Friday, November 04, 2011


7 years ago today, I arrived in Delhi for my first taste of Asia.
Here's my top photos from my travels, hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

CM Yogamala

Another weekend in Chiang Mai I decided escape the city and head to Yogamala. After a lot of waiting about, people got fed up and hired a red songthaew (there was supposed to be free transport). Quite a distance North of Chiang Mai, it was located at The Spa Resort. A very nice spot out besides some lush green rice paddies, with some great views back down the valley. A few stall were setup selling health & organic products, also the cathouse restaurant, which I had just eaten a monster salad at yesterday. Along with practioners of various new agey mediation type stuff. I watched a bit of yoga when I found out where the salas were. Everybody else seem to know what they were doing bringing their own yoga mats. I was just being nosy!

There was a few walking trails further up from the salas (which have amazing views!), I walked along through the shaded banana plantations, popping out on a dirt road. But this was out in the afternoon sun, and it was HOT! I peaked over the hills and saw the path stretch down and off in to the green mountains, and decided that I couldn’t be bother going down there as I would have to come back up the hill, and I didn’t have any water. Also it didn’t look the path would have many shops! Retracing my steps, I briefly chatted with some locals. (“Hey you! Where you going?! Hot? Yes very hot!”) Back down to the restaurant for a long cool drink.

There was a panel discussion on sustainable living, but it wasn’t really much of a discussion as everybody agreed “good idea”. One woman was from Cafe Compassion (which I later visited for a tasty lunch. It has an interesting veggy menu), another guy had helped push forward a interesting process, where consumers in the city purchase a subscription of organic vegetable to be delivered weekly for the duration of the farming season from the producers. That way the farmers know they can sell their vegs, and the consumer cuts out the middle man. It's known as Community Supported Agriculture

After that there was an good traditional band taecompai. After working in Bangkok the main guy had returned to Chiang Mai (Pai) to work on building up his own farm using traditional methods. He talked about how when in Thailand you buy the seeds and pesticide as one package. And how people told him was practicing permaculture and he’d never heard of it! Also the music was pretty good!
After all that healthy talk I headed back into Chiang Mai to chow down on a Big Mac :)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Flooding in Chiang Mai

So some very heavy rain north of Chiang Mai led to the Ping river to burst it's banks.
Still people didn't seem to bothered as you can see in these photos

Just a mere puddle, no match for the motorbike
The Games must go on

I went back to the night bazaar road yesterday and you wouldn't even know it had been flooded.
Maybe people were more prepared/better warned, then when the last big flood back in 2005.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hua Hin Jazz Festival 2011

Oh a whim I decided to take a trip down south to Hua Hin and take in the Hua Hin Jazz Festival. It was over the weekend, so I could nip up and down and be back in time for my language class on Tuesday. I booked an AirAsia flight down to Bangkok and then took the new rail link into the city. One hop down the skytrain, and I was back in Victory Monument (near where I stayed the first time I was ever in Bangkok, waaay back in 2005!). From here minivan hurtle down to Hua Hin every 30 minutes or so, but I had just missed one. Anyway it takes a few hours to head south, and to get out of the Bangkok traffic jam.

On arrival I had booked into a little guesthouse, I thought it wise to book ahead due to the festival. I think I beat the evening rush from Bangkok getting there mid-afternoon, before the masses from Bangkok descend. I hunted down the guesthouse and took a room. Interesting place, Kings Home, not one for minimalism. Decor and bits and pieces everywhere! In my small room I had a pigeon, duck, two 8 foot rugs, a couple of hat-racks, a sun/moon mirror holder, and numerous other bits and pieces. Not very quiet when a motorbike roars past though.

At the festival site itself entrance was free! Always a good thing. It was situated down on the beach on a stretch near the Hilton. It was very chilled out, people just sitting on the beach and enjoying the music. You could purchase a sheet of plastic, from an enterprising local who had secured some old adverts to sit on if you didn't want a sandy bum. There was a few seats over at the side, but it was for the smoking section. The 1st band was good, a large orchestra type band with maybe ten people. A few other bands were a bit hit and miss some straying into Milk Tray territory.

