Podcast: Care for Dogs, Chiang Mai

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Care for Dogs is an animal welfare organisation based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Listen to an interview with Karin Hawelka, one of the Care for Dogs founders by clicking the play button above.

Care for Dogs - Dog charity & dog adoption, Chiang Mai

Care for Dogs was set up by Karin and Amandine Lecesne who refused to ignore the problem of dogs suffering in the streets of Chiang Mai. Their aim is to improve the life of street and temple dogs by organising sterilisations, vaccinations, and medical care. They also offer a home for approximately 80 homeless dogs and puppies until they find a new loving home for them.

If you would like to adopt a dog, puppy or cat, volunteer, or support the group with donations or dog food – then contact 084-7525255 or 086-1855218, e-mail contact@carefordogs.org or visit www.carefordogs.org.

Enjoy and get inspired.

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep and the white elephant legend

The legend goes that a monk named Sumanathera from Sukhothai had a dream; in this dream he was told to go to Pang Cha and look for a artifact. Sumanathera went to Pang Cha and found a bone, which many state was Buddha’s shoulder bone. The relic displayed magical powers; it shined, it was able to disappear, it could move itself and reproduce itself. Sumanathera took the artifact to King Dharmmaraja who ruled Sukhothai.

The excited Dharmmaraja made offerings and hosted a rite when Sumanathera arrived. Nonetheless, the artifact displayed no abnormal characteristics, and the king, doubtful of the artifact’s validity, told Sumanathera to keep it.

However, the king of the Lanna Kingdom Nu Naone (rules 1355 – 1385) heard of the artifact and offered the monk to take it to him instead. In 1368 with Dharmmaraja’s permission, Sumanathera took the artifact to Lamphun, in northern Thailand. The artifact split in two, one piece was the same size, the other was smaller than the original. The smaller piece of the artifact was preserved at a temple in Suandok. The other piece was placed by the King on the back of a white elephant which was released in the jungle. The elephant is said to have climbed up Doi Suthep, at the time called Doi Aoy Chang (Sugar Elephant Mountain), and trumpeted three times before dying on the top after the long journey up. It was interpreted as a sign and King Nu Naone ordered the construction of the temple Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep at the site.

The present complex dates from the 16th century and was expanded or restored several times later. The video above is from Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep anno 2007.

Podcast: Pun Pun – Sustainable organic farming

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In this podcast, I met up with Peggy and Jo – the two founders of Pun Pun. During the interview, we discussed their views on Sustainable living & farming, Earthen house building, how they started out, and the philosophy & vision driving their work.

Pun Pun (meaning ‘thousand varieties’) is an organic farm, seed-saving operation, and sustainable living and learning centre based about 50km North of Chiang Mai, Thailand in Mae Taeng district. The first I knew about Pun Pun was last year, when I heard about an amazing new organic vegetarian restaurant that had opened in the grounds of Wat Suan Dok temple. I visited it at the first opportunity, and quickly became a regular!

Pun Pun Organic farm - sustainable living in Thailand

Pun Pun offers a variety of workshops and training courses, from their 10 week internship program offering an in-depth, hands-on experience in organic gardening (including seed saving, earthen building, and community living) through to 3-5 day earthen building workshops, and sustainability study trips. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can contact them via their website – the details are below.

Peggy & Jo - Pun Pun restaurant, ThailandFurther information

www.punpunthailand.org – For further information on Pun Pun, including upcoming workshops and internships at Pun Pun farm. Map of how to get to Pun Pun restaurant.

You SabaiYou Sabai Home is located in Mae Taeng, next door to Pun Pun’s organic farm and sustainable living learning center outside a village in Mae Tang province, 50 km from Chiang Mai. They also build and live in simple earthen houses, close to nature.

You might also be interested in reading this article proving a rather interesting slant on the use of organic farming techniques in Africa – Green activists ‘are keeping Africa poor’.

