The Elephant Retirement Park

February 18, 2017

We found out about the Elephant Sanctuary from Dee-Dee the Australian lady we rented our Airbnb place from in Chiang Mai. In the information she provided on her rental (which we ditched after spending only the 1st night, the subject for another blog post), she asked people to choose wisely when visiting elephants. Some places give rides, some have trained the elephants to paint and do other silly things. These places she informed us over-worked & mistreated the animals all to make the tourist dollars.

But she told us there were a few retirement camps for injured or mistreated elephants, so that’s what we sought out. It was good fun. The place we visited had 6 elephants, all Asian elephants as opposed to African elephants. 

Five females and one 1000-kilo male. The youngest they had was a baby of 6 months. The baby was born there and will remain throughout it’s 80-90 year life because he would be shunned in the wild by other elephants outside of the park setting. 

These are stylish clothes they give us to change into before playing with the elephants

Here the elephants which were brought in as injured or sick are nursed back to health and honestly live a pretty sweet life from what we saw. 

One such critter had been used in construction work (in place of more costly machinery) moving or crushing rocks and ended up with a broken leg. Lucky for her she was rescued.

This the one of the Mahoots (trainers) and our guide

There is a Mahoot for every elephant or mother-baby group and they live there in the camp and take care of the same elephant all the time. 

These are the Mahoot quarters

The elephants eat all day long -and they eat a lot. The camp, something like 40 acres, grows all the food needed for the elephants. We fed them peeled and cut up pieces of sugar cane, lots of bananas and bamboo leaves. Their diet is so fibrous they actually make paper out of the poop! All in all it was a great day and we learned a lot about Asian elephants -up close & personal.

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

This is Creepy, Ticklish And Strangely Addictive All At The Same Time

February 18, 2017

We came across this at one of the many night markets in Chiang Mai, something we’ve never seen of or even heard about before. It’s called Fish Spa

It’s a big fish tank, maybe 50 gallons or more filled with hundreds of tiny fish no bigger than 3 inches, but most about half that size. After washing your feet and legs up to about your knees, you sit on a bench and dangle your feet in the fish tank while the little fishes nibble away. 

It’s very ticklish at first and you want to yank your feet out, but you quickly get used to the feeling & the idea. For 100 Thai baht (a few cents over $3.00) you sit there for twenty minutes and supposedly lose a few layers of dead skin! Like I said, kinda creepy.

Of course there is all varieties of spa activity to be had everywhere in Thailand -at least in the urban areas. 

The first week in Bangkok I had 2 facials, a foot massage and a yogurt & sesame full body scrub all for a small fraction of what these treatments cost at home. 

I’ve decided I’m finished with the massages though because they hurt. It’s not a typical oil massage like you may have had. They just get in there and work the muscles. You can tell them ‘go easy’ but they don’t. I had a neck, shoulder & back massage last night just before my 2nd fish spa and ended up with bruises, so I’m finished with that.

Now manicures and pedicures I’m down with that!

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School

February 16, 2017

First of all way, too much food! We -a German couple, a Chinese couple from Toranto, 4 other Americans from Orlando, a lady from Ukraine and me, were picked up a our various hotels around 9:00 AM from various spots around Chiang Mai. With so many nationalities I guess it was luck that the teacher conducted the course all in English.

The class actually started at a local market where “Mook”our instructor took us around to show us what the typical Thai ingredients look like. All I can say is it’s a far cry from your local Safeway.

Fire roasted fish

Several varieties of “non-Uncle Ben’s” quick cooking rice

I like Thai food but at home I’m always in a quandary as to what to order so I usually end up with Pad Thai. My goal in taking this all-day cooking course was to learn a few more menu items and maybe how to cook some of them. Right off the bat I learn that Thai food is a mixture of many flavors & spices. The typical dish is a combination of sweet, which is accomplished with palm sugar, pineapple or mango in varying degrees, salty accomplished with fish or oyster sauce and of course the spicy flavor done with red or green chili peppers. I’m told the green are much hotter unless they’re the tiny peppers which are all hot!

Next our Asia Scenic Thai Cooking course took us to the farm run by the school to see where & how the most common ingredients are grown. Interestingly all the stuff at this farm are organic.

Mook, our guide & cooking teacher taking us through the garden

We got to choose the various dishes we wanted to prepare from 8 menus and we ate (tried to eat) everything. Pad Thai was my first selection because I already knew I liked it & wanted to get the authentic recipe down. The darker brown sprinkled stuff on the right side is ground red chili. You also garnish it with ground or chopped peanuts.

Here is the Pad Thai I made

News flash, everything we cooked was made in a wok. So guess when I get home I’ll have to get one. You add the various ingredients depending on the consistency you’re after, soft or more on the crunchy side. When something is cooked enough just move it up the side of the wok away from the heat source. Unfortunately you really need a gas cooker to be able to control the temperature desired and I’m stuck with a crappy glass-topped electric stove at home. We can’t have gas appliances in our condo so that’s that.

Okay so the other dishes we made. Spring Roll which like most everything in Thai cooking seems to start with frying minced garlic. Then there was Tom Yum Koong also know as Hot & Sour Soup, Glass Noodle Salad, followed by Khao Soi or Chiang Mai Noodle and then deep Fried Bananas for dessert. Like I said, way too much food.

Tom Yum Koong

Four types of curry paste we concocted with motor & pestle 

Some of the many flavors & spices used in all the above dishes

Now the real test comes when I get home am try to recreate these dishes. Well see!

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

Transportation From A to Z In Thailand

February 16, 2017

As long as the weather is good which it has been so far this trip, you have all sorts of choices when it comes to getting around in the city and we’ve tried most of them.

