Sunday 24th June 2001 Elephant camp + orchid farm

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Why did we volunteer to go and see the elephant training camp? Our "wonderful" guide had turned  our little schedule upside down. Instead of going to the temple in the morning, we would first see the orchids and the animals and then the temple would be scheduled to the afternoon.
Just our luck...because the elephant camp was an optional trip; meaning that those who didn't sign up could stay in bed until lunch time!  After yesterday's insomnia that would have been the best news in ages but well, suppose I can still catch up on plenty of sleep when I'm dead... 

As if I weren't tired enough, my legs and shoulders were totally killing me. The somewhat unusual rafting position yesterday had left me completely crippled! Anyway, my "just-got-out-of-bed-leave-me-alone-I-Am-p.o."- mood soon disappeared after the bus let us out near the elephant centre. At first sight, it was yet another big tourist trap. You know, cute little baby elephants perform for ignorant tourists. Sure we had that part too. But in this centre, elephants are primary trained to work in the jungle, to tow away huge tree trunks and such. It's pretty amazing what force these beasts have...And then we had the washing of the elephants (read splash the dumb tourists ) and the cute little Dumbo look-a-likes etc..etc..which had the morning fly by in no time.

Lunch was actually edible this time... rice again, but also BREAD!!! and something resembling a hamburger. Not top of the bill, but at least it would fuel my forces for the rest of the afternoon and the long train ride back to Bangkok.

It was hot as ever again, so the news we had to be "properly dressed" for the next temple, wasn't welcomed with cheers. Beside, we had seen so many temples in Bangkok already, how would this one be different?  The difference soon became clear. The Doi Suthep temple is one of the most important in Thailand and is built on top of a hill, overlooking the entire area. Nice spot, I agree, but why on earth didn't they just put the building there? Nope, those religious people then put the Holy centre even higher, reachable only by a staircase of 300 steps ... my poor poor legs...

Fortunately this temple was somewhat unusual and impressing and the view over the Chiang Mai area was simply awesome, so all the torture getting there was more than worth it.  

Now we had to take the night train back again to Bangkok and this time I could actually consciously enjoy it. My sickness from a few days earlier had completely vanished and I felt better than ever! Our guide had brought out plastic cups and some pink / fuchsia coloured liquid which was supposed to be some rather strong local liquor. Anyway, it smelled pretty awful...but if one wants to sleep on a night train, there ain't much choice as to get some booze. as sober it would be completely impossible to get any sleep at all :) 

Though we didn't need the drinks to be cheerful. We were all in a pretty outgoing mood already and I had started imitating our guide behind his back... you know, "May I have your attention please, to your left hand side you will see a house, no, not to that left hand side, to the other left" *LOL* (the poor guide always seemed to confuse left and right so...).

Anyway, I was in one of those rare stages when I remember millions of jokes and after few hours we had to stop not because we were out of jokes or anecdotes to tell, but simply because our bellies were aching so bad from laughter :)))  In the mean while some train conductor had come by to make the beds, but at the same time some happy few were already drunk to the core. It was completely hilarious to hear those otherwise serious group members tell absolute nonsense or do chicken dances in the corridor...So even though it was close to impossible to sleep, at least there was plenty of entertainment! 

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Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes