Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thai Cooking Class

Sweet, sour, salt, and spicy.  Sounds like Thai we went to a class to explore the intracacies of making all those wonderful curries and stir fries.  Each student picks a dish in each category (stir fry, soup, appetizer, and curry) and makes it; after each course the students eat and taste all the dishes!  The best part was someone else did the clean up!!

One of many cooking schools in Chiang Mai

Class begins with a market tour

The first of our 4 courses (each a dinner in itself).  Seafood stir fry and Pad Thai

Getting ready to chop!

Alan made up yummy spring rolls; opted for Papaya Salad that turned out so spicy my hair caught fire!

Monday, February 23, 2015

What's Up with YOUR Elephant?

It was a day of elephants -- feeding, petting, washing, and watching.  And more feeding and petting.  It takes a lot to make an elephant happy!

We decided to spend the day at an elephant sanctuary where "retired" and "abused" elephants are rescued and cared for.  So lots of time to interact with the elephants but no riding as that is considered "working" for the elephant.  A Thai woman has been running this sanctuary for many years and now has 44 elephants on site (as well as a real menagerie of other animals.)  Many of the elephants were abused while used for logging, trekking, and street begging.

The day began with having everyone feed the elephants from a second story porch.  Elephants learn you "by smell" and thus became familiar with their new caretakers!  Then we were allowed to walk down on the grounds and feed the animals (again.)  When you eat 10% of your body weight every day, it is a lot of eating!  Then we watched the elephants in the river.   Feed them again from the porch.

In the afternoon, we went back down by the river and gave them a bath, mostly throwing water on them.  We walked along the river area and watched them play, first in the water and then throwing dirt on themselves (to protect from the sun.)  We feed them some more; petted them some more.

And that was our day with the elephants.  I have always had a special love for these animals; so this was a day I'll remember for a long time.

Feeding the elephants from a porch; each elephant has a mahout "watching" all the time

Watermelon and pumpkins were the steady diet.

"Go Closer" the guide called out....sure...and here is a pumpkin to show I come in peace!

Mostly the elephant was happy to be eating....but we were into throwing the water!

Sweet girls!

Though the elephants are genetically unrelated, they have formed families and live together.

Clean from the river...time to apply sunscreen, er, dirt.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Doi Inthanon National Park

We flew north out of Bangkok to the city of Chiang Mai.  From there we took a 2 day birding trip to Doi Inthanon National Park -- home to almost half of the known bird species in Thailand.  We had organized a guide -- and with his help we spotted about 100 species!  Some we were able to view for extended periods of time; others just a fraction of a second.  But we went 12 hours a day....and had a great time.

Alan's favorite bird was the Mrs. Gould Sunbird; mine was the Scarlett Minivet.

The highest peak in Thailand is at the Park....morning temps were about 40...

Saw many butterflies along the trail

White Capped River Chat

One of many waterfalls in the park.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Grand Palace Part 2 and Wat Pho

More pictures, more fun, more amazing sights around every corner...

Which way is North?

Are we there Yet?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Palace and Wats and Temples...and Buddhas

We set off to explore the 3 holy sites for Buddhists in Thailand:  The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun.  These sites have been active for 100s of years and display the long term linkage of religion and the monarchy.

We took a river boat ride to the Grand Palace; figured out the wily stranger telling us the Palace was closed for a Buddhist holiday; and were just about floored by the architectural experimentation, wall decorations, gold leafed murals, and the Buddhas.  The Grand Palace includes more than 100 buildings (!); the most famous is probably the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Wat Pho has the city's largest reclining Buddha and the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand.

Within the most holy temples, one could not take photos.

Anyway...we walked and saw amazing sites.  Here are just a few photos from The Grand Palace....more to follow.