Year 2553 (Thai solar calendar). I meet Anselm in Bangkok for a quick getaway of 9 days throughout Thailand. It is midnight at the Burger King on Khao San Road, a real good old appointment place for loosers.
We spent our first day visiting Bangkok, and especially the Temple of Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Kaew. These prints express the roots of Buddhism while honoring the glorious past of Thailand. This is also the only country in Southeast Asia not to have been colonized (not even by Japan, with which Thailand has just had an alliance during the 2nd World War, the rascals).
I become a monk on a water taxi for a few minutes … the view is better from there. The truth is that this is an enviable position to take a picture of the ear of a local (there is a piece jammed inside, the weird guy). Unfortunately, my attempts fail.
There are many contrasts in the flower market in Bangkok, between flowers and Bangkok … which is actually in my view a bleak city, blackened. It is true that weather there was not pleasant (in the middle of the rainy season).
We go to a park hoping to find the museum of corrections (read “persecution”). It will be found … but unfortunately closed. We decide not to break down the door, kicking it and gently sit on a bench to think about the next step. A Thai, beside us, devour a Japanese manga.
While walking, we reach a large square with a big gate. But the sun sets and it’s time to head for the station … to catch our train to Chiang Mai!
Here is our train. The excitement grows! Anselm and me, it’s a long time we did not take a night train together! The latest dates back to China, there have been now 4 years (okay, it’s not that long). The trip goes smoothly, there is even a little tour of the train from start to end a chat history … we meet an American honeymoon, very friendly, a Japanese couple who only speaks Japanese (but limited discussion much effort anyway), and a group of Flemish with acne, very jaded (we will meet them several times in Chiang Mai, still jaded).
After a little restless night, the morning comes, and soon we arrive in Chiang Mai (with 2 hours late, but we were warned). I hope the old “waitress” of the train does not go ashore with a bucket full of beer as it did the day before (she insisted we should buy it all or what?).
We find a hotel quickly, then we go on an adventure through the streets of Chiang Mai. First temple that we visit: Wat Chedi Luang! It looks like a good old ruin (although rebuilt) and not an egg, brilliant yellow and clicking as we see everywhere else. It’s nice to see a temple with so much charm.
The temple offers monk-chats.The principle is very simple, we sit down to eat, and chat with a monk. Of his life, of ours, trivia, of anything and everything, all in English. This is a student, but his dream is far from what one might think: he dreams actually going to Japan and finding a little sexy shibuyette. This is the result of only a few months of hardships! So it is not surprising if they become completely crazy our “good” old priests. Besides, wait, I think I have seen on the streets of Bangkok …
A photo without interest, but that’s what it’s like inside the old city of Chiang Mai. Nothing special at first glance, but the atmosphere is positive, you can feel really relaxed and destressed. We meet a French couple in the restaurant admitting they had come only for a few days and finally being in the same spot after three weeks!
We arrive-by chance – one day in Chiang Mai where there is the night market. This is huge, impossible not to fall over, dragging in the old town. There is a French who sells chopsticks (without bad language, they do not look so good), but the food is excellent, especially accompanied by many juices of the passion fruit!
Thailand seemed to be a much safer country than what I expected. There are also much less scams than in Indonesia (or in China). Special prices for “tourists” are official and accepted by all.
“Lucky Luke” makes us the vendor. We look shocked. Pardon?! Lucky Luke, this pseudo-robocop? “Yes …” he replies to us, “… but he is French, it might be why you do not know! “. Rhalala! We do learn little more of the seller. Later, I make my own little research. This is actually an Australian named Ned Kelly (a man who really existed), a cold-blooded killer. There was a price for his head, the man was parried by metal plates and an iron helmet, history of a more slowly death. Finally, he was executed, and his last words were: “That’s life.”
Anselm dreams to ride an elephant. In fact, it’s worse than that: at home, it’s a real fantasy …. so today, there is no choice, we will ride an elephant. And that elephant there will be ours! Come by here, slave! (kidding, elephants seem rather highly respected and very well cared for where we are, which is quite reassuring!)
The Asian elephant’s trunk is pear-shaped, unlike the African elephant which is almond shaped. Here, an attempt at communication fails.
We tried different way to ride an elephant (Anselme, your dream starts here). There, from behind, using the knee as a stepladder.
In front, this time using the trunk. We must help ourselves by clinging to the ears, and then rotate 180 degrees (but not mandatory, however, advised just to see the landscape scroll in the right direction then).
After these debates of friendship, we will able to get a massage with the trunk. The trunk, having more than 100 kg, that relaxes the cervicals! We have long hesitated to climb the elephant, what we felt was a lack of respect for him. With the repeated encouragement of the guide (excited by the idea of playing with my camera), we finally succeeded. The elephant seems to have fun too.
Then, after a long ride in the sweltering heat, a refreshing swim together again. We stay there for about an hour and a half to play with the elephants that are really enjoying themselves. A great surprise!
We are now very cosy with our masto-mates, we naturally rise above (more or less, as here), and it feels really safe. Not so wild!
A fairy tale accompanied by our two jumbos. Having two elephants just for us and have fun with them as if they were our little pets, it’s amazing and hilarious!
Homecoming. The elephant keeps asking provisions during the ride … and if I do not put anything in the trunk, he stops every minute to trim sides. It is much better to stock up on fruit before leaving in order to avoid these frequent stops (which also makes the bare back of an elephant even more unstable).
Next morning. My first on Air Asia, with its cute hostesses all dressed in red. This one sells a dildo in the colors of Air Asia. INCREDIBLE!
Landing at the port of Phuket. Perfect, in fact, our next destination is not far away. But we still need to board a speedboat to get there … and especially to bargain, because at that hour there are normally more! But since we do not want to waste time, we are ready for anything …
The sun sets, and we are on the boat towards bâteau direction Ko Phi Phi ! Arrival in an hour and a half.