Natural Building – Making An Earth Bench

A few weeks ago, I was offered the opportunity to take a Natural Building course in exchange for assisting Lola and May with the course preparation. Being a building intern at the Panya Project, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about some of the materials and techniques that are used in natural building.

The first day was primarily in the classroom learning Natural Building Theory, including the advantages of building your own home out of earthen materials. In addition to being very low cost, being able to design your own home in a way that exists harmoniously with the surrounding ecosystem can be a fun and empowering experience!

After discussing reasons why a person might want to use natural building methods, we started talking about the logistics of building an earthen structure; starting with a recipe for mud building. The two most common forms of mud building are cob and adobe bricks. Cob is a mixture of mud and long fibers, like straw, that you wind around a structure to build and strengthen. It is used while wet. Adobe bricks are made of mud mixed with short fibers, such as rice husks or chopped straw, that you form into a brick shape. Once the bricks are dry, you use mud as a mortar to build structures with them. The mud mixture for both cob and adobe needs about 70% sand and 30% clay. As a practice, we walked around Panya taking samples of the subsoil from different areas to test how much clay is in different parts of the farm. This is especially important if you are trying to build your own house on a plot of land, because some parts of the land may have better soil for building than others.

That afternoon, we hopped in the mud pit. To create the mud mixture, we stomped in the mud to smooth out any lumps and made sure we had the correct mixture of sand, clay and water. Once we had it right, we added the rice husks and continued stomping to mix it all up. When it was finally ready, we filled up several wheel barrows full of mud and poured them into our brick molds, which look like ladders. You drench the ladder in water so that the mud doesn’t stick, then lay it on the ground. You then pour the mud into the spaces, make sure they are nice and even, then lift the ladder up. If the consistency is right, the mud stays on the ground in a perfect brick shape and can be left out in the sun for a few days to dry. Our mud bricks were successful and we made about 70!

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Stomping in the mud pit, mixing up our brick recipe.
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The bricks we made using just earth, water, and rice husks!

The next day, we started our design for an earth bench. We started off in the morning by discussing how to lay a foundation before heading out to the site to start the project. First, we laid out where the bench was going to go, sprinkling flour to ‘draw’ out the shape. We had to take into consideration that the foundation needs to be an extra 12 inches wider than the bench will be, on each side. This is so any water around the bench can drain into the ground instead of wicking up into the bench.

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This is the site where we built our bench. It’s at a crossroads in front of the dorms, so it’s a good place for a place to sit and hang out.

Once we had our design marked out, we started digging. The foundation for a house would need to be deeper, but for the bench, we dug down about 10 inches. Once we had the entire shape dug out, we tamped the earth down using our feet and homemade tampers, to make it stable and even out the surface.

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Digging the foundation.
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You can see where we marked out the shape with flour
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Using our feet and homemade tampers to make the foundation nice and solid.

The next step was filling the hole all the way up with gravel. After filling up several wheel barrows of gravel and pouring them into the foundation, we tamped the gravel down using the same technique as before. At this point, we realized that our bench was being built on a part of the land that was going to collect water, so we had to figure out a solution to avoid the bench getting flooded and risk water wicking up into the bench (which could cause mold, crumbling, and other issues.) Our solution was to dig a trench that lead from the bench foundation to a nearby tree. We dug the trench at a downward angle away from the bench so that the water would be redirected to the tree and plants growing around it. We then filled the trench with gravel and tamped it the same as the foundation. After it was tamped, we covered the trench in burlap sacks to keep dirt from clogging it up, then covered the sacks in dirt to conceal it.

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Digging out the trench to redirect any water collecting around the bench

While one group was digging the trench, the other group was starting to build the bench structure. The first layer was made of gravel bags-literally bags stuffed with gravel, then tamped down to make them flat. We put them down as close together as possible to create the first layer of our bench. Once the gravel bags were in place, we added two layers of earth bags, which are the same as gravel bags, but they are filled with soil. We also put a layer of barbed wire between each layer of bags to hold them together. We tamped down each layer to make them nice and flat before calling it a day.

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Laying out the shape of our bench with one layer of gravel bags and two layers of earth bags
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Celebrating after a hard day’s work on the beginnings of our earth bench

The next day we pretty much just jumped right back into working. We were almost ready to start laying bricks, but we first had to cover the earth bags with chicken wire, which gives the mud something to hold onto. Then we had to jump back in the mud pit to make mortar for our bricks. The mortar we used was the exact same mixture as the bricks we had made, we were just using it wet instead of making bricks out of it.

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Covering the earth bags in chicken wire to give the mud something to stick to
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A closeup of the chicken wire covering the earth bags
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Lola showing the class how to make cob

Once we had the backs wired and the mortar made, we started laying bricks. One of the great things about adobe bricks is that you can easily shape them. So in areas of the bench that we wanted rounded or cut in an unusual way, we could easily shave off parts of the bricks with a machete.

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The first layer of bricks!

We also had to start building the back rest of the bench, for which we decided to use cob. We built a frame in the shape we wanted out of bamboo and wired it to the chicken wire on the earth bags, then used cob to wind around the bamboo and build up into the back of our bench.

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More brick laying and beginning to build the back of the bench using bamboo
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Starting to clean up the shape of the bench

On day four, we were back in the classroom discussing Ecological Home Design, which consisted of a discussion about how to create a home that is part of the ecological system it exists in, using local and renewable resources, making it practical and functional, and the least damaging to the natural environment. We talked about the issues surrounding modern building techniques and how natural building techniques are a preferable solution. We also discussed methods of using the natural environment to your advantage by positioning your home in a way that makes use of the sun, using natural insulators, and taking advantage of prevailing winds, depending on what type of climate you are living in.

