Today was a full day of fun. It began with a morning tour out to one of the elephant camps on the edge of Chiang Mai, where tourists (including me) congregate to see elephants bathe, play, and generally obey whatever commands their mahout gives them. It was actually a phenomenal show. That everything was done nonverbally throughout made the whole experience kind of trippy.
The afternoon I “rented” a private car with a driver to take me around the area to the four most important “wats”. I’m always taken away by the serenity of buddhist temples combined with the phenomenal carving and architecture. What made the experience especially nice here is that there were so many monks and monks in training around. Some of the dedication to these kinds of traditions are waning in other parts of Asia. When the one monk stopped reading his book to check out one of the ladies walking around, though, I had to stiffle a giggle.
English has become very important here, with children beginning to learn the language as early as kindergarten through second grade. In fact, while I was checking out one of the temples, a gaggle of elementary school girls accosted me to ask me a series of questions in English about where I was from, what I was doing in Chiang Mai, and the like. I give the teacher credit, that is a great assignment to give a class to do.
Dinner was at this chill place called “The House”, with some really good food and phenomenal atmosphere. And the tuk-tuk ride around the streets of Chiang Mai at night is an experience worth having even if you have nowhere in particular to go. Those have to be one of the greatest forms of transportation ever. So what if you feel like you’re going to die as you careen around the streets. It’s still a blast!
That my bags arrived today only piled on to the good news, so now I can finally have some clothes to wear and a chance to really freshen up (i.e. shave). And the surprise of having a birthday cake sitting in my hotel room when I got back from dinner was just the icing on the cake, so to speak.
With the day having turned out so well, it’s almost a shame to have to head back to Bangkok tomorrow.