Travel podcasts from Thailand, Europe, podcasts from Central America & podcasts from South America. There’s a list of all the podcasts we’ve ever done here. All you need to do is click the play button below to start listening…
If you are a foreigner living in Thailand, you’ll probably be familiar with the concept of a ‘visa run’. Depending on what visa you enter Thailand with, you may be required to leave Thailand after 30, 60 or 90 days before re-entering with a new visa. There are several places you can do this, but two of the most popular are at Mae Sot and Mae Sai. At both these crossings you walk over a bridge, enter Burma, pay, get your passport stamped and re-enter Thailand.
This month I decided to do my crossing at Mae Sai as it can be done in one (albeit long) day from Chiang Mai. 13 hours later I returned home. By clicking the play button above, you can listen to the podcast I made along the way.
Mae Sai is the Northern most point in Thailand, well known thanks to its location in the Golden Triangle region of Thailand – one of the main Opium producing areas in the world – made famous during the rein of Khun Sa, the ‘Opium King’, who died last year in Rangoon, Burma.
A year or two ago, I took a one day minibus round trip from Chiang Mai to Mae Sai. It was hell. This time, following a recommendation, I decided to take a public ‘VIP’ bus from Arcade bus station. I caught the Greenbus company’s V400 bus leaving Arcade bus station in Chiang Mai at 8.00 am, and arrived in Mae Sai at about 12.15pm. After about 3 hours in Mae Sai and Tachileik, I returned to Chiang Mai with the V403 bus (also the Greenbus company) leaving Mae Sai bus terminal at 15.30. The trip cost 335 THB each way (about US$10).
I suggest you buy your bus tickets the day before travel, and take some ear plugs due to the presence of Karaoke VCDs on the bus. Upon entering Burma you will need to pay $10 or 500THB for the Burmese entry visa – it is much better to quickly change 330THB to $10 before crossing as this saves you 170THB and gives the Burmese regime less.
I met Tasanee – founder of Safe Haven Orphanage – on my first weekend in Mae Sot, two and a half years ago, and since then we have become close friends. This Podcast is a short interview I did with Tasanee whilst motorbiking around Northern Thailand with my sister last December. The interview is also contained in the much longer Podcast 1483km by motorbike in North Thailand.
In 1987 Tasanee started caring for orphaned children on the Thai/Burma border after she received a frantic message from a local villager in Tha Song Yang, Thailand that a little girl had lost her mother during birth. In Karen culture this is interpreted as a bad omen, and the child is often killed. Tasanee took in the young girl – now known as ‘Boonmee’ – and with her brother converted their childhood home into an open space to accommodate the children. Starting with whatever funds were available, she built the foundation of what has become the first Safe Haven Orphanage. Relying on her personal funds and the donations of the people of Mae Sot, she was able to expand and take on more children. She now has forty-three children under her care.
Last year, thanks to a generous donation from Ireland, Safe Haven Orphanage purchased five acres of land just outside the current village. The children and Tasanee are now working hard to make this land habitable, and to raise the funds to build a new orphanage.
The orphanage is located in Tha Song Yang, an incredibly picturesque Karen village in northern Thailand. It sits next to the Moei river which separates Thailand from Burma. It is surrounded by jungle and beautiful limestone mountains, which cut it off from the bustle of the outside world. Electricity was introduced only a year or two ago, and there is only one phone in the middle of the village. It’s what a small village should be; a small tight-knit community where all the kids play together and all the parents know each other. It was at one time a target of Burmese mortars; the pot-marked roads still show evidence. Now however, it is the most peaceful place you could imagine. In the mornings, the sun rises over the mountains to the sound of the local monks chanting.
Koh Lipe (also spelt ‘Lipeh’ or ‘Leepae’) is a small island in Thailand (Satun Province), near the Tarutao National Marine Park, on the Andaman (west) coast of Thailand adjacent to Malaysia. It has a small local population of Chao Ley – otherwise known as ‘sea gypsies’ – who inhabit the island throughout the year making a living from fishing in the low (tourist) season, and from tourism in the high season.
Click above to hear our Koh Lipe Podcast. This podcast includes a short interview with Pooh from Poohs bar and restaurant, as well as Tina getting bitten by a bunch of angry mosquitoes, again.
Two years ago I visited Koh Lipe, and it conjured up memories of the time I spent island-hopping in Thailand in 1991 – a time when even Koh Phangan didn’t have sealed roads. It had that laid-back, lost-in-time feel to it, something I feared could no longer be found easily in Thailand.
Tina and I decided we’d head to Koh Lipe this year for a couple of weeks over Christmas and New year. We knew the island would be at its busiest over this period, but had to go over New Year due to work commitments.
As soon as we arrived, a few changes struck me – firstly, there was a lot more development taking place – with buildings and bungalows springing up around the island. Secondly, the holiday-makers on the island had, in the space of two short years, changed from being comprised mostly of backpackers & travelers to being more noticeably made up of couples & families. In particular, it was obvious that a few tour operators from Scandinavian countries had started shipping families out to Lipe by the bus load.
The increasing numbers of tourists to Koh Lipe has obviously resulted in more rubbish being left behind on the island – and this became more evident the more time we spent walking through the sandy paths criss-crossing the island. Particularly in peak season rubbish-disposal seems to be posing a bit of a problem.
Koh Lipe has no sealed roads, and no cars. Yet. A few locals own Honda scooters and they sometimes drive these at break-neck speed down the sandy paths. In the next 1-2 years I expect the first sealed road will be built linking the Chao Ley village to Pattaya beach – the main beach on the island.
Despite this development, I felt Koh Lipe still retained its charm. The scenery as a whole in Taratao National Park is stunningly beautiful – with emerald green seas and white sandy beaches in abundance. Koh Lipe and the other islands in Taratao marine park have some of the best diving and snorkeling in Thailand. You can either snorkel straight off the Koh Lipe beaches, or head out on a snorkeling trip as we did. The coral and underwater life was breathtaking and in my opinion it was on a par with Dahab in Egypt where I learned to dive a few years ago.
There are several ways to get to Koh Lipe but the most popular are:
1) Taking a train or plane from Bangkok to Hat Yai followed by a minibus/taxi to Pak Bara on the Andaman coast, where you take a ferry or speedboat to Koh Lipe. We flew Airasia and Nokair to & from Bangkok. Air Asia suffered from chronic flight delays.
There is more information on getting to and from Koh Lipe on the Koh Lipe Thailand website.
Where to stay
We’d recommend Mountain Resort (where we stayed) – fan huts during peak season were 600 baht a night – they would be cheaper at other times. Mountain Resort has a great view of the sea looking towards Koh Adang, and in our opinion, although not directly on the beach, it is located above the most beautiful beach on Koh Lipe.
Poohs – If you need accommodation, the internet, somewhere to change money or book onward travel, or just a friendly bar and restaurant to hang out in, Pooh’s is the place to go. Following the interview I did with him in the podcast, he asked me to pass on his phone number +66 (0)89 5953737. If you need help – contact Pooh- he’s incredibly friendly and a bit of a Mr Fix It!
Dang Dee Tour Services – We did our snorkeling trip through Annie at Dang Dee (+66 (0)89 4637801). Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org. The price is about 500 Thai Baht a day, including lunch for a 4-stop snorkeling trip amongst the neighbouring islands.
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…
This weekend, we completed a 700KM round trip from Chiang Mai via Ob Luang National Park, to Mae Sariang and onto Khun Yuam and the Doi Mae U-Kho sunflower fields in Northern Thailand. We made this podcast along the way, and Tina will soon also be uploading a video she made of the trip…if flowers and blue skies put a smile on your face, you’d better head there quickly as this magnificent spectacle only lasts until early December.
Map showing the sunflower fields in relation to Chiang Mai
Coffee Enemas have been used for over a hundred years as a generalized detoxification procedure. I do a DIY coffee enema every two months or so. The procedure stimulates the liver and gallbladder to release stored toxins and wastes and liver function is enhanced. The immediate benefits for me are always a relief in my stomach, a feeling of well-being and increased metabolism.
It is also a very cheap procedure because you can do it at home yourself and all you really need is a special enema bag (which costs about 130 baht or $4), purified water and some organic coffee.
It is interesting to note that drinking a cup of coffee has an entirely different effect from that of using it as a cleansing enema.
At the top is a podcast we made about coffee enemas. Enjoy I did 🙂