Thursday, August 26, 2010

Going On

Going on is always hard.
Sometimes it seems extra hard.
Like today.

This song has been on my mind all morning.

Oh, tie me to the end of a kite
So I can go on, I can go on with my life
Every marigold I pass below will be my guiding light
I just want to go away from here



Oh, tie me to the end of a kite
So I can go on, I can go on with my life
Every time the wind blows stronger,
I will feel my spirit rise
I just want to go away from here



Oh, tie me up tightly by your side
So I may go with you where ever you reside
And anytime the road looks dimmer
I will be your guiding light
I just want to go away with you
I just want to go away with you

--Rosie Thomas



-m.

Friday, August 20, 2010

100 Reasons You Should Go To Thailand (21-30)

In no particular order . . .


21. Monks
Emerson says, "Men are respectable only as they respect." In Thailand, this applies perfectly to monks who are esteemed and honored in society. Really, it's no wonder.
  • Refrain from destroying living beings;
  • Refrain from taking what is not given;
  • Refrain from sexual misconduct;
  • Refrain from false speech; and
  • Refrain from taking intoxicants.
According to these 5 most important rules that form their code of conduct, it's obvious that "consideration for others" is kind of a big deal.



photo by pilliebee
22. Really great hostels
Top scores from Jill & I along with rave reviews from hostelworld.com should verify that this is a great place. Book your first few days in town with Udee Bangkok, and your trip will be off to a solid start. Clean, helpful, calm, and beautiful are just a few words that quickly come to mind.


23. The Golden Hour
Softer lighting, warmer hues, longer shadows. 'Too much pretty' when you're in Thailand.


24. Silk
Somehow, through a process I don't really understand, a bunch of mulberry-bush-eating silk worms leave their old cocoons lying around aaaand {poof!} you get beautiful rainbows of silk scarves.


25. Friendship
The 5th video, "Future Hope," highlights the role relationships play at the Elephant Nature Park. A bit of caution if you watch some of the other videos--especially "Training Crush"--they're a bit more disturbing.


photo by pilliebee
26. Chedis and Elephants
Chedis, or stupas, are places of worship. They usually contain the remains of a Buddha. The one we visited in the picture above was supported by rows of Thailand's most sacred animal--elephants. Representing strength, power, perseverance, wisdom, dignity, and royal status, the elephants add deeper significance to the monument and the Buddha it commemorates.
I also think it's just plain pretty.


27. Glimpses of daily life
Benjamin Franklin should have added "doing laundry" to that list of his. I guess it's another one of those "certain" things that you just can't escape -- even if you live in exotic locations.



photo by pilliebee
28. Impromptu moments
. . . in which you decide to pile into the back of a pickup truck and head to the river.


29. Reclining Buddhas
Big, bright, bewitchingly beautiful.

photo by pilliebee
30. A Lovely Lack of Signage
I want you to know that first and foremost, we were conscientious and didn't scamper all over the ruins. However, I must admit that it was rather nice to be able to explore Ayuthaya without mass signage of the DO NOT ENTER, STAY ON THE PATH, DO NOT TOUCH, and NO PHOTOGRAPHY variety. A lack of law suits in Thailand sure opens up a lot more possibilities for curious travelers.

-m.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

100 Reasons You Should Go To Thailand (11-20)

100 reasons, in no particular order . . .


11. Seeing for yourself just how odd elephants look.
Don't scoff at this reason for visiting Thailand. In all honesty, it's true. They really are funny looking creatures and I found them much more amusing than I imagined I would. At least I'm not the only one.



12. Delicious Desserts
We happened to be in Thailand for Jill's 25th birthday. Although we Dhabians were both sick of the mall-scene, hunger lured us into a giant shopping complex. While there, we wound up in one of the most upscale food courts I'd ever seen. It actually turned out to be a nice place to enjoy a little birthday lunch. For the occasion, we pulled out all the stoppers. I know what you're thinking but no, we skipped the Full Moon Party and instead, ordered two plates of decadence. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JILLIE!


13. Legends
Ayuthaya is full of guillotined Buddahs. This is the stuff legends are made of.


photo by pilliebee
14. Danger!!!
Even though it was against the rules, our elephant guide let us touch this lady's titanic tongue. Granted it doesn't look all that scary from this angle. However, when you get a close view of those mammoth molars, it sure makes you think twice!


15. River Rides
The Chao Prayah River is a life line of commerce that runs through Bangkok before emptying into the Gulf of Siam. Our guide must have learned well from this mother river: seems like our baht kind of did the same thing. I advise you to choose your river guide wisely and to bargain for a fair price.


