Friday, March 28, 2014

FEBRUARY 8, 2014: JERMSAK-WHITE TEMPLE, HILL TRIBES, RAFT TRIP AND MORE


February 8, 2014

     Breakfast was good with choices of egg, fruit, and so on.  I'm a pretty boring person when it comes to breakfast so for 3 1/2 months I had pretty much the same thing every morning.








     JERMSAK is here at 8:15 am with the other couple-Eve and Hirick.  His van is very roomy and comfortable.  It could easily accommodate more than just the 4 of us.  I had prebooked Jermsak for 2 full days back in May 2013.  It was supposed to be just us and him.  However, in January 2014 he sent me an e-mail asking if I would be agreeable to change our days' order as there was a couple who wanted to do the raft trip but could only do it on Feb. 8th.  He said that if I wasn't ok with it he would tell them that he couldn't oblige them due to prior commitment.  I was fine with including them and switching our days.  They turned out to be a lovely younger couple and we exchanged e-mail addresses.

     We drive south on Road 1 for around 15 minutes and we are at the WHITE TEMPLE/WAT RONG KHUN.  Built over the last 20 years by the artist Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat.  It is his life work and is truly one of a kind, breathtaking place.  There is no admission fee.  Ajarn wants to be able to create freely so he doesn't accept any donations from any outside sources.  Purity and wisdom.  There are several buildings.  Jermsak explained a lot about this project and finally pointed out the only building which didn't appear to be white.  It is golden and it's the restroom facilities!  There is one place where you can toss coins for luck which I do.  Then the crowning glory-the temple.  No pictures allowed inside.  Too bad because this mural is fascinating.  I find Michael Jackson, Spiderman, the Twin Towers burning, Freddie Kruger, Kung Fu Panda, and so many more-some of which I don't recognize-painted inside the open mouth of the demon.   In the eyes of the demon as you are facing it, the right eye has the head of Bin Laden and the left eye has the head of George W. Bush.  The murals which face the statue of Lord Buddha represent the struggle between Lord Buddha and the Mara/demon.  It represents the final conflict of Lord Buddha's own demon before he attained enlightenment and freedom from immoral thoughts.      There's a workshop/studio (no pictures allowed) where I see paintings displayed on the walls and other items in glass cases.  There's no one inside as I see a knife that I would love to buy.  Jermsak said he didn't think these were for sale but on display.  There's an easel with what looks to be a painting in process on it.  Wonder if it's Ajarn's??  There is also a place to buy drinks, maybe food but I only bought a coke so I'm not sure about any food.  We spend at least an hour or more here.   I take a lot of pictures outside as every where you look there's something to catch your eye.

New construction going on in the background here.

Make a wish

Toss a coin and make a wish













Main building-Wat Rong Khun

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People taking pictures of this monk










Golden toilet building



   






















     We are driving again passing fields of pineapple, some kind of root?  If any one knows what this root is could you post and tell me as I didn't write it down and it's bugging me because I know I know what it is but I can't put words to it!











     After about an hour we arrive at ALEAJA BRIDGE.  Built by the Japanese.  This is a wooden suspension bridge which links to LAHU village.  I can't believe this bridge will hold us as we cross but it does.  I'm sacred of heights so Jermsak holds my one hand and my husband holds the other and I do make it across.   A scooter drives on the bridge.  You will see what I mean by the pictures.  We walk through the village and see some children, some women, some animals.  I buy a woven change purse for 60 baht and I wish I had bought more.  I used it for my money throughout the many weeks left on our trip.  It's the perfect size to lay flat your paper money without creating any fold marks.  We go inside a house but I take only 1 or 2 pictures as I really feel so uncomfortable.  Jermsak explains that it's ok to take pictures and that he has made a donation to the village on our behalf.







Mae Kok River

Eve, Hirick, and Jermsak

I can't believe I'm on this bridge!



Scary



Lahu village

















     Oh my!  We have to walk back over this bridge to get to the raft.  It was better/easier this time.  Now the fun begins.  This is going to be the relaxing, good eats part of our day.  There are 2 guys who are navigating the raft down the Mae Kok River.  Then there's Da, Jermsak's wife who will prepare our lunch.  Then Jermsak and the 4 of us.  There are chairs for us to sit on and a canopy to shelter from the sun.  It's very nice.  Da, with Jermsak's help, makes us the most delicious lunch.  We have BBQ chicken and pork, rice, chicken with cashews, yummy veggies.  So much food with beers or pop in a cooler for us.  It was great.

