Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Elephants - Water Buffalo - Bamboo Rafting

On 25 June we visited Mae Taeng Elephant Park and had a fantastic experience.  
(Single click on a picture to expand)
The Maetaeng Elephant Park began as a result of the 1989 ban on Logging in Thailand. "We witnessed increasing numbers of elephants being forced to roam the city streets and take up work in the Illegal logging trade. With no previous history of working with elephants, we decided to create a safe and friendly environment for the elephants and support the park through our visitors, who can experience the elephants close-up, becoming better informed about the present situation and long term future of Asian elephants. Since 1996, we have dedicated ourselves to protecting the elephants and sustaining the culture of the mahouts and their families.” 

The Maetaeng Elephant Park offers the greatest, up-close elephant experience in Northern Thailand: The Mahout Elephant Experience, Bamboo Rafting, Ox Cart rides, an introduction to Rural life in Thailand, and more. 

"Our Elephant Clinic offers Free treatment available to all elephants in our area. Our full time vets and medicines are financed by the proceeds from the Park and the sale of products." 
- the Chailert Family

The Start of a Fantastic Day!

So that's what it looks like from the back of an elephant.  Always wanted to know that.
Into the river we go
Elder and Sister Ure feeding their elephant
Elder Wasson showing its a bumpy ride.
 His elephant came without shocks
I'm the king of the jungle!
Sister Moleff feeding her elephant
Never knew you could ride an
elephant trunk.  We live and learn.
Both of us sitting on an elephant knee.
This is real.  The elephant is painting.
The Mahouts do not guide the trunk.
They load the paintbrush with paint and
hand it to the elephant.  The elephant
does the painting.
This is the finished picture.
The elephant draws better than I do.
Yes Heidi, I know what you're thinking.  Probable a lot smarter too
Water buffalo cart riding.  The way the rice farmers go to work.
Elder Wasson with the Moleffs
Yep, this is what it looks like from the
water buffalo cart.
A smoother ride than the elephants. 

They come in brown
And they come in black
Getting on the bamboo raft. The guide said this was the VIP ride.
We have one pushing in front and
another pushing in back
Reminded me of Swiss Family Robinson's tree house.

Half way down the trip it started to rain.  Monsoon Season.
Wet but very HAPPY!

Yes!  We are doing Missionary work.  We have been gone from Bangkok about a week teaching and training in Family History.  We have met some very dedicated members and attended some GREAT meetings.  We attended District Conference in Ubon and then on to Chiang Mai to do some more Family History training.  A VERY GOOD TRIP.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Nong Khai - Freedom Bridge

The First Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge (Thai: สะพานมิตรภาพ ไทย-ลาว แห่งที่ 1, pronounced  [sàpʰaːn míttràpʰâːp tʰaj laːw hɛ̀ŋ tʰîː nɯ̀ŋ]; Lao: ຂົວມິດຕະພາບ ລາວ-ໄທ ແຫ່ງທຳອິດ, [kʰǔə mittapʰâːp láːw tʰaj hɛŋ tʰám ǐt]) is a bridge over the Mekong, connecting Nong Khai province and the city of Nong Khai in Thailand with Vientiane Prefecture in Laos - the city of Vientiane is approximately 20 km from the bridge. With a length of 1,170m (0.73 mi), the bridge has two 3.5m (11 ft 6 in) wide road lanes, two 1.5m (4 ft 11 in) wide footpaths and a single 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) gauge railway line in the middle, straddling the narrow central reservation
Opened on April 8, 1994, it was the first bridge across the lower Mekong, and the second on the full course of the Mekong.  The cost was about £19 million, funded by the Australian government as development aid for Laos.  The bridge was designed & built by Australian companies as a demonstration of their ability to complete major infrastructural projects in Southeast Asia. The concept design of a balanced cantilever bridge was proposed by Bruce Ramsay of VSL with the final design carried out by Maunsell consulting engineers.
The official name of the bridge was changed by the addition of "First" after the Second Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge further south at Savannakhet opened in January 2007.

