This is an activities Blog for Doug and Jacquelyn Swift and our loving family.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
On our way home from the Philippines we went on a tour of Southeast Asia with Gate 1 Tours. We went to five different countries. The first stop was Thailand.
This was a beautiful country and we spent 10 nights there in several different cities. We stayed at Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Rai, an Chaing Mai.
This was the view of Bangkok outside out hotel window the first of three nights in Thailand.
We visited the temples at Wat Po and saw this gold Buddha and the famous Recling Buddha.
There were beautiful gardens and statues in all the temples and shrines. They were maintained by the monks that lived and studied there.
I liked looking at the statues.
This is at Wat Pra Kaew. These two statues are of demons who our guide told me were evil, but they were guarding the temple, so they our guide said they were good.
Beautiful temples and statues, but to me it was noticeably lacking in spirituality.
Even old Ronald seemed to giving Buddhism a try.
In Ayutthaya we saw the second capital of Thailand were they had the Summer Palace Bang Pa-In built all along this lake with temples on small islands. We also saw the Ayutthaya Historical Park and the Chai Wattamaram Temple.
This is at the Sukhothai Historical Park, a World Heritage site were they built an impressive temple complex for the capital when it was there.
This is our tour guide trying to get us to try the boiled rats they were selling along the roadside. She only got a few takers out of the whole bus, but of Jacquelyn was one of them. She said it tasted like chicken.
We stopped at some more Buddha shrines on the bus drive to Chiang Rai.
In town we visited a shop where they make the blue dye and saw a demonstration.
This is a handkerchief Jacquelyn had made out of the blue dye.
We took a bus tour of the Golden Triangle poppy growing region used for opium and heroin. We also visited the opium museum and saw what it was like in an opium den for the poor unfortunate victims of that evil vice.
One the Mae Khong River tour we got to see the actual Golden Triangle area where three countries meet and the opium trade flourished, at one time supplying 90% of the world's heroin, before Afganstan became the center. Now the Chinese are developing the Golden Triangle as a tourist area and have gambling resorts going up, also a giant golden Buddha.
But we also got to visit the Mae Salong Hill Tribe and saw the long neck women with their neck stretching rings. If they take the rings off their necks are no longer strong enough to hold up their heads, so they have to wear them at all times.
Jacquelyn with a teenager and little girl who haven't got very many rings yet so they are still early n the process of neck stretching.
In Chaing Mai we visited the Wat Suan Dak temple and Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple, and our favorite, the White Temple, otherwise known as Wat Rong Khun. We saw some really bizarre stuff inside the temple, including comic book super heros and famous movie star heroes.
It was one strange temple.
Me posing with some strange creature outside the White Temple.
We saw the famous Jade Buddha, made out of pure Jade. It was an interesting history. It was only recently discovered hidden inside a larger concrete Buddha made to hide it from the Burmese when they invaded Thailand on one occasion.
On the entire tour they was only one day were Jacquelyn and I went off on our own rather than the organized event. We went to the zoo. It was fun walking around. The highlight was the panda bears.
The best part of the whole vacation, no question, was when we got to visit and play with the elephants as an elephant reserve. They have dozens of elephants who were given to them when it became illegal to use them in the lumber industry. So they care for them. Interacting with the tourists helps pay for the reserve and the elephants seemed to really like it. The first event was giving the elephants a bath.
One they were all cleaned up we got to ride them. It's no easy matter getting on an elephant. They are not small. They hold one leg up for you to stand on but still you have to grab hold and hoist youself up top. They are so strong your weight is nothing to them.
Hi ho and away we go.
Then we got to feed the elephants. Jacquelyn helped make the food, and nutritious mixture of fruit and vegtables.
Lastly we got to go for a trek on one of the elephants. It had no trouble holding the two of us and also the driver who sat on his head. And it had massive tusks that probably were not light.
Finally it was time to say goodbye to the elephants. We loved the elephants.