Riding the bus to Chiang Rai (Chiang means city). This is a luxury bus and very comfortable. Even has a hostess who handed out a large pack of Oreo cookies (Super Chockio) to each of us, It is a three-hour trip through the mountains which are lush and tropical. Narda is reading a book on Cambodia and is on the health section which is listing the vaccinations one should have before entering the country – oh dear, we should have read that section before leaving Europe. So if come back to Australia with lots of weird fungus and spots on our face it is probably from petting the local chooks – or is that Asian Flu? We also just learned (or I did through Narda’s reading – I only read the sections on tipping and temples and etc.) that we need to get stool checks as soon as we get to Australia to see if we have worms – kool. And there is the section on mosquitoes describing all the nasty things one gets from those little wonderful God’s creatures great and small.
Chiang Mai was awesome as a young person would say – we old people just say ‘kool’. The highlight was riding an elephant. I forgot our elephant’s name – perhaps Narda will remember in her section. It was a she and an adolescent (fifteen-years old according to our guide) and too young to be pregnant – she had a bit of an adolescent swagger to her – passing the older elephants. She was quite demanding wanting sugar cane (Narda was worried about her adolescent teeth) and bananas. It is an expensive setup – every so often (too often) there are stands some ten feet off of the ground selling bananas and sugar cane for 30-bahts each (close to a dollar each) and anyone who has hung around with an adolescent elephant would know they are always hungry. We managed to get away with buying only six batches on our one hour journey.
The ride was as good as any carnival ride. Going down a mountain side one could easily think they would fall off and our elephant, being young, did the walk a bit too fast as she rushed toward the river that we crossed to climb to the next food stall which of course she had no problem stopping at.
We saw an elephant show where the elephants painted pictures of elephants – we are not sure how they did it but Narda thinks their guides pulled their ear to guide them – see our video – though not on youtube which the Thailand government has blocked along with other sites to protect the morals of the Thai people.
We had about an hour ride on a bamboo raft, visited an orchard farm and that was our day in Chiangmai. We went shopping in the evening to add to our clothing collection that we began in Scotland. Our new large suitcase that we bought a week ago in Scotland is so full that we are stuffing our carry-on bags with new crap. Sunday, July 01, 2007
I think the elephant ride has been a highlight of the trip for me. I just loved it. We were a little dubious abut it at first, thinking that the elephants were probably mistreated to get them to perform tricks for us, but we really did not see that. Which of course does not mean that it does not happen. I guess there must be some pretty powerful incentives for those huge creatures to dance, bow, drag stuff, paint pictures with a brush held it their trunk, and even play harmonicas…and then carry us heavy western passengers up steep mountain paths, and across rivers. But I can see how you can really get into elephant conservation. They are so majestic.
Chiang Mai is a city where I think I could live awhile. Terrell says I say that about most places, but I’m sure this is not true! It has nice leafy streets, though we both got scratchy throats from the pollution. The food was good too. I had travellers’ diarrhea in Holland, but now, touch wood, it’s gone. And I’m so into Dutch food.
So here we sit, bus business class on the road to Chiang Rai. Might take a nap, it’s 3 hours.