Thursday, May 26, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

This is the fourth post about Chiang Mai. If you've missed one of the others, you can view them by using the links on the right hand side of this web page.

Northern Thailand is covered in misty mountains and green jungles. We took advantage of the nearby wilderness areas to interact with nature and some of the indiginous people who live there.

Southeast Asia is known for its tigers. They are smaller than the large Siberian tigers, but they are still big. We visited a tiger sanctuary, where we got to pet the tigers. This tiger is four months old, and already larger than most dogs! Craig was a bit nervous, even though the tiger mostly lounged around and ignored us. I guess there is some housecat in there somewhere...

Here is Craig next to a sleeping tiger. Tigers are pretty sleepy during the day and are most active at night. They don't really react when kids poke and prod them while they're napping - kinda like most grandpa's I know.

Near to the tiger sanctuary is a small long neck village. These ladies wear brass rings around their necks and knees. They add rings each year, so that over time, their necks become elongated. They aren't allowed to own property under Thai law, so they work in these villages by selling scarves and other handicrafts that they make themselves. Here is Jennifer with a lady from the village.

Here is Craig next to a younger girl in the long neck village. You can tell they start neck stretching while they're young! You can also see the knee rings in this picture. Craig is holding his pet tiger from the tiger sanctuary.

We also communed with the trees in an exciting fasion - jungle zip line! We flew from tree to tree via a series of 21 platforms connected only by zip cables.

Here is Tarzan, er, Craig. He acted like Tarzan anyway! On the shorter lines he was allowed to zip all alone, but on the longer ones, he had to zip with an instructor. He loved every second, and pounded his chest while shouting like Tarzen the whole way!

Here is Jane of the Jungle, er, Jennifer. This is one of the longer zips - some of them were over 400 meters! If you click on the picture you can see a larger version of this photo. You'll be able to see the Mae Taeng river and get a better sense of how high we really were.

On a few platforms we went down, not across. Here I am being lowered onto another platform. Now I know how Spider-man feels!

This was the scariest zip for Jennifer. It wasn't the longest, or the fastest. It wasn't even the highest. It was the zip line that allowed two people to zip side by side over the river. Jennifer zipped with Craig, and realized that we were taking our son on 21 flights through the jungle dangling from a small set of ropes and metal equipment. Well, good thing this was the last zip!

Near to the jungle zip adventure was an elephant preserve. Elephants have always been a big part of Thai culture. Sculptures of elephants adorn important buildings such as wats and palaces. White elephants are considered royal poperty of the king. Farmers use elephants as an all-purpose tool to clear land, plow fields, and move heavy loads. As modern technology is adopted in rural areas, elephants and their trainers, or mahouts, are being displaced. This elephant sanctuary provides a home for the elephants where they can live a comfortable live with their mahouts while using their great strength to give jungle tours. Here is Craig feeding one of the elephants.

Elephants are very smart and can use their trunk to do lots of things, including painting! Here is proof that elephants can paint! RaNae, you owe me five bucks!

Here is Craig with Suda, who painted the picture he's holding.

We ran into the vetrinarian who is on staff at the sanctuary, and she brought us over to see a special little elephant newborn. Here is the small little elephant boy, who was only a few hours old! We didn't get too close - his mom was very protective and we didn't want to be at the wrong end of that misunderstanding.

While we were looking at the newborn, another elephant lumbered up out of the river nearby and decided to pay a visit to the new mom and her little boy. It was a very polite visit from one experienced mom to another.

Stay tuned for the last post about Chiang Mai!!


  1. What a fun trip! Could you guys have anymore fun?

  2. After showing B this post, he said, "Mom, can we PLEASE move h across the world too?" He really liked looking at the tigers.