View of the suspension bridge

I was so relieved to have made it across and back over the suspension bridge that I actually had a sip of my husband's beer.  Normally I never drink beer as I don't like the taste.

Da cooking the vegetables

One of Jermsak's helpers

Rice, BBQ chicken

Chicken with cashew nuts

Yummy vegetables



Another of Jermsak's helpers

Jermsak getting off the raft



     After an hour or so we get off the raft to visit a hot springs.  PHASOET HOT SPA.  There is a pool/mineral bath where you can swim.  Cost 30 baht per person and only 30 minutes allowed.  The other couple didn't bring swim gear but we did so we pay, change and soak in this hot pool area.  Now I know why it says 30 minutes only!  The other couple have their pants rolled up with their feet in a different area while they wait for us.  After 20 minutes I've had enough so we leave.  I was wondering why the raft guys didn't eat and Jermsak told me that while were would be here at the mineral pool they would all eat.  It would have been fine if we all ate together but this is how they feel most comfortable so it's all good as long as everyone gets to eat that tasty food!








     Back on the raft we have some pineapple and mango and more drinks.  Shortly we see a lot of elephants crossing the river.  They all have bikers holding their bikes!  I feel sorry for the elephants.  We are on the raft for 30 minutes or so.



So relaxing




     We leave the raft and I give each of the guys a generous tip.  They were always there to hold out a hand to help me in and out of the raft.  It's now about 3:00 pm and we have reached the village of Ruammit where the elephant ride will happen for Eve and Hirick.  Richard and I will sit and wait for them.  There's lots of people having rides but I see one elephant with chains around his leg and I don't know how good those big, bulky looking seats are for the elephants.  But Eve and Hirick have these big smiles on their faces so I don't say anything to take away from the good time they are having.  They are gone for 1 hour.  (This is why I didn't get to the Black House)  I don't regret agreeing to them having this experience.


Hirick and Eve
     We are back in the van and we stop at HUAYMAESAI WATERFALL.  We have a short walk and there it is.  The water is ice cold so no one is interested in going in.  It's nice as it's just us and the waterfall and the trees.


Path to the waterfall







     Our last stop is at an AKHA village.  Jermsak explains they are animist and very superstitious.  We don't receive the same friendly vibe as what we had at the Lahu village.














     We drop off Eve and Hirick first and then we arrive back to our hotel at around 6:30 pm.  Jermsak says we can pay tomorrow and since we had the other couple join us today the cost will be 3200 baht for the 2 of us instead of the original quote of 5000 baht.  He will pick us up tomorrow at 8:30 am.  I ask if Da will be with us and he says no so I take a picture of him and his wife and thank her for the great lunch.
Jermsak and Da
     We take a tuk tuk to the CLOCK TOWER.  Designed by the same artist as the White Temple.  There are light shows every hour at 7, 8, 9 pm.  We're early for the 8:00 pm show so we wait.  Then the music starts.  The clock changes color-gold yellow, blue, green, orange.  It's cool.  The as yo watch in the middle you can see something coming up-it's a lotus which opens.  The it goes back down and soon you see faces above?  Whole show was 10-15 minutes.





Lotus



     Now we have to think about dinner.  After that lunch we're thinking something light.  I see some coffee shops across the street.  One only serves coffee and baked goods so we end up at YOD DOI.  There's other people eating here so we think, ok.  Big mistake!  I should have noticed what the others were having-think it was sandwiches.  Well, I ordered pad Thai and my husband orders soup with garlic bread.  The soup is listed on the menu as vegetable but take a look at the picture and you tell me if that look like vegetable soup.   My husband says to me that he can't eat this.  He says it tastes like lard and flour.  I'm dumbfounded because my husband will eat anything.  He said the bread tasted like it had been sitting on the roof in the heat/sun for hours.  But he did like his Chang beer!!  My pad Thai was way overcooked and not as good as the pad Thai I had made in my cooking class.  Cost for a disappointing meal was 253 baht.  Should have gotten a sandwich.  We take a sonthaew back for 50 baht.  Good thing I have some snacks.  We have dried fruit, pistachios and almond cookies from when we were in Chiang Mai.




Supposed to be vegetable soup and garlic bread.  My husband said this was inedible.  

My pas Thai was overcooked

Had a view of the clock tower light show at 9:00 pm

View from our table


Songthaew

Pistachios and dried fruit

Almond cookies-these were out of this world fantastic.  Wish I had bought another bag!

    
       

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