Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I heart Nan
That night Chrys and I headed to the Night Market. There wasn’t very much for a vegetarian to eat, but I found fried rice, corn and coconut balls for dessert. The corn was incredible! It looked like he put two spoons of salt in, but when I tasted it I realized he’d put sugar and salt. Most of you know how much I like salty-sweet. It melted in my mouth and I can’t wait to get more. The coconut balls weren’t what I expected, but yummy. Toasted, crunchy sweet coconut was wrapped in dough and dipped in shredded coconut. I tried Chrys’ jelly in coconut milk, which was disgusting.
Yesterday we visited the Nan National Museum and learned about the history of Nan Province. The mountains hold many villages of Hmong, Tsin, Lu and Mlabri tribes. It was a good museum and I learned a lot. There were also many different Buddhas from different periods and areas. We could have taken a guided trek through the jungle to a village and stayed the night, but I decided to wait and possibly do it further north. I still haven’t decided whether I want to contribute to possible negative impacts on the tribes either. So we went for an elephant ride! The travel agency drove us 20 km East into the forest. We drove into the mountains through teak planted forest, which they harvest every 30-40 years. At the side of the road were two elephants waiting for us. We were told that these elephants are work elephants- they haul timber down steep hills where trucks can’t get to. There aren’t enough tourists in this area to have purely tour elephants so they call the timber workers to see if the elephants are available. I mounted the elephant from a platform onto a cushioned seat. The guide sat on the elephant’s neck and lightly kicked his ears and yelled commands. We went for a 1.5 hour walk through the jungle. It was amazing! The forest was beautiful and we climbed up to a ridge line with a great view. When we went down a hill the seatbelt kept me from falling off. The guide cut branches out of the way and the elephants ate the whole time. It was magical. I had pangs of guilt when I focused on the chains, but hoped that it was better for them than hauling timber.
I was sad to leave Nan, but am excited to explore Chiang Mai.