One Fine Day in Thailand

imageA day of beauty, side shows, and talent. I didn’t know what to expect even with the straight forward itinerary in front of me. That might be due the fact that the itinerary was written in Hebrew. Who would have thought, Thailand is where I would end up traveling with large group of Israel adventurist. Being surrounded by two strong cultures i knew would make for a very interesting and enthusiasm tour! image
Day one started with a quick stop to the butterfly and orchid farm, which made for a great introduction to the scene outside the city gates.
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imageThe trip then took a quick turn into side show stunts, at the cobra show! As these local trainers teased, kissed, and wrestled every venomous snake roaming Thailand, we sat and starred in amazement. Occasionally I felt the need to jump up out of my front row seat. These were the moments that I doubted my confidence in just how much control these crazy men were of the snakes. Thinking back, it’s amazing how much trust is put into the local talent. Sitting only a few feet away from danger you have to think, “what if it’s this guys first day on the job!”
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Next stop, Elephants! There is a lot of mixed feelings about any animal shows (including the Cobras)…are they taken care of?are they happy?where is the money going? Just do as much research as you can and see what you feel comfortable with. My experience was pleasant. The elephants up close were amazing! And recently after doing some reading of my own, about them Elephants, I have placed them in my top five favorite animals! Did you know … that elephants grieve like humans. They can even shed a tear!
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The performance by the elephants was a little unsettling but their talents were impressive especially the soccer skills. As they mention this particular company sells the elephants paintings to raise money for their care and I was excited to come across those painting being sold,  at a market in Sydney, Australia.
I got to experience a very uncomfortable, very authentic OX cart ride.
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The day ended with white water rafting! Which despite the cold water temper urges, was a thrilling way to end the day! image

Markets & Bazaars

imageIn my travel reading I came across many recommendations to check out the markets of Chiang Mai, and they did not disappoint.
The bearable evening temperatures of northern Thailand made it enjoyable to explore our city surroundings. And we were lucky to discover the Sunday night market our first night in the new city.
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So many colorful handcrafted souvenirs, I wanted them all! But I know all to well , that  these intoxicating markets of great bargains, small gifts, and memorable trinkets add up to not enough room in your backpack and a lot of “why did I buy this” kind of questions.image
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We decided to take “it’s the thought that counts” to another level, and photograph what we would have bought our friends and family on the trip, instead of actually doing so.
imageThis photo is for my niece. I thought of you. I would have bought this for you, but I didn’t.
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We definitely indulged in the market food! Always room for good eats!
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Love the hustle and energy of the markets!

Four Corners of Railay

imageIt’s so often said, “I wish I would have spent more time at Railay”. A small peninsula floating off the south west corner of Thailand, Railay is an easy to get to getaway. The peninsula splits down the middle, west side resorts and the east side backpackers. Only a ten minute walk from one side to the other provides you with the best of both worlds.
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Through the jungle, passed the monkeys, and around the big rocks, I was lucky to see one of the most beautiful beaches thus far. Once the tourists left on the many boats that came in for an afternoon swim, the beach became ours and was a thrill to explore.
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This non religious shrine to a princess goddess who has been know to live there has given sailors luck as the head to sea. In return, gifts are given in the form of lingams. It is believed that lingams will create fertility and prosperity to the whole earth and mankind. You do not need to bow to the her ;)
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Sunsets just don’t do bad photos, and the west side of Railay only proved that point. Every night the beach filled with travelers drinking a island cocktail, having an evening picnic, or playing some pastime games with the family. image
Once the sun goes down head to the party side, the cheap side, the backpackers …east side. Our nights entertainment was filled with impressive live music including covers from todays top artist! Most impressive, the local artists lose their accents as soon as the mic turns on. Next act, fire acrobats, as they threw, spun, tossed anything they could light on fire, you could wonder how these professionals got their start. Well, it’s only a hobby for them, and for some just something to try out. As they pulled in innocent bystanders to become part of their thrilling and dangerous tricks, I hid behind my camera. While blazes of fire whizzed passed my friends face she glistened in sweat from the heat and nerves.image

