Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Adventure to Asia: Thailand Pt. 3

Tuesday, July 22: Chiang Mai, Thailand (continued)
While we were in Thailand Jillian and I really wanted to see elephants. Along with her friends, we decided to go to the Elephant Retirement Park. It was a little bit more expensive than the other elephant attractions but it was really important to us that we went to a place that took care of and rescued elephants. Do not go to elephant attractions that allow you to ride elephants or train them to do tricks. Those places abuse these animals and often cause miscarriages in pregnant elephants. We liked the elephant retirement park because they rescued working elephants (often at a price because no one will give these elephants up for free, unfortunately).
The stories of the elephants is a very sad one. One had two miscarriages due to the strenuous working conditions. Fortunately, she was pregnant when she came, and I found out she gave birth after we left. This elephant was very hostile towards the two babies living in the park.

Another was rescued from a circus. She still had a rope around her neck and wouldn't let the trainers take it off. Every so often you'd see her raise her leg like they do in the circus because she still thinks she's a working elephant.
When we first got to the park we got an introduction then we split up into groups. We got to feed the elephants bananas. After feeding the elephants we ate lunch, which was very delicious!
After lunch we headed down the hill to play with the elephants in a mud bath! Seriously, how many people can say they've done that? Then we took them to a river to rinse them off. The workers were so nice and took our cameras for us to take pictures so we wouldn't get them dirty! I wasn't going to go in because I hate getting my hair wet, but then I realized that I would be missing the opportunity of a lifetime!
If you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai you have to visit! It was a wonderful experience and the elephants were so cute!

5 Year Story: After the park we headed back to our hostel where we got cleaned up and met Jillian's friends for dinner. Two of them wanted time to themselves so the three of us ate some Indian food. As we were eating some little girl came up to me and started creepily talking to me. It reminded me of the little kid in The Sixth Sense. Then she walked away.After we walked around some markets and stopped to have Thai tea at a cute little coffee shop/pizza place. It started raining on our way back so I had to put a bag on my head to keep my hair dye from bleeding on my clothes. It was kind of funny.

*The views in this post are strictly my own and do not reflect the park nor was I paid for my participation or comments. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Adventure to Asia: Thailand Pt. 2

Monday, July 21: Chiang Mai, Thailand (continued)
After we got back from the cooking class we waited at the hostel for Jillian's Peace Corps friends who were also visiting from the Philippines and heading to Chiang Mai that day. I was really really homesick. We were in really touristy areas but I would be lying if I said I didn't want to come back to the states. In fact, for most of the trip I was counting down to going home. Looking back I had an awesome time, but I was really homesick.

As we were waiting at the hostel Jillian's friends walked over from their hostel. They guys that ran ours were starting to joke that Jillian made up these "friends." They were hungry so we walked to a restaurant and hung out.
After eating we walked to a nearby temple called Wat Pra Singh Voramahavihara. Since three of us didn't have appropriate clothing on or sari's we stayed outside and walked the grounds. Apparently, there was a life size statue of a monk inside who recently died. As I was taking pictures of the ground there were a bunch of stray cats. I was taking picture of one and a black one (pictured below) came up and started rubbing against me. I don't usually like cats but it was cute!
Then we walked across the streets and got drinks at a place called Henry Restaurant. We sat and talked for a while then walked back to our hostel to meet some others who were going to a Muay Thai fight. While I don't condone fighting of any kind and I'm not a fan of boxing I felt like I should experience the culture and it was something to do. There were several different matches and one was to raise money. They blindfolded about 4 guys and had them fight in the ring. It was just for fun and it was so funny because these guys couldn't see anything they were doing. A few different times they grabbed the ref and started hitting them. I laughed so hard.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Adventure to Asia: Thailand Pt. 1

Saturday, July 17: Bangkok, Thailand
When we landed in Thailand we took a taxi to the train station where we spent the entire day. We met some travelers, ate, and walked around. I was really nervous to walk around, but I followed once my sister took the lead. There was a huge temple that we visited and, of course, I left my camera in my bag so I only took pictures on my phone. We left Bangkok at 10 that night and took the train to Chiang Mai. The train was noisy and bright. I did manage to sleep a little bit, but it was not good sleep.

