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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chiang Mai! Part One

Whitney: The first thing I would like to say in this blog post is that I sincerely dislike most animals. I'm either allergic to them, scared of them, grossed out by them, or annoyed by them. Go ahead all you animal lovers judge me...I just steer clear of them. Anyhow, keeping this in mind, you may come to appreciate how very brave and "open-minded" I was this weekend.

Me Touching an Elephant

Alisha Touching an Elephant

We set out on our adventure Friday after class, and by after class I mean we took the 11:00 (PM) train to Chang Mai. Now this is Alisha. Whitney wants me to write about the train ride for some reason. So first off, our train was significantly later than the time our ticket said it would arrive at. Secondly, those seats are not comfortable in any way. I unfortunately do not possess the ability to sleep sitting up without at least leaning against something, and there was nothing to lean on. If I so much as slouched, I would slide right off my chair. So there I was, late at night on a train, not sleeping but completely exhausted. Sounds miserable right? Oh, but wait! It gets better. After about two hours of being on the train, the temperature dropped to a temperature that I have only felt in Utah (I didn't think it was even possible to be that cold in Thailand). It was freezing! The train people were kind enough to give us "blankets," but I am convinced that they were towels. Imagine sleeping with a beach towel when it is freezing cold. Got the image? Doesn't exactly cover your whole body does it? It wasn't that warm either. At probably 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, I said to myself, "Forget assigned seating! I'm going to lay down over two seats." Although I do not have the gift of sleeping sitting up, I do have the ability to sleep curled up in squishy, uncomfortable positions (just as long as I was laying down). So I got a couple of hours of sleep doing that. Whitney, meanwhile, had come to this conclusion long before me and had been sleeping peacefully across two seats. She got the most sleep of all of us. We got to Chiang Mai at about 7:30 in the morning. PS (this is Whitney). Alisha is pretty sure I am paranoid and over prepared, both of which may be true, but I was the only one who brought a pillow or took sleeping medication on the train from ...uh...Phichit.

So after sitting in the freezer for eight hours we emerged into the wet heat. The blessed wet heat. We were met by a ward member from Pitsanoluk (who we didn't know was going to be there). She took us to our driver, who was also a member of the church. He then tried to take us to the market to buy breakfast but like the children we are we begged for McDonalds. After we got past the language barrier he rolled his eyes at us and took us to McDonalds. It was delicious. We then proceeded to go to Maesa Elephant Camp. (Oh ps the bus we were in was a red backless van....). The first thing I saw upon entering the camp were elephants (go figure). They were everywhere, in the river, crossing the bridge, hogging the road. We got tickets to see the elephant show and ride the elephants up the mountain.
During the elephant show the elephants did tricks, played soccer, and painted. One painted better than me which was a little but disheartening but very impressive. After the show we looked in the gift shop and I found a real live spider that was the size of my palm. Then we climed the platform to mount our elephants. Me and Alisha were on the same one which is not uncommon, we are actually rarely separated. I was scared to get on, I don't like being out of control especially when it comes to animals. So we climbed on and our elephant immediatly started acting rebellious. His name was something like Poo Boily and he had a frightening habit of stopping to eat things that were hanging off the edges of the cliffs. I was on the scary side of the elephant and was fairly certain that Poo was going to jump and we would go down the mountain in a wooden elephant basket and my legs would be crushed and paralyzed. Alisha was having the time of her life. SPOILER ALERT we didn't die and the ride was amazing. It was so green and beautiful and we were on elephants.

Sarah looking skeptical

Us on the elephant at the top of the mountain

Leaving the platform

Our driver actually smiling

The Elephants dropped us off near the village of the long neck women. The long neck women have rings around their necks that they slowly add to over the years until their necks are so long that they need the rings to survive (or so we were told). The place was kind of bizarre. It seemed like the culture was exploiting itself for profit. They sell pictures of themselves and other long neck women memorabilia. It definitely had a different feel then any other place we have been so far. It was very pretty and some of the houses really amazed me. We are so lucky in the U.S. to have everything that we do, every time i see people sprawled on the ground in the middle of the day I am extra thankful for air conditioning.

