Pack Your Knickers and DO NOT Kill the Taxi Driver

I’m stuck in Kuala Lumpur.

My day from hell started at 5.30am this morning when I got up. I finished wrestling my luggage together, managed to toss a 7/11 coffee down my throat, then got a taxi to the airport. I waited around lots, ‘cos I always get to the airport far too early, due to my immense paranoia of missing planes, trains and automobiles. It turned out that my luggage was 10 kilos over – it appears that my luggage-weighing device thingy is a bluddy liar. I had run out of data on my Thai sim card, and the airport wifi didn’t want to talk to my phone. So I forked out some baksheesh baht for the extra luggage weight and flew to Bangkok. I was way too early again, so I schlepped around with my trolley full of bags – unable go to the toilet because I couldn’t leave the luggage unmanned. God forbid anyone steal my ukulele and hill tribe hat.  Continue reading

Crocodiles, Mud Wars and Elephant Flatulence. Return to Elephant Family Sanctuary.

phet-eating-lunch

Phet – or ‘Diamond’ in English – scoffs some lunch.

A couple of days ago I was lucky enough to return to Elephant Family Sanctuary, in the Maewang District of Chiang Mai. On this day it started raining just as we got to the camp, so things were done a little bit differently from my previous visit. Our lovely guide Cookie gave us a bit of a run down on elephants and safety around them, then we grabbed our feed bags and climbed the hill to load up on cucumbers. Once again our group was small – there were five of us – and we were joined by a likely couple of lads from London, upon who I directly lay the blame for the ensuing discussion on elephants and flatulence. You know who you are, Aziz and Shay. Continue reading

Shine On You Cuddly Diamond – Elephant Family Sanctuary. Go here!

baby-ele-walking

Baby elephant walk.

I’ve just had the privilege of playing with elephants at Elephant Family Sanctuary, in the Maewang District, about an hour and a half south of Chiang Mai. It’s run by my Thai adopted brother Chaiw, who rang me on Saturday afternoon and said he had booked me in for the next morning to go on a half-day excursion and I would be picked up earlier in the a.m. than I am generally comfortable with. So I hauled myself out of bed, foregoing my crucial morning coffee, (potentially fatal to those around me) and got myself ready for this momentous occasion. The EFS silver van duly picked me up at 7.15am and we did the rounds, via back roads and lanes, to pick up the other clientele that were in on this particular trip, Theresa and Tom from California and a young lady from Israel who I think was named Carly. We were a small group today, which I’ve found is always a good thing, as you get to ask your guide lots of questions. And I am indeed rather nosy, although I prefer the label “Curious” or “Enquiring”. There was also a driver, who didn’t speak English, and our guide was a lovely young lady called Hnong, friendly and full of smiles, with quite reasonable English.
Continue reading

How to Stop the Pervs While Traveling Solo – from Travelling Crone

Travelling Crone has put up an excellent post and I thought I ‘d pass it on. If you’re a woman and travelling, particularly if you are doing so alone, this is a worthwhile read for you.

As I was saying to TC, the first time I was in India, a man sat next to me on a bus (partner was on the other side of me, staring out the window oblivious), and he put his hand on my knee. I didn’t quite know what to do, as we were on a local bus and I was concerned that making a fuss could start some sort of conflict between all the locals and ourselves, and I did not want to put my partner into an aggressive situation. So I just kept shifting my knee, remaining extremely uncomfortable, until thankfully the guy got off the bus a few stops later. In retrospect, I wish I had researched posts exactly like this one before travelling outside my own culture.

Women – you can help yourselves somewhat by not wearing super short shorts and tiny wee tops when you’re walking around cities, towns and streets. Men are very visual creatures and they’re really going to LOOK. Unfortunately there are a few men out there who can’t or don’t want to control themselves, and when you show them a lot of your skin, they turn into predators. Keep these guys in mind when you are choosing your travelling clothes. Maybe keep the skimpy stuff for when you’re not out in public. Just a thought.

