Friday, November 11, 2011

More Chiang Mai

Turns out challenging a grown man, 3 times your size, to a bucket drinking contest is not a good idea, and that is how this day became known as Lauren's day of death.  I have to say, she was a rockstar, and I was impressed because if I had felt like that, I'm not sure I could have made myself get out of bed and go on the kind of adventure we had planned lol.

Our driver "Big"- name big, body little, he told us to help us remember, picked us up at 8:30 to take us to the Maesa Elephant Camp.  We watched the elephants do a bunch of tricks- one of which included painting and some of the work was pretty impressive!  Then we got to ride up into the mountains on an elephant, which was really cool for about half an hour and then it had the same effect on me as a New York City taxi and I found myself wondering if they would let me down from the elephant to throw up or if I would have to do it over the side.  Luckily I held it together and made it to the drop off with my breakfast intact.

The elephants dropped us off at a sort of series of makeshift villages.  I guess if you don't have time to visit the individual hill tribes, this is the way to experience it all- it's like the Epcot
Center of Thai villages.  We walked around for awhile & saw the different people & their textiles.

After that is was time for the Tiger Kingdom!  This was also a pretty surreal experience- we got to get in cages and hang out with live tigers!  We started off small with the 3 & 4 month olds- so cute!  Then we went for the big guys, which was a little scary when they were moving around, especially when they were moving around while you were petting them.  Some of them were passed out and we were encouraged to lay down and use them as pillows, etc- which in retrospect seems a little insane lol.   The last group we saw were the 6 month olds and they were probably the most fun because they were pretty rowdy, running around and playing.  I did have a close call when one I was sitting behind rolled over and mistook my hair for a ball of string and took a swat at it.  Other than that the experience was really awesome and incident free.

We had planned to go visit a temple that overlooked Chiang Mai but because it was the last night of the festival, there was going to be a big parade and Big wouldn't be able to get us anywhere close to our hotel- so we planned to do it on Sunday.  As it was we got caught in a big traffic jam, but we amused ourselves with the interesting drawings in Big's English Thai-torial books and he entertained us with stories about his birthday plans for later that night & going up into the mountains to make babies.

When we got back we decided maybe it was time to book our flight back to Bangkok for Sunday.  It never occurred to us that being the weekend after a big festival, Sunday might be a popular time to travel and the evening flights might be booked.  So out the window went the Sunday visit to the temple and the lovely afternoon that Big had planned for us- we will be getting up at 7:30am and spending the day in Bangkok- hopefully in some unflooded areas since we heard they planned to release some of the water into the city over the weekend to relieve the outlying areas a little.

After that little setback we headed out for some dinner.  We walked to a random place up the street where we had some pretty unappetizing pad thai- our first questionable meal of the trip. Preston joined us, well rested after sleeping until 4 while we were out adventuring.  We went over to one of the markets to grab dessert.  One of the many things I love about this country is that they use the only two fruits I truly like- bananas & coconuts- in pretty much everything!  Tonight I went for a banana pancake of a different kind.  This was more of a traditional pancake wrapped around a banana and topped with chocolate sauce and dried fruit.  Also delicious!

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