"Nature's great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing." John Donne

Well, it is time for my monthly post!
I can NOT believe how the days are racing by.
It is the rainy season here in Bangkok
 so the temps have dropped a bit 
and so far,
 I have managed to be off the roads when this happens.
It is amazing to watch life go on.
The elevated train of course continues to move 
but the streets below are quieter 
and then eventually the water drains...
 and controlled chaos as usual.

Back in April,
we spent a few days in Chiang Mai...
located in the mountains of Northern Thailand,
along the Ping River.
Dating back to the 1200's, it was the former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna 
and the old city is still surrounded by moats...
photo source: wikipedia
and defensive walls built to protect the city from Burmese invasion. 

Consumed with Songkran activities the weekend we were there, 
our experience was slightly skewed.
There was none of the quiet calm I had read and heard about 
which will require another visit to experience the true vibe of Chiang Mai.
Our next visit will definitely involve 
another stay at Rimping Village.
Fortunately for us,
friends had stayed here when they visited Thailand a few years back.
Nothing fancy, but the most hospitable hotel we have ever experienced.

After checking in,
we dropped our bags in our room 
and set off to explore the city before the craziness of Songkran began.
Crowds were arriving but water guns had not appeared.

A birthday cake was waiting in our room when we returned,
 and I naturally assumed Ren Man had told them it was my special day 
but he looked as surprised as me.
Some observant employee had noted my birthday 
when making a copy of my passport earlier that day
and arranged the cake, candles and lighter to be waiting in our room.
Their attention to details continued throughout our stay 
as they arranged excursions and reservations off property.
A true gem.

I should have had them arrange our visit to an elephant sanctuary,
but instead booked this myself.
The elephants had been saved and rescued from harsh situations
and are now cared for here in the mountains.
 After feeding them a large meal of bananas...
we set off...
on a little stroll...
 along the river where we would normally give them a bath.

Our elephant was the same age as Ren Man and I.
Needless to say,
she moved at her own speed
 and followed her own path.
Or at least tried to.
I liked that about her.

water had to be conserved 
for the three day Songkran festivities.
So instead,
she was hosed down...
 and given a drink the easy way.

Call me crazy, 
but photos taken by friends at other properties,
show happier elephants.
They look like they have been saved and rescued.

Chiang Mai has over 300 Buddhist temples,
and we journeyed nine miles northwest of the city,
up the winding road of the Doi Suthep Mountain,
the cities most famous temple.

Legend has it, 
a white elephant...
carrying an important relic on its back,
ran into the jungle, 
climbed Soi Suthep Mountain 
and trumpeted three times.
Then dropped dead.
Interpreted as an omen,
the King quickly ordered a temple to be built.

Currently raising money for a new roof,
visitors were buying tiles and writing personal messages 
to become a permanent part of the temple.
Precious girls in traditional clothing entertain visitors 
with local dancing. 
Some are more comfortable than others. 
Chiang Mai should be on your list 
of cities to visit 
when traveling to Thailand.
Trust me on this.

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