Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hijack to Asia - Part I - THAILAND

Once  a year, or thereabouts, I hijack Corgitales to share stories and pictures from a recent vacation.  That would be a vacation without the dogs.    I take them with me, whenever and wherever I can, and we love to camp - but when I go on an African safari, or to Hawaii or to China - well, there is no way to bring them along.   

My brother Dan has lived in China for 26 years; the last twenty or so in the city of Xian.   Having visited him in Xian before, and also seen all the sights in and around Beijing, such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City, I decided that I'd like to see a different part of the country this trip.    Yunnan Province, in far southwestern China (bordered by Tibet, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam) is home to an ethnically diverse population.   It has more ethnic minorities than any other province, including the Yi, Bai, Tai, Dai, Hui, Nakji, Mongolian, Tibetan and Pumi - just to name a few.  These groups are distributed throughout Yunnan, and most are clustered in compact communities of a few thousand.

Bustling Hong Kong
I'm getting ahead of myself, however.    The month of February is Chinese New Year time; similar to our Christmas break.   For expatriate professionals, such as my brother, it is a time to get out of China (and the terrible air pollution there) to gather with others in his organization for an annual conference.   The vast majority of these conferences are held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and it was there that I spent the first few days of my vacation after meeting up with Dan in Hong Kong.

Chinese New Year in Hong Kong
Dan's agency is made up of mostly Europeans, with a few South   Africans and Americans thrown in for good measure.   Of the just  FIVE Americans in his agency; Dan being one of them; the other two couples turned out to be from Fergus Falls - just a few miles down the road from where I live!    That was crazy, on a couple of counts.    First, that Dan doesn't know his Minnesota geography well enough to have ever mentioned this to me.   And second, that both couples knew MANY of my friends from a church group I used to be in in Moorhead.    Just too crazy!!

The third day of the conference was Dan's birthday and he decided to skip the meetings and I treated him to a day at an elephant theme park nearby. It was a fun outing, and way to spend his birthday but I was not prepared for the backlash I got from a few friends when I posted the pictures on Facebook. I certainly did not mean to offend anyone.

A bamboo raft ride was really a float down a  very calm river.

Night Market

The second half of the week - when Dan was still at his conference up in the mountains - I spent at a very nice little resort in Chiang Mai, where I could get a Thai massage (that was an experience, let me tell you!) and shop at the night market, which was a lot of fun. Chiang Mai is a very tourist friendly city, transportation is easy to find, currency is easy to understand and most everyone speaks at least some English.

I stayed at a place called Juniper Tree, where meals were served family style and you could drop your laundry off in the morning and by 5:00 it was all washed and ironed!   I don't iron my underwear at home; that's for sure!   A wonderful pool and library made it a nice place to relax for a couple days before heading to Yunnan, China. 
Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej
died in October, 2016 and the country is
in a year long period of mourning with black
ribbons and photos of the king everywhere.
At the time of his death, he was the longest
reigning monarch in the world. 

There are more Buddhist temples in
Chian Mai than there are Lutheran
Churches in Fargo/Moorhead

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