We then got back to work on the bench, finishing up any sculpting and shaping that needed to be done, and covering it with the first coat of plaster, which is known as the scratch coat. The scratch coat was the made of the exact same mixture as the mortar. Just sand, clay, water, and rice husks. We then watched a slideshow presentation of different types of earth homes all around the world, and took a tour of a neighboring farm called Pun Pun-another permaculture farm that is pretty famous around Thailand and a great example of functioning permaculture system.

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Finishing the scratch coat – the first layer of the plastering process
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More scratch coat – making sure all of the gaps are filled and the shape is really solid
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We even included some fancy cup holders with PVC pipes at the bottom to drain out any rainwater that collects
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The bench shape finished and ready to be plastered

The next day was all about plastering, and we actually had another plastering project to do in addition to the bench. One of the Panya houses was in need of re-plastering, and we decided that it would be great experience for the natural building students to try out.

For the house, we decided to use a lime plaster, which is just clay, sand, lime, and water. Lime is more water resistant than just earth plasters, but you have to use gloves when working with it because of the alkalinity. To create a nice smooth plaster, we sifted all of the ingredients before mixing them together and then adding water. The result was a beautiful, creamy plaster ready to be slapped on the walls. We put a tarp down on the floor and taped the edges of the windows to try to keep everything clean, though it’s fairly easy to scrape the plaster off of anything that it shouldn’t be on. We then wet down the wall before putting the plaster on to help it stick better. Once we had the walls coated, we used a wet sponge to smooth it out. We got all of the inside and some of the outside done in less than a day.

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Sifting the lime for the plaster – we needed to use face masks to avoid breathing it in
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Sifting the sand for the plaster
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Plastering the house

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The next day, we finished up the outside of the house and we also experimented with some different plasters to use for the bench. Each student got to make up their own recipe, then we voted on the one we liked best. We ended up picking a black plaster, and got to work making a whole bunch of it. This was an earth plaster (no lime) so we didn’t have to wear gloves while using it. Once we had it mixed up, we put the plaster on and had the whole bench covered in a matter of minutes!

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We tested out some different plaster recipes that we wanted to use on the bench.
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We ended up picking this nice black plaster
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Smoothing on the plaster

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And finished! (We did not have time to seal the bench during the course, but we ended up using a mixture of melted beeswax and linseed oil to seal the bench. It makes it very water resistant and fit for being outdoors.)

In celebration of the end of the course and all of our hard work, we ended the night with a huge dinner of roasted veggies in the earth oven (complete with our own homemade cheese!) and some beers around the fire.

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Joe getting excited about the feast
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Everyone cooking together in the kitchen for the last night of the course

The course was really inspiring for me. Not only did we create an earth bench and plaster an entire house in only a few days time, but all of the techniques we learned about in the classroom got me really excited to try new methods of building as well. It was really empowering to see a small group of people work together to create something so beautiful and helped me realize what I am capable of accomplishing. We’ve got some more exciting projects coming up at Panya that I can’t wait to share!

Until next time!

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Living at the Panya Project – What’s What?

We’ve been living at Panya for about a month now, so we figured it was past time for an update!  When we first got here, we set up camp in the dorms.  There are two housing buildings right next to each other when you first arrive at Panya.  They each have rows of dorm beds on the top floor and private rooms on the ground level.  For the most part, people that are staying for Panya for a short time stay in the dorms, and long-termers stay in the private rooms.  Since all of the private rooms were taken when we arrived, we were temporarily put in the dorms.

The dorm buildings
The dorm buildings
The upper level of one of the housing buildings.  There are about 8 mattresses in each, with a mosquito net.
The upper level of one of the housing buildings. There are about 8 mattresses in each, with a mosquito net.
We pushed two of the mattresses together to make this luxurious set up when we first arrived.
We pushed two of the mattresses together to make this luxurious set up when we first arrived.

The first few days were mostly spent getting to know our surroundings and the people we were going to be living in the community with.  Right now, there are 3 people that are currently sort of ‘running things’ that have been living at Panya for several years.  Their names are Ben, Kyle, and Lola and they have been living here for several years teaching courses and maintaining the farm.  Kyle and Lola also have a 4 month old baby girl and have just finished building a new house for the 3 of them! We happened to arrive at a time where a bunch of long term volunteers were leaving so it was a little chaotic with all of the comings and goings.  We have now gotten used to the routine of things and it’s feeling a lot more like ‘home.’ Currently, there are 4 interns (Joe and I, included) in addition to the course instructors.  Sometimes there are more and sometimes less, it just depends on when volunteers come.

We got our own room about a week after we arrived.  It's on the bottom level of one of the housing buildings and the biggest private room.  (We got dibs because there's two of us.)  Again, we pushed two mattresses together to make a bigger bed - and they're not even on the floor!
We got our own room about a week after we arrived. It’s on the bottom level of one of the housing buildings and the biggest private room. (We got dibs because there’s two of us.) Again, we pushed two mattresses together to make a bigger bed – and they’re not even on the floor!
More of our room.  There's some shelving, art on the walls, and colorful plaster work
More of our room. There’s some shelving, art on the walls, and colorful plaster work
The other side of our room.  The orange sheet on the right serves as our door.  The one on the left is a window.
The other side of our room. The orange sheet on the right serves as our door. The one on the left is a window.
This is what our room looks like from the outside.
This is what our room looks like from the outside.

Two and a half weeks ago marked the beginning of a Permaculture Design Course, the first course that we have been present for.  For the most part, the interns and volunteers continue going about their projects during the course, but we are also allowed to sit in on some of the lectures.  There are around 10 students that have come for the course, so we have had to adjust our routine to having all the extra bodies around!

