Disclaimer – this is my second time writing this post because it decided to disappear, so sorry if I sound a little stale.
I was planning on doing Thailand all in one, but the post was getting pretty long so I decided to split it into two. I’ll probably do the same for Vietnam since I’m there for the same amount of time.
Anyway, continuing Thailand!
Today was spent mostly in the bus (a 5 hour drive from Sukhothai to Chiang Rai), but we stopped at several cool places on the way to break it up. We saw a little textile museum with a gold thread wedding skirt, and stopped at a lovely reclining Buddha painted in the Burmese style (with makeup).
After lunch, we visited a shop that uses indigo to dye clothes. We stamped some patterns of our own and then shopped while the lady dyed them and let them dry.
I got to to go to Myanmar today! We crossed the border pretty early in the morning and took rickshaws through the town. We stopped in a produce market then walked a bit through the residential streets before finishing up at a nunnery where the nuns sang us a blessing. It was great fun and we crossed back to Thailand before lunch.
We had lunch in the hills, where the bus couldn’t go. It took us as far as it could then we switched to one cylinder crank start trucks with benches in the backs. It was slow going but we had a blast.
We then took a boat across the Mae Khong River to a market in Laos, meaning I went to three countries today! This area is known as the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet and you can see all three countries form one spot.
7 of us got up early this morning and visited the hill tribes near Chiang Rai. We toured through three different villages. The first was the Karen Village, or Long Necks. The Karen women wear brass coils around their necks, adding to them as they age. Over time, the weight of the coils pushes their collar bones down making their necks appear longer than normal.
The second village was the Mien (or Yao) Village where the villagers from China are known for their cross stitch clothes.
Lastly, we stopped at the Ahka Village, a group of people originally from Nepal. They played their instruments for us and some of us joined in (I always seem to get roped into these things, though I’m not sure if it’s because I’m alone or because I’m the youngest person in the group).
We went back to the hotel and met up with the rest of the group to head for Chiang Mai. On the way out of the city, we took a lunch break at Watrongkhum (the White Temple).
The drive to Chiang Mai was through lots of beautiful hills and undeveloped land, so I didn’t mind the several hour drive at all.
Elephants!!! 7 of the group went on an excursion to the Elephant Kingdom today, a sanctuary with around 30 elephants near Chiang Mai. We had several lessons including bathing elephants, Asian elephant info, getting on an elephant bareback, and elephant food. We had two elephants working with us, an 18 year old and a 5 year old. When it came to climbing up the elephant’s leg to sit behind his head, I ended up on the larger one.
After we all had a quick ride, we made the elephants some rice balls and fed them by hand. We finished the morning with a photo op getting hugs and kisses. We had lunch at an orchid farm then headed back to the hotel.
In the afternoon, I got a fancy Thai massage then went into the market to find a spirit house for my mom.
Today we visited the main temple of Chiang Mai. We started at Wat Suan Dok in the city, which is a sort of extension of the real temple on the mountain, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. After the city temple, we drove up the mountain then hiked the Naga Staircase to get to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.
In the evening, we visited a local home for dinner and a house tour.