NEW YEAR IN CHIANG MAI AND 350+ MILES ON SCOOTERS

Our first stop in Thailand was Chiang Mai, the second largest city. It was gritty, fast paced and overwhelming. It was also safe, friendly, and seemed like a place you could find anything in. It was a great a place to start. Our schedule was arrive, have one full day, day 2 leave for elephants, day 3 come back to Chiang Mai, day 4 Chiang Mai, days 5-7 take our 350+ mile scooter ride, day 7 return to Chiang Mao, day 8 fly to Krabi for the beach.

Thai New Year was day 3-5 (4/13-15). To purify you for the new year people throw water on you. For 3 days. Chiang Mai is also the biggest celebration of this. Everywhere along the moat around the inner city there are Thai people set up with buckets, water guns, and hoses drenching everyone around. We can’t drink the tap water here let alone the very brown moat water, so it’s also an exercise of clamping your eyes and mouth shut since lots of people get sick.

It is a hell of a lot of fun though. There are unspoken rules though, no water in restaurant or on people near food stalls, and no water in the face of little old ladies. Otherwise it’s every man for themselves. We cut the tops off large water bottles for our weapons and dipped into the many trash cans full of water on the street. It was also 90-100+° which made getting soaked great. There were thousands of people participating between Thai and tourists.

The trouble began on the first day of our scooter trip and the longest, about 5-6 hours of driving. The first 3+ hours of getting water thrown on you wasn’t so bad, it was hella hot and we dried immediately due to the dry heat. But the back half I went over my limit, not that there was a damn thing I could do about it. They took great joy in throwing about twice as many buckets on me than A. probably because I was a girl. I’d estimate I had around 50 buckets of water thrown in my face on the ride. I was not amused.

People would actually form a line in the road so you couldn’t get through and then they’d all line up and get you. Adults and kids. A lot of four letter words were used mentally. Every truck was also a potential danger because every truck back was full of people with a big container of water so they could drive around dousing people, preferably people on scooters. Getting a bucket of water thrown in your face at 40mph feels like getting punched in the nose.

Besides their never-ending New Year celebration (they continued in smaller numbers the day after it ended) the scooter trip was epic. We drove through the mountains and saw beautiful jungle, farm lands, small villages, and quite a few chickens. We went up the highest mountain in Thailand, went to some spectacular waterfalls, and peeped some gorgeous temples in the mountains. Our first night was in Mae Hong Son and we would have spent a few days there if we hadn’t already booked some other stuff. Very cool town and great/cheap place to stay (Piya Guest House). Some very cool temples and we got to see some muay thai boxing for free. We also met some dudes from Texas, I’m beginning to think Texans are like Australians, they’re everywhere.

**obviously our scooters were much more high powered than our poor scootscoot. We also wore helmets Mom and I wouldn’t go faster than 70kmh

Walking With Elephants

When we first started discussing Thailand I had a dream of petting tigers. I had read about Tiger Temple and imagine it this perfect place where monks really did exist harmoniously with tigers. I was beyond stolked. Then I started doing research and learned the really unsurprising (when you actually think about it) truth that to pet full grown tigers they have to be drugged or chained. I couldn’t bring myself to visit any of the Thailand tiger attractions as a result (A. was relieved since he believes you shouldn’t do anything that if you were to be hurt or die people would be like ‘duh’). However, I wasn’t leaving Thailand without some significant animal interaction.

So I started researching elephants and found a rescue center that we could visit and stay overnight, The Elephant Nature Park. We went on our 4th day in Thailand. It was hella hot (100°+), but the experience was amazing.

They rescue elephants from street begging, circuses, trekking camps (tourist rides), and logging camps in Burma. Each elephant needs to be purchased from their owners so despite the abuse the park needs to maintain positive relationships with the groups that own them or risk being shut out. Apparently every elephant you meet in Thailand that didn’t have the rare fortune of being born at the park or rescued at a young age was ‘broken’ through at least 3 days of torture in a tiny enclosure, we watched some video and it’s ugly stuff.

The park was pretty amazing. They have 38 elephants ranging from little babies to old ladies. Some are healthy and doing well, but most have some sort of trauma that may or may not be visible. The saddest was one very gentle girl who had a badly healed broken leg and hips from separate injury occasions. There were also several with broken backs from carrying tourists, apparently not a healthy activity for them.

While we were there we got to hand feed them, pet them, and was them over the two days we were there. They were absolutely amazing animals, especially looking at how they care for each other. They have several blind one from mistreatment and cataracts, and each has at least one “seeing elephant” that had bonded with them and stays with them always. Each elephant was with their Mahoot (a person responsible for them at all times) and no restraints or discipline tools. The gentle/friendly ones we got to interact with up close while they were loose, the less friendly or ones with babies we observed from a little distance. It was cool to b able to have so much interaction while not imposing on the animal’s needs.

