Chiang Mai Day 2 (15.06.2012): Awoke in our not so nice hostel (see cover photo) after taking a shower (if that was possible in our current bathroom) we found ourselves a taxi (a red van, the driver was our guide for the day) and headed to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. The temple overlooks the city from a mountainside perch. There are (apparently as it seemed to be less) around 300 steps leading up to the temple. We were blessed by the monks who gave us White bands on our wrists and wished us a long and happy life :-).
After our descent our tour guide drive us through the Mae Sa Valley region and to the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens. The gardens are a haven of tranquility. So peaceful. They cover a massive expanse which includes the Mae Noi Sa waterfall. Chiang Mai sure is much greener than Bangkok.
We arrived back in Chiang Mai's old city and went to a lovely Thai eatery.. I had green Thai curry.. Yum. We then caught a taxi to the Night Safari. It is the biggest night safari in the world. After checking out the fountain show we went for a walk around the park. This was a scary walk. I had my path crossed by a scorpion (not part of any exhibit) and ran a mile when I heard a lion roar (which was just something being played on a speaker!). We were the only ones on the walk and it was pitch black. Always wondered what it's like to be in a zoo at night. It seems all the animals fight! We felt very vulnerable like something was going to jump out on us at any second. The enclosures were all nice and spacious, no real cages.
After our walk we headed for our North Safari where we went on a tram through various enclosures containing many animals including Hippos, Elephants, giraffe, zebra etc. I purchased some fruit and was able to feed the animals from the tram. The next tram ride was through the South predator zone we we saw lions, tigers, vultures etc. Adam loved it.
I was dubious after reading some reviews re. visiting the attraction. We have avoided all snake, crocodile, elephant and tiger shows (these places are so numerous). The only upsetting bit was seeing the chains around the elephants who had obviously been trained to beg for food.. Also the safari did pictures with tigers which have obviously been drugged. So glad our country is now focusing (to some extent) more on conservation and animal wellbeing rather than entertainment. Looking forward to tomorrow when we head to the much more ethical Elephant Nature Park, a organisation that has rescued many mistreated Elephant across Thailand. I am glad someone is doing something about it! There are elephant places ffor rides/shows everywhere, very upsetting to see some of them who obviously look in distress. We are going to be helpers for the day. Rather than riding we will be shovelling poo, feeding and bathing the lucky few rescued nellys. I can't wait but know it will be upsetting to learn all their stories.
I will post some Chiang Mai photos tomorrow.