Art, Culture, and Ocean Conservation . . .

Archive for February, 2011

Siem Reap

Lolol i have tried to post thus blog 5 times- soon it will happen. Enjoy.

Wow I really wasn’t expecting siem reap, Cambodia to include so much sparkly and cute. I found a store today that sells jars of wishes that light up when you shake them and have little scrolls that you can use to make a paper star! And I found a second hand store that was full of all these elaborate hand made dresses. I’m sadly a lil bigger than your average Cambodian so even my favs were a bit small. But that did not stop the so cute lil gay Cambodian boy from running out from the shower in a towel to check the seams and let me know he could alter it just right. I felt at home in their shop full of sewing machines and sequins.

Cambodians are really friendly on the whole, with big smiles and a jokster attitude. Thrir culture gas a lot of flavor. The young ones are super fashionable-even their billboards are hot with Asian girls with white hair and pink eyes doing cute things. The boys all have gravity defying haircuts shooting out from the front short around the crown and sticking out from the bottom. Somewhere between futuristic and emo. They dress fairly European or Japanese-guys in stripey tight fitting dress shirts, slacks, and pointy shoes in bright colors. And everyone is really friendly!! It always amazes me how one nice interaction can totally turn my day around or skew my interpretation of a place. It also reminds me to be nice and friendly- because perhaps I too may turn their day around or be their only impression of what an “American” or “New Yorker” or “Texan” is. At the end of the day I’d like to just think that I’m setting a good example every day, no matter where I am in the world, of being a good “human being” and that this nicety will become globally contagious.

I’m glad I am from
NYC though otherwise siem reap could be a little overwhelming- at least the downtown part. So many clubs, vehicles, markets, it’s a busy busy busy place. Driving around feels like you are in a videogame- two actual lanes on the road, like 4-6 lanes of traffic driving in all directions, motorbikes, tuk-tuks pulled by motorbikes, small people riding huge bicycles with 3 kids piled on them, big people riding tiny bicycles, 5 at a time on mopeds, trucks, cars, buses, double decker buses, push carts- it’s like frogger or actually it reminds me of those lil miniature ice skating ponds-the kind you put in fake model Christmas village set-ups that have magnets underneath them moving the skaters in perfect intricate interweaving patterns seamlessly between one another. It feels like being a hockey puck-being darted around- on one of those. Lol. It is fascinating.

Today I spent making my way through Angkor Thom and tracing the long and wild history of the Khmer empire.

Tomorrow I get up super early to meet my guide at 5 am to see the sunrise over Angkor wat-then after some temple exploring my guide offered to take me up the mountain to see the Angkor carvings deep in the riverbed. I may or may not go pending the weather. It’s an hour and a half by motorbike. We will see.

Okay I have a super early day tomorrow so- over and out!

Xo

Impermanence


Sitting upon a crumbled empire that has changed so many hands, heard so many prayers, soaked in so much blood. A cultural piecemeal of ancient wisdom and ancient blunder. Slipping foot holds from century number one.

Reminiscing ancient past is like walking backward through your own history as well-primary comparison begins with experience, moves forward to knowledge, and then expands to imagination.

Impermanence. Despite these stones-hauled by elephants-stacked by physics-and resiliently lasting throughout the elements for over a thousand years they too will eventually crumble to dust, as their inhabitants did so long ago. I sit at the fountain-this ancient hospital with a separate pond in each direction representing the element: an elephant for the water, a horse for the wind, a lion for fire and a man for the earth. An astrologer sat here long ago guiding people to each pool to bring them wellness and balance. And now I sit here and watch the fish break the surface eating the bugs and again I think about impermanence as each of the little bugs is devoured away. Poof. Exit life. Nobly, they go, at least becoming food and energy for something else, passing their energy on. Thinking about how at any moment for any of us it could be game over for life as we know it. You may not even see it coming- one minute you are joyfully floating on the water and then- you’re not.

