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Asia 2008

Asia travel log 2

THAILAND | Sunday, 24 February 2008 | Views [392]

Hello everyone!
Parker and I have reached the Thai/Laos border. Its been an adventerous past few days. Before leaving Chiang Mai, we were lucky enough to see the annual flower festival. While trying to find a place for breakfast, we stumbled upon the flower parade and we stopped to watch the floats drift by. From afar, the floats looked as though they were painted with intricate designs, but up close, they were covered in tiny flowers all held in by small push pins. The floats were covered in sculptures of nagas (protective serphants), elephants, and other cool designs. People marched passed playing traditional Thai music and banging on large drums. School groups processed by playing band music - there was even a small flag core! Parker and I stayed and watched the rest of the parade before heading over to the site of the actual festival. There were stalls lined up on one street with flower displays. Thousands of orchiids were on exhibition. They were absolutely beautiful, lots of pinks, purples, and yellows. Some flowers were quite large with long dangling roots while others looked very delicate. It was an excellent festival to visit during our stay in Chiang Mai.
We headed north a few days ago and stopped to visit the Chiang Dao national park and stayed over one night. In the evening we walked to a Buddhist wat just on top of a hill. It was a lovely walk through rock walls and beautiful trees. After climbing about 600 hundred steps, we arrived at the wat which was actually situated inside a small cave. It was established by a monk who had lived in the cave for most of his life as he meditated and taught Buddhism. There were a number of Buddhas carved in the rock as well as several golden Buddha statues. Past the cave was another wat just up a few more steps and it offered a lovely view of the surroundings.
The following day, we hiked along a jungle path towards the Chiang Dao cave entrance. After scrabbling up steep slopes and nearly sliding down sharp hills, we arrived at the cave entrance only to discover it was connected to the road! It was a beautiful hike none the less. We entered the cave and the front section was lit up with statues of Buddhas and carvings in the walls. Part of the cave was lit up with electiricty and part of it was still in the dark. We walked though the lit section of the cave and then continued on with our flashlights. The cave was full of interesting formations and crystals. At the end of the path, there was a pool of water blocking our way. Bats were swooping around our heads and over the water. We also wandered into a large open cavern. After shinging our lights around, we found a group of bats roosting on the ceiling. We could hear them clicking and screeching. I loved it! While walking back, we passed a Thai tour group that was being lead through the dark by a guide and a lantern (they wanted us to pay at the entrance for a lantern and guide but we said no because we had our flashlights and couldn't understand Thai!). They were a group of Buddhist monks and nuns. They all looked quite surprised to see us, a couple of farangs (foreigners) emerging out of the darkness with their flashlights and the tour guide looked a little disapproving. But as we passed the group, one of the Buddhist nuns, looking calm and dignified with her shaved head and simple white robes pointed towards us and smiled saying, "good, good" before disappearing back into the darkness.
We left Chiang Dao and jumped on a boat that carried us west. We cruised past villages, farm lands, and a couple of high end villas. Villagers waved as we sailed past. We spotted a couple groups of water buffalo and spotted an elephant just outside the elephant village. We stopped at this village and watched as the Thai elephant trainers guided their animals into the river for a nice bath. The elephants were used to take tourists on treks into the northern villages. We cruised into Chiang Rai a little past four, just in time to catch the 5:00 bus up to Chiang Kong, the border town. We were one of the last on the bus, so we had to sit up front on a seat in the middle just next to the driver. Parker and I were sitting back to back and I had to keep my knees away from the drivers stick shift. After about an hour of this, the bus cleared out enough for us to move to more comfortable seats.
We are getting ready to head into Loas this afternoon. We will be heading up to a small town in the north were we are planning to go on a three day trek. It should be a lot of fun.
I have created a list of people to send this newsletter. Please let me know if you don't want to be on it or if you know of someone who wants to be added. We will be putting photos online on my myspace account (search for Andrea Havron). I know its annoying because you need to have a myspace account to view the photos. But hopefully you have one or know of someone who does!
We miss you all!
Andrea and Parker

Tags: Adventures


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