Bamboo Tattoo

imageIn Thailand tattoo shops are as common as Starbucks and fortunately the price for a small tat is not far off from a grande! Making it very hard for my friend not to get yet anotherone. With five tattoos she is experienced and as she says “addicted to the pain, pleasure, and bad ass persona”. But what pushed her and I to give it a go was the original art of tattoo by bamboo!
imageAfter watching several individuals embrace the tradition of the hand chiseled bamboo, it only took my friend a day to know what she would get. By the next town we were shopping around for a clean, friendly, and talented tattoo artist. Family Tattoo in Krabi, Thailand would be that place. A friendly Dutchman sold us on the establishment. He was returning from Holland to Family Tattoo for more and this time with his son for his first. imageimageimageWatching the procedure was fascinating. The bamboo is shaved down and several clean needles are secured to the end. Then it’s all up to the pressure a d talent of the artist’s steady hand. The recovery of tattoo by bamboo is shorter, exposure to sun and salt water is of no concern, just no pool or scrubbing. imageimageI knew if i didn’t decide to get my one and only tattoo in Thailand, I never would. It wasn’t until our last days in Pai, Thailand that I was ready to get stamped with the simple design that had floated in my thoughts for sometime. A representation of my loved ones, equality, balance, motivation, and being open minded. To me his 1×1 cm says a lot in a very simple way and I couldn’t be happier with my thailand bamboo tattoo!image
Thank you Korn Tattoo for my first tattoo!

The Variety Show

It’s true what they say about Thailand, it’s easy to travel, cheap, and when you ask for mild spice be prepared for atomic. Travel agents are usually a one stop shop for all the attractions you will want to see in the area. Just go to a recommended source and get yourself a good deal. Botta Bing Botta Boom! imageWe decided to jump on a all day tour in Krabi to see the variation of attractions that southwest Thailand had to offer. imageimageJames Bond Island. Or Khao Phing Kan as you could also call it. People roll in on long tail boats and speed boats to get a peek and play out the scene from The Man With The Golden Gun. Because there are only so many pictures you can take of a big rock or of yourself, I ended up (as usual) capturing the interesting tourists that walked amongst me. imageimageFloating Island. This is where we stopped for our lunch. While most of the tour took this time to sit and try to cool down under the fans or do a little shopping. I made it a point to devour my lunch and use the remaining time to explore how people might live in city made on stilts. This, to me, was my favorite part of the tour. Of course the part that wasn’t included and it was absolutely fascinating. imageMonkey Temple. Wild monkeys run amok around the cave. If your dream is to have monkeys crawl on you and to eat out of your hand then get yourself some bananas cause this is the place for you.That was never a dream of mine. Unless we’re talking Orangoutangs. imageI found the Temple inside the cave to be enchanting. The many buddhas and the resident monk was a beautiful distraction from the outside chaos. A local showed me how to receive my prophecy and informed me if it’s not to my liking I may leave it at the temple. That’s not a bad deal. imageBetween the cave, monkeys, and beautiful gold statues I felt like my James Bond tour had turned into and Indiana Jones attraction.imageWaterfall. Last stop. A park with a narrow waterfall and ample pools. Locals were enjoying a evening swim with friends and families. Making for a good end to a long day of sights.
Now for another massage…

imageOne of the worlds top parties, a howling display of party animals, neon colors, fire throwing circus acts, and the most energized dance moves only a full moon could attract! The line up of parties before the full moon (the waterfall party, the jungle party, etc..) can either prepare you for whats to come or exhaust you before the main event. Every month thirty thousand people come covering every grain of sand of the Haad Rin beach, prepared to rage or at least witness the spectacle which is, the full moon party. imageimageimageimageimageimageWhat to be warned about; lock your things up in hotel, break-ins can occur if your sleeping close to the chaos. Don’t use the bucket. Get the cheap drinks but ask to mix it yourself in the empty water bottle you bring. You don’t know what will could be mixed into your drink or thrown into your bucket by strangers. Plus, with a lid you can dance without spilling your drink.

