Saturday, April 30, 2011

Home, Safe and Sound

We made it!  3 1/2 months of adventure brings us back to our doorstep and the crisp cool air of a new Saskatoon spring.  Getting back into home-mode has been simpler than we expected.  The biggest adjustment is our sleeping patterns.  Yesterday, I slept from 3 pm to 9 pm and napped from 4 am to 8 am.

I'm happy happy happy to be back.  We can walk across the street without getting run down by scooters, breathe fresh air, run into friends and acquaintances at every turn, talk endlessly about our adventures.

So that's that.

The End

Monday, April 25, 2011

Is this the end?

In less than 24 hours we'll have left the now-familiar realm of street noodles and tuk-tuk drivers for the skyway.  We'll be sleeping uncomfortably on a plane with our mouths open, making faintly audible gurgling noises while we are shuttled effortlessly at incredible speeds through the troposphere.

The whole trip already seems so far behind us.  I seldom recall the thrilling and terrifying bus rides around Laos mountains, trekking ever upwards to a Thai hill-tribe village, spending 2 days navigating the mighty Mekong River, kayaking in the midst of towering karst in Halong Bay, dining on sea bass in the tourist town of Hoi An, discovering the thick and delightful Vietnamese coffee in Saigon, walking through the killing fields and torture centers in Cambodia, climbing over millennium-old Angkorian ruins, studying sustainability and spirituality on Koh Phangan, discovering the richness of culture and diversity of cuisine in Malaysia, relaxing on the postcard perfect beaches in Krabi, or eating at the countless street stalls serving decadent banana pancakes every step of the way.

I've made a list of images I want to remember.  The one that comes first to my mind is from Hanoi.  We spent our afternoons exploring, trying to avoid crossing the street (which required the near suicidal act of throwing yourself in front of 18 lanes of motorcycle traffic which never slowed down but usually swerved around pedestrians).  As we walked along the sidewalk, we came upon a mother and her infant son.  She was holding him up by his naked legs which spread wide apart.  Underneath him was a sheet of newspaper.  He was pooping, spread eagle, facing the street on a busy sidewalk.  An unbroken brown sludge was hanging from his bottom.  He could have been pushing out chocolate-flavor soft serve ice cream.  Small circles, swirl on top.  Perfect.

The second image isn't that clear to me, because I didn't see it.  Jevin and Robyn did and I can put the scene together in my mind.  Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Local fish market.  Tables and tables of fresh, whole, raw fish pile up.  Some buckets are filled completely with live eels or frogs, writhing, climbing all over each other, trying to make their escape.  It is so hot, even in the shade.  It can't be good for the meat to sit out like that.  Even the locals are overcome in the oppressive humidity.  One lady succumbs, crawling onto her market stall table, pushing aside one of the smaller piles of fish which spill over onto another.  She makes room for herself and lies on her back, closes her eyes and starts dreaming, a big pile of woman sleeping on an even bigger pile of dead, stinky fish.

There's an image, or two, or three, from every day.  No photo could do them justice, although I've wasted a lot of time trying.  Most of my favorite scenes have been of daily life and its peculiarities: men having coffee, janitors squeegeeing entranceways, locals unaware of how bizarre their lives seem to me.

I can't say that the entirety of this trip has been amazing experience after amazing experience, although I'm sure it will seem that way as I recall the scenes I've stored in my mind.  A lot of the time I've felt lost, or misplaced.  Two months into the trip I would have gladly accepted a ticket home and never had another urge to travel.  But now, although I'm very excited to be heading home, I don't feel like it's been too long or time ill-spent.  I've simplified my expectations and settled into the relaxed pace of life without work, school, or rituals of any kind.  Now, I'm bracing for the shock of Saskatoon stimuli: job hunting, picking classes, doing taxes, seeing people I know everything about, sorting out 1600 travel photos, attempting a garden, and a whole list of other things that I can't even anticipate.

I'M SO EXCITED TO BE HOME!!!!  Saskatoon in the summer is so beautiful and so are the people.

David J Parker

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Exit Malaysia

The last Malaysia experience I may ever have has been stumbling awkwardly through a food market in Butterworth.  There's such a strong mix of ethnicities that sometimes I forget that the people I see might not be Indian, Chinese, or Siamese, but Malay.

