A little sightseeing, a little shopping, a lot of sweating! 45 degrees means something different to me being from Boston. That translates to about 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Brutal. The Grand Palace was a beautiful, golden, shimmering, dizzying, heat stroking wonder.
I wandered about an hour and a half before I bailed. Not bad tolerance, really.
I have wanted to do some shopping for fabric and this seemed like my best opportunity. The Tuk-Tuk driver brought me to a fabric store/tailor that was open. Apparently, many places are closed the day after the Songkran holiday. I ended up with 3 meters (for the price of 2) of gorgeous pale pink silk. The driver waited for me outside the store while I shopped and then drove me around the city. I don’t have much of a schedule, so we kept chatting and he kept driving.
I did wonder if he was going to try to alter the agreed upon price after the unexpected tour, but he didn’t. We agreed on 50 Baht for the fabric ride and he stuck to it despite the fact that I was with him for 45 minutes of a heart pounding, white knuckle tour. Mind you, 50 Baht is about 1.60 US dollars. A Boston cab won’t even take you next door for that!
I continued my shopping at a few little shops across from the hotel. Here’s what I bought today.
I think I’ll wear one of the dresses tonight 🙂
We transferred to the project sight today – a five hour bus ride, followed by a two hour ride in a smaller van. During the second leg of the trip we made a stop at Big C, a Walmart-like plaza, to pick up anything we may have felt we were missing. The common purchase for the group was water guns. I’ll get more into this later, but we will be celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year at the end of the week. The water gun will prove to be extremely essential.
This program is much different than the reserve in Chiang Mai. We are in a village, staying with a mahout family in their ‘guest houses’. All the elephants here (and there are over 200) are privately owned. The main objective of the Surin Project is to end the domestication of Asian elephants. To do that one must understand why these people have them in the first place. It’s centuries old traditions and a very delicate situation for Alex, the project founder and coordinator. These animals are kept mainly on chains on the property of the mahout. My mahout family has two, a male and a female. They’re out back.
It bothered me to see these animals chained to a cement post. But, I understand they HAVE to be on chains. If you were to let 200 elephants free to roam in such a small area there would be twenty dead elephants the first day (not to mention the damage or destruction that could be caused to the village). I think it’s safe to say nobody wants that.
We were given our housing assignments and attended a welcoming ceremony headed by one of the mahout elders. In essence we were being prayed for and wished good luck. It was a wonderfully moving ceremony with ritual I can’t even begin to explain.
Tomorrow is a mystery so far. All I know at this point is breakfast is at 7.