October 2016
  • Day1

    Yotin guest house

    October 4, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    After over 25 hours straight of travel time including 17 hours of flight time we arrived. Disheveled, Nauseas, full of weird seafood that the airlines kept on trying to serve us. After an a refreshing 10 hour sleep the plan is coffee and a meal onwards to koh mak. A small island off the coast of trat to a bungalow called big easy. Weather is high 20s, humid and rainy.Read more

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  • Day1

    Big Easy Resort on Koh Maak

    October 4, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    15 minute taxi ride from Yotin guest house in Trat followed by an hour speed boat trip that left my body humming inside and out from the two huge outboard engines that were spooling up well past 10,000 rpm, or so it felt like that. The surf was calm which resulted in only getting moderate whiplash. Also it didn't rain which was a break from the previous nights massive constant downpour. We were greeted by Paul who is the owner of our next resort called Big Easy. Not sure where the name came from other than this place is really chill. Turns out that we are the only ones here and we have the whole place to ourselves! The busy (high) season doesn't start until oct 16th so we beat the rush and paid half the price, 1500$ baht a night. Approx 55$ cad. Wow is it worth it. Massive bed and epic heated shower with complimenting hammock and porch out front to lounge.

    We have been actively engaging local Thais and attempting to communicate with them in their native tongue. They appreciate effort with smiles/laughs and have been very friendly and helpful. I love the culture here, just the fact that you bow and place your hands together in front of your chest at the same time is an amazing show of respect just to say "hello" and "thank you." The tone of my voice becomes less harsh and more harmonious with the language, less hard consonants to punctuate the lack of patience that most of us Vancouverites have developed. Patience is such a virtue and something to actively practice and build the whole life. I feel the locals here practice it much more seriously than people back home. This is one of the reasons that I love Buddhism.

    The beach here is very quiet, nothing but the sounds of waves crashing and Desert Dwellers blasting from our portable Bose speaker while we snack on wine gums that my mum gave us before we left. Bethany instantly jumped into her favourite book whilst I immediately started to hydrate as I have been profusely sweating like a small rain cloud has been following me around. This will be our home for the next 4 days until we recover from the PTSD of uprooting our life in Kitsilano while working up until our departure.
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  • Day4

    Last full day at Big Easy on Koh Mak

    October 7, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    "This is the first time in my life that I have ever had to put DEET on my bum!" said Bethany after she counted 3 bites in the area. Mosquitos love her and she has the bumps to prove it. Sandflies have eaten away at my ankles and feet but with little annoyance. My feet have become more hardened and inflamed from all of the ground they have directly contacted. Beth has always poked fun at me for loving socks so much saying real hippies walk barefoot and connect to the earth directly. I wonder if it's the solution to all of my clients that I have been treating with plantar fasciitis....this I will have to investigate. That being said I've not worn socks and shoes for the past few days which is a big deal for me because I love the way fresh socks feel. I'll never forget the time I wore Toms to school and everyone made fun of me because I wore them with socks on. It did look pretty silly after all but deeply repressed my love for socks at the same time. Should we be wearing shoes or is it a man made thing? If the body has been made from an infinite sea of love and space dust from the cosmos should it not be perfect and functional by itself? Does wearing shoes make things worse? Is it like walking around all day with a back brace on and never taking it off, surely the body becomes reliant on its new crutch and compensates accordingly when the crutch isn't present. These are the things I think of after 2 cups of crumby coffee and a western style breakfast(free).

    Not much to report last few days. It has been raining a lot here off and on, the tropical kind which feels like small marbles pelting you and gets you soaking wet in 5 seconds of exposure. Still hot enough to make you sweat but cool enough to only make you shower at least 4 times a day. We have adopted a sleeping schedule similar to Seinfelds parents, up early and in bed by 7pm. We have been reading, swimming, sea kayaking, running on the beach, Beth beat me at crib(again) and have been doing yoga at which she is quite amazing at.

    We have maybe seen 4 or 5 other tourists on the stretch of beach that all the resorts share so this has been a very interesting process of unwinding our minds. Most days I wake up I have a set list of things/tasks to accomplish with nattering details swirling around each one, repeating or re analyzing. A giant green "go" button I push myself into with a cup of strong coffee full of adrenaline and hunger I burn for each task to be completed and finally cooled with chugging copious amounts of water. All for the vicious cycle to start again the very next day. Finally today I woke up without a said list and was able to flop around for a while actually allowing myself to validate my day without extreme, micro minutiae details surrounding my schedule. Ahh what a relief to experience...The food has been amazing and we have been indulging in pad Thais, pad see iw, curries, sweet chili with basil chicken and the most amazing French fries. Coffee has been the sub par packaged kind but what do you expect when you're on a small island in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand.

