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Published: April 14th 2009
We hired a taxi and driver for the day ( 8.30am to 7pm ) from Chiang Dao which cost 1500 baht = $75 NZ. We asked to be taken to an Ahka village and a long necked Karen village. We went to the Ahka village first and it was exactly what I was wanting to see. Once we bought a few crafts we were able to explore the village which was great. The children were great and loved seeing the photos we were taking of them. This was not a tourist attraction so we were the only white faces there. I thought it was funny though that despite how poor these people were, I found 3 TV dishes. I stumbled onto a school at one point and also found that they pratice recycling here, but not for a rubbish truck to pick up but so that they can sell it - everything here has a value.
After spending a couple of hours here we were off to see the Karen people. I was a little disappointed as we were taken to the "fake" Karen village just outside Chiang Mai. We had traveled up to Chiang Dao especially
to see an un touristed village. Never mind, it was still the real deal in that the people were real and could tell us about themselves. At the same "fake" village we were able to see 4 other different village groups that had we not gone here, we would never have seen. Jack learnt a lot about how other people live and interacted well with the village kids despite the language barrier.
From Chiang Mai we flew to Bangkok. We arrived at our hotel at 11pm and went to bed. In the morning we went to the train station to catch a local to train to Ayuthaya, the ancient capital of Siam. What an experience that was. We got 3rd class tickets which meant we had NO air conditioning. What we learnt was that once all the seats are full that doesn't mean that is all they let onto the train. No, they shove them in until the doors can only just close. This was close to hell. Thank goodness our trip was only for 1 hour, most people had at least a 5 - 6 hour trip ahead of them.
I loved the history in Ayuthaya. It
was built 700 years ago and when you look at the ruins, you can still see some of the amazing details and plastering that they did without any of the tools or machinery we have now. The enormity and age of everything was a bit beyond Jack's comprehension, but he loved counting the Buddha statues - one temple complex had 177.
This was our hottest day so far but because the Songkron festival is just begining, we just poured our drinks over ourselves and looked like we fitted in. But we were filthy by the end of the day and couldn't wait to have a shower back at the hotel. We got back to the station just as a train was leaving. We were gutted as we thought we would have to wait another hour for the next train. We couldn't believe that they stopped the train for us - that wouldn't happen in NZ. We got to sit down on this train as there were far less people thank goodness. We had the best showers ever when we got back.
The next morning I left Jack and Tracy to a sleep in and went exploring Chinatown before
it became busy. I didn't see another westerner in over 1 1/2 hours. Everyone was so friendly. I found so many tiny alleys. I went down one, then another, then saw something interesting another way - despite this, I am proud to say that I didn't get lost like Tracy did in Chiang Mai. There was food spilling out everywhere. Unfortunately these areas are so dark and I found it almost impossible to get good photos.
In my travels around Chinatown I bought 3 water guns for the Songkran festival and we all headed out to the airport. In our time in Bangkok we did not see any protesters - it could be a myth. I did see an artical in the paper about John Key and that the most pressing thing he had to deal with in his new job as Prime Minister of NZ was to convince Australia that NZ invented the Pavolva - I have saved the paper clipping to bring home.
In answer to your questions - The food has been a bit challenging for Jack but Brendon, the KFC is not as good as in NZ and Jack wants you to know that
they put green rice into their ice cream sundaes. The McDonald's here though is way better than in NZ.
The tigers at the Tiger Kingdom are not sedated but we had 4 keepers right there with us with tiny bamboo sticks in case anything happened ( I doubt that these could do much ). These tigers are bred for zoos around the world and are hand reared from birth. They are farely friendly, but there are a lot of rules like not touching their heads or front paws etc. They don't get a killer instinct until they are around 5 - 6 months. The one Tracy was lying on was 12 months.
Yes Daryl we had power and a toilet.
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