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Life is a Journey, Savor it.


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High-stakes, big rewards Bangkok

More than New York City, Bangkok is the city that never sleeps. Motorbikes zoom past, tuk tuks chug along, street cart grills hiss and fry, people are on the move. And, more than anywhere else I’ve visited during this trip, Bangkok is the city that buzzes most and demands the most from its visitors. It also rewards the determined.

10pm, traffic, moto-taxis, office lights and BTS all full speed ahead.

10pm, traffic, moto-taxis, office lights and BTS all full speed ahead.

Stay attuned, watch where you go, immerse yourself. It’s not safety per se that obliges your full attention but rather a vigilance to not be subsumed, silently and with little fight, which excoriatingly threatens you. Famously when the lead character is lost in the Hangover 2’s Bachelor party Blitzkreig another whispers: “Bangkok has him now, and she’ll never let him go.” There’s no truer line in this Hollywood party blockbuster. Like a sailor on rough, unfavorable seas the existence you so cling to and feel entitled to is at best fickle and fleeting in the merciful grasp of this beast. Don’t forget this merry piece of trivia.

For all the effort that Bangkok demands to occupy its havoc, the plight tribulations resurrect generously fruitful. Any long time inhabitant will proudly share their tales of urban conquest–tales akin to epics but which pass as the everyday survival. The citizens are an inexplicable blend of grit and suave, with a determination born out of salmon-swimming-upstream diligence and the finesse enough to navigate with daring, strategic congeniality.

Bangkok rushhour: you're perpetually swimming against the current, gasping for air.

Bangkok rushhour: you’re perpetually swimming against the current, gasping for air.

I can’t really put my finger on this place– it would take lifetimes to map the pulse of these 8.2 million inhabitants–but in my fifth reluctant visit I’m am starting to taste the umami beyond the bitterness. For starters there’s the food: a bounty of it and damn good. Stay away from the touristy places with simplistic names (e.g. “MyThai Love”) instead search out places with humble street fronts and a few poorly lit menu photos. Look tempting? Take a lean 30 degrees to the left or right of the frontman and glimpse the interior. Is it packed with chattering Thais? Go there. Sultry breast of duck with wonton in fresh broth beckons.

Duck with wonton, noodles and fresh broth.

Humble, no-frills duck. Tastes unimaginably better than it even looks.

As you dine observe the customs of the patrons and proprietors. In the best places you’ll find a harried owner darting from table to table with an affable air and dogged love of his offerings. He may even sing to the praises of his dishes, staff and customers. Alternatively scan the room for the hawk eye, the manager/owner who watches over all with precise vision. The servers do not dare look up to catch her gaze but they are profoundly alert to the scrutiny they must constantly bow under.

Typical set up of a street stall. Carts like this can whip out between 3-8 dishes within less than 2 square meters.

Typical set up of a street stall. Carts like this can whip out between 3-8 dishes within less than 2 square meters.

The energy of Bangkok is palpable, like a troop of teenage boys on prom night. Anticipation is placed on every moment and even the briefest lapses in the doting attention of suitors are punished with swift disregard. Flatter the courtesan that is Bangkok. Her beauty may be mysterious and vaguely grotesque yet nothing short of full, consuming yearning (albeit with no promise of reward) will suffice. That is the mystique, the addiction, the folly that Bangkok offers. Play by her rules like an unquenchable but daft suitor; observe and attend to her. Be aware of thine enemies at all times.

Beautiful, astounding and sometimes harsh Bangkok. Click here to see more of the Grand Palace, Boat Taxis and temples.

Beautiful, astounding and sometimes harsh Bangkok. Click here to see more of the Grand Palace, Boat Taxis and temples.

This is the High-Stakes Gamble that is Bangkok: The stakes are towering but with study, luck and intuition the table is mighty favorable. So, do ya feel lucky?

Get spun by the whirr of this great city--careful where you land.

Get spun by the whirr of this great city–careful where you land.


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Arrived in Ayutthaya!

