Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sixth Day in Chiang Mai (Sunday)

Today we went to the Mae Sa Elephant Camp. We watched the elephants shower and their handlers scrub them in the river. One elephant tried to stand on his head, but he couldn’t get his hind feet completely in the air.

We walked to the elephant show where the elephants paraded around and performed many tricks. They danced, they kicked soccer balls, and they painted beautiful pictures. After the show, we fed them bunches of bananas and bundles of sugar cane. They hugged us with their trunks and we took many photos.

We were very impressed with the elephants’ artistic ability and bought one of the pictures they painted. We also stopped in the elephant souvenir shop where the profits were dedicated to caring for the elephants. Our guide, Kung, said some people feel guilty about the elephants in the camp. She said we shouldn’t feel this way because the elephants don’t have enough work to do with the loss of teak logging. Performing tricks is one way they can earn their keep.

We went to the Drew Cent---oops, the Monkey Centre, after that. We watched the monkeys count numbers, ride bicycles, and dive after a waterproof watch donated by a willing participant. Drew won a banana by finding the number “4” after the monkey was “tired” of the game.

After the show, we fed the monkeys tangerines and bananas. Anna and Drew played with two baby monkeys and Anna learned the wisdom of keeping her hair away from the monkey’s reach.

Kung took us back to our hotel and we had to decide what we were going to do with our afternoon. We ate sushi at Ikue and Drew and Gregg stayed in the hotel while Anna and I went walking around. I was in search of interesting textile shops and the one I was truly interested in, a wholesale silk factory outlet shop, was closed, which was probably a very good thing. We stopped at Naruk’s and I got my feet massaged for an hour while Anna got her very first pedicure and manicure.

We ate at the Walking Street Market which is held every Sunday from 4-10pm. Everyone, locals included, said this market was better than the Night Market. I have to agree, if only because I did not feel claustrophobic and the prices seemed a little better.

Anna and Drew ate fresh fruit for dinner---watermelon and cantaloupe. Strawberries are in season now and we got a cup. Drew took one bite and said, “Mom, they ruined the strawberries. They’re not supposed to have salt on them!” The strawberries were seasoned with salt and sugar---I’ve heard of freshly cracked pepper on strawberries, but never salt. I was the only one who finished eating them. Gregg ordered fried rice noodles with in an egg omelet---it was only 20 baht.

Anna and Drew chose a few "voodoo dolls" on key rings as mementos of their stay here in Chiang Mai. They finished up with cotton candy---a distinctively non-Thai tradition.