Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Elephants Stink and Other Stories.

On Sunday, my family went on an exciting road-trip to Lampang. One sign along the road said “Lampoon Thai Silk”, but I’m pretty sure they meant Lampun (a neighbouring city).

Also, Neil, if you are reading this, I thought of you when I saw the adverts for Lactasoy! (See, your lactase deficiencies got you a shout-out on my blog… Kinda makes it worth it, eh?)

Anyways, back to Sunday.

After spending some requisite time at the airport, seeing off yet another YE from our district, we all piled into the car and took off.

First, we went to the Elephant Hospital. It was a pretty darn cool place.

It’s run by FAE (Friends of the Asian Elephant). They take care of many elephants with a multitude of ailments. A few have stepped on landmines and lost or gravely damaged their feet. There have also been some that are addicted to Amphetamines and the like, the hospital works hard to make these guys better.

It’s actually decently sad, this hospital’s efforts have been thwarted at every turn by the government and other meanies D=

But I like this place, it’s a pretty awesome endeavour and I got to see non-zoo elephants (squee!).

They didn't stink that much, really. It just smelled like any barn.


Driving in Thailand is Confusing, Exhilarating, and just a little bit scary.

So far I have seen 2 speed-denoting signs in this country. One was for an extremely iffy mountain road and was 20 km/h. The other was upon entering the area of a school. The second one of these, however, said only “School. Slow Speed.” Which is ambiguous at best.

From what I’ve observed, there is one actual traffic law in this country it is:

Hey, if you don’t mind, could you try to kind of stay towards the left-ish side of the road if it doesn’t immediately inconvenience you to do so?

Other than that, well, let’s just call the lines on the road pitiful attempts at order that should be ignored at all costs.

No one wears seat-belts here, though sometimes the driver will just suddenly buckle up. I don’t mean they get in and think “you know, this is dangerous stuff, I should try to safe-guard myself”. No, I mean half-way through a drive, or just before the entrance to a parking lot, or something like that they just throw that seat-belt on with more nonchalance than James Bond at his most suave.

I’m also beginning to wonder why they have traffic lights over here. I can’t count the number of times we’ve just driven through intersections when the light’s red.

Thank goodness we drive an SUV and no one over here has an F-350. I feel fairly confident that if we get in a crash, it will be the poor sucker in the Nissan getting creamed.


Speaking of cars (which for anyone who wasn’t reading, I was) I saw a Datsun the other day. It was a sweet bright green colour.

But anyways, after the Elephants, we went to lunch. We stopped at a roadside noodle place. I had some absolutely delicious yellow noodles, and we had some awesome drinks. One that made me really think of my Mommy Dearest was chrysanthemum tea. I would for sure recommend it to any of you.

After that, we went on to a temple. It’s a big Temple, a landmark of Lampang. It is also the temple of the cow. Khun Por was born in the year of the cow, and it was his birthday this week, so he went to pray at this specific temple.

It was very nice. According to Wikipedia its name is Wat Pra That Lampang Luang. It was pretty awesome. Check out pics of me on Facebook if you’d like to see it. In the photos of me in front of the dragons, I am doing my best dragon impression. If you don’t have FB, send me an e-mail, or comment and leave your e-mail and I can show you some awesomeness.

Apparently, the Burmese attacked this temple at one point. In the gate around the pagoda, there are still visible bullet holes.

Then we went to the chicken temple. Apparently, I was born in the year of the chicken so this is my birth-year temple.

I think my Na Ood has it the worse off, though. Her birth-year temple is in Burma. Needless to say, she doesn’t go there every year.

The temples are beautiful. They are decorated with gold paint and shards of coloured glass, which is apparently a cost-effective way to make pretty shimmery walls.

I thought the most interesting temple was the one we went to after this, though. It was dedicated not to Buddha, but to a hermit who had closely followed his teachings. It was an out of the way, run down little shrine but I appreciated it way more than the tourist-filled, big, gold temples we went to earlier.

This small shrine, surrounded on all sides by forest, was a deeply spiritual place; even though for me the shrine itself held no intrinsic value as a part of my religion.

Having been to temples with my family in Japan, I was surprised at how this was not at all the same. I found going to the temples to be an incredibly different experience when I went with actual Buddhists. Instead of looking in as an outsider at albeit beautiful buildings, I got to see the actual emotional and spiritual impact such places held for my family, especially Khun Por and Ann.

After the temples we went to the market.


I saw: dried frogs in a bag, live crabs in a bag, a bowl of live crickets and other assorted insects (that one was kind of gross) and much, much more. Mom would have appreciated the extensive vegetable and herb choices available – for not very much money at all. I didn’t see one thing there that cost more than 10 $CAD; and most things were under 1$!

I tried a deep-fried silk worm. It was crunchy on the outside and squishy on the inside and kinda salty.

Not impressed, maybe grasshoppers will be better?

In total that day I saw: 15 emaciated cows, a number of skinny ponies, innumerable chickens, 3 roosters, 2 peacocks, 1 cat, multiple stray dogs (mainly in the temples), 1 busker (pic on FB), 5 kids under 10 trying to sell us lottery tickets, and 1 water buffalo.

On the whole, it was a great day.



Next Time: Monks, Schools, Rotarians, and Japanese Businessman. Coming your way soon (hopefully).


  1. Born in the year of the chicken? Is that significant, somehow ? :)

    Elephant addicts? Now that sounds interesting.

    It's awesome you're having such a great time! And you saw a water buffalo???? Everybody has one, you know.

  2. Jocelyn, it is a delight to read of your travels. The Rotarians of Lethbridge Sunrise are enjoying following along. I take regular reports to the Club for those that might have missed checking on you. Hope you continue to have a fabulous time

    Berga Moen, President Rotary Club of Lethbridge Sunrise