Thailand sets date for election

Thailand has set a date for the first general election following last year’s coup that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from power. The electoral commission said the election would be held on 23 December, just in time for people going on holiday at Christmas – be warned!

Thailand’s military-installed government had promised elections by the end of the year after it won approval for a new constitution.

Nearly 58% voted for the changes in a referendum earlier this month, though many pro-Thaksin areas rejected them.

Podcast: Whirling Dervishes of Rumi from Turkiye

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It was a rainy Thursday evening in Chiang Mai, and we’d heard the day before that at Payap University there would be a free performance by some Turkish ‘Whirling Dervishes’. They’re on a world tour sponsored by UNESCO, to mark the 800th birthday of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi – the 13th century Persian, Muslim poet, jurist, and theologian.

Whirling Dervishes of Rumi from Turkiye

A friend of ours in Chiang Mai told us that this paticular group performed in London and sold out very quickly – so we thought we’d go and check it out. We turned up ticketless & wet at Payap University, waiting about 20 minutes outside, then were presented with our 3 tickets. We were sitting 5 rows from the front, in seats that would surely have cost $100 or more in the UK!

As we waited in the auitorium, the mostly Thai audience fiddled with their bleeping mobiles whilst a Turkish man explained in English some of the history behind the Whirling Dervishes. The performance then began with some music from a 6 or 7 piece group playing traditional Turkish instruments. Living in a musical void – Thailand, where all we ever hear in the way of music is karaoke pop, we were absolutely mesmerised by the beautiful sounds coming from the band (you can listen to a clip of the music below).

After a while the dancers came on, whirled around alot and left us feeling dizzy. They dance as if they are in a trance repeating the poetry of Rumi: “Come, come, whoever you are, come and come yet again, come even if you have broken your wows a thousand times, wanderer, idolater, worshipper of fire, ours is not a caravan of despair, this is the date of hope, come, come yet again, come.”

The show was amazing and if you ever have a chance to go and see “Whirling Dervishes of Rumi from Turkiye” -do go!

 

Where the website name Earthoria came from…

The first thing you need when setting up a website is actually a name. Ideally, the name should cover the content of the website so that it gives the reader an idea what the website is all about. Thomas and I had the idea of starting a website focusing on a healthy lifestyle in a healthy world….in short about fair trade, healthy products, and healthy activities for the body and the mind.

This doesn’t mean that we never have a drink and always drive on a push bike. It means that the lifestyle that we live is somewhat alternative (off the beaten stressful life most people our age live), and we try to care and consider for people and animals in all our doings and for the earth.

So in inventing a website name we thought about a name including something about fair trade such as tradejustice.com or goodtrade.com but decided that in terms of shifts in the paradigms used globally it will be a bad idea to include the name “fair trade”.

As an example I can give “development”- it used to be a word with many positive connotations -namely a kind of saving the “3. world”. Today it is considered by many as a term covering the industralized countries attempt to colonize (once again) and control the developing countries. So much for picking a popular term – be aware of that.

So instead Thomas and I both searched for names containing the word “earth”, ecology, health, organic etc. Thomas came up with the name econate but when I proposed the name Earthoria he agreed to it. I like the name because it is earth and euphoria combined.

Podcast: Learning to Ride a Motorbike in Thailand

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Tina has been wanting to learn to ride a proper motorbike for a while now, so on a cloudy Saturday morning in Chiang Mai, I gave her some lessons in the road that we live in.

Earlier this year we spent some time trying to find an official driving school in Chiang Mai where we could both learn. In the end, having searched everywhere, we came to the conclusion that not only were there no driving schools geared towards foreigners here, but that there were no driving schools at all. This realisation fitted well with the general level of road chaos in Chiang Mai.

On the BBC website, there is a guide to ‘Driving Etiquette’ in Thailand. It states:

The first rule of driving in Thailand is: Don’t!

The second rule is: Don’t!

The most incredible thing about driving in Thailand is that a people who are so lovely, friendly and forgiving turn into complete monsters when sitting in a car or complete idiots when sitting on a motorbike. Actually driving in Thailand isn’t quite so bad as its reputation would have you believe, but it still is not to be undertaken by the faint of heart.

