Elephant encounter

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Who knew a creature as large as an elephant could be cute? The elephant I’m walking with in this photo is five-year-old Namthip and she was cute! While we were in Chiang Mai, we spent a wonderful day with rescued domesticated elephants and their keepers. There was no riding and they didn’t perform any tricks. We walked through the jungle with them, watched them eat and take a mud bath (see photo below). We filled the bags we were given with chopped up sugar cane, which all the elephants loved. They would take it from your hand with their trunks and then crunch it loudly while reaching out for more. Not surprisingly given their size, elephants have voracious appetites and eat all day long. They very eagerly hoovered up all the left-over fruit from our picnic lunch, including the banana leaves it had been served on.

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Siam Celadon

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At our favourite Thai restaurant in New Zealand our delicious food was always served on beautiful light green dishes. When I asked the staff where I could buy similar china they just smiled. I guessed they had brought it with them from Thailand. So you can imagine my delight when we found the Siam Celadon shop in Chiang Mai. It is in a beautiful 19th century house, which is built around this attractive courtyard. The shop at the front is filled with green and blue pottery made using ancient Chinese techniques, which involve a transparent glaze that sometimes leaves the pieces covered in tiny cracks. At the back is the Raming teahouse, where we had lunch served on Siam Celadon china, and a lovely walled garden decorated with seconds (see pics below). For a china collector like me it was the perfect way to spend the day.

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Chiang Mai

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I’m not sure how many temples there are in Chiang Mai but it seems like there’s one on every street corner! And each one seems more splendid than the last. The temple in this photo is Wat Phra Singh, which we visited first because it was closest to our hotel. Our guidebook says it houses the most revered Buddha image in Chiang Mai and that it is an excellent example of Lanna architecture. It is certainly very impressive with its bright gold stupa and immaculate, peaceful gardens. We visited many temples on our walk around the old city and it was awe inspiring. The displays in the Lanna Folklife Museum expertly explain the religious beliefs and customs of the northern Thai people. After our visit there, we were better informed about what we were looking at in the temples. The people watching was good too: robed monks mingled with locals bringing their offerings and saying their prayers as well as tourists from all over the world. It is all very relaxed and inclusive.