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After a lazy morning, rainy river taxi ride, and serene experience at wat pho in Bangkok (famous for the huge gilded reclining Buddha and as the birthplace of Thai massage) Kate and I hurriedly commuted across Bangkok and onto a train bound for the historical capital of Siam: Ayutthaya.

We couldn’t have timed it any better. Arriving at Sam sem station near the Dusit area of Bangkok at about 4:40, I stepped up to the window, announced my destination and paid a whopping 28 baht (28 baht, less than $1!!!) for a train to Ayutthaya! Not 5 minutes later the train arrived and we hopped on for the 2 hour ride north.

Upon arrival we had one of those cliche tuk tuk rides in which the driver insists he knows the location of your destination yet proceeds to drive in circles for the better part of an hour. Oi vey.

Luckily neither Kate nor I needed to pee and, thanks to my handy stash of PB&J survival materials, we’d sated our hanger. This left us only slightly annoyed at the inconvenience but also slightly chuffed at our sunset cruise around the ancient city. We watched the sunset over brick stupas and glimmered in awe as flood lights turned the millennia-old city into a dramatic scene that transported us to wonderment and awe….

Our hotel is delightful & dainty and gives free bike rentals so we’re sunscreened and ready to explore!!!

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Made it to Bangkok […and it only took 16 hours]!

If you follow me on social media, then you know my train left 6.5 hours behind schedule. You also know that I was quite pleased by this delay because it provided me with a few extra stolen hours to close of this 7 month chapter of Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand living.

Rather than wait a few infernal hours at the train station feeling stranded in a city that I’ve started to refer lightly to as “home,” I decided to better use my time by going to SheDance at The Yoga Tree. Continue reading


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Thailand: 7 month inventory

My father and uncle, on the rare nights when they open up their Martin & old Gibson guitar cases, rattle through a repertoire of folksy and country songs. Rarely does anyone know all the words (Billy is the best contender for that prize) but generally enough of us know enough of the words to butcher any of about 3 dozen tunes. On the road again being one of the classics… Familiar yet unknown and therefore perfectly evocative of the nostalgic tug of home and magnetic draw of whatever comes next.

That’s the predominant emotional cocktail I have now. Reflective nostalgia coupled with that vibrating, yearning body sensation that tugs towards what’s next… Continue reading


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Care for Dogs, Chiang Mai

Smiling canines for Care for Dogs

Smiling canines for Care for Dogs

A few months ago I volunteered at Care for Dogs–I offered to take pet portraits, lucky me!–a wonderful Chiang Mai not-for-profit organization providing comprehensive veterinary care to abandoned, abused and malnourished street and temple dogs. They house 150-200 dogs at their main shelter, with an additional dozen or so at a special, isolated distemper treatment facility. A small staff attends to daily medications, twice daily feedings, veterinary treatments, placing animals for adoption and the general running of the shelter. Volunteers are always welcome at Care to provide loving interaction and give attention to the dogs, as well as assist with adoption campaigns and awareness raising. Continue reading


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Flying Solo, finding a balance

I like flying solo. I like it that my days are my own. I like that I get to set my schedule and go where the winds take me. I enjoy quiet meals alone, or alone in the company of a book.

I also adore afternoons spent with a friend, poolside and catching up in our respective latests. I like dropping by a friend’s shop and whiling away the hours laughing and learning words in another language. I enjoy showing up for a yoga class and then trying out a new lunch place with a classmate.

Life is in the balance. Finding time for myself creates peace and serenity. Too much time alone and without the warm love and stimulation of people to care about leaves me feeling dingy and isolated. Continue reading


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Comfy shoes-ville

Coming back to Chiang Mai is like comfy shoes. The streets are familiar, I practically know the yoga schedules by heart, and there’s always delicious food to be had. Best of all there are familiar and friendly faces to reunite with and exchange hugs.

A common refrain amongst those who call chiang Mai home is that many–okay most–came here for a 2 days, were just passing through, or otherwise considered CM just one more stop along the SE Asian travel circuit. What none expected to find was a place that basically exudes a magnetic pull: if you feel it, you can’t leave the force field until CM decides to let you.
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