Tina learning to ride a bike in Chiang Mai

Despite know this, I ended up buying a bike to learn on, the bike in the photo – a Honda Phantom 200cc. I had already been driving mopeds around Chiang Mai for a year. After a quick lesson from a friend, and a few thousand kilometres in the surrounding countryside (including a mountainous trip to Pai) I decided it was worth trying to get my Thai Motorbike license. I drove on my moped to the test centre, and immediately got issued with a car license based on the fact I had a UK car license. Easy!

However, as I didn’t have a motorbike allowance on my license, I was told I would need to do a motorbike test. They sat me in a room and tested my reaction time and eyesight with various archaic-looking contraptions, before taking me to a room full of computers. I had 30 minutes to answer 30 multiple choice questions chosen randomly from 80 questions in the system. To cut a long, frustrating story short, the pass mark is 23 out of 30, and I got 21 the first time and 22 the second time I took the test. I therefore failed.

To compound my misery, I realised that some of the questions I had got correct had been marked as wrong – for example – a picture of a blue circle with ’30’ inside apparently means “You must go a minimum of 30km/hour” in Thailand. When I questioned the examiner on these surprising answers he replied “Haha! Computer in Bangkok wrong….you want to do test again?”

I left the test centre on my moped, promising myself I would never return. I could now legally drive a V8 Toyota Landcruiser out of the test centre, and park it illegally on a junction just like everyone else, but alas, not my 100cc moped.

For more information, check out the Golden Triangle Rider website for excellent maps and tips on some of the possible motorbike trips in Northern Thailand. Take it from us, don’t go on a ‘elephant trek’ in Chiang Mai – hire some bikes and head out into the mountains!

The Shift, movie trailer

A massive worldwide phenomenon is in progress, offering seeds of great hope for the future. The movie “The Shift” portraits this change in the world. Please take 5 minutes to watch the trailer for the movie and you will understand: http://theshiftmovie.com

Millions of individuals, organizations and corporations around the world are waking up and embracing a new outlook with an emphasis on their responsibility to contribute positively to our collective future.

We are in the middle of the biggest social transformation in human history, The SHIFT.

At this critical point, it is imperative we make the masses aware of this global movement quickly. This evolutionary phenomenon is broader and deeper than the most visible SHIFT, the environmental movement. It involves our very understanding of who we are as human beings, and our responsibility to the world and to life itself.

THE SHIFT movie raises awareness to the story of our roles in an evolutionary shift in our collective consciousness.

As it chronicles the faces, the stories and leaders assisting in this social transformation, the film reveals its emergence & meaning.

The movie is interesting because it also deals with the exact same things as Earthoria-namely the shift to having a healthy mind in a healthy body in a healthy world – all of which is connected and without one the others will never be complete 🙂

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, known more casually as ‘Doi Suthep’ is one of the most important temples in Chiang Mai, as well as one of the most revered among all Thais. It is about 15km from the centre of Chiang Mai.

Doi Suthep mountain itself reaches an altitude of 1,676 meters (5,498 feet) and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep stands on the flank of the mountain at an elevation of 1,056 meters (3464 feet). Because of this, it’s always pleasantly cool with some amazing views of Chiang Mai city.

View from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai

This photo was taken from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in the late afternoon. What a view!

According to legend, a Buddha relic magically replicated itself just before it was about to be enshrined in the big chedi at Wat Suan Dok. The “cloned” relic was placed on the back of a sacred white elephant, which was allowed to roam whereever it wanted.

The elephant eventually climbed to the top of Suthep Mountain, trumpeted three times, turned around three times, knelt down and died. This was taken as a sign that this was the spot where the relic wanted to be, so King Ku Na built the original chedi on Doi Suthep at the end of 14th century.

Getting there

Unless you are extremely fit, we wouldn’t recommend cycling. It has nearly been the end of me twice now – needless to say, I didn’t make it. Either get a Songthaew (one of the red pick-ups with bench seats in the back) all the way from the Chiang Mai old town, or get a Tuk Tuk to Chiang Mai zoo at the bottom of the hill and transfer to another Songthaew. It’s also a pleasant ride from town on a moped or motorbike if you are confident riding on windy mountain roads with psycho Songthaew drivers trying to run you off the road.