Thailand and Cambodia 2013. Or, Travel Anxiety – Am I Normal?!

One more sleep then we’re off to Thailand. I’ve found I’ve been somewhat anxious over the last week or two. This is what I’ve been doing:

  • Packed my suitcase, repacked it 15 times minimum – and that was only in my sleep.
  • Checked my passport and ticket. Checked again in case they have disappeared since last time I looked.
  • Checked that Malaysian Airlines still exists and hasn’t gone bust and sold off all their airplanes while I wasn’t looking.
  • Checked that I have the day right for our flights and don’t turn up at the airport to hear ‘I’m sorry Madam, your plane left yesterday’.
  • Sent copies of my itinerary, travel insurance, passport and other documents to multiple members of my family in case of attacks by rampant snakes or being sat upon by a absent-minded pachyderm.

Continue reading

A Big Thank You for Donating to the Elephant Nature Park Projects

A Big Thank You to these business in our lil’ town in New Zealand:

Whangamata Veterinary Hospital for their kind donations of supplies for us to take to Elephant Nature Park for their animals.

Sunny’s, Whangamata, for their donations of pencils and T-shirts for us to take to the free school for Cambodian kids that ENP is developing at the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary.

And Whangamata Library for donating books for the kids also.

Big smiles and thanks to all of you – I know this stuff is going to be really appreciated at the other end. 🙂

Mong Dee keeps bananas at the ready while Sao Yai bathes in ecstacy...

Mong Dee keeps bananas at the ready while Sao Yai bathes in ecstacy…

Returning to the Banana-Hoovers. Traveling, Logistics, and Nightmares of Things Forgotten

Luckily, elephants are vegetarians. One of the Park residents, Pom, giving an ele a treat.

Luckily, elephants are vegetarians. One of the Park residents, Pom, giving an ele a treat.

My partner and I are off to North Thailand in three weeks to work with elephants. Specifically the ones at Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, North Thailand. Large, grey proboscis-laden pachyderms banana-hoovers abound there, as well as many rescued dogs, cats, buffalo, cows, chickens and assorted other beasties. They’ve had 2 baby elephants since I was there last year – Navann and Dok Mai. Will I be able to resist hanging around them like a tween at a Bieber concert? Probably not. Will I be able to stop myself from trying to sneak one home in my luggage? Well, that would be a yes, because we only have a 30kg luggage allowance, and I’m pretty sure even a baby banana-hoover weights more than 30kg. Will I be able to avoid snakes, spiders and leech attacks? That remains to be seen. Last time I was in Thailand, it wasn’t out in the jungle I came close to having a snake-related cardiac arrest, it was in a town where I was innocently waiting to cross the road and one fell out of the power lines beside me! Very funny God! Read that story here. Read about the Giant Killer-Leech Attack here.

And so, the preparation begins: Continue reading

The Elephant Whisperer – Documentary, 2012.

Produced in 2012, this is a documentary that features Lek Chailert, founder of Elephant Nature Park, and covers a wide range of the situations and issues of the Asian elephant today.

The reality is that the Asian elephant is becoming extinct. If we don’t all come to the realization that in little or big ways we can help the ones that are left, our grandchildren or their children will have to visit museums to gasp at an animal that until recently walked this earth.

What will they think of us, their recent ancestors, the ones that allowed the unethical treatment of elephants to continue, and allowed the extinction of them to occur? I, for one, don’t want to find out the answer to that question…

View the documentary here

Chang Yim - young male elephant and all around ratbag. Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Chang Yim – young male elephant and all around ratbag. Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Bucket List? Huh! I’m Turning 50 and I Have a Pooh List.

Evil personified! This one took a jandal hostage and wouldn't give it back until lots of food was thrown at it. Bundi, Rajasthan.

Evil personified! This one took a jandal hostage and wouldn’t give it back until lots of food was thrown at it. Bundi, Rajasthan.

You hear the term ‘Bucket List’ bandied about quite often, yes? I was fortunate enough to cotton on at an early age that the world is a fascinating place and I had started a list of countries and things I wanted to see by the time I was 12. Tibet, the Pyramids, Bedouins in Arabia, Castles in England, Frogs in the Amazon, Iguanas in Galapagos, the usual run-of-the-mill stuff.

