Tuesday, 19 February 2019

A Day At The Zoo

On day ten of our Thai adventure we took a trip to Chiang Mai Zoo. The zoo was well laid out with lots of interesting birds and animals to view, although I did think the big cat enclosures were a bit on the small side especially the tiger's as it was pacing back and forwards and seemed very agitated. The zoo was set on a hillside much like Edinburgh Zoo but on a much larger scale, Edinburgh being around 33 hectares and Chiang Mai at around 80 hectares so a nice casual pace was necessary to go round the large complex. I was given the task of leader so with the help of map of the zoo we ambled round with the minimum of fuss and getting lost.

We were greeted by these rather colourful parrots on entry.

The hippos were always on the lookout for the odd tit bit.....

....or something bigger.

It was nice to watch this family interacting with the giraffes.

The restless tiger, we found this rather upsetting but was one of the few low points of the day.

One of the other low points was the large bird enclosure, apart from these photos there was little to see.

The lions seemed content......

........watching the world go by.

The pandas were endearing and it was very entertaining to watch them enjoy a laid back lunch of bamboo, but they were.....

.....messy eaters.

Deep in thought

The deer enclosure was very large and held a variety of deer species.

Not to be disturbed.

 This primate would 't have disgraced a village cricket team.....

.......with it's catching skills, as long as bananas were being bowled.

View of Chiang Mai from the highest point of the zoo.

This was an interesting but tiring day and we were glad to return to the hotel the hotel for a rest before going out in the evening.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

A Day Out.

A couple of days after our elephant experience we hired a car and driver for a day and headed off into the mountains near Chiang Mai to visit the Hill tribes that live in the uplands and other places of interest. The car came in the form of a very modern and comfortable people carrier driven by a very knowledgeable and pleasant young lady at a modest cost.

Our driver for the day.

Hill Tribes
Northern Thailand Hill tribes consist of seven main groups, most of whom have migrated into the area in the past 150 years, originating in Yunnan, northern Burma and even Tibet.  Primitive,  poor and often marginalized by Thais, the hill tribes prefer to live in the Uplands  undisturbed and are noted for their distinct costumes. tourism dollars, and efforts by The Thai King's royal Project to provide them with agricultural cooperatives, has brought prosperity and outside influences to some villages.

Some typical abodes

It was good to see the village crafts being performed and as we all come from a textile background we found it very interesting.

Karen Women
The Karen women are famous for the gold rings they wear around their neck, from the age of 5 until their 21st birthday a ring or coil is added yearly, the rings are taken off once year for 3 - 4 hours, any longer than this their necks would break. Taking off the rings is a special ceremony and only the women attend. They are also known as Dragon Ladies due to their elongated necks. Researching this information I was disappointed to learn that life is not what it appears to be with these people. Apparently on arriving in Thailand  they were leased some land and were given visas and work permits. They are not allowed to leave their villages, if they want to stay in Thailand they have to stay on the land they were given. The fact that they are totally dependent on tourism to make living eases my conscience a little.

On questioning one of the younger Karen I was told that the coils that are placed around the neck is neither painful or uncomfortable as it is done over long periods of time. 

This was an interesting and educational day out. We did visit other places of some interest but I think I've posted the most interesting photos.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Bathing with Elephants

Chiang Mai
After three nights in Bangkok we flew to Chiang Mai for another eight nights. Bangkok was an amazing place of which really, we seen a small part of. What struck us the most was the politeness and tolerance of the people maybe it has something to do with the Buddhist culture, the road traffic seemed to be manic with vehicles crossing on front of each other, motorcycles and tuk tuk's weaving in and out but there was no horns blaring in anger, everyone just made way for each other, also Bangkok must have one of the highest concentrations of scooters and motorcycles in the world. 

Sunday Evening Market
In the evening after getting settled in to our hotel we went to a large street market where there was an abundance of exciting Thai food which we sampled, I also tried some milk from a fresh coconut but found it rather sickly. The market was busy and full of colour and buzzing with atmosphere.

Bathing with Elephants

Today was a true highlight of our trip, we went on an afternoon trip to an elephant sanctuary. This involved feeding and washing them but beforehand we were given an interesting talk on the creatures and their behaviour. These animals can never be returned to the wild as they are truly domesticated and are lovingly looked after by the young mahouts. It was interesting to learn, that when an elephant gives birth to a calf it is taken away from the mother for a while as the herd comes very protective of their young and makes it difficult for the keepers to approach them. In saying that they are true gentle giants of the animal world and it was good to see them being treated so well.

 That done we proceeded feed them bananas and had to shout 'bon bon' for them to take the bananas through their mouth rather than their trunk, it was truly fun. The elephants were so full of character and mischief, it was just a pleasure to be in their company.....and if truth be known they are totally spoilt in a lovingly way, especially from their carers or mahouts.

Keeping a watchful eye.

  Kenny's found a new friend

A forest of trunks and legs

The young Mahouts keep an eye on the proceedings

Cooling down.

A rear end view!

Later we went to a nearby pool were we washed them before heading to a wallow to give them a mud bath.

Everyone gets a shower.

George joins in the fun.

A mud bathe to keep off parasites.

A stroll around the wallow to dry off.

This was an exceptional day out with a lovely bunch of youngsters from all over the world and very much one ticked off my 'bucket list' and I would go as far as saying it was hopefully on a par with 'swimming with dolphins'.