Tuesday, 2 March 2010

That's all folks

Left from Cabbages & Condoms, after a lovely lunch, to pick up car to take us to Bangkok, then flight north to Chiang Mai. Sharing this trip with Lyndy, who's the PR manager for the Fr Ray foundation.Arrived in Chiang Mai at 8pm, got settled into our hotel,( though we did move rooms three times!!!) and just had quiet meal in hotel followed by a couple of drinks in the bar. Then off to bed. Pleasantly surprised to discover that it's much cooler at night up in Chiang Mai, so didn't need any air con on at night.
Monday morning, after breakfast, decided to go and explore the old town, which was about 10cms away on the map. . .. . . . .  3 hours later we arrived at the temple we'd decided to visit. Old Chiang Mai is a walled city, but little left of the original town apart from some of the temples - all the original buildings, being made of teak, haven't survived, so was a little disappointing when thinking in terms of what we in the west understand by 'an old walled city'. It is also surprisingly large - second biggest city in Thailand, but there is a much slower pace of life here and traffic actually stops for pedestrians, which it definitely doesn't in Pattaya or Bangkok. Very hot here during the day - everyone waiting for the rainy season to start in May. Had a good look round then caught tuk-tuk back to hotel . A swim and a nap.

Went out to the night bazaar, which covers a huge area. Found a very good Indian restaurant where we had a great meal which cost next to nothing.
Day two and decided that our feet deserved a rest so went for a cruise down the Mae Pong river - very relaxing couple of hours with a stop off for drinks and fresh fruit.

Just before sunset we went up the mountain to visit a very large temple which overlooks the town. Taxi driver said it would take half an hour ............ 85 minutes later we made it just as the sun had set - so no great sunset pictures. But we had the bonus of a floodlit temple and being able to listen to the monks chanting in prayer.

Wednesday was a wondrous day. Up at 6.30 for quick breakfast before we were picked up by minibus to take us to an  elephant sanctuary for the day.The sanctuary is for elephants that have been very badly treated in Thailand. As the decimation of the forests has ceased, the elephants are no longer needed for logging. Many, in the recent past, walked the streets of Bangkok making money for their owners by charging tourists to feed them, often left chained up for long periods of the day by the side of busy roads and not given enough food or water. Some of the rescue stories are even more horrific, but 36 rescued elephants now live in what must be elephant heaven.

We were able to get up close to them - started
by feeding them a dustbinful of fresh fruit per elephant, then walked with them down to the river where we were able to scrub them down and throw lots of buckets of water over them to cool them down.The baby elephants loved getting right in the water and rolling on their backs.They also loved coming straight out of the water and finding a muddy pool to roll in and get just as dirty as they were before - great fun and a real privilege to be able to get so close to them. One elephant loved giving very soggy kisses with her trunk to any human who got close - I guess a relic of a trick learnt under its previous owner. The elephants here are not used to give tourists rides or made to do silly tricks - they are just allowed to be.

Will take ages to edit all the pics, but really good memories.

Thursday flew back to Bangkok.Just time to get to hotel and change before heading off for the Swiss embassy to receive donation from the ambassador for the furnishing of one of the new houses in the Children's village - a delightful lady.From there to PR cocktail party where another donation received, couple of Thai pop stars and soap star met and some yummy food eaten.
Rest day Friday, then sponsored walk at an International school on Saturday - fortunately only 2.5k.
Back to Pattaya on Sunday afternoon - just enough time to relax, pack and go out for meal with some of the volunteers Monday night, then car up to Bangkok this morning.
Now sitting in club lounge of hotel with G & T to hand making this last blog entry. Meeting up with Stuart tonight then it's breakfast at 6 tomorrow before getting cab to airport and 9.30am flight home. Arrive in UK at 6.30pm GMT.

Many thanks for your messages.Hope to see many of you very soon.
Lynne x

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