Chiang Rai – Doi Mae Salong Trip

Sawadee Khrap

We began this trip early in the morning at Chiang Rai – IMG_5467On leaving our hotel we passed by a regular morning event – local monks going out with their bowls for merit donations from the residents.  I’m not sure what Wat these monks were from but we gave them a small offering as they passed by.  More pictures are in the slide show.  After breakfast we headed for Doi Mae Salong. Not too far out from Chiang Rai we came across a Hot Springs area – there seemed to be 2 capped springs there, but no pools to bath in.  Both were venting steam.

IMG_5481IMG_5527 I got a great shot (or so I think of a metal bridge across a small stream to a back field – looks like a old railway bridge) and here is a shot of the surrounding countryside.

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The above shot is the inside area of a Chinese Warrior Monument to the fallen warriors escaping from the war and persecution in China – they moved first to Burma and then were forced out to settle here and built this monument and created Mae Salong Village  – Opium poppies were the main crop until a few years ago when the Thai Gov’t began to teach them how to grow tea and stop the drug trade.  The little figure is really neat – we bought 3, each a different doll – first soaked in cold water to load them up – and then hot water poured over the head of the doll  – well you can see what happens — and quite a distance.      It was about lunch time now so we stopped at the Doi Salong Villa in town.

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Here is several shots from the Villa – more are in the slide show, including a great shot of the young lady who waited on us, and more shots of the view.  If you look very closely at the first picture you will see the temple in the background – after lunch we drove up the mountain to the temple.

Here is a image of the Temple, but I think there are much better shots in the Slide Show – check it out

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IMG_5747 And here is a photo of some of the local tribal people you can find working in the jungle and surrounding fields, collecting mushrooms, tending to the tea plantations.

When I stopped to take these pictures of the old ladies, this shot and several in the slide show, all of them only knew “10 Baht, 10 Baht, 10 Baht” of English – they love to get their photos taken, but only if they get their 10 Baht – that’s about 25 cents US.

Ciao

Lak Tran Refugee Camp

 Sawadee Khrap

This is the 3rd posting for the trip to Piang Luang and is about our trip to the Shan – Lak Tran refugee camp just out side of town and near the temple.  Here is a panoramic shot of the area around the village – This is a very large file so expect some time to load.

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We arrived with gifts for the people of stuff like candles, medicine and some money for the small temple at the camp center.

IMG_4825And were greeted by a small band which called all the camp people out.  Almost all of the adults were off working so that left only the children and seniors in the camp – but out they came to greet us.

IMG_4835  Here are some quick shots I took – First the boys playing lag.  I almost wanted to join them – I haven’t played marbles in over 60 years – I can still remember some of the games we had in Omaha and what a great collection of cat’s eyes, steelies, tiger, and other names I can’t recall.  Everywhere in the camp I could see lines in the ground where they had started a game.

And this had to be one of the best shots I got of the children – I loved here smile – don’t you ?   And isn’t this a striking young girl IMG_4927in her doorway.  I was really impressed how clean both the people and camp were. 

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These were people with little or nothing, and yet they had peace of mind and you could see it everywhere – I created a SLIDESHOW of the rest of the images we took at the camp.  We visited several huts, one – home to a old man and his wife – the Dr. gave them some medicine (his wife has cancer and no one to take care of them, no children).  The camp helps out but each there still has to care for their family – but through it all these seniors had high spirits.  What a great visit and we plan on going back again next month when the Dr. makes his run again.

Here’s a shot of the sunset from the camp temple grounds.

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Ciao

 

 

Wat Fa Wiang Inn Temple

Sawadee Khrap

IMG_5079Six years ago during a border skirmish, the Burmese army advanced to the center of this temple area and established what they now call the border.  It cut the temple grounds in half with the larger newer temple claimed by the Burmese.

IMG_5120This is a shot from the Thai side looking up toward the temple now considered Burma.  From another advantage point I got another shot where if you look closely you can see the Burmese soldier sitting with his rifle on his lap watching us.

IMG_5081He’s rally hard to see and the enlargement doesn’t help – but he is there.   They then land-mined the gully area between the IMG_5353two parts of the temple grounds – If you  look at the bottom of the image you can see the old monk and school metal building. – this is no “no-man’s-land” and heavily mined.  Here is a image of the Thai soldiers that guard the border now – they came down to share in the lunch we brought.  Nice to know they are on patrol and alert.