A tall man of Indian heritage with a white embroidered hat beckons me to sit at his food stall.  I hadn't expected to be engaged and, off my guard, smiled slightly and continued my round, head down.  Pressed to make a decision, I decided that the easiest route would be to go with a buffet-style lunch.  I stood out front of one such stand and surveyed my options: Red sauce, chicken?  Brown, definitely fish.  Fish. Fish.  Fried fish heads.  Miscellaneous vegetables.  I was getting nowhere on my own but I'd learned in 3 months of travel that if you look pathetic enough, someone usually comes to your rescue.  Unfortunately that's not the case today.  I'm not sure if I'm to wait for service, grab a plate and dish up, or take being ignored as a hint to leave.

I begin to look around and a man across the way smiles and nods in my direction.  I look away, unsure how to approach the new scenario.  Gathering courage I return his gaze.  Still smiling, he nods again.  I notice that his stall has pictures, names, and prices.  I'm saved!  I walk over and point, weakly attempting to read the name of the dish aloud, "Nasi Goreng".  It sounds vaguely familiar and I am relieved to see the man nod again and exit to the preparation area.  My sense of elation is short lived as I see him fondling fish balls with his bare fingers.  I resign to my fate.  I've taken a risk and I'll suffer the consequences.

Another man approaches me as soon as I'm settled, "Something to drink?"  Again, I'm at a loss while he lists off beverages.  I request the only drink I know, Teh Tarek, lazy man's tea.  When it comes, I know I'll at least be satisfied by the taste although it isn't exactly prudent to order hot tea in the oppressive +33 heat and humidity. 

My meal comes.  Fried rice !?  It's fried rice?!  I'm so happy!  I mean, it's not going to blow my mind but at this point I just want to eat without fear and that's exactly the reprieve I've been granted.

I'm going to miss Malaysia.  It was never in the plan.  The thing that brought us here was the desire to escape the flooding in Southern Thailand, but now experienced, I am so grateful for the brilliant foray into diverse and pronounced culture in this developed country.  From the metropolitan buzz of Kuala Lumpur to the cool green of the Cameron Highlands and the cultural fusion of Georgetown, it has been an experience unlike any in our journey so far.

Here are some scenes from the Malaysian chapter of our adventure:

In the Cameron Highlands, Robyn and I decided we were brave enough to venture into the jungle along some 'well-marked' trails.  Here are the three signs we say in our 3 km hike.

At some point in history this must've been a trail.  No sign of human life yet.

After wandering for an hour or so and being almost sure that we were lost, we found this sign.  It's information pertained only to trails we wanted to avoid.

As the day's light waned, we searched for a sign... and found one face down on the ground.  We couldn't be sure what was where.  Jungle hike is less fun, more scary than I thought.

But we found a nice spot.  Robyn is pure zen in the lower right.

In my previous post, I talked about the atmosphere of Georgetown.  If you haven't yet, read it before you look at the photos.  Here are some images to give it context:

Temples everywhere

Crumbling walls

Disintegrating shudders and doorways

And transportation in need of an upgrade.
 David J Parker


Goodbye Malaysia.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Georgetown, Malaysia

If it's anything, Georgetown is atmospheric.  But to get there, I must walk down the narrow unlit hallway of 75 Traveler's Lodge, past the open doorway of a skinny old Caucasian whose head is fringed with wiry gray hair down to his shoulders.  He sits in the dark against the far wall of his room and lightly strums a guitar, peering into the hall.

Beyond that, the lobby opens up to the street.  The glare of the Malaysian afternoon sun makes it impossible to discern the details of what's outside until I step out, allowing my eyes to adjust.  The road is wide enough, perhaps, for a car and motorcycle to pass each other and is lined with wall-to-wall lime washed brick buildings; shop on the bottom, living space on top. 

This has been declared a UNESCO heritage site for just over a decade.  What this means is that all of the buildings that might have been earmarked for demolition have suddenly become valuable and are required to remain, but not necessarily to be restored.  Most outside walls are stained in black from years of exposure while wooden shudders and doors have deteriorated to the point of failure.

There is a great diversity of architecture, however, which is owed to the economic history of the region.  At the end of the 18th century, Georgetown became an important hub for the East India Trading Company and countless other organizations.  Entrepreneurs from the west as well as India, China, Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and, of course, Malaysia gathered to do business.  As a result, the place became a mosaic of world cultures and, owing to the affluence of the peoples, was graced by the finest architecture of each nation.  Elaborate religious structures representing the various faiths were erected and Chinese temples, Christian churches, Muslim mosques, and Buddhist Wats now appear on every street.

