bowing his head for several seconds at each of the four corners of the ring
Up early again today waiting to be picked up for the Elephant Nature Park which is a sanctuary and rescue centre for elephants. It is about an hour and a half north of Chiang Mai. Our guide is a lovely woman called Umm.There are several. " Elephant Experiences" so we looked at each one carefully as we do not want to contribute to the "circus" experience some of them offer- it should be about respect, and not about servitude. The Elephant Nature Park is run by a conservationist by the name of Lek Sangduen Chailert and what she has provided for these amazing creatures is unbelievable.
-This woman has put into place a mobile medical unit that she takes all over the country trying to assist elephants who are injured and is taking steps have them live out their lives in this sanctuary.
- It is situated in a breath taking valley surrounded on one side with mountains. A large river runs thorough this property and bathing the elephants is an huge draw for many people.
-There is an education program in place, volunteers from around the world offer their assistance and can stay their to help.
-Lek has rescued elephants from zoos, circuses, abandoned,orphaned, pets,
- Many of these poor creatures are blind in one or both eyes from cruel handlers and owners forcing them to work in logging and trekking camps,
-One with severe digestion problems due to being force fed amphetamines to work longer hours in the logging camps.
-It wasn't just the physical abuse but the mental- many of these animals were on the long road to recover mentally.
-There are 36 elephants on these grounds, four males and the rest females including two babies. The oldest elephant is 82 years old.
Feeding them was a lot of fun- you couldn't take your eyes of them, watching them eat, watching the way they moved. I found myself studying them as though I had never seen an elephant before. We fed them large pieces of watermelon, pumpkin and bananas - husks and all. They devoured everything and came back for more.
When they brought nine or ten of them to the water for their bathing, we all took our buckets and waded in with them. To be truthful we all got more water on ourselves than on the elephants as we doused them with buckets of cool river water. They really seemed to enjoy it. As much fun as we had, you couldn't stop thinking about the abuse these creatures had suffered at the hands of humans