This is the main structure on the farm, the Sala.
This is the main structure on the farm, the Sala.
It contains the classroom, the kitchen, the dining room, and the library
It contains the classroom, the kitchen, the dining room, and the library
Here is the Sala, coming from the dorms.
Here is the Sala, coming from the dorms.
This is the classroom, which is really only used when a course is in session
This is the classroom, which is really only used when a course is in session
This is the library, which is on the second floor above the dining area.  There are a ton of books up there and some old couches.
This is the library, which is on the second floor above the dining area. There are a ton of books up there and some old couches.
This is a little balcony that sits over the classroom.  It's a good spot to sit during classes (to watch without disrupting.)
This is a little balcony that sits over the classroom. It’s a good spot to sit during classes (to watch without disrupting) or just to hang out.

When a course is not in session, the residents of Panya are divided into four groups: Dinner, Lunch, Potwash, and Tidy.  The chores rotate each day so that everyone is either cooking for the group or cleaning up.  We try to use a lot of food from our garden and supplement it with foods from the market.  It is always a vegetarian diet and usually vegan.  We eat a lot of rice, as well.  During a course though, a local woman and friend of the farm cooks lunch and dinner for all of the students and residents.  That has been fantastic because not only do we not have to cook, she makes amazing food!

This is the kitchen, equipped with a refrigerator, a sink, and three gas stoves.
This is the kitchen, equipped with a refrigerator, a sink, and three gas stoves.
Work Team chores.  We rotate the wheel each day so that everyone contributes.
Work Team chores. We rotate the wheel each day so that everyone contributes.
This is the dining area (with the kitchen behind it) where we eat pretty much every meal as a community.
This is the dining area (with the kitchen behind it) where we eat pretty much every meal as a community.
These are the wood fire ovens
These are the wood fire ovens
Here are all of the big pots and woks.  Beyond those is the washing station where we have large bowls of water to wash our dishes.  This cuts down on water waste.
Here are all of the big pots and woks. Beyond those is the washing station where we have large bowls of water to wash our dishes. This cuts down on water waste.
The fire pit, right outside the dining area
The fire pit, right outside the dining area

There are lots of creepy crawlies at Panya, including cobras, scorpions, and centipedes.  There are also lots of tiny flies that buzz around your ankles 24/7.  Oh, and mosquitoes as well.  It was a bit annoying at first, but we’ve come to ignore it.  We have seen 2 scorpions and a few snakes.  The red centipedes can supposedly get really large but we’ve only seen little ones.  Apparently the centipedes are the most painful out of everything you can get stung/bitten by, but the only thing you might need to seek medical attention for is a cobra bite.  Last week, a yellow jacket (or some kind of formidable-looking, yellow and black stinging insect) got inside our mosquito net and stung me on the wrist.  That’s been the only sting so far…but there have been lots of red ant bites.  We have a lot of those as well.  Oh, and termites.  One night, there were so many flying termites buzzing around the lights in the kitchen, you could barely see across the room.  There are also lots of beetles that fly around at night time.  Some of them are literally 3 inches long and really fat.  The geckos will hang out on the ceiling and catch them as they fly by, which can be quite entertaining.

Here is the biggest snake we have seen.  Nobody was sure what kind of snake it was or whether it was dangerous, but it has been seen a few times around the site.
Here is the biggest snake we have seen. Nobody was sure what kind of snake it was or whether it was dangerous, but it has been seen a few times around the site.
Here is one of the garden areas right next to the kitchen.  There's a lot of food growing there like carrots, New Zealand spinach, tomatoes, etc.  We harvest a lot of salads from this garden.
Here is one of the garden areas right next to the kitchen. There’s a lot of food growing there like carrots, New Zealand spinach, tomatoes, kale, etc. We harvest a lot of salads from this garden.
This is the nursery, a few yards away from the kitchen.
This is the nursery, a few yards away from the kitchen.
There are lots of young plants that have been propagated and are living here until they are strong enough to be planted elsewhere.
There are lots of young plants that have been propagated and are living here until they are strong enough to be planted elsewhere.
The plants on the floor there are seedlings from a Jamaican cherry tree.
The plants on the floor there are seedlings from a Jamaican cherry tree.
More nursery plants
More nursery plants
This is the workshop which houses all of the tools and materials used for all kinds of projects.
This is the workshop which houses all of the tools and materials, used for all kinds of projects.
We are working on organizing it...
We are working on organizing it…
This is a chicken tractor in the process of being built.
This is a chicken tractor in the process of being built.

There are two compost toilet facilities on site.  One behind the dorms, and a large one across the road from the workshop.  The one behind the dorms only has one toilet.  The one near the workshop has four, but only two are used at a time, to let the other two have time to compost.  There are also two male showers and two female showers next to the compost toilet.  All of the soaps we use (for dish washing, personal hygiene, etc.) are natural and organic so that the water can be used to hydrate the gardens.

The big compost toilet building near the workshop
The big compost toilet building near the workshop
The four 'stalls'
The four ‘stalls’
The inside of one of the stalls.  Rustic, you could say, but it should be noted that these are a lot nicer and cleaner than many, if not all, public restrooms in Southeast Asia that we have encountered.  There is very little to no odor, thanks to the use of rice husks.
The inside of one of the stalls. Rustic, you could say, but it should be noted that these are a lot nicer and cleaner than many, if not all, public restrooms in Southeast Asia that we have encountered. There is very little to no odor, thanks to the use of rice husks.
The women's showers.  We have solar heated water, but it's so sweltering that I don't think anyone uses it!
The women’s showers. We have solar heated water, but it’s so sweltering that I don’t think anyone uses it!

