Bangkok + Chiang Mai (pic heavy!)

molested_cow

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I haven't been posting for some time because I haven't really taken any photos, and like a drought this trip to Thailand came just in time after being super busy for some time. First time to Thailand although it's only 3.5 hours flight away, and definitely going back for more!

Lot's of pics I want to share, but I will try to post highlights only.

Let's start with Bangkok

At one of the most popular shrines in the city, people come to ask for blessings, and those who indeed receive the blessings come back to offer their thanks. You can hire this group of dancers to perform for the Buddha as a form gratitude.

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I can never get enough of these... so awesome! It's like amusement rides through the city!
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A lot of tourists, especially westerners, like to dress sparingly because of the weather, and that's a no no if you want to enter their temples. So they have these robes for you. How thoughtful!

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Before Buddha became enlightened and therefore a Buddha, he spent many years meditating at the same spot. Without much nutrient intake he grew weak and went from sitting to lying on the ground. That's how "sleeping buddha" came about.

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And I think it's a bit of an irony that in a country so religious, theft is a very common problem, especially in temples where the crowds are.

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I think hiphop stars will really feel at home in Thailand. Everything is bling!
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Caught a very random moment in an alley, of passer by glued to the tv as she walked away.

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It's not that high, but it's realllly steep. So for someone who has phobia for height, this is all you are going to see from me.
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Lot's of sleepy cats in Bangkok for some reason.
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The best seafood restaurant in town. Yes you eat on the side walk.
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Having lived in Singapore for a decade, I have to say, Thailand has better Chicken Rice.
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I want to be a tuktuk driver! Seriously, these things are so tricked out, unique from one and other, and sounds like race cars!
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I left out many, you can find them here:
Bangkok Photos by molested cow Photobucket
 
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molested_cow

molested_cow

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Part Two! Photobucket really hurts the image quality. Anyways, then I headed to Chiang Mai.
I really enjoyed Chiang Mai much more. I just think it's a bit more authentic and laid back, even though 80% of the people you see on the streets are tourists.

I really think the appearance and name of this store is misleading.
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Put one of these on if you wanna get your ass kicked.
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This is really common in Taiwan as well ( I mean a whole family on one scooter), but I still think it's amusing.
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Cheapest fun you can get!
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Chiang Mai Grand Prix 24/7 365 days a year, with experienced track marshal to ensure your safety! No it's just a stray pup waiting for the traffic to clear before it makes its way across the road.
Seriously, if I had my car here, I'd be very tempted to hit the curbs!
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Dad making a living to feed his family, and the boys stay close by making the street their living room.
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Always pay attention to the emergency routes just in case you have an emergency.
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I like this sign.
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The world is filled with contrasts. Here's the most busy night market in town where people come with the expectation to be entertained(sights, sounds, smell, taste, experiences), but the entertainers aren't always in the same kind of mood, sometimes probably wish life can be easier.
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I've never had truly authentic Thai food so I was very excited to find that out on this trip. I realizes that the most dominant taste isn't the spice, but sour from lemons. Everything is sour, and most dishes are in the form of salad, with different cold ingredients tossed together. For someone who finds comfort in eating hot food, cold dishes gets old for me quickly.
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molested_cow

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We signed up for a program where you learn how to cook Thai food and get to know the spices. They took us to a local market in the morning for a brief tour, which was really quite pleasant. Usually in traditional markets in Taiwan, it's wet and rather filthy with everything in the mix. This market has separate areas for dry and wet food. The environment is clean and well managed, yet still very approachable. I had a feeling that this market is well run because they are prepared to have tourists like us coming. Even though we don't really spend money here, I think the cleanness definitely attracts more local consumers, which is a win-win situation for all sides.

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Crunchy protein bites!
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Care for a bag of strawberries?
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Thai hot tea and coffee!
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Teenage girl was watching comedy on her laptop and she couldn't contain her laughter, shares it with her dad.
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That's what I call fully-stocked.
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Making fresh coconut milk.
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You can also buy a bungalows, cars and even electric fans at the market! Actually these are for the deceased. In Chinese culture, you burn things like paper money and all these luxury items made out of paper for your passed love ones to enjoy in down under. You can even buy "maids" and "servants".

