5/4 – Our do-nothing vacation in Pai comes to an end tomorrow. As we enjoy one more swim in the pool and one more climb to see the sunset, here are a few things we opted not to do in Pai:
Seeing the Long Neck Karen tribe: as tempting as this was for a short-necked Karen like me, we read too much about the exploitation of these Burmese refugees, who are paid to disfigure their women with neck rings to be ogled by tourists. I remember reading about them in Ripley’s Believe It or Not as a child (a long, LONG time ago!). Really didn’t want to view humans the way we view zoo animals, and the tribe does not benefit from the admission prices charged by the tour promoters. Here are pix off the advertising poster in town:
Riding an Elephant: there are lots of places in Thailand offering to let you ride/bathe/train elephants. Most of these places use bull hooks to jab the elephants, torturing them repeatedly to make them docile enough for tourists. We decided not to be part of that exploitation. The exception is the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, where abused elephants are rehabilitated and never ridden. We tried to book a trip there when we were in Chiang Mai, but the waiting list was several weeks long, and we were not able to go. If you really want to see elephants, book early and support ElephantNaturePark.org.
I’ve been keeping my sister AJ in mind as we tour Thailand, as she and her husband would like to travel here some day. They are vegetarians. Don’t know how they would feel about the vegetarian restaurants here, which all seem to serve meat, like the House of Pork Vegetarian Cafe:
Don’t worry AJ and Bob – you can always eat rice!
5/5 – Back to the bus station this morning for our 3 hour mini- bus ride back to Chiang Mai. Met John while we waited, a Vietnam vet. He and Jim traded old war stories – Bangkok was the place Vietnam vets went for R&R, and its proximity brought back lots of memories for them both. Arrived at Chiang Mai with three hours before our train to Bangkok, so we has a leisurely lunch and chatted with two young Aussies from Melbourne. Turns out they were taking the same train.
This is the first long distance train we’ve been on that does not have compartments. The seats convert to upper and lower berths on both sides of the car, with curtains in front, like in old movies (Some Like It Hot comes to mind!) Here’s the sunset out the open train window.
Pai, we miss you!