Sunday, 30 December 2012

Dances with Tigers

We decided to retrace our steps from our first day and go "Around The Mountain" again, but this time with a couple more stops!

Our first stop in the truck today was at the Tiger Kingdom. The tigers appeared to be kept well and seemed happy and moderately tame (although there is a suspicion that they may be drugged for close contact...)






Our second stop was at the Orchid farm which has a beautiful collection of blooms and a somewhat retro style of decoration.









Our next trip was to the Crocodile Show and sadly it was appalling. The "show" was a classic display of animal cruelty. We watched for a full three minutes in horror as the host poked and prodded a crocodile and stuck his hand in its mouth. Never have I wanted a jaw to clench as much! Needless to say, we left after three minutes. The same company appears to own the Monkey Centre so we gave that a wide berth too!

Just so this blog doesn't end on a sad note, here is a picture of a happy baby tiger! It was great to see them scampering about being fed and petted by families!


Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Black House

For our last day in Chiang Rai we decided to visit The Black House. This is a collection of houses that are home and workplace to an artists' colony. The Black House is not easy to find! You need a keen eye and a quick hand on the steering wheel, but it is definitely worth a visit if you can fathom its location.

There is very little I can tell you about art. I guess you just have to make up your own mind!

















After the Black House we drove all the way back to Chiangmai in our trusty truck! We are having a quiet evening in to relax after all the effort of having fun for the last three days in Chiangmai.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Chiang Rai

Today we have spent the day travelling North of Chiang Rai to Doi Tung to visit the Princes Mother's Gardens (you can read more about the Princess Mother here), Villa and Arboretum. We had breakfast here at Phowadol, however, the food here is pretty awful. Dinner last night was not much good. It is also very noisy and hard to sleep at night!

Despite being a little weary, we enjoyed our drive into the mountains. The road was almost vertical at several points, but our trusty nissan Navara coped admirably.

First we visited the Gardens which are very beautiful. The pictures do not really do it justice!




After the garden we took the audio tour of the villa in which the royl family of Thailand stay from time to time. Sadly, photos are not permitted in the interior of the villa. It is a lovely Swiss-style chalet which is a taste that the Princess Mother developed whilst living for several years in Switzerland.



After the Villa we visited the Hall Of Inspiration which is a museum which explains the history of the Thai royal family and particulary on their relationship with Doi Tung.

The final part of the Doi Tung experience is the Arboretum which is about 10km from the other sites we visited. This is an Arboretum built into the side of the mountain which is even more beautiful than the garden! Sadly, most people don't seem to make the journey to see this final site. Happily this meant that it was very quiet (the other sites were busy as we are in Thai holiday season). We only saw two other visitors in all of our time there!



Tomorrow we return to Chiangmai. Hopefully we will find the Black house on our way, but it is notoriously difficult to find, so fngers crossed!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The White Temple

There may be no pictures with today's blog as we are experiencing Thai-Fi. This is a Siamese version of the Internet which is as reliable as a tuk-tuk...

Today we have driven North for about three and a half hours to the town of Chiang Rai. This is just south of the border with Myanmar. We are staying in the pleasant little resort of Phowadol (www.phowadol.com) for a couple of days.

Today we visited the spectacular white temple in Chiang Rai. It is a modern temple created by a modern artist (whose name escapes me) and is a sight to behold. Photography is restricted to the exterior of the temple only, so you must believe me when I tell you that the interior contains drawings of the Terminator, Superman, Harry Potter and many others!

Tomorrow we will be touring Chiang Rai and doing battle with the Thai-Fi to try and bring you more news...







Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Lost My Man Card

Wednesday 26th December (happy birthday, Lisa) was spent at the Cheeva Spa in Chiang Mai. Tracy described the day there as heavenly!

We treated ourselves to the honeymoon packed which costed 8,500 baht for the two of us (about £80 each). The whole experience was four and a half hours long and consisted of:

Foot and leg massage
Whole body scrub
Milk bath (!)
Full body massage
Facial
Fruit and champagne

Nick had his man card taken off him at the door, but he does have lovely soft skin...




Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Spider Filled Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

We started Christmas Day today at the Siam Rice Cookery school. Our full day of Thai cookery started with a trip to the local market to view the vegetables, herbs and spices we would use during the day.


When we arrived at the cookery school we were greeted by our first spider of the day. This one was about the size of a dinner plate and could have fed a family of four (click on the picture below and zoom to see him)!


I had a word with the spider and we agreed that he would stay out of the kitchen if I would stay out of his web.


We spent the day cooking and eating a massive six courses. Tracy made:

  • Coconut milk soup (tom gar kai)
  • Fried big noodles with sweet soy sauce
  • Pumpkin curry Northern style (Geng fuk tong)
  • Papaya salad
  • Sweet and sour stir fry chicken
  • Sticky rice with mango (Kae neol gap manaung)

Nick made:

  • Spicy soup with sweet basil
  • Drunken noodles (!)
  • Panang curry (Malaysian with peanuts) - see the flambe picture below
  • Spring rolls
  • Chicken with cashews
  • Sticky rice with young coconut (Kae neol gap mapraw)





About half way through the day we had a break from the cooking (and eating!) and we learned to carve vegetables.



Tracy gave herself an owie whilst making her vegetable art!




After a hard day's eating we returned back to the Fort for a relaxing evening upon which we discovered our second large spider of the day inhabiting our bathroom! Fortunately, we were bravely rescued by Sam and Josh's spider removal skills. This involved throwing a bath mat over the huge creature and jumping up and down on it!!

Amazingly, large spiders are not really very common here. We were just lucky...

A great Christmas Day was had by all, even if we did have to cook our own Christmas dinner!!!