I wish I could get the pictures off my camera to show ... this last week has been unreal. You would be seeing pictures of incredible ruined Wats and Chedis (temples) from the Ayuthaya period, a wild bull elephant, Aviva feeding long-tailed macaques, me feeding semi-domesticated catfish, sampan deer, gibbons and pig-tail macaques, our completely tatooed tour guide in wildman pose, an amazing 25 meter plunge fall in the middle of the rainforest, the fascinating back-canals of bangkok, fried shrimp head cakes, elaborate, gorgeous vegetable stands, the insanity of Bangkok traffic, the incredible, rainforest-like spa in Bangkok where we got two hour massages, and of course, lots and lots of Buddhas, black and white and emerald and gold, sitting and standing, old and young.
The people here are incredibly friendly and happy, and almost everyone goes far out of their way to help and to try to make you happy or comfortable whether you are eating at a street stall or a restuarant, looking for directions or buying fish food. Except for the tourist traps around major sites and the agressive tuk-tuk and taxi drivers, everyone here has been amazing.
We just arrived in Chiang Mai last night, and are staying with Daniel and Amanda, one of my best friends brother and his wife, who are basically amazing. They are doing research on the Thai highland tribes and are basically working to improve the lives of hundred of thousands of natives who are being pushed out of their heritage by modernity (and the aggressively racistish laws of the Thai government). Even though we were all exhausted we spent the first night here just talking for about 3 hours about their and our research. It was great.
So today we wandered Chiang Mai, which is a delightful city, and tomorrow we will be taking an all day cooking class before we head up into the mountains near Chiang Dao to relax, hike and enjoy nature a bit more before flying down to spend a week in on Koh Samui and Koh Tao. I cannot believe we still have two weeks to go, and that I am as excited about each of them as I was about the last week.