We left the elephant camp and had lunch at an orchid farm.
Orchids in the wild grow on the sides of trees but here they hang them in rows and rows about 3 feet off the ground and the roots almost reach. I must say, I thought they were growing kind of the most boring (nothing like these
) but that’s not to say they weren’t beautiful. They also had a small butterfly room which is always cool.
Dad and I skipped the next day’s trip to another temple and although it is supposedly THE temple to see in Chiang Mai, we wanted to sleep in (we only got to do that if we skipped things), walk the streets of Old Town within the city walls, and sit by the pool. Old Town had, surprise, surprise, many more temples like this black and gold one…
and a teak temple.
I was struck on our trip by three things, that 1) no matter how poor a town was, their temples are always ornate, beautiful, and seemingly well taken care of, 2) the air quality is pretty bad, to the point of not being able to see many of the mountains that surround you, because the farmers slash and burn their crops, which was a big bummer, and 3) the food gets kind of boring after a while. I ate some delicious things but we also weren’t terribly adventurous for fear of unknown bacteria (remember that food market with piles of gutted, fly-covered fish and chickens?). It was interesting though, being in a country where the vast majority of people are from there. The US is such a diverse place, I’d never considered what it might be like to be surrounded by one race of people and basically one type of food. I hope I’m not sounding judgmental or anything, it was just an interesting observation and such a wonderful experience!
Our final night we had dinner at a local woman’s house.
She has a large, beautiful teak home and hosts dinners of all of the Gate One tour groups. She did a short cooking class on how to make curry in 5 minutes and fed us a spread of local dishes and strange deserts. After dinner we set of 10 paper lanterns like they do during their Light Festival. You make a wish and set it free…
It was really hard to get pictures of but it was lovely.
We left early the next morning to fly to Bangkok where we had a 6 hour layover before flying to Taipei and on to LAX. Thankfully someone in our group found a bunch of leather recliners we could spend the time in which was made six hours more bearable.
We flew to Taipei and had to rush up and down stairs and walkways and security and this amazing vending machine full of mail (pre-stamped envelopes, stationery, etc)! It made me happy; I had to take a picture of it.
We got into LAX around 8pm and it took us 2 hours to get through customs (Barry Manilow was in front of us and looked kind of terrible, as in too-much-plastic-surgery terrible) and get our luggage. We stayed at a Hacienda Hotel not far from the airport and right by my Grandma’s old house. She passed away three and a half years ago and her house has belonged to someone else for two. It was the first time I’d seen it and though it looked great, it was still sad. I miss that house so much sometimes and if I’d had the wherewithal to buy it when they were selling it, I would have. I would actually like in LA if I could live in that house.
Anyway, my flight home left at 7am the next morning so I got a little bit of sleep and then headed back to NC. It was so nice to see Marcus and the animals. It was nice to be home.