The second day followed and more of the same, some student band who had wangled a spot on the bill, a singer-songwriter, Kina Grannis, from America, and then a consummate jazz band, Infinity, with finger popping bassist. After the acoustic guitar it was a lot louder and I moved back away from the front. Quite different atmosphere from Reading festival! You could sit in a spot and a girl would come round selling beer, didn't have to get off your butt at all! Except for food, had to move over to the side and I got something that I was entirely sure what it was. Something like dried & shredded pork(?) with a thinly sliced green papaya, and maybe fish sauce.

Some other artist, Ford & Friends came on to close the festival, they sounded vaguely familiar, I think I recognized a few of the songs, probably from adverts. I decided to spend another day after the festival in Hua Hin, I went for a nosy about and headed into some of the back streets, managing a loop. However it absolutely chucked it down and I got completely soaked! I tried drying out in the sun, but it never really reappeared. Oh well, soggily I returned to the guesthouse, and the next day I reversed the travel, zooming back to Bangkok in the minivan, and then off the airport and a flight back to Chiang Mai. An interesting little adventure, and cheaper than the ticket price for Glastonbury!
On the beach

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back in BKK

After a long flight, followed by a long wait, followed by a long flight, I arrived in Bangkok after my flight from Glasgow via Dubai. I stayed in the backpacker enclave of Khao San Road for a few days.

Arriving at the hotel after 21.00, I realised I shouldn’t of told then that my flight arrived at 19:00, but rather add a couple of hours on that. Still they had a room! Wasn’t that hungry, so maybe just a few snacks, mmm, fruit vendor right outside, so some 10baht watermelon, and then some grilled corn brushed with butter and sprinkled with salt, and roti gluay for desert, followed by a quick beer Chang and people watching on Khao San. Then back for some much needed sleep.
I revisited a couple of favourite spots. Off to dinner for a tasty grilled red snapper at the busy grilled seafood restaurant on Rambuttri (Popiang House). Then a spot of blues at Adhere the 13th, the kind of intimate venue where the bass player has to turn sideways to let you get to the bar!

Walking past Krua Nopparat on Phra Sumen Road, a spot I had previously eaten, it had changed completely. Looked like it had been in one of those TV restaurant makeover programs! It use to be an old fashioned crusty place, now transformed into somewhere hip and trendy. Still, it looked busy enough. A few other signs of changes, as boutique hotels are sprouting up in what used to be a staunchly backpacker area.
I headed to Rannotskin to visit the grandeur of the Grand Palace again. Seem to a be a lot of troops there that I didn’t remember last time. Wearing a busby in the 30C heat and humidity, that’ll be fun.

I hunted down the oddly named restaurant Choechittr,. Set not far from the Grand Palace, it an old part of town dominated by shophouses. Probably not a whole lot separating it from other restaurants in the area, but it had been garnering rave review. A small hole-in-the-wall place with about 4 tables. I order the mee grop, sweet crispy noodles.

In the rainy season here now, Some proper tropical thunderstorms, you don’t want to get caught in. Getting adept at running from the hotel to the skywalk and through the malls to get from A to B. Still didn’t get round to buying that Lamborghini in Paragon.

Another night I popped into Saxophone, near Victory Monument, not far from where I’ve stayed before in Bangkok. Large band playing with five horns, song of the night was the jazzed up version of Spiderman!

I also visited a couple of museums, into the nearby BACC. Which houses some modern art, winding up a spiral walkway through the galleries.

Also I went to the new Musuem Siam, which after some talking, badly in Thai, with the ticket folk decided to let me in for student price (50baht), instead of the regular foreigner price (300baht).

Reasonably interesting it traced the history of Thailand, from the first settlement on the Chao Praya riverbanks, to the creation of Ayuthya, at the trisection of rivers, and the watery trade empire of its canals, through the wars with the (now Burmese) city states, and the eventual downfall of the empire. Then onto the foundation of Bangkok, and foreign influence on Thailand. Even had a retro American diner.

Then it was off to Chiang Mai, just zip along the express train to Suvarnabhumi airport in 15 minutes from Phaya Thai, no traffic jams!