leaving so soon

in a couple of hours, i’m leaving chiang mai and heading for a resort someplace for a student meeting.  the food continues to be FAN-tastic.  last night i had a thai tuna salad for dinner, and for lunch pad thai (shrimp) and spring roll.  as mike suggested, i may ditch all this and just stay here. 

yesterday was fantastic too (seems to be a theme around here).  i saw all of the office staff, all of whom are great.  i went to go see a school that is run by some people that i know for burmese kids.  great teachers, great kids – i went out to lunch with i guess the headmaster, brad, and we had a great debate over lunch about who is the worst republican president of the 20th century.  since bush came in the 21st i guess, my vote is reagan hands-down.  brad pretty much agreed with me, which was smart of him.  brad is actually a fascinating person – he’s been all over teaching, from southeast asia originally, of rather australian-ish background.  we’re right up each others alleys when it comes to ideas on neo-liberalism, the “war on terror” and politics in general, really.  fabulous stuff 🙂 

brad then took me to see a women’s organization called WEAVE.  they do all kinds of things – income generation through crafts, women and children education, especially concerning health…good stuff.  i had a great time there and even picked up a few goodies.  seriously, who can turn down buying good quality craft-ware when it also benefits people stuck in refugee camps with very little in terms of other options???

i am continuing this the next day, already gone from CM.  i went to the night market (very cool, i love markets) and went out for drinks with thomas, dae, and some friends of theirs.  that night i was a total tourist and freaked out over a little elephant that was being led around town.  you could pay money and feed him, so i did.  so i got to touch and feed a little elephant.  he was amazing, and his trunk was the coolest thing ever.

the next day, i went to the zoo.  reason?  dae works with the pandas at the zoo!!!  he got me into the exhibit for free, and i got a fantastic one-on-one tutorial about pandas, as dae is one of the managers in charge of their care.  i also learned from him that china’s loaning of pandas to countries is actually just a rent-a-panda scheme.  they are charging millions of baht (and dollars in the US) each year for having the pandas.  also, when they breed, as the pair in DC did last year, and as they are trying to do with the Chiang Mai pair, the host country has to give the babies back after 2 years.  i need to learn more about this.

anyway, i got to see the pandas, and then dae gave me a little tour of some of the other highlights of the zoo – i saw the giraffes (they have a walkway that you can enter their enclosure and FEED THEM, which i find very problematic, but you can’t feed them cheetos, just what the zoo provides) so i have some great giraffe pictures, and then also the koalas and the penguins.  then i headed into town and wandered around until i had to catch the flight. 

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