I entered one such temple after passing through a mansion-turned-museum.  It's patrons had, however, gone under a fairly dramatic transformation.  Dozens of bats inhabited the highest and darkest corners, clinging to the brick walls and wooden pillars.  Robyn's suspicion is that the creatures are the vampire caretakers of the aforementioned museum although I think that the large open courtyard located in the building would be an ill-suited feature for such terrors of the night. 

The end of our time in Malaysia marks the 10-day countdown to the end of our trip and the pile of responsibilities waiting there after 4 months of neglect.

10 days in which to...

  Revisit the nicest beaches we've ever seen, spend hours in transit, order noodle soup from street vendors in Bangkok...

and that's about as far as the plan's gotten.

David J Parker

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cameron Highlands

On Monday, we took a bus from the sweltering streets of Kuala Lumpur into the cool Cameron Highlands.  Upon entering the town, Robyn and I both sensed a certain familiarity.  Low clouds hugged the alpine mountains in the background of a bustling tourist town.  It's like the Malaysian Canmore!  We were more than happy to put on a light sweater and enjoy the fresh air and easy vibe.

View from Father's Guesthouse

Stairs to our place

For Tuesday, sticking with our do something every day plan, we booked a full day tour of all the major sights. The area is famous for its tea plantations and every rolling hill is covered in the uniformly trimmed trees.  Our first stop was the most famous estate in the area, operated by BOH tea company (BTW All of the tea companies are owned by western foreigners and all of the workers are eastern foreigners).  It's a beautiful sprawling estate in the midst of which we were told all about the planting, selecting, and harvesting processes of the area and given an overview the evolution of tea.  It was much like touring a vineyard and, as we are after a wine tour, Robyn and I are now temporarily passionate about teas and tea culture.

Tea fields

Trimmed tea plants aren't allowed to flower.  This one's breaking the rules.

We left the plantation in a Land Rover and continued up the mountain where we had the pleasure to enter a cloud rain forest (so excited, you have no idea).  This is an amazing place at around 2000m elevation where clouds like to hang out.  The high humidity creates a niche environment for some novel species. There are panthers, monkeys, rare leopards, and zillions of interesting insects.  As far as vegetation goes, every tree is actually home to hundreds of plants.  Moss covers every surface, actively extracting moisture from the clouds, condensing it, and delivering it to its host.  Leaves fall from higher trees onto lower branches and decompose there forming micro-environments that host other smaller plants and myriad insects.  Then there's the carnivorous pitcher plant which anyone who's watched the entire Planet Earth series will no doubt recognize.  It lures insects onto its rim with the promise of sweet nectar and they fall into it, being digested alive in a mixture of water and digestive enzymes.  Crafty plant!  Walking through the forest was like trekking over a giant sponge.  Water oozed out of the ground all around our feet and as soon as we released the pressure, the earth would spring back to its former position.

Jungle ferns

Moss captures moisture right out of the clouds and delivers it to the forests co-inhabitants.

The diabolical pitcher plant!
Dinosaur era mega-ferns grow to tree height in the cloud rain-forest.

Halfway down the mountain brought us to the tea factory where we watched tea leaves be rolled, oxidized, dried, and graded.  At the end, we tried out a couple of the high end white teas on offer in the tasting room (accompaniment by apple and strawberry desserts).

Tea time!
The last stop of the morning was the butterfly/insect/other scary things garden where we saw a toad as big as my head, some scary snakes,and had a gecko walk all over me.

The only non-scary thing in the butterfly garden
Snake orgy

Two flower pedals picked from an overhanging vine

My grandma could tell me all about this thing
Our guide for the tour was amazing.  He had interesting and relevant information on the geology and ecology of the area as well as the hill people that still live in the jungle.  He showed us all sorts of wild edible species such as citronella, wild ginger, spearmint, and cinnamon.  I found out later that he had studied forestry at university and got his masters in something related to insects.  He spent time in Kuala Lumpur as a soft-skill consultant which explained how seamlessly he incorporated humor with his informative lectures, and after all of this experience he had chosen to be a guide for interest-sake and to serve his love of nature.

Getting the low-down on all things tea
What a great day.  The more time I spend in Malaysia the more glad I am that I came.

