Monday, March 16, 2015

Chiang Mai, Thailand

We had to go to Thailand for Scott and Bobby to get tubes/grommets put in their ears. Since it was scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, and Monday was a holiday, we took the whole weekend and went to Chiang Mai before heading to Bangkok. We booked the trip kind of last minute even though we had talked about it several times and didn't really have a plan when we arrived. Matt knew that if he tried to talk to me in the taxi on the way to our hotel from the airport, the taxi driver would volunteer to be our tour guide (for a small fee of course). So, we met Pahn, who was our best Thai friend for the next two days. He took us all over Chiang Mai. First stop was Tiger Kingdom.

You can go into a room with the baby tigers. These tigers are 2-5 months old.
 Scott loved it, Bobby was scared.
 Marie really liked the tiger tail
(I don't usually wear socks and sandals, but you had to take your shoes off and wear the sandals they provided.)

 After much coaxing, Bobby finally touched the tiger.

 This is our 7 month old baby sitting alone with a tiger... Yes, we're crazy!
 We also allowed the staff volunteers to watch our three kids while we went in with the big tigers. These were about 5 years old and 450 pounds.
 We got the tiger yawning while Matt sat next to him!

 Then Pahn took us to see the Long Neck Karen village. It was a little awkward walking through their village and taking pictures. They have a lot of crafts for sale that I guess is supposed to compensate for that feeling, but still it was strange. But it was also very cool to see real people that I had seen in National Geographic as a child.

 Then we went to the "Monkey School." This was weird. Baboons are too much like people to have me feel comfortable with them being on a leash and doing tricks. I don't know. They have this knowing gaze that creeps me out. I feel like I have to post pictures of it, though, because Scott was so brave! They kept asking for volunteers during the show and Scott would step right up and do whatever. They wouldn't let the baboon sit on his lap, though. Too dangerous.

 I didn't really want to do it, but Matt had the baby strapped on to him, so it had to be me.
Next up was lunch and a local restaurant. It was pretty good food and super cheap.

Then Matt took the boys to Siam Insect Zoo while I sat at the cafe and fed Marie. They had very comfy chairs, and the gal who ran the cafe brought out some water for me. She was very considerate!

Matt will tell you how things went at the Insect Zoo...
 The first stop at the insect zoo was a table filled with containers holding different types of caterpillars.  Scotty was pretty excited to pick them up and check them out.  Bobby, on the other hand, has a healthy fear of all living things and so wouldn't touch anything.  He had fun watching, but he always made sure that he either had Scott or me between him and the insects.

After the caterpillars they had a few displays of tarantulas, crickets and cockroaches.  It was all interesting, but the cases that they were held in were kind of dingy so we didn't get any good shots. They even had some Madagascar screaming cockroaches, but since Scott wasn't allowed to hold any of them we went through this section pretty quickly.  The tiny cockroaches screeching at you was pretty creepy.

After this we went through a butterfly garden.  It was pretty impressive, but also tough keeping track of the two boys.  Scotty was running around trying to see as many as he could and Bobby was pretty stressed out the whole time.  Every time a branch or leaf would brush him he would jump and scream.  Suffice it to say we didn't spend a whole lot of time in there.

After the butterfly enclosure they had some displays with different stick and leaf insects.  Scotty was pretty excited that he got to hold them.

They had some praying mantises that Scott also got to hold.  They looked a lot cooler than the praying mantises that I grew up with.

After that was the beetle section.  They had a big bucket full of dirt that held the Hercules beetle larva, which once again Scotty got to hold.  No pics of the beetles themselves since they weren't allowed to be held and the boys were excited about the next exhibit.

They were setting up a new exhibit for lizards.  They only had a couple of iguanas and some bearded dragon lizards (not pictured).  After Scotty held the iguana he told me he wanted one as a pet.

The last stop within the zoo was the scorpion exhibit.  They had a couple that we were allowed to hold.  At first Scotty didn't want to hold them, but after seeing his Dad do it, he decided he wanted to give it a try.  I'll admit I was a little nervous about letting him hold this one, but the lady assured me that no one had ever been stung by the scorpions and even if they were it wouldn't do any real damage...

Finally we get to Bobby's favorite part of this stop, the butterfly shaped popsicles.
And now, back to Becky...
Pahn had asked us a couple of times about seeing the Snake Show and I really didn't feel like going and it had been a long day and I assumed after Bobby had been scared the whole time at the insect zoo that he would not be interested in the snakes. But, he was the one who wanted to go, so we went. And, actually, it was really fun. The guys who do the snake show were very funny and I really enjoyed it.
This is a jumping snake. It was crazy. It coils up the top third of its body and shoots out at its prey. Yikes.

 The big thing at the show was watching the performers kiss each snake.
 These are Thai cobras. They say that Thai cobras don't kill Thai people. Haha. Just foreigners...

 They had the snake bite the film over a cup so we could see the venom come out and see the teeth inside. Creepy!
 They let the baby touch the snake... So cute. And that's Pahn in the background!
 Family photo with the King Cobra. Gotta have it.
 They let us hold some kind of python. It was very smooth. But, I was a little uncomfortable...

Next we went on a hike. Those of you who know me know this was my least favorite part.  So I'll let Matt take over again...
 (Oh, except that I loved this gnarly tree!)
The waterfall had 10 different sections that you could hike through.  It seemed like the lower waterfalls were a pretty popular spot for picnics and swimming.  It wasn't as impressive as I was hoping since it was the dry season.

It was a tough hike, but we made it all the way to the 10th waterfall.  While it wasn't Becky's favorite, I enjoyed getting out into nature.  It reminded me of the hikes that I had done when I was younger (except much hotter and more humid).
And once again, it's Becky's turn...
The next morning before we left the north of town we went strawberry picking. I had seen a lot of signs for strawberries as we drove around and I didn't want to miss a chance to eat some hand-picked strawberries. There's a strawberry farm near my childhood home and I have fond memories of picking them with my siblings. So, this was a highlight for me. These are not grown in the ground, though, so we had to use scissors to cut them off the plant.

Then we went to a famous Buddhist temple. Luckily we did not climb those steps with the boys and baby in tow. There was an elevator (for a small fee of course), and that's how we got up there. There was supposed to be a wonderful view of the city from the top of the mountain, but it was very cloudy the day we went, so we didn't get any awesome pictures.
 We did write our names on a giant cloth that will someday be wrapped around the golden pagoda.

 After marching around up there for awhile and then walking around looking for our driver (Matt had run out of minutes on his phone so we couldn't call him) and borrowing a phone from a merchant, etc., we decided to be done sightseeing and just go hang out at the air-conditioned mall for a couple of hours until our flight. So, we did that while our driver went home to take a nap. We left for Bangkok, woke up early for a doctor's appointment and then went to spend Christmas money from Grandma and Grandpa...
Then they had their surgery and then we went home. Phew. It was a tiring trip, but we did a lot of fun things!

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