Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wat the fudge is happening in Chiang Mai?

A Wat is Buddhist temple or structure including working temples or ruins in Thailand, Laos or Cambodia. In Chiang Mai, Brendan and I visited many a Buddhist religious structure are beautiful and awe inspiring when you walk around cities or towns in the region. These buildings are decorated from wall to wall with ornate hand carved and gilded woodwork or stone chiseled statues. You cannot help but stare at the numerous Buddhist icons, statues and images and help but feel just a bit of the peaceful nirvana that Buddhists are always yearning for. In Chiang Mai, Wat Phra Singh one of the main Wats of the city is located within the city walls, dates from 1345 and offers an example of classic northern Thai style architecture. It houses the Phra Singh Buddha, a highly venerated figure brought here many years ago from closeby and equally beautiful Chiang Rai. Visitors can also take part in meditation classes here and monks conduct Monk Chats where you can sit with a monk and discuss and learn Buddhist teachings.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.  - The Buddha
Photos from Inside Wat Prah Singh
Gilded Buddhist Image
Gorgeous carved dragon guarding the Buddha
Ornate doors to Buddhist monastery 
Me next to a reclining Buddha
 The other dragon guarding the Buddha
Buddha at the rear of a temple
Buddhist Image
Buddhist Pyramid
Buddha at the top of the pyramid 

A beautiful templt

 Another astonishing temple entrance
Brendan near the Buddhist image  

Video inside Wat Singh

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Criminally Good Massage in Chiang Mai

While in Chiang Mai, Thailand make sure you visit the Chiang Mai Women's Correctional Institution which has an interesting rehabilitation program for soon to be released criminals. The prison sets them up with a savings account and they are taught set of very marketable skills and practice on willing clients who go for an awesome and affordable massage while doing these ladies a bit of good in return. The money they earn from the massages go into their personal bank accounts that they will draw from and grow in the outside world. The massage parlor lies aside the prison and it is filled with grateful, motivated, smiling women who will wash your feet, pull, prod, and twist clients into utter and perfect relaxation. My massage was amazing though at times it felt a bit groin focused, which leads me to believe there are no conjugal visits allowed while these ladies do their time. I did not mind so much, but I think today's massage was the farthest I went with a woman since college. In addition to the massage  program, there is a pleasant cafe, a boutique full of prison-made handicrafts, and a hairdressing facility.  Customers leave the prison feeling relaxed and restored and these rehabilitated inmates leave standing up with a brighter future ahead. 

Prison Photos
Brendan pleased with a parasol made by these crafty inmates.
This is my little lady who massaged me so well, it may be criminal.
It was more fun than that HBO show Oz.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

An ode to a Jet Ski

Jet Ski Jet Ski there you are,
We conquer the waters whether near or far.
The throttling power carries me on the sea,
faster winds faster feeling strong and free.
The distance shrinks upon this watery engine,
at speeds so strong one can hardly question.
Aquatic scooter I love you so much,
If I don't leave soon you shall become a crutch. 
- Eyal Feldman

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ko Samui and Ko Phangan

Brendan and I visited two beautiful islands this week, Ko Samui and Ko Phangon
 Koh Samui is Thailand's third largest island and is less than an hour flight south of Bangkok (or a short ferry ride from Ko Phi Phi or Phuket) and it belongs to Surat Thani Province in southern Thailand. Koh Samui has been developed into a very popular holiday spot and is full of tourists from all over the world who enjoy the natural beauty, top notch resorts, beaches, clubs and countless pharmacies where a prescription is nothing but a mere suggestion. We stayed the peaceful and pleasant Samui Pier Resort, which is right on the beach front on the shores of Big Buddha Beach with breath taking views of Koh Phangan, warm blue waters, a white sandy beach and palm trees as far as the eye can see.  Koh Phangan is the slightly smaller island next door to Samui (just a short 40 minute ferry ride) halfway between the islands of Samui and Tao. It is known as a land of coconut trees and, above all, the world famous full moon parties which are techno crazy raves that attract young hot party animals from the world over

The Samui Pier Resort, which was a great place to stay on Samui, highly recommended.
What service! Shimon, the funny and friendly owner of the Samui Pier Resort sending us off in style as he rode next to us on his jet ski as we departed Samui for Ko Phangan on a ferry. Thanks Shimon : )
One of the most beautiful deserts I ever ate. A sugar candy glass bowl and lid containing 5 small scoops of sorbet. We got this masterpiece at Zazen Restaurant in Samui
Arriving in Kp Phangan and this is Brendan's favorite thing to do, hammock time.
Me posing next to Grandfather and Grandmother Rock, but it is known by locals and tourists as Penis Rock, you can see why.
Brendan is not impressed with the waterfall in Samui, 
"Is this all there is?" he says.
Every McDonalds in Thailand Greets you with a traditional Thai greeting the Wai
Brendan and I with the Gulf of Thailand behind us
Lady Boy full on glamor on Samui
Lady Boy Alert, I think this one is a last minute deal on MailOrderLadyBoys.com 
Scooters to a Samui waterfall
Rhianna, if she were a Thai Lady Boy