The children I meet inside the temple follow me giggling pointing out their secret hiding spots. They have this epic landscape as their jungle gym and they have barely heard of America and do not know of a place called New York.

My guide is 38 years old. He has never been on an airplane. He says “I was born in siem reap, I live in siem reap, and I will die in siem reap.” the Cambodian people on a whole are quite lovely, despite some of the imagery this writing may create, with beautiful smiles and charming ways. Content with so little for so long, despite ongoing history of fighting for what is theirs and having their thousands of sculptures and laborious carvings beheaded and destroyed by infiltrating regimes for centuries upon centuries of existence.

I kind of feel lost in a fairytale. Sitting in the land that time forgot-but it’s all there-written in stone-as the earth continues to grow around it. The trees push through and pour over these barrier walls that have since resigned from their duty.

Countless hours spent chiseling away at stone. I can’t even fathom what it would take to make one panel of these ruins, let alone an empire.

Long tendrils of trees drip down into the earth and I’ve been hearing and enjoying the traditional khmer band play as I walk to each temple transporting time and space- but then you look up and they have no arms, no legs, their faces are deformed and you see their sign. They are all land mine victims-all of them- every band on every cardinal direction of every temple- every single one of them. And sure- we are jaded of beggars, to the point where many of us don’t even reach out to the people that actually need us and need the help. At some of the temples I even shamefully refrained from buying things I actually was interested in secondary to being afraid of what would happen if I actually pulled money out-people are really in your face with their goods, stepping in place of where your next step will be, closer than your own shadow. Ladies whispering into your collar bones-it’s all you can do to be polite and say “no thank you” which was maybe worse than saying nothing at all. I followed my guides lead-he says nothing and let’s it pass. Then after the last devastated kingdom I was able to witness- full of trees growing through stone and epic faerytale visions- something happened to me. I have spent the last two days envisioning this entire history unfold before me, after me, and through me, reliving a glimpse with every rise and fall of my breath- and I passed the upteenth Khmer band I’ve passed in the past two days- and- I read their sign. It said something to the effect of: we have all been injured by land mines. We are not beggars. We are dignified people doing talented things to support our children, our families, and ourselves.

And I just. started. crying. just like I am again right now, and I thought how horrible am I- I can’t even give a measly fucking dollar to these people that are seriously living in dirt floor houses and eating the leaves out of the trees to survive -who have lost their limbs, likely due to mines my fucking country left in their backyards, and trying out of dignity to play a song for a fucking dollar and I turn my nose at them all day long. Slowly and silently Sobbing I reach into my bag and pull out some money and go back and put it in their tray. They kindly bow their head and say thank you and I walk on experiencing true humility, and as I walk down this red dusty dirt pathway lined with trees and butterflies of every size and color swirling in and out of my vision and pull my sunglasses down to cover the tears on my face I’m surrounded by adorable children desperately trying to sell me things I don’t want 3 for $1, 4 for a $1, books nice books$1, pants $1, and I try not step on them as they run under my feet predicting my every move, and my guide sits silently on his bike and turns it on without saying a word and I climb over all the jumping children and mount the bike as he asks if I had a good time, did I like it, and I silently nod yes and we ride down the street. It’s 3 in the afternoon and I have been looking at temples since 5 am and I’m done and I’m tired and I say- okay back to the guest house please and then it all comes full circle- you now go to the lake?, go to the temple?, go to the market?, go to. . . And the same rhythmn sets in as all the lil girls trying to sell me their goods the words don’t even matter as they trail into the spiraling explosion that is my mind…and I realize why he was so quiet and that he is just a bigger fish in the same pond and has more expensive wares-but in the end “same same but different” and tears just started streaming down my face as we drive away and i just keep both my hands on the motorbike and let the wind wipe them down and off my face. Feeling unbelievable release and horrendous guilt, all at the same time, broken down back to the basics, that kind of crying that makes you feel like you finally came clean– all at once i just cried, silently, into the wind all the way back to the guest house, calmly telling him, no I’m done, it’s time for me to go back. And 3 times I noticed him move his hand from the steering wheel and wipe his face and couldn’t help but wonder-if he was crying to – because I couldn’t go any further, I couldn’t bring him
more commission, that I needed to be done. Even as I write this I am turning my guide away as he tries to offer me more information and take me somewhere else-and I’m thankful for this experience. I’m thankful for this opportunity, I’m thankful for this opening, I’m thankful for this moment and all the moments I’ve had the ability to experience before this moment and all the moments to come.

