Kindness

May. 10th, 2007 11:40 pm
canyonwren: (In the garden)
I saw this sign at a forest Wat above Chiang Mai. Of all the Buddhist temples I visited while there, this was my hands-down favorite. It was humble and tucked away in the trees, with these handmade signs scattered about. A typically rich, though small, temple was under construction, but the established buildings were elegant and poor. Very refreshing with the gilded and lavish wats in the city.

The sign really captured something for me. Just that nebulous thought that I've tried to pin down and live by -

Be Kind sign

I've been trying to formulate a post about this for a little while, but it really comes down to the same thing I've been saying about happiness and survival. Kindness is yet another state of being that's easy when life is going well. Being happy, kind, gracious and vibrant with life is easy when wealth of spirit is spilling through your cupped hands. Nothing new here.

I've spent some time arguing with myself over this entire concept, recently. Looking past behavior, that is. I don't know how much I believe that anymore, but I still believe in being kind. It can be hard to run up against people who don't agree, but I suppose that's the behavior the sign is referencing. Life is so delightfully multi-faceted at times.
canyonwren: (Default)
I think this'll be my last group photo post, at least following the timeline of my trip. I've loaded 91 pics into my Thailand photoset, but now I want to go back and add in the ~200 pics I skipped over. So many of them are really nice.

A few of my favorites from the rest of the trip. )
canyonwren: (Default)
RARR2

I can't help but see these guys as a chorus line or cheerleaders. They're the cutest temple guardians I've ever seen.
canyonwren: (Default)
I hope you guys aren't getting sick of this yet! :D I'm having tons of fun.

I actually just upgraded my Flickr account to Pro and will be uploading just about every pic from Thailand, Peru and godknowswhatelse as I have time. I'll continue just posting 6-7 pics that I like the most out of every area, but I'll post the link to the Thailand set when I have that finished.

Because I know, of course, that you're all dying to look at every single pic I've ever taken.

Anyway! After a day in Chiang Mai, I hopped on a bus down to Chom Thong and began my adventure to reach the summit of the highest peak in Thailand.

Seven pics from the first day. )
canyonwren: (Default)
This is when I arrived in Chiang Mai. This is before I took off to Doi Inthanon. Just four quick pics for now. I took a lot more Chiang Mai pics after I got back from the park.

The Dog and the Butterfly... )
canyonwren: (Default)
I wasn't sure if I was going to post these, but they're loaded up into my Flickr account, so I may as well. Just a few final pics of Mae Salong. I'll move on to posting Chiang Mai stories and photos in a bit.

Pony pics and more! )
canyonwren: (Default)
Especially for [livejournal.com profile] polyhex and [livejournal.com profile] sculpin, who expressed enjoyment of the weird Tea Disneyland we stumbled across.

Here there be Lions! )
canyonwren: (Default)
Continuing on with a the illustrated travel memoirs...

Giant teapots ahoy! )
canyonwren: (Default)
Seven pics under the cut, including a kitten!

A few more pics of Railay )
canyonwren: (In the garden)
Thailand Evening with an Orchid

February's Flower Photo of the Month. I know, I haven't posted January's Flower Photo yet. I'll get around to it later. This is my second anniversary of doing the monthly hair pic with flowers.

This orchid was originally in a pina colada, by the way. Photo by the inestimable Franciepants.
canyonwren: (Default)
I'm going to do several photo posts as I have time. Here's the start, when I first arrived, met Francie and Greg, and immediately set out for the beach called Railay. (Six pics.)

Underneath this cut there are MONKEYS )
canyonwren: (Default)
While waiting for my pics to load, I did some research on my delicately embroidered Hmong tapestry. It's a wonderful cacophony of animals, probably drawn from folklore. There were also many tapestries that played out the story of the Hmong migrations from one place to another, for various reasons.

While trying to get some information on the style, I came across this charming book, which I may have to buy. It's done in the same style as my story cloth.

I'm going to get my tapestry framed, I think. It's awfully large, so the framing will probably cost a bunch more than the tapestry did, but I definitely want to take care of it.

I'll post a photo of it sometime. It's the first one of its kind that I saw and I fell in love with it. I shortly discovered that there were many others at the market, all slightly different. I couldn't decide which to get and finally settled on my first love. It's spread out on my bed now and I'm just as enchanted as ever.

I probably won't be posting any photos tonight. I need to get to bed to see if I can recover from this awful jet lag by tomorrow.


ETA: Ooh! Story Cloth. Look carefully at the front cover for an excellent story cloth example, as opposed to the folkloric animal style of tapestry. I may have to buy this book as well.
canyonwren: (Default)
Okay, it's the same terminal. I was just turned around. The sushi was better this time, but frankly, not great. I want to go back to Masu, [livejournal.com profile] dianyla!

