Mr. Yo: The Chiang Mai zoo is very good; it has Pandas that have been here for 6 years.
Me: How long will they be staying?
Mr. Yo: They were supposed to stay for 10 years, but they are very tired so may be returned sooner. They have dark rings around their eyes.
It got to the point he would be given us some information and we kept waiting for the punch line, but then realized he was being serious.
On our first night in Chiang Mai, we went to a traditional dinner. Roger called it "Stage East" where we were entertained while we ate. Dancers performed several different traditional dances, including one number where visitors were invited up to the stage to dance. Brad and Anette gamely took up the challenge and were great sports.
|Night market in Chiang Mai|
|Massage station at the night market!|
|The 4.5 Kinleys posing in front of one of the temples|
|These statues represent each day of the week; it is important for Buddhists to know the day they were born.|
|Food stall at the foot of the mountain selling fried quail eggs with coconut|
|Two young monks|
|Traffic jam on the river|
Elephants were widely used for work in Asia, but with equipment replacing what elephants used to do, the unemployment rate for elephants is high. To make matters more dire, they eat a lot, as well as live long lives. So, elephant camps were created as a major tourist attraction and as a means to make money to keep these giants fed (and no doubt the camp owners wealthy). It was disturbing to see the mahoots (the elephant owners/riders) use a hammer/hook kind of device to get the elephant to respond at times and some were hobbled. The camp itself was clean and I can't imagine the mahoots abusing an animal that cost them thousands of dollars and is their livelihood -- but it still left us feeling uneasy as we enjoyed the ride through the forest. It's complicated.
|Worker in the rice fields|
|Elephants getting a bath|
We then trooped down a steep hill and saw inside a very spartan 2 room house on stilts where the men sleep by the entrance to protect the family.
|Old woman carrying straw up a hill. Notice the wooden yoke she is wearing around her neck.|
|This is a roadside stand that sells spirit houses seen outside most businesses and homes. They are used to provide bad spirits with a place to live so they don't bother the home or business owner.|
Our first stop the following days was to see the monkey caves and temple. The macaques live in the mountains and caves surrounding the temple. We climbed up to the caves with Mr. Yo (it was 200 meters straight up over uneven stairs that reminded us of El Penol in Colombia) only to be advised not go near the caves! Nice view, but it was a helluva climb!
|However tempting --- no boob jokes, o.k.?|
|They watched as we climbed the stairs to their caves - probably laughing at the tourists huffing and puffing.|
|A special ceremony was held for this monk|
Pictures throughout the museum capture several Thai cultural groups. The "long neck" tribes were stopping the practice of putting rings on the females in certain tribes until they realized they could make money by tourists willing to pay to see them. Initially, the rings were used to protect the village's women from tiger attacks to their necks while the men were away from the village. The single coil is replaced every 3-4 years and once a female begins this practice, they must wear them until they die since their neck can not hold itself without the support.
|Beautiful water pipes used for marijuana and tobacco.|
|Brad and Anette bought a beautiful opium pillow which is really a curved wooden box.|
|Mr. Yo and us by the hot springs|
|Love this sign that advertises the Fish Massage where hundreds of tiny fish swim around your feet in small tubs of water. Check out the second point from the top...|
|People come from all over to soak their feet in the hot springs|
|Eggs are sold at the hot springs and buyers place them in the hot springs for about 10 minutes to cook them|
|Chat (our driver) and Mr. Yo|
Baan Thai Cooking School. There we spent several hours shopping for ingredients at the market, preparing and eating delicious Thai food. Definitely well worth it, and we all left very full.
|One of the instructors shopping for ingredients|
|The fruits and vegetables are really colorful and fragrant|
It was very hands on, although the measuring out was done before we broke into teams. We just had the fun part of chopping and cooking.
|Ingredients all ready for us to chop, then cook|
|We look like we are ready for Iron Chef! It was interesting meeting people in between courses.|
|I got hooked on Green Papaya Salad on this trip, so used the opportunity to learn how to make it!|
|It was excellent!|
|Roger and Anette cooked Hot and Sour Prawn Soup|
|The instructor (in the middle) is showing Roger and another student how to make fried bananas for dessert....they were fantastic!|
|Making green curry paste takes a lot of muscle power -- but it was oh, so good!|
|Great - something new to make me gain weight! This was sticky rice and mango -- something I never was interested in ordering in a restaurant, but I swear I heard angels sing when we ate this! Delicious!|
|We were at the Bangkok airport on New Years eve.|
"They say Thailand is a country that smiles. They are wrong. It is the Thai people that smile."
Thai waiter near the Golden Triangle