In Chiang Mai Thailand

Nov 25th, 2014, 11:36 PM
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It is and is worth the occasional tummy upset to try it. I had banana sticky rice today. Every day a new gastronomic discovery!
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 02:11 AM
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Lauren - I know you don’t want a long debate on wildlife, but you have made some comments that I consider to be wildly inaccurate - so I’m sorry, but I can’t leave some of your statements about elephants and conservation unanswered. it may well

it may also be of some help to others who are wondering about whether or not to ride elephants.....

Firstly you seem to be unaware of the true situation in relation to habitat.
There IS in fact enough jungle in many parts of S.E. Asia to support much larger populations of wild elephants.
Encroachment and confrontation with humans are problems but the main problem is poaching for elephants both dead and alive - his is seriously depleting the populations and leading to a situation where the areas are UNDERPOPULATED and the populations are getting too small to allow a sustainable gene pool.
One reason for this is ivory, but the is supplying the tourist industry.....

Thailand’s elephant population is the result of the end of logging in the late 1980s - the intention was to look after this population (about twice the size of the wild population) until it dwindled through natural wastage.

Unfortunately for the elephant it was found that a lot of money could be made out of elephants, helped by the fact there are no laws governing the welfare of elephants in Thailand. (an elephant has more or less exactly the same rights as a pickup truck)
This led to a demand for more elephants especially babies - so illegal breeding of domestic elephants has taken place together with the smuggling and “breaking” of wild animals from neighbouring countries - in particular Myanmar. (if you want to see how they “break” an elephant - Google it - you’ll need a strong stomach)

This part of the trade is fuelled by one thing and one thing alone - tourism.

Thailand contrary to popular belief is NOT a poor country - it’s books are quite well balanced and it owes little money abroad - there is, however, a hugely imbalanced division of wealth and an economy based on nepotism and corruption on a huge scale. This means that there are plenty of people who can be enticed into poaching etc. and other abuses of animals for very small remuneration and it also means that those of rank are immune to any prosecution for these activities if caught.

Most elephants in tourism are mistreated but so long as tourists naively play the game, the abuse will continue and new elephants will be sought.

It is now generally considered that anyone offering elephant rides is abusing the animals - they actually AREN”T designed for riding and can lead to skin abrasions, septic wounds and worse still spinal damage or even paralysis.

Re-introducing animals to the wild is vey difficult and very expensive - however there are schemes in Thailand to do this or allow elephants to live undisturbed in a semi-wild environment.
There are always problems introducing animals to the wild that are accustomed to humans, as they tend to wander into human habitation. This problem is being worked on and can be overcome with elephants in some reserves.

I’ve mentioned habitat removal above, but the truth is there is potential habitat for sustainable populations in Thailand especially in the Western Forest Complex (WFC), which borders on Myanmar, which in turn has vast tracts of forest suitable for elephants. Remember elephants don’t use passports they really don’t care whether humans call their home - Myanmar or Thailand.

I feel you are looking at the elephants as individuals or a single species - this is misleading - they are a keystone species in an eco-system this is crucial to understanding how we need to tackle the problem. For these eco systems to survive they NEED their KEYSTONE species in sustainable populations - that’s why simply keeping animals in zoos so we can look at them or sit on them actually has no real function other than our own gratification. (..and maybe easing the odd guilty conscience to boot). In fact the more animals we keep in captivity the more likely we are to ignore the situation in the wild.

BTW - Unlike the elephant, buffalo were slaughtered for meat and other products and finally the development of the west blocked and put and end to their migration - so the species dwindled - as far as I know there are no buffalo migrations in USA anymore they have to be kept in protected reserves.

This is the 21st century; we know a lot more now about how the environment and its bio systems work - and we also know how they benefit us - they supply clean water and even maintain the atmosphere and climate - for these eco systems to survive they NEED their KEYSTONE species in sustainable populations - that’s why simply keeping animals in zoos so we can look at them or sit on them actually has no purposeful function other than our own gratification. (..and maybe easing the odd guilty conscience to boot).

There is also the familiar cry, where people cite the plight of species such as the buffalo (but NEVER the passenger pigeon??) as “inevitable” so “what can we do”? Well I don’t see even if that were true (which I don’t) that it is an excuse to continue, mitigate or condone animal abuse.
khunwilko is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 04:25 AM
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I would love to go The Philippines some day, but there are no plans on this trip. It all began as a trip to visit a friend who has retired to Chiang Mai. She broke her leg after I arrived, so I have been exploring on my own and with some friends I've made.

You can only do but so much in a trip. I will be going to Siem Reap, Phuket and Yangon, Myanmar, in addition to Bangkok. To explore all of SE Asia would take a lifetime.

