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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chiang Mai, Thailand

On November 15, I arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project for Habitat for Humanity. As I arrived, I was greeted with a lei of jasmine and young Thais playing drums. I had flown with 65 other Delta volunteers, arriving in the morning from Bangkok. (Arriving in Bangkok from Atlanta took 24 hours the day before -- a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo, and then a flight from Tokyo to Bangkok.)

After checking into the hotel, The Lotus, we had a not so quick lunch and headed to the elephant reserve I had visited last August. This time, I didn't ride the elephants, but I had a good time playing with them and feeding them bananas and sugar cane. They got me quite dirty.

Here's the cutest elephant, a baby of just three years of age:

We left the elephant reserve to go to the opening ceremonies of the Carter build, which included traditional dances, music, an open market with lots of great food, and of courses, a speech by Jimmy Carter. It was held at the Royal Flora Ratchaphurek, a beautiful garden and festival ground built to honor the King, King Bhumibol, the world's longest serving monarch. Over 3,000 people were in attendance to kick off the build week, where volunteers would build 82 houses in Chiang Mai for Habitat for Humanity.

The sky had opened up as we arrived, but began to clear up quickly.

The food in the open market:

Above, rice pancakes. They are sweet and delicious! The last time I had them for breakfast at the hotel in the mornings, but this time they were only at this festival and in other outdoor markets.
The guy above was frying vegetables and even flowers, then serving them in a savory and spicy sauce. I went back several times!

After the market, we went to our seats for the dinner and the opening ceremony, which included Jimmy Carter's speech. He sat a few tables away from us, and stopped briefly to say hello when he passed by.

Carter with me in the background as he walked through:

Carter on stage giving his speech:

1 comment:

Cheryl Thompson said...

The picture of you and the two elephants is priceless!

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