07 March 2009

Chok Chai Tour

One of the big draws of visiting the Chiang Mai area is being able to go elephant trekking and to visit some of the local tribal people.

As we've already said on some previous blog postings, we're not fans of organised tours and usually try avoid them like the plague. However we took a trip out with Chok Chai Tour on Thursday and it turned out to be a great day out.

We started the day with a visit to an orchid farm and butterfly house. The gardens and flowers were really beautiful but the butterfly house was a bit of a let down.

Considering that Thailand is a fairly exotic tropical country we expected to see some really colourful creatures. However, the butterfly house only appeared to have some rather dull looking brown ones. Rubbish! We saw better ones walking around town.

The next stop was for a bit of bamboo rafting which was a fairly sedate but very pleasant punt along the river.

Liz and Anne even got the chance to wear a bit of rather fetching head gear.

Next up was the main event, the elephant treking. We had about an hour traipsing through the jungle on elephant back over terrain that would thwart a Land Rover. It was great fun and quite hard work to keep in the saddle when the elephants went down any steep inclines.

Then after lunch we also got to see an elephant show, which we hadn't actually paid for on our trip! It was very impressive to see the elephants put through their paces but we always feel a little uncomfortable watching performing animal shows.

Then it was onto the most pointless bit of the trip, the waterfalls. We love a good waterfall but this one was just plain rubbish. In the eyes of the owners mother nature hadn't done a good enough job so they thought that they would help out with a bit of concrete. They also thought it would be nice to have more water cascading down so the hillside was covered in bright blue plastic water pipes.

Next up was a trip to a long neck Karon hill tribe village where we saw some amazing looking women who wore traditional neck extending jewelry.

The Karon women believe that having a long neck is beautiful so wear the metal rings to make their necks as long as possible. They start to wear a few rings as young as 4 years old and then gradually increase the amount of rings until they have about 25 or 26. Not too sure about this pair though!

On the way back into town we also got to see a new temple complex that was under construction and also a factory where they turn elephant dung into paper. Here's a few pictures for you to enjoy (of the temple, not the elephant poo)

We're not quite sure what this little fella's about . . .

Ok, here's some elephant poo too. . .

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