29 Apr

Monday Moment: Paharganj, New Dehli, India

Paharganj, New Dehli, India

It’s no secret that we really struggled with our time in India.

It’s a time that I still frequently think back on as I try to impart the lessons I learned then to my traveling life now.

It comes up more often now, of course. We’re meeting new people all the time; hearing stories of their travels, and telling stories of our own. India is always a source of fascination; whether a person has been and is interested in comparing experiences, or if they have not been and want to know what it was like.

I always try to tell our story emphasizing that it is our story and point out that there are many, many, factors that lead to a persons experience in any place. India is indeed hard but she wails a siren song that is difficult to ignore.

This picture is from the Paharganj area of New Delhi. We were staying just down this street a few blocks. I have no idea why the metal detectors are there as I’m sure they didn’t work although once in a while we were directed to walk through. Oh, India!

25 Apr

Dis-connecting At Bamboo Nest, Chiang Rai

Leaving Chiang Rai would be like a breath of fresh air. Except that there isn’t much fresh air to be had at this time of year.

Farmers are burning their fields and the still air offers no relief from the unrelenting smoke that fills the air. In fact, as we follow the river out of town and climb into the hills it seems to get worse. Soon, not only is the air so thick we can taste it, but huge black ash pieces flutter through it making their way to the ground.

It is, in fact, nothing like the stunning-vista’d getaway I had envisioned and is, instead, every bit a post apocalyptic movie sequence.

Pressing forward up ever steeper hills we realize just how remote our home for the next few days will be. Past the elephant camp and the massive Buddha in the hillside we are able to stay two on the bike until we reach the Lahu tribe village at the bottom of the single-track steepest hill leading to the red earth, pot-holed, ‘road’ to the finish. Here I must jump quickly off the back so that Jason can gun the engine and climb ever-so-slowly to the top.

Bamboo Nest, Chiang Rai

We made it.

“Sawasdee-ka”, we call to the seemingly empty clutch of bamboo huts sprinkled on the hillside.

Bamboo Nest, Chiang Rai

Noi is surprised to see us. A small, thin, wiry, man, he emerges from one of the buildings and immediately starts muttering as he rushes over to greet us.

“What is the date?” he asks as he searches on the endless keychain for a key that will finally unlock the reception door.

“It is the 22nd”, we say.

“And the day?” he follows up with.


“Ahhhh”, he sighs while slowly nodding his head, “we thought today is the 21st…Thursday…not Friday the 22nd. Your room is not yet ready”.

Not surprisingly, in this somewhat remote setting, he and his wife Nok have forgotten what day it is and weren’t expecting us today but in what would be their tomorrow. No worry, he points us to a sitting platform and gets busy preparing one of the huts for us.


Bamboo Nest lives up to its name. Nestled on a hillside the half dozen or so bamboo huts are tucked around a garden carefully tended by the couple. Here they grow bananas and pineapple, flowers and, not-surprisingly, bamboo.

The huts are rustic but surprisingly comfortable. Built by labourers from the village at the bottom of the hill, they are constructed entirely of bamboo. Floors, walls, roofs, porches and beds; all made from grass!

Bamboo Nest, Chiang Rai

Our room is soon ready and we easily settle in to do, well, absolutely nothing for the afternoon. There is no electricity (save for a little solar power), so no lights, no tv, no wifi. This is why we have come; to unplug for a few days, get our noses out of our computers, maybe even read a book!


Bamboo Nest, Chiang Rai

Surfing the line between asleep and awake I come to shore to the sound of a truck grunting its way up the track. With a practiced hand Nok guides the 4X4 up the narrow road while new guests hang out the windows wondering how the vehicle is clinging to the roadway.

Yay, more people!

As much as we like our own company, it’s been a while since we’ve shared a conversation with others and we’re looking forward to the interaction.

Making our way through the garden to the common area we meet our new friends for the next few days; two couples from France and a fellow from Denmark. We pass the evening learning about each others homes, travels, and future plans while enjoying a home cooked meal. Later on Noi builds a fire which we all eagerly gather around sharing travel stories and advice until sleep calls.

It is one of my favorite ways to spend an evening. It reminds me of our time at the Cave Lodge, another northern Thailand getaway reminiscent of early travel and adventure.There is definitely something to be said for unplugging from technology and reconnecting to each other.

We fall asleep that night to the sounds of jungle frogs and crickets; the cool mountain air a welcome relief from the heat we’ve been experiencing in Chiang Mai.

Bamboo Nest, Chiang Rai

The next day, following some lengthy lounge time on the patio, we manage a hike to the local waterfall. There are plenty of hikes in the area; many possible on your own or Noi can arrange a guide for single or multi day excursions. The hike is easy. Over cultivated hills and down into a valley before rising again along side the waterfall. Just enough activity to say we’ve done something to earn our beer but not entirely taxing.

Bamboo Nest, Chiang Rai

Bamboo Nest, Chiang Rai

The evening follows the same pattern as the previous. Our group is joined by two young English gap-year chaps; amused by their naivety while at the same time longing for some of it ourselves we again spend the evening chatting and laughing and enjoying each others company. Perfection.