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The electric fan part is rather interesting. I guess them expect afterlife to be stuffy.
 
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I really really like these giant trees called "Yang Tree". They are so big, but looks so humble.
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HIT THE APEX!!!
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Monk vs The Fancy World
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I told her the photo looks beautiful. I think the key word got her.
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I know I am missing a lot of temple shots which is expected of Thailand, but I think they are just regular shots and you can see them in the following link:

Chiang Mai Photos by molested cow Photobucket
 
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Just outside of Chiang Mai there is an area where many of the attractions are. Elephant sanctuary, tiger farm, BB gun range, elephant poo poo paper(paper made from elephant dungs). Then there's the Karen People village. This is kinda sad. The Karen People are a tribe from Burma where the females will add a metal ring to their neck every year and the longer the neck, the prettier they are. To the mainstream culture they are considered "exotic". Now I REALLY don't want to use terms like this to describe any culture. I don't like the thought of seeing them as a part of consumerism, but the reality is, this is one way to survive for many of them. A group of these Karen folks migrated to Thailand. I'd probably consider them as refugees as opposed to migrants. The Thailand government let them stay and gave them a small plot of land, which has turned into a tourist attraction. Basically, you have to pay 500 baht to enter. Upon entering, you will see nothing but handicraft shacks with these ladies, from young to elderly, knitting fabrics. I think this more of a performance rather than a need. Most of the things they sell are really cheaply and mass produced souvenirs, probably imported from China(not too far from here). Every time I asked for permission to take photos, they asked me to make a purchase, which I did. I think it's rather sad to be consciously turned into a zoo animal in exchange for a meal, as opposed to being proud to share one's unique culture. I guess I am very lucky.

The place is rather run down. It's very bare, hardly any amenities for living and close to being a refugee camp. I doubt there's running water in the village. Anyways, they are very friendly, very humble and very respectable.

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I think a lot of these better looking huts are there for show and for nice tourist pictures. I doubt their own homes are anywhere close to this.
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This girl is quite funny. We asked if we can take a photo of her. She pointed to the handicraft and said "100 baht". Then her mom from the back of the store yelled something at her and she just looked like a really annoyed teenager, probably being nagged at. Anyways, we bought some items from here and took a few shots. Beautiful visual elements. Not so sure about having neck stretched. Actually, learned from documentary that they only remove the rings once a year for cleaning, and it's a very dangerous operation because their necks are so weak that they can't support themselves. It's literally a fatal beauty.

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This grandma proudly said "30", pointing to the stack of rings around her neck.
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I find them generally very short (I'm a short guy myself) and if it wasn't for the extended neck, they've been very small.

Little boy helping to hang the clothes up.
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Here's a "school" which I suspect is another fake establishment for the tourists. Anyways, I really wish them well and a life they desire.
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Last but not the least, which I find rather controversial. Initially I wanted to visit the elephant sanctuary which there are several in the area hoping to see a baby elephant. Upon arriving at the airport looking through the brochures, something caught my attention. TIGER PARK!!! Well seeing tigers isn't something too special, but being able to hug them? I mean, who wouldn't want to play with a tiger cub???

Still a bit skeptical, I did a quick google and found out that the tigers are all raised in captivity. I know in ideal terms it is not right to raise wild animals in a way that robs them of their natural behaviors. These tigers are essentially domesticated. They don't care for humans, let us pet and lie on their bodies while they just nap away. However I was thinking that these tigers probably won't have a better chance of survival being out there, especially being geologically so close to China (tons of Chinese tourists who just drive their car down). Anyways, there are different prices you can pay to play with different size tigers. I don't really want to spend that long in the same cage with an adult tiger, so I opted for the smallest one.

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funwitha7d

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there are some nice stories accompanying great images, thanks - really interesting. I have not been to Thailand but have a friend living there so hope to get there in the next few years.
 

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These were a pleasure to look through. Such sights and such colors!
 

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