Monday, April 12, 2010

Chiang Mai, Thailiand

Finally, CHIANG MAI! It was our favorite city! It's the northern jungle area of Thailand. In the words of our tour guide, Mr. Handsome, it's "where people come to experience the CULTURE of Thailand." We would have loved to go to the islands, but there just wasn't time. But we had a blast in Chiang Mai. Everything was cheaper and there was FaNtAsTiC shopping. Here we are in our airport transportation vehicle: the back of a pick up truck. We used these to get around instead of riding tuk-tuk's, so we could ride all together. The weather in Chiang Mai was wonderful. It was about 88 degrees and only 20% humidity. PERFECT.

Every night there was a NIGHT BAZAAR aka street market which started right in front of our hotel. We would do all of our activities, then come back to the hotel and freshen up, eat dinner then shop the night away. In Bangkok, the children would go out at night and beg on the streets (heartbreak). In Chiang Mai, the children would go out and perform to earn money. This little girl was beautiful. Her sister was behind her playing an instrument.

Silk Factory

We visited the silk factory. We got to see the silk worms in all their stages and how they make the yards of silk. It was pretty neat. We then got to shop in their store... Joe bought a cool tie and I bought a scarf!

It takes 50 cocoons to make one thread of silk. Now I know why it's so expensive.

Wood Factory

I love love love this place. It was so amazing! This is the wood factory, and I want this table! I love all the intricate details. This set cost around $15,000. Worth every penny if you ask me.

This was Joe's favorite table. He especially loved the elephants at the base of the table. The top pic is of the table we need to buy my parents, but we would need 2 to sit the whole family :)

My favorite part...watching the incredibly talented wood crafters. They literally chip away from one piece of wood. Even the fine details of the leaves and branches. I was so mesmerized by what they did....then it just got to me. I started crying because it broke my heart; the countless hours they spend on one piece. I have no doubt they are proud of their craftsmanship and I bow down to them and their amazing talent!

Tiger Kingdom

Yup...we got to play with lions and tigers...well as much as you can. This is me gearing up for the event. I was trying not to think of the gargantuan pointy teeth that were about to eat me.

This is us with the lazy lion. I didn't fear this one, he was sleeping and he didn't mind being touched. His roomate was a different story. These little guys were 11 months old.

Tiger Kingdom 2

Here are some other photo's that summarize the event. The top right is the aggressive lion. We were told to always stay behind them and this guy kept rolling towards us. Not to mention that when you touched this one, he would snap at you. I kept trying to get up but Joe was pinning me down. On the bottom right photo, the trainer was trying to tell me to lay on the tiger....I don't think so. And the picture on the left...the reason I almost had a coronary.

Before going in to see the big Tigers we were told to stay behind them, don't touch their paws or their heads, no sudden movements and no flashes. They had areas of electric fences we could run to if needed. The big ones were so incredibly beautiful!

As much as we (I) was afraid of doing this, I'm so glad we did! It was one of our favorite Thai moments!

Elephant Camp

Baby cuuuuute! She was 7 days old when we were there!

Bathing the elephants before the show.

They put on a fun show where they displayed the elephants smarts. This included playing soccer and painting! Watching them paint was a highlight.

Riding Elephants

After the show, we went on an ox cart ride. It was fun and all, but I couldn't stop looking at the oxen tail....yummm (one of my favorite dishes that my mom makes)!

We got to ride on the elephants bareback, everyone except for Joe. He stayed back to be the photographer. Thanks babe!

Our other favorite Thai moment. Our elephant's name is Chang, he is 18 years old. We fed him sugar cane and bananas during the trek. We loved Trae, the trainer that rode with us. He was fun and personable. We bought a photo they snapped of us on the elephant with Trae. The frame is made out of elephant dung and it proudly sits on our desk!

Our elephant excursion included lunch and bamboo rafting. It was nice to peacefully float down the river, watching Thai life on the river. One woman had a floating bar that we could buy drinks from. We opted for coconut juice!

The Farm

I love Thai writing. They use character's but it's so whimsical.

After elephant riding we went to an orchid and butterfly farm. It was their wintertime so we didn't really see any butterflies, but the orchids were really pretty.


One of our last adventures....4 hours of ZIP LINING! I can say I'm glad I did it, but I will probably never do it again. It just so happened to be the tallest and longest zip lining course in all of Thailand with one zip line that stretched 300 meters. It took me probably 2 hours to get used to doing it. Funny how it wasn't the actual zipping part that freaked me out, it was the standing on the tree-tops and looking down that gave me the heebee geebee's. That and, oh yeah, getting stuck while abseiling with a 4 foot Thai man holding me at the top and everyone else below me trying to keep me calm while I had a panic attack. To make things worse...Joe got it on video.

Some of the funny moments of the trip. I so wish I would have bought that sling shot! If anyone ever goes to Thailand, I ask that you please please please buy me one! It was right off the dock to the Grand Palace in Thailand. Once getting off the water taxi stop, it is the last covered shop on the right before hitting the stinky barrels of dried seafood (hey, I have to write it down somewhere).

And that completes our Thailand trip. After going to Thailand we feel a lot more adventurous and I wouldn't be totally opposed to going back to Asia. We really would love to see Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I don't know what Joe would eat, but I'd be down. Joe never really got used to the food. In fact, on our third day there we had an "American day" where we had Pizza Hut for dinner :) It was so fun and sooooo different. It was more than just sight seeing, it was fun adventures with friends. The elephant riding and Tiger playing were definitely the highlights!

So where to next you ask? If it were safe, we would be headed to Cairo. I guess we will just have to wait for that one. Until then......May will bring another adventure. A mystery to you and me!