Sunday, July 18: Chiang Mai, Thailand
We got to Chiang Mai around 1 pm and we took showers right away because we hadn't done so in 2 days. After I ended up falling asleep. It was nice having someone with me who was used to the time difference because she would wake me up at night which helped me adjust quicker. Around 8 Jillian woke me up and we went to the Sunday Night Market, which is one of the more popular attractions in Chiang Mai. Out of all the markets we went to this was my favorite. There was a lot to look at and good food. We spent a few hours then headed back to the hostel.
Monday, July 21: Chiang Mai, Thailand
The previous day we signed up for a cooking class (Da's Organic Farm Hut), so we got up early to meet our ride. A man named Da and his driver picked us up and first took us to the market to pick up ingredients to tell us about some of the local products. He also bought us some fruit and fried bananas for us to try. Always try fried bananas in Thailand. They are so good!
He then took us to his farm where he hold his classes. Since we went to the morning session it was just the two of us which was actually ideal. Plus, you make your food just in time for lunch! When we got to the farm we were greeted by his adorable dog. Jillian and I love dogs so we spent time petting it and helping ourselves to tea. Then he showed us some of the fruits and herbs he had growing on his farm. Unfortunately, my battery died and my replacement was back by the kitchen so I didn't get many pictures of the crops.
After he showed us around we started making our FIVE dishes. It was awesome, but so much food. I made sticky rice for one of them and he used a flower to dye it blue. We spent some time cooking each dish, but it was really cool to go through the process and it wasn't too complicated to do either. When we were done he left us alone to eat. I was actually starting to feel really sick towards the end and by the time we were eating I couldn't stand and I wanted to throw up. Then it just passed and I was fine. I couldn't even finish my food because there was just so much!
At the end we took a picture with him and said good-bye to the dog. He gave us both recipe books with all the recipes he offered not just the ones we chose. I have yet to make anything but soon I'm going to make that sticky rice because it was so good!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Adventure to Asia: Philippines Pt. 2

Thursday, July 17: Bohol, Philippines
Since our trip was so short we had to do a lot of tourist excursions. There were several places on Bohol we wanted to see, so the best way to do it in a short amount of time was to take a tour.

The first place we stopped at was the Blood Compact Monument. It was just a monument, but it had a beautiful view of the ocean. There was a guy selling jewelry and he wouldn't leave us alone. It was so annoying. Then our tour guide asked my (younger) sister if I was her daughter!
Our next stop was the Baclayon Church. It was the oldest coral church in Bohol. It was damaged pretty badly by an earthquake that occurred several months earlier.
The third stop was the Loboc River cruise. On the boat they served us a buffet lunch. I tried several different Filipino foods. There were two stops on the cruise. On the first stop they played local music. The second stop was at a tribal area. It was really awkward being there because it felt like they were exploiting this tribe. Jillian and I just stood there feeling weird. I couldn't wait to get back onto the boat.
The fourth stop was at a tarsier rescue center. The tarsiers were one of the things we wanted to see while on Bohol. They were so cute but since they are nocturnal they were sleeping. So did manage to open their eyes. You need to be really quiet when you are there because apparently when they hear loud noises and get stressed out they will bang their heads until they kill themselves.
The fifth stop we made was to a butterfly center. It was really sunny and there weren't a lot of butterflies around, so I didn't get very good pictures.
The sixth stop was at the Chocolate Hills. This was another place we really wanted to see. The chocolate hills are limestone mounds which were a natural phenomena from when the ocean covered the islands. They are called the chocolate hills because they turn brown during dry season. It was really cool to see in person, but definitely not something you'd spend hours at. The stairs up to the lookout were so steep. I'm so out of shape.
The last stop was at the Sipatan Hanging Bridge. This bridge was terrifying. I almost dropped my phone off the edge. My feet also kept getting caught in the bamboo.
Friday, July 18: Manila, Philippines
We flew to Manila in the morning because we were flying out of Manila to Thailand. We ate Wendy's when we arrived at the airport in Manila. I was already craving American foods. The portion size of the fries was really small! A lot of Peace Corps volunteers were in Manila because a new batch of volunteers were coming so we took a taxi to their office. I met several of Jillian's friends.

It is really hard getting a taxi in Manila because it's really busy and the taxi drivers are jerks. We went to a mall to buy some shampoo and get some food. Then we went to a bar with a few of my sister's friends. That night we went back to the airport and slept on the floor. Somehow I managed to get a few hours of sleep.
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