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Published: October 6th 2005
Today we went on a tour, just us a guide and a driver.
We started early and visited a waterfall (one of many), in the Doi Sutep national park. After the waterfall we drove up the winding mountain road to a huge Wat (temple). The temple is built on the site where a white elephant who was carrying a relic of Lord Buddah died. The King of Thailand sent the elephant to wander and choose a site to build a temple. There are 306 steps to reach the temple, I pity the poor elephant! We cheated and got the cable car.
The top looks more like a small village than a temple, with many smaller temples within the grounds. There is a fantastic view of Chang Mai, but as it's always misty it's impossible to see.
After ringing a few bells and lots of kneeling, we make our way down the 306 steps and off to a Monkey show!
At the monkey training camp, pig tailed monkeys are taught to climb trees and pick coconuts, they have big pointy teeth which they like to show off, and they're fond of pissing when they should be doing tricks! We are cajoled into
buying some feeding products for the little rascals, and just like us, some of them hate cucumber and throw it back. They all seem to love snake beans.
From the monkey training camp we head off to the snake show. As we arrive a very brave man is toying with a couple of cobras, when he's done playing with them they are milked of their venom just to prove how dangerous they really were. He goes on to 'play' with a python and several other varieties of snake, while I (Scarlet) comment on their lovely skins and contemplate how many I would need for a new handbag!
Snake here is very popular, only 20bhat a kilo and our guide tells us he used to eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner! We're off to find lunch...
Lunch is thankfully nowhere near the snake farm, instead it's a delightful roadside eaterie where we have delicious stir fry. A meal for four with drinks for 180 bhat (about two quid).
We have some time to kill so stop and our guide obviously thinks that Kev is into flowers as we stop at an Orchid farm. The Orchids are beautiful but
the farm is very hot and humid, we have a swift look around and it's off to the elephant camp.
The elephant camp has to be the highlight of the day. We have our first white knuckle ride, it's on top of a couple of 20 year old, greedy elephants. Kev, as usual, gets the nice calm, plodding elephant, I however get the greedy, plant munching, path deviating, pooping elephant. The elephant driver is constantly trying to get it to move, but all it wants to do is look for food, apparently the bananas it snatched from me as I got on it weren't enough!
At one point my entire life flashes before my eyes as a 70 degree slope appears from the crest of a hill. Kev is already half way down and looks around grinning, I'm just trying to stay in the seat! Much to my relief, the guide/driver stops before the camera, water, sarong and I go lurching forward and all is lost! I manage to regain my balance and we're off down the slope. We continue onward on even soil, plodding back to the camp where several elephants are 'painting'. They each have a canvas
and brushes, a couple are painting flowers, one of the others is clearly Monet reincarnated, and is working on an impressionist number.
We hand out the last of the elephant food and head off to the Royal Botanical Gardens.
More flowers, thinks Kev and he's right. Kind of like Kew but bigger, cheaper and hotter.
There are acres of fabulous plants/flowers/shrubs and beautifully manicured gardens. We venture to a couple of greenhouses and a tropical rainforest. The rainforest is probably the closest thing we'll ever get to the amazon and is truly amazing. Huge plants with leaves the size of double golf umbrellas are everywhere. We leave the rainforest, dripping wet and steaming and wander around a lotus exhibition. There appear to be several hundred varieties, some donated from Japan. The lotus is considered very important to thai people because of it's connection to Buddah. We leave the botanical gardens and decline a 'Dog Show' on the return leg to Chang Mai, but are diverted to a lovely carpet factory.
We're not exactly happy about the carpet factory and the guy who runs it desperately wants to show us some weaving, I try to decline as politely as possible,
but he's a pushy fucker. My politeness swiftly departs and I tell him that we really don't want a carpet and we're leaving.
We arrive back in Chang Mai, sweaty and knackered. More cooking tomorrow...
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