We were recently honored to host Katie's younger brother Michael here in the Kingdom. After some marathon travel MJ got off the plane looking pretty ragged, luckily we found some northern style food and Leo's to help his sleep pattern. We explored Bangkok for a day, including negotiating the hordes of Chinese tourists at the Grand Palace, and a walk down Khao San road before jumping on a sleeper train south. Our plan was to stay in Railay for a few nights and then head up to Ayutthaya, then split ways in Bangkok (I had to go back to work). A few highlights of the trip included beach time, a bit of climbing, and of course some food poisoning.
Eating on the islands or off the mainland is a bit of a gamble over here, and as such we all suffered from varying degrees of sickness, MJ having the worst bout. Ha, and of course this all started taking place as we rode in a jet boat out to Khao Phi Phi. At one point we stopped for some snorkeling. Nothing like looking over and seeing the woman you love bobbing up and down in a beautiful tropical paradise, and then proceeding to vomit into the deep blue (the fish were happy to be fed though!)
|one of my most serious vices|
|maybe some metaphors in there|
|Grand Palace - you can't see the 8 million Chinese people that were there|
After the trip tot he south we headed back up to Ayutthaya to explore the ancient city. The city was once the capital of Siam, and was ransacked by the Burmese around 1767 and subsequently abandoned. Thai people are still bitter about the invasion and will rarely admit they were defeated. It turned out to be a badass little city, with tons of temples, palaces, and old architecture. As it turned out the king was released after a multi year admittance to the hospital, in true Thai style they threw days of celebration, and it made the trip a bit more memorable. 2 days then back to Bangkok. Katie and MJ headed back to Chiang Mai while I had to pick up my last ISV group of the season.
My last ISV group of the season went really well. We were able to complete a shrine that the monk had been working on for awhile and we also helped get a garden ready for some robust grasses that were to be planted by the Royal Project. Evidently the grasses are grown and then transplanted to steep areas of deforestation to help combat landslides. Tough work but we finished it all up.
|working with the monk, you dig?|
Back at the Elephant Nature Park we did the same old work - shoveling shit, cutting grass, etc. etc. Overall a great group of students.
We have decided to downsize our lives a bit and move to a smaller, more manageable house near Chiang Mai University. The owner is the same woman, P Baet, who I feel is one of the last hold outs to "Thai progress." She has been keeping and restoring classic northern style Thai houses for the last 10 years and refuses to sell them out so that big companies can tear them down to build apartment buildings. The new place is actually an old rice barn that was converted into a house, and it comes with a huge enclosed green space. Only bad part is we moved 2 days before I left for the states........good thing for friends with cars (Thanks Jens!)