Although the farm can feel remote, we are only a 30 minute walk from the village where we can access wifi at a local internet cafe.  And Chiang Mai is only about an hour away.  There is a truck and a motorbike we can use to get to the market as well.  There are also two reservoirs near by, a waterfall, and a canal.  We go to the big reservoir to swim a lot, which is nice with it being so hot right now.  Mostly, we have really enjoyed being disconnected and spending our days surrounded by natural beauty.

The pig pen
The pig pen
Apparently a former resident was into raising his own livestock to eat, but when he left, no one else was interested in doing that, so they are just kept as members of the community and ecosystem.  They also eat a lot of our food waste, like watermelon rinds.
Apparently a former resident was into raising his own livestock to eat, but when he left, no one else was interested in doing that, so these are just kept as members of the community and ecosystem. They also eat a lot of our food waste, like watermelon rinds.
Here is one of the houses on the property, called the Elephant House.
Here is one of the houses on the property, called the Elephant House.  All of the structures are made using natural building techniques like cob and adobe bricks.
Another house
Another house, further along the road.
This is just one of the views from the farm.  It's really beautiful!
This is just one of the stunning views from the farm. It really is a beautiful spot.
Even though it's hot, we have a pretty good amount of shade from the jungle trees and plants.
Even though it’s hot, we have a pretty good amount of shade from the jungle trees and plants.

Now that we have spent a month helping out with other people’s projects and listening in on the Permaculture Design Course, it’s about time for us to decide what areas of the farm we want to focus on.  I will be focusing on natural building and Joe is thinking about working on the food forest.  We don’t have specific projects in mind, yet but we think those will be our areas of specialization for the remainder of our time at Panya.  We have some idea we’ve been kicking around…hopefully we’ll have some cool stuff to share in a month or so.

A layout of the property.
A layout of the property.

We’ve been having a blast at Panya.  The last month has absolutely flown by, and we’re looking forward to two more months of cracking down and starting some projects.  We’re only a third of the way through, but can already tell it’s going to be tough when it comes time to leave.  We are very grateful to be able to do what we are doing! Thanks for following, we’ll be in touch soon! 🙂

Goodbye For Now – A Few Last Words

First off, we just wanted to give a big thanks to each and every one of YOU who have been supporting and following us through this journey and all of our adventures these last 3.5 months in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.  It means a lot to know that you care enough to keep up with where we are and what we are doing.  THANK YOU!

Here's some cool stats info from our blog.  2,000 views!
Here’s some cool stats info from our blog. 2,000 views!

An especially enormous thank you to our families who have supported us in many more ways than one, who have given us endless words of encouragement and motivation, and have had a never-ending supply of patience with us and our not-so-traditional ways of living.  We love you, and your support means everything!  We would not be where we are if not for your tremendous love and generosity.

Starting April 17th, we will be joining an intentional community and permaculture farm called the Panya Project, located about two hours outside of Chiang Mai.  We will be focusing on sustainable living and existing in tune with the natural world, and will thus have very limited access to WiFi for awhile. You can read more about the project here.  We may continue writing blog posts about our experiences at the farm depending on internet access, but they will be fewer than those we have been posting while traveling.

Our goal is to spend the next 3 months at Panya, but we will be returning to Ohio in late July for a wedding! Yay!

We do not have solidified plans for what we will be doing in August and onward, but we do have loose plans to go abroad again, if finances allow, so we very much look forward to seeing our family and friends while we are home for a few weeks in July/August.

Once again, thank you everyone, for keeping up with us and we hope everyone is having an incredible summer!!