David J Parker

P.S.  Check out the previous post, Meditations II.  I added pictures!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Meditations II

I don't think that I began to uniformly enjoy our trip until we got into Cambodia.  For the two months previous, I had difficulty reconciling my vision of what the trip should be with our actual experience.  I expected a golden road to self-discovery paved by experiencing myself in novel situations and pushing myself to physical, cultural, and culinary extremes.  I had adventure on my mind and, after two months of travel, most of what I had experienced was simply a vacation following the mirage of adventure.

To illustrate, my vision of trekking through the jungle, sleeping in the canopy, eventually finding a secluded village and learning their culture first-hand materialised as a 2 1/2 hour hike up a mountain with an Australian family and an overnight in a village that saw a new tourist group every day.  To attend to my desire for extremes was no doubt possible, but I lacked the knowledge, experience, and courage to pursue them.

Fortunately, things have changed both internally and externally.  My expectations have shifted and, with a few months experience behind us, we are better able to identify activities that we enjoy and pursue them.

Kuala Lumpur provided an excellent avenue for these expressions and perfectly reconciled our desire to be immersed in the local culture, to feel safe, and to be relatively confident about how to conduct ourselves.  It is developed enough to eliminate the need for separate local and tourist infrastructure so every bus, LRT, restaurant, sidewalk, and market is teeming with cultural diversity.  Simply wandering the streets is enough to awaken and enliven the senses.

We spent our Sunday just so.  From Chinatown we headed south where we found impressive municipal structures designed with heavy Islamic influence: magnificent archways, spectacular geometry, and large domed ceilings.

In the heat of the day, we were drawn to a fountain at the end of a soccer pitch.  It was encircled by wide white pillars and a trellis upon which a hardy flowering vine grew, providing shade for the seating area around the fountain while sunlight was admitted directly into the water making it shimmer.

A group gathered around the water to meditate.  They encircled the fountain cross-legged and transitioned through mudras (hand gestures) slowly and synchronously.  Meanwhile, two children ran about, noisily playing in and around the devotees.  Their behaviour drew little attention until the older boy fell into the fountain getting completely soaked.  I enjoyed studying the reactions of the meditators as their awareness was diverted towards the children.

I am sure that if the same thing occurred in a western Christian church, the children would have been the subject of many angry glares and be taken away by their parents to be scolded.  Here, the reactions were varied.  Some smiled or laughed out-loud while others remained in meditation.  I didn't see one nasty look.  What's more, it was impossible to tell who the parents were.  One man helped the boy out of the water, another got him out of his wet clothes, and yet another supplied him with something to drink.  There seems to be an understanding that kids will be kids, not little adults.

Beloved fountain

The second highlight to our day was visiting the National Islamic Art Museum.  We saw literally hundreds of Qur'ans, each an amazing piece of historical artwork with intricate patterning, delicate calligraphy, and expert binding.  Furthermore, we saw beautiful examples of textiles, household items, military equipment, and scale models of holy sites.

Qur'an #472

Qur'an $ 547

Ceiling of Museum

We admit to being quite ignorant about Islam and the trip to the museum was a welcome initiation.  That said, I see the knowledge as a means of engaging Muslims rather than as a basis from which to adopt it into our own lives.

David J Parker

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Robyn and my last day in Thailand passed, for the most part, in the Phuket airport.  We decided that with 7 hours to wait for the plane, we could probably solve some of the world's more pressing issues if we really talked them over enough.  We made a list of possible issues: world hunger, increasing disparity between rich and poor, things like that.  In the end, we decided to narrow our scope to personal goals for the coming year and found that we basically want to eat more carrots and go for long walks by the beach.  Looks like 2012 is going to be an easy year!

Fearing that the world would be a rather boring place if we solved all of its problems, the aiport staff shuttled us onto a plane and into another country in an attempt to divert our discourse towards more mundane subjects such as how to cross the street without getting hit by a bus and the likelihood of getting abysmally ill by drinking Malaysian tap water. 

Their plan worked.  We got into Kuala Lumpur and jumped onto a bus, arriving finally at our guesthouse by 2 am. 

It seems like the end of our trip is just on the horizon so we decided to really get our act together when it comes to seeing new places.  By the next morning, we had already resolved to pack our day with adventure. 

