Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Came for the elephants, stayed for the pizza and movies

Hello! Long time, no blog right?! Let me explain. (Ethan- Explanation before the explanation. Skye finished this a week ago, but I forgot to edit and add pictures so it's even more delayed. Sorry!) Last weekend (Jan 5th) we didn't really do anything. We decided to stay in Thawangpha to rest up from our vacation and because there really wasn't anything going on. We had actually planned on going back to the national park nearest us, but we got a flat tire on the way there (go figure!) and decided to head back after we had some random guy (who didn't know what he was doing) fix it. The chain was making a funny noise and we didn't feel comfortable taking farther up the mountain. We are bound and determined to camp at this park at least one night while we're here, but haven't made any further plans for it. We'll keep you posted.

Last week was rough. It was a 5 day week, which, oddly enough, is pretty rare at Thawangphapittayakhom School. There were no random activities going on and we didn't have any business to attend to elsewhere. I think it was the first time I had been to all of my classes in one week. We have gotten used to missing several classes during the week, so we were pretty pooped come Friday, but that was not going to stop us from enjoying the weekend. We had heard that there was to be some sort of elephant fair/festival in a city called Lampang. We didn't know much about it and weren't even sure where it was, but that's Thai style and we figured we'd be able to get it sorted out once we got there. Lampang is about 5 hours by bus from Thawangpha, so we gathered all the necessary info about how to get there during the week and headed out as soon as we could Friday.

The Riverside Guesthouse in Lampang
We took a songthaew to Nan and caught the bus there (and got really lucky that one was leaving in 30 minutes!). It ended up only taking 3.5 hrs and we got to Lampang with plenty of time to find a place to stay and get dinner. We ended up staying at (according to Lonely Planet) the nicest guesthouse in Lampang, which happened to be the last place we checked for vacancy. Lucky us! We ate dinner at a place called Aroy One Baht that is known for having delicious and cheap food. The food was delicious and cheap, but it was only cheap because they give you tiny portions. We were a little annoyed, but it was late anyway and we figured it was better that we didn't eat a huge meal.

Saturday morning we visited a temple and then headed to one of our favorite places in big cities: the mall. At home (in Michigan) we don't normally frequent the mall. There are too many people and not many places that we really shop there. It's also far away. However, here in Thailand, we visit the mall  for its familiarity. There is usually a Pizza Company, a Dairy Queen and, if we're lucky, a movie theater. Things that we have grown accustom to having nearby in Michigan. Ethan could probably do without the mall (even though he loves pizza), but for me it's comforting (a little sad, I know, but hey you gotta do what ya gotta do when you're missing home!).

Thai Elephant Conservation Center
We thought about going to a movie before heading out to this elephant thing, but they weren't playing the one we wanted to see in English until later. So we headed out to the Elephant Conservation Center. On the way we stopped at a huge market that's apparently quite well-known. We didn't buy anything, but they had a lot of cool stuff. When we got to the conservation center they told us that the show wasn't until 8... it was 4. And, even more unfortunately, all the other shows had already taken place. So we went to the nearby elephant hospital to try and kill time. This particular hospital is the world's first and is home to some famous elephants. Two of their elephants have had prosthetic limbs made for their legs that were amputated after being injured by land mines (pretty crazy right?). There is a movie about one of them that we had never heard of, but looks pretty great. Anyway, we saw one of the famous elephants and some of the other elephants at the hospital. The hospital is really small and the only thing you can really do there is watch the elephants stand around or buy souvenirs. So we didn't kill much time and decided to head back and catch the movie we wanted to see.
Tree hugger
We saw the movie Upside Down and paid $13 to have our own couch. The movie was great and having a couch with reclining seats was pretty cool too. (Ethan- At the time of writing this, Skye was still feeling guilty so let me clarify how we "paid" for this movie. We gave the cashier our 400 baht and she gave us our tickets, our money back and pointed to the guy taking the tickets. We then handed him the tickets and our money once again and once again he handed us our ticket stubs and our 400 baht back and pointed inside. We figured somebody was going to come take the money at some point, but it never happened. We really wanted to try and pay afterward, but figured there was no way to communicate what had happened so we saw the movie for free.)  After that we walked around the night market and ate some snacks instead of dinner. We bought The Dark Knight Rises on DVD from a vendor and crossed our fingers that it wasn't a crappy pirated version. It actually ended up being really good quality and we decided we might need to increase our movie collection while we're here.

Sunday morning we sat around until it was time to check out. There really wasn't anything else we wanted to do or see in town, so we went back to the mall for lunch and ice cream. We hopped on the bus at 4:15 and headed back to Nan. We didn't end up getting back to Thawangpha until 12 because the 2nd bus we needed was an hour late. It was annoying to have to wait and not have any idea when or if the bus was actually coming, but we were really happy that it wasn't 6am like last time. So we didn't actually end up doing anything super exciting (well it was for us), but we are really glad we didn't stay in Thawangpha twiddling our thumbs all weekend! It was also really nice to be in "civilization" (for lack of a better term) for a little bit. We were bummed that we didn't see the elephant show, but you can't always get what you want!

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