I’m not entirely sure where the ‘Bucket List’ term originated, but since I’m about to turn 50 and inherit my license for eccentricity, I’ve decided that I shall have a Pooh List. I know – I’m such a grown-up. And I’ve already ticked off several of the items on it: Continue reading

Travel Souvenirs of the Strange Variety – or – My Name is Raveburbleblog and I am a Relicaholic.

R-Expo and their delicious natural goods. Delhi, India.

R-Expo and their delicious natural goods. Delhi, India.

In 2005 when I was leaving India to return home, I’m pretty sure that technically I was kicked out of the country. It was my debut overseas trip and also the first time I could afford to buy whatever the hell I liked, within reason – we’re not talking a Maserati or a luxury yacht here, and I have no inclination to have my own exotic python zoo either. I’m talking about getting a few clothes tailor-made, treating myself to a nice piece of turquoise and silver jewellery, buying odd, dusty brass items from that hole in the wall shop five alleyways past the cyber cafe with the public urinal outside it, or going to R-Expo and indulging in my ecologically created, natural ingredient incense, soaps, shampoos and perfumes  enough to last for an entire year. Continue reading

2009 Thailand #2: Train to Chiang Mai and the Scary Bed Lady

The scene of the almost-crime. The swerving hotel driveway upon which our rickshaw driver tried to tip us.

The scene of the almost-crime. The swerving hotel driveway upon which our rickshaw driver tried to tip us.

We’re now in Chiang Mai, having landed this morning after a 14 hour train ride. Just to revisit yesterday’s email, the guy in the speeding bullet tuk tuk was very unhappy with us because I had bartered his price down so much, then he found out that we were staying at an expensive hotel. That’s why he drove like a madman – a) to try and scare us (and possibly fling us out) and b) to get rid of us as fast as possible. His fast driving combined with his illegal driving manoeuvres (how in the heck do you spell that word?) had traffic police blowing their whistles at him like crazy, but he just ignored them and carried on.That combined with the railway line scenario (complete with traffic piling up behind us, beeping their horns like mad ‘cos they were now stuck on the tracks, the train barping it’s horn and the barrier bells nutting off,) made us feel like we’d just been thrown into the middle of a Jackie Chan movie. We’re still wondering if the police caught our speeding tuk tuk man on the way back and gave him a ticket. Continue reading

2009 Thailand #1: So Far, So Crazy

Good ol' Kao San Road culture.

Good ol’ Kao San Road culture.

After a very long flight, several wines (maybe one too many, but I only did that to help me sleep – honest!), and approximately four hours after we lost all feeling in our backsides, we got to Bangkok. Cripes that’s a big airport! We really wanted to pinch one of the golf-carts the staff drive around in there, but being deported immediately would not have fitted in with our plans, so we walked and used the Jetsons-style moving footpaths instead. Continue reading

India 2008 # 14: Tibetan Tea, Prayer Flags, Feelingless Limbs and Buses on India Time

Tibetan momos. Yum!

Tibetan momos. Yum!

Paul and I ran around like blue-bottomed flies trying to find some vertical prayer flags in Rewalsar, which appear to be as scarce as hens teeth no matter where you are. So while I was in one shop organizing some to get made, he was down the road doing exactly the same thing! So we ended up with two sets. That’s okay though – we got to watch the guy actually printing the design onto Paul’s flags – a huge wooden printing block with a picture of Padmasambava and Tibetan writing on it. Interesting stuff. Continue reading

India 2008 # 13: Kissy Fishes and the Nemesis of the Naked Chef

A local Tibetan woman in traditional apron poses for me. Rewalsar, India.

A local Tibetan woman in traditional apron poses for me. Rewalsar, India.

Today is our second to last day in Rewalsar and it’s going to be a wrench to leave here. It’s absolute heaven (even aside from the daily access to momo).

Last night we sat up in the secret place on the roof again, played Pink Floyd by candlelight, watched lightening AND looked at stars – pretty awesome combination – and had a gin or two. Little fireflies flitted about and so did the bats who were chasing them. We even had a dog up there with us. The canines round here seem to be part mountain goat. We actually ended up talking until dawn – due to the fact, I guess, that we have such a short bit of time left and wanted to savour every moment. Of course we weren’t aware that it was nearly dawn until we heard the puja and wondered why they were so early. Whoops – outside (we were back in our room by then) the light was dawning. They weren’t early, we were late! But somehow that doesn’t matter when you can sleep in till midday then go and order your breakfast. I could really get used to this life. Continue reading