A Travellerspoint blog

March 18, 2020

Chaing Mai, Thailand to Taipei, Taiwan to Vancouver, Canada to Toronto, Ontario, Canada

sunny 25 °C

Last note: the crematorium.....so the people in this country cremate their remains, our guide explains that after the three day grieving and body laid out for visitors the body is taken to the crematorium by the family, it looks like the coffin is on a pyre (we saw one with the coffin in it still at the funeral tent). Once the family brings the body to the crematorium, the men usually the sons, brothers, uncles friends light the fire under the body, and keep this fire going until everything is burned. The whole family stays for quite awhile, they have like grandstand seating! After the family goes back to collect the ashes and bones....these go into three containers, one for the family to keep some of their loved one, one for the family to spread to the sea, river whatever body of water and then one with the bones that goes to the local temple for burial. Very interesting!

All is still a go for our flights home, our transfer is picking us up this morning at 8:30 and we’re all packed and ready to go! Going to be a pretty boring day...flying, stop over in Taipei, Taiwan. Only an hour and a half wait for our next flight to Vancouver.......another hour and half wait there then heading to Toronto. We had our temperatures taken at the first two airports, then in Canada...nothing except they told us to declare if we felt any symptoms and handed out a sheet also of what to watch for while in isolation..

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Flights were pretty routine except for the turbulence on our way to Taipei (I thought we were all going to die, especially when I looked over at Helen and saw her praying.????......I was too), we lived to tell the tale! None of us slept except Frank and he got about an hour.....I had downloaded some stuff on Netflix to watch thank goodness.

our arrival in Toronto was on time about 10:30’ish, off we went for the car and arrived home about 1:30!

Home now...my last blog....I know you will all miss me????????????. Thanks for following!

Posted by Mgiroux55 10:39 Archived in Thailand Comments (3)

March 17, 2020

Chiang Mai, Thailand

sunny 34 °C

Good day,

as mentioned yesterday we are not going to Bangkok today, awaiting our flights home tomorrow????????

Today is low key, hanging about the pool, going for lunch...pool.....dinner....below are some snaps for the day and last night card playing game where I got eatin alive by the mosquitos!

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got my itchy spray on....packing and getting ready to head home!

Posted by Mgiroux55 01:26 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

March 16, 2020

Chiang Mai, Thailand

sunny 35 °C

What the heck is happening to this world...it has gone absolutely nuts. Here we are waiting to see if we can get a flight out of Thailand and back home! But today we have important business.....we have a date with some elephants!

At 8 am the Thaielephant Care Centre is picking us up for a day at their centre, to help care for their rescue elephants. I’m very excited and of course squeal at the first sighting of an elephant! Our guide met us at the car and took us right over to see the elephant I had spotted.....this is very cool. Off we go to get into our costumes, which by the way look like prison suits!

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No time to waste we are off to meet a few of these giant beasts, we each get a basket of bananas to give them for treats! We meet a few of the beasts in their pens waiting for us.....as we stroll along we’re told how to give them the bananas, set the basket down and give them one at a time, hold up by the stem, and they will gently take it with their truck. These elephants are mostly in their 60’s ( awww the golden years), with the oldest being 94 and the youngest being 1 years of age! Just a few snaps of them! I took hundreds????

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On we go, we’re going to see the elephant cemetary????, but wait...here’s the shower and an elephant in there that we can help with!

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These animals are so gentle, and docile. They each have a trainer and he is present at all times and makes sure their elephant sticks to his schedule. We even see the vet treating one of them in the shower station....he’s spraying the beast with a special herbal concoction for a skin ailment, then puts some kind of herbal mixture on her tail!

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Our group follows our guide while he shows us the elephant cemetary, so sad! They only bury the elephants bones here tho (don’t ask). Then we wander to the information hut where we’re treated to the elephant dung paper process, then the guide tells us about some of the ailments the poor critters have and how they help them....see their skeletal systems and learn more about the animals themselves. Very interesting...did you know elephants eat up to 70 kilograms of food a day? And they poop about 10-12 times a day at about 10 kilograms per load! I knew that information is what everyone is waiting for????????????????

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And now it is time for us to make our Elephants morning snack, over to the snack hut we go and get our gloves , grind up the grasses and mix in some salt, protein pellets and some water! Lumdaow is waiting, sniffing the air....we carry over the bucket for her and take our seats right in front of her! She’s a poky eater, the guide moved the bucket over closer to us.....she moved it away.....shy!

