Friday, April 25, 2014

The Golden Triangle, New Crew, and Cruising the awesome islands of Krabi Provence.

High mountains in Mai Sai, near the boarder of China
The boarders between Thailand, Burma (Myanmar) and Laos form the legendary "Golden Triangle" Once upon a time, the opium poppy was the cash crop for the regions ethnic people. Tea, beans and other vegetable crops have replaced the poppy fields but the lawless areas of neighboring countries still produce heroin and opium.  There were check points along the mountain roads and police with guns, an apparent sign that drug runners were a real and present danger.

As soon as Ron returned from LA we decided to take a trip north to Bangkok and then on to the northern mountains of Thailand. Before leaving Bangkok we went down to the beach town of Pattaya, to check out the marina. Oceans Marina was still under construction and therefore, Ron determined it was not going to be a suitable dockage for Slow Dance. While in Pattaya we stumbled upon a cute outdoor bar called the Windy Inn, where we met Dennis, a retired Fireman from San Clemente. Dennis was a firemen for 28 years but also a surfer, who has traveled just about everywhere in the world where the surf is good. Dennis had sailed before in Costa Rica, and also drove the boat for the surf camps, so he knew his way around boats. Ron and Dennis hit it off and Ron invited him to come sailing with us for a few weeks around the  islands of Krabi. We made a plan for Dennis to meet up with us in a few weeks on Slow Dance. We spent a few more days in Pattaya and then headed to the mountains.

Chiang Mai is a cool place to kick back and relax. The streets of old town are full of monks, motorcycles, and local hangouts; bookshops are more abundant then sidewalk vending stalls, which was refreshing after the insane hype found in Thailand's larger cities. The town is bounded by a moat and the remnants of a med evil -style wall, built 700 years ago to keep the Burmese invaders out. Inside the walls, lies a quite world of family run guesthouses and leafy garden restaurants. A vibrant town of cooking classes, message, and meditation. There are several awesome temples and we toured a few of the best including the white temple, which was on the way to Chiang Rai in the Golden Triangle.

Inside the White Temple

After touring some temples we ventured into the high mountains to visit the hill tribes. The Hill Tribe people are a minority people, who migrated from Tibet and parts of China 200 years ago, and have settled in the mountainous frontier of South East Asia's mountain belt from Burma to Vietnam. There may be up to 20 different tribes in Thailand. Chao Khao literally  means mountain people in Thai.
We decided to take the mountain trek up to visit one of the villages. I thought the neck stretching was only found in African tribes, but now I see it is a popular tradition with the Hill-Tribe people as well. The brass neck rings weigh 9 pounds!

Hill-Tribe Village
The gold collar weighs 9 pounds and the girls start wearing a lighter version at age 4.

Morning Glory grows all over South East Asia. The Thai's saute it to perfection in oyster sauce with lots of garlic. I never missed eating spinach as this is delicious.

Ron enjoying a purple passion juice during lunch on the river Kwai. .

Weird ceramic heads hanging from a tree near the temple. What the significance is I do not know. It was very creepy.
Sign outside a forest cafe where the monks hang out. We had quite a nice chat and learned much about life inside the temple.

We went to the night zoo in Chang Mai, which is not like any zoo I've been to. The animals pretty much just show up on the road to eat the banana's and carrot's sold to the tourists.This giraffe, surprised me and got his head in my lap and ate my entire bowl of goodies. Then gave me a huge sloppy lick on the face!

He gave me a kiss with his 2 foot tongue. 

Ron and our driver, Poh.
We hopped a plane from Chang Rai back to Bangkok and then home to Phuket. Vanessa's sister Nikka, arrived a few day's later and a week later Dennis flew in from Pattaya. After taking a few day's to prepare the boat we set sail for a much needed cruising adventure to some of the beautiful islands in the Krabi region.
Lunch on the River Kawi
Dennis and Vanessa as we head toward the beach at Koh Roi

On route to Rai Lei Beach

Captain Ron with Vanessa, me, Dennis and Nikka at Same Same bar, Koh Lanta
Dennis, Vanessa, and sister Nikka at Koh Phi Phi Lee

Ferry port at Koh Lanta
Walk to Same Same bar

These Australian folks got married on the beach and invited us to the after party.