16. Banners!
I loved how there were cheery banners flying everywhere throughout the capital city. It definitely gave Bangkok a festive feel.


photo by pilliebee
17. Happiness
Temple sprees can make you kind of giddy!


18. Green Curry
I once loved Thai food enough to believe that I could never get tired of it.
Umm . . . that was before the trip.
Really, it didn't take long before I had a bit of an aversion to it all. I would acquiesce, though if there was green curry on the menu.


19. Adrenaline Rushes
Swinging through the trees like Tarzan was undeniably fun!!!


20. Wat Phra Kaew
Spectacular, sacred, dazzling. There's a reason this is Bangkok's busiest wat. This major attraction is a definite must see!

-m.

100 Reasons You Should Go To Thailand (1-10)

100 reasons, in no particular order . . .


1. I kinda think that Thailand is the perfect travel destination. It's a real crowd-pleaser: inexpensive, safe; beautiful, historic. There's an abundance of shopping and adventure; there are mountains, beaches, rain forests; small villages, big cities; elephants, monkeys; massages, monks; and loads of good food. It is an achingly beautiful country with an extensive history, a rich culture, and kind citizens. Not enough? I've got 99 more reasons -- hopefully enough to give you that little extra nudge to get you going!


2. Beach huts.
Yes, that really is ocean just beyond the porch. What could be better than a beach hut with a hammock? How about a beach hut for $15 USD per night? Or, if you split the cost with your travel buddy, how about a whopping $7.50?


photo by pilliebee
3. A serene, mystical sense of transcending time.
Looking the bodyless Buddha at Wat Mahathat in Ayuthaya just seemed to have that affect on me. Eclipsing Sukothai, Ayuthaya became the star of the Thai kingdom. Its glory lasted for 400 years until the Burmese attacked in the 1700s. Somehow, even after all of the pillaging and plundering that flattened most of the city, this Buddha was left standing--only to be slowly strangled by a nearby tree. It was a bit eerie. I was also affected by the way my mind swirled with the past 700 years of history in front of me. I can only imagine the many lives and emotions and dramas that must have played out on these cobbles, under these branches, and in front of this stone-eyed Buddha.


4. Staring into kind, old elephant eyes.
No tricks. No rides. Just being close to these giant beasts was enough. Despite the horrible abuse and ugliness they've suffered at the hands of humans, their eyes really did seem full of quiet benevolence. Here's a bit more about their individual stories and all that these elephants have been through.


5. Devotion
According to wikipedia, 95% of Thailand's population is Buddhist. It was humbling to visit so many places of worship and to stand close to those expressing their devotion.


photo by pilliebee
6. The chance to spend time with one of your best friends.
I like when dearest of friends become dearest of travel buddies. I think traveling gives you an opportunity to get to know folks in new and different ways; it's also pretty wonderful to have so many memories to share. This was my 2nd trip with my good friend, Jill. (We've traveled a bit more by now; read about our other adventures together here, here, here, and here.)


photo by pilliebee
7. Good food.
There's just so much good food it makes choosing really hard. Seriously -- narrowing things down to your one dish is almost as painful as being too full after you've finally made your decision.


Ever been up in the canopy of a rain forest? Didn't think so. Reason #8.

9. One street--Khao San Road.
After one walk down the 'strip', Jill and I didn't really want or need to visit this sketchy street again. The place must be a beacon for all tourists in Bangkok because by the time we boarded the plane for Abu Dhabi, we'd somehow visited at least 3 times. The very best thing about KSR (yes, even better than the cheap, knock off goods) was people watching. In fact, I kind of got obsessed. There was just some indescribable, almost across-the-board-quality that all of these travelers seemed to emanate. For lack of a better word, Jill and I started referring to this common factor as 'the look'. (Yes, I might even admit that when I started taking pictures, it turned from people watching into people stalking.)

Since words completely fail when trying to convey 'the look' maybe these pictures will help:


Do you see it?

Doing our darnedest to demonstrate 'the look' as we taxi from our hostel to this infamous street:



10. Great public transport.
Gettin' around. Easy enough.

-m.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Home. One month in.


Hard to believe that as of today, I've already been home for a month.

So far, the trip has been a most encouraging, exhilarating, and enjoyable whirlwind. I feel extremely blessed--there's just so many good friends to see and hug,


good hikes to explore,


good meals to make,


good conversations to have while you watch the sun set,


and good adventures to experience.


My only problem is that I just can't seem to get enough of it all.
At all.
-m.