So much love,

Nicole and Jojo

P.S. Here’s a little recap of the last 3.5 months.  Time sure does fly. 🙂

Boating along the Mekong River
Boating along the Mekong River
Hiking along the Fairy Stream in Mui Ne, Vietnam
Hiking along the Fairy Stream in Mui Ne, Vietnam
Exploring Elephant Falls in Da Lat, Vietnam
Exploring Elephant Falls in Da Lat, Vietnam
Taking a mud bath in Nha Trang
Taking a mud bath in Nha Trang, Vietnam
Taking a sleeper bus in Vietnam
Taking a sleeper bus in Vietnam
Motorbiking to My Son Temple, Vietnam
Motorbiking to My Son Temple, Vietnam
Watching Ohio State with the Championships in Hoi An
Watching Ohio State with the Championships in Hoi An, Vietnam
Kayaking on Halong Bay
Kayaking on Halong Bay, Vietnam
Trekking to our homestay in Sapa, Vietnam
Trekking to our homestay in Sapa, Vietnam
Messing around with our little buddy in Hanoi, Vietnam
Messing around with our little buddy in Hanoi, Vietnam
Visiting L'Arc de Triomphe in Vientiane, Laos.
Visiting L’Arc de Triomphe in Vientiane, Laos.
Being silly at Buddha Park in Laos
Being silly at Buddha Park in Laos
Tubing (and boozing) down the river in Vang Vieng, Laos
Tubing (and boozing) down the river in Vang Vieng, Laos
A little fire limbo in Vang Vieng, Laos
A little fire limbo in Vang Vieng, Laos
Taking a boat to the Pak Ou Caves from Luang Prabang, Laos
Taking a boat to the Pak Ou Caves from Luang Prabang, Laos
At the top of the world in Nong Khiaw, Laos
At the top of the world in Nong Khiaw, Laos
Sky view of Nong Khiaw, Laos
Sky view of Nong Khiaw, Laos
Biking around Don Det, 4,000 Islands, Laos
Biking around Don Det, 4,000 Islands, Laos
Building an epic sand temple on Koh Rong, Cambodia
Building an epic sand temple in Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Paradise on a deserted beach on Koh Rong, Cambodia
Paradise on a deserted beach on Koh Rong, Cambodia
Hammock hang times on Koh Rong, Cambodia
Hammock hang times on Koh Rong, Cambodia
Holding baby crocodiles in Battambang, Cambodia
Holding baby crocodiles in Battambang, Cambodia
Taking a wild ride on the bamboo train in Battambang, Cambodia
Taking a wild ride on the bamboo train in Battambang, Cambodia
Visiting the famous Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Visiting the famous Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Overgrowth in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Overgrowth in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Visiting Angkor Wat at sunrise in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Visiting Angkor Wat at sunrise in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Scuba diving in Koh Tao, Thailand
Scuba diving in Koh Tao, Thailand
Beach time in Koh Phangan, Thailand
Beach time in Koh Phangan, Thailand
Enjoying a Chang Beer on the beach on Koh Phangan, Thailand
Enjoying a Chang Beer on the beach on Koh Phangan, Thailand
Hanging out in the hammocks of our bungalow overlooking the bay on Koh Phangan
Hanging out in the hammocks of our bungalow overlooking the bay on Koh Phangan, Thailand
Visiting the National Park in Koh Lanta, Thailand
Visiting the National Park in Koh Lanta, Thailand
Overlooking the bay on Koh Lanta, Thailand
Overlooking the bay on Koh Lanta, Thailand
Enjoying the beautiful Ton Sai Beach, Thailand
Enjoying the beautiful Ton Sai Beach, Thailand
Getting tattooed by a monk at Wat Bang Phra, Thailand
Getting tattooed by a monk at Wat Bang Phra, Thailand
Visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand
Visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand
Hiking around Pai Canyon, Thailand
Hiking around Pai Canyon, Thailand
A beautiful sunset in Pai, Thailand
A beautiful sunset in Pai, Thailand
Eating fried cicadas in Pai, Thailand
Eating fried cicadas in Pai, Thailand
Playing with elephants at Elephant Nature Park, Thailand
Playing with elephants at Elephant Nature Park, Thailand
Playing with elephants in Elephant Nature Park, Thailand
Playing with elephants in Elephant Nature Park, Thailand
Celebrating the Thai New Year and participating in the world's largest water fight: Songkran, in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Celebrating the Thai New Year and participating in the world’s largest water fight: Songkran, in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Celebrating the Thai New Year and participating in the world's largest water fight: Songkran, in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Celebrating the Thai New Year and participating in the world’s largest water fight: Songkran, in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Tears. 🙂

Onto the next chapter!

Celebrating Songkran – The Thai New Year and World’s Biggest Water Fight!

Our first taste of Songkran was actually up in Pai.  We were walking down the street as per usual, when a grown man appeared out of no where and tossed a bucket of water at us as we passed his restaurant!  ‘Officially,’ Songkran is celebrated April 13-15th for the Thai New Year, but many people start throwing water several days early and several days after the festival has ended.

The tradition of Songkran began by sprinkling water on family members as a symbol of cleansing and purification, in celebration of the new year.  Today, it has evolved into a full-on, country-wide water fight with buckets, water guns, and lot and lots of drinking.

There are pretty much no exceptions regarding who you are allowed to throw water on.  Kids are doing it, old people are doing it, everyone is doing it!  Supposedly if you hold your hand out, people are supposed to respect your disinclination to be pelted, by just sprinkling a little bit of water on your hand, but we saw countless people attempt this maneuver and get drenched anyway.  There were people that looked like they had just arrived in Chiang Mai and were carrying their giant backpacks around with them, pour souls.

The first official day of Songkran was the day we went to the elephant park.  As we were returning to Chiang Mai after visiting the elephants, it took us nearly an hour just to get into the city and to our hotel.  The traffic was insane and there were people absolutely everywhere.  We were too exhausted from playing with elephants all day to partake in the excitement and decided we would participate the next day.  We did get drenched just walking into our hotel, though!  There is no escaping it!

The second day we went out to the main road near our hotel in mid afternoon when the festivities were in full force.  We got soaked within 5 minutes of being outside our hotel.  Sometimes we would get squirted with a gun and look around, only to find that a business man (in a suit!) was shooting at us from inside his office.  Sometimes the servers at a restaurant would throw buckets at passerbys when they had a break between tables.  Lots of people drive around in the back of pickup trucks with huge barrels of water (full of ice!!) and dump buckets on people as they drive by.  It is absolute insanity.

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People on the street ready to destroy the next tuk tuk!
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Lots of cars driving around with a few more passengers than usual…

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Our street really enjoyed shooting people riding by in tuk tuks.  Sometimes the tuk tuk driver would intentionally slow down or even stop so that the people could drench his passengers!  Tourists and locals alike were ganging up on them and forming alliances to fight epic water battles from opposite sides of the streets.  Ya know, even with oncoming traffic in both directions.  (The death toll is pretty high during Songkran.)

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These guys had a big barrel of water in the truck that they were using to splash us!

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The third day and last day of Songkran was the day we really decided to turn out and do it right.  We had our water guns (and a bottle of booze) and headed out to the canals where things were really crazy.  People use the canal water to fill up their buckets and water guns.  Yes, it is disgusting; but we’ve also jumped in Mirror Lake at Ohio State…so it’s fine.  We were surrounded by screaming people pelting each other with ice water, and stages thumping loud house music with soaking wet Thai people raging their faces off.

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A bunch of young Thais gathered around a thumping stage. The guys on the stage were shooting everyone in the crowd with hoses.
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Filling up our water guns in the canal
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This guy just got right in to fill his up. Some people were just straight up swimming in it.

We were soaked the minute we stepped out of our hotel, but it was the people driving around with buckets of ice water that really got us!  You never get used to it.  To be fair though, April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand, and we weren’t feeling it, being soaked in ice water all day!  It was a nice relief, though a bit shocking!

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We moved on from the canal after a while and stumbled on a parade going through town.  There were lots of different groups and some of them were dancing and playing traditional music while people threw water on them!

