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Mice Asia Net : October 2008
thailand Conservation Centre where Connections Plus adopted a baby elephant. Walking into the remote centre over a hanging bamboo bridge, we had our first elephant sighting of a mother and baby elephant in an enclosure. The entrance to the centre was lined with local street stalls selling handmade jewellery and elephant memorabilia which a few of us just couldn’t resist. After the presentation of the elephant adoption certificate, our group climbed aboard a few of these stunningly beautiful creatures for an elephant ride through the rainforest. Clambering onto the elephant - while being reassured that I wasn’t hurting the strong animal by putting my feet on its thick skinned back - we followed the line of elephants bobbing through the dense rainforest. From atop our perch we waved at some of the group who were doing their best to navigate bamboo rafts down the serene river. Sitting high up on the makeshift wooden chair, the only thing keeping us from landing in the drink was what looked like a car seat belt. Going on an elephant ride is a must, and can I suggest that you make sure to add it to your “bucket-list” because it will leave a long- lasting impression as it did on me. After our adventures on land and sea we made the journey back into the heart of Chiang Mai for lunch at Baan Suan, Thai for “the house in the gardens”. This is a beautiful open- air venue surrounded by….you guessed it, tropical gardens. The afternoon’s activities started with a transfer on a traditional flat-bed boat to arrive at the Rati Lanna Riverside Spa and Resort. This resort was our final destination for the day and would be host to the evening’s ‘American Idol’ themed contest. Before we sang our hearts out, we had the chance to meet local operators at the Colours of Chiang Mai suppliers fair which was hosted at the property. Walking into our dinner venue, the fair theme was continued and guests played carnival style games to win prizes before we sat down for a delicious three-course feast. Pretty soon the spotlight was on, the music started, and it was time for “Connections Plus Idol”. With representatives from each country, except for the United States, we took turns to win over the judges. The Australian trio hit the stage with the 80s hit classic The Final Countdown where we wowed the crowd (and judges) to walk away as joint winners with a Malaysian solo artist. DAY 5 Ready for an early morning site inspection our group assembled at the Shangri-La Chiang Mai to be surprised with staff allocating bath robes to everyone. As we walked into one of the hotel’s meeting spaces we were greeted with breakfast in bed! Single beds lined the room, and with everyone wearing bathrobes and slippers, staff presented trays of breakfast. After croissants, coffee and some scrambled eggs, we were ready to tackle the hotel tour, and meandered our way around the recently opened property including viewing the luxurious club level and accommodation rooms and the spa, which some found hard to leave. Flying back to Bangkok we quickly checked into our hotels and refreshed ready for the table top session at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center. Our 100 delegate group reunited and while half had journeyed to Chiang Mai, the remaining group went for an adventure south to Koh Chang. Representatives from the group presented a report of each destination and discussed our experiences. The table top session was a useful time for delegates to meet the vast range of local suppliers before it was time to relax with the final dinner of the trip. The Minister for Tourism and Sport formally welcomed the group and was positive in welcoming the delegates back for future events. Our Connections Plus program officially concluded with spectacular fireworks as we said goodbye to our new international friends – full to the brim with memories of a great Thailand educational. miceAsia.net 45 miceAsia.net 45