Dear family and friends,
Instead of the usual boring summary of my activities, I thought I'd be straight forward and list the top ten things I did these past few days:
1. I drank tiger penis whiskey in a marketplace in Laos. There were vats of whiskey with different potent, creepy things infused in, such as king cobra, armadillo, scorpions, and yep, tiger penis.
2. Janny and I got a fish massage today, which consisted of us slipping both our naked feet into a huge tank of hundreds of little fish that immediately suck and nibble at your feet and up your legs. It was the most panic-filled, chaotic 3 minutes of my life until I got used to it! We were sitting in the front of the parlor in front of a glass window so everyone who walked by asked to take photos of the silly girls with fish clawing at their dead skin cells.
3. We were at the Elephant Institute in Chiang Mai, which consisted of an elephant hospital, nursery, bathing grounds, and much more. I saw cute little toddler elephants, and saw what beautiful, gentle, and elegant creatures they really are!
4. I am an expert at squat-peeing now as most bathrooms are little more than holes in the ground with little stands for your raised feet.
5. Today we experienced the Sunday night market, which is once a week, and HUGE with every kind of food and goods you can imagine!! We were guided by our new friend Ject who showed us the good food stalls and we all bought some trinkets and bananas.
6. We took a day trip to the "Golden Triangle," which is the meeting point of Laos, Burma, and Thailand, which used to be a huge opium drug zone. We walked through many village markets, and there were a lot of begging children, and it was really heart-breaking to know that this was a way of life for them. I gave some money to little boy clinging to our boat, and as soon as he saw me reaching my hand into my purse and pulling out a bill, he ran over and grabbed it out of my hand and all I saw were vacant eyes. And then he ran away. I mean, I did that with full understanding that he probably would never get to use the money, and that I was supporting an irresponsible trade as he probably has to report back to a higher entity.
7. An average meal in Thailand is around 20-40 baht, which is about $0.75-1.50 US dollars. Locals eat out all the time because of the cheap food prices! I could certainly get used to this. Imagine, a delicious, full plate of pad thai for 30 baht!! and a plate full of sticky rice and mango for 20 baht.
8. People are shocked we are American, which leads me to believe that American stereotypes are rampant and common all over Southeast Asia, and probably the world. They find it strange we don't have blonde hair and blue eyes.
9. Thai babies are some of the cutest babies in the world!!! They are so mellow and calm babies, and I have yet to see a fussy one yet! Our hostel owners have half-German and half-Thai twin baby boys who are incredibly adorable.
10. In a couple of days we are going to do a 3-day trek through the Thai jungle! We'll be doing some serious rafting, trekking, and elephant-riding in Umphang, which is in the central plains of Thailand.
I miss you all. Happy Chinese New Year!
janny checking out the 100% elephant dung paper products! they make it here from real elephant dung and through a simple process are able to produce wonderful, beautiful paper!
visiting the White Temple, which won't be completed until 2070, but promised to draw tons more people into the Chiang Rai area as a tourist spot. The temple represents one passing through hell (thus the scary hands reaching up) before reaching Heaven, which is across the bridge with the temple.
going down the Me Kong River, the divider of Laos, Burma, and Thailand.
yep, this is what you think it is.
someone lifting up the armadillo from its whiskey infusion.
a girl and a baby begging us to buy some of the Akkah village's bracelets. she really used the baby to her full advantage for selling. the children are very sneaky and wise in the ways of selling and persuasion. it's scary.
at an ancient thai temple in doi suthep in chiang mai. i was reprimanded for wearing shorts into the temple. silly me to wear shorts in boiling weather!!
a jackfruit tree! so apparently the fruit grows off the trunk of the tree, and not the branches!
lady preparing our delicious papaya salad--crisp, sweet, sour, and a little spicy. que bueno!
waiting for the other half of our dinner at the night street market!
fish nibbling on janny's leg next to me!