Chiang Mai

We were allowed to cross the border from Laos to Thailand despite looking and smelling like a couple of hobos, and got a bus all the way to Chiang Mai.  We immediately noticed how much more developed Thailand is compared to the other countries we’ve been in recently.  After travelling in Laos and Cambodia, we have a new-found appreciation for tarmac.  We arrive in Chiang Mai in the middle of the bustling Sunday night market, take a room in the first guesthouse we can find and immediately collapse for the night.

The next morning, we take full advantage of being in a tourist centre by popping to the Irish pub for breakfast.

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You can imagine how good this tasted after nothing but rice for a week.

We had scheduled a day in Chiang Mai to go to the Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary for rescued elephants.  We got to feed the elephants by hand.  They each get their own special basket of food made up depending on their favourites; some have more bananas, some like pumpkin.  Some of the elephants are very polite and take the food daintily with their trunks.  Others are a bit more snatchy and will throw the food away if they judge it to be too small to bother with.

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After lunch, we got to go into the river with the elephants and give them a wash.  Some elephants like to be washed by the tourists, others prefer to splash around by themselves.

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Thanks to a smooth trip from Laos (the yellow bracelets have still not let us down), we arrived in Chiang Mai a day earlier than we expected. So we had an extra day to spend on one of the many tourist activities on offer. I vote for white-water rafting, Mr Beet chooses batik painting.  Since we have been doing a lot of adventure type activities recently and nothing creative, we ultimately decide on batik.  Then I remember that I still have “paint a picture” outstanding on my list of things to do before I’m 30. So it’s an opportunity to tick that box as well.

Our teacher is a very friendly Thai woman called Anne, who takes us through the whole process; sketching a design, canting on the wax, painting, fixing and finally putting the whole thing in boiling water and hoping for the best. We are pleasantly surprised by the results. I’m sure this is not due to our latent artistic prowess, but rather the subtle guidance from Anne.

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Some more pictures are on Mr Beet’s flickr page here and here, but the batik photos have been censored as someone may be getting one of my efforts for Christmas and I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

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