Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thai style

We are slowly getting used to the time zone. Yesterday we signed up for an eco trek tour. We drove an hour around the city picking up other tourists from their hotels, then drove an hour to Mae Win, outside of Mae Wang, in the mountains. It was an nice drive although we are still alittle sick from the fumes. Some rice paddies, lots of mountains, lots of teak trees! We went to the Chiang Siam Elephant Camp where we boarded a 29 year old, 4 ton elephant and rode him, sitting in a metal bench tied to the elephant's back. A hilltribe villager was the mahout, or elephant trainer, and he rode, sitting on the head. This little guy could climb onto the elephant from the ground. His four year old son rode on the elephant's neck. The elephant walked these tiny hiking trails climbing up and down steep trails with us on its back.

We then hiked to a beautiful waterfall where Leo and I got soaking wet (the other tourists had been instructed to bring bathing suits and towels but not us), went down to see the Maetian mini hydro plant that was silted in, and went to a Karen hilltribe village which was really just a bunch of Karen handicraft shops where we felt obliged to buy stuff. Which we did. A simple lunch which was devoured quickly. Then we got on some bamboo rafts and went down the river. They had tied 9 long pieces of bamboo together with old cut up tires. We got really wet, but it was a nice exciting float down the river with little rapids and lots of Thais on the banks watching us - and taking our pictures. At the end, they sold us a framed photo of ourselves- $3, fixed price.

Last night we were awake enough to finally hit a night market, just outside our hotel. It was an authentic market, for Thais as well as turists, and packed with very creative and different kinds of handicrafts. Packed with people too. Leo got a bird whistle and has been having a field day with it.

Turns out that Leo is the name of Singha's low end beer, so there are signs for Leo everywhere and Leo bottle caps. He bought a tuk-tuk that is made out of Leo cans.

We leave Chiang Mai today for the beach.

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