Temples and Elephants – Chaing Mai Thailand

Elephants are a symbol of Thailand. This temple is one of the oldest in Chaing Mai

Elephants are a symbol of Thailand. This temple is one of the oldest in Chaing Mai

It feels a little strange to consider our recent trip to Thailand and all that has unfolded since we departed. In Chaing Mai, there was no evidence of the political turmoil that the people were experiencing in the southern areas in and near Bangkok. However, recent reports in the South China Morning Post indicate that Chaing Mai is feeling the effects of the military takeover. I am sure that tourism will be down. Tourism in Thailand in the last year was already down by 20% even before the current strife. This decline in the economy is sad for a number of reasons . My heart goes out to the four-legged friends we met recently.

The lack of tourists to Chaing Mai is most concerning for the animals at the Elephant Nature Park that relies on tourist volunteers to feed and care for over 39 rescued elephants and 200 rescured dogs and cats as well as a number of water buffalo. Visiting tourists have the opportunity to learn about the situation for elephants post logging in Thailand and to feed and bathe these sweet and gentle animals. It is an enourmous task to keep these creatures fed and the visitors not only help by working, but the fees paid for entry to the park assist in purchasing the food and medical supplies needed to keep the park running.

At the Elephant Nature Park in Chaing Mai Thailand. Home to rescued elephants, dogs cats and water buffalos.

At the Elephant Nature Park in Chaing Mai Thailand. Home to rescued elephants, dogs cats and water buffalos. This sweet girl was the victim of a land mine on the Thai Burma border.

Food is separated in baskets for each elephant. Some have special dietary needs and medication.

Food is separated in baskets for each elephant. Some have special dietary needs and medication. Watermelon is a favorite.

Racks of pumpkin await prepartion.

Racks of pumpkin await prepartion.

elephant 3 steve and andrea with elephant 2

Since logging was banned in 1989, elephants still suffer. The ban left over 3,000 logging elephants essentially homeless. No longer needed, they were left with no purpose. Anyone can own an elephant. They are considered livestock and the homeless elephants were used as sideshows for tourists and until very recently, were used to beg on the streets in Bangkok. The Elephant Nature Park started to buy injured and exploited elephants giving them sanctuary and a quiet home. Some of the elepahnat here are over 80 years old.

Mom and baby enjoy a mud bath. Mud works as a sunscreen.

Mom and baby enjoy a mud bath. Mud works as a sunscreen.

Bath time at the river. Elephants need to bathe daily to keep them cool and to hydrate their skin.

Bath time at the river. Elephants need to bathe daily to keep them cool and to hydrate their skin.

bath 2

Additionally, the park works to train mahouts (elephant owners) throughout Thailand and in Cambodia to work with elephants in humane ways. The process of taming the elephants is a horrific and sinister process. We watched a film that showed the process, and I could not stand to watch or listen. The park founder Sangduen “Lek” Chailert has proven that there are humane methods to train elephants to be with people and is working to spread the word. 

Baby born in captivity with mother and aunt

Baby born in captivity with mother and aunt

Currently the park has raised three elephants that were born in captivity to be released back to the wild. However, the danger of poaching is too great for this to happen very soon.  It is estimated that there are just 1,500 wild elephants left in Thailand.

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Wok Wednesdays – Cashew Chicken

This recipe comes from Stir-Fry to the Sky’s Edge page 123 by Grace Young and is part of the Wok Wednesdays cooking project that can be found on Facebook or on Wok Wednesdayas 

cashew chicken

cashew chicken

 

Cashew Chicken. It is not a dish I would order in a restaurant. It was very easy and good, but not very remarkable compared to other dishes.

I deciced when I joined Wok Wednesdays that as I would always try to make the recipe as written when I can find all the ingredients. I then make notes and suggest changes I would make. for me and my family.  On this dish, I would definately add some heat in the form of thai chilis, serrono or jalepenos. It would be a great dish to serve to those that do not like heat, but enjoy an nice Chinese stir-fry.