In Bangkok though I must warn you, even crossing the street is life-threatening. There are traffic lanes but why I don’t know because rarely are they adhered to.

Here’s another busy street in Bangkok

Metered taxis (the bright yellow & pink cars in the lower left of the photo) are the way to go in Bangkok rather than haggling with the driver’s in the non-metered cars or the tuk-tuk operators. First of all there’s the language barrier and of course we do stand out as tourists. You can get most anywhere by metered taxi, even an hour ride from the airport for between 200-300 Thai baht, or 6-9 US dollars.

Tuk-tuks we’ve learned are for tourists, so there’s an unspoken license to get the best price they can from us. It’s a learning experience and we got roped in with a driver who insisted in taking us to one tourist trap after another. 

A line of Tuk-tuks waiting for business.

I guess maybe they figure the more places they take you, the more money will come their way or maybe they get a commission. Several were high-end jewelery outlets along with high-pressure sales clerks, “Just take a look, good quality, good price” etc. We had NO interest and sadly we had to get rude to escape.

The Sky Train is the overhead high speed rail and it’s a lifesafer in heavy traffic and then there’s the Metro which is also a good alternative in stand-still traffic.

Now in Chiang Mai up in the Northeast of the country where we are now, the infamous red “Chiang Mai taxis” is the way to go. They are not metered, but there’s a set price -once you’ve been clued in that is. Twenty Thai baht per person (60c) anywhere in town. There are loads of them so you just wave one down and hop in the back of the open-air cab.

Still another choice are the taxi-scooters which we have not used. I think you have to have a little more confidence in the driver and other traffic for that. The red Chaing Mai taxis are easy, plentiful & cheap, so why bother? 

Lastly, there’s Uber but apparently its new to Thailand and we’ve been told there’s quite a war going on between the taxis and tuk-tuks for turf, so we haven’t had any luck with Uber. Maybe in the future.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures (This direct from Thailand).

The Thai People Love Their King

February 12, 2017

King Bhumibol Adulyadej died October 14, 2016 at nearly 90 years of age and the country is in a long period of official and ritual mourning. 

Notice of the official mourning for the King which was posted in the elevator of our hotel

There are life-size color photos of him all over the place. The largest billboard I have ever seen -at least 4 times wider than normal, was spotted shortly after leaving the airport on our arrival. It’s black with white lettering and draped with white & black ribbon and extols the virtues of the late King. In addition there are shrines everywhere in honor of the late King.

This is a near life-size photo and shrine to the late King of Thailand in our hotel

Thailand is one of the few countries never to have been colonized by a European power and remains a constitutional monarchy with the head of state functioning as the leader of the Armed Forces and upholder of the Buddhist faith. But this alone cannot explain the universal reverence by the people.

Another way to honor His Majesty

According to “The King and His Cult” by Laurens de Rooij King Bhumibol reigned since June 9, 1946 at age 18 upon the death of his brother. He was the longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in the history of Thailand. Royal symbolism still has a hold on the Thai consciousness.

The crown prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn, age 64 will succeed his father but does not enjoy the same public respect and devotion as the late King. Time will tell.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures (This direct from Thailand).

This May Be Us After A Week Of Buffet Breakfasts At Our Hotel

February 12, 2017

Our first day in Bangkok started off early since we crashed about 8 PM last night completely exhausted after 2 days of traveling to get here. We were out on the street by 7 for a walk and it really felt good to get moving but even that early in a city of 6.3 million there’s always a lot of people, cars & scooters everywhere. Not too long into our walk we did find a park so at least weren’t dodging traffic. 

And after doing our duty working up a sweat we showered and then got to try the breakfast buffet at the hotel. Yum! Thailand has a wide variety  of fruit available, maybe even more than we’re used to in Hawaii, and interesting stuff like dragon fruit, pomegranates and tons of different juices.

 Look at the unusual the Dragon Fruit

Aside from the bountiful fruit the buffet included fresh croissants, fried rice, made to order eggs; fried, soft boiled, poached and omlettes, a variety of cold cereals, waffles, pancakes, bacon and even a salad bar -at breakfast, and it’s all included in the price of the hotel. Wow!

Tomorrow I think we’re off to the Grand Palace which has been the official residence of the Kings of Sam (and later Thailand) since 1782. Till then . . . .

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures (This direct from Thailand).

No Strip Malls Here, In Bangkok Shopping is Verticle

February 12, 2017

Well of course there’s shopping along every street and gobs of street vendors cooking all sorts of food or squeezing fresh fruit juice right on the sidewalks, but in Bangkok shopping-shopping takes place in multi-story malls that are air-conditioned, shiny bright & clean. There’s a crisply uniformed official of some sort, perhaps a security guard, perhaps not, monitoring all who enter but not in an oppressive way.

I’m sure in a city this size there are many such vertical shopping meccas, but the one we’ve been to already a few times because it’s in easy walking distance from our hotel, is called Terminal 21. And get this, it’s nine stories tall and has over 600 stores! So far our favorites are the 4th floor where the restaurants are & the 5th floors where the food court is located.

There’s probably not a cuisine or food type you cannot find there. 

You decide what fruit you want by selecting the displayed cups and they whip it up into a delicious smoothie for about 60c.

Fortunately most everything is out in the open with the chefs or food prep people in full view along with sample dishes and plenty of pictures so it’s easy to pick out what you want to eat, except for the fact that there are too many choices. Oh and by the way, you don’t even have to fumble with the unfamiliar foreign Thai currency (called the Thai baht, 35 tb = 1US $), you buy a card with any amount of baht loaded on it that you want and away you go.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.

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