Thursday, December 20, 2012

Elephants, Tigers, and Boxing... Oh My!

Our last full day in Chiang Mai was one for the books. 

We rented a taxi man for the day - Mr. Pon. Excellent driver/tour guide. It was only 1000 baht (about 35 bucks, gas included) for a comfy, air-conditioned car with a local who knows what he's doing and didn't pressure us into a bunch of stuff we didn't want to do. 

We started the day with a quick stop at an orchid farm. One of my favorite flowers!! 


It was so pretty in there. It was strange to see how they grow them; it looks like they're just growing mid-air.

Next, we went to an elephant camp. The elephants we really wanted to see didn't work with how our journey was planned so we went to Maesa Elephant Camp. Overall it was a lot of fun. They are such bizarre looking creatures!


 

It started with an "elephant show" that showcased some of their talent. It's fascinating to see what they can do - they are seriously intelligent. But it felt a little long and it stopped being impressive and was a little awkward. Sometimes it seemed like too much for the elephants to have to do some silly things. We would have preferred seeing elephants in a different setting. They have a couple "sanctuaries" around Chiang Mai where it's less showy and more focused on preserving elephants and letting people see them in a "day in the life" type setting. We also rode an elephant in the forest which was pretty nice. All in all, it was a good experience. 



After that, we went to... drumroll please... 


Which is now tied with the cooking class for our best Thailand moment. It was soooo fun and a little terrifying. 

Tiger Kingdom raises tigers in captivity and trains them to be familiar and tame around people. They're nocturnal by nature so having them "visit" with people during the day means they are super mellow (and sometimes just downright tired). You can visit any number of tigers at varying ages (for a price, of course): smallest, small, medium, and large. We started by hanging with the smallest group of tigers. 






So cute!! I know they're cats (and they sure act like it), but they have such a dog nature to them, too. There were 4 tigers in a large pen (all 4 months old) and they let maybe two groups of two-three people in at a time (with a designated guide with you). We got to snuggle, pose, and play with them. Then we moved on to a teeny sleeping guy who was just 2 months old. He didn't do much but boy was he cute.


Then came the terrifying part. 

I knew I'd probably pee my pants (or worse!) with the big cats so we went with a medium one - which was still frighteningly large. They weren't a popular choice so there was no waiting - which meant there wasn't much time to "build up" to it in my mind. We went into a cage that was completely enclosed (even the top) and walked with our guide right up to the sleeping beasts. The first guy was super tired and didn't mind so we did ok with him. 


Then we went to a second who was a bit more awake (read: terrifying). 

"Uhhhh, does he really want to be pet right now??" 


As I was snuggling with him (ladies first applies to deadly things, too) he became quite alert and David and I were a little hesitant... So David didn't snuggle with him quite as much when we swapped places. 


Doesn't he look scary??

We calmly took our racing hearts out of there and called it good. I have almost no doubt in my mind that nothing would have happened but in the moment it is so dang serious feeling. Off-da.

We did some mellow things after that to balance it out. We hit up Umbrella Village where ladies make paper umbrellas all by hand - including making the paper.


It was quite the process to see from start to finish. And then Thai Silk Village where we got to see the (slightly gross) process of making silk. Mothy things --> worms --> cocoons --> silk!



Very fascinating. And of course we bought some silk so I can hopefully make something cute with it! 

After that, we called it a day with mr taxi man. But the evening was just getting started. Next up...

Muay Thai Kickboxing!!


We went and saw 5 kickboxing matches. The first round was between two kids - 15 and 16 year olds! They weren't too interesting to watch. The rest of them were though. There were even two lady fights; they meant business. We saw three knock-outs! Ow. David and I had some friendly wagers going for each match and I totally won! But it was all luck. We had no idea what we were doing. We basically made our decision based on shallow snap judgements of the fighters. Ha!

That took us to 11:30pm... Waaaay past our bedtime. Past our vacation bedtime even. 

We're now in Phuket and sadly we are not fans... I'll write more later, but we're hoping we'll like a different part of the island more before we head off to the Phi Phi Islands early next week. 

Ta ta for now!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OMG!! Quite the adventure you are on. Those tigers looked way too scary. Can't believe you went in there! I didn't realize Thailand was such a diverse country.
Mom