Ban Si Bunrueang

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4 travelers at this place

  • Day14

    On the Road Again

    November 30, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    We had our last long road trip today to Chiang Mai and I thought it time to share some thoughts on driving in Thailand. It’s scary. There are few speed limit signs and fewer drivers adhering to them. There are lines down the middle of the road but they’re more for decoration than instruction. The main roads have wide (4 - 5’) shoulders which are essential for survival. Here is why. To pass a car, no matter what the situation, you simply pull out to the center of the road and the car ahead straddles the shoulder to allow you to pass. If there is oncoming traffic, they simply move over to their shoulder. No horns honk; the only noise you hear are the sharp intakes of breath from the Western passengers.

    Motorcycles mostly stick to the shoulders until you reach a stop light; then they all weave through the traffic to the head of the line. Less than half wear helmets but most wear flip flops. It was not uncommon to see parents with one or two children zipping along. The legal age to drive is 20 but I swear I saw many young teens scootering down the road.

    Most cars are Japanese make, Toyota, the favourite by my count. There are MANY pickup trucks modified with extra large rear decks to haul goods. They can be seen to sway with their over filled loads of merchandise.

    Lastly, to be fair, I only saw one minor traffic accident. The Thai are just as polite on the road as they are off it. Honking is seen as rude. The police don’t seem to have much of a presence. We did pass 6 officers around a corner in Chiang Mai. Our guide explained they were stopping tourists on rented motor bikes. If you don’t have an international licence it’s a large fine and a good money maker for the city.
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  • Day15

    Saturday morning temples and markets

    December 1, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    It would not be a day touring Thailand without at least a few temples. Today was different however, in that we started at 6:00 a.m. to offer alms to the monks. We drove part way up the mountain; the monks, mostly school boys walk down the mountain. The government has restricted the solicitation of the tourists by the monks to this area between 6 and 8 a.m. We saw mostly Thai people being blessed but of course, they could have been Thai tourists. Each monk carried a large bowl. On the side of the road, vendors sold food they had prepared for supplicants to buy and offer to the monks. The monks are required to accept whatever they are offered. Wendy was unhappy to see small bags of Lays potato chips as part of the offerings but I thought it okay for young boys to get a treat. After putting our offering in their bowls, we squatted down and poured water into a small bowl while the monks chanted a standard blessing for health, prosperity and long life. Then we poured the water into a plant. After eating, the monks go to school.

    Like Christians, Buddhists should not lie, cheat, commit adultery or steal. Buddhist monks seeking enlightenment cannot have money or possessions, take transportation, or eat more than once per day.

    We also visited shrines to special Buddhists who performed extraordinary service to the community. One donated 10 million Bhatt to rebuild a temple destroyed by an earthquake. Another rallied the people to resist the rule of the 2nd king of northern Thailand (Chiang Mai was its capital). While not a monk, the Thai people also revere the daughter of the last northern king who was sent to be a consort to King Rama V, thereby cementing the alliance and preventing the Burmese from capturing northern Thailand. Our guide seems to see being conquered by the Burmese in the 1800s and being invaded by Chinese businessmen now as equally horrible.

    As we drove back into town, we passed a large group of adult volunteers in blue and yellow shirts and hats. These are King Rama X volunteers who clean up the city.

    The other events today were a rickshaw ride, the morning market and the daily market. The morning market only runs until 9:00 a.m. it is a cross between a huge food court and a produce and spice market. It was jammed packed. People come in to buy their breakfast and whatever supplies they need for the day. There was a huge variety of beautiful fruits and vegetables as well as odder foods like eels, pickled eggs, turtles, and frogs. There was a huge variety of flowers which are grown in the hills outside Chiag Mai and shipped all over the country.

    We spent the afternoon at the hotel, ate lunch, read, napped and watched the staff set up for a wedding tomorrow morning.
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  • Day16

    National Elephant Park

    December 2, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    We were picked up at our hotel at 8:30 this morning to spend the day at Elephant National Park, a sanctuary and recovery centre for rescued elephants.

    It was a 75 minute ride to the compound but some of the time was spent watching a video on rescuing elephants from abusive situations (e.g. the lumber industry). Our guide Johnny, went over some basic safety rules then off we went to the edge of a platform to feed the elephant bananas and watermelons. Very cool. Some of the elephants had specific preferences only accepting bananas and ignoring the watermelon.

    Then down the steps to meet our first elephants up close and personal. The rest of the day we walked around a portion of the 140 acre property, meeting the family groups. It was distressing to see the injuries from the logging camps: broken legs which never were treated properly, injuries from land mines, blindness and psychological injuries that prevented the elephants from trusting elephants or people. But there were happy stories too with several babies and juveniles who had been born on the property.

