Saturday, December 24, 2011

Trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand

We met with Andy, Judi, Alison, and Catherine, all friends of Yuko and John's on the top of the Fullerton Bay Hotel at 19:00 for drinks. A great outdoor bar overlooking the Singapore River with a view of the tall buildings downtown. The decorations, especially the flower arrangements, at the hotel are striking. The architecture in Singapore is way over the top and this view is spectacular. A laser light show from the casino across the river happens every hour. We will meet Andy, Clair and family in Chiang Mai on Sunday, Christmas Day.

We picked up Emma at her "Kids can Concentrate" and, then, Nicky. This is Nicky's last day at this preschool. We all had lunch at the hawker center and walked home. Packing for our week in Chiang Mai and relaxing until 20:45 when John announced our plane was scheduled for 21:30, not 23:45. We rushed to the Airport but the plane didn't leave until almost midnight. Arrived at our small, very unique, hotel about 3 am. We each have our own tree house among hundreds of ferns.

After breakfast by the "river" (dried up now because this is the dry season), John has arranged for a driver to take us to an Elephant Farm located in the mountainous area that surround Chiang Mai. We are pleased that the elephants are well-cared for by full-time trainers. Elephants are clever performers: their trunks function as a hand for bringing food to their mouth. They're surprisingly gentle and delicate, and hairy. We saw them take a bath in the river, too.

The show includes kicking a large soccer ball at a goal defended by an elephant. Most impressive is the artwork they create by holding a paint brush with their trunk. The trainer changes the color and somehow "tells" them what and where how to apply the paint. Each of five elephants produces her own "work", but the theme is pretty much the same, in our case a flowering tree.

And, we took an hour elephant ride through the Thai mountain jungle. Sandy and Emma were afraid the elephants were getting too near the edge of the trail, and might slip down the side of the hill. The scenery was very pretty and hilly. Another first for us, but it was Emma's 3rd elephant ride.

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