Sunday, April 1, 2007

Karate Chop Sunday

Its sunday again, and you know what that means!

I walked to the Chiang mai zoo today. Left early in the morning so as to beat the midday heat, because Thailand is 90% closer to the sun than anywhere else in the world. Its true. Look it up.

On my way I noticed a couple things about the area. First, the Thai people love to play a couple games that we generally don't in the US. First, they love soccer, second they love badminton, and third, they love volleyhackball.

Here's the net.

Same kind of net you play volleyball with but instead of a volleyball you have a smaller ball about half the size that you kick back and forth over the net without letting it hit the ground, instead of using your hands. I've watched them play and the rules for volleyball seem to apply (3 kicks total per side) and they can head butt. No hands makes spiking very difficult.

Also, the grass grows tall here. I used to work landscaping for UNI with Superchad and occasionally have to flail mow the overgrown areas. But that overgrowth was nothing compared to what kind of plants they have sprouting up on the side of the road here in the tropics.

In any case, I eventually made my way to the zoo and as luck would have it it was already 95+ degrees by the time I got to the Tigers, meaning that just like in all zoos around the world, the tigers and lions were way in the back laying in the shade and nearly out of sight.

One funny thing is seeing this sign over the lion's den:

There are two possiblities here. One is that the Lions club (who do community service stuff) actually sponsors' lions dens in Thailand, and the other is that a Thai came across a Lion's club sign and realized it said "lion" and put it up at the Lion's den as a sign for english speakers to read (as there were no other signs saying "lions" around to mark the area). I'm pretty sure that's why its up there.

The coolest thing I saw were the Hippos. As I was coming down to the Hippo den I saw a man holding his squealing daughter above the hippo tank as she threw bananas down into the den. It wasn't until I got down there that I saw that the hippo was right underneath her and I wasn't able to get a shot until right after he pulled her back over the railing.

You could actually touch the hippos as they came up for bananas (there was a basket of them just sitting there for people to feed the hippos with). Here's a nice close up shot I took.

I have to say that in general the "safety features" of the zoo were not the three-ditch cement barricade with plexiglass walls that I'm used to. Mostly just some railing. It was pretty awesome. You could jump right into any of the dens if you wanted. Even the lions' dens just had one ditch between the lions and the humans that, if they wanted they could probably jump. Only the jaguar den had a cage around it.

I also saw some strange birds. Now tell me this guy didn't evolve from some creepy dinosaur:

Here's some pink flamingos for my parents. They love pink flamingos.

Some ostriches. I think that's a giraffe back there.

Ah, colorful parrots.

Then there is the Asian Black Bear. Or cub, in this case. These guys have really wierd faces when compared with North American Black Bears. I couldn't really get a good shot but they look really wierd when they face you.

Of course the elephants were no where to be found when I was at the zoo. The pen was empty and I couldn't really ask where they were so, haven't see any elephants yet.

Oh, I got one more animal to show you.

This is Carl the lizard, who infests my dorm room. He likes to sneak in through one of the openings around the windows and run across the walls late at night. I don't mind him because he eats bugs, so he and I have an amicable relationship. It is a little spooky when he darts across the wall when you're going to the bathroom though. Though he's really hard to get a picture of because as soon as you move to get your camera he darts away. I think he's finally starting to not be as scared of me though, as I finally was able to get a picture of him.

Now I'm going to lay around and let my sunburn heal. Tomorrow I'm taking a cooking class instead of going to work so that ought to be pretty awesome.