 It is impossible to capture the color of the water. So amazing, you can see 50 feet down to the sand and coral bed. Swimming was beyond divine and delicious.
We had a beach fire here one night. AWESOME!

The captain and the cook

That's the famous Maya beach behind me , where the movie "The Beach" was filmed.

Slow Dance at sunset as we returned in the dingy from beach on Koh Lanta.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pigs, monkey's, Tree Houses, Girly Boy's, and Birthday's

This little piggy went to the market. I don't eat pork but I love bacon!

Monkey's are everywhere and this little fellow was the pet of a local villager. We were stopped on the road asking directions,. something you do frequently in Thailand, when this monkey showed up on a load of coconuts.

 The monkey was tethered to the cart with a rope that allowed him to do his monkey business, which we had fun watching.
Beautiful Phng Na Bay
Daring Slack line walkers. Tonsi Bay, Phang Na
We continued through Southern Thailand to Kho Sok National Park, which was expansive, mountainous, jungle y, and beautiful. We stayed in an unusual funky resort where the accommodations are tucked in the trees. Very cool if you try not to think about snakes and spiders! Thailand has over 100 various poisonous snakes. We actually enjoyed the place but opted to stay only one night.
Table and chairs on our balcony in the trees

Bridge to our romm

What to do for Ron's Birthday?? Well, he is always up for a party, so we invited some new friends, Edan, his lovely wife Andrea, and Captain Tim. to Slow Dance for Birthday dinner and some entertainment. Edan is a pilot for a private principal,  Andrea writes screen plays, and Tim captains a beautiful Catamaran.

We were wondering what to do and then Vanessa suggested a surprise girly boy show; (Big in Thailand)  Ron's own private entertainment brought right to the boat.

There are many Girly Boy shows around Phuket and Vanessa's friend owns a bar that has such shows, so she arranged it for us.  Good thing our new friends were good sports as these girls (?) put on quite a show.

The legs kind of give it away>
Thai men are rather effeminate by nature, so maybe the cross over isn't as far to go as a guy with size 11 feet and broad shoulders. 
Kathoeys are more visible and more accepted in Thai culture than transgender or transsexual people are in Western countries or the Indian subcontinent. Several popular Thai models, singers and movie stars are kathoeys, and Thai newspapers often print photos of the winners of female and kathoey beauty contests side by side. The phenomenon is not restricted to urban areas; there are kathoeys in most villages, and kathoey beauty contests are commonly held as part of local fairs.

Using the notion of Karma, some Thai believe that being a kathoey is the result of transgressions in past lives, concluding that kathoey deserve pity rather than blame.

Flour-less Chocolate Torte for the Birthday Boy. Hard to believe these were guys!
It appeared that a few of these boy's had taken the journey to transform themselves into true females.

After to much food and Champagne, the timing for the show was perfect!
This girl had a big guy face!
(Left)  Tim, Andrea, Edan, Ron, and Cookie. Vanessa took the photo

Chili Lime Chicken, Mexican Quiche, Grilled Shrimp, Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad with Jalapeno Lime Dressing. Fruit Salsa, Pico Salsa, and fresh Guacamole. 

Happy Birthday Face!

After living in Phuket for more then a year we finally found the most beautiful place on the island, thanks to Edan and Andrea, and to think is is just 20 minutes away.

Edan and Andrea have a lovely place on Layan, where they cross their little road to a sandy path that takes them down to a long,  broad, white sandy beach dotted with intimate restaurants and beach bars. Not the usual cluster you see on other Thai beaches.Very local and nicely done. The water is clear blue green and the bottom all sand. We spent the afternoon with them and the dogs, exploring all their favorite parts of the beach.
Lyann Beach at low tide.
 Slow Dance is looking amazing and we have the time now to get all the detail things accomplished. Every bin in the bilge is organized in category with a list of contents on the lid as well as keeping the contents in a file on the main computer. The Lazerette has been cleaned out, painted and purged. There is a content list and everything is way easier to get to. I attribute this to "Girl Power"
Vanessa down in the Engine room, filling the batteries with water.
Vanessa and I have learned much about the boat over the past year and have become very proficient at changing the sea strainers, cleaning the grey water sensor, pumping black water, deck work, running the generators, and much much more. Actually, more then we wanted to know, but that's life on a boat!
A very organized Laz!

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