Made it.

Trip Start Nov 21, 2009
Trip End Feb 11, 2010

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Well that was interesting. It's the first time I've been in a propeller plane since the early eighties. And we're back in the big city. Our first taste of Thai food was great (except for the kick). I think I went red again (Roz just said I definately went red). Ah well.
Day 2: Chiang Mai zoo today. They've really got a well laid out setup here. The only unfortunate part was that it rained most of the day. Never mind, it was only light. I still had to keep the camera covered for most of it though. They've got a great variety of animals here. Probably the best part was that you get to feed some of them. Check out the tongue on the giraffe. Got some good shots of the panda too. We spent about 4 or 5 hours just wandering and having a ball. Some of the locals were laughing at me because I took my thongs off and went barefoot (some of those paths were really slippery). There's some beautifully coloured birds there, and something that looked like a goat but with long legs
A hot shower, some dry clothes and a couple of feeds (the meal size has been pretty small so far) later and we're thinking about what tomorrow will bring. 
Day 3: Caught up with Denis today. Haven't seen him in about fifteen years. We had a great time catching up over a cup of tea. We'll see him again soon when he's got some time.
About lunchtime we went to the "Tiger kingdom". Tigers of all different sizes everywhere. The best part of this place is that you can sit and pat one (even if it's only for ten or fifteen minutes). They have different spots with various ages of tigers. Roz chose to sit with the smallest of them. Very cute and cuddly.
Day 4: A quiet day today. We spent the morning exploring the old quarter of the city. We crossed the moat through the first gate we came to then followed the moat around until we got back to where we started. It was interesting to note that the different gates each seemed to have had a different primary purpose. Unfortunately there isn't much of the original wall left as they have rebuilt the gates themselves starting from the 1800's, with most of the work being done in the late 1960's. The four corners of the wall "appeared" to be untouched, but there is no signage to say either way. They certainly look ancient. The gates had signs to explain their history, and the earliest date mentioned is 1296AD, so maybe the corner sections of the wall are from that time. We also saw some beautifully ornate temples. The Thai's have a way with intricacy of design the we personally haven't come across before. Very nice. They are also excellent wood-carvers. We stopped for a cup of tea and a bit of cake at one stage, and in the outdoor section of the cafe was a large tree-stump carved with ten or eleven elephants. Impressive work.
Later on we met up with our friend Denis whom we haven't seen for about forteen years (he hasn't changed a bit) and his mate John (a German brewer at a microbrewery here in town) and went bowling. John brought a flagon of his best wheat beer along in an esky full of ice, and a good time was had by all. The bowling was pretty ordinary all round, but we had a great night.
Day 6: Another day of firsts. We went to Maetang Elephant Park, and what a day we had. It started with a slow river ride on a bamboo raft, then a qick trip on the minibus back to the elephants. Then we watched a show where the elephants did various stunts including dancing, playing instruments, kicking soccer balls and painting pictures. We expected the paintings to be just blobs of paint, but one actually painted a black outline of an elephant holding a flower in it's trunk, with red for the flower and green for the leaves and grass. Then it signed the painting as well. Catch the photo's.
After that we went for a ride on one of the elephants downstream, then caught an oxcart back to the camp. They had a great buffet lunch for us, after which we shopped a little, then back into the minibus.
Next stop was a snake show. The bloke running it showed some Thai cobra's and a King Cobra which he proceeded to throw around and kiss, as well as a python and some local ratsnakes. I got the tourist photo with the python around my neck. Couldn't help myself.
After that we went to a heartstopping orchid farm and butterfly enclosure. Boy, what a way to round off a day.
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