Here’s Travelling Crone’s link:

10 Tips to Stop the Pervs While Travelling Solo

no-pants-backpacker
And now for a quick test – is this the right way or the wrong way to dress in public? Photo by Devon Christopher Adams – Flikr

 

Blow Your Friends Away with Some Cool Art and Help Spread Elephant Awareness While You’re At It!

Jodi Kabu pic

Kabu – an elephant with intestinal fortitude!!!

I have just had the pleasure of Jodi Thomas ‘s wonderfully kind and fun hospitality over the last couple of days at the elephant park where she has lived and contributed greatly to the well-being of rescued elephants for around 15 years, situated in the jungle Chiang Mai, North Thailand.

Jodi is a painter, mixed media artist and tattooist, and supports both herself and her son through these mediums. Above is a photo of a print that I have just bought from her. As I’m still traveling for a little while yet, it is still in its plastic and won’t be mounted until I get back home to New Zealand in a few weeks. But it’s just so beautiful that I have hung it up on my guesthouse room as I can’t wait until I get home to be able to gaze at it.

Jodi painted this picture of Kabu, who has a very damaged front leg. But Kabu refuses to be pitied and manages life just fine, thank you very much. This picture is a loving tribute to Kabu’s resilient spirit and downright gutsy attitude.

Here is Kabu’s story:

“Kabu was born around 1990. She arrived to ENP very late on September 22nd 2015. Her mother was a logging elephant. She had to go with her mom while she pushed and pulled logs. At two years old, a log rolled out of control and struck Kabu, breaking her front left wrist. It healed badly and left her very handicapped. Despite this, when she was old enough, she was also put to work in logging doing light labour. She was also subjected to forced breeding. Kabu had two babies, neither of which she was allowed to keep for very long. One was a bull, who died soon after his spirit was broken. The other a female who was sold into the elephant show industry.

Since Kabu had to over use her right front leg to carry her weight, it has also grown very deformed. To gaze upon her, fills you with pity… until you see her move. She gets along quite well. She has lived with this handicap for her entire life. She has dignity. She does not let her injury hold her back… She does not feel sorry for herself. Do not feel sorry for her. She is a survivor!”

Please visit Jodi’s Zazzle page to see some of the products you can buy, printed with Jodi’s awesome and vibrant art, many of which feature elephants Jodi has known, lived with and cared for. Please aid Jodi to not only create a wage to live on but also an awareness of elephants and their plight at the hands of humans and their cruelty and greed.

Grab yourself an awesome piece of art and help spread awareness of both domestic and wild elephants who need all the help they can get. And you can also help Jodi and the elephants by sharing this post far and wide to spread some good loving awareness around. Humans are responsible for the misery that the majority of elephants suffer today, and that way too many have in the past – let’s rip into reversing that situation.

Visit Jodi’s site here:

Jodi’s Zazzle Page

Thank you for caring. Every little bit we do will help add up to positive change.

Better Jodi's Kabu pic

This version of the Kabu picture shows up the colours better.

Jodi Foot Ele Foot

Jodi’s foot beside an elephant’s footprint.

 

First Gecko and Bogie Gourmet – Day One of being in Thailand 2016 (contd)

 Checkout was at noon, so I bade goodbye to my room , which happened to be Number 747, a truly relevant number for someone having just stepped off a plane. I walked down a few alleyways and caught my first tuktuk of this trip to Hua Lamphong train station to pick up my ticket for the overnight train to Chiang Mai. The driver dropped me at the wrong place, so I had to bring back to mind the trick for crossing the road in Bangkok traffic – wait for the locals to cross and get in amongst them. The midday sun beat down on my head mercilessly as I meandered about looking for the agency that held my train ticket. I finally discovered them craftily hidden in an abandoned-looking building and got things sorted. Another tuktuk back and I arrived at the guesthouse prepared to do the waiting game until my train left. This entailed busking with my ukulele for drinking water – a deal I set up with the reception lady who thankfully seemed to enjoy my plunking and wailing. Continue reading