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Now it’s her turn to step up into the shower and get cleaned up.......while in the shower the trainer if throwing her bananas to keep her moving this way and that so we can get all the muck off.

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We’re waiting for lunch now, relaxing in a nice shady spot watching a couple of the elephants that like each. They are giving themselves mud baths, good lord no wonder they have so many showers in the day.....then they get out of the puddle and drag their body’s back and forth against a tree, it’s pretty funny to watch! Wish the pictures were live on here so you could watch for a second!

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now it’s our turn to eat, when we arrived this morning they gave us a choice of about 3 or 4 items to pick from...and we all picked the same....ham and cheese sandwich with fries, chicken salad, fruit for dessert! Of course Jim got lucky and got my ham! Lunch was good, after lunch we had time to play some dice before our next chore!

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So our next chore is making a few different kind of cookies for our friends....some is premade with rice, tamarind, protein, etc.....looks pretty gross but they love it .....first ones we mix in some extra powder and vitamins into the tamarind and make them into balls, second kind is really mucky with the rice and coconut milk.....it’s sticking to my hands and under my nails.....then we wrap these in banana leaves. Poor Lumdoaw is standing right behind us waiting for her treats, she can smell them!

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Then we took a bucket of treats to some of the others, it was like running a gauntlet....they were all trying to get the treats, I had Muck all over my prison suit, up my arms....eeewwww! I don’t have the treats, Jim has the bucket! It was hilarious us all trying to get by but those trunks are pretty long and they can smell very well! We wandered over to the river, some of the elephants are down here having a drink and munching on the greenery, rolling around in the mud!

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our little precious is down at the river waiting for us to come down and get her muck off! We are given a basket for scooping water over her and a scrub brush, she’s laying on one side so we get into the muck yep water and fly at it. After we’re done that side she stands up so we can get the rest of her...... Does she not look most beautiful when we’re done...

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We say good by to our ‘Lumdaow’.....back across the bridge where others are showering and eating.....one lady puts on a show for us!

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Now it’s time to say goodbye, we get our towels and our stuff outta the lockers and go for a shower.....head back to town. Back at our hotel we see that our flights home are confirmed, all arrangements made for transfers and cancelling the rest of our stay in Thailand! The panic from home has convinced us to return early....so instead of going onto Bangkok in the morning we will have a free day at the hotel .....day around the pool I guess!

Posted by Mgiroux55 20:46 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

March 15, 2020

Chiang Mai, Thailand

overcast 34 °C

Good day all

Thought I’d better add a few notes that I have neglected to post...

Banyan tree is the Buddha tree, this is where he gained enlightenment, there is at least one Banyan tree on every temple grounds

City monk vs jungle monk ....omg never heard this one before! Apparently there are these two types of monks....the city monk has a ‘home temple’ and the Jungle Monk travels around learning as he goes, never staying in one place long, bringing his found wisdom to all! We saw a jungle monk in Chiang Mai....apparently he is the animal whisperer

Monk ...is usually bald, if the monk has extremely high status...the Buddha.....he has hair and a pointy hat (forget what the hats are called)

From Siem Reap - Termite hills - tourists are discouraged to get to close to these (they are everywhere), because there can be poisonous snakes hiding in the termite den????. Didn’t have to tell me twice.

on with our journey....

Today we are off to the mountains to visit some hilltribes....pick ups at 8am and we’re scrambling trying to eat breakfast and get out there on time! Jump into the van and we’re off. Driving out of the city and it is very Smokey today, don’t think we’ll see much scenery! The first village we stop at about an hour and a half away is called the HMONG TRIBE...this is one of the largest tribes in the mountains, the majority escaping the civil war in Laos back in the 50’s and 60’s. Their opium use was rampant, they were also growing and selling to whoever which did not sit well in Thailand. The King at the time started what he called the ‘Royal Project’. This project taught the people how to farm fruits and vegetables organically in hopes of stopping the whole Opium growing and selling. We stopped at their market and their fruits and vegetables looked amazing! Then we wandered up into their village...houses made of cement blocks all crammed together, little kids playing in the dirt..and the women sitting around doing their embroidery. Pretty squalid conditions..

