For our last full day in Chiang Mai, we hired a tour guide to drive us to see some of the main attractions in the city. It seems like this would be an expensive thing to do, but the whole day with the tour guide only cost 50$. This is almost what we paid the taxi drivers in Japan to take us to dinner!!
The temples in Chiang Mai were pretty different from the temples in Japan. They were much more crowded and louder than Japan (although, I think anything would be louder than Japan!)
The first temple we saw was Wat Chedi Luang. It was a local Buddha temple that had many people praying. The tour guide explained to us that their religious days were based on the moon. There was an area where locals brought food offerings to the temple.
The tour guide (Sunny) also explained to us that most of the men in Chiang Mai become monks for a period of time in their lives. Some may do it for a year, others for longer. He said that it used to be something that the fathers of the brides looked for to make sure the man was suitable to marry his daughter. I don’t think that would go over too well in the United Sates!
Then, Sunny drove us up into the mountain to see the Doi Suthep temple. This temple had people everywhere! It was beautiful, but crowded.
After looking at the temple, we went to Tiger Kingdom!
Here, you are able to go in the cages with the tigers and pet them/take pictures. Going into this trip, I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted to do this. Elephants are one thing, but tigers are a whole other story. I don’t trust cats in general….especially not cats that could kill me!
Justin isn’t a huge risk taker, so I figured, if he could do it, so could I. We decided to go into the cages of all four of the different sized tigers: smallest, small, medium, and big.
We started with the smallest tigers. They we so cute, but very playful! I think that they were about 2 1/2 months old. You had to keep your eye on them or they would sneak up behind you. One of the ladies in our cooking class said that one of the tiger cubs bit her on the back. She showed me the mark (ouch!). That didn’t make me feel to comfortable, but we came out of it unscathed!
The small tigers were about 5 months. I felt OK being with them. They weren’t quite as wild as the little ones. The medium sized tigers were the ones that really made me nervous. They were still young enough to be very playful, but big enough to, well, kill you. There were 4 tigers in that cage, and they were very active. Justin and I were both ready to get out of that one!
The biggest tigers were very calm and pretty much slept the whole time. I think I liked them the best!
Overall, I’m glad we went to Tiger Kingdom, but it was a much different experience than the elephants. It was much more geared towards tourists. It seemed like the tigers were treated well. We read a lot about the place before we went, and it said that none of the tigers are sedated, but they are bred in captivity and around humans constantly. After about 2, they move them to the Chiang Mai zoo.
After the tigers, Sunny drove us to the Craft Village. Here, they make beautiful hand made crafts. There are different areas that you can visit, such as the umbrellas, silk, silver, gems, leather etc. First, we went to the umbrella area and saw the process of how they make the paper umbrellas out of the Sa tree. This was really interesting. It is such a long process, and the results are beautiful.
Next, we went to the silk village. Here, they showed us the process of how silk is made from the cocoon of the silk worm. They also had a large shopping area with lots of silk products. Everything was beautiful, and the prices were so affordable. There were scarves, clothes. table runners, pillow covers, ties, etc. I wish we had room in our backpacks for alot of souvenirs! I got a scarf, and Justin got a tie.
Last, we went to the silver village. There was a huge selection of silver jewelry!
I have a feeling that Mrs. Leigh and Mr. Tommy could have done some damage in the arts and crafts village! We barely scratched the surface.
After that, we were ready to go back to the hotel.
We took a tuk tuk to our last dinner in Chiang Mai. Tuk tuks are sort of like a combination between a rickshaw and a taxi. They are motorized, but the area that you sit in is open. The driving in Thailand is crazy! It’s probably the most dangerous thing we have done so far (and that includes getting in the cage with tigers!).
I forgot to mention that we finally got some laundry done!! There was a place right across from our hotel that did it for 40 baht/kg. It ened up being about 8 US dollars for 10 lbs of clothes. It was so nice to have fresh laundry!
Chiang Mai was wonderful, but we were busy!! I’m looking forward to lounging on the beaches of Koh Lanta for a few days!