Chiang Mai - Video

I finally got around to putting together some video highlights from the trip.  It was such a special time with my in-laws and Kingsley.  Which is why it is so important to me to have these memories captured on video so I can look back on the trip and remember it as if we were just there!

Chiang Mai - Overview video

A short video I put together highlighting a few of our favorite moments while in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai - Elephants

I had this idea...that when we were in Chiang Mai we could all (Kingsley and his parents) do this experience called Elephant Owner for a day.  During this experience you feed the elephants, bath them in the river, check their poop to make sure they are healthy and are not dehydrated, ride them to a waterfall and swim with the elephants.  Honestly to me that sounds like almost the perfect day!  Plus the experience helps to fund an elephant conservation program in Northern Thailand.  

However, I wasn't too sure how Graham and Lesley would feel about it.  So I cautiously mentioned the highlights to them - learning about elephants - and might have left out some of the more extreme activities like riding the elephant bareback and swimming in a waterfall with the elephant.  With the limited information they received they graciously agreed to participate in the Elephant owner for a day experience but my conscience got the better of me.  Deep down I just knew that checking elephant poop with my inlaws was probably NOT going to be a bonding experience for us. 

So we had another elephant experience.  Much less extreme but still an incredible opportunity to witness the intelligence and grace of the Thai elephant up close and personal. 

This little guys was only one day old

Lesley initially was hesitant to get close the elephants or to feed them but by the end she got close enough to feed them a few bananas. 

Lesley and I couldn't help but notice this snazzy outfit.  I only wish I could have captured the front view which showed off yet another layer of color contrast...a bright pink and white striped polo shirt. 

Who knew that elephants could paint better than I ever could

6 month old baby and mama.

Chiang Mai - Silk Factory

Shinawatra Thai Silk Factory

Short history of the silk worm:

Silk worms only eat mulberry leaves for 20-30 days and then stop eating and turn a yellow color in order to prepare themselves to make the cocoon.

There are two kids of cocoons - white are from China, yellow are from Thailand. The golden color of the Thai cocoons makes the silk color richer once it’s been dyed. It takes 50 cocoons to make one silk thread! And, each thread will be about 50 meters long.

The silk moth lays 200-500 eggs and then dies after 2-3 days.

Once the cocoons are turned to thread, they are then bundeled and dyed. From there the threads are moved to a loom, where the Thai weavers work their magic and make gorgeous silk cloth.

After watching this whole process for a while we moved on the silk store where all different kinds of handmade products can be purchased. Lesley and I both instantly liked the same beautiful apricot colored handmade silk scarf, but we couldn't decide if we should each get one or if only one of us should buy one. We spent quite a while deliberating on our purchases and trying on several different scarves before Graham intervened and bought the matching scarfs for both Lesley and I. Overall it was an interesting and  successful visit to the silk factory! 

Chiang Mai - Egg Hot Springs

While visiting the San Kamphaeng Hotsprings, the most well known hotspring in the Northern province, we discoverethat boiling eggs in hot springs is somewhat of local obsession.  

The second that you enter the hotsprings, there are eggs everywhere. Eggs in shops. Eggs in fountains. Eggs in baskets. Eggs in hot springs. Eggs on tables. Eggs being eaten.  Egg shells on the ground.  Duck eggs. Chicken eggs. Quail eggs. Eggs EGGS! 
We were tempted to...but passed on purchasing eggs for cooking, complete with a bamboo basket with which to lower them into the water.  

In addition to visiting the egg boiling pot and mineral foot soak, you can also see two geysers that shoot 105C (very hot) hot sulfuric water about 32 yards into the air. 

Hot Spring Egg boiling instructions

Eggs for sale!

On a mission to boil their baskets of eggs.
After filling up on soft-boiled, half-boiled, or well-done eggs you can relax while soaking your feet in the very sulphuric mineral waters (which we also did not do but it supposedly helps to improve blood circulation and is a miracle cure-all for diseases) via a man-made concrete stream which channels the hotspring water throughout the park. 
Eggs in the hot spring boiling process. 

Chiang Mai - Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple

One the most popular and stunning temples in Thailand is located in the mountains of Chiang Mai and called the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

The temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of the most important temples in Chiang Mai, as well as one of the most revered among all Thais. The temple is a major pilgrimage destinations during the important Buddhist holidays of Makha Buja and Visak. Its importance, as well as its location, owes much to the legend of its founding.

According to this legend, a Buddha relic, which some say glowed, magically replicated just before it was about to be enshrined in the big chedi at Wat Suan Dok. The "cloned" relic was placed on the back of a sacred white elephant, which was allowed to roam wherever it wanted.The elephant eventually climbed to the top of Suthep Mountain, trumpeted three times, turned around three times, knelt down and died. This was taken as a sign that this was the spot where the relic wanted to be, so King Ku Na built the original of the chedi on Doi Suthep at the end of 14th century.The temple's golden chedi, or pagoda, contains holy Buddha relics, and attracts Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world throughout the year. 