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This is a shot of the “Old” temple located in the present temple area.  I didn’t get any inside shots at this time  – that will be on a later visit – probably at the end of this month.  

The Abbot of the temple is Phra Than Preecha. They also have a monk school (68 novice monks) and a school for the local children.  Here we meet a Israeli volunteer teaching English to the novice monks, Yoram Barouch.  (standing)

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And the teacher for the local children school (Sorry, I didn’t get his name this time).

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 IMG_5258Here are some shots of the lunch they had ready – not really for us but for the novice monks  – normally they just get a bowl of rice & vegetables (they say that all 68 monks are fed with 250 Baht of food each day – Thats about   8 dollars US$ – meat is a treat —– sooooo this meal was a real treat and IMG_5232everyone was there.  Another volunteer I met was Idthipath Lertchaisak (Khun Boon).  They are planning on developing a charity donation drive through the Chiang Mai Expats Club and Khun Boon will be a speaker for the project.

Some of the stories I was told about the hardships of the young boys and monks are really sad.  One young novice, 12 y/o, had to travel for 7 days through the jungle to get here. Another 10 y/o had a 10 day journey fleeing across the border to get here. One slightly older boy had spent over 3 months in prison before getting here.  Most are Shan tribal people from Burma call Thai Yai.  The temple refuses no one so they are integrated into the novice program along with the local students.

IMG_5303 Here is the table set up for Mr Boon and myself – quite a feed, and so delicious.  I have more images in a Slide Show of the monks, ladies who volunteered to cook, children,  and school/general area of the temple – I am working on some panoramic shots and will show them later.  But here is another shot of the surrounding area.

 

IMG_5369Next post will be about the Shan refugee camp close by.

Ciao

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piang Luang Trip

Sawadee Khrap

This will be the first in a series of posts to cover my recent trip to the Wat Fa Wiang Inn Temple at Piang Luang and the Thai Yai refugee camp at Lak Tran not far from the Burmese border.

Dr Saneh and fellow monkI was invited by Phra Saneh Dhammavaro, Director of Academic Affairs, Mahachulalongkron Buddhist University at Wat Suan Dok to go with them as they visited the local temple and the refugee camp nearby. 

We traveled North to Chiang Dao and then West toward the Burmese border past Wiang Haeng village to the much smaller Piang Luang village.  This route is 72 km, almost all climbing over the steep mountains – it put quite a strain on my little Mira car but she made it fine.  The views were spectacular but I didn’t get any shots on the trip there, but the next post has some panoramic taken at the camp.

IMG_4772  We had a choice to stay at the temple or in the village guest-house – I choose the guest-house – but that even proved to be very rustic.  The room had a water-heater for the shower but I was told that the gas ran out about 3 years ago and so I was left to take a cold shower in the morning – Oh well it was only for one night.  At least it had some mosquito netting on the windows so it was fairly safe.

The next morning I got up about 6 Am and went out to the road and got some shots of the locals going to school, work or just starting their day. (see the slideshow)

IMG_4773 IMG_4778  Here is a shot of the Dr. Phra Saneh and  Phra Sinlapachai Santikaro and the two young daughters of the owner of the guest-house – these were really great girls – they showed me to my room and brought water and what I needed for the night —– the other shot is the truck load of items the Dr. brought for the temple and area locals to share.

The next post will cover the trip to the temple and the third will cover the trip to the refugee camp.

I have also created a Slide Show of the remaining photos for this leg of the trip.  Please enjoy and leave a comment if you like this kind of presentation.

Ciao

 

Finally, I’m posting again

Sawadee Khrap

Yesterday I went to “the Spirit House”  for breakfast and took some shots: 

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Owned by Steve and Wanchai, the Spirit House is unique in Chiang Mai.  Steve was a well known pastry chef in New Orleans for over 8 years. 