Student Driver in Koh Pha Ngan

imageIf your usual mode of transportation is moped or a motor bike then I don’t have to tell you how much fun it is! For those of you who have not yet tried, or only been the passenger, or only test drove one, then it’s time to try again. I’m not encouraging you to jump on a busy highway, but to take yourself to an island like Pha Ngan, Thailand and give it a go. Easier said then done. imageFor only seven dollars we rented a motor bike to explore the north side of the island knowing very well we had no idea what we were doing. When we asked the sweet owner of the bike to actually show us how it works fear set in her eyes. We knew we would pick up on it quickly but the reminder to stay to the left of the road was much needed for the both of us. What a great feeling, the open road, the wind hitting my helmet, going into the unknown, all with the comfort of bring on a small island and therefore limiting the possibility of getting lost. We came upon a park with an outdoor gym, a Chinese temple, and a quint lunch spot, with plenty of stories in between. With our moped adventure I can confidently say we saw the island of Koh Pha Ngan. imageimageimageimage

A Beach

imageWe were told about a side of the island where not many people venture, a strip of beach with only one resort but plenty of bungalows. A quite, colorful collection of the selected travelers that choose to venture away from the party in Haad Rin. We took the advice to take the ten minute long boat ride around the corner. I was impressed with what I was coming upon. For the first time I understood the possibility of the truth in the novel, The Beach, and I wasn’t even close.
I would give you a map to this beach but if I learned anything from the movie, it’s gonna come to back to bite me in the ass. So just google it, Haad Yuan, Thailand.imageimageimageimage

Noted With Thanks

imageOver the past several months I’ve experienced all types of celebrations and traditions but for me nothing beats Thanksgiving and all it has come to represent. This year I will be missing out on my families traditions, to live out a dream I have had to travel the world. And I am grateful, I am grateful to have this time to realize even more what I love about home, family, and friends. I might be far away, but over the last few months I have come to understand those I am close to and truly love, more than I ever had before. It hasn’t been the phone cards and wifi that have given me this chance, but the time I am without them. Whether it be alone, talking with a new friend, or just a lesson from observing a complete stranger, I found myself reflecting on who and what I have in my life. Stepping away from home has given me a chance not only to understand, but identify what I am thankful for.

I could tell you that in my travels I have met many people with far less than you and you should be thankful for what you have. And although it is true we have heard it all before. There is no comparison. Life brings different things to different people. With one thing we all have in common, there is always something to appreciate and be thankful for. No matter how faint it is, it is there, and that flicker will become a flame if you feed it. Grateful things come to grateful people.

So as I sit in Bali, ten thousand miles away from home, I know I won’t have all the trimmings I love about thanksgiving (autumn air, loud family, sweaters, tv in the distance, cuddling up on the couch) but the one tradition I will always have, from anywhere in the world, is the simplicity of giving thanks…I am thankful to all of you who give me love, support, and inspire me each and everyday!

Lady Boys Of Bangkok

imageEvery time I asked a local what I should do with my time in Bangkok the infamous lady boys made the list. So we had to. The raunchy ping pong show, I could do without, but the lady boys were a must. What we pictured the popular Calypso Cabernet Show to be was a showgirl display of exotic acts by a mixture of all gender parts. Yes, we were going to pay for this. When in Bangkok!
But upon arriving at the riverside Asiatique theater we were shocked! It wasn’t a run down or hidden theater, it was a beautiful park of shops and restaurants with the theater as a main attraction. The calypso show was something serious. The classy theater was made up of white marble and red velvet seats. One free cocktail and the show would began.
They introduced themselves, pageant style, wearing gowns of all extravagant designs. I still thought those dresses were going to be ripped off and the show would start, but they never did. Each act was an entertaining display of interesting dance moves and lip syncing! I loved the humorous flamboyant broadway spectacular! And was thoroughly entertained by the costumes and artistic take of English pop songs. As for my friend, I think she had prepared herself to see something of the ping pong show stature (or hangover two trannies) and therefore just a little disappointed in just how classy these ladies were. imageimageimageimageimage