    The elephants are free to go wherever they wish with their mahouts (handlers) following. So we had to stay alert and be ready to move out of their way quickly. We watched them eat (they eat 18 hours per day), cover themselves in mud and play in the river. We were all amazed at how close we could get to the elephants. The message of the park is respect and education so there are no elephant rides here.

    It was very hot but a wonderful day.
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  • Day17

    The Long and Winding Road

    December 3, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    Our last day in Thailand was a trip up the mountain overlooking the city. As the title suggests it was a steep, narrow road with countless switchbacks. When we stopped, we mistakenly thought we had reached our destination only to learn we were switching vehicles for the last leg of the journey. Apparently our tour company had been in an automobile accident on this final stretch of rough road some years earlier that had delayed a tour for hours and from then on used local drivers and their open air trucks with no seatbelts. This is safer?

    The village of the Doi Pui Hmong Hill Tribe is at 3000 ft. above sea level. Superstition says that if University students walk to the top of the mountain, they are sure to graduate. (They are probably just too tired to party!). The village is part of a National Park with beautiful gardens (including the biggest poinsettia we have ever seen) and waterfalls. The tribe is originally from Tibet but moved into Thailand early in the 20th century. Originally they farmed opium. In 1969 King Rama IX intervened to move the villagers from opium to coffee, flowers and, apparently, tourists.

    We meandered higher to a coffee shop where Brian enjoyed a delicious and artistic latte. They grow their own coffee beans on the steep slopes.

    Next came a walk through the Hmong Tribal Village and market. We resisted the urge to rent traditional garb for photos and made our way through the town, looking in on a local elementary school. We learned that the Hmong house’s are built in clusters, with several clusters forming a village. The Hmong are divided into clans and the oldest male controls the extended family. Each village has a Shaman to exorcise evil spirits and restore health to the sick.
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  • Day14

    The White Temple

    November 30, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    On the day long trip to Chiang Mai, we stopped at The White Temple. It is a weird combination of Disneyland, personal hubris and religion. It was built by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a very successful artist (his Dad wanted him to be a mechanic). It has never been officially designated as a temple but it has both a Buddha and a life-like statue of a monk. Chalermchai’s work (he has a museum of his art on the grounds) has a strong bent to fantasy. Lots of strong pinks and greens, fantasy animals and dream-like landscapes. Even the bathroom building is ornate with gold painted trim. He continues to add to the complex; he is working on a pagoda for his ashes and a creamatorium.

    The temple is made of white concrete embedded with tiny mirrors. From a distance, it looks like spun sugar. The ramp to the temple has images of hell and demons on both sides. Inside, the wall with the entrance doors is painted with fantasy scenes which include Superman, a Minion, Spiderman, Elvis, Batman, space ships and the burning World Trade Centre. Clearly a complex man with a unique vision.
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  • Day6

    Chiang Mai

    January 24, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    We had a very comfortable transfer from Yangon to Chiang Mai via Bangkok. We flew with Thai Air who provided excellent service once again.
    Our hotel here is on the bank of the river and is excellent. They upgraded us to a suite which is huge. Unfortunately our hacking coughs have returned which has diminished our ability to properly enjoy the town. Brian did have a guided tour today of the downtown area visiting the day market and two of the major temples.
    Tomorrow we move to Chiang Rai for an overnight before crossing the border into Laos.
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  • Day6

    Myanmar of this and that

    January 24, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    As we leave Myanmar here are a few odd and ends that we found interesting.
    They drive on the right side of the road though most of the cars have a steering wheel on the right side also. Apparently many cars are brought in from Japan and that’s the way they came. They did originally drive on the left but after some election,a right wing party won,so decided everything should be on the right including driving.

    The army announced one day on breakfast news that the flag of the country had been changed. It seems that their astrologer told them that the old flag was bad luck!

    In much of the country there are motorcycles everywhere but there are none allowed in Yangon. The reason is that a minister was hit by a motorbike and died so no more motorbikes in Yangon! Likely not a bad idea.

    Men in the country were the Longyi which is a long skirt. They are nearly all either a check pattern or stripes. Apparently a plain colour means that you are a ‘ladyboy’

    At one point when the army wanted to control communications a SIM card cost 4000 USD. It now costs one dollar.

    One guide who grew up in a small village in the mountains told us that there was only one phone line in the village at the monastery. When the phone rang, the monk would arrounce over the loud speaker that a call had come in for some person. If the caller left a message that would also be broadcast via loudspeaker!

    On becoming 45 yrs old one general celebrated by having a 45 domination note printed, the only place in the world that has one.

    Possibly an urban legend - at one time the currency was backed by gold held in Switzerland . However, one general decided that as the economy was good and they had mines and agriculture, they no longer needed the gold to back the currency so he went to Switzerland and removed it from the bank only to lose it all on a horse race! They now have a major inflation problem
    with the currency devaluing steadily.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Ban Si Bunrueang, บ้านศรีบุญเรือง

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