Bidding good-bye early in the morning, we make our way back down the treacherous hill in the cool light. It’s been a tremendous retreat, a great way to reconnect with traveling and travellers, and a welcome respite from technology, but it’s time to head back.

There are a tremendous number of luxury resorts in Thailand but, if you want to get off the beaten track and really get away from it all then somewhere like the Bamboo Nest is perfect. If you’re in the area I recommend you stop by and spend a day or two reconnecting.


15 Apr

Monday Moment: Bus Stop In Northern Turkey

Northern Turkey

We were outside of the tourist bus routes while traveling in Northern Turkey so hopped on the commuter buses that run from town to town. Not only do these buses travel slower (and skip the mandatory tourist rest stops along the way) but they allowed us to see parts of the country we might not have otherwise.

I spotted this guy from inside our bus as we waited at a small depot for the bus to fill up with passengers before leaving. It’s one of my favorite photos.

11 Apr

The White Temple And Black House Of Chiang Rai, Thailand

Coming from a western world there is plenty of strange and unusual to be found here in Thailand without having to look too hard. There isn’t a day goes by without my head being turned by something or other. I try to learn, though, and can usually figure out some reasoning behind what it is I’m seeing.

Both the White Temple and the Black House in Chiang Rai defied all reasoning.

White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

The gleaming white exterior of the White Temple

Black House, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Gloomy exterior of the Black House

Although seemingly polar opposites of each other (even being located at opposite ends of the town!) they actually are quite similar.

The White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Hell’s Gate walkway to the White Temple.

Black House, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Surprisingly white out buildings at the Black House.

Black House, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Altar (?) within the white domes at the Black House.

White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Close up of Hell’s Gate at the White Temple

Mostly it’s a weirdness that just defies description. A seemingly macabre bent that sits strangely in these places billed as temples.

White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Standing guard at the White Temple

Black House, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Skulls, drums, and skins ‘decorate’ this building at the Black House.

White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

‘Welcome’ to the White Temple

Black House, Chiang Rai, Thailand

In the main hall of the Black House. Adorned with horns from I don’t know what, long stretches of snake skin, and creepy statues.

But also, a certain beauty.

White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Peaceful Buddha image at the White Temple.

Black House, Chiang Rai, Thailand

The sun pokes through a smoky haze at the Black House.




08 Apr

Monday Moment: Chumphon, Thailand

Chumphon, Thailand

To say we visited Chumphon would be an overstatement. We stopped in for one night in order to catch a ferry to Koh Phangnan the next day.

Just off the main strip of the town is a small river; a quiet getaway from the traffic in town. I spotted this small fishing boat as we crossed a bridge on our walk.

04 Apr

It Might Be Time To Get Married

I was 21 when I got married. I’m still not sure why. I think it was because that’s just what you did in my smallish home town. You graduated school, maybe took some college courses, got a crappy-but-okay job, and either met someone to marry, or married your high school sweetheart.

Check, check, check, and check.

It didn’t last and five years later I left him, and marriage, behind.

When I met Jason I already knew that I didn’t want to get married again. It’s not that I don’t believe in marriage; because I do. The idea of commitment and longevity, for better or worse, richer or poorer, are the cornerstones of our almost 15 year relationship. 

I just don’t believe in second marriages.

I did that thing. Where you stand up before friends and family, church and state, and vow that you will stay with someone forever.

And then I didn’t.

What would I say this time? Look deep into Jason’s eyes, who I really do adore more than anyone on earth, and tell him “I really, really, mean it this time!”.

Our commitment is to each other, with each other, and will be told over the course of time.

We don’t, however, live in a bubble. In fact, we no longer live in our home country where our ‘common-law’ status affords the same rights and freedoms as conventionally married couples (including, I’m proud to say, gay couples). And therein lies our current dilemma.

Jason’s job search is going well but most of the inquiries, opportunities, and conversations with potential employers have come from the Middle East region. Dubai, Qatar, United Arab Emirates. Countries, and cultures, that place a very high value on being married. As in, as a woman, you cannot be seen with a man who is not your relation unless you are married.

And so it might be time to get married.


I know. But if we want to live in the world then we have to play by its rules. We’re here to observe, and watch, and experience, not to change the world and make it conform to our ideals. Well, not these ideals anyway.

I mean, really? I love that I can live my life equally and freely with Jason in Canada but there are far larger issues to tackle in the world than whether two people should be able to shack up in the Middle East. Really.

Slow down though; don’t be sending a wedding gift just yet. The old playground tune may say ‘first comes love, then comes marriage but in our case it’s ‘first comes the job, then comes the wedding’.

We’re not planning the wedding just yet but we’re excited about what our future may hold; including maybe, just maybe, being married.


01 Apr

Monday Moment: The Berlin Wall, Germany

The Berlin Wall Today

The recent protests in Berlin this past week reminded me of my short time there. I found Berlin, and Germany, to be fascinating as they try to keep moving forward while trying to honor, and learn from, the past.

Perhaps a small misstep last week as part of what remains of the Berlin wall was torn down to make way for a residential complex. I wonder if some design feature couldn’t have been made of this historic piece? On the other hand must we continue to be drawn back? Is there enough memorial and should we instead be looking forward?

What do you think?