Budget Wise :: Thailand

8 12 2008


Thailand provides many options to accommodate both the small budget traveler and the big budget vacationer’s needs. As per usual, our goal was to spend as little as we could while still enjoying as many comforts as we could afford. Our trip took us from Bangkok slowly up North until we hit Chiang Mai, where we stayed for a while, and then back down to Bangkok where we caught a bus to head toward Cambodia. It seemed to us that most vacationers we met were more interested in Southern Thailand’s beaches, but we avoided that region because it also happens to be the most expensive. So, if you’re interested in information on traveling through Northern Thailand, you’re in the right place, read on. Read the rest of this entry »


Working on a Night Train

30 11 2008

Bangkok, Thailand

It didn’t really feel like we had been in Chiang Mai for forty days until we actually had to leave. Just like in Torun, we realized that staying in one place for a long time and then leaving can bring all of the original travel nerves back. It’s so easy to get comfortable. To enjoy the routine of waking early, meditating in my room, then walking into the cool morning air, through the bustling market street, and saying good morning to my favorite vendor as she packed my breakfast of mangoes, sticky rice, and treats wrapped in banana leaves. I miss the smile of my banana pancake chef and afternoons spent wandering among the shelves of endless used book stores. I understand why Chiang Mai is the Thai capital of expats. You get the city conveniences, but the small town feel. But as our meditation bootcamp made indisputably clear, all things in life are impermanent, or as we say in the west, all good things must come to an end. Read the rest of this entry »

Crowned in Chiang Mai

27 11 2008

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Most people probably have some instant thoughts come to mind when they hear ‘Thailand’. Maybe beaches and the full moon party, or jungle treks through the tropical hills, or seedy red light districts down sketchy alley ways. What you may not think of is dentistry. Granted, Thailand has all of the lovely things aforementioned, but it also has a great medical industry and much like everything in this country, it’s really inexpensive. In fact, an entire industry has developed because of it. People requiring major dental work in the USA or UK often buy vacation packages through a specialized travel agent. Just Google ‘dental tourism Thailand’ and you’ll see what I mean. Often for the same price of a dental treatment back home, people can get a flight, quality dental treatment, a nice hotel, and often more in Thailand. While certainly not the only reason we wanted to visit the land of smiles, the fact that Gage had two dead and chipping teeth in his mouth certainly made Thailand even more enticing. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Loi Krathong

24 11 2008

Chiang Mai, Thailand

When we asked to leave the meditation center early, the Abbot accused us of leaving just so that we could see the festival in Chiang Mai. That wasn’t true at all, but we figured, hey, while we’re out…. And so at night we headed down to the Tha Pae Gate in the center of town and joined the festivities in celebration of Loi Krathong. Much like the festivals in America, this one had a parade with a bunch of really elaborate floats. Of course the only difference was that all of the floats had something to do with past Siamese kings or Buddha with the occasional beauty pagent winner thrown in for good measure. The gate area was strung with so many lanterns, it looked like the open air square had a roof. The vendors were out in full effect selling clothing and art as well as yummy foods like the traditional roti sai mai, sugar crepes with condensed milk. Read the rest of this entry »

The Chiang Mai Visa Run

20 11 2008

Chiang Mai, Thailand

This post may not be of much interest to those friends and family reading for the sake of seeing what we’re up to. But it’s pretty important for travelers like myself and Gage who have some curiosity about those little logistical things when traveling such as how not to get fined and kicked out of a country you’re visiting. After being in Europe on our luxurious 90 day visa, it’s a bit of a shock to come to Thailand and receive a stamp in your passport indicating that you only have 30 days (which actually turns out to be 29, but more about that later). For those who want to stay in Thailand for more than those thirty days, you are faced with the task of a visa run. It’s not particularly difficult, but can be pretty confusing, so hopefuly this little post will give you an idea of how to do a visa run from Chiang Mai, Thailand up to Mae Sai, Thailand and get your new visa on the border of Burma/Myanmar. Read the rest of this entry »

Meditation Bootcamp

14 11 2008

The Story of Two Meditation Dropouts

About a year and half ago I came across a website for the Northern Insight Meditation Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Having dabbled in martial arts and meditation courses in the past, I was intrigued by the opportunity to take my practice even further and get the benefits I had seen in more dedicated meditators. While other wats like Suan Dok advertised three day courses, the Wat Rampoeng offered a 26 day beginner course. For extremists like myself, this seemed like the best (if not only) option. The course looked difficult; rising at 4am, breakfast at 6am, lunch at 10:30am, no food after noon, no talking except during your report to the teacher once per day, and then to bed at 10pm. In between those times, you meditate on your own. I was intrigued, Gage was wary, and a year and a half later, we were walking through the front gates with packed bags, big smiles, a lot of optimism, and no idea of what we were getting ourselves into. This is how it all went down.

The Great Stupa and Temple of Wat Rampoeng

The Great Stupa and Temple of Wat Rampoeng

Read the rest of this entry »

Chiang Mine

28 10 2008

Chiang Mai, Thailand

We have arrived! So back when we had this crazy idea to run off across the ocean, the original goal was to shack up in Chiang Mai, Thailand and ride out the good life there. Of course two months after we put this plan into action, Thailand changed their visa laws so that you can only be in the country for 90 out of 180 days. So yeah, the plan changed just a tad, however we still had the goal of enjoying Chiang Mai. So now we’re here and the city is everything I thought it would be and more. Mainly, it’s very different from the rest of Thailand. First of all, it’s Thailand’s most diverse city, filled with both Eastern and Western races of every shape and kind. While it’s still Thailand (i.e. dizzyingly different) Chiang Mai is different because of all the Western business owners who strive to bring a little chunk of their home country to the city. Basically it’s like walking through NYC and going through all of the ethnic neighborhoods within 20 blocks. What this also means is that we get many of the comforts of home that we’ve missed like burritos, nachos, pizza, Tabasco, bagels, cookies, etc. In other words, it’s an oasis for those expats who need a little break from reality, but aren’t ready to go home.

Nachos from El Diablo's Burritos

Nachos from El Diablo

Read the rest of this entry »