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The restaurant and bar also features classical music, DVD’s, and Asian antiques from all the surrounding country.  Open all week, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in European style, but they also have Thai food for the locals.  If and when you visit Chiang Mai make sure you don’t miss this place.  BreakfastFruitBowlExtremely reasonable pricing – for example my breakfast started out with a glass on passion fruit juice, then a fruit plate with mango, pineapple, melon, mangosteen, and jack-fruit.  After this the meal was ham, scrambled eggs with Cheddar cheese, onions, and mushrooms, toast and pot of herb tea – all for 100 Baht ($2.50 US).

I forgot to get a picture of the full meal – I ate it so fast I forgot to get a shot.  Believe me it was delicious.

From here I tried to find a new massage spa managed by a friend “Tree” – but I must have passed it by -I’ll have to ask a friend where they are located and have some shots later. Sorry about that.

So on I went to the Golden Ball to get some shots of the staff.  Here is a link to the Golden Ball staff website gallery Tasanai made for them – enjoy and plan a trip here to savor the food and service.

Ciao

Golden Ball opens

Sawadee Khrap

Well it was Opening Night at the Golden Ball Restaurant in Chiang Mai.  I posted the business card before and here are the images from this afternoon/evening.

Bon was busy setting up for the first customers so I really didn’t bother them – more pictures will follow when the full staff is there and the place is running smoothly. But here are the first shots:

GoldenBall-Bon GoldenBall-Bon-MenuHere is Bon – a little nervous and really excited about getting started.  Here’s his menu – in Thai of course – I’ll get the English version soon.

Full training of the staff wasn’t possible – the final paperwork for the purchase was delayed and so this was a hurried opening  – but as they say the show must go on. 

Here are shots of the rest of the Restaurant and Bar– There is a inside and a outside restrauant area and the bar area itself.  Very, Very nice

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Stay tuned – the staff pictures will be posted soon and I am sure you will want to stop by just to say hello –  –   –  But of course we want you to have something to eat and wash it down with a great drink and warm conversations.

I feel like I’m coming down with a cold and I have to do another shoot at the Temple tomorrow morning at 6 AM – soooooo I’m gona take my Thera-Flu and go to bed.  It’s 9 PM now – hope I can sleep.

Ciao 

 

 


P.S. Here is a link to the Golden Ball staff website gallery Tasanai made for them – enjoy and plan a trip here to savor the food and service.


Asalabucha Day – Buddha’s first sermon

Sawadee Khrap

Tomorrow (Sunday) is Asalabucha Day, when Thai’s celebrate the day that the Buddha gave his first sermon to his disciples.  WatMontienI went down this morning to see Van-WatMontien5

 

 

 

 

what activity was at the Wat Montien Temple– just 3 blocks away from our Condo – today the monks clean it and the candle and merit ceremony will be on Sunday, then on Monday and Tuesday is the start of the Buddhist Lent and the monks retire to the Temples for the rainy season.  They used to fully confine themselves to the temple area because. as custom has it, they did not want to kill by stepping on any animal as they walked in the WatMontien2rainy season – puddles could hide animals and they would step onVan-WatMontien4 them without knowing.   The monks are also preparing circular amulets of the Buddha to sell to the people tomorrow as fund raising for the Temple.  As you can see they have a large variety of colors available, and this only shows about a quarter of the ones laid out to dry in the Temple.

Van-WatMontien3I was very fortunate to meet a Novice Monk (Van) Van-WatMontienwho showed me around the Temple grounds and told me the story of the celebration. He is from Lao, living at this temple while studying here in Chiang Mai at Wat Suan Dok – a very beautiful Temple nearby and the nearest Monk Novice School.Van-WatMontien2   Van is studying English Language as well as the standard Buddhist classes.  It was a lot of fun talking to him and what a beautiful young man.  He says it will take him about 9 years to graduate from Novice class to a full Monk.  After he graduates from school he plans on returning to Lao and his Temple.

He also offered to give me a personal tour of Wat Suan Dok on Wednesday and that I would never refuse – so I will should have some great shots to show you then.

 

Ciao 

Mike’s Burgers – 1st Bangkok Branch

Hey, remember back when I posted about my trip to Mae Ngad Dam with Brian and Kot.  Well Brian just opened his new Mike’s Burgers in the Silom Road area of Bangkok. Just up the street from the famous “Patpong” streets and the ever so erotic “Boys Street”.     Another friend, Jerry, was there for the Grand Opening and sent me these pictures.

