Ten Days with Animals Part 1 – Chiang Mai

The next three posts will collectively cover events from December 7th to December 16th, 2012

Wahwahweewah.

I had a nine day period (I put ten in the title because it’s a better number, objectively) recently, that, all things considered, was one of the better nine day periods of my life. Starting on Friday, the 7th, I got on a bus for a 10 hour ride up north to Chiang Mai. I didn’t really know any cities in Thailand before I came out here (other than Bangkok and Phuket), but I heard a lot about Chiang Mai and figured it would be worth a look-see.

First of all, Thailand knows what they’re doing when it comes to bus travel. Not only was it characteristically cheap, but the accommodations were great (comfortable seats, a blanket, free drink and croissant), there were plenty (but not too many) of bathroom and food stops, and I was able to choose a seat that had plenty of leg room because Thai people are considerate and no one took the seats for us long-legged folk.

I got to Chiang Mai about seven in the morning and met up with my All-Canadian travel compadres. The first thing we did, naturally, was go to McDonald’s.

Notice the Christmas decorations.

Notice the Christmas decorations. In Thailand, they have a piece of legislation called “No Holiday Left Behind.” It allows them to celebrate everything.

Then we went to the hotel, dropped our things off, and hit the streets to…well, to wander, really. It was nice outside and our hotel was pretty centralized, so we checked out what they call “Old town.” One thing about Chiang Mai is that, since it’s in northern Thailand, it doesn’t have the crazy, oppresive, tropical heat. In fact, it got pretty cold at night. To the point that my wearing a beanie was only a little bit strange. Also, it was pretty touristy, but not so flagrantly as a lot of other tourist spots. And there were plenty o’ temples:

Interior of one of the temples.

Interior of one of the temples.

After wandering, we took a trip to the world famous Chiang Mai zoo! I think I’m gonna make it a point to go to the major zoo of every city/country I live in. Not because there are a bunch of animals that I feel I haven’t seen, but because I can act like a child at the zoo and the haters can’t say anything because -…well, I guess they can, but they don’t.

First, we were greeted by otters...

First, we were greeted by otters…

...then, we went to go feed their bull male elephant...

…then, we went to go feed their bull male elephant…

THEN WE GOT TO SEE SOME WHITE TIGERSSS!!SS!!11!!1S!!

THEN WE GOT TO SEE SOME WHITE TIGERSSS!!SS!!11!!1S!!

The white tigers were the highlight of the zoo trip for me. One of the few big cats I’d yet to have seen and one of the visually more impressive creatures on the planet. When we were there, the two cats they had were pretty active, strutting around and posing on rocks and what not. I’m about 88% sure it could’ve cleared the gap between us with a running start, but I suspect that the animals in Thailand are just as relaxed as the people.

Side Rant: One of the things I’ve encountered a lot out here is that foreigners seem to think that any location in Thailand that harbors animals is a black-market supplying, animal abuse resort. I’m not naive, and I know that such places exist, but I want to use this opportunity to dispel that notion. Thai people love animals and care for them just as much as westerners do (excluding dogs, which Americans have a weird fetish for, but that’s another post). Their zookeepers seemed just as prepared, used the same methods of reinforcement, and showed a genuine appreciation for the animals. I’ll get to this more in part 2, but I wanted to establish that point now. The Chiang Mai Zoo, and nearly every other place in Thailand that I’ve been to that has animals, treats them well. And, more importantly (and this is what people seem to forget is the most important thing), they let people interact with the animals in a way that is safe for the people.

So, yeah. Also, we saw a two-headed rock lorax:

Just kidding. It was two animals, but one was trying to fuse with the other.

Just kidding. It was two animals, but one was trying to fuse with the other.

After the zoo, we went home to freshen up then went out for some karaoke and other such funtivities. I’ve made it a mantra of mine that I don’t want to go places with a bunch of Westerners (why come to Thailand to see people I could see in America?), but it was pretty nice to see new, English speaking faces and look through songs that I recognize and like. Good times.

That was Friday. We woke up Saturday and, after deciding not to rent motorbikes, took a sawng taew (the covered truck transportation) up a mountain to Doi Suthep. I think it was the first temple ever built or something…lemme check Wikipedia….meh. I couldn’t verify it, so just go with it.

The long road/staircase up to the temple.

The long road/staircase up to the temple.

I'm only including this picture because Jeff is particular about not having bad pictures of him on the internet. You look dashing, sir.

I’m only including this picture because Jeff is particular about not having bad pictures of him on the internet. You look dashing, sir.

Drop down and getcho prayer on, girl.

Drop down and get yo prayer on, girl.

Monks with a View: A new sitcom/indie band debuting this Spring.

Monks with a View: A new sitcom/indie band debuting this Spring.

So that’s that! I had to catch a bus back home really early the next morning, so we didn’t stay out too late, but it was a full day, nonetheless.

Part 2 coming soon. Miss you all!

Moses

What I’m Reading: …look, I haven’t had much time to read.

What I’m Writing: Grad Personal Statements – 25%, The Lincoln Lions (Novel) – 33%

What I’m Listening To: Walk the Moon by Walk the Moon (Thanks Cristine!)

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