>Travel Pictures


Chiang Mai

Around town

Chiang Mai was the perfect "middle stop" for our Thailand trip. It gave us plenty of options - from being quietly meditative in the tons of temples and shrines that dot the city to enjoying a day in the great outdoors. We were a little surprised at the size of the city, having heard so much about the hiking and mountain excursions, but jumped right in to taking the city by storm.

The temples are among the most famous attractions of the city, and with good reason. Nearly every block has its own shrine or complex set up, in many cases reflecting the wealth of traders during different periods of the city's history. 

We also made sure to take care of the soul, spending some time with a monk and taking his blessings (in return for a small donation, of course). We all got wristbands tied on by him, although with some of the events that took place later in our trip I tend to question their utility

Our hotel itself was not right in the center of the action by any means, but a nice large covered porch afforded us all the shelter we could need while riding out the rains that sprinkled us the first few days. Breck and Alea made the absolute best of the 'down-time' by chilling with Legos right outside our room.

The kids also took advantage of the abundance of Thai massage emporiums around town. They both opted to get a foot massage, after which we marveled at their increased memories and decided that foot massages were definitely good for the old brain function!

Although, really - where else would you find a dragon with a neon glowing mustache or a Donald Duck next to a Buddha?!

And the markets! From fresh flowers to fresh fish, everything was there. For a family of carnivores (not counting Breck, who insists he is a vegetarian, 'except for bacon'), the meat section was a sight for sore eyes.

Except for maybe the pig's head on the table.

Or the roasted bugs of all shapes and sizes.

Or the fried frogs.

Come to think of it, maybe we're not that hungry...

And, oh yes, you may be wondering about our inspired wardrobe? Well, it was raining, we didn't have any umbrellas, and Susan didn't want to get wet. Luckily, 7-11 (there are stores on every corner) sold plastic el-cheapo rain ponchos, so we were off to the races!

The kids took the opportunity to release some birds 'for good luck' at one of the temples as well. Kind of fun to watch one of the little guys take off while his sibling is still getting out of the woven basket...
In the midst of all this excitement, however, camera disaster struck. I had noticed the camera taking funny pictures one night, but didn't think much of it until I asked someone to take a family picture of us in a tuk-tuk. When I looked at the image, this is what I saw.

 Through extensive trial and error, and extreme use of foul language, I finally figured out that the shutter was unable to open and close very fast (less than 1/100 of a second) and even then with some darkness left at the top and bottom. This meant that, for all intents and purposes, it was impossible to take daylight pictures with the camera for the rest of the trip. Ugh.

But we were still able to enjoy perhaps the loudest New Year's we've ever experienced! Sitting right under the explosions that were sent up over the river, we welcomed in 2009 with a bang! One of the coolest things (that we were unable to capture with the camera) were all the 'lantern kites' that are released. Called "Khoom Loy," they are basically flying cylinders with a hunk of burning wax set on a crossbar. The combustion gases make the lantern lighter than air, and the sight of thousands of them ascending takes your breath away.
Bangkok: Welcome to the big city - Up and down the river - Amulet market - Wat Pho temple - Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew - Wat Arun - Interesting shopping opportunities
Chiang Mai: Around town - Night Market - Traditional crafts - Doi Suthep - Hiking, rafting, and riding an elephant - Villagers - A day at the zoo
Krabi: beach and surroundings

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