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He has 3 other franchised locations here in Chiang Mai and this is the first to go in at Bangkok.  The big “enchilada” – he is planning on franchising several others in the greater Bangkok area over the next few years.

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That’s “Pong” behind the counter – Mike’s partner.   The next time your are in BKK and taking in the sites at the famous red light district “Patpong”   Make sure you stop by for a old fashion hamburger and fries – he’s even got beer to wash it down with.

 

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Good Luck Brian ——  Reminds me of SF – Look out McDonald’s

Golden Ball Restaurant – Chiang Mai

Sawadee Khrap

Bon, a friend of ours is opening a new restaurant in Chiang Mai.   Tasanai just designed his new business cards and when you are in Chiang Mai be sure and stop by.  Many cute boys as waiters and excellent food – both Thai and Farang.  GoldBall-Front copy

 

 

 

 

GoldBall-Back copyGrand Opening scheduled for August 1st

Here is the map for the local boys –

See you there !!!!

 

Their web-site should be up and running soon – They tell me they will have pictures of the staff – be sure and check it out too.

Ciao

Day Two – Fang trip

Sawadee Khrap

Continued :

We had a very good breakfast (included in the room cost) and then headed out to the Thaton temple area again.  Nestled on the slopes of the densely forested mountain range that separates the northernmost part of Chiang Mai province and neighbouring Burma, lies the Thai Yai or SHAN village of THATON.  100 years ago, the Mae Kok river used to be the border between Thailand & Burma and cut the city in half – Now the border is 2 km North and both sides of the river are Thailand. This is the view from the great Buddha statue, one of the 3 massive sculptures looking down on this valley.

This is a fairly large file so have patience to see the full size version – but such a incredible vista.

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Here are shots of the 3 sculptures:  IMG_4189-Fang-07-10-07-

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If you look closely at the photo above you can see two(black spots),  massive wild bee hives in the Nagas or the Serpents – here is a close-up – these were over 6 ft. long and about  1 ft thick.

 

All 3 sculptures are situated on the side of mountain looking down on the valley – and they are very impressive to see as you drive by on the main highway through town.

Next we headed to the Hot Springs at Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park.When we got there we could not see any activity from the geysers. FangHotSpring2 As you can see from the picture only a couple of small jets were alive and all of the creeks were empty. 

 

Again this is a large file – please be patient if you want to see it full size.

We were told by the snack vendor that the geysers and springs were only active for about 40 min/day and as our luck would have it  – this wasn’t the right 40 min.  We got some water and snacks but decided not to wait around for the next activity – maybe next time – so in the car and headed back home.

Our next stop was at Tab Tao cave in Chai Pra Kan – now that’s a mouthful.

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This is the entrance to the cave – too dark to get any good shots – we will have to bring several flashes to get any inside shots – maybe next time.   These caves form a network – connecting together throughout the Chiang Dao Mountain Area.     From here we headed back to Chiang Mai.

Ciao

 

Setting up the Expat’s Photo Group

Sawadee Khrap

Several guys from the Expat Club of Chiang Mai are revising the Photographic Group and I am helping out.  We are planning on having evening meetings about twice a month, with time for critiquing photos, tutorials (film & digital, lighting, processing, editing, and framing) , and live product presentation by local businesses.  So far plans are to have the first full meeting about  mid September at Tusker’s Bar & Grill.   I plan on helping out where I can  – great group of guys and some professionals as well.  Great learning experience.Best party in Chiang Mai

 

 

 

We really like Tusker’s —– so if you are in town make sure you don’t pass it by.  Next month they are having a BBQ party, sponsored by ThaiVisa and Tasanai and I plan on attending – August 18th.  This should draw people from all over Thailand. I’ll try and get pictures of the festivities.

Ciao

 

 

Day one – Fang Trip

Sawadee Khrap

We left Chiang Mai later than expected as we had to first get a new battery – ours just died.   So with half the day left gone, we left and headed for Fang – arriving there about 2 PM.  We did stop for lunch along the way but didn’t get any shots.      IMG_4183-Fang-07-10-07-We booked into the Tangerine Villa – the largest and newest of Fang’s Hotels.  cost 1000 Baht/night  $28 US  — high because of the low US dollar and high Baht –  nice place, comfortable, but not quite up to most of Chiang Mai’s four star class.

