Sunday, August 20, 2017

Day 24: Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai Zoo, Aquarium, and Craft Beer Restaurants

We returned the rental scooters and took a tuk-tuk over to the Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium.  They have such a massive zoo that we rented a golf cart to get around.  We spent most of the day there and especially enjoyed seeing the pandas.  In the evening we checked out a few hipster craft beer restaurants complete with beers from Oregon on tap.  

Namton's House Bar 

Craft Beer Factory

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Day 23: Chiang Mai, Thailand, Sticky Waterfall, Erotic Garden, Lady Boy Cabaret

We braved the busy Chiang Mai roads (plus driving on the left side of the road) and rented scooters to get outside the city.  We drove over an hour to Bua Thong Waterfalls also known as the "Sticky Waterfalls."  The unique waterfalls have laid down a mineral deposit similar in texture to a hardened sponge that is grippy, hence the name.  We climbed up and down them with ease and swam in the small waterhole at the bottom.  Afterwards we jumped back on the scooters and headed to a "special" theme garden in the outskirts of Chiang Mai.  It was quite beautiful and the owner was especially welcoming.  She took us around and explained her vision for the garden then treated us to some Thai ice coffee.  In the evening we went to the Saturday market and the Lady Boy Cabaret show.

Sticky Waterfall

Chiang Mai Erotic Garden

Lady Boy Cabaret Show.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Day 22: Chiang Mai, Thailand, Elephant Nature Park

We visited Elephant Nature Park outside of Chiang Mai today. They are an elephant sanctuary that takes in and cares for formally abused elephants and a few that happened to be born at the park. They aren't involved in giving elephant rides or putting on shows unlike many of the places marketed to tourists around here. Currently they have over 70 elephants, majority of which are female. We were able to feed, bathe, and get up close and personal to specific elephants that didn't pose a danger. It was super neat to say the least. 

This elephant had a special place in my heart. She was born into a Karen tribe and her mother was used for labor, such as logging. Because they didn't want to separate her from her mother when she was a baby and nursing they chained them together. Unfortunately her mother fell on her and broke her front left leg. The tribe didn't have the money or resources to transfer her to a veterinary hospital so it healed poorly and she walks with a deformed leg. I was surprised by the number of elephants who had broken hips from falling or had deformed limbs from stepping on a land mine.

One year old and one of only a few males. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Day 21: Inle Lake, Myanmar to Chiang Mai, Thailand

We left the quantness of Inle Lake for the bustle of Chiang Mai. Along the hour boat taxi ride to Heho I captured a few more photos of fisherman and farmers on the lake. One had the traditional style cone fishing net that I hadn't seen yet. Many of the locals use one leg on their oar to paddle and steer the boat. They make it look easy but I'm sure it's a skill that takes some time to learn. I will miss Myanmar. 

The post office. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Day 20: Inle Lake, Myanmar. Indein village market, boat tour.

We hired a boat driver to take us around Inle Lake today. We woke up early, ate a delicious breakfast at our hotel, and we were off by 6:30 am. There is a rotating market in the region and today it was at a village called Indein which is about 45 minutes away by boat.  When we arrived to the bustling market there wasn't a tourist in site. We walked around and picked up a few trinkets. I grabbed a handmade bamboo hat for less than $3 USD in hopes of blending in better. It's hard to blend in when you're walking next to JM but no one seemed to be bothered by our presence. If they noticed us we just smiled and they smiled back. It was so cool to see real village life. Some of the other stops we made during the day seemed staged for the tourists, but not this. Our guide took us to the temple up the hill from the market with hundreds of small padogas that probably also serve as dog houses to the dozens of stray dogs running around. From there we got back on the boat and made multiple stops to various handicraft workshops. They were too staged and touristy for me. It rained the entire rest of the day so getting up early turned into a great decision. We went by the floating gardens where they grow tomatoes and other vegetables.  There were also 2 stops at Buddhist monasteries, one known as "The Jumping Cat" monastery where monks formally trained cats to do tricks such as jumping through hoops. Accusations of animal rights issues resulted in them ending the practice so the remaining cats just lounge around now. We ended the day with another fabulous meal at the hotel restaurant. 

This stray puppy has the puppy eyes routine down. 

The "longneck" women of the Karen tribe on display. I took a picture because I felt pressured to and didn't want to insult anyone, but I think it's too zoo like. I guess it's good if it brings them a living wage. 
Silversmith demonstration. 
Silk weaving. 

Turning lotus stem fibers into thread for weaving. 

The only cats we saw at the Jumping Cat Monastery. 
The floating gardens.