The Mekong is a trans-boundary river in Southeast Asia. It is the world's 12th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is 4,350 km (2,703 mi),and it drains an area of 795,000 km2 (307,000 sq mi), discharging 457 km3(110 cu mi) of water annually.
From the Tibetan Plateau this river runs through China's Yunnan province, Burma (Myanmar)LaosThailandCambodia and Vietnam. In 1995, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam established the Mekong River Commission to assist in the management and coordinated use of the Mekong's resources. In 1996 China and Burma (Myanmar) became "dialogue partners" of the MRC and the six countries now work together within a cooperative framework.
The extreme seasonal variations in flow and the presence of rapids and waterfalls in this river have made navigation difficult. The river is a major trading route linking China’s southwestern province of Yunnan to Laos, Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand to the south, an important trade route between western China and Southeast Asia.
Map of Nong Khai at bridge location

 Pavillion overlooking the Meko River.
 View of bridge from pavillion.  


 Elder and Sister Moleff at the First Freedom Bridge in Nong Khai, Thailand. 

Sister Moleff - Don't even think of it!    
I did put my foot in the river.

 He was using a net to fish.


 Elder Moleff, Elder Brown, Monk and Elder Meeker.  The scooter belongs to the monk.

 Buddhist monk and his family. Daughter, grandson, son-in-law, monk, his wife.  A monk does not have to be a lifelong calling, he only became a monk in later years and does not live with his family.

 I took this picture because it reminded me of pictures from the Vietnam war. 

 Here they are dredging the river.

 Looking across the Mekong River to Laos.
 Enjoying the scene

Thursday, June 5, 2014


While we were in Udon Thani, Elder Brown took us to SALAEOUK via 
a Tuk-Tuk a motorized or auto rickshaw.
Auto rickshaws are a common means of public transportation in many countries in the world. Also known as a three-wheelerSamosatempotuk-tuktrishawauto rickshawautorickbajajricktricyclemototaxibaby taxi or lapa in popular parlance, an auto rickshaw is a usually three-wheeled cabin cycle for private use and as a vehicle for hire. It is a motorized version of the traditional pulled rickshaw or cycle rickshaw. Auto rickshaws are an essential form of urban transport in many developing countries, and a form of novelty transport in many Western countries.

Our Tuk-Tuk

A commercial business Tuk-Tuk

This is Elder and Sister Brown's new car on right.  On the left is the Tuk-Tuk they used to get around and the one that took us to SALAEOUK.

This is another type of commercial vehicle commonly used in Thailand. 

Our Tuk-Tuk Ride took us to:

Sala Keoku (Thai: ศาลาแก้วกู่; RTGS: Sala Kaeo Ku;  [sǎːlaː kɛ̂ːw kùː], also spelled as Sala Keo Ku, Sala Keo Koo, Sala Kaew Ku, Sala Kaew Koo, Salakaewkoo, Sala Gaew Goo, Sala Kaeoku, etc. Alternative name: Wat Khaek) is a park featuring giant fantastic concrete sculptures inspired by Buddhism and Hinduism. It is located near Nong Khai, Thailand in immediate proximity of the Thai-Lao border and the Mekong river. The park has been built by and reflects the personal vision of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat and his followers (the construction started in 1978). It shares the style of Sulilat's earlier creation, Buddha Park on the Lao side of Mekong, but is marked by even more extravagant fantasy and greater proportions.
Some of the Sala Keoku sculptures tower up to 25m in the sky. Those include a monumental depiction of Buddha meditating under the protection of a seven-headed Naga snake. While the subject (based on a Buddhist legend) is one of the recurrent themes in the religious art of the region, Sulilat's approach is highly unusual, with its naturalistic (even though stylized) representation of the snakes, whose giant protruding tongues beautifully complement the awe-inspiring composition.
Entrance to SALAKAEOUK