There is a man on another computer sitting near me. He was on the plane coming in from Bangkok and when it landed, remained seated with his wife while other people got up and started gathering their items. I always get up quickly, because I'm always dying to stretch my legs and I'd rather stand for five minutes than sit while waiting for the crowd to clear out. Well, he and his wife loudly smirked how they were "seasoned travellers" because they remained sitting on their asses during this period. That's some people's preference, yes. I rolled my eyes and said loudly to my neighbor, "Boy, it feels great to stretch my legs!" What asses. How come there are always "I'm a better/more experienced traveller than thou" idiots wherever you go?

There was another old fart on another flight. (I've had four internal flights in Thailand, going to and fro the north and south.) He was deliberately blocking the way because he didn't see "why we were in such a hurry to get off the plane." Gah! What around 24 hours of travel isn't enough reason? And a late plane and people waiting in a cafe for hours wondering where I was? Travel snobs. I hate 'em.

Another person is sitting near me on the computer terminals. She was my neighbor on the flight out and told me she spent six weeks in Thailand doing meditation and yoga and so forth. And she's pissed off as hell that she's coming back to the States where everybody is so rude!! She decided she's tired of talking to me, too. I could tell that by the way she ran away at first chance. :D For someone whose been is blissful meditation for over a month, she's a little angst-ridden.

Ah, travel brings out the best in everybody, I'm sure.

Another hour until I board the plane. I need to see if I can change my seat. I got stuck with a middle seat for some weird reason.
canyonwren: (tintin)
I'm in Tokyo again. Different terminal, so I need to find a place to get some sushi. I'm pretty tired and not looking forward to the next leg of the flight. Dunno how long it's going to be, but somewhere around 10-12 hours.
canyonwren: (tintin)
For my last day in and around Chiang Mai, Francie, Greg and I rented motorscooters (two of them--I was Francie's bitch) and went up to the beautiful Forest Wat. If I were to have a sex change operation and become a Buddhist monk, I would want to be at this temple. It's not all gilded and decorated like the others, but is a sweet little temple in the woods, with artistic signs on all the trees saying things like, "Money is like drinking salt water. The more you drink, the more you thirst." Or something like that. The Engrish abounded, but they were tons of fun to read.

They also had a grisly statue of the Fasting Buddha. Holy crap.

Afterward, Greg went back to the Smile House and Francie and I headed out of town to find the Elephant Sanctuary. Francie, I'd like to add, is a motorcycler and a speed demon. I never knew motorscooters could go that fast. It's kind of scary to be hanging on to a crazy woman while going 100km/hr with ill-fitting helmets down an insane expressway with different traffic rules, the first being that you drive on the *other* side of the street here. It was great! We had lots of guys hanging out of trusks trying to get our attention, as Greg wasn't around. Took us a few minutes to figure that one out.

We made it to 4km before the elephants (passing a snake farm, monkey center and orchid farms along the rural highway as we went) and the scooter went squirrely. Francie yelled back that it was scaring her, so we pulled over to find a flat.

Therefore commenced the Pushing of the Scooter. Them things are heavy! We pushed it a km--holy shit, a HUGE rat just walked by! It's the size of a CAT!-- um...and people kept passing us, giving us encouragement. Scooters are very common here and everyone could sympathize with a breakdown. We eventually found a phone and called Mr. Beer, the scooter guy. (Our helmets said BEER on the back.) He said, "Go fix it." Thanks, Mr. Beer.

So, we kept pushing it until we shortly came across a scooter-fixer place. I'm almost out of internet time, so I'll just say that we went out for coffee while it was being fixed at the little rural coffee shop close by, then blasted home. Even though we didn't see the Elephant Nursery or the Elephant dung (advertised), it was a lot of fun. Greg was highly relieved when we came back, though, being familiar with Francie's devilish nature on machines with two wheels.

I've got to learn to drive one! It's on the agenda. It'll make my next trip a lot easier.

Ummm...went out for Italian last night. Saw a statue of Tintin (see icon) along the way! That's all. Out of time! See you all in Tokyo!

Bangkok II

Feb. 20th, 2007 10:00 pm
canyonwren: (Default)
Well, that worked out well!

I asked the coffee shop guy what street was outside our part of the mall and zeroed in on the little backpacker bohemian alley just down the road. Met another traveller (why do I meet guys SO easily when I travel and never at home?) who walked with me there and on the third try, found a guesthouse with room. A GORGEOUS room for a surprisingly good price. And they arrange taxis for airport runs! She's going to give me a wakeup call at (ugh) 3 am and I've already prepaid for my taxi. Now I can relax and enjoy my night in Bangkok...

...which should probably involve sleep, unfortunately. And a shower. And decompression in my nice room.

Now, if I had a brain in my idiot head, I would have arranged the room before spending 4-5 hours in the mall across the street. Lugging that backpack around was a real pain in the back, neck and ass.

Now I'm all chipper and awake and want to go to the "friendly" part of town to get a massage. But no, I should grab my five hours of sleep. Or four hours of sleep and long shower. My gods, it's hot and muggy here. Chiang Mai was much cooler, especially at night.

