Chiang Mai - Orchid, Bamboo Rafting and Long Neck Tribe Visit

Jan 2013

It's third day of our trip in Chiang Mai.  It's a bit more than half-day tour: Orchid appreciation, bamboo rafting, elephant riding, long neck tribe visit and a glimpse of a tiny waterfall.

It's about half hour to drive to see the different kinds of orchid and butterfly.  Species of orchid is kind of abundant and colourful.  Butterflies, random......

We had tranquil bamboo rafting under strong sun, very enjoyable. Our guide was a young boy with very good steering technique.  We were divided into several bamboos, though a big group, one could still feel and the quiet ambience.  Gentle breeze, cool air, lush green, random huts..... what a beautiful scene!

Lunch buffet was provided.  Nothing special and nothing you would crave to have more.  Just fill up the stomach and go on the next activity -- elephant ride.

It's a mixed feeling: cruel on riding the elephant vs. adventure and fresh trial.  We picked the latter rather than going to a camp to bath and stroll with the elephants.  I did not regret but will not take a second ride anywhere again.  We treated the elephant well, with bamboo and handsome tips to its master. 

The back of the elephant is not high but it's still a bit scary when it walked on the hilly edge.  It walked slowly, step by step with big caution.  Still it was bumpy. 

The trainer of the elephant instructed it to step carefully into the river.  It is not shallow, half of the elephant legs.  It went well.  We were not wet at all, a team of elephant and random bamboo rafting.  Soothing and harmony!
Along our ride was a baby elephant following its mom all the way.  So cute in one way but miserable in another way. 

Last came the visit to the long neck tribe (Kayan) and their habitat. 
It's simple hut built with wood and straw.  Once in, there was booths sat with girls, women with their child.  Next to them are all sorts of souvenir that waiting to be sold to tourists.

The tribe originated in Myanmar. In the late 1980s and 1990s many Kayan tribes fled to the border of Thailand due to military conflicts.  Refugee camps were set up.  The long neck was singled out for tourism and earned their living on its own.
Girls start to wear the brass coils at age of five. More rings added over the years.  Some say it enhances the sexual appeal, prevent from tiger's attack.  The women regard it as a symbol of the tribe.  It is seldom taken off but remain even after they have been buried in earth. The heavy weight compresses the collar bone, lower it but the neck does not grow longer. 

The last program of the tour was half hour swim at a waterfall. You can forget it.  The waterfall is so tiny and it's nowhere to swim.  Our tour mate, a guy from France, was chilled to swim.  But he was among the first to return to the van to head back to the town.  Yup, the photo of the waterfall looks nice.  But it's a matter of technique.




Chiang Mai - Mandarin Oriental

It's our last day in Chiang Mai and we made it very relaxed.  Massage in the morning, high tea in the afternoon at Mandarin Oriental, still a bit strolling at the China Town and then slowly to the airport.  It is far from the old city.  A red car going there charged 150B.  It is a remote place, no tourist spot around but crafted to be a isolated resort.  Once you step out of the hotel venue, it's another world.  Once you entered into the venue, a long avenue, dotted with individual houses, takes you to the hotel lobby entrance.  The nature was nice but the high end atmosphere posed an unnatural feeling.

The hotel is built as a haven, characterized with Thai elements. Elephant, dragon, coned roof with woody raw feeling, colourful paintings, sculpture and a massive green environment.  There is a tiny shopping arcade for the guests.  Intricately decorated with an elevated atmosphere.  I like the little sculptures.

The high tea of the coffee shop is much talked about, almost as a 'must' if you are fond of the traditional British enjoyment.  Nice petite pastries, sandwiches and sweets appeals the eyes.  But lack of sincerity.  Scones were not warm, not as good as my homemade ones.