Insofar as the elephants are concerned, if the tourist trade were all to disappear, well, it takes a lot of bananas and sugar cane to feed the elephants. They would not just be released to run around happily in the jungle. They would be shot. People who scream about animal abuse from a Western perspective forget what happened to the buffalo. The elephants exist because the tourists come--and each country maximizes its tourist potential anyway it can.

To turn every thread on SE Asia into a diatribe on animal abuse is unacceptable and only reflects the self entitled perspective of the person indulging himself in his political views--which he seems obliged to shove down everyone else's throat.

And I don't feel the least bit guilty about my mahout training experience--and having my photo taken atop an elephant.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 04:58 AM
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"f the tourist trade were all to disappear, well, it takes a lot of bananas and sugar cane to feed the elephants. They would not just be released to run around happily in the jungle. They would be shot"
Lauen - on what information do you base this
? there are several bodies researching elephants both captive and wild - in clouding the ZSL - and NONE of them subscribe to your theories. I would recommend getting up to speed on animal welfare and conservation before saying things like that.
...and repeating them doesn't make them any more true.

I personally do not see things from a "Western" perspective - I approach these issues from a scientific perspective.

elephants in Thailand exist in the WILD and are kept in captivity by people hoping to make money out of tourism. there are some organisations that try to keep their animals in humane conditions but the purchasing and breeding of new stock can only be regarded as exploitation.

"forget what happened to the buffalo" - why are you suggesting this? I can tell in detail what happened to the buffalo - but more relevantly I could put it in perspective compared to the elephant in Thailand....I'm not sure from your posts that you could do either.

Maximising the tourist potential "any way you can" - I fail to see that this justifies the exploitation of animals and the destruction of an environment of a planet that we all have to share.

"To turn every thread on SE Asia into a diatribe on animal abuse is unacceptable" - this of course is incorrect - if you insist on promulgating nonsense about Thai wildlife you should expect to be corrected - you made the wildly inaccurate assumptions about Thailand's elephant population and have decided without any real knowledge of the subject to object to a criticism that is based on an in depth grasp of the situation here.
you don't seem to have addressed any on the issues I raised - you've just ignored them and satisfied yourself with some ad hominem attacks and assumptions about my politics.
khunwilko is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 06:19 PM
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Actually, I have plenty of knowledge of the subject. I view you, khunwilko, as ignorant and arrogant. If you only were concerned about the welfare of PEOPLE as much as you claim to care about elephants. . . .
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 07:05 PM
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I've pointed out your misconceptions about conservation and wildlife in Thailand, I think your comments speak for themselves... You seem content rather than address the issues to make spurious comments based on... Nothing I've posted
khunwilko is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 07:19 AM
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In KW's defense (yes, I said that), it was Lauren who brought up the subject. Don't stoke a fire and then get "offended" when people disagree with you.
filmwill is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 11:20 PM
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Alter cocker travels! Love it! You go, girl!!
CaliNurse is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 02:52 AM
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Lauren you know nothing re, Elephants in Thailand U are the ignorant one!
zoso is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 03:02 AM
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By the way folks Kuhn is right on!
zoso is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 03:43 AM
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Kuhn are u in Thailand now?Im in Bangkok I'd love to meet you.

Most people have no Idea what's going on here in Thailand re.Elephants.Most Eles are leased out. The Mahoots do not own them at all in the camps.
Do not turn a blind eye.Laurens comments are stupid re. buffalo what the heck does that have anything to do with here and now and the suffering of these wonderful beings.

The baby's are captured wild from Burma, Laos and some from Thailand..If not captured wild, females are forced bred here in Thailand to keep producing more.The baby's are torn away from there mother.And, If u are aware Elephants live in family groups there whole life. All profit and Tourism for dumb people to ride them until there backs finally break.So, they keep breeding them for profit, street begging,trekking so on.
I can go on and on. But, do not say Kuhn is incorrect because everything he says is
CORRECT. Like it or not.
zoso is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 05:08 AM
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I am in Chiang Mai, not Bangkok. I will go to Bangkok for a short visit just before going home. For the record, I have not seen any street beggars with elephants. Now that does not mean there aren't any, but I have not seen any in any of the areas in which I have visited.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 05:28 AM
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On the subject of the mahouts. In the elephant parks they are often hill tribesmen with limited education. Jobs in tourism provide a way for these people to earn at least a marginal living. Hill tribespeople are often way below living standards for those of Thai background. Thailand has a lot of minority groups. Perhaps the most desperate are the Burmese illegal immigrants. They are treated poorly--as are unwanted illegal aliens everywhere. You see a lot of them laboring on construction jobs. Condos are going up in Chiang Mai all over built by Burmese construction workers. They work without any safety equipment and it is hard to watch. You sort of have to block it out or you will get very upset. Their children often do not go to school. Without legal status, they are ineligible for public school and, of course, cannot pay for private school. These are things you get to observe on a longer stay where you get away from the 3 days here/3 days there type of travel experience.