Me With The Elephant Stump in the Village

Alisha with a long neck and a woman

Me with a long neck and a long neck lady

(Oh PS my shirt does say SEXY, it was a three dollar Tesco shirt :). I buy lots of them because they are funny. One of my shirts says


No one knows what that means but it is a hilarious side note.)

Alisha again - Our next place of adventure in Chiang Mai: Tiger Kingdom. We decided to go pet tigers rather than hold snakes like our driver wanted us to because lets face it, tigers are a lot cooler. We have heard Sarah mention multiple times that if she were to choose how she would die it would be death by tiger. She figures that the most awesome one-upper to be able to say in heaven would be, "Well, I died by tiger." She is not the only one to think that they are awesome. I have always been rather fond of large cats but I never imagined that I would pet one. I may like them, but I still think they are scary. We signed up for the package where a photographer would take lots of pictures to put on a CD for us with the two biggest tigers. For some reason, the baby tigers were more expensive, so we didn't get pictures with them. Whitney was very hesitant to do the whole thing, but I am proud to say that she showed her courageous side and she came in with us. Even I became very apprehensive while we were sitting outside of the cage waiting for our turn. It wasn't actually that scary when we were there with the tiger, though. It mostly just laid there and let us pet it. The second tiger was slightly more active. It ran away from us after we got some pictures with it. That definitely made my heart rate speed up: seeing a tiger prepare to pounce and then run away was slightly terrifying. BUT, I got to pet a tiger! Seriously, how cool is that?

After the tigers we went to a well-known Buddhist temple at the top of a mountain which is at the base of the Himalayas. It was a touristy area, with lots of small shops and places to buy food. We walked up a series of stairs to get to the temple. Once we got to the top and went to a lookout area, we were impressed by the incredible view of Chiang Mai. That city is absolutely beautiful. Not to mention the fact that we watched storm clouds and mist suddenly appear and move quickly over the whole city. While we were up there it started to pour. I was wearing flip-flops, which are dangerous to wear when the ground is wet and slippery. I ended up taking them off and then trudged through all of the puddles on the stairs back down barefoot. Lovely. Whitney and I didn't have umbrellas with us, but we enjoyed the rain.

Imagine walking down these stairs when they are wet in your bare feet.

Alisha being HOT by the temple.

Me being tan by that tree at that top of the temple.



 Chang Mai the top of the mountain/where the temple is located.

Whitney: P.S. Alisha became sick from the mountainous, treacherous, winderious road to go up to the temple. She didn't even eat corn by the temple. You just can't enjoy a temple (Buddhist) without corn. After said temple + corn + stunning views = happiness, we headed to an unknown destination that neither our driver or translator could explain to us. Turns out it was the Walking Market, which also turns out to be different than the Night Bizarre, which ALSO didn't have a Subway. You may be thinking, "Who cares about Subway when you are in a cool place like Thailand?" We do, dang it. I will tell you why. I have not been full for the majority of this excursion to Thailand. And Alisha + Group were getting grumpy due to the lackage of food (except the corn). Anyway, suffice it to say: WE NEEDED FOOD. So, rather than stay at the Walking Market, we communicated to our driver (rather poorly) that we needed Subway stat. He rolled his eyes at us and drove us there. Our meal was silent as death as we hurriedly devoured our sandwiches. I ate a whole foot-long. Huzzah. Then presto magic, everyone was happy again. We hung out at the Night Bizarre for approximately 11 minutes, in which time Laura managed to buy her first two elephants of the night, a strange lady kept holding on to my wrist, and we got to see a parade of transvestites who were prettier than the lot of us. That hurt. So naturally, we left, returning to the Walking Market where we were once again the most fair of them all (well, at least the most stared at). We all bought a lot of stuff, due to the fact that the money feels like toy money and elephants were plentiful. Then, we got to our hotel, took showers, and collapsed in bed. Yes, all of this did happen in one day. And yes, this is finally the end.

Walking Market

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