Laos Time

Laos. Laos has an amazing duality to it. An old world city full of rural life dotted with a few cities. Some areas have paved roads. I loved the markets in Luang Prabang I really enjoyed sitting on the blankets with the hillstribe people gently passing the calculators back and forth til we found a “lucky number” for them and myself. The had lil wicker baskets close to the ground to sit upon and admire goods and haggle. Once you made your purchase they’d thwack every pile of goods on their blanket with the
Money blessing it for good luck and more money to come. A few times I “make show” with my hula hoops for a better deal-specifically if it was something I really wanted and just wanted a fair price. You have to really be on your game though here, their money is thoroughly confusing and 1000 Kip looks suspiciously like the 10000 Kip and people will try to rip you off every chance they get. Even at the exchange I busted the girl for shorting me 18,000 Kip but of course this was my last transaction in town so lord knows how many times this happened to me before then and went unnoticed. Smile pretty, watch your back.

I actually have been trying to leave Laos for 3 days but their joke that Laos-PDR (peoples democratic republic-which is communist-go figure) stands for “please don’t rush” has really rang true. Lol. I could have stayed in Luang Prabang til the end of the week for the next opportunity to get to Cambodia -or I could take a night bus to Vientiene and leave for Cambodia in the morning-so I took that option. It’s interesting how segregated they keep the tourists. When my tuk-tuk picked me up to take me to the bus station they drove down this dirt road I hadn’t noticed before and suddenly an entirely new city emerged before my eyes with food markets galore and shops and surely at a third of the cost. They double booked my bus and I think I only got a seat because the ticket man thought I was pretty. He kept looking at me, at my ticket, and then at the list, only to find that my seat number was taken and my name no where to be found-he scratched something out and put my name in it’s place. Later he boarded the bus for an opportunity to tell me how beautiful i was. The other people on my tuk-tuk announced they had been shafted and had to take another bus along with about 30 other people. Perhaps they are the ones that lucked out though- as our VIP bus, whose luggage compartment harbored everything from bags to motorcycles to chickens crowing–all morning from underneath us echoing through the bus lolololol. It was a long night through twisted jagged and vertically bursting mountain ranges on this small road illuminated by the barely waning full moon in this very large double decker bus sliding backwards down hills (seriously) and chugalugging the whole way. At one point I woke up and the bus was stopped-I quickly fell back asleep, I awoke perhaps an hour and a half later and we were still stopped-I thought perhaps the driver was tired, perhaps he needed a nap-but everyone with the bus company was awake and I could here the familiar sound of tools being tossed on the ground–we had broken down.
But the Laos man had something going for him, shoulder deep in engine grease he worked his magic and within another hour the bus started up and we continued on our way- our 9 hour bus ride turned into a 14 hour busride but in the end I made it to Vientiene safe and sound.

By tomorrow this time I will ideally by in Siem Reap and ready to take in the astounding sight of Angkor Wat and Angkor Tom.

I still find evolution a bit of a conundrum in this part of the world. There is something so priceless in these villages untouched by industrialism – you want them to remain untainted – but at the same time you want more for the people. Coming from somewhere where running water and electricity is standard along with paved roads and education- but at what cost are these elements applied. And what is it about the human condition that makes all of us enter somewhere new and want to make it into something else. We want to make everything “better” but who says our way is truly a better way? From Alexander the great to hitler to Obama to your own brothers and sisters-who’s call is better than anyone elses. What is it inside us that makes us want to conquer and change the very things we came to see. This concept has been reeling through my mind every step of the way as I try to consciously tred lightly and take everything in for what it’s worth rather than having expectations and only seeing what I want to see or forcing things into a mold of what I prefer.

