Over the weekend we went Chiang Mai. There were a couple of reasons why we did so. The northern region of Thailand, being higher in altitude and NOT immediately around a large body of water was good way to escape the heat, humidity, and mosquitos we enjoy in the south. It’s also known for its history, wilderness, and cultural richness. We also wanted to avoid the headache of getting our visa extension at the consulate in Bangkok so we thought a border run to either Laos or Burma was a better solution.
While in north we visited the Karen Tribe, whose fame comes from the women adorned with rings around their necks; the white temple of Chiang Rai, a modern, beautiful, and somewhat psychedelic temple whose full construction won’t be finished for another 60 years; a Lao market that touted "whiskeys” - or rather rice wines - that were made from, or steeped with (respectively from left to right) cobra, tiger penis (note: no tigers we killed for this, rather it’s a value-added product from tigers killed for the pelts), turtle, ginseng and scorpion, and gecko; and of course a trip far enough into Burma to see the passport control people and take a picture of of the sign before turning around back to Thailand.
The next day, while the boys were sleeping in, Tirza met up with Thunderbird Alumnus Michael Baker to do a tour of the tiger temples and an elephant sanctuary. The boys were supposed to attend a Muay Thai fighting bootcamp but decided that it wasn’t worth the possible injury… or the necessary “early bird gets the worm” approach. Instead Jon met up with someone he knew from Peru and Kyle and Xiyu succeeded in finding a gym where they could get in their first good lift of the trip.
We have noticed one thing about Thailand which could be true of all emerging markets, but the usage of plastics is out of control here. Back home saving a few grocery bags by bringing reusable ones to the store makes us feel good, but that really does not hold a candle to plastic consumption here; there isn’t a single transaction in which we’ve participated that doesn’t involve the exchange of an unnecessary amount of plastic (see earlier blog post on the drinking sodas and thai tea from one or more bags). Even street food is often times sold in plastic bags. In a frenzy of famine Kyle bought a bag of Mussamun Curry Chicken in a bag. He was too hungry to find a table or utensils for the consumption of his food, so he sat on some stairs and was ready to go at it with his hands. The problem was the he could not figure out how to undo the small rubber band that was tightly holding the top of the bag closed. In a fit of desperation he decided the best solution would be to squeeze the bag to pop it open. This did not end well for Kyle or his clothes, but at least the chicken was still edible.