Day 13

Chiang Rai Travel Blog

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Day 13 – November 5, 2007

After a good night’s sleep we were ready to get up early and try to find mopeds for more adventures.  We finally found a place after looking for about an hour and were off toward the Golden Triangle.  The Golden Triangle is where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand all meet up.  It was a beautiful ride with almost no one else on the road until we got to the Golden Triangle which was enveloped with tour buses and a never ending slew of farang and trinket booths.  The actual Golden Triange itself is visible from several points but the best view is actually amazingly ignored due to the fact that there is an absolutely immense golden Buddha about half a kilometer before it on the road.  It was enough to take our breath away as we rounded a corner still several kilometers from it and were met with a huge flash of sun coming off the Buddha as it sat regally nestled between the river and the mountains.  Only one of so many awe inspiring sights on this trip.

As we were in a hurry to try and get to the hall of opium- an opium museum that reflects the rich history of poppies and opium in the Golden Triangle area.  Unfotunately it was closed so we had to head a smaller museum back in town. 

As we went to go back, we happened to see some people riding by on elephants at a rather fancy resort across the street.  Anxious to fulfill this lifelong dream we decided to find out what it took to ride one.  After learning that the cost to ride the elephants for an hour was $80 we decided to pass.  On the way out, Jared suddenly turned onto an old dirt, mud road which appeared to be leading nowhere.  After some off-road mopeding I realized why.  He’d seen a sign for an elephant camp and now we were standing in the middle of a mahout (elephant trainers) camp watching a mother and baby elephant get a bath right in front of us.  The Mahouts were happy to see us and quickly handed us the bananas that they were about to the feed the elephants.  I set about serving lunch to about 8 elephants while Jared snapped pictures up their trunks trying to see how far up their nostrils he could see…. 

I was amazed at how big they were standing right next to them, how rough their skin was and how snotty their trunks were.  The  dripping snot was not exactly something I was expecting.  It was rather hard to avoid getting it on us though as they would stretch their trunks as far as they could to take the unsuspecting bananas directly out of our hands often spraying us in the process.  I must say that elephant snot baths are not particularly high on my list of things to do again.  That said it was a fun experience and I’m so glad we did it.

We got to the opium museum with little time to spare, but fortunately it was small but informative.  I was surprised to learn that opium was legal (or at least tolerated) until about 30 years ago when the US government decided (as usual I might add) that the morals and ethics of other countries should reflect it’s own and they casually “suggested” to the Thai government that they might want to change the legality status of opium giving no thought to the fact that it was a tribal tradition and poppy growing was the way some people made their entire livelihood. You can no longer find any poppies grown in Thailand although they are still grown in Myanmar and Laos.

After another beautiful ride back we rewarded ourselves for a ride well done…with more massage. 

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Chiang Rai
photo by: Pearl510