Lifestyle differences

I really enjoy that through all if SE Asia rarely will a guest house or hotel take reservations. They don’t ask you for how long you ll stay, you just turn-up, find an open room, and stay until your done-I learned this fresh off the plane as Telah and I stayed an extra night in Bangkok and I was trying to pay for an extra night–the people at the desk were like “No-the room
Is yours til you no longer stay.” I can’t imagine America functioning like that- we all book our rooms months in advance and plan out every single detail all the time-that’s how our system works. I have thoroughly enjoyed the low key pace and non obligatory day-to-day around here. So nice! Some places will take same day reservations -if they have a phone you can call and check. However-its kind of nicer to see what you ae getting roped into.

I’ve spent the last few days frolicking in this epic faerie mermaid waterfall here in Luang Prabang -so worth it!! Super refreshing and so beautiful!!
It’s about an hour from town and through the most amazing farm lands mountains and fields.

The goods here are all unique and hand crafted-they definitely have their own Laos flavor including lots of huge silver chest pieces and headpieces from the hilltribes.

Right now I’m staying in this big old Laos house run by two Laos families. The floors are a single layer of wood and the roof is thatched bamboo. I really enjoy thinking about all the families that have occupied this space over time. Laos culture is very communal, usually 10-15 people to a place and they share everything- all meals are communal water is communal- everything. They are a very sharing people.

Okay tonight I take a night bus to Vientiene-the capitol of Laos.

Til next time!

Slow Boat Scam on the way to Luang Prabang

Travelers Beware: when taking the slow boat to Luang Prabang -once you cross the border and get shuttled to the last waiting point the man that runs the show there gives a great big speech on how he wants you to love Laos and that at the over night stop on the slow boat their are only 4 guest houses with 11 rooms and that you need to book with him in advance. He is lying. There are plenty of rooms at a third of the price when you get to the stop over. He will also tell everyone there is no ATM at the stop over (which is true) and then that the closest ATM is back at the border he just shuttled you from but he will offer to help you out and exchange your money ( but does it at 1035 Kip per dollar less then the going rate).

I walked half a block and found a western union that doesn’t even charge a fee for exchanging cash (go right and right and stay to the left of the fork) — I waited and got a room at the stop over for 100 baht–but people that booked with him paid 500 baht for the same room. About 75% of the people in our group exchanged money and booked accommodation with him through his scare tactics. So if you are going to Laos via the slow boat from Pai, Chiang Mai, or Chiang Rai (which is a lovely trip) and are doing your homework I hope you find this notice. Please feel free to link or copy and paste it onto other travelers.

Cheers and happy adventures!!

Luang Prabang


Three days traveling and I have now arrived down and across the Mekong River into Luang Prabang, Laos. A place that you could not reach by road until the 1990’s, a place where the average working person makes less than $1 a day, a country that has been devastated yet carries on working toward a brighter future. In the late 60s early 70s America dropped over a million bombs on laos-I imagine trying to get the vietnamese along the Ho Chi Minh Trail-however only 60% of the bombs detonated –leaving fields and fields of ticking time bombs for anyone playing, farming, or walking by. Removing these bombs is expected to take over a hundred years.

We took the slow boat here, which has been the main mode of transportation for hundreds of years to Laos-PDR (which the locals joke stands for Please Dobt Rush). It took one day of driving 120km an hour on twisty curvy roads and two full days on water through the mountains on a big ole long slow boat. My favorite spot on the boat is up at the front-sitting on bags of rice under a bamboo mast with the Laos flag flying high above us. The boat is maneuvered with a steering wheel and people using 20 ft bamboo poles to push off rocks and other boats to lessen the impact when pulling over.

