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Archive for December 28th, 2018

We had another tour (this one of Chiang Mai and the surrounding area) scheduled for this, our last day with Audley Travels. We realized the night before that I was too sick to press on so we called the tour guide and cancelled the last day. We figured, since we were staying in Chiang Mai for the next month, we could see it on our own.

You could say we ran out of energy before we ran out of tours! Haha. It was a big trip … Audley Travels did a fantastic job of organizing this part of our adventure. We knew we didn’t have the energy to organize all of these activities … especially somewhere with 4 or 5 different languages and customs. We gave Audley our likes/dislikes and they tailored the trip perfectly. If we would change anything it might be to take another rest day in the middle … we only had one day off! Haha.

Our final hotel was an oasis in the Old Town … very quiet and it allowed me to rest for the next day and a half. Day 37 begins the second part of the adventure — where we go it alone! Thanks again, Audley, for a great trip …

Stumblingpiper

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I woke up today definitely not feeling well. We knew we had a transfer from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai so we decided to tell the tour guide that we wanted to not make any stops and we would rest in the van … it was not to be! As with most of our tours on this trip, if we tried to make a slight adjustment we always had a problem with communication. I’m not sure why, but it was difficult to adjust stuff.

Just a note about our hotel in Chiang Rai … it was beautiful. So many of the places were short stops … this was one of them. We knew this would be a whirlwind trip, but we could definitely have stayed here a few more days to explore the facilities and the area.

Without the energy to convince the guide we didn’t want to tour anything we went for a tour anyway! Haha. We drove for about an hour and made the obligatory pit stop … I am 55 you know. We stopped at some “Hot Springs.” This reminded me of some of the roadside stops in the states … people make something out of concrete and call it a tourist attraction. We did have a great cup of coffee as we stared at the tourists dipping their feet in the “healing waters.” You could also get a “fish massage” here … you take off your shoes, put your feet in the water, and the little fish eat the dead skin off your feet. Ummm. No thanks. Haha.

We continued the journey and were soon driving up a winding mountain road that we didn’t think was wide enough for one car let alone two. Up and up we went to the village of Mae Kam Pong.

Here we stopped for lunch at a local house … truly, someone’s home. We sat on the porch and had lunch. Then we took a hike … I think we hiked for a couple of hours …

We picked up a local guide (and the dog came with us too). She was very pleasant and knew all the good trails.

There were some huge trees along the way …We saw some great birds too … This is a Velvet-fronted Nuthatch.There were some big bugs too! This is the largest pill bug I’ve ever seen.Really was a pleasant hike.

It was beautiful countryside and their were plenty of coffee shops … we bought a bag of coffee beans here. We hiked up to the waterfall and then back down to the vehicle.

We only caught some of the animals, so we are ok!

The weather was lovely … it is quite the tourist destination. We made it back to the van and continued on into Chiang Mai. We arrived at our hotel, the Tamarind Village, pretty tired and ready for some down time!

We are almost finished with the organized portion of our Southern Swing.

Stumblingpiper

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We arrived late in the evening from our river cruise. We settled into our room and had dinner at the hotel–it was kind of funny … we decided to eat at the Italian Restaurant … and it was great! We really enjoyed our dinner.

On Day 34 we had a big bike ride … I was a little under the weather but we went anyway. We woke up early and did a little bird-watching in the morning before the tour guide picked us up.

Amon from Chiang Rai Bicycle Tours was fantastic! We were picked up in what I like to call the Prison Transfer Truck … the tour operators and drivers ride up front in air-conditioned comfort while the guests bounce around in the back. lol. We drove for what seemed like 30 minutes and arrived at the shop to be fitted on our bikes.

We had really nice bicycles (hardtails, I do miss the full-suspension!) After a couple of adjustments, off we rode! These were the best bikes (well-equipped, well-maintained) we’ve had on our tour. This family-owned business just celebrated 10 years in operation.

We were touring around the backroads (dirt and otherwise). It was just a pleasant ride around the countryside.

We saw several different plantations/farms. There were rubber trees galore — you can see them collecting the “latex” on this tree.

Here is a field of pineapple plants. You can see a pineapple in the lower right portion of the photo.We took some side trails, unpaved, and paved roads.

Actually, we had a set time to be somewhere (the elephant sanctuary … more on that below) and we asked Amon for extra mileage–so off we went! We were really riding hard and fast in some sections. I had a slight mishap along the way — fortunately, only my shirt and pride were injured! :0)

We were on our way to the first destination in the tour … the White Temple. When you see the photos of it you think: “Wow! This is amazing.”

Then, when you are there, you realize this is the biggest tourist attraction in Chiang Rai — the artist started building it in the 90’s and they are still adding to the complex. It was like Disney-Buddha-land … nothing serene and inviting about this temple. We were there with a thousand other tourists with megaphones … “Keep Moving.” We told our tour guide we didn’t have to walk through and no need to buy tickets — we’d just look at it from the outside and would love to continue riding. He didn’t understand but after some prompting said ok. Actually, it was quite the art display–if you are there, you might as well stop by and check it out.

There were several of these art displays on the property. We were on the “evil” side so many of the statues were creatures and demons. They even had a statue of the Alien from Alien. I should have taken a photo of that one. From this side, you are supposed to pass through to enlightenment … we were already there so we didn’t have to go through. Haha.

We stopped for a quick lunch and then took another short loop ride and showed up at the Elephant Sanctuary. We said goodbye to Amon (and our sweet bikes) and were escorted into the facility.

I’m not sure what to say about the Elephant Sanctuary … this place had 6 elephants. They are trying to take “domestic” elephants and teach them how to be in the wild again … but most of the elephants are there on loan … so if the owner wants them back, they just say “give me my elephant back.” They have tourists come and you can go into the area with the elephants. They don’t want you to get close or bother the elephants — you can just walk into the area with the guide. We said, Ok, we aren’t interested in going in with the elephants anyway. They were happy with this. We stayed around for about an hour and then requested a ride back to our hotel. They obliged us by ordering a taxi and off we went. I don’t know what we expected but at least we saw some elephants. It was still like going to a zoo … the place is about 40 acres. Oh well … cool. 🙂

It was nice to have our binoculars … they have come in useful on this trip even when we aren’t bird watching.The elephant is such a majestic creature … we did love seeing them.And then you realize the Western World has such an influence …This elephant had a rider because it was brand new to the facility … it needed the comfort of human interaction … they work hard on weaning them off human contact.

Back at the hotel … both of us feeling a little tired and I am down with a cold … we went for Italian again. Haha. On to the next day!

Stumblingpiper

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