    The question of the day is what is your "swimology?"
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  • Day6

    JP Mansion (not actually that big) Krabi

    October 9, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Yesterday our 1 hour boat ride from koh mak was assaulted by wind and heavy rain that shredded through the small vents in the top of our boat which resulted in us getting absolutely soaked to the bone. Luckily our bags were nicely tucked away and remained dry. Once in Bangkok massive thunder and lighting shook the terminal with a torrential down pour that I've never seen before in my life. Boarding for our flight was delayed at least 2 hours and we sat on the apron in a huge line all waiting to take off into thick fog filled with lightning and turbulence. Upon takeoff the captain quickly climbed through the madness to 30 something thousand feet only to quickly descend as our flight was only about an hour long to Krabi. We tried to budget a little cheaper this next place we stayed in Krabi but we went too far off the deep end. A rather dismal, large tiled floor room with art from 1970s with a terribly loud squeaking queen bed, a not so friendly owner, shared bathroom with mystery light switches everywhere. This morning Beth was quick to rise as her neck and shoulders were so sore that it was less comfortable to just get up and out of bed. We spent the morning in a nice coffee shop around the corner plotting our time here and decided to go to the Tiger Cave Temple. We set off shortly after riding on individual taxi scooters manned by friendly locals for 100 baht each. 4$ cad. Traffic here is organized chaos for sure but nobody excessively speeds and only use the horn to let people know that they are getting close to you for awareness. Rather than back home I honk at people for being idiots all the time. Not because I get road rage but because people are idiots and don't know how to drive there.
    It was a basic (wat)temple at the entrance with lots of shops selling fruit shakes and souvenirs etc. Monkeys running around everywhere and of course lots of dogs with the occasional cat sprawled out in a unimpressed apathetic manner. The slog to the real temple involves 1237 steps straight up a small mountain. Now that doesn't sound like a lot but doing in 30 degrees Celsius and 80% humidity might make you sweat and suffer tremendously or in my case, a lot! Needless to say there weren't many local Thais doing the hike, rather they took pictures of the sign at the bottom and probably made fun of us. Mostly foreigners with an agenda for bragging rights and a drive for the next epic picture thrusted themselves along with us up this cruel endeavour. There were painted numbers along the staircases indicating how many steps you have accomplished and served as a constant reminder that you are terribly out of shape. As we broached the top it was all made worthwhile as there was a beautiful mezzanine encompassing 360 degree panoramics with free wifi! A massive 5 story golden Buddha and some other small shrines all symbolizing different aspects of Buddhism. The temple sat on a larger size mountain in the area and gave an inspiring view of the landscape. We befriended some Irish sods, gave a donation, paid respects and carried on down. Legs shaking and wobbling reached the bottom and quickly swallowed some mango/dragon fruit shakes. Made our way back to the shitty hostel where all of our stuff was for a regroup session involving long periods of standing/lying in front of our air conditioner. Once recovered set out for some food, coffee and a Thai massage. We got a 90 min Thai massage for 400$ baht each. Wow! That's like 15$ Cad and knowing what I know about biomechanics these poor women need a massage after they treated us. So we tipped well....We then headed over to the Krabi Town night market which was epic. All delicious street vendor food and trinkets of all kinds. I got some chicken and Beth got some coconut ice cream for dinner. Our next plan is to head over to Ao Nang which is not too far away and go check out the beach.
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  • Day8

    Ao Nang/Kho Phi Phi tour

    October 11, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 27 °C

    Yesterday we departed Krabi Town via 20 min taxi ride into our next place of residence in Ao Nang. The quickest way to hail a taxi is walk around with giant backpacks on your front and backside, that paints a giant target labelled "potential sucker." The locals understand how much it sucks to lug around 70 pounds of dead weight so when they see it they come running or in this case driving. We have been booking our hostel/hotels online the night or two before and then rocking up to them the following day only going on reviews and photos so it's been a rainbow of truth depending on the establishment as far as what is promised. That extra 1 or 200 (4-8$ cad)baht can really go the extra mile. Once checking in we took the free shuttle down to the strip at Ao Nang Beach. A Mecca of tourist services. Vendors were standing outside their stores and hailing you to come for a Thai massage or eat at their restaurant, some quite aggressive as you walk down the street. The haphazard order entailed 7/11, Thai massage, restaurant, bank, restaurant, tour shop, bank, Thai massage.....you get the point. Banks truly do run the world is the point here. Part of me feels guilty when seeing such a disparity and inequality of wealth. I mean some of these locals are poor as shit but they are selling you a tour package for 100$ cad each. Most tourists here show up and make little effort to assimilate the language and culture. And because they have money and are "rich" they treat locals with an entitlement and can come across as quite ignorant. They leave a bad review online or sneer at them because they don't know English. Anyways, sorry I digress. As I was saying we walked into a Starbucks as we have been missing our soy milk lattes. So we order 2 of them, a cookie and a brownie. Somehow it cost more than the taxi ride(500 baht = 20$ cad) we had taken hours earlier! Well, it's those things we do for love that are priceless, I guess, right? We went for a nice stroll down the beach and just like every other day enjoyed a deep life talk fuelled by caffeine and sugar. We bought a couple of shirts each and found a cozy nature filled restaurant to eat. Literally the walls were alive in this place, open air concept with plants and ferns everywhere. 4 Chinese girls sitting beside us all had selfie sticks out and were taking turns photographing each other for a good 10 minutes. We had a chuckle with the server about it and carried on.
    Today we endeavoured in the tourist trap know as Ko Phi Phi. Neck jerking, disc compressing, back snapping boat ride filled with 30 or so Hong Kongers all wearing elaborate funny weird outfits. I try to practice non judgement in life but I couldn't help but chuckle a little and shake my head. We went snorkelling and bonded with some monkeys along the way, then checked out a couple of beaches. Bethany did quite well snorkelling for her first time and quickly gained confidence as it is really just flopping around face down in water. My GoPro paid for itself already with the footage I got...see for yourself :).
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  • Day10