The 10 best things about living in Thailand

Following on from my slightly negative (but honest) post on the 10 most annoying things about living in Thailand, as promised here are the ten best things about living in Thailand as I see them, again in no particular order.

Kao San Road, Bangkok

1. The people

Thai people are generally exceptionally friendly, accepting, smiley and non-aggressive. They also go out of their way for foreigners on a regular basis, and generally accept our regularly idiotic behaviour with little more than a smirk.

2. The food

The food here is cheap, tasty, varied, and comparatively very healthy. You can eat a delicious local meal for little more than $1 /50p. The range of cheap fruit deserves its own mention – wow!

3. The weather

Warm & sunny with a few months of warm & wet. You normally get about a 6 month stretch of continuously blue skies in the dry season. Perfect for the avoidance of cold, dark, miserable, drizzly and generally pants weather like I experienced in London for 12 years.

4. Driving

As the Thais do, you can get in any vehicle without any idea how to control it, and hit the road. Cool for hiring things and “learning as you go along”. The maximum fine you face for any kind of ‘driving error’ (lack of license, helmet, or know-how etc.) is usually about £3/$6.

5. Buddhism & monks

The predominant religion is Buddhism, simply the coolest ‘mass religion’ in existence. This obviously influences the general ambiance of living here and also makes you think briefly before killing mosquitoes/ants and other biting insects.

6. National Parks

There are hundreds of these dotted all over Thailand, and they are wonderful places to spend a day and/or night.

7. The islands & beaches

As we all know, Thailand has some of the most stunning islands and beaches in the world. Wherever you live in Thailand you’re not that far from a decent beach and the costs of internal flights are coming down thanks to the likes of Air Asia.

8. The cost of living

You can live like a king here and still spend about a quarter of what you’d spend in London eating baked beans and living in a dump.

9. Thai women

This has been put in a separate category not because I consider Thai women to be inhuman – as Tina has suggested below, but merely because it was the first thing mentioned when I questioned a few male friends in Thailand. I should add that I am happily married and do not look at, or think about Thai women myself.

10. What is your number 10?

What have I missed out? If you’ve visited Thailand or you live here, please feel free to suggest something YOU love about it by submitting a comment below!

Thai Electric City nightmare

Last night I was hungrily making some raisin toast and the toaster made a huge flash and bang. This brings my tally of things that have been destroyed by the Thai electricity system to four. These are:

  • 120GB external hardrive
  • Ipod charger
  • Four point ‘surge protector’ power board
  • Toaster

Electricity Wires in Thailand

Especially during the rainy season, you regularly witness bright blue flashes and hear ear-splitting bangs from the electricity wires in the street. The Thais refer to this as “Electric City” problems – but just accept the on-and-off, surging nature of their power supply as all part of daily life, which in fact it is.

My external hard drive was first to go. One day it just didn’t start again. Following this came the Ipod charger. I was sitting in my apartment at the time, and suddenly the lights shone as brightly as the sun, and the fan whizzed around as if it had been turned up to the equivalent of 10 (it only has three speeds – 1-3). Soon I heard a crackling sound coming from the corner of the room, and saw smoke and sparks coming out of my Ipod charger. It was obviously history – toasted.

A couple of weeks ago I moved into a new office space, and within a week my new surge protector power board had just stopped working – taken out by an over-night surge.

This brings me up to last night, and the sad demise of my little green toaster. What will be next?

[Thanks to Alexander Cole for the photo]

Thailand Google maps – now in English!

We’re celebrating this landmark development by bringing you an example below. Here’s Wat Phra Tat Doi Suthep the very famous mountain temple on Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai… From now on we can easily show you maps to the places that feature in our posts. No more old-school text-based directions. Just click-and-drag on the map below (and zoom in and out with the + and signs in the top left corner).


View Larger Map

If you click on the link below the image saying “View larger map” you’ll be taken to Google’s website where you can find directions to and from the destinations in question by right-clicking on the point in the map and selecting ‘Directions to here’. How wicked is that?! Go on, have a little tinker…