We arrived in Chiang Mai on the evening of the 27th, after riding the biggest plane I have been on in my life! The first class section was on a second floor!! WOW! We estimated that the plane had approximately 700 passenger seats and it was definitely a full flight!
We stayed in a dorm style (10 beds) co-ed room with a shared bathroom. THAT alone is an adventure, but the lodging was cheap (about $3 US per night per person) and the managers were helpful in booking our excursions. We got up early the next day and went on a 9 person tour to various places:
A white temple: Made by hand, it really was a sight to take in. 90% of the country's citizens are Buddist. Many of the people bowed at the alter and really seemed to be revering this place. As one can imagine, it took several years to build (and is still not complete).
Natural hot springs (176 degree F water)…
We spent most of that day at the Golden Triangle. It's the place where the Thailand, Myanmar, & Laos borders meet. A while back, it used to be famous for opium farming. Thus, the "glow" earned the name "Golden Triangle." Marijuana is now illegal in Thailand but the name stuck. We took a boat to Laos and did some shopping. It was cool to get my passport stamped for another country. 🙂 A nice suprise for the trip as I didn't do much research on Thailand before going. Laos is known for it's whiskey. They put animals in their whiskey- as the picture displays. We didn't get to go to Myanmar due to visa needs, but we could throw a stone at it. lol… some shopping and then headed out to meet the Long neck Karen tribal refugees from Myanmar.
The long neck and big ear tribes are mostly found in Myanmar. However, there are some refugees who live in Thailand and make a living by tourism. They weave scarves, make wooden statues/knicknacks, and allow tourists to come gauk at them. It was a little strange for me and Hannah. We, of course, wanted to KNOW them, not visit them like some zoo exhibit. We took time to talk with 12 year old Maria, her twin sister and their mother.
Maria really enjoys the make up and pictures. Her sister is not really into the whole make up thing and accepts this as their trade. These tribal children do not go to school. They work and play in their village. It makes me really thankful to be born in America where, just by default, I get some great opportunities just because I was born on U.S. soil!
The next day- Thursday, we visited Tiger Kingdom and got to spend 15 minutes with three 15 month old tigers. It
was a little scary at first, but then I got really comfortable and even layed on the back of one of the tigers! They were really soft and the moment was a little surreal.
On Friday, we took another tour excursion (this time with only 7 us). We visited an orchid farm– my favorite flower!
And a butterfly farm.
Cacoons have a completely different meaning to me after reading THE POWER TO BECOME by Apostle Cornielus Sanders II.
We also fed and rode elephants that day! Their skin is really tough and the hair on it is a little scratchy.
It was a great experience to ride such a massive animal. I felt like a mighty warrior! 🙂
We spent New Year's Eve in Chiang Mai. There were thousands of people in Thailand's 2nd largest city, ringing in the new decade with us. We lit a lantern and sent it into the sky.
All the laterns in the night sky looked like moving stars. Neat!
They had fireworks and a popular pop band. It was a fun and safe way to bring in the new year.
We flew back to Bangkok at 7am on the first. We spent our last night in Bangkok at a nice hotel and they had fireworks that night too~ great view of them from our room. We spent the last day shopping and hanging out with Hannah's friend from Washington who now lives in Thailand. We boarded a red-eye flight (departed at 12:23am) on the 3rd of January. It was really nice to get back home, but I wasn't happy about leaving swimsuit weather to be greeting by the below freezing temperatures of S. Korea! Such is life… next vacation?? stay tuned…