    Hathai house in Koh Samui

    October 13, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Yesterday morning we woke up at 5:30 to prepare for a 6am pickup. A 3 hour bus 1 hour ferry ride to Koh Samui which was relatively pleasant. Our tummies grew more nauseous though and we both had some really wicked Gravol induced naps half watching the scorching sun rise in the sky over the lush scenery of banana and rubber trees. The sun was in full effect and the thin atmosphere here burns my opaque Caucasian skin very very easily. Typically for this time of year my body goes into fall winter mode which means it sheds any ounce of melanin leaving me ghostly white. Dad would be shaking his finger at me to reapply sunscreen more times than none. Beth's really good about reminding me and even she has to re apply frequently. We negotiated a 25 min taxi ride across the island for about 500$ baht (expensive). But the driver couldn't find our hostel so we tipped him because we felt bad. Our spot is on the outskirts of a dense bar/commercial couple of streets leading up to Lamai beach access. We found a great coffee shop in which we later came back and got a banana split for dessert and during that time ordered a scooter by delivery online to our hostel. 20 minutes later they delivered a beaten up "new" Honda PCX 150 cc with 2 helmets for maximum safety.

    This morning was nice and slow as we hopped on the scooter for a 30min ride to Namuang waterfall 2. It's supposed to be the biggest waterfall in the area (80m) and quite a sight. Unfortunately it was not so special. They have fully capitalized the natural attraction by adding ATVing, elephant riding, shooting range and some other things that we have no interest in. It was a nice hike up to the waterfall and I feel like I am getting accustomed to the humidity. The trick is to learn how to live in the "swamp" called your clothes. Profusely sweating, even Beth, who rarely sweats a bead, was soured like a wet cat in a bath. I made fun of her as such. After stopping for a refreshing fruit smoothie and some spring rolls we headed to the local cultural and fine arts centre on the island. It's a pretty amazing story of a local who's building a collection of historical statues and figures and arranged them accordingly on his property in a vast array of temples and other structures. All gods/religions were represented as the message behind them all are very similar. All are tools to generate compassion, love and good will towards others wishing long healthy prosperous lives. Truly it was a calming experience that reassured me that regardless of the vicissitudes of life that everything will be okay as nothing is permanent. The impermanence of life flows like a river and it is only the grasping of things/ideas/beliefs that determine the island of "stuff" we surround ourselves with and create. In this one particular inspiring statue of Buddha(last pic) he had his neck recemented as it was chopped off. Had lost an arm on one side and a full hand on the other. He had a scar on his face over his eyebrow too, and yet he too could smile through it all in a relentlessly undisturbed manner. Such a deep lesson in life to really smile through it all and seek laughter. Except of course for being a creature of comfort because Beth and I always have gone back to the same restaurant and coffee shops along the way as we go. Even in the massive sea of options while travelling we fall into our "routines."
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  • Day15

