Around the World 8 Chiang Mai

January 12th
Up early and found it too cool to eat outside. Chiang Mai is at a higher elevation so it cools down at night which is very refreshing. The days are still hot but not as hot and humid as Bangkok. We booked an all day tour that started at an elephant camp. We first saw a baby elephant just a few months old when we arrived. We fed it and some others bananas. The baby had to have its banana peeled and put in its nouth but the older ones ate the banana whole. They would even take a whole bunch in their mouths then use their trunk to delicately remove the string from their mouth. We watched them perform, one paint a picture and then some bathed in the river coming back with their trunks full of water blow on the tourists. Next we boarded them, a driver in front on the neck, Maurice and I in a little seat on the back. It was fairly smooth but lots of rocking. When the elephant started downhill it felt like we were going to slide off and the driver said in falsetto, “Oh my God!”. He must hear it alot. We went up to a village where the villagers had built elephant high huts to sell thing to us. Dismounting wer were then led to bamboo rafts and floated down the river to small carts fulled by zebus which was a very rough ride with wooden wheels and no shock system. Then a pretty good light buffet lunch although most was too hot for me. The total waste of time was going to a monkey farm to watch a very short performance. I was not impressed. A short stop then at an orchid/betterfly place which we finished in ten minutes so, really, it would have been best to end with lunch.
We spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool and even slept on the loungers a little. We walked back to the area around the night market and had hamburgers at a corner cafe called le Bistro. They tasted fabulous. I’m just not into Thai food-don’t like lemon grass. We then walked down the street and found a book store as my supply is getting low and stopped at an internet cafe, then bought some t-shirts for the kids.
Traffic here is incredibly heavy and there are few stop lights. Cars and cycles just sort of pull into the line of traffic as they will. There was an interesting pedestrian crossing at the gate of the entrance into the old city which gave you 11 seconds on a clock and it counted down the time making you nervously hurry across the street before it got down to zero. The cars speed across as soon as you are out of their way.
The gates and walls which are left in sections here and there are made of brick and I wonder if they were once covered with plaster like the wats. There is a moat all around the old city limits. I think it must be fed by the nearby river which I imagine led to flooding last year.
Thailand is such a great country called the land of smiles and it certainly seems to be. The people seem kind and gentle as does their language.

The sweet little baby with his mother. I can’t tell you how many photos I took of the elephants. Everything they did was cute and incredible.

An elephant painting a flower, with some help from his trainer.

This is what the elephant ride looked like.

A little tableau by a trio.

I was warned that the elephants were going to hose us down with water so couldn’t get a good photo as I didn’t want to get my camera wet.

A brightly colored orchid from the orchid/butterfly farm.