A day in the hills and a day in the gardens

Well our time here in เซิยงใหม่ (Chiang Mai) is progressing quite nicely. Yesterday, my Grandmother hired this car and driver to take us around to some of the sites outside of town. Our first stop, which we decided on a whim, was at this elephant camp where they had an elephant show. As we walked in, the elephants were bathing, which was quite interesting. One of them was using their trunk as a shower head!

The show itself had some rather sad elements to it, as it was essentially a circus show. One thing that was really cool was this part where the elephants came in playing harmonicas that they were holding in their trunks and simply their exhaling was creating music! Another great part was when they put these canvases before the elephants and put paint brushes in the trunks, they actually painted coherent pictures! I think what was most impressive was that they actually recognized verbal commands! At the end, we got pictures with them…they wrapped their trunks around us, which felt leathery.

Next was a H’mong hill tribe village, which, at least for me, really wasn’t too impressive, as it was rather modern compared to the ones I’d seen in Laos and Vietnam. Afterwards, we stopped by an orchid farm, which was nice, and then at several factories, where we could see the process of making decorative umbrellas, Thai silk, and some pretty incredible jewelry!

Back in town, we returned to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, which really is quite the place, and did some shopping. My mom bought some gifts for some friends as well as a sarong, a traditional Thai skirt…really it’s a giant piece of fabric you wrap around yourself. I got a pair of fisherman’s pants, which are huge and wrap around you, and quite comfy too. My dad got some socks.

Today, we set out to see this Royal Flora Expo that has been set up for just 3 months in honor of the 60th Anniversary of HM the King rising to the throne. It was pretty incredible…and huge! The trail going throughout the park was over 7 km long! It was kind of like Disneyland for plant enthusiasts. Highlights included gardens dedicated to the King, all of which were sponsored by corporations, as well as international gardens, each sponsored by their host country. The one from Bhutan was quite stunning! There were also gardens showcasing Thai tropical plants, as well as a center exhibiting rare orchids, which was beautiful! Also notable was this King’s pavillion, which was designed to resemble a beautiful Wat and contained a sculputure depicting stages of the King’s rule. We spent the whole day there and I would highly reccomend it. But hurry, it’s only there till January 31!

That’s about all for now. Tomorrow’s plans are a bit sketchy at the moment. We’ll definitely do something. We return to Bangkok on Sunday.

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