We started off at a big outdoor/indoor Central Market where I had my work cut out for me convincing Robyn not to buy a 17th scarf.  From there we headed into China Town, wandering up and down the streets.  The smells of curry and incense were everywhere and, more amazingly, the smell of sewage was nowhere.  Merchants came out of their shops as we passed, attempting to sell us bootleg videos or trying to get us to get a tattoo.  I wonder how often that works.  Who is convinced by a stranger on the street that they should get a tattoo?

China Town, Kuala Lumpur

China Town fruit stand

We popped in and out of temples and, when we saw its distinct pinnacles in the distance, we settled on a walk to the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world.  On our walk, we became more and more blissfully aware at how different this city was from Bangkok, Hanoi, or Saigon.  People could walk on the sidewalks as they were devoid of scooters.  The streets were clean and traffic obeyed street lights.  The architecture was very modern in places with a distinct Muslim influence, and it seems like most of the population holds strongly to its cultural heritage instead of discarding it in favor of westernity.  There is a large Indian population and the flavors of Indian life proliferate.

The Petronas Towers poke their little heads out

Almost there...

Made it!

We reached the Petronas Towers after a long and winding walk, spent some time wandering the very modern shopping center inside, and then headed to Little India for dinner.  I tried to be adventurous with my order, choosing things that were foreign to me with no regard to spiciness.  It paid off in a deliciously heated spread.  Robyn was a little nervous about her food which exhibited some strange colors and a tendency to ooze blood.  I think she'll be alright.


After dinner, we headed back to the towers to watch a free concert which ended up being 15 minutes of hand-drum jams and then an hour of handing out free plastic clappers, 15 minutes of drums, free t-shirts, etc.  We ditched out and went to a movie, Rio, which was a nice treat after walking all day.  We'd been dreaming of going to a movie theatre for some time and it definitely lived up to the anticipation. 

David J Parker

Friday, April 8, 2011

Krabi, Thailand

Best... shower... ever.
This place is pure luxury. Why? I think the luxury is due more to what it lacks than what it has.
Two days ago our shower was a leaky hose over the toilet with one tap, "cold water". You had to watch your feet to avoid being attacked by our two resident cockroaches and at the end of it all, you often felt more dirty than when you'd begun.
And this, for some reason, hardly phased us. We had prepared ourselves for bathrooms like this whose sinks drained right onto the concrete floor. Most of the water would flow towards a whole near the toilet, the rest sat in stagnant stinking pools on the floor, no doubt harbouring novel and dangerous life forms.
But this place... this place has an amazing shower, and the shower is just the beginning of all things nice in Krabi.  It's a relatively small town with nothing particular to do if you're not hungry, but that's all part of the appeal.  Krabi provides a unique opportunity to be in amongst the locals while maintaining jumping distances to the most amazing beach landscapes I've ever seen. 

The patrons of the food markets are 3 part Thai to 1 part farang ( foreigner) which means authentic food and low prices.  Wednesday's menu was green curry, crab-meat omelet with chili sauce, stir-fried morning glory with garlic, rice, and coconut-lemon shakes.  The set was inspired by the people eating next to us and we finished it off with with mini pancake rolls filled with a sweet coconut-bean paste.  It may not be guaranteed amazing, but it's guaranteed interesting.
As for the beaches, you'd be hard pressed to find more stunning views.  Long stretches of white sand are walled in by limestone towers.  Over the centuries, stalactites have formed around the perimeters making each formation look like a Pheylonian candle, a cave inside-out.  Up close, the stalactites reveal their size.  Huge rough cones hang over the ocean, dripping water from their tips... a steady slow rain in scattered pockets.  Towers such as these jut out from the aqua-marine waters at random over the horizon.

If it sounds like paradise, that's because it is.  Phranang Beach may be the most beautiful macro-scene that I've ever been a part of.

Railey Beach, Thailand

The pathway from Railay Beach to Phranang Beach.  Adventure!

Sunset on Phranang

This last beach had a host of monkeys that were causing a ruckus.  When Robyn opened my backpack, a whole gang of them swarmed her and stole peanuts right from the bag and then ran up a tree. 

On Thursday, we joined a boat tour that explored several of the nearby islands.  The first stop was an beautiful, if temporary, stretch of sand that linked two islands.  The waters were clear turquoise and the sand was uniformly white.  We splashed about, did some snorkeling, and found some big rainbow-colored fish that hung around the sea floor sucking on rocks.  When we were ready to get out of the water, however, we found that the beach was gone!  Only in low tide does the white stretch link two islands.  For the rest of the day it merely lends its light color to the clear, shallow waters.

