Sunday, 9 March 2008

Chaing Mai

Chaing Mai – northern Thailand.

◊ Opted for Asian breakfast, fried rice, rather than the ‘continental’ breakfast.

◊ New member of the group turned up, immediately started asking who were the ‘unattached’ girls. Universally scorned by the females on the trip.

◊ Visited a silk factory, a paper factory and a silver factory. Fascinating in themselves but I don’t like the pressure to buy. It’s not why I am traveling.

◊ Visited an elephant training school – they played soccer, painted pictures, hauled stuff about and performed various tricks. Fun to watch, admire the training that they have received but, in the background, I can’t help wondering if this is a particularly good idea. I think it is more a program to keep the elephant handlers employed rather than from any interest in the elephant. Apparently it was set up after the logging was banned because the handlers and their elephants were going down to the cities in search of work and/or money.

◊ Megan, from our group was asked to sit on a post and the elephant, knowing that she had bananas, was allowed to go rummaging. Who says blondes have the most fun?

◊ Followed up the elephants with a more spiritual visit – to Doi Suthep temple, high in the hills above Chaing Mai. Very soothing. I don’t agree with everything Buddhist (eg handicapped people were bad in a former life) but it does have a lot going for it from a simplicity point of view.

◊ Finally, a visit to the night market. Good food, far too many crafts to take in in one night! I think I am all crafted out. An enormous place though with every conceivable craft and produce. All accompanied by vocal group singing Western songs from the 70s.

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