The last time I was at the temple was in early 2002 with my family and I have to say ten years later it was still as impressive as I remembered it being!

The temple is covered in gold cloth each year after the ordination of new monks, the cloth is made available for worshipers and visitors to write their names in felt tip pen (my pen was almost out of ink), for good luck in the coming year.  Looks like this is going to be a good year for the Wood Family! 

I'm not sure if its too soon after the "bell incident" to share but I'm going to take a chance.  Kingsley and Lesley both find it very important to follow the rules and have somehow both developed the tendency to take on the (self appointed) role as rule enforcers.  Don't get me wrong, its important to make sure rules are followed but I'm just not sure its appropriate to take on the role as the designated "no bell ringing" enforcer at a Buddhist temple in a foreign country.

There are a row of beautiful bells in photo above.  You can't see it in this photo but next to these bells was a sign that said "please not ring bell".  No sooner had we noticed the bells and read the sign then this Thai woman walks up and starts ringing the bells.  I took a quick look around and noticed that none of the other Thai locals seemed upset or to even care that this woman was ringing the bells.  I then observed the woman for a moment and realized she was not just casually ringing any and every bell but had a distinct pattern of reverant bell ringing which indicated to me that she had done this before.  So I put it out of my mind and moved on to explore other things.  And thats when I heard "HEY STOP THAT"  (Kingsley) followed by "THE SIGN SAYS NO BELL RINGING" (Lesley). Both yelled at the top of their lungs...shattering the quiet peaceful temple atmosphere and instantly making us the uncomfortable center of attention! Trust me, I tried to intervene but once those two get worked up there isn't much that can be done to stop them!  More yelling ensued but thankfully the woman ringing the bells was either incredibly hard of hearing or chose not to respond to the yelling and kept walking along ringing the bells.  Being blatantly ignored stunned both Kingsley and Lesley into silence long enough for them to realize that this poor Thai woman was actually (VERY likely) authorized as a bell ringer.  Thankfully we were not escorted out of the temple after the "bell incident" and the entire Wood family somehow managed to regain composure and blend back into the crowd.  I'll admit I did walk a few steps ahead just to make sure no one thought I was a part of the Bell Enforcer Group.  Naturally as we got around to the other side of the temple we saw more bells with more people ringing them...

Lesley in partial hiding blending back into the scenery after the "bell incident"

Chiang Mai- Weekend Market

Lesley and I especially enjoyed a few hours of shopping and exploring the weekend market in Chiang Mai.  However, I think its safe to say the market wasn't the highlight of the weekend for Graham and Kingsley.

Graham and Lesley's first Tuk tuk ride!

Walking Street Market,  also known as the Weekend market was an amazing showcase of the art and craftsmanship of Northern Thailand. Many of the stallholders were selling personally made hand crafted items.  I found the quality of the products to be very good compared to other markets we have seen in Asia. 
The goods available were made from an incredible array of materials including: wood, metals, ceramics, fabrics, paper, coconuts and much more.

After shopping we stopped in at the Olde Bell British Pub for a quick drink before dinner and to do our part in celebrating St. Patricks day.  We then finished the night off with an excellent steak and seafood dinner at Chez Marco a Mediterranean restaurant located in the heart of Chiang Mai. 

Chiang Mai - Temples

What is a trip to Chiang Mai without visiting lots of temples. 

Wat Phra Singh is located in the western part of the old city centre of Chiang Mai, which is contained within the city walls and moat. The temple houses an important Buddha statue: the Phra Buddha Sihing (seen above) which gives the temple its name. Construction on Wat Phra Singh began in 1345 when King Phayu, the fifth king of the Mangrai dynasty, had a chedi built to house the ashes of his father King Kham Fu.

Real Monk

This monk did not move - didnt even blink - the entire time I was watching him, which I have to admit was quite a while.  I just couldn't quite figure out if he was real or not.  I have to confess that Lesley and I struggled a bit with the real vs not real monk categorizing. We certainly had an encounter or two where we saw, and photographed what we thought were real monks but eventually realized they were only statues.  But I'm fairly sure the guy in the photo above was real...mostly sure.

Not Real Monks.

Kingsley and I, being the seasoned Asian temple explorers, knew to wear flip flops on the days we went to temples to avoid scenarios as seen above!

Wat Chedi temple was built 600 years ago. 

Chiang Mai - Siripanna Hotel

I would highly recommend staying at the Siripanna hotel if you are ever in Chiang Mai.  The hotel grounds were incredibly beautiful and the staff alway went above and beyond what was asked of them.  The girls at the front desk did an excellent job recommending things to do and see in Chiang Mai and arranging day trips for us.

Rice patty on the hotel grounds where you can learn how to harvest rice or go to sit and enjoy the quiet.

Beautiful pools and sunsets. Happy hour from 4-6pm every night BOGO drinks with complimentary spring rolls, prawn chips with sambal, biscuits and cookies.