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We ended up in a group fight with a bunch of other backpackers for a while.  Some hotels/restaurants would have a big barrel out front for people to fill up their guns so there would always be a congregation of people surrounding them.  It seemed like people were pretty generous about sharing water, but you had to ‘pay the toll’ of being pelted by all the people standing around it in order to get any!

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After that, we ended up on the main road near our hotel again where things got just a little out of hand.  Joe jumped on (and fell off) a moving tuk tuk in order to drench the passengers inside.  Meanwhile, I had teamed up with a 4 year old Thai boy and we were sneaking up on people and shooting them from two sides at once.  At one point the owner of the restaurant we were in front of started telling people they couldn’t use any more of his water because they were not ‘friends.’  But for some reason he continued letting us use it!  I think he appreciated us keeping his child entertained for several hours!

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Even motorbikes aren’t safe!

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By about 7pm we were absolutely exhausted (and quite drunk) and ended up calling it a very early night!  We woke up the next day sore and scraped, but it was most definitely worth it!  It was a pretty unique New Year’s celebration and one of the wildest parties in the world!  We were glad we were in town for the celebration and grateful for the opportunity to participate.

HAPPY SONGKRAN!! 🙂

Playing with Elephants in Chiang Mai!

After several days relaxing in Pai, it was time to make the treacherous journey back down to Chiang Mai.  The ride was just as nauseating as the first time, but soon enough we were being dropped off at our hotel.  We booked a room in advance because we were going to arrive the day before Songkran, the biggest water fight in the world, being a three day celebration of the Thai New Year.

It also happened to be a Sunday, which meant we got to check out the Sunday Market in the center of town.  It was full of the usual clothing and handicraft vendors along with street artists and exotic treats.  It was also incredibly packed because so many people were in town for Songkran.  Chiang Mai is a major destination to celebrate Songkran so the city gets packed with both Thai and foreign tourists.  It was a little chaotic!

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Chiang Mai’s Sunday Market
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Lots of artists were posted up along the streets.
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It was very crowded!

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The next day we had made reservations for one of the activities we had been looking forward to for months: playing with elephants!

We were picked up at 8:30am by a van that would take us the one hour ride to Elephant Nature Park, a rescue and rehabilitation center, known for its ethical treatment of elephants and ambition to spread awareness of the plight of the Asian elephant.  During the ride, we got to view a National Geographic documentary on the treatment of elephants in most Thai elephant camps.  It showed video documentation of the horrific breaking process called “Phajaan,” where a baby elephant is ripped away from its mother and put in a tiny “cage” that it barely fits into, completely restricting all movement.  Then, it is stabbed and beaten with nails, chains, and bullhooks to “teach the elephant who is boss.”  This is an ancient process used often in Thailand, and is considered to be the only way to domesticate an elephant for riding and working purposes.

Basically, the video explained that a major reason this process is still being used, is because there is a huge tourist demand for riding elephants.  People can make money off of domesticating elephants to be ridden, so this process is being perpetuated by the thousands of tourists that come to Thailand to ride elephants each year.  There are some camps that claim to offer ‘ethical’ elephant rides by only making the elephants work for a few hours a day, and limiting the weight on each elephant, but that doesn’t stop people from wanting to cash in on the elephant riding business, and thus continue using the Phajaan process.

But, doesn’t the idea of sitting on top of an elephant and trekking through the jungle sound awesome??  We thought it did, but we were glad that we did the research beforehand on the ugly side of this popular activity.  Elephant Nature Park is unusual because it does not offer any elephant rides.  Most of the elephants in the park have been rescued from such places and are now allowed to roam the park, have immediate access to veterinary care, and interact with guests in a much more ethical/humane way.  After doing a lot of research beforehand on the treatment of elephants, this is why we chose to go to Elephant Nature Park instead of any of the other elephant camps.

Once we arrived at the park, we were briefed by our guide on what we would be doing and how to safely interact with the elephants.  We were told that some of the elephants in the park still suffer from mental issues because of the abuse they experienced in the past, so we should only approach elephants that our guide indicated were friendly.  It’s also important to approach them from the front if you want to pet them, because they can’t see you if you’re standing behind, and they will kick!

The first thing we got to do was feed the elephants.  This part we had to do from behind a fence on a large platform to protect us from their trunks.  They bob their heads up and down a lot when they’re being fed and the force could knock you over!  They knew what we were coming over to do and started reaching their trunks out to us before we even had anything to give them.

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An elephant named ‘Lucky,’ begging for food!
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Several of them were waiting for us to feed them.

Our guide brought us a big laundry basket full of corn and watermelons to give to the elephants.  We held it out to them in our hand and they would use the ‘finger’ on the end of their trunks to grab it and place it in their mouths.  Sometimes they would get a piece they didn’t like for some reason and would just drop it on the ground after grabbing it, then reach out for a new piece!

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This is Lucky again. She used to work in a circus, but was blinded by spotlights and rescued by ENP.
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She had a very happy disposition and even though she couldn’t see, we called her name when we had food to give her and she followed our voices.
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Joe feeding Lucky
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As soon as she shoved a piece of watermelon or corn in her mouth she was ready for the next one!

After feeding them for a while, we walked down the steps to walk around the park.  We followed our guide to a group of three elephants that we were allowed to approach and pet.  The oldest of the three was 75 years old!  They were all very sweet and gentle.

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After hanging out with those three for a while, our guide beckoned us to follow her again to meet another elephant.  This one was hanging out alone near the Medicine Room.  Our guide told us that she is very paranoid of other elephants and will run away if they get too close to her.  She also had a hole in her ear, a scar from her abusive past in the illegal logging industry.  Now she wears a flower earring in it!

