Chiang Mai - Day 1
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Today started like any other day in Thailand….that beautiful Thai smile and a "sawat di khrap" (pron. “sawadi hop”. Plans for the day included the elephant training camp, a visit to the Padaung Long Neck Hill Tribe village, and capped off with some play time with the tigers.
Though we had mixed feelings of going to the elephant training camp considering what we had heard and read on their potential mistreatment, we opted it into our schedule
As we approached our next cross-over bridge, we were greeted with a little no older than 3 years old (see pictures/videos below) with a coil around her neck; a traditional culture for the Padaung Hill Tribe (http://www.chiangdao.com/chiangmai/karenlongneck.htm). They are originally from Myanmar who fled and settled in northern Thailand
I was very reluctant to start taking pictures of the individual vs. the cultural aspect of their village (this from my time in other countries where many don’t want to be photographed at the expense of being topics of discussions outside of their environment. We made a few purchases which then opened up an opportunity to seek permission to take pictures with them. We also realized that the cost of admission translated into an expectation that picture taking would be part of the exchange for getting customers into the village, a viable funding stream. The process of adding rings (really a long spring like coil) is a life-long process (see the link for more information).
Once we left the village we headed back to the elephant camp where we began a 40 minute trek through the Thai jungle. The guide’s method of controlling the mammoth was less than comfortable for us, but we were reassured that the elephant is not exposed to any significant pain. The trek offered us a glimpse into the various vegetation in the forest/jungle. By the way, the way into the jungle meant crossing a pretty wide river. Half-way through the trek, we bought some sugar cane and fed our traveling companion during one of the picture breaks
Our next destination was the Tiger Kingdom. Well, seems like we hit a theme on this date...exploitation. This time it was the tigers. These types of "hang with the tigers" attraction spots are usually charged with being cruel to the tigers by sedating them. Tiger Kingdom (tough not to write Tire Kingdom) claims that tigers are nocturnal and that they like to rest/sleep during the day and that if we wanted to see them in action to hang around for about 40-45 minutes; no sooner then we read this sign, the tigers were at play in the pool....certainly didn't look like sedated tigers to me.
Michele opted for the small cats while I chose the larger ones. The instructions are simple. Don't come at them head on or they will think you want to play; we're not programmed to win that wrestling match. Next, don't touch their head....no matter what your husband tells you to do when he's on the other side of the fence (in his defense, he had not yet received the safety briefing). By the way, the cost for this experience was $30 for the two of us
Though the big 'market' day in Chiang Mai is Sunday evening, we hit up the Saturday Night Market as a means to close out our day. All sorts of vendors with all sorts of wares. Without boring details of the market since we'll most likely make the Sunday Market an entry tomorrow.
Looking forward to tomorrow....the Flight of the Gibbons.