When we gave these kids paper and pencils they immediately fell on the floor and started drawing.
The highlight of our visit to Chiang Mai was a trip into the Thailand jungle/mountain area nearby. We spent 2 action packed days there. We went bicycling in the through rice paddies, bamboo rafting, playing with and riding elephants, cooking Thai food with local village people at an eco-village, trekking, watching women weave, and visiting a local kindergarten where we played with the kids and gave them paper and pencils which they immediately, hungrily, started using.
The most memorable event was spending some time with elephants – riding them and playing with them in the river. They are amazing creatures, so huge and so gentle. They eat 300 pounds of food a day! They are really sweet and appeared to enjoy, or at least not object at all to, our attention. The photo shows how we rode them bareback without any tack. They were kind of scary at first, but we got more used to them during the ride. The mahouts (elephant minders/trainers) did take good care of them and made sure we were safe. A short video is here. Elephant Interactions 2.7 minutes
Other videos from our experiences on this excursion are below.
While we were in Chiang Mai we visited lots of temples, the royal gardens, and watched the annual Chiang Mai Flower Parade. Video here.
Most of the Buddhas in Chiang Mai temples are brilliant gold
The temples are all pretty old and impressive. Gold is a predominant color on all the budhhas. Before entering a temple, you have to take your shoes off, and cover shoulders and knees. You can sit down on the floor in the center but you can’t sit in such a way that your toes are pointing to the buddha. You definitely need to stay very quiet. It seems odd, but they don’t mind if you take lots of pictures. In fact we saw monks taking pictures with smart phones and tablets.
Walking a tunnel of light and flowers
Chaotic by day, Chiang Mai is somewhat charming at night. The city has many sparkly colorful lights and there are HUGE street markets. One street market occurs nightly and the vendors line this one street for around 1 km. We wandered one night for the experience. It was a definite overkill of street marketing and knockoff merchandise, but a very popular (crowded) activity. We eventually escaped to a local coffee shop (aka Starbucks!) before heading “home”.
More photos from Chiang Mai are below. Click on one and it will go into slide show mode where you can see full captions.
This woman is setting up the warp of the loom – she asked Char how old she was. This lady is younger than Char
This woman is weaving the weft of the fabric
More weaving in a more social setting
Talk about back breaking work – women planting rice in the rice nursery
A shrine where the local people make offerings in the traditional way
Rice nursery on rice farm near Chiang Mai
Dan cooking curry
The locals from the village near Spicy Villas entertained us at night.
Cooking Thai food with the locals to feed 15 people
Spciy Villas, the cabins where we stayed
Colorful bras for sale in the night market in Chiang Mai
Tuk Tuk with Flowers
Two monks and a red top, Royal Park Rajapruek, Chiang Mai
Large (2 feet in diameter plus) lotus or lily pads in Park Rajapruek, Chiang Mai.
Creative rest room sign, Royal Park Rajapruek
Snail beauty Institute. Do you want to try it?
Exfoliation by many fish nibbling your flesh. This seems like a good business model.
Assembly line massages
Need a hat with A full rigged square rigger on it? Seen in a shop window.
Us and all our bags in a Tuk Tuk
Thai book store
Tuk Tuk vehicle. Each city seems to have their own version of this.
Red top taxi. You tell the driver where you want to go. He quotes you a price. You climb in the back. The driver may stop for other passengers, and drop them off, so you don’t really know when you will arrive but it is cheap.
One of the floats in the parade
A group promoting saving the earth
Floats were decorated with flowers like in our Rose Parade
Dragons are popular
One of the night markets in Chiang Mai
colorful flags in Buddhist temple
Biddhists praying at dusk at the Doi Suthep temple near Chiang Mai
Colorful dragon decoration on Chiang Mai temple
Hopefully the Buddhists did not kill an elephant to get those tusks
Not exactly a stairway to heaven, but close!
Dan got to bong this gigantic gong. Unfortunately it did not make much noise
Colorful monks enjoying the Royal Park, Rajapruek
Buddhist temple at night
An enormous Buddha outside a temple contrasts with the small but real monk
Wat Chedi Luang Worawhan – Wat means temple; Chedis or stupas frequently store relics such as a piece of Buddha’s bones
Wax (at least we were told he is wax) figure of Chan Kusalo at Wat Chedi Luang Worawhan. He was the highly respected abbot of the temple until he died in 2010 at the age of 91
This is a statue of a monk who made himself fat because he used to be very handsome and he did wanted to be appreciated for his spiritual qualities, not his appearance.