18.05.2009 - 19.05.2009 24 °C
Occasionally we have experienced power cuts as we have traipsed around the northern Thai countryside. We experienced quite a few when we were at Cave Lodge. Especially when it rained. And it rained quite a lot. In the evenings to amuse ourselves Katherine and I would play 20 questions. Somebody would think of a famous person and the other person would try to guess who it was by asking only yes or no questions. I am one-up on Katherine as she failed to guess Ernest Shackleton.
Now we are in Chiang Mai there are other ways to amuse ourselves. We could watch tv - a novelty after two weeks without. But the reception is poor and most of the channels are Thai-language. We could have gone to a Muay Thai fight night last night but even though I had lessons I'm not sure I'm ready to witness the headshots. Anyway, I can go to a fightnight in NZ. The night bazaar (different from the Sunday night market) is some distance away and when we went last time we decided it wasn't very interesting.
So, last night after eating at May Kaidee's vegetarian restaurant (very famous and just round the corner from our guesthouse) and for me, getting tiddly on one Chang beer (cost = $3 for a large one) we went to the massage place right next door to the restaurant. The streets of Chiang Mai are filled with hair salons, laundry service, eating establishments, massage and internet shops. So it's difficult to know which is a good one. Mai ben lai, it doesn't matter.
We chose to have a foot massage each and pretty soon I was almost asleep. But afterwards when I spoke my few words of Thai I became a big hit. Suddenly I'm surrounded by beautiful Thai women who want to practise English and teach me Thai. Aahhh! Tonight we go back for Thai massage!
Last time we were in Chiang Mai (two years ago) we wanted to go to the Buffalo Camp. This is like an elephant camp but with buffalos. Unfortunately the tourists are more interested in the elephants. Anyway, we paid for a car and driver to take us to Mae Taeng about 40km out of town. We were told the buffalo camp included a snake farm, orchid house, butterfly house and monkey school. When we arrived it appeared that the place had been rundown and apart from a few sad orchids and a few sad monkeys and a few happy buffalo there wasn't much there.
They put the buffalo show on just for Katherine and me. And we quite enjoyed it. It demonstrated the traditional life of a farmer - how they planted rice, harvested rice, ploughed the rice field using the buffalo, pounded the rice and squeezed the sugar cane juice (also using the buffalo). Then they showed us how the villagers would make a bridge using the buffalo and they would step on the buffalo's backs to get across the river. Then we had a chance at riding them. Katherine had the big male buffalo. I had a smaller female. It was fun.
Then the driver took us to the tiger temple for lunch. We could eat our lunch while looking directly into the tiger enclosures. I guess the idea was to tempt us to pay the extra baht to spend 15mins with the tigers. You can pat them and stroke them. But unlike elephants and water buffalo they aren't domesticated animals and it didn't feel right.
Next I asked to go to the Queen Sirikit Botanic Gardens. This was a great find. It was beautiful and instead of walking up steep hills we got to ride in a golfcart type thing. We walked around the Australian corner for a few minutes but spent most of our time in the glasshouses. They were quite good, especially the tropical rainforest one. Then we were let out to walk to a waterfall and the rock garden and orchid nursery. At that point the heavens opened and drenched us. We sat out the rain in the orchid nursery before meeting up with our driver and sleeping our way back to Chiang Mai.
In the evening we returned to the Top Ten massage for a traditional Thai massage. This time I had the woman who performed Katherine's foot massage and she had mine. My new masseuse was very pretty but the other one was stronger which is why she had Katherine. At the end Katherine got lots of hugs from her. Suddenly Katherine is one up on me. How come I didn't get hugs from a beautiful Thai masseuse? Ahh. Mai ben lai.