Chiang Mai, Thailand, Asia
I woke up this morning after a pretty bad night’s sleep. I got up in the middle of the night and found a massive spider (body about one inch diameter; with the legs about five inches) hanging on the outside of the mosquito net on the bed. I’m not a huge fan of spiders, so this didn’t really sit too well with me. I didn’t see any purpose in trying to move it, because the room was all open to the outside, so that spider, or any other creature could easily make its way into the room anyway. This made it a little more difficult to fall asleep again, plus it was very hot and the fan was pointed to the door instead of me.
So when I woke up at 6:50am for breakfast, I wasn’t very well rested, or happy. We had a decent breakfast over in the canteen and got some energy stored up for the day ahead. We were given an unnecessary break after breakfast until 8:30am, so Lynne and I went back to the room and just sat there for an hour. The next thing scheduled was a two hour hike, and after talking with the rest of the group members at breakfast, we realized that none of us wanted to go on this walk. It had been monsooning all night long and it was still raining at this point, so the idea of hiking through a foot of mud for two hours didn’t really appeal. We showed up at 8:30am to find out that everyone else had backed off their coup idea and agreed to go on the walk, so we agreed to follow suit.
We got some welly boots from Panda and set off on our “hike”. It wasn’t so much a hike, rather a slow meandering through some very muddy fields to visit the different elephant herds. It was good to get up close and personal with some of the elephants that didn’t show face very much at the feeding platform or riverbed. One of the baby elephants called Naughty Boy kept trying to come across a small stream to get to us, but his mahout did a great job keeping him at bay. It did become more apparent on this walk that these elephants are definitely not in a natural wilderness setting. They are all in their own separate pastures divided by streams. They could get across these streams easily enough, but since each elephant has at least one mahout, they are kept from wandering too far.
We stopped in at the elephant hospital area where an older elephant who had stepped on a landmine about five years ago was being wrapped up and given medication. We were trying to figure out if it’s good that they are trying to treat this elephant and give it a good home, or if it is always going to be in pain forever and should it be put out of its misery like a horse with a broken leg. We didn’t come up with an answer, but I guess they are in a better place now than they were when the Park adopted them, so who am I to say what is right?
We fed a few more elephants, had some lunch for ourselves, watched another bath time and then helped with another feeding. By this time we were all ready to head back to Chiang Mai. It was an awesome experience getting so close to the elephants, but we just kept doing the same things over and over, so after the fifth feeding and second bath time, we were ready to go. I have a lot of respect for the people who work there, and I’m happy to have contributed to the cause, but it’s not a job I could do.
We got the van back to Chiang Mai and were at the hostel by 6pm. Lynne went out for another run and I did pretty much nothing for about an hour waiting for her to get back. When we headed out into Chiang Mai for our last night in the north, we were both craving some western food, so we were pretty happy to find a Pizza Hut. I know it sounds horrible, but you can only take rice and noodles for so long, then you need a break. Pizza was exactly what I wanted, and it hit the spot! We went out to the Chiang Mai night markets after dinner, to satisfy Lynne’s hunger for shopping. She’s been talking about these markets for the last few days, so she was pretty happy to get in there and find some bargains. I even got a couple of things for myself, so I am happy. I found a new spinner ring (since I lost my last one recently) and a beautiful little oil painting that was made by an artist at the market. He was a really nice guy (Thong Dee) and the painting will look great in my house some day.
We grabbed a tuk-tuk back here and we’re calling it a night, and we’re both pretty happy not to have a wake up call at all tomorrow. The only thing we have to do is leave for the airport at about 10:30am, so we can sleep as late as we want… wahoo!!