I loved watching the tribes in the river cleaning their fish, doing laundry, lil kids running down the banks and jumping into the water. There were many times we d pull up into a village and families and chickens, gallons of fuel for generators, and various market goods would be tossed on board. Water buffalo bathing in the sun and cooling off in the water spotted the land. The water line from monsoon seasons past was well beyond 50ft above us on the rocks. Such a wild and untouched place. It makes you realize what earth was like before civilization became a popular trend.

I arrived just as the sun sunk behind the mountains blasting rays of sherbert pink sun off into the sky. Laos was a French colony for a while so there are super yummy baked goods everywhere!! Sap sap sap (yum yum yum)!!! Croissants, cakes, chocolate, downtown Luang Probang looks like a little French town and even the guesthouse I’m staying at feels more European than Asian. Walking through town we found a night market, mostly run by Hmong Hilltribe folks, and the. A small alleyway had some food stalls– once I turned the corner I saw that it was hundreds of food stalls!!! Fresh cooked food galore!! And pigged out on yummy vegetables I’ve never seen before for 5,000 kip( ~80 cents) and fresh rolls which are appearing more and more the closer we get to Vietnam.

The whole city has a midnight curfew so the bars close at 1130pm to get everyone home in time. Which was kind of nice since everyone in pai is up til 6am every night. Also after traveling all that way I was pretty tired.

The main alcohol here is Lao Lao a cheap local rice whiskey that’s “at least 50% alcohol.” I had a super yummy coconut drink they make with it–it was awesome. I also learned about this really great project for sponsoring Laos children for education. The laid goverberment is only 16 years old- probably younger than most people reading this blog. A big focus for them is education. You can learn more about their education system here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Laos
There was a great organization listed on the wall where I was earlier where for $50 you can sponsor a Laos child to go to school for one year including supplies ( which are in great scarcity ) but I’m not able to find it through google so I will add it next time I see it around town.

Today I look forward to taking a tuk tuk an hour up the mountain and lounging and hooping at the multi-tiered clear pool waterfall at the top and then visiting the beautiful temple on the top of the hill in the middle of town for sunset.

Tomorrow perhaps the caves with ancient buddhas in them!

The adventure continues!! Much love and thanks for reading.

Bye Pai!

Pai is a pretty special place. Tucked away along the river a place where people come and go and stay. Lil shops, handmade goods, lots of smiles and friendly hellos-yummy street food from lil puffed black rice tortilla s with sweet milk and sesame wrapped in a banana leaf, mooya-a pork sausage marinated in lime chilli sauce, lil custards, so many yummy treats. Waterfalls, hot springs, elephants, and every night a party and multiple Bon fires–secret farms in the jungle and sunset scooter rides.

The older Thai man that runs my guest house has been here for many many years-last night when I got home he was carving diligently on one of the beams of his bungalow-a work he says that is never finished. He told me about how his grandmother used to put out an open jar at sunrise and all the Mosquitos would fly inside she’ d then cover it and place it in the sun- once they all died she would feed them to the fish -at this point his eyes welled with tears and he sat there with me crying. It was touching. So nice for him to share his stories with me about his grandma.

I have a long journey ahead of me for the next three days. In an hour I board a bus that takes me to the Thai-Laos border and in the morning we cross over and then board a slow boat that goes down the Mekong River for a day and a half and then another bus and I’ll arrive in Luang Probang by 5pm-two days from now. I have two new books and a dress to sew by hand so I think I’ll be kept busy in the mean time* I was going to have a dress made I’m Thailand for $180 but then I found all the fabric I needed for $10 soooo I have made it my new project. All afternoon I’ve gone around town collecting beads, ribbons, needles and thread ($3)to help me along. It will be nice to have something fruitful to work on.

After Laos I was going to head to Cambodia but that really depends on how the current border dispute goes. Some tanks and soldiers are hanging around and I prefer to go no where near them. Lol. We will see.

Telah went back to NYC and we have had some good fun-but from here out I’m headed off alone but I’m sure I’ll meet some friendly people wrong the way.

