Sunday, April 7, 2013

Thailand-Animals and City Tour

 Our third day in Thailand, we decided to do a half day city tour. The tour took us inland to the beautiful jungles on the island.

 Part of our tour was done on elephants. We got to ride lurching seats atop the elephants. It was a surprisingly good ab work out, and a very interesting experience. We also got to feed and pet baby elephants, they were very cute. I was surprised by how dexterous the tips of their trunks are, they were easily able to pick up the sliced banana we fed them without smashing it.
 
 We got to wander around a small orchid farm, the flowers were gorgeous. The roots hung down several feet under the plants, spewing out of their small hanging pots.
 After the elephant park, and orchid garden we went to Big Buddha, atop Nakkerd Hill in the middle of Phuket Island. The buddha is 45 meters tall, and made of white marble. It is visible from far off, and is a stunning and serene call to faith from all directions.
 Big Buddha is still in progress, but is still a pleasant tour despite the construction. Many of the statues we saw had clothes wrapped around their faces, which looked eerie and foreboding. The temple had a very open air feel, allowing you to admire the beautiful scenery from atop the mountain.
 After Big Buddha, we went to Chalong Temple. A lavishly painted, grand temple. The temple was chaoitic, and any peace you might reach was often interupted by series of fireworks, set off by people either trying to get rid of their bad luck or bring on good luck. The place felt like it was part amusement park, part temple, every thing was gaudily painted, vendors pushed their products, but a distinct Buddhist theme prevailed.

 The temple felt very strange to Ben and I after all the Buddhist temples we have visited in Japan. Where Japan has a subtle beauty, the temples of Thailand are cheerful, with a full palate of exotic colors.
We finished our tour at a cashew factory, which was not visually very interesting, but the flavors were amazing. We ate dozens of flavors of cashews, and watched as people turned the brightly colored fruits into the light brown toasty nuts we all enjoy. We drank cashewy juice, which was a new experience for me, I expected a creamy nutty flavor, but it had a nice fresh zing to it.
In the afternoon, Ben and I took an afternoon siesta, and then enjoyed cocktails while swimming in the pools in our hotel that overlooked Patong. We got nothing done that day, and it was everything we wanted to do.

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