Last Thoughts, Comments & Photos of Thailand

March 10, 2017

We are home now from our Thai adventure, but there are a few thoughts & many images I’d still like to share before I revert back to the usual conservative political commentary that I normally spew. It was a great trip but an absolute killer two days of flying home. Too damn long in airports and in the air but given the distance I guess it can’t be helped. This will be my last Thailand post.

Imagine dinnertime approaching and you don’t feel like cooking (me nearly every night). I don’t mind cooking, but every night? Ugh! So what if you could just step out your door, walk a few steps (a block or two at the most), and have a variety fresh-cooked, hot & cold food to choose from? You can, street food is everywhere in Thailand!

If you don’t like what you see just walk a little further. There are people prepping and cooking almost everything imaginable along every street from morning till night. When it’s over 90° a fresh squeezed, iced pomegranate or tangerine juice (for a little over a dollar) goes down really well.

Ice cold pomegranate juice

There’s all kinds of meat on skewers; chicken, shrimp or pork either small pieces or minced and mixed with various spices & condiments and then fire roasted. Spicy green papaya salad is another favorite. And there are quite a few unidentifiable choices. You either go for it or you don’t.

This lady has a selection of curries and some roasted pork

Seafood from the night market

Khaw Soi -a dish I made in my cooking class

Typical condiments which accompany many meals

Being in Chiang Mai for ten days (still a city, but much smaller than Bangkok) gave us enough time to find a few favorite spots to eat. One was an open-air restaurant as most of them are, called Ugo. It was a good place to people-watch and the food was great. One of the regular waitresses at Ugo spoke very good English. We complimented her and asked where she learned to speak it so well. Turns out her mother sent her to Catholic school from 4th grade on specifically because they had a rigorous English requirement. I asked her if she was Catholic. “Oh no, I’m Buddhist” as are 93% of the Thai people.

Chicken wings from Ugo

A refreshing & cool cucumber, apple & mint drink also from Ugo

We did spend the majority of our time in cities but also got away a bit too. There just wasn’t enough time but we did visit a village of hill tribes where the people still live in the old way. Following are some photos of the hill tribe people and where they live.

Nearly 50% of the arable land in Thailand is in rice

A Kayan Hill Tribe “long neck lady”

Typical thatched homes of the Hill tribe people

And finally the ancient town of Ayutthaya about 80 miles north of Bangkok and the old capital of Siam, and Baan Thai House, my favorite spot of the trip.

Our room at Baan Thai House. Note the light-leak around the doors. The teak building if very old.

A peak-a-boo view of our cottage over the pond

We had a great, busy three weeks, saw many interesting things and experienced new and different foods, but as always it’s great to be back in Hawaii.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.


Temples & Dragons

March 8, 2017

I could never finish our Thailand chapter without mention of the many, many Buddhist temples. Dragons are another common feature in Buddhist culture. It is said when Buddha summoned all the world’s animals, after the long journey only a dozen made it and the dragon was one. They appear often in the architecture and throughout the temples and are a symbol of wisdom, longevity and supernatural power.

The amazing thing is these temples and Buddha statues are huge, elaborate and beautiful, many covered in gold, but somehow all the sidewalks are a wreck and the electrical wiring -OMG! -a rats’ nest. The sidewalks are cracked and crumbling with chunks missing and all buss-up as we say in Hawaii. You have to seriously watch your every step wherever you go or you’ll end up on your keester. This I know from experience!

Check out this electrical wiring & these sidewalks.

 

Note the size of the statue compared to the doors at the side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beautiful temples, statues and art work versus the busted up sidewalks and seemingly unconventional electrical work is quite a paradox, but nobody seems to bat an eye over it and we enjoyed all of it!

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

 


The Uniquely Thai Greeting

March 4, 2017

The Thai people are humble, very friendly, always eager to help and there’s always a lot of bowing with hands in the prayer position. I guess it’s the Buddhist influence. This is the typical Thai greeting, called the “Wai”. It is used to say hello, goodbye and thank you. The higher the hands are placed, the more respect is shown.

The Wai is common in Southeast Asia in the Buddhist countries of Cambodia and Laos. It is not a religious practice but can be part of rituals in religious observance.  Southeast Asia was subjected to a process of Indianisation and so probably the Wai has its origins in the Indian practice of ” Namaste ”

For us, the Wai began oddly enough on Korean Air where the possibly Thai flight attendants for the Bangkok bound flight approached each passenger, introduced themselves and thanked them for flying with them. The “Wai courtesy” was the same on Air Asia or Thai Air carried right through to the clerks in stores, the front desk people at hotels and even the many people preparing and selling street food all over Thailand.

Here are some common greetings that go along way even when you are obviously an outsider.

  • Sawadee = Hello
  • Kop kuhn ka = Thank you
  • Sabadee mai = how are you?

And when all else fails there’s always sign language or pantomime.

