Monday, December 10, 2007

Chiang Mai:Temples & Markets

Got picked up this am by Kampun, part of Sgt Kai's team. He is the one that is going to shepherd me around today.

We head out early for the State owned Elephant Conservation center in Lamphun ( this is the one that you can go to for the 3 day training). Before we hit the hi-way, he takes me to his favorite laundress to get some laundry done. Unlike Cambodia it is by the piece, and we are told that it will be about 1 BHT each piece. I leave some about 5 pieces and some underwear, we are promised that it will be done by 5pm.

TECC is a huge complex and set up very nicely in the mountains southeast of Chiang Mai. Of course, there is an elephant show---this is where all the foreign mahouts get to show what they have learned. I must say that although this is a "show" there is no sense of drudgery from the animals---they are just having some fun and they know at the end that they will get lots of treats. Today is a holiday so we are joined by many school children, and two bus loads of guys from the army. The show is short and Kampun tells me that we can go to see the baby elephants---I don't want to take the tram ( got to keep walking) and so we walk up the road--what a score, we come across a mother and her baby getting their bath---

5 months old!! So cute--they trainer tells us to follow him and we see another 9 month old with his "step" mother as his real mom is in the show. This is special and not part of the show with the crowds.

After leaving the TECC, we are to visit a local market along the way but it is over run with Thai tourist buses headed back to Bangkok after the holiday...I opt out and we head for the old road, where we do make a quick stop at another market. I cannot get enuf of them---each one different with different types of food stuffs.

We fortify ourselves with coffee and head out to Wat Umong and Doi Suthep. I was disappointed in Doi Suthep---it was a zoo. Too many people---in many ways like any holy shrine--avoid on a holiday. But I get my "luck" from this lovely monk and his helper.

After this we head back for the laundry---when we get there the laundress tell us it's 120BHT because of the color of the shirts and BTW, she normally doesn't do underwear...who knew???
This could turn out to be the "who knew" tour.

Along the way I learn about the local customs from him and why he doesn't like to drive in Bangkok ( crazy people) sense is that he is a quiet, religious man. He bows at each shrine we pass and tells me their history. He gave me quite a bit of back ground on the Japanese and Chinese during WW2. He also tells me what it is like to be a farmer, which he does, rice and some vegetables--during the off season. I very much enjoy our time together and would recommend him to anyone.

I rest for a few minutes after we return---the room is cool and dark.

Later I find a massage place that interests me and have my first massage here. Just OK and I cannot even remember the name---a walk thru the night bazaar and a bit of food from the vendors. I am done for the evening. CNN keeps me connected to my other world, and soon the bed calls.

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