Monday, March 21, 2011

An ode to Siam

In waters of blue and islands of green
Meals and massages that pamper and preen
Relaxed and at home in this southeast of nations
Goodbye to hard work and to life's consternations
The tropics are calling from high and from far
But NY is a memory that is kept safe in a jar

- Eyal Feldman

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The little slice of heaven called Railay Beach

A view of Railay Beach
Our latest Thailand hot spot is a literal slice of heaven, Railay Beach. You may not have heard of this place before but it is actually considered one of Thailand's most sought after beaches which is located on a peninsula in the Krabi province halfway between the city of Krabi and Ao Nang Beach. Railay is surrounded by huge limestone rocks that shoot out of the Earth makeing this place accessible only by a thai long-tail boats. There are gorgeous white sand beaches, soaring limestone cliffs, caves, and dotted by lush forests, hidden lagoons, cliffs and overhangs shaped and fed by the changing tides. There are many beautiful and affordable resort choices in Railay Beach, which itself is separated into two sections, West Railay and East Railay. East Railay is the docking point for boats arriving from Krabi and is primarily covered in dense mangrove which is unsuitable for swimming and West Railay Beach being the more beautiful and swimmable beach of the two sections. Both parts are connected via a 5 minute nice and easily walkable pathway. 
At Railay there are no roads; only footpaths. No buses, no cars, just longtail boats and your two legs. Although it's actually connected to the mainland, the spectacular peninsula is effectively cut off from the rest of Krabi by limestone headlands and steep jungle valleys. Again Railay Beach is only accessible by sea and is the very picture of tropical paradise, with good food and low prices and alot of massage. There are plenty of adventure forays and chilled-out evenings to be had. Just a word to the wise, Brendan and I kayaked yesterday and it did not turn out as planned. Railay is quite a  shallow beach and filled with sharp coral. The combo of the two caused for stuck or overturned kayak which led to a few minor cuts and scratches equals a lot of cuts and scratches, ouch, but if that is your thing, you will love it : )

Railay Photos
Beautiful West Railay Beach 
A view from our pool at our hotel, The Princess Resort and Spa
I'm deciding which way to go today, tough decisions must be made though.
Brendan walking on a pathway in East Railay  
Treehouse in East Railay 
East Railay and the tourist
Yaya bar in East Railay
Brendan taking a shot of the scenery 
Huge limestone cliffs behind me
A brave mountain climber  
A Railay sunset sky full of colors 

Diamond Mine Cave of East Railay
Walking the path of East Railay
Dense Mangrove and Resort in East Railay

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pure Paradise at "The Beach"

A day of adventure is always fun and easy to organize from Ko Phi Phi. Brendan and I decided to hire a private boat and guide for just the two of us (for only $45) for a 4 hour half day adventure replete with snorkeling, swimming and sunset boat trip around Phi Phi Lei, an uninhabited island chain whose natural beauty is gorgeous and unspoiled. The islands are mostly composed of towering limestone cliffs that spring up at right angles with the crystal blue water's surface. The water is brightly turquoise and laced with verdant lush greenery and festooned with abundant coral reefs and hundreds of colorful species of fish. There are several magnificent beaches and scenic islands standing offshore, made famous as a location for the Hollywood film "The Beach" otherwise known as Maya Bay. There are no accommodations on Phi Phi Lei, as most of the island is composed of sheer cliffs and small lagoons with teeming fish. Trips leave every day for sightseeing and snorkelling, especially good for beginners as the water is warm, absolutely clear, and shallow. Great for snorkelling, lots of coral gardens and colourful fish, although it can get a little busy in high season, it is a must do!

Photos of Paradise
View from the bow of our private longboat that took us to Ko Phi Phi Ley 
A look back towards Ko Phi Phi as we leave for the day trip 
Arriving at the first of the islands 
Crystal blue waters of Maya Bay
Paradise surrounds
Arriving at Maya Bay
Brendan standing next to what just may be Leo DiCaprio's
abandoned dressing room.
Me walking around Maya Bay

Girl picking up a shell on Maya Bay
Leaving for our sunset return
Brendan taking photos of the limestone cliffs 
Caves and overhangs over the water
Another long boat in the distance
Sunset from the boat

VIDEOS from Paradise