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Archive for the ‘Thailand’ Category

The Beach


On my third night in the beach bungalow on Ko Phi Phi, I was forced to admit that the rustling I was hearing at night was not the sound of the air from the fan moving the plastic bag in the waste bin. This realization came about when I shut off the fan and the rustling continued. I got out of bed, turned on the light to investigate, and nudged the bin with my foot. It began to vibrate on its own, which concerned me a little. I nudged it again, and a fluorescent green blob shot vertically out of the bin, hit the wall and disappeared behind the dresser before I could positively identify it as amphibian, reptilian or alien. Satisfied that in any case it wasnt a mouse I put in my earplugs and went to sleep.

Three days on the island turned out to be just the right amount of time: one to hike up to the viewpoint/tsunami evacuation area and admire the scenery, one to snorkel and beach hop from a speed boat, and one to lay around on the sand reading Love in the Time of Cholera in between dips in the sea. This was followed by a travel day, and then a day of sightseeing and last minute shopping in Bangkok before heading the the airport early in the morning to catch the first of a series of flights that will take me back to Canada. First to Toronto, where I’m looking forward to seeing friends and brushing my teeth with tapwater, next to spend Christmas with family in southern Ontario, and then to the Okanagan for some cross-country skiing and New Years with Mom and Dad before the next adventure starts sometime in January….

A warm thanks to all of you who’ve been reading this blog and for the many encouraging comments over the last couple of months. Your support and kind thoughts are very much appreciated. My friends, however you celebrate this time of year, whether it’s fiestas, family dinners, midnight mass or menorahs, solstice parties, moonlit skis, or maybe just huddled next to a woodstove praying for spring to please come soon, I wish you the very best of the season and a happy and prosperous 2010.

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Elephants, etc.

The Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary for animals rescued from brutal conditions, is the creation of a seemingly tireless woman known as “Lek”, which means “small”. She is indeed small, even for a Thai, but what a big heart. They let visitors feed and help bathe the elephants there, but the best part is just watching them lumber around in peace, and knowing they will be safe for the rest of their lives from torture and abuse. The babies are pretty entertaining too. There is a website if you would like to know more about Lek and her other projects to help elephants: http://www.elephantnaturepark.org

I did not spend enough time in northern Thailand to really explore the region, but a few highlights besides visiting the elephant park were: cycling around the medievel ruins of Old Sukhothai, wandering around the small hill town of Mae Hong Son at night, a short hike through bamboo forest to a waterfall, and a day-long Thai cooking course in Chiang Mai.

In the last week, I have also refined and I think perfected an important life skill. As a youngster growing up on the edge of a vast wilderness, I was taught that when lost in the forest, one should stay put to make it easier for people to find you and to avoid walking around in circles. However, being hot, tired and lost in a tropical city calls for an entirely different response: 1. Proceed immediately to nearest source of cold beer. Make half-hearted attempt to decipher map and establish present location while drinking beer. That failing: 2. Proceed to nearest spa. Massages, facials and the like I have discovered miraculously restore one’s sense of direction. As a last resort: 3. Ask someone to point the way.

One Night in Bangkok (how I wish I could get that song out of my head), and then tomorrow I leave for India, where I’ll be spending 2 weeks at an Ayurvedic centre in Kerala recommended by my friend Samantha. The timing is perfect, because to tell the truth I am getting a little tired of sightseeing, packing and unpacking every couple of nights, and being around tourists, which is I suppose another way of saying I am getting tired of being around myself as a tourist. Staying in one place for 2 weeks with a few books sounds about right.

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