Friday was a very early start, well for us anyway! The bus picked us up at 8.30 and drove about an hour out of town up into the countryside. We really wanted to see some elephants but I didn't fancy a trek as such, so we booked this trip to an elephant park, which included an elephant ride, an ox ride (very odd), a bamboo raft ride down the river, a visit to the Long Neck people's village and finally an orchid farm.
Admittedly we hadn't researched much about this place, I know there are some places where they treat the elephants badly and they're just tourists traps. Sadly I can imagine this place could be horribly busy in peak season, but when we were there the elephants seemed to be really cared for by their owners, there was plenty of food around, and obviously we were encouraged to buy more to feed them, but I didn't really get any impression of maltreatment, though we could have lived without the painting and dancing show!
Anyway Justin made a new friend....
As did I.
We also visited the village of the Karen tribe, commonly known as the 'long neck' people. There seem to be different stories on why these ladies put these very heavy rings around their necks, one was to make them unattractive to slave traders, while another is the exact opposite, that it in fact makes the women more attractive. Our tour guide explained that the rings actually push down the shoulders rather than pulling up the neck, so when the rings are removed there is no damage to the neck.
This little settlement did seem like another tourist trap, but it was nice seeing the ladies making the shawls and handicrafts themselves, and I did succumb to a couple of purses.
Finally we wen to an orchid farm, if only my orchid at home could look like these....
In this pic you can see how the orchids grow hung up allowing their roots to dangle, so they're not in water. I wonder if mine will look like this when we get back, eh sis?