Bangkok

Feb. 20th, 2007 09:01 pm
canyonwren: (tintin)
I'm hanging out in the middle of Bangkok at, believe it or not, a mall. One of the many huge, crazy shopping centers. I had the thought that the prices were so much better here, I might as well buy some work clothes. Ran out of steam pretty quickly, though. I hate malls and I hate clothes shopping, and this mall is pretty hellish for both. I'm trying to decide whether to orient myself and walk to a guesthouse or take a cab back to the airport and curl up in a corner. As nice as the former sounds, I think I'll do the latter. I have to be there by 4 am anyway. It's 9pm right now.

*sigh* I want to be somewhere else--even a nicer part of Bangkok--but I don't feel like taking on the city right now. I'm getting pretty tired. I wish the airport were a little more cozy.

I did buy some cute pants though, but at the price of realizing that I'm an XXL in Thai sizes. I'm simply enormous compared to the average Thai woman and these clothes are all designed for teenyboppers anyway.


ETA: Damn, I'm a Thai size 18. Of course, I would have worn smaller sizes if they were cut to have hips. They're too big around the waist and snug on the hips. These little girls over here are all skinnybutts.
canyonwren: (tintin)
I'm beginning to head home later on today. I may or may not update when I hit Tokyo, depending on how awake I am. I'm going to attempt a night out in Bangkok tonight and I fly out of there tomorrow. I'll reach Seattle Wednesday morning (Seattle time.) Funnily, by the clock, I leave Bangkok three hours earlier, but it sure ain't gonna be a three hour flight.
canyonwren: (Default)
Yesterday, I decided to stay in the city and recuperate from my two days conquering Doi Inthanon. Recuperation took the form of visiting a high-end Thai massage facility.

To spell out the difference, let me begin by saying that massage is a huge deal in Thailand. Chiang Mai, in particular, is mad about it. This is the part of the country where people come to learn the styles, including foreigners. However, there are different types of massage salons. The on-the-street "we massage you lady" type places, the sex worker places (I'm sure), and the gentle, "tucked into a garden and give you tea" kind of place, divorced from the city noise. We went to one of those, close to our guesthouse.

Note: I've been having all sorts of fun playing "spot the famous Thailand sex trade!" game. There are lots of caucasian men here with their Asian girlfriends. The trick is, if the man is 30 years older, unattractive and/or rather decrepit, the young nubile chick with him is probably only his companion for a little while. These men are everywhere. I haven't yet seen a caucasian woman with an Asian boyfriend, interestingly. (The young Hmong boy from my hitchhiked scooter ride asked me if I wanted a Thai boyfriend, though. I don't think that counts. The other guy on the scooter was actually really hot, though. If he'd asked me, I would have had to stop and think about it.)

Anyway, Francie and I went to a massage salon and sat in their garden drinking iced tea (which tasted of melon) while picking out our treatments from a menu. We chose the salt body scrub (40 minutes) and the oil massage (60 minutes). The cost is US dollars? About $20.

It was sheer bliss. The salt scrub about did me in alone and when they were done, they wrapped our nekkid bodies in little sarongs and ushered us out to a shower. "You shower together?" they asked. We collapsed laughing, but agreed to shower our oily, salty bodies off in the same shower.

They then gave us towels, ushered us back to the tables, stripped us down again and set at it, with a will and warm fragrant oil. About thirty minutes into it, Francie started simply moaning with pleasure. I don't think she realized she was doing it.

We're going back tomorrow for a traditional Thai massage, which is different.

Today, I got up early and went to the Chinese New Year parade. I think I got on Chiang Mai's local television, but I'm not sure. Afterward, I hooked up with Francie and walked her to yoga class, then sheered off and caught a ride up to Doi Suthep National Park. This mountain overlooks the city and all its haze, and at the very peak is yet another huge temple. This one has too many bells though, and every single freaking person up there had to be pounding on them. The Buddhist Meditation Center right next door must have some stalwart practitioners, is all I can say.

I escaped and found a little path through the woods to hike around on, but didn't stay overlong. Met up with the German tourists I'd shared a ride up with and headed back to Chiang Mai in time to catch the set-up of the Sunday Market. This is in addition to the enormous night market.

I bought a few items, including a Hmong-embroidered wall hanging (tablecloth, actually, but it's going on my wall), which has hundreds of whimsically-designed little animals on it. Vultures, peacocks, cheetahs, penguins, monkeys in a tree...it's like Noah's Ark, except happier. It was expensive by Thai standards, and I argued them down B500. I still paid a pretty penny (about $40 US), but both sides of the deal came out satisfied. I needed to visit a cash machine, and the woman who sold it to me made her husband escort me there, to make sure I'd come back and really buy the thing. It was funny, but they probably don't sell very many of these.

Tonight, we're going out for Indian food again and then walking through the combined markets. Thousands and thousands of vendors. I'm glad I spent the day out in the woods, or I'd be nuts by now.

(But I'm still liking Chiang Mai. It's a wonderful city.)
canyonwren: (Default)
Well, that was an adventure!

I think I'm going to have to nutshell this... I'm still overheated and stink pretty badly. My other clothes are locked in Francie's room and I don't know where she is.

The little bit of bad, the good and the great! )

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Jen Kleis

November 2014

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