23.4.11: Karen Long Neck Village

At around 5 pm, we arrived at the Karen Long Neck Village. This is a tribe (Padaung) from Myanmar who wore brass bands around their necks. It isn't that their necks were long, but rather the gold bands had pushed their shoulders downwards, so it looked as if they had long necks. There was entrance fee to be paid and our tour guide paid the entrance fee for us. There were many huts made from bamboo and wood where the villagers would sit and do their work or sell their wares.

The boys were rather tentative about these "strange looking" people with rings around their neck and wanted to get out of there. Some children gave us (or rather pushed into our hands) stalks of tiny flowers, plucked from the ground and asked us for donation in return. 
Stalls selling handicrafts

The children in the village.
The rickety bridge leading to the village
Then, we got into the van and went off again. It was quite a tiring journey and would have been less hectic had we stayed a night in Chiang Rai. We had dinner at 7.30 pm a a restaurant on the way back. Hubby found stuck under his plate some tiny small balls, with a diameter of 3mm. They look suspiciously like eggs. I found out 2 days later when we visited the silk factory that the eggs were silk worm eggs. Why were they stuck there?

We arrived at the hotel at 9.15 am. The night was still young. I put the boys to sleep, then went out to the night market at 10.00 pm with my parents and found it crowded with people. It closes every night at 12 am. 

23.4.11: Golden Triangle and boat ride to Don Sao Island, Laos

After lunch, we headed towards the river, where the large Buddha statue and elephant statues stood at the Golden Triangle. There were ominous looking clouds in the sky. I was afraid that it would rain and affect our long tail boat trip to Don Sao Island, Laos.  
Ominous looking black clouds covered the sky

Fortunately the wind blew the dark clouds away as we donned our life jackets. As we walked down the steps to the jetty, a man with a camera came up and snapped our photos, and again, I wondered why. 

We got into the long tail boat. Our guide had asked for a covered boat, so that it there would be some shelter. I sat in front with S. The sides of the boat were very low and the water seemed at a rather high level. The water splashed at our faces and we turned around to face the other way, to allow the water to splash our backs instead. We head in one direction, then the boat turned around 180 degrees and headed the other way. He stopped the boat halfway to change the gas tank, as the gas had finished.  
Long tail boat trip 
View of the large golden Buddha from the boat
Finally, we reached the jetty of Don Sao village. It was so different looking from the jetty at Chiang Rai. Some young children helped to dock the boat, and asked for tips. Our guide told us to give tips only during our return, as they would come back for more, if we gave them the tips at that point in time.

Paying the entrance fee
Interesting basket to rock a child in
There were many bags, handbags, belts and leather goods sold there. One has to bargain to get a good deal. We bought 2 knapsacks, one large and one smaller for 500 baht (around RM50). We wouldn't have been able to get it at this price in Malaysia.
Bottom right: Snake whiskey. I wonder what it is used for. 
The boys went to chase chickens. Some young children there did not wear shoes.
We had very limited time there (around 45 minutes) and hurriedly shopped. When we got back to the jetty, some children were playing in the water jumping off the boats into the water. 

As we entered our boat, the earlier children came back and asked us for tips. Everyone held out their hands, and hubby gave some tips to the "leader" and told them to share. Upon reaching back to The Golden Triangle jetty, we found that displayed on a table, our photos (taken as we were walking down the steps to the jetty) framed in a plate to be sold to us as souvenirs. How enterprising. 

After that, we headed back to Chiang Mai. We didn't stay in Chiang Rai. On hindsight, it would be better to stay overnight in Chiang Rai, as the journey is quite long. 

23.4.11: Wat Rong Khun (White temple) & Golden Triangle

At around 9.30 am, we arrived at Wat Rong Khun (White temple). It was an impressive looking temple in white and construction began in 1997. 

There were glass mirrors embedded onto the walls, and we were warned not to go too close or touch the sides, lest the mirrors get chipped off. Not all the walls were completed yet and I guess, it would take several more years for it to be completed.

Even the fishes were whitish gold. 
A sea of hands
A lady putting some coins into the bowl
According to wikipedia about Wat Rong Khun, the bridge leading to the temple represents the crossing over from the cycle of rebirth to the Abode of Buddha.

Inside the temple, there were interesting large mural paintings. It was intricately painted, which took several years. An artist was busy at work painting a part of the wall. Were weren't allowed to photograph the inside of the temple. There were several interesting and modern images painted on the walls: Spiderman, Batman, Keanu Reeves, Bumblebee Transformer, and even Osama Bin Laden's face.

This golden building is actually the toilet
Many toilets
Visitors need to change into the slippers provided before entering the toilet
At the gift shop, I bought a large printed painting of the Buddha for 500 baht. I was given a nice cardboard cylinder container to keep it in.
We bought coconut ice-cream. Delicious!
After that, we hopped onto the van. We passed the Chiang Sean archaeological site, but hadn't had time to stop there. The van stopped at The Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai for a picture first, before heading for lunch. This is the site where Thailand meets Laos and Myanmar - thus called, The Golden Triangle.

Lunch was at The Border View Restaurant at The Imperial Golden Triangle Resort at the Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai.
The view from outside the restaurant

23.4.11: Journey to Chiang Rai & Chiang Rai Hot Springs

We woke up early and went for breakfast at 6 am.
Drawing at breakfast (6 am) 
At 7 am, we hopped onto the van and we headed towards Chiang Rai. At around 8.15 am, we arrived at the Chiang Rai Hot Springs. I was surprised to find that the weather was rather cold outside, once we stepped out of the van. There was steam coming out from the hot springs pool.

Boiling a basket of quail's egg
Empty baskets
Breaking open their boiled eggs
Shops in the vicinity
I bought 3 designs of these wooden puzzles at 100 baht each. 
After that, we journeyed on to Wat Rong Khun (White Temple). 

22.4.11: Chiang Mai Night Safari

We went to Chiang Mai Night Safari just before dusk. It was our first time in a night safari. I was impressed by how clean and well maintained it is. There were many replicas of animals, making it look like an animal theme park.
Top left: Large animals made from paper. Top right & bottom: Majestic white lion 
Our first encounter with elephants in Chiang Mai. The boys fed them bananas.
Lovely and well maintained animal figurines

We had our dinner and watched the sunset
Getting ready to see the nightlife. There were two tram rides, to see various animals in different zones. Travelling in the tram in the dark, with wild animals around us gave me the feeling as though I was in Jurassic Park (the movie)
Someone managed to stroke this curious giraffe which came right up to our tram
Can you see the giraffe at the front? The visitors fed it bananas.

Hmmm, I wonder why there are more orbs around the elephants than the other other animals.
The giraffe and zebras came right up to our tram
S fell asleep during the second tram ride. We skipped the musical fountain as S was asleep and we had to wait another 20 minutes. We left the place at 9 pm. 
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