This was recorded at around 7.30pm on a weekday night at our local vegetarian restaurant on Suthep Road in Chiang Mai. I popped to the restaurant and had a Khao Soi – one of the traditional northern Thai ‘curry’ dishes. Dinner cost 25THB (about $0.60) and was incredibly tasty. As I ate I was treated to some wonderfully cheesy background music, as you will hear in the recording.
Last week I completed a long 1483Km motorbike trip with my sister Laura through the mountains of North and North West Thailand, you can listen to the podcast we made along the way by clicking above.
Setting off from Chiang Mai, we headed North East through the mountains to Mae Hong Son (via Pai), before heading South to Mae Sot and about 650KM along the Thailand/Burma border to our final destination – Umphang. Surrounded by national parks and wildlife reserves (and classified as a UNESCO World heritage site), Umphang is one of the most beautiful, but least accessible districts in Thailand. Nevertheless, it has one major tourist attraction, Thi Lo Su Waterfall, the largest waterfall in Thailand – 200 metres high and 400 metres wide.
Remarkably, Laura had only learned to ride a motorbike two weeks prior to the trip – she drove a 125 CC Honda Dream Scooter and I drove my 200CC Honda Phantom. In total, the trip took seven days of actual driving, with two days ‘resting’ in Mae Sot and Umphang.
This podcast features a lot of the sounds we heard along the way, from the jungle sounds of cicadas & birds of paradise, to frogs, Lisu musicians, a Thai kick boxing match, rafting near Umphang, and an interview with Tasanee at Safe Haven Orphanage.
The route we took was Chiang Mai – Pai – Mae Hong Son – Mae Sariang – Khun Yuam Sunflower fields – Mae Sariang – Mae Sot – Umphang – Mae Sot – Chiang Mai. (See the map on the right courtesy of Travelfish.org)
The approximate distances are below.
Chiang Mai to Pai – 135KM Pai to Mae Hong Son – 139KM Man Hong Son to Mae Sariang (via the sunflower fields) – 250KM Mae Sariang to Mae Sot – 242KM Mae Sot to Umphang – 176KM Umphang to Mae Sot – 176KM Mae Sot to Chiang Mai – 365 KM Total: 1483KM
Loi Krathong festival (also commonly spelt ‘Loy Kratong’) is celebrated in Thailand on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar – which means it usually falls in November in the Western calendar.
“Loi” means “to float” and a “Krathong” is a small raft, traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. The Thais float these on rivers and lakes throughout Thailand during Loi Krathong. The Thai tradition of Loy Kratong started off in Sukhothai, but it is now widely celebrated throughout Thailand, with the festivities in Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya also being particularly well known.
Apart from venerating the Buddha with light (the candle on the raft), the act of floating away the candle raft is symbolic of letting go of all one’s grudges, anger and bad luck, so that one can start life afresh on a better foot. People will also cut their fingernails and hair and add them to the raft as a symbol of letting go of negative influences.
I have wanted to experience the Loi Krathong festival at Sukhothai since I first arrived in Thailand more than two years ago, and this weekend I finally made it! This podcast begins before I traveled to Sukhothai, sitting on a sunny bank by a lake in Mae Sot near the Burma border…
Last Friday evening, straight after putting the Givetoburma.org website live, I raced down to the Three Kings Monument in Chiang Mai to meet Tina and attend the Peace in Burma protest. You can listen to the podcast we made at the protest below.
Peace in Burma are a Chiang Mai-based coalition of people and organisations who support peace, freedom and democracy in Burma.
Since August 15th, when the military government dramatically increased fuel prices in Burma, thousands of monks started to lead peaceful demonstrations through the streets against the Burmese military government.
The fuel price rises were the catalyst that brought a population already striken with poverty onto the streets. The hikes hit Burma’s people hard, especially the poorest, forcing up the price of public transport and triggering a knock-on effect for staple foods such as rice and cooking oil.
For more information about the protests and fuel price rises, the BBC website has an informative Q&A here. To make a donation to help the protesters, please visit the Givetoburma.org website. To find out more about some of the Human Rights abuses against the ethnic minorities in Burma, please visit the Karen Human Rights Group website (the group I volunteered with when I first came to Thailand). Finally, on the BBC website is an interesting article called Burma unrest: Account from a monastery.
Every Sunday in Chiang Mai, from about 4pm until as late as midnight, a market known variously as the ‘Sunday Market’, or the ‘Walking Street Market’ takes place in Chiang Mai. The Sunday Market has, in recent years, become a bit of an institution in Chiang Mai – with many thousands of locals and foreigners turning up to browse, buy, and eat from the various street stalls or simply socialise with their friends.
The Sunday Market is also the best place in Chiang Mai to see genuine Thai style street entertainment. Right along the length of the Ratchadamnoen Road are pavement artists – from traditional musicians, Thai dancers and living statues to puppet shows and busking bands.
This weekend Tina and I headed to the Sunday Market with our recording equipment in hand, in an attempt to bring you some of the sounds and atmosphere. We hope you enjoy it!
Sunday Market location
Ratchadamnoen road, running East-West from around Tapae Gate (the East gate of the Chiang Mai Old Town) – every Sunday from about 4pm.
Ob Khan national park is one of our favourite local getaways. It’s about 30km South of Chiang Mai, and takes between 45 minutes and an hour to reach by motorbike. It’s a great spot for a picnic, or simply to cool off on a hot and humid Chiang Mai day. You can in fact also camp there very cheaply – they will even rent you camping gas cookers to cook with.
Getting there: Just head out of Chiang Mai South down Canal Road towards the Samoeng junction, and carry on. After a few more kilometers (at the time of writing down alternating sealed and unsealed dusty roads) you reach a turn off on the right with a fairly hard-to-see sign to ‘Ob Khan National Park’. Take this turn off, and make your way along a winding road through villages and country side for about another 10 kms. The last few kilometers wind their way through some beautiful National Park hills and valleys alongside the river Khan.
Last Friday evening I decided it was far too long since I went to the Brasserie – a Jazz/Blues bar on the river Ping in Chiang Mai – so I rode across the city on my motorbike attempting to ‘narrate’ on the way.
Over the last couple of years the Brasserie has become a bit of a Mecca for us, and when I lived in Mae Sot before I moved to Chiang Mai, we’d look forwards with huge anticipation to listening to their resident guitar genius ‘Took’ playing his renditions of Eric Clapton, Bob Marley, Hendrix, The Doors, Pink Floyd and lots of other Blues legends.
Although this recording doesn’t contain any clips of Took’s amazingly talented guitar playing, I’ll try and record some in the future and possibly even interview the great man himself.