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)


Bangkok’s Chinatown

February 27, 2017

Every city has a Chinatown and Bangkok is no different. I’ve been to Chinatown in Honolulu and San Francisco, but somehow the Chinatown we visited here last night seemed more authentic to me. Maybe because this is due to all the foods & dishes we saw that I did not even recognize. And they weren’t so accommodating as to provide pictures so you’d have a better idea of what you were ordering. I have to admit we played it safe with spicy fried noodles with vegetables and barbequed pork with prawn wanton.

Some more sights and flavors of Bangkok’s Chinatown.

No question, that’s a pig’s snout

These are ducks (beaks to the right)

One of the many shops selling uniquely Chinese products

More Chinese street food- prawns, some kinds of foil-wrapped fish, and oysters 

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)


The Cannonball Tree

February 24, 2017

I’ve never seen this tree before even though I’m pretty familiar with tropical foliage. The common name in English is the Cannonball tree named for obvious reasons. The fruit (cannonballs) are very heavy and the flowers look somewhat like the Venus Flytrap and there are some wicked thorns.

Another name for this tree is the Sala Tree and per google, it’s main usage seems to be medicinal, specifically for veternary purposes. The pulp is fed to chickens as a vaccine against respiratory and other diseases. It is also rubbed into the skin of mangy dogs (seen a few of those), and the stem, bark & flowers have antifungal qualities. As you can see, the flowers are quite pretty.

Other than this, the vegetation looks pretty much like what we’re used to in Hawaii, although the papayas are much bigger with orange pulp and not as sweet as our Solo Papayas are. Of course, coconuts are a mainstay and I’ve already had a coconut milk popsicle today as a heat deterrent while visiting a few of the many temples (Wat) which are everywhere around Ayutthaya.

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)


Our Little Oasis in Ayutthaya At Baan Thai House

February 23, 2017

After too many hours in the airport at Chiang Mai and a very hot train ride to Attuthaya (an hour or so north of Bangkok by train) we made it to our hotel, Baan Thai House. We’re now at this very moment relaxing with a cold beer.

Here’s the drill when we get to a new locale. We almost always seem to pay too much for a taxi or tuk-tuk until we get a feel (trial & error really) for what the going rate should be and varies a lot from city to city. And especially outside of the city you can’t always count on people being able to understand or speak English so you find someone who can speak a little  -teenagers are a good bet, get them to help you by writing your destination in Thai on a scrap of paper. Then when it comes to a taxi or tuk-tuk driver they can figure out where you want them to take you, but don’t forget to negotiate! On the way back you give them the business card of the hotel also in Thai then you don’t get lost. Duck soup right? Sometimes. The going rate for transportation into town here by tuk-tuk (no taxis here cause we’re not in the town) seems to be between 100-120 Thai baht or about $3.00.

Here are some photos of our cottage and the grounds at Baan Thai House.

Here are some more photos of the grounds of Baan Thai House. It’s my favorite of all the places we’ve stayed cause it’s not so “hotel-like”.

Today is our last day in Ayutthaya. We’re going to catch the train back to Bangkok for 3 more days in that city before the long slog home, but Baan Thai House is a nice last memory.

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)


The Elephant Retirement Park

February 18, 2017

We found out about the Elephant Sanctuary from Dee-Dee the Australian lady we rented our Airbnb place from in Chiang Mai. In the information she provided on her rental (which we ditched after spending only the 1st night, the subject for another blog post), she asked people to choose wisely when visiting elephants. Some places give rides, some have trained the elephants to paint and do other silly things. These places she informed us over-worked & mistreated the animals all to make the tourist dollars.

But she told us there were a few retirement camps for injured or mistreated elephants, so that’s what we sought out. It was good fun. The place we visited had 6 elephants, all Asian elephants as opposed to African elephants. 

Five females and one 1000-kilo male. The youngest they had was a baby of 6 months. The baby was born there and will remain throughout it’s 80-90 year life because he would be shunned in the wild by other elephants outside of the park setting. 

These are stylish clothes they give us to change into before playing with the elephants

Here the elephants which were brought in as injured or sick are nursed back to health and honestly live a pretty sweet life from what we saw. 


One such critter had been used in construction work (in place of more costly machinery) moving or crushing rocks and ended up with a broken leg. Lucky for her she was rescued.

This the one of the Mahoots (trainers) and our guide

There is a Mahoot for every elephant or mother-baby group and they live there in the camp and take care of the same elephant all the time. 

These are the Mahoot quarters

The elephants eat all day long -and they eat a lot. The camp, something like 40 acres, grows all the food needed for the elephants. We fed them peeled and cut up pieces of sugar cane, lots of bananas and bamboo leaves. Their diet is so fibrous they actually make paper out of the poop! All in all it was a great day and we learned a lot about Asian elephants -up close & personal.

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)


%d bloggers like this: