Ah…wonderful Thailand, Land of Smiles. We both lived and worked there for 2-3 years, in Mae Sot and Chiang Mai. This section contains various posts, videos and podcasts from Thailand. If you have any questions on Thailand, or living in Thailand (especially Chiang Mai or Mae Sot), please feel free to post them as comments.
Palm reading, otherwise known as palmistry or chiromancy, is practised all over the world, but you have to be lucky to find a skilled hand reader. I was lucky to find one while visiting Chiang Mai on a holiday. His name is Dennis and he has been doing it for 15 years and originally learned about it in Mexico (although he is American).
Hand reading has its roots in Indian astrology and Roma fortune-telling. The objective is to evaluate a person’s character or future by studying the palm of their hand. Dennis, however, does not reveal bad things about the future, because he rightfully believes it gives negative visualisation. What he does, is to give you very personal information about your character, which can help you in your personal and professional development.
Without going into details about what he told me, I was positively surprised about the indepth knowledge he had of my personality and past life – things no-one could have told him. This is why I give him my finest recommendation (being a sceptic myself). Dennis himself thinks is it a kind of magic to be able to read people’s hands because it seems unreal, but is possible. He says that he also uses a lot of intuition and it just comes to him. To me he is a psychic hand reader. He is very dedicated and gets very excited and caught up in the “visions” he has of you and you have to listen carefully to remember everything he tells you (it’s a lot).
I loved his animated character and he made me laugh – something I cherish a lot in a person. Whether you are a sceptic or a believer, I definitely think it is worth your while to try a session with Dennis.
His website is: https://www.facebook.com/DennisHandsReader?fref=ts
Having now spent more than six months travelling in Latin America, from Guatemala in Central America down to Peru, and having lived in Thailand for three years prior to this trip, I think I’m fairly well placed to write a quick comparison of the pros and cons of each destination. So here goes!
They’re going to battle it out on the following points:
Safety & personal security
This one is easy, in Thailand you can pretty much wander anywhere you like day or night, with cameras, phones and everything else on display. In Latin America, every city seems to have no-go zones, the bus terminal areas are like the Bronx, you just can’t trust taxi drivers, and something you hear more often than you’d like is “Es muy peligroso”.
This one is hard to judge as there is such a variety in costs across Latin America. Nicaragua, Bolivia and Peru are vastly cheaper than Argentina and Chile. That being said, the average local meal in Thailand is about US$1, in Latin America it is probably about US$2. And travel is generally cheaper in Thailand.
Thailand is known as The Land of Smiles which says it all really. The moment you step off the plane in Bangkok, you’re made to feel totally at home with welcoming smiles wherever you go. BUT, and it’s a rather large but, is there a superficiality factor at play here? Are the smiles genuine, or dare I say just a clever ruse to empty your wallet?
There’s no doubt that it’s more a case of “what you see is what you get” in Latin America
Thailand has some unbeatable beaches, some amazing jungle and some interesting mountains. Latin America has smoking volcanoes, 6000 metre Andes peaks, tropical beaches, the Amazon and of course a plentiful supply of picturesque Spanish colonial architecture. Say no more.
Winner: Latin America
Thailand has Sukhothai, and a couple of other ‘ancient centres’ dating back a few hundred years. Latin America has its Spanish colonial heritage, many UNESCO World Heritage towns, and of course it’s dripping in pre-colombian cultures like the mysterious culture of San Augustin in Colombia – an archaeologist’s wet dream.
Winner: Latin America
Chips, beans, chicken, rice, savoury bananas, chips, beans, chicken, rice, savoury bananas, chips, beans, chicken, rice, savoury bananas, chips, beans, chicken, rice, savoury bananas, f**K I’m bored…compared to possibly (along with India) the best and cheapest food on the planet in Thailand.
Music & entertainment
Repetetive Karaoke poop vs. Latin Rhythms, Salsa, Samba, Spanish influenced classical guitar, pan pipes…ahh just listen to the music!
Winner: Latin America
Language – Ease of learning the language
Spanish versus a strange tonal language that sounds like a cross between someone being strangled and animal noises, and is almost impossible to learn to read and write.
Winner: Latin America
How do the people express themselves? Do they get excited? Do they argue, debate, put their true feelings across? Do they kiss their lovers passionately in public? In Thailand, the natural response to anything whatsoever is to smile sweetly, and of course they wear their jeans and long-sleeved tops in the sea which is utterly ridiculous. In Latin America, the blood is hot.
Winner: Latin America
It’s a hard one. Latin America wins more outright points, but the food is stodgy and dull, it’s a bit more expensive and frankly it some places it’s downright dangerous. If you like safe and easy travel, Thailand is your place, but for the shear scale, diversity of landscapes and archaeological sites, and passion of the people, Latin America wins hands down.
Yesterday I finally got around to editing together some of the random audio snippets I have had on my computer since I left Thailand. This sound compilation contains radio clips, sounds recorded in our street, animal noises, music recorded at our local temple and lots more.
The final song, although not Thai, was ubiquitous in Thailand for the first two years I lived there. It will also conjure up a few memories for a some special friends. You know who you are ;-).
This video shows the spectacular celebration of Loi Krathong in Sukhothai Historical Park in 2007.
According to tradition, Loi Krathong originated in Sukhothai, the first Thai capital about 700 years ago. It is therefore fitting that Thais hold this memorable festival in the atmospheric ruins of the ancient city. Highlights include displays of lighted candles and fireworks, folk dancing and a spectacular light & sound presentation.
Loy Krathong or the ‘festival of light’ is possibly Thailand’s most beautiful festival.
The name comes from Loy meaning ‘to float’ and kratong meaning a lotus shaped boat. A kratong by tradition contains food, betel nuts, flowers, candle and a coin. The ritual is simple just light the candle and make a wish and let it float away carrying all your troubles of the previous year with it.
Having released your kratong, watch it carefully as it floats away. If the flame continues to burn it is believed to signify longevity, you wishes will be granted and you will be released from sin. It is a romantic night; couples that make their wish together are thought to stay together in the future.
As you will see on the video there are also Krathong competitions to make the most beautiful khatong.
Sukothai is definitely worth a visit during Loi Krathong. Enjoy
Last week (with my departure from Chiang Mai imminent) I made one last pilgrimage to my favourite temple in Chiang Mai – Wat Umong. Set in the jungle, nestled at the foot of Doi Suthep mountain a couple of kilometres to the West of Chiang Mai’s old city, it has a certain air of mystery about it that is absent from Chiang Mai’s other temples.
Wat Umong was built about 700 years ago and has a several unique features. As you walk into the temple grounds firstly you’ll see that the monks have written various wise proverbs on placards attached to the trees, written in both English and Thai. Some of these never fail to amuse me. Look out for “The mad dog hates water; the sex crazy man hates Dhama.”
Underneath the grass area housing the main Chedi, are a set of tunnels which give the Wat its name. Legend has it that a king built the brick-lined tunnels for a clairvoyant but sometimes eccentric monk named Thera Jan; paintings dating back to about 1380 can still be seen decorating the walls, and if you’re female and really lucky you may find yourself cornered by a rather ‘excitable’ monk. Tina was.
Close to the temples is a curious collection of Buddha heads and other relics from various temples in Thailand. This odd collection started when one of the temple’s supporters rescued some broken images from an abandoned temple in a nearby province and bought them here. Now, apparently, when people run across such relics or have a broken Buddha they want to replace, they bring them here.
Informal Dhamma discussions are held at Wat Umong on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 1pm and 3pm, and on Sundays between 3pm-5pm.
Wat Umong is the blue marker on the left on this map, and Chiang Mai’s old city is on the right:
In February and March this year, Tina and I decided to do CELTA courses with ECC in Chiang Mai. During our courses (we did the CELTA separately on two consecutive months) Tina and I kept an audio diary of our experiences. You can listen to this below.
CELTA stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, and it’s a highly intensive four week course resulting in an internationally recognised English teaching qualification. CELTA is one type of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification.
For information about the CELTA course we did, along with its costs, please see my previous post from March.
In Tina’s last week in Chiang Mai, we went to Sabai De Ka Thai Massage to do a one day oil massage course with a lovely Thai lady called Kloy. We had a really memorable day and wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to others. You can listen to the podcast we made during the day by clicking the play button below. And yes, I’m shamelessly pimping my oily girlfriend in the picture below :-).
Sabai De Ka Massage is located at 93/3 Moonmuang Road (just North of Tapae gate – the East gate of the old city) in Chiang Mai (see map below). You can contact Kloy by emailing her at email@example.com, or by telephone on 081-8813697 or 053-326529. A one day oil massage course cost 1100THB per person.