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Our guide called for us to move on again and we walked across the park to a group of three ladies snacking on more corn and watermelon.  One of them, whose name is Medo, was one of the most touching and heart wrenching elephants to meet.  Medo was also employed in the logging industry, until she was injured by a log that broke her ankle.  Because of her injury, she was no longer able to work in the logging industry, so she was was forced to breed instead.  She was chained and savagely attacked by a huge bull in musth (an aggressive period caused by hormones) that left her with a dislocated backbone.

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Medo has a hard time walking because of her injuries and they are never going to get better.

Luckily she was rescued and though her injuries will never properly heal, she now lives a life free of abuse and has even made some close friends despite being isolated for much of her life.

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…but Medo lives a much better life now that she has been rescued.

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After that it was time for lunch, which was a surprisingly delicious buffet of all kinds of curries, meats, veggies, and noodles.  Definitely better than what we had expected, especially since it was a buffet.  Our guide told us that after lunch we would get to meet some baby elephants!

Our guide led us across the park again where we found a group four adult females and a 1.5 year old baby named Yindee. He was closely followed by his mother Mintra, and his nannies, Mae Jampaa, Malai Tong and Jarunee.

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Baby Yindee

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We watched them interact for a while and then followed them down to the river where they proceeded to take a bath, rolling around and splashing in the water.  Yindee was being particularly playful and even trying to climb on top of the adults.  Sometimes he would go underwater for minutes at a time and all we could see was his little trunk sticking out above the surface.

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Yindee didn’t want to get in the water at first, and waited until all of his nannies got in the river.
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One of Yindee’s nannies rolling around in the water
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Yindee playing in the water with his nannies.

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It was hard to discern what exactly had happened but at some point they all started trumpeting at each other and we were hastily told to back away as the elephants came out of the water.  Some of them started making really loud growling noises that sort of sounded like tigers or lions, and it got a little bit intense.  We asked our guide what was happening and she said it was because of the baby (there was a little bit of a language barrier.)  It looked like they were being protective and once they were out of the water, the adults surrounded the baby so he could hardly be seen.

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The elephants started getting anxious for some reason and formed a barricade around Yindee.
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They all got out of the water together and stood like this for a while before they calmed down.

Somehow, whatever they were concerned about passed and they started throwing dirt on their backs which was really adorable.  Our guide said they use it as ‘sunscreen.’

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Throwing dirt on their backs to protect them from the sun

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Next, we walked to a different part of the river and got to give an elephant a bath!  We were given buckets to throw water on her back.  It was blazing hot and she looked like she was in heaven.

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Giving our elephant a bath in the river
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Look at that face!

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After playing in the river, we walked back to the platform to meet “the big family.”  The family consists of a 2.5 year old elephant named Nevann and his nannies, one of whom is named Kham Pan, an elephant rescued from a trekking camp.  Apparently she was given to the park after she collapsed under the weight of tourists going for a ride, and was too old to continue.  After receiving higher quality treatment at the park, she regained a lot of her energy and became a little unruly.  For some reason, when Navann was born, she developed an infatuation with the baby elephant and hasn’t left his side since.  They call her “Super Nanny.”

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Baby Nevann

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It was really intimidating being surrounded by this huge family.  One of them almost accidentally crushed us against a wall, when she was rubbing up against a post to relieve an itch!  It was fun to watch Nevann running around causing mischief.

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One of his nannies was especially huge!
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This is the one that almost crushed us! We got away just in time.

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The last baby we met was Khun Dej, a rescued orphan boy whose foot was damaged in a poacher’s trap.  He was enjoying himself, snacking with his nannies.

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Orphan baby Khun Dej having a snack with his nannies

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You can see how his front left foot is enlarged, due to an injury from a poacher’s trap

After that, it was time to say goodbye and head back to Chiang Mai.  We fell asleep on the van almost immediately after a long day visiting with the elephants.  We capped the night with a bottle of wine and the new episode of Game of Thrones.

Our visit to Elephant Nature Park was absolutely incredible and most definitely a highlight of our journeys.  Being able to interact with the elephants so intimately (and ethically) was a really amazing opportunity for which we are very grateful.  Very glad that such a wonderful operation exists and that we were able to help support their cause.

Breakfast: 95b ($2.93)

Elephant Nature Park Single Day Visit (x2): 5,000b ($154.19)

Iced Thai Tea: 40b ($1.23)

Soda: 20b ($0.62)

Gatorade: 30b ($0.93)

Dinner: 470b ($14.49)

Wine: 299b ($9.22)

Chips/Beer: 100b ($3.08)

Accommodation: 400b ($12.33)

Total Spent: 6,454THB ($199.02)

Pai – Hippies, Canyons, and Street Food

After a few days in Chiang Rai, we wanted to visit Pai, a small town in Northwest Thailand.  Unfortunately there is no direct bus from Chiang Rai, so to get there, we had to first travel back down to Chiang Mai and then up again to Pai.

First we had to get a tuk tuk to the Chiang Rai bus station, where we were pointed toward a booth to buy a ticket to Chiang Mai.  The bus to Chiang Mai was pretty uneventful and took about 3 or 4 hours.  Once we got there, we had to figure out where to buy a ticket for Pai.  We asked the woman sitting at the kiosk thing and she pointed us to another bus station “bus station 2” that was right next to the one we were in.  Once we found the right place, we bought our tickets and had to wait about half an hour for the van to leave.

The van to Pai bordered on agonizing.  The trip is famed for its 762 curves, some of which are vomit-inducing hairpins, and the driver was persistent on maintaining a ludicrous speed the entire way.  To top it off, we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so we were in an unpleasant state of hungry yet nauseous…

It took another 3-4 hours to finally get to Pai, but it was definitely worth the trip!  We found a cheap room right on the main street right away, just as the sun was going down.

