How did you spend your MOTHER'S day? I spent mine elephant trekking. We were picked up at 8am and transported to the Baanchang Elephant Park in the mountains where they have 21 rescue elephants. Elephants weigh
between one and two tons. They eat about 250 kg of food per day and have about the same lifespan as humans. The are pregnant 18 - 24 months and then stay with their young for the next 25 years. The goal of this park is to teach visitors about the importance of elephant preservation and proper eating, sleeping, bathing and exercising methods.
We first got changed into issued clothing - oh how I love an outfit that matches. We then learned how to feed the elephants sometimes giving them bananas right into their mouths and sometimes they would grab the bananas with their trunks. Each elephant has a mahout or trainer and that is usually the only person the elephant will listen to. Although we were taught various commands to get the elephant to get up and down, walk forward, stop etc., I quickly realized we were not actually commanding the elephant as they would wait to hear the command from their mahout. We learned how to get on and off an elephant ( if you are not careful you can end up with a rug burn type of rash on you skin) as well as how to ride the elephant bare back. After lunch we rode the elephants into the jungle finishing off at their favourite bathing spot. You actually only ride the elephant for about 30 minutes and get off for about 30 minutes to give them a rest and then another 30 minute ride. Riding the elephant bare back was much more comfortable than I expected but the most fun was getting in the water with the elephants and bathing them. The baby elephant came to join us and was so playful -- if you splashed her with water she would spray you.
I also took a full day cooking class in chiang Mai at the Siam rice cooking
school. Great location outside the city and the cooking class takes place outside. You had a choice of a number of different recipes and I choose:
Spicy soup with sweet basil
Spicy glass noodle salad
Chicken with cashew nut
Sticky rice with mango
The picture of me with the flame is when i was making massaman curry (no i was not burning it - but i am not sure i would do this in my kitchen) My only advise is not to eat breakfast before taking this course. The food was delicious and Pot (owner and instructor) was great - a sense of humor combined with good professional cooking skills. I learned a few secrets from him and look forward to cooking some of the recipes I made in class plus the ones out of the recipe book he gave us. One of my classmates was Nancy from Michigan. Nancy was staying at my hotel in the room next to me and she is also a Rotarian traveling alone so it was fun to have someone to have cocktails with and wander the markets.
Nancy and I took a tuk tuk to the area of town that makes and sells local handicrafts. We got to go through the factories and some of them such as the silk and umbrella making factories let us take pictures but the jewelry/jade, pottery places would not allow picture taking in their factories. Did you know they can get up to 500 meters of silk out of one caccoon . This was a great way to spend the morning of our last day in chiang Mai. We both helped the economy by making purchases of some of the handcrafted glazed ceramics - absolutely beautiful stuff and very reasonable priced unfortunately the shipping is costing more than we paid for the items - oh well. I have also stopped purchasing shoes for me and now i am purchasing shoes for my Hannah as you can see by the picture.
After our final thai massage, Nancy and I had a fabulous lunch at an Indian restaurant before saying goodbye and making our way to the airport. If you are ever in Thailand I would highly recommend a visit to chiang Mai and staying at Rimping village.
Well now I am off to china. I have not booked a tour as i had originally planned. I could not find a suitable group tour and the private tours are just too expensive for one person. So I have booked a hotel in Beijing and will hope for the best. The place I am staying does have Internet but I am not sure how good it will be or if it will allow me to download blogs - so you may or may not hear from me for a while - wish me luck! Most likely I will be able to send and receive emails so feel free to email me.