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Destinations, Photography, Short and Sweet and Scattershot, Thailand

Memories of Hua Hin

November 12, 2013

So, Hua Hin.

The vacation city overlooking the Gulf of Thailand was our final stop in Southeast Asia. A spot where we dropped our bags, dropped our go-go-go, and took time to indulge in slow days, fast motorbikes, fresh fish, old gardens, hot coffees, and torch-lit dinners along the sandy shore.

Prior to arrival, we’d explored Wats in Bangkok, taken the overnight train to Chiang Mai, relaxed among the dragonfruits growing in the northern Thai countryside, dabbled in the kitchen, crossed into Laos and floated two days down the Mekong River, bused into Cambodia in time to join nationwide mourning for the death of a king, and eventually ended up full circle back in Bangkok, prepared for one final Asian adventure before departure to New Zealand. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Featured Places, Food, Thailand

Creamy-Sweet and Salty-Hot Cooking Lessons in Chiang Mai

December 9, 2012

Q: What’s the next best thing to growing up in Thailand and learning to cook Thai food from your mom?

A: Taking cooking lessons in Chiang Mai from a local Thai chef, learning secrets she learned from her mom and tricks of the trade she’s picked up as a pro in Thailand…and around the world.

Celebrity Thai Chef “Yui” Siripen Sriyabhaya, at her home-based A Lot of Thai Cooking School

Here’s the thing. Much like any spot in the world open to eager tourists, Chiang Mai is chalk full of touted “authentic” experiences. Elephant rides and cooking schools, for example. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Featured Places, Food, Landscape Architecture, Thailand

The Travelling Soul: In Search of the Northern Thai Spirit at Tamarind Village

December 7, 2012

The most beautiful glimpse into Lanna culture came from an unexpected turn down a lantern-lit walkway. After admiring handicrafts and tasting our way through local dishes during a warm evening wander through Chaing Mai’s Sunday Market street stalls, Ted pulled me aside.

“What’s down there?”

A bamboo grove lit by spotlights and floating lanterns beckoned us onward, away from the noise of the street and toward the promise of a grand discovery. The flags said something about Travelling Souls… Continue Reading…

Destinations, Musings, Thailand

Remnants of a Kingdom: Snippets from Life in Lanna

December 6, 2012

Time rushes by, changing the shape of life, leaving traces of history in its wake.

Wat Lok Molee, Chiang Mai, Thailand: Lanna Architecture dating to the 14th and 16th Centuries

Chiang Mai, Thailand. I knew it by reputation only from other travelers who ranked the ancient city according to its satisfying food culture, internet connectivity, and ease of access along “the route” through Southeast Asia. In my mind, I supposed it existed as a fortified outpost of location-independent entrepreneurs and thoughtful sojourners sustaining themselves on cheap street eats and sharing the buzz through online media.

In many ways, it proved gratefully so.

In other ways, Chiang Mai revealed itself differently to us, giving unexpected gifts of retreat and solitude, a healthy disconnect and an appetite for observing, learning, and living well.

Naively we entered the former capitol of the Lanna Kingdom.

I readily admit I’m only just beginning to learn the outlines of Thai history.

I’d never heard of the Kingdom of Lanna.

We came based on Chiang Mai’s reputation as a worthwhile stop on the traveler’s circuit and instead stepped into a culture with roots deeper and wider than the boundaries of Northern Thailand and ripe with meaning to discover. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Thailand

Avoiding Wat Weariness in Asia: Temple of the Reclining Buddha

December 2, 2012

Like symptoms of an overzealous Cathedral Craze in Europe, too many visits to too many Buddhist Temples in Southeast Asia soon cause Wat Weariness.

wat [wɑːt]

n(Non-Christian Religions / Buddhism) a Thai Buddhist monastery or temple

[Thai, from Sanskrit vāta enclosure]

Yes, the “seen one, seen ’em all” attitude runs the risk of missing beautiful spots, but the “must make a stop at each recommended site” leaning leads to lunacy.

Throughout Southeast Asia, we took the following approach: When feeling energetic and curious, we’d poke around places and give them our attention and appreciation. When we weren’t, we didn’t.

Hence, no visits this trip to Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Saket, Wat Benchamabophit, Wat Traimit, Wat Prayoon, Wat Suthat, Wat Mahathat, or Wat Arun (well, unless you count our balcony overlook across the river at sunset).

But…we did decide to explore the temple grounds at Wat Phrachetuphon Vimon Mangkararam Ratchaworamahawihan (let’s call it Wat Pho, for short), and absolutely enjoyed the calm, unhurried visit. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Food, Thailand

Onward to Asia: Surprised In Bangkok

December 1, 2012

Hey friends, welcome to Asia! We’ve sunk completely into New Zealand life after completing a five-week tour of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. At long last, with a bit of reasonable wifi and more than a few cups of tea and toastie sandwiches to fuel the photo sorting and story gathering, we’re finally set to start sharing the new series. Hope you enjoy the tales as much as we enjoyed the adventures! Cheers, Bethany

Aspects of Asia intimidated me. Challenging alphabets, unidentifiable ingredients, eastern traditions of dress and worship and dwelling. Mayhem on the roadways. All so decidedly different from my upbringing as an English-speaking westerner living in calm-as-mashed-potatoes Oregon.

Bangkok, Thailand made sense on the map when we worked out our RTW route: an easy jump into the shallow end of Southeast Asia, a hub for accessing neighboring countries. We bought the tickets and committed, and I fully expected to do more research and trip planning while we were in Africa. Reality took a different shape: our wifi access was expensive and limited during the string of months leading to arrival, and quite unlike our preparation for beginning-of-the-trip South America, we had little on hand in terms of guidebooks, itineraries, or resources.

Thankfully, our friend Lindsay posted Love at First Sight about her summer visit, and Meg and Tony, our pals at Landing Standing, shared their (promising!) First Impressions of Bustling Bangkok. Others, like Bethaney at Flashpacker Family, wrote about Tough Times in Bangkok. After experiencing our own bouts of travel fatigue and more than a few cravings for stability and calm, we honestly didn’t know what to expect. Continue Reading…