The day continued like this, boarding our longtail boat and hopping from island to island.  Robyn got a little sea sick on our first stop.  We were about 20 meters from the beach when she turned around and hurled over the side of the boat.  I tried to be sympathetic but it was funny that we were so close to our destination when she finally lost her muesli. 

As we visited more islands, I was able to pick out things about each that I remembered.  My dad and I went to Southeast Asia about 7 years ago and the furthest north we got to was Krabi.  It was my favorite place then and I think it's my favorite place on this trip as well.

Our transporation and our destination.  Paradise!

This is not a brochure, it's all around us!

Our last stop of the day was the now familiar Phranang Beach.  Instead of swimming, we decided to explore the inside out caves around the beach.

Melty candle tower.  Phranang Beach, Thailand
Robyn, blissfully unaware of the encroaching sunburn

Exploring the caverns in and around Phranang Beach

At the end of our day, we struck up a conversation with some of the other people on the boat, a duo from Indonesia, Harry and Sarah.  We had tons of fun talking about our own countries.  They thought is was so crazy to live anywhere as cold as Canada and even crazier that people like me bundle up and go biking around in -40.  On the other hand, it wasn't such a big deal to them to live in an earthquake zone underneath an active volcano in an amongst giant pythons and poisonous spiders as big as your face.

We ended up wandering around the night market with them later and I was inspired by Harry to expand my epicurean horizon.  I started with some spicy mystery meat on a stick and graduated to grilled grasshoppers, beetles, and larvae (not as good as it sounds and it sounds horrible).  Bu the end of the night, the four us were hanging out eating giant pancakes filled with different colored goos and chatting about living in Canada, Indonesia, and America (we found another friend).

Today, it's off to Malaysia and then we'll work our way North from there.  Back home in no time!

David J Parker

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Too busy livin' it up to post

Robyn and I have been hitting the beach for the last couple days and, in the middle of all that relaxing, it's been hard to get to a computer and make a post.  This message is just to assure those who are watching the news and assuming that every disaster in Southeast Asia is directly endangering us that we are happy and safe.

Tomorrow we'll be spending about 7 hours in an airport waiting for a plane so, with luck, I'll find a computer and write about our adventures in the past few days.

David J Parker

Monday, April 4, 2011

Island Life

"Enough with Ko Phangan, we need a change of scene!" we cried as we huddled onto the southbound ferry.  "Ko Samui will surely supply the refuge we seek!"

Here we are on another island and I have to say that you'd be hardpressed to find Thai culture within striking distance of a beach in Thailand.  In fact, a Thai beach is probably the best place you could be if you don't care much for any Thai who isn't serving you a cocunut with a straw and especially if you enjoy the company of overweight balding men in speedos.

Why are there no Thais splashing about in the pristine waters of Ko Samui's legendary beaches?  There are a few reason, I think, the least of which is contemporary vanity.  The peoples of Southeast Asia see beauty in the pale faces of western culture and take aim to protect themselves from being darker than they have to.  When the sun is out, they are covered from head to toe in loose clothing and layers of scarves.  Every hygiene product on the shelves has skin whitening cream in it.  For this reason, you'd never see a Thai, Laos, or Vietnamese sunbathing.  Historically, most people here lived in small villages and were farmers.  If a family owned a bit of land, the black sheep of the children would be given the beach area to farm.  It's impossible to grow much apart from peanuts and cocunuts on a stretch of sand so being on the beach meant a sentence of poverty.  You'd think that those peanut farmers would be laughing now as they could've shut down the farm in favor of a beach resort but the fact is that, for the most part, they were only too happy to sell the land at a low cost to foriegn developers who are now making a fortune in paradise. Now that there's value beach property, there's no room left for the Thais who used to own it.

I don't have much else to say since it's only been a day since the last post.  Make sure to go back and read that one.  It speaks of the traveling experience in an entirely different way.  In the meantime, here's some shots of the nice beach we found (served corn on a stick by a friendly Thai man, we'd had coconuts earlier).

Time to get a sunburn

Definitely one of the nicest beaches I've been to

Salted corn...
... on a stick

becomes art in the sand

A guest in our beach bungalow, Mr. Millipede

The ants joined us for breakfast and made short work of this tiny drop of honey.
David J Parker