    Baan Bussara in Ayutthaya

    October 18, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 31 °C

    4 days ago we left Koh Samui via ferry,bus,flight,taxi and arrived in Ayutthaya, 1 hour drive north of Bangkok. In the 15th century, King U-Thong fled Lopburi following a smallpox epidemic, and built Ayutthaya, a new capital which then extended into most of the modern day Thailand. For many centuries it served as an international centre of commencement, art, and politics with a population of about one million people by the end of the 16th century. By mid 17 century the Burmese invaded the kingdom and devastated the city. It was only today we have ventured outside to see any of the various temples and ruins as we have been run down with colds. Runny nose, light headed, grumpy(me), one ear plugged, headachy and sleep deprived. All of the intense travelling and constant moving has left us energetically depleted and left us wiping snot on everything we can touch. We took 3 days of doing as little as possible to embark on this sabbatical and recover in our nice little hotel room with the AC jacked up high. Fortunately the wifi here is solid and we have watched at least 7 movies on Netflix so it hasn't been a complete waste of time. Feeling better today: not having my nose act like a constant runny tap is nice, so we went to visit some of the wats. Flocks of other tourists everywhere and scorching sun made it a quick mission as we putted along on our scooter to about 4 or 5 places. Hundreds of dragonflies swarmed the fields of these old ruins and I like to think they were the old souls that used to live here. Being around these sacred structures build hundreds of years ago, torn by war and a flood that hit in 2011 brings me into a state of gratitude, peace....and completely drenched in sweat!Read more

  • Day20

    Tarntorn Boutique in Chaing Mai

    October 23, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    2 days ago We sprung for a luxurious bus trip to Chiang Mai from Ayutthaya, equipped with our own attendant fussing over us giving us a myriad of endless sugar engulfed snacks and drinks (included). Well worth it too as it took over 9 begrudging hours. So that day was a complete write off. We checked into a nice hotel outside the old city gate and the next day pampered ourselves by going to a spa then renting a scooter. Beth got a better therapist than me as mine was quite apathetic which was unfortunate. Everyone assumes she is Thai here and speaks to her directly in their native tongue. The city here is quite buzzing and has a great vibe, although the traffic is mad! Cars relatively maintain car rules for the most part but if you're on a scooter, anything goes. People are lane splitting and zig zagging everywhere like crazy and they aren't shoulder checking at all so we decided to limit our riding to some degree. We found an epic open air gym to drop in at for 2.50$ each and have settled in for the week at our place as our week long Thai Massage School starts on Monday. Today we ventured into the jungle and visited an elephant family and group of mahouts that take care of them. These elephants and mahouts have been living together for 3 generations so there are only verbal commands given with no harsh pick axe used as disciplinary measures. We fed them, went for a ride on them, took a bath with them in a river and gave them a little scrub too with a brush. Massive animals with such kind eyes and snouts. Had an amazing experience holding space with such a creature standing over you. And there you are holding a banana like an idiot with a smile.Read more

  • Day23

    Spirit Houses

    October 26, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Anyone who has been to Thailand has seen at one point these small houses (shrines) with miniature figures inside. All varying sizes and colours with incense lit, sweets, flowers, candles, drinks and food left out in front of them. Well after carefully observation I noticed that each person with land/property has a spirit house. It is a dedicated structure usually placed in an auspicious spot usually in the corner of a lot, advised by a local monk/priest to honour the guardians of the land. It is a place to tune into the present moment and pay respect to the Mother Earth. The spirit house becomes a focal point to cultivate a harmonious relationship with nature; offerings are made in exchange for abundance, protection and creative potential. The house is intended to provide a shelter for spirits of the land that could cause problems for the people if not appeased. The ancient tradition of making daily offerings, praying, bowing has been passed through generations and is still widely practiced today. As Buddhism came to Southeast Asia it developed side by side with the ancient spirit religion (Animism). And to this day many of the animistic beliefs/practices remain intertwined with Buddhist rights and rituals such as this. Anyone who's read this please feel free to comment/like or communicate with me :)Read more

  • Day26

    Thai Massage Course Level 1

    October 29, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    This week has been very long and interesting. Thai massage level 1 course now completed! Bethany and I were the only ones in this weeks class as they run them every Monday to Friday. So we both had lots and lots of practice on each other and then on our instructor Jang. She was very helpful and excellent at correcting us as we went along. A typical Thai massage runs 2 hours long and I'm pretty sure I punished my knees into a grade 1 ACL tear from all of the kneeling. We were honoured to attend a once a year teacher appreciation ceremony that we chanted ancient Pali verses and bowed to the teachers and all of life's teachers as (symbolized in this altar) as well as given flowers to place on an altar to show respect. Contrary to western style massage, traditional Thai massage does not primarily work with the physical body but rather with the energy body of man. Its background can be traced back to India with an Ayurvedic understanding that "wind" or "chi" has invisible lines that flow through the body. If there is a blockage along the lines somewhere an ailment is presented in the according like fashion. We covered the full body as well as some cool stretching techniques all working on a large mat on the floor with different pillows to flop you around as needed. When I was getting treated by Beth I would slowly drift off to sleep but then a short time would pass and I would have to wake up and then work so it became difficult for me. Also Beth had some tummy troubles but is on the mend these past couple of days. The pharmacies here are very helpful and can pretty much get you anything you need. Now that the serious part of the trip is over we are off to Pai to party out! And by partying out I mean sitting by a pool complaining about the wifi and having a competition to see who gets dehydrated first.Read more