Friday, October 28, 2016

Chiang Mai Vacation

Fall break - it's such a relief. It's not so much the 'fall' part here, but the 'break' part is just as satisfying as any teacher in any country understands it to be. Often for this break at the end of October we choose to stay home and just relax, but this time around we decided to go away for several days and explore a piece of the country that we haven't seen before: Chiang Mai.

 As we waited for our flight in the airport, we spent a lot of time running up and down ramps and going back and forth on the moving walkways. So much fun for G!

On the airplane and in the air - G did really well!

Chiang Mai is a city in northern Thailand (also a province, actually), and is a popular tourist destination in the north. We, being the oddballs we are, have lived in Thailand for over 6 years and never once went to the northern part of the country. Until now, that is. 

We stuck to the city for the trip since the place we stayed at night was in the city. I think if I were to go back again sometime I'd prefer to stay further away from the city and see more of the jungles and hills in the area, though. With a little one, though, we thought it best to stick to what we knew we'd want to go: see the zoo and hang out at our retreat center. 

On our first full day in Chiang Mai, we decided to go see some of the old city. We walked through several temples (which are very well known - visiting temples is one of the things 'to do' in Chiang Mai) and ended up at a park on the corner of the old city. We played on the playground for a while, then just wandered around, fed some pigeons and fish, and eventually grabbed a taxi and made our way back to the retreat where we were staying.

 Checking out one of the many temples in the old city. My favorite part about this was watching tourists taking selfies. (We didn't even try to get a picture without others in it - it's way more fun to see the selfie in the background of this picture!) My other favorite part about this was the mango shake that we bought just before going into the temple. Gerrit drank over half of it (as you can see, he wouldn't even relinquish it for the photo) 

 This temple had a lot of signs posted on the trees throughout the grounds - meant for reflection, I think. Some of them made me giggle more than reflect (recollect?) though.

 Gerrit the fearless, putting his hand in a tiger's mouth!

 Feeding pigeons and fish - Michael's idea, not mine. The fish are great...the pigeons put me on edge (hence I stayed back with the camera and let the boys deal with the animals!)

The following day was the one we were most excited for: the zoo! We'd heard so many good things about the zoo in Chiang Mai, and I in particular was super excited to check it out. I told Gerrit the day before that we'd get to see pandas, and he looked at me and said, "Pandas? Pandas!" and got all excited. So we watched some panda videos on Youtube that night to prepare ourselves for this excitement.

The zoo is located on the side of a mountain (those of you who live in Washington would probably consider it more like the foothills, though). To get from one place to another it takes a bit of hiking, or a tram ride, if you prefer that route. Since we had Gerrit's stroller, we chose to walk it. We didn't end up getting to see everything, but we hit the highlights and the animals we were most interested in watching.

 Stop #1: PANDAS! G and I were excited about this one. The male panda (above) was sleeping the whole time, but the female (below) was moving around a lot, and even sat down to eat a bit while we were watching! (I told G the panda was eating a snack, and he said, "Snack. Sticks!" Haha)

 We met a jaguar named Joy. Michael even got to feed her a chunk of meat (from the end of a rather large stick, of course)

 Then there were the "hips" - Gerrit loved them from afar (when he thought they were pigs), still liked them a little closer up (when he realized they were hippos), and were utterly terrified of them when we got too close. That's kind of the story of how he responded to all the animals, actually. Some of the people feeding the hippos in this picture gave us the last few pieces of food in the basket so we could feed the hippos, too - that's when Gerrit got really nervous.

 Selfie with the giraffe! We didn't feed it, although we could have. It was crazy to be so close to a giraffe like this!

 Some friends of the giraffe - zebras and some antelope (or something)

 Not a real panda ride...but it was fun anyway!

Someone was a bit sleepy on the ride home!

The thing that got me the most from this zoo trip was how crazy-close we could get to the animals. I could have reached out and touched a whole bunch of them - like the elephants, hippos, and giraffe. Totally worth the trip, and it also resulted in excellent exercise for all of us! Haha!

The final outing that we did while in Chiang Mai was to go to an art museum. When I put it that way, it sounds like something that wouldn't normally be at the top of my to-do list. Actually, when I first saw it advertised, it definitely wasn't on the top of my to-do list! But after seeing a few more ads that had pictures, I became interested, and I'm really glad we went. Let me show you:

We're in a snow globe! Ha! 

It wasn't just any art museum - it was a 3D art museum! We got to go around and look at paintings and become part of them! It was a ton of fun. Gerrit was really excited to be there for about the first hour, then got bored. I would totally go back and go through it again, though, because it was a blast to check it all out and get creative with what we were seeing. Some of the paintings I didn't have completely figured out until we got in them, took a picture, and looked at the picture. All of the paintings are completely flat - there were only a few that had props or something to climb on or step into in order to be a part of it. (The sign in the snow globe is one example of a prop that wasn't painted on the wall)

Here's some more of the awesomeness for you to look at:

 Outside the museum

 We thought feeding hippos the day before was cool - touching the flipper of a walrus is also cool!

 Living on the edge (don't worry, no Gerrits were harmed in the making of this photo)

 Gerrit the deep-sea diver (You can't really tell very well, but he is grinning up a storm in this picture!)

 This is Michael in front of the Jaws picture. It turned out terrible, but made me laugh, so I thought I'd share it with the rest of you.

 Message in a bottle? (P.S. this is one of my favorites)

 Michael and the little mermaid...

The poor kid has no sense of danger. He's about to be completely destroyed and just doesn't care. 

 Bathroom, anyone?

 More dangerous living

 Gerrit walks on water

 ...and then, of course, he goes climbing bamboo stalks with the pandas he loves so dearly. (P.S. This is one of my other favorites)

 Down, kitty!

 Stuck to the wall

 Little genie in a bottle! (P.S. another favorite of mine)

 Airplane ride, anyone?

Where will we find the next adventure?

All in all - it was a good trip. The flight back home went well, and we have a couple more relaxing days to enjoy this weekend before going back to our regular schedule on Monday. 

That's about all in our department for this post, so I guess this is it until next time! Be well, friends!

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