Our 2nd day was a quiet one, after breakfast we strolled around the gardens and pool area here at the Shangri La before a short rest in our room, lunch time we jumped in a taxi at the hotel and went to the Airport Plaza Mall for some retail therapy, my wife headed straight for the Bata shoe store where prices are much cheaper than in Australia, she purchased 3 pairs of smart casual shoes for an average $17aus a pair, I also bought a very comfortable pair of scuffs for $20aus.
we then wandered around the mall until she found a little stall selling lovely thongs and sandals for $3-5aus$, so she added a colourful pair of thongs to her collection, we carried on walking and found a lovely jewellery outlet in the northern village section and bought a beautiful silver bracelet with garnets for $100aus was $125aus but obtained discount, it is a lovely piece.
We then had some KFC for lunch, Aus KFC should come here and see how customers are treated we had Egg Tarts served on a Plate, 3 pieces of (not greasy) chicken also on a plate, also proper knives and forks, 2 large soft drinks in real glasses all for $7aus, there is a large variety of condiments you can self serve e.g. tomato sauce, chilli sauce, soy sauce etc, also a girl waiting to take your empty plates when you finish.
We then returned to our hotel and rested up before heading to the horizon room for freebies before having a lovely dinner downstairs in the restaurant.
Day 3 After breakfast Ben our driver was waiting in the driveway as arranged at 9.00am and we headed off to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, the weather was fine and clear and we had a perfect view back over Chiang Mai as we climbed our way up the mountain to the top, on arrival Ben dropped us at the main entrance and we agreed to meet back there in 2hrs, we purchased our entrance and cable car tickets and proceeded to the top, I advise taking the cable car as the stairs looked a very hard slog.
The main temple is undergoing some renovations at present but is not causing too much of a problem, we took some great photos of the temples, gardens, bells and the view back towards Chiang Mai, we spent approx. 2hrs before descending in the cable car to find Ben waiting for us with the car and we were quickly on our way to Maesa Elephant Camp.
Now I know a lot of people are against these sort of places, but Ben assured us that as a local he does not believe the animals are mistreated and I don't think we outsiders should be telling the locals how to look after the elephants, anyway we entered the complex and made our way down to where I purchased some sugarcane and bananas to feed the elephants, there were approx. 6 very large elephants with a handler behind a not very high fence who beckoned me to come closer and offer the elephants some of the food, I was a bit nervous at first but with caution slowly moved closer and held out some bananas, a very large elephant extended his trunk and quickly the bananas were gone, another handler appeared and asked would I like my photo taken with the elephants, nervously I agreed and handed him my camera, I was asked to move over to the fence and turn to face the camera at which time 2 very large elephants wrapped their trunks around me but did not squeeze me at all, the handler behind me then gave the elephant a hat which he proceeded to put on and remove from my head ,when this ended I moved away and faced the elephant and he gave me a wave goodbye with his trunk, we had some lunch here ,bought some souvenirs for the grandchildren, left a small donation for the elephant nursery and proceeded back to the main entrance where Ben was waiting as usual.
We then went to Warowot market to purchase some Blue and White crockery like you see in Thai restaurants in Australia, thanks to fellow T/A Heather T from Perth who back in January gave us the location where we could buy these items, heather thank you they were where you said they would be, we spent a bit longer looking around but it was a bit hard for my wife to walk with her walking stick in such a crowded area so we exited and waited for Ben to arrive back and pick us up.
On driving back to the hotel we realised we still needed to buy 5 elephants for our grandchildren but we didn't want the little black ones or wooden ones but painted colourful ones, Ben heard what we wanted and took us to a little shop where locals go to buy small elephants and cows as donations for the spirits, we entered the store and asked an employee if they had what we wanted, he showed us to the rear of the shop and there they were beautiful ceramic elephants with lovely coloured rugs and hoods approx. 15cms high, they cost me 580baht or approx. $3.50aus each, this is one advantage of having a private local driver to take you around, we thanked Ben and proceeded back to the hotel, by this time it was 3.30pm and we had crammed a fair bit in, you young ones might have been able to do more but my wife and I are both in our late sixties and it was time to say good bye to Ben and have a rest.
Tomorrow we will be just hanging around the hotel and packing up as we leave for 4 nights in Penang on Friday then 5 nights back in Kuala Lumpur before flying home to Australia on 11/8/13, We would like to thank all of our fellow T/As who helped us over the past 6months or so in arranging our trip, not only on this forum but the Penang and Kuala Lumpur forums, your imput has been invaluable and I hope some of the things we reported may be of some help to others,
Our biggest thank you goes to Ben our driver for the 2 days, he made our trip so much more enjoyable, he was always on time, was the most polite person we have ever met, always smiling, very helpful with my wife, allowed her to sit up front with him as it was a bit difficult climbing into the back of his vehicle for her, his car is immaculate and he is a safe driver, we highly recommend Ben to other T/As, he might be a bit dearer than some but you wont be disappointed.
Happy Holidays to All