Next, we headed out to see the Old City’s (before the Lanna Kingdom) King’s & Queen Monument. temple and grounds.

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and then on to Mai Ai and Thaton.  Along the way we side-tracked to Tak Mok to see the waterfall there – Boy!,  was that a steep climb in the hills.  The little Mira just made it  – didn’t overheat but we did have to stop and add more water at the top – seemed like a real deserted road leading straight to Burma.  We kept going wondering where the waterfall was (no signs posted) and near the top we came to a tribal village.IMG_4098-Fang-07-10-07   This was the Lahu ( Musur) tribe. 

These people originated in southwest China and migrated first to Burma before being forced by the Burmese Army into Thailand.  We hesitated on getting shots of the village as they were a little surprised that we were there – maybe they didn’t believe that our little car could have made it.  On the next trip I want to spend a lot more time there and get some shots of village life – we will need to have some coins to give them to get some pictures.

Still we didn’t see the waterfall so we headed back down and several curves below the village we saw some boys playing in a rode-side pool.  I didn’t see them on the way up so this was really a sunrise.  They were real friendly and loved posing for the camera and seeing their pictures.

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IMG_4137-Fang-07-10-07Really wanted to join them – it was about 92F now and little breeze.  But as you can see several of the boys were skinny-dipping and we didn’t want to cause any problems.  So we just got some shots and headed back down to the valley floor.

On to Mae Ai and Thaton, it was getting late and the sky was getting very cloudy.

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In Thaton we stopped at lower entrance of Thaton Temple and went only to the base of the first pagoda (Chedi) – had to start back as the clouds were really starting to build and it wouldn’t be long before a real downpour started.  We planned on going back tomorrow and see the whole complex.

And I mean down-pour, as we headed out of town it started to rain in earnest and I mean rain – rivers of water on both sides of the highway – could barely see at times it was coming down so hard, but about half way back to Fang – it stopped.

After dinner we wanted to see what Fang held for night-life.  A friend suggested that we stop at Chaba, a local bar and his favourite hang-out.  Here we met Dang the owner – he was from Fang went to Chiang Mai and moved back to start this place.  Very nice, lot of people there. A great place to start the evening.ChaBa-Dang-Fang-7-11--07

We had a couple of drinks and chatted with Dang for a while and he suggested we also stop by the club on the corner of the same block called  69Club.  It was the favourite spot for the gay community in Fang – and they were there.  What a great crowd – friendly – with good music and atmosphere – not to mention the beautiful boys there.69Bar-Fang-7-11--07

Here’s their card for reference.  These are two spots we don’t want to miss on our next visit to Fang. 

The other “HOT” spot in town is the Orange Disco Club – packed, loud, everything I don’t like so we let it slide  – maybe Tasanai will venture there the next time and let us know what it is like.IMG_4186-Fang-07-10-07-   

It’s late – so we headed back to the Hotel.

 

The rest tomorrow.

 

Ciao

 

Life in Fang

Sawadee Khrap

Last weekend Tasanai went to Fang for a Spirit Ceremony project.  Here are some shots from that trip – First the Fang valley and dancing at the City Pillar.

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 And some Temple shots in the area.  We are planning on a trip there soon and will plan on visiting each and getting more descriptive shots.  Tasanai had a project to do and so had limited time to really capture the splender of the Fang Province. 

Here are some snaps of the many temples in the surrounding area.

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And he caught a peaceful monk sleeping at To Rung Temple.

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Fang has many caves – Tab Tao Cave has been used as a temple for over 1000 years – 

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Something catch your eye – let us know and we try to get more detailed shots on our next trip.  We plan on making it a mini-vacation too – staying overnight and enjoying the relaxed country life. 

Ciao

Bloggy the Bear ???????

Question of the year – “Who is sleeping with Bloggy the Bear?”

A friend of ours, David in London has a rather erotic gay blog site and a mascot called Bloggy the Bear and he sent me this puzzle to try and solve.  But I found that some of the pieces were missing and this is as far as I could get.

Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

BloggyPuzzle

I guess if we want to know who is Bloggy’s friend then we will just have to go to his web site to find out the answer.

A little PhotoShop trickery –