The park also rescue dogs and cats and I finally got to pet some (A. calls them “fuzzy deaths”) because they rabies vaccinate. It was much needed since everyone has cats and dogs here. There were around 200 dogs there, most in the dog rescue kennel, but probably around 40 free range.

Overall it was amazing to spend time and learn about such beautiful animals. It was inspiring to hear about all of the park’s efforts to try and change something so ingrained in Thailand’s culture.

Look forward to lots of elephant photos when I have a real computer in a month or so.

Why I Can’t Survive In the Wild

One time in college I went to a cave man party (at Panarchy, for my fellow Dartmouth geeks). You showed up and there was a bunch of animal print cloth that you made an outfit out of to change into. Then you went out back and roasted meat on the end of your long pointy stick (spear if you will) on a roaring fire and drank a 40. Totally authentic cave man experience. I was a bit of a failure and my meat kept falling off my stick into the fire. Finally my friend Adam took pity on me and cooked me some. He told me I’d never have survived cave man life, but I told him I’d do exactly the same thing and get someone to cook my meat.
This story sprang to mind given my current problem track record in Thailand. I’ve been here one week and this is how I’m doing:
1. Came here with what turned into the biggest and worst canker sore I’ve ever had. It’s right by my throat so it hurt to eat, drink, and exist (finally mostly pain free after a week of being here). So I couldn’t eat much without being in pain, and had to avoid anything spicy. In Thailand. Basically I got to be the picky white girl that was encouraged relentlessly almost everywhere to try spicy food because language limitations made explaining the problem pretty much impossible.
2. After my first 24 hours I got sick and had to take the antibiotics for 3 days.
3. I had a spoonful of A’s coconut curry (I get sick from coconut milk, but can handle a few bites) got sick immediately so that will be the last coconut milk I have in Thailand which is in 60% of all delicious things. However, coconut water and I are ride or die. No clue how these two things are simultaneously possible.
4. I get headaches from the heat way easier than A. which has happened twice in a week.
5. We went on a 3 day scooter adventure and after the first day (close to 6 hours of driving in 100+ degrees at times) I ended up with a very sore/chafed behind that wasn’t improved by the next two days of driving. A. is of course fine.

So I’ve either shot the moon in my first week or I’m coming home in a body cast.***


***please note that in spite of my physical short comings, we’re having an amazing time so far.

Made it to Thailand

After months of planning A. And I quit our jobs and are in Thailand. We landed late last night after a very long trip from San Francisco that started Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately I’m probably not going to be able to post photos on these blogs, but hopefully the stories will be entertaining enough.

We landed in Bangkok last night and flew to Chiang Mai today. We’re staying at the Ramming Lodge for these next two days before we go for an overnight at an elephant sanctuary and then return to Chiang Mai for another couple of days. We’ll be here for a month total.

So far it’s a very friendly country. We’ve had one meal and it was about $7 total and absolutely delicious. We walked around the city a bit and checked out some temples. Apparently the monks are really into cats and dogs, however Thailand isn’t into rabies shots so A. tells me every time I see them that I’m not allowed to pet any (animals, not monks).

On the way back to the hotel we did the feet/fish thing where you sit with your feet in a fish tank and they nibble all the dry skin off. It feels like your foot has fallen asleep, very tingly. Then we got foot massages which were great. All together it cost about $4.50 each. Bananas. Also the girl giving me a foot massage totally made fun of the girl giving A. a foot massage because of his feet. She did it in Thai, but it was clear what was going on. Especially since she grabbed his toe to demonstrate her point.

We also ran into some individuals celebrating Thai New Year early and got soaked. It officially starts tomorrow and there are people selling water guns on ever corner. Should be crazy. Going to have to keep our lips pursed because you can’t drink the water!

Aussie count is currently 1. I expect to reach double digits be for we’re halfway through.

kissing-whiskey

Just so we’re clear on how radical and extremist the Republican Party is…

eraof-goodfeelings:

So just to clarify, the Affordable Care Act

  • Passed both the House and the Senate
  • Was signed into law by Obama in 2010
  • Was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court in 2012

And yet now it’s 2013 and the GOP in the House has voted 40 times to repeal it and is now going to shut down the fucking government because they can’t handle the democratic process.

Ok.

whatshouldwecallme

How I act around my crush

whatshouldwecallme:

In kindergarten: 

image

Now:

image

In 6th grade I passed the “I like you, do you like me? Circle yes or no” note to my crush. (I got a yes and an awkward summer romance that broke my little 12 year old heart when school started).

A little over 8 years ago I blurted out to my now husband while we were hanging out “I like you!”

Stick with what you know.