Some of the construction workers, by the way, are women. I have wondered where their children are while they work.

Rest of the trip does include 5 days in Siem Reap, 5 days in Phuket (3 devoted to a kayak tour in the Andaman Sea), 4 days Yangon, 5 days Bangkok. Unfortunately, my friend should just be out of her leg cast by the time I leave. Her broken leg (which occurred just after my arrival) was a real downer, but there was nothing I could do about it. I bought her a "Hotai". Hotai is a Chinese god. He is a fat happy guy. You rub his tummy for good luck--and my friend needed some good luck.

Tomorrow there is a silk sale starting and I will go over to it in the morning. On Tuesday I am doing a package excursion to Doi Inchon and some waterfalls. Should get some nice photos. Tonight I took photos on Sunday Walking Street--a huge market here in Chiang Mai. I might go to that one again before going home. I enjoyed it a lot but evenutally got weighed down with purchases and went home to my apartment where the a/c is out. Trying to get it fixed. The realtor has had her phone off and has not responded to email.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 06:59 AM
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can you list for us some shops you have found to be especially worthwhile in CM??

you must have seen the le meridian hotel in your travels?? is it in a good location for shopping?? thanks
rhkkmk is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 11:47 AM
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Bob, Le Meridien has Villa Cini in its lobby, I believe, which is a very nice silk store. What are you looking for? Studio Naenna (and its associated workshop out of town), is my favorite store, but there are other places around Chiang Mai, on the sois around Nimmanhaemin, on Charoenrat, as well as a few places in Old Town.

The Sunday Walking Street is a better time to buy inexpensive gifts than the night market. There are some unique things, but it's like finding a diamond in the rough. I did see some of the cheap "crap" repacked in cellophane packs and sold for premium prices in the nicer stores, so caveat emptor.

Le Meridien will still be a tuk tuk ride (or 10-20 minute walk) for any of the shopping. I think the old shopping that's right there is the night market and Anusarn market (or the OP plaza, which is one of the places I saw the repackaged walking street items).
internetwiz is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 04:00 PM
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I am disappointed about the hotel location--thought it to be more central.

K likes shops selling cotton goods as well as cotton clothing for the full sized American woman. she has a silk woman in bkk.
rhkkmk is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 04:28 PM
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It is very easy to get around in CM. We hire a tuk tuk or driver when we have alot of shipping to do and you can go back to the hotel and drop your purchases off. The tuk tuks aren't like in BKK, taking you to places you don't want and when we were there in September there were new XL tuk tuks. We pay a tuk tuk about 500-800 a day and if we want to use him again, give him a decent tip. I will send you my list of favorite stores for fabric and I have a couple of great cotton places. I saw a beautiful silk store in the "craft vilage" and it was cheaper than BKK.

I thought the stores were very over priced in the Nimmanhaeman area. I feel Le Meridan is a central place in CM, but have never stayed there-just took a tour of the hotel.
stitchintime is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 04:34 PM
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I was out at what they call the silk factory earlier. There is also an area downtown with material (including a place where I bought silk). A friend took me there. No idea exactly where it was.

I did major damage at Sunday walking street last night. Now that is one heck of a market. I bought a Hmong bed cover, a large hand carved wooden elephant (Is it OK to buy those? [sarcastic]), some clothes for my next door neighbors kids and two little hand held devices that can put a stitch in things quickly (one for my sister who does wardrobe in NYC and one for me to bring for emergencies on vacation). Insofar as the hand held stichers were concerned, they cost 100 baht each (about $3) and were worth it for the thread itself.

I am going to ship a box of stuff back before leaving. I understand that the post office sells cartons! Much easier than schlepping the stuff--including lots of ELEPHANT themed stuff and a pile of t-shirts (most with elephants--ha!).

I have been told the Night Bazaar is mostly knock offs. I will check that out sometime this week. I plan to go to Sunday Walking Street again. That was too good to miss a second time. Need to hit the ATM first though.

I am staying in a condo in the Niemmanhamen area (NW of town). You can go anywhere you want to go in songthaews, tuk tuks or taxis. Getting around without a car has not been a problem.

The silk sale is going on at some shop some women recommended. It is a once a year thing. If I buy any silk, it will be back to the tailor again. This time I will probably use someone adjacent to the condo as the first person still has plenty to do for me.

This is turning into the great shopping tour and I am NOT a shopper. I generally buy next to nothing but hard to resist when the prices are so low.

And, yes, I bought 2 of those frog things that almost everyone buys.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 04:42 PM
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By the way, I have reorganized my blogs for Chiang Mai. The new links are as follows:
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 09:06 PM
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Zoso - thanks for the support. I live mostly in Thailand spending time in Laos. Due to the nature of my work here I'm reluctant/unable even to take time out to meet people though web sites
khunwilko is offline  

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