Greetings from a HOT and polluted Chiang Mai. It’s burning season in the hills and this year the air is particularly bad – the mountains we are surrounded by can’t be seen for all the haze. On the upside, the frangipani are starting to bloom and it smells and looks delightful especially the hot pink ones :). But this is hardly adventurous news ….
After an hour or so I was feeling much more comfortable with the elephants and was ready for our jungle ride. Now….did I say I was comfortable? WRONG! I got up on my elephant and we began our walk and not even 2 minutes in did my old girl decide she needed to do her business and eat at the same time, I was all cool with that until her trunk swung up towards my face and she essentially blew her nose all over me – charming. She must have gotten a kick out of my instinctive squeal and continued to blow her nose all over me every 10mins or so – I wasn’t feeling the love let me tell you. Everyone in the group agreed that she was a bit of a rebellious wild girl as she would also get very active with her head and when you’re sitting on it, that’s a tad scary.
Nonetheless we walked through the jungle up steep and very uneven terrain which felt a bit precarious up top there and then you know what they say, what goes up must come down. Downhill was by far the scariest part and my inner thighs were sore the next day as I was working hard to stay on and not fall forward and off. It did relieve me to know that I wasn’t alone in my terror as Michael was making some non too manly sounds, indicating slight discomfort. After the jungle it was cooling off bath time
for the elephants, though where they bathe I’m unsure if they actually get clean. I had to give myself a little talking to before plunging in with them and into the relatively small lake that they go to the toilet in…hmmm! It was all quickly forgotten experiencing the sheer joy in the elephants as we scrubbed them and threw water all over them, it was truly wonderful to be a part of and all the snot blowing was forgiven.
the Lanna style (northern Thailand styling is given this name). It’s mainly wood which I find has a much more special feel about it compared to the commonly found concrete. Our temple (yes we’ve claimed it) is called Wat Pan Tao and has a gorgeous outside area with a sitting Buddha under a tree and magical spread of tulips in front of him along with a moat like pond to top it off. 7th of March was a big auspicious event in the Buddhist religion called Magha Puja Day and to observe the celebration we went to our temple in the evening. We were shocked that all the tulips had gone but what was about to replace it was spectacular. The place was heaving with photographers so we knew we were about to witness something worth capturing. Needless to say Michael had his gear with him and we arrived early so we could grab the best vantage point for the ceremony.
As the evening progressed about 15 monks went about lighting candles that were in coconut shells which replaced the tulips and then sat down for meditation in front of the small moat while a more senior monk gave a dharma talk which he did in English following the Thai. I was probably one of only a handful of people who intently listened to what he was saying, everyone else had their cameras clicking away capturing the stunning scene, it was like the paparazzi at the Oscars. In saying that, it was only because I had peace of mind knowing Michael was looking after that side of things and was in heaven doing so.
Anyways, the monks’ talk was quite beautiful talking about appreciating the simplicity in life, amongst many ways to do this is to not complicate it with things like too many outfits to wear or having to worry about his hairstyle. We had a laugh afterwards as Michael definitely has the hair down and whilst travelling and making room for all his camera gear, is considerably closer to the monk on the outfits front than I am. Following it all they then lit all the candles in the water and departed, leaving us with yet another breathtaking scene. The whole evening really blew us away, it was performance like, we never expected such beauty in such simplicity.