Wok Wednesdays – Stir-Fried Garlic Snow Pea Shoots with Crabmeat

This recipe comes from Stir-Fry to The Skys Edge page 156 by Grace Young and is part of the Wok Wednesday Project that can be found on Facebook

The finished dish. Stir-Fried Garlic Snow Pea Shoots with Crabmeat

The finished dish. Stir-Fried Garlic Snow Pea Shoots with Crabmeat

This fairly easy, really decadent dish was a cinch to make and was packed with a very rich flavor. Pea shoots are sweet and tender when young. It was an easy find in the wet markets of Hong Kong. Lump crabmeat was more of a difficult find, but in the more western-style groceries we did find them.

Fresh, tender pea shoots.

Fresh, tender pea shoots.

Crabmeat and egg white.

Crabmeat and egg white.

Crabmeat is mixed with chicken broth and egg whites are whisked to form the sauce.

The stir-fry of pea shoots and garlic

The stir-fry of pea shoots and garlic

The garlic and pea shoots are stir-fried to make the base for the delicious crab sauce.

The first time I had pea shoots was in a pasta dish made by my daughter, Kam. The recipe came from the NYTimes Mark Bittman and and included morel mushrooms. It is a really wonderful dish, and a a perinneal favorite when we are in Oregon in spring and have a weath of delightful morels. Like the crabmeat, the morals are rich and lovely with the sweet and tender pea shoots.

Not a photgenic dish, but it did not last too long.

a picture is worth a 1,000 words

a picture is worth a 1,000 words

Need a Guide in Burma (Myanmar)? – Look No Further

Steve and Mr. Han (in his signature hat) outside a Kachin restaurant in Bhamo, Myanmar

Steve and Mr. Han (in his signature hat) outside a Kachin restaurant in Bhamo, Myanmar

My husband and I just completed a 16-night trip to Burma. It was, without a doubt, the trip of a lifetime. On planes, trains, boats and cars from Yangon to Mandalay, to Mogok and Began; we experienced the beautiful people and rich culture of this land. Only because of our guide, Mr. Han, were we able to see and experience so much. It is fair to say that Mr. Han might be the most well-traveled guide for his age in all of Burma. As a child, he spent his summer holidays travelling with his father who was a lorry driver for the military. With his father, they covered every road in Burma transporting goods in every direction. For fun, Mr. Han memorized the names of all the villages they were in, in the order they visited and made note of the uniqueness of each place. With these experiences and his pride in his country, he is able to put together terrific itineraries based on personal requests and interests.
One of the things that sticks with me most about our trip is a memory of the request we made when starting to plan. I told him that I wanted to see the country and not just the touristy sites. He said to me, “I see, you don’t want to see a tourist, but you want to be one.” I loved the frankness and he was correct! I can say that, in several places on the trip, we were definitely the only western or European tourists for miles. We were told at the gem market in Mogok that we were the first Americans one man had ever seen there. We had lunch and cooking lessons in private homes and saw the relics of one of the most famous Buddhist monks in Burma.
From hiking the ice mountain outside Patao to river cruises on the Irrawaddy or Chindwin rivers to the dry lands of the temple-rich Began, Mr. Han can arrange it all for you. You will meet and support local enterprises, and villages, spread the wealth to the people in this emerging tourist destination.
One more thing to note, Mr. Han is a dedicated supporter of the National League for Democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi. If you are lucky and it is your wish, he might even be able to arrange a sighting of Burma’s most famous and dedicated servant. Mr. Han is amazing and so is the tours he provides!

Jennifer with a brief interaction wiht Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr. Han managed to capture the moment. At National League for Democracy Headquarters, Yangon

Jennifer having a brief interaction wiht Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr. Han managed to capture the moment. At National League for Democracy Headquarters, Yangon

Mr. Han Travels & Tours.
Address:No.162 /164 ,3rd Floor,Mahabandoola Road,Pazuntaung Tsp,Yangon,Myanmar.
Hot Line:+95 9 42102 3653,Tel / Fax: +95 1 9010403.
Email: mrhantravel@gmail.com or mr.han1000@gmail.com
Website: www.mrhantravels.com
www.vacationmyanmartour.com,www.myanmartravelservices.com