Much love, creation, and adventure to all of you.

Xo

-=ali*

Pai

Driving motor bikes through mountainous farm lands getting passed by pick up trucks overflowing with hills tribe people, trekking caverns in bamboo forests to the cool side of the cliffs where the water, albeit low in the peak of dry season, still remarkably drops about 40 ft into a clear pool surrounded by old caves.


As we drive back to the roadway many kittens, puppies, and chickens dart across the road and lazily sprawl in the sunshine. Then we saw baby water buffalo!! So cute!! And the older ones were being herded down the road–their wooden bells clacking as they sway side to side with each step–so sweet! One sat calmly on the side of the road chewing grass with a big white egret like bird sitting on his head! We laughed so loud. Then down the road and up and over to the Pai Canyon a striking view and some treacherous climbing options. It was a long late night following our sunset moped ride that lent to fire hooping in the street in front of a rasta bar which paid for our drinks all night long. Regardless, I wrestled myself from sleeping in too late so that I could enjoy the hot springs in the morning time while it’s still cool out here in the mountainside** So Telah and I cruised up the hill to the steaming and bubbling natural mineral hot springs!! Great way to spend the morning for sure then we went up to the Pai Jungle Farm and played with 9 kittens and had the best damn coffee, brewed by the cup, we’ve had the whole trip. Now time for relaxing and reflecting and taking it all in from
the hammock at the riverside on the porch of our bungalow.

Back to Basics

So a week has gone by of sunrise after sunset after sunrise. The thai people are a fairly late night people. They are hard working people. The are up late running the pharmacy, running the foot massage shop, running the night market, running the food stands. They are up later, they open shop later, each day seems to laxidaisically ease into one another.

There is a basic trust. An understanding. At night, there are no doors to the market, there are no shutters on their shops. . . they tie the blanket over their table, they cover their goods, but there are few locks here–and the ones you do find are quite janky from being old and not often replaced. They tie up their shops. . . could you imagine a full market place in nyc the length of several city blocks. .  with no walls, no windows, no locks and stuffed full of goods. . . do you really think it could preservere . . . for centuries? It definitely makes me think.

Humans are human but Humanity varies greatly.

Many people here work 7 days a week from 10 am to midnight, 1, 2. . . never complaining, never moving too fast, but smiling all the way. . . and we in america think we work long and too much. . . i see the same people working all day every day, selling their vegetables, selling their herbs, their scarves, their coconuts. . .everyone is selling something. So many markets. Markets are a way of life here in Thailand and especially here in Chiang Mai. You have the night market and bizarre. . . which is every night, then you have the day markets. .. which are seve

ral buildings, with several stories, for several blocks full of full on markets every day. Then you have the Saturday walking street market. . . and then you have the Sunday walking street market. There is no shortage of things being sold-expensive or cheap, haggled or not, Chiang Mai is a full on market place almost every hour of the day. Its a way of life. Everyone has their job to man the table, wash the goods, cook the fish, grab the trash, massage the feet, paint the wall. . . everyone and every thing no matter age, race, or color seemsto have something important to do and that–for the most part— they enjoy doing. People revel here in the day-to-day. It seems there could never be too much.

Chiang Mai is an old city with an old heart. Roads that link together through hour glass shaped bricks, the old city surrounded by a moat and the wall they built to fend off burma in the 12th century sits humbly around the city like a old shawl. Mopeds buzz up and down the streets 3,4, and 5 people deep. .. sometimes thier dog too. The animals roam freely and are loved by all. To cross the street you have to just go for it. . .its all a give and take, its all a constant friendly negotiation. . .the ebb and flow of a timeless place.

