Our first day in Chiang Mai was spent exploring the old gated city. We visited a few temples, also known as Wats, and the 3 Kings monument, which, turned out to be a bit less impressive than we thought it, was going to be. The most interesting part of the day was our “Monk Chat.” A bit like FDR fire side chats, we got as much time as we wanted to sit down with a young monk to chat. We learned in Buddhism that almost everyone is expected to become a monk at least once in their life, even if only for a short bit. We also learned that there are 272 rules that a monk must live by.
Amongst many things we learned that some of the elephants there were drug addicts – they’d been given amphetamines so they’d be able to work around the clock. Two had mangled feet from stepping on land mines near the border with Myanmar. One we saw had a broken hip from forced breeding. Another had a broken leg from being hit by a car while street begging. One had a visibly deformed back – her spine had been broken from the platform her owner put on her back to carry tourists around. So profound was learning about what it actually takes to get an elephant to allow you to ride on its back. It takes weeks of abuse in a contraption no bigger than the elephant, called “the crush.” As for us, we will NEVER ride on an elephants back again!
A heart wrenching day, but also full of happy things as well. We had the privilege to visit with not only a 6 month old baby boy but a 12 day old girl as well! It was the most amazing thing and I seriously could have sat there just watching the baby girl for hours.
|6 month old baby boy|
|12 day old baby girl|
WATCH THE VIDEO!
What I found so bewildering was how the locals could choose to abuse an animal that is so highly revered in this part of the world. From our pictures you will see they are iconic to the Thai people, with ancient elephant statues on temples and buildings.
Following our magical day with elephants we spent the rest of our days in Chiang Mai riding around on scooters. It was such a great way to get around as it only cost 200BT ($6.5) for a days rental. We took advantage and rode up to the temple on top of the mountain called Pratak Doi Suthep. It was really beautiful up there, everything covered in gold but again, the temple was just another tourist attraction with every corner covered with donation drops boxes. The Thai people must give all their money away every day to the temples. It’s a little unbelievable until you actually see it.
|Pratak doi Suthep|
|Jade Buddha at Pratak doi Suthep|
It would be nice to say that we ended our stay in Chiang Mai on a good note but unfortunately; we had a bit of a scare when we arrived to the airport and my passport was missing. Long story short, it was sneakily hidden in the room safety box and the hotel was nice enough to express it out to our hotel down south in Krabi. Time for more beach time!
A few notes:
Thai Airline has great service and serves good food and drinks.
Check out Whole Earth for a delicious Thai dinner when in Krabi.
Gallery is also a good spot for genuine delicious Thai food.