Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chiang Mai & the BEST DAY OF MY LIFE

We spent 5 days in Chiang Mai and every one of them was great! We played pool, rented a motorbike and explored the area nearby, and went to Tiger Kingdom.
That's right - TIGER KINGDOM. Where I was able to CUDDLE WITH A REAL TIGER! Actually, I was able to pet FIVE real tigers!!! It was undoubtedly one of the greatest feelings in the world and I was in transports of delight for the rest of the day (and even thinking about it now is making me all giggly!!).  They are MASSIVE and gorgeous and wonderful and it was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. TIGERS! REAL TIGERS! My favorite was Juan, which means "Man Eater" apparently :)

She was SO CUTE!
This actually happened. Seriously.

HEE HEE HEE the tail!

We also stopped by Doi Suthep Temple, which is up the mountain from Chiang Mai. The views were beautiful and the temple has been there since the 1300s, when an elephant carrying the central Buddha turned 3 circles at the summit of the temple and promptly died. It was a sign.

Many buddhas and offerings
Beautiful stupa
The place has really gone to the dogs (har har)
In downtown Chiang Mai, the Chiang Mai Women's Correctional Facility has a rehabilitation and vocational training center that teaches inmates how to give massages. I was skeptical at first, but the Lonely Planet and tripadvisor reviews were positive, so we gave it a try. It was delightful!
Odd, but delightful!

Our tickets to get massages. There was an airconditioned eatery (also staffed by inmates) with great food while we waited!
 We took a trip to Queen Sirikit's Botanical Gardens north of Chiang Mai, where we saw beautiful flowers and some really cute dogs. We also stopped by a market in Erawan Valley, where we were the only foreigners in sight. It was so refreshing to be at a market where we were bombarded by people harassing us to buy things - and the food was GREAT!

On the way home, we followed some signs to a cave that had sketchy signs saying "BEWARE! DANGER!" in Thai and English, so we only walked in the openings. The caves were clearly used by monks for meditation since we found old robes, many buddha offerings, and some evidence of food... odd, but cool!

The market had all sorts of odd goodies

I don't usually eat shrimp, but when I do, I prefer them deep fried :)
On to Lampang, then we go back to Bangkok and I'm off to India (hopefully, assuming visas work out).  Check back for photos of elephants, since we go to the Thai Elephant Conservation Camp!

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