There are all the elements present in our everyday lives here. They cook on the fire right on the streets, the earth is our floors, the mountains, the manicured and blossoming trees, the water is in the moat and seeping through the bathroom walls. . . the bathrooms are so watery. . . so different than home. The shower and the toilet all in one place with a bucket to clear the bowl rather than a flush. . .in some places we went there were the most beautiful outdoor/open air bathrooms with vines hanging down from the ceilings and growingdown the walls. And Air.the air is in yourface, the air blows the plumeria blossoms down from the trees, cause the bouganvillas to flow brightly back andforth, to blow the mosquitos away from your flesh.

Thailand is a spiritual place laden in ritual, in buddhism, in principle, in conservative dress, in mountains, and incense, and prayers.A place where you walk in a circle three timesto set your intentions and always take off your shoes every time you cross a doorstep.

Whimsical with classic charm Chiang Mai is bustling with community — studious immigrants, pagent queens, floral creativity–Bustling with its culture, an asian melting pot swirling at your feet.

In the morning we move forth to our next destination a few hours north: Pai. A lazy town with waterfalls and faeries and maybe some thai hippie communes too*

xo -=ali*

Chiang Mai

Wow what a journey thus far! Currently writing you all from the garden of my guest house (which is rad) in Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is so super lovely –it makes me realize that even after drifting away for weeks on a tropical paradise island –that I’m truly a city girl at heart. Mopeds, markets and a lil city grit just does something for me that idyllic scenery and relaxation doesn’t tap into. A lil
Vivacity that can only be found in places like this. The shopping is cheap, the haggling is an art, and every nook and cranny is filled with Buddha or religious artifact. Over 300 wats in chiang Mai alone! We went to Wat That Doi Suthep last night–this huge wat on the very top of this ginormous mountain. You can tell if a building was originally created to be a wat by the stairs–if the stairs have a dragon a body leading all the way up each side then this was this buildings original design intention.

This wat had the most beautiful shrines within it’s walls that I have seen so far–and I’ve finally been in enough temples that I don’t feel like a bumbling idiot with each step I make. There is quite a bit of ediquite and ritual that goes into Buddhism -and it gets extra tricky when you don’t even know when you are being offensive. Like-you can’t be taller than the monk, you can’t hand anything directly to the monk, your feet must never point toward Buddha or the monk-sit in mermaid pose, etc etc etc. I went to this monk chat and meditation session the other night and it was really rewarding to meditate in the Wat-to use it for it’s intention rather than tourism–it’s was funny cause there was sooooo much noise-construction sounding even though it was late at night it went on and on and on–at tines it was even hard to make out what the monk was saying it was so loud. During the actual
Meditation the noises all fell away. Afterwards I asked the monk what was making that sound and it was actually all the other monks hammering out the the metal etchings/relief-like plaques that they were creating based on their current teachings/lessons. 😉

I’m glad I went to this talk as it really helped me learn more about the principles of Buddhism and totally blew my mind and eyes open to the way of life of the people all around me. People stop you on the street and talk about their life, their meaning, their trials and tribulations, the impermanence, about doing good, not doing bad, and purifying the mind. Had I not gone to that talk it would have taken me a lil longer to crack the understanding that these people were all coming from the same place, from the same fundamental
Teachings, and applying them
Consciously to every part of their life. People not only have awareness and intention with their actions–but they are also analyzing and reappropriating their energy to
Continue to apply their Buddhist ideals. It’s all quite beautiful and truly all around us here.


I had a really fun vegan Thai cooking course today. I learned how to make 10 different dishes (mango sticky rice!!!, curries, soups, summer rolls, papaya salad droooool) and even got to go with to the market to pick up all the ingredients. It was called May Kaidee’s Cooking school and she was so nice and fun and afterwards I was asking her about Thai dance classes -cause they have not been so easy to find and she was like “No I just show you now!” And right there and then started dancing and singing so beautiful and teaching me hand motions and turning us in giggling circles–it was so lovely that I almost wanted to cry.

This weekend here in Chiang Mai just happens to be the Flower Festival!! You know I love a good parade and if you ve ever walked around with me you may also know that I ADORE flowers–so stay tuned for some inside shots of thus cultural bonanza.