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We wandered back to our van to continue....in the town of Thaton we went over to a resort for lunch, it was lovely...such great food we’re been having. We are all a little leery of the fruit and coconut milk! I’ll let you figure that one out! Then we head up the mountain to the temple of Wat Thaton, temple of the Crystal Pagoda! The temple is spread out over 9 different levels of the hillside and at the top is the Crystal Pagoda which hold a relic of the Buddha and 7 urns of the highest Monks. This whole pagoda is a museum of sorts. I’m sure the views from here would have been beautiful but honestly there is so much smoke and haze we can barely seen the village!

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Next stop.....the Long Neck Karen village! Karennnnnnn. From the village we took a long boat up the Me kok river which is so low our guide can’t even come with us....Seriously we could hear the boat scraping the rocks in some spots. But here’s another tidbit about these country’s.....there is not a lake, river, stream or mud puddle without a pump and hose sucking out the water! Lots of small resorts along the water, restaurants...kids playing on their tubes.....We can only go so far by river then have to load into the van again....takes us another half hour to get to the village....long bumpy road off the highway...almost broke my chicklets on my water cup. So the Karen are one of the largest tribes in Thailand with two other groups ..the Sgaw and the Pwo.....they all have different dialects....not sure how that works out. These tribes have escaped the human rights abuses in Myanmar (only a few kilometres away).. the government in Thailand is trying to help them with self sufficiency, they are farmers and the women have a little market with all kinds of trinkets and their scarves and materials. I did not want to take pictures (felt like I was exploiting them)....but we asked and they were so happy to pose and then wanted to see their pictures! We did make some purchases here and then off we go.....it’s after 3 and we have a 3.5 hour drive back to Chiang Mai????

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the drive was uneventful on the way back to town...think we all took turns dozing off! Wait we just spotted a fire!

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Oh and check out this load! It’s garlic!

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We are so tired...... but change and head just down the street to a local restaurant...had great food, the band was good and came right up to our table to sing English for us! Pretty fun singalong.

Posted by Mgiroux55 02:32 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

March 14, 2020

Chiang Mai, Thailand

sunny 40 °C

In this world of Coronavirus, we are going about our tours in way less crowded places here in Thailand. Lots of chances for great pictures:)

We’re up and out the door by 8:30 to meet our guide Siri and driver Mr Dom, off to see three of Chiang Mai’s temples today. First up is Wat Shan Dok, built by a King for a revered monk, it houses a garden of whitewashed mausoleums which house the ashes of past officials of the city. Next to the mausoleum is the golden pagoda which houses a relic from the Buddha...these mausoleums are really beautiful. Also on the temple grounds is the. assembly hall – an open-air pavilion with low, sweeping roofs and wrap-around terraces. Its large, open-sided structure is considered unique, as the assembly halls are almost always closed structures. Inside the assembly hall, the two main Buddha images, one in a sitting meditation posture and the other standing, face the opposite directions. A smaller Buddha image, set right in front of the sitting Buddha, is in similar style. These grounds are like a monk university.....

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Our next stop is a temple way up on the mountain, up a long winding road (elevation of 1,056 metres), need to sit somewhere where I can see out the front ....can’t handle these twisty roads! Once we arrive we’re going to take the stairs up the Naga Serpent stairway.....over 300 steps. The legend says the king place a bone of the Buddha’s on an elephant who climbed the mountain and then dropped dead....the king immediately ordered a temple built on the spot and entombed the remains of the Buddha in a beautiful pagoda. The temple grounds have undergone many renovations with many holy shrines added. There are many places to look out over the city of Chiang Mai only today was very hazy, from smoke we’re told from locals starting fires in the forests?

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After our ice cream fix we head back to town for our final temple of the day. This temple Wat Jed Yod is an active temple today, with many monks studying and living here. This temple is built in the Lanna style, and has many ancient structures on the property, large old trees, and beautiful ruins. We wandered around looking at the ruins melting in the sun......while our guide told us stories of the temples and the meanings and the history.....

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Spent the afternoon lounging about the pool, had lunch and got some laundry done! Jim not we’ll again so I went out with Frank and Helen. We thought we were going to some big market but not much of one at all. More food than market kind stuff but we did have some amazing street food!

Night all, hope all is right with the world tomorrow! Stay safe and wash your hands!

Posted by Mgiroux55 08:25 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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