Pai is known for being a “hippie town” and very tourism-oriented, but picturesque and laid back.

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Cute little town of Pai

We spent four relaxing days in Pai enjoying the superb scenery, drinking smoothies and kombucha at all the different cafes, enjoying some of the best Thai food we’d had in the entire country, and having a few drinks at the various bars around town that had live musicians every night.

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There were lots of street vendors every night selling food and clothing.
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Couldn’t resist a photo of this little guy
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Iced chai masala, yum!
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Street art in Pai
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Sitting at a bar on the main strip, enjoying a beer and people watching
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More street art

The last day was probably our favorite.  We let ourselves sleep in past breakfast and got brunch at a place called Ohm Garden Cafe which was delicious, then hung out at our bungalow for a few hours before heading to Pai Canyon to see the sunset.

We took a roundtrip tuk tuk for 100 baht each and got there about 30-40 minutes before the sun went down.  We explored the area and climbed around the rocks.  The view was breathtaking!  (Though some call it the “Thai’s response to the Grand Canyon” which is really reaching.)

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The sunset was amazing and it was the perfect way to spend our last day in Pai.

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When we got back and were trying to decide where to eat for dinner, Joe had the idea that we sample a whole bunch of street food instead of going to a restaurant.  It ended up being a great idea!

We started out with sushi that was only 5-10 baht per piece!  Then Joe tried a couple of different sausages on a stick.

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Next, Joe finally made good on his promise to try a fried insect while in Thailand.  His choice was cicadas, but the woman threw in a couple of meal worms as a bonus.  He said the locusts were crunchy like potato chips and he actually ate a couple of them until he got one that was a little underdone and described it as being “meaty.”  He did not eat any more after that.

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To take his mind off of the chewy insect carcass he had just ingested, we tried some homemade beef jerky which was pretty good.  They even warmed it up over a fire for us.

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Lastly we got a piece of BBQ chicken which was pretty good but it was weirdly salty…kind of like ham.

We finished our street food tour with a warm Soy Chai Masala.

After that, we decided to head over to a bar called Edible Jazz (where we had spent the last two nights as well…really liked it there) where we sat on pillows on a bamboo platform and watched the live band they had that night.

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After a couple of drinks, we stopped for one last snack at a “Grandma’s Pancakes.” Where an older Thai woman made us the most artistic silver dollar pancakes stuffed with bananas and drizzled in chocolate.  They were only 40 baht for 10!

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We had a few debates about Pai and whether or not it we liked it.  Pai is undeniably a fun place to be, but it’s not exactly ‘authentic’ or ‘traditional.’  It didn’t really feel like being in a foreign or exotic country and sometimes it felt like there were more tourists than Thais there.  It could have been a town in California or something.  That doesn’t mean it wasn’t cool or enjoyable, just not exactly what you picture when you think of visiting Thailand.  We agreed it was still a place well worth visiting, though.  The vibe was nice and it was a great little vacation from vacation!

White Temple/Black House – Contemporary Architecture in Chiang Rai

After a long, long (~16 hour) overnight journey from Bangkok, we arrived in Chiang Rai, a largeish city in the very nothern most part of Thailand, at about 8am.  Luckily, we had looked up a place to stay and knew where to tell the tuk tuk driver to take us.

Our hotel’s name was Chat House, where we scored a double bed with a fan and private bathroom for only 250Baht, about half the price of our accommodations in the Thai islands.  It also had an attached restaurant in a romantic garden setting.  We liked the north already!

Despite our desperate desire to just collapse in bed and crash, we decided to take advantage of the day and go see one of Chiang Rai’s most famed attractions, Wat Rong Khun, also known as ‘The White Temple.’  We wandered out of our hotel and down the road until we were able to flag down a tuk tuk.  We told him where we wanted to go, and we agreed on 300Baht roundtrip, including wait time at the temple.

The White Temple is a Buddhist temple-styled art exhibit that is owned, designed, and constructed by Chalermchai Kositpipat.  He opened the temple to visitors in 1997 and has devoted his entire life to its construction, to this day.  In fact, the total construction of the White Temple is expected to take 90 years to complete!

It was clear upon arrival that this was no ordinary temple.  Even the traffic cones leading up to the entrance were a bit strange…

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Traffic cones in front of the White Temple

The main structure is called the Ubosot.  It is an all white building trimmed in tiny mirrors, styled in the likeness of traditional Thai architecture.  The building glitters at every angle – it’s pretty magical, and definitely the most unique temple we’ve seen, yet.

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The White Temple!
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Just posing with Chalermchai Kositpipat.

When we arrived, the main temple was closed for lunch, but it was going to reopen in about 20 minutes so we used that time to walk around the grounds.  The first structure we came upon was a sort of demonic shrine with a bottle of whiskey in the center.  Every detail of the temple seemed to be carry religious symbolism, and the grounds around the temple seemed to symbolize the wordly distractions holding us back from what is truly important.  This wasn’t the only anti-alcohol symbol on the grounds, but it was a very intense one!

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A sculpture depicting fiery demons around a bottle of whiskey
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And…Predator emerging out of the ground?
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Is Predator worshipping the whiskey? Did he drink too much whiskey and is now being sucked into Hell? Does drinking whiskey conjur Predator to appear out of the Earth?  ….?

We kept walking further on and came to a line of trees with ghost-like heads hanging from the limbs.  Some of the heads were images from Western pop culture.  It is said that the artist’s aim is to reimagine the teachings of Buddhism for the modern world…perhaps he’s using villain-like characters to drive the point?

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Demon looking heads hanging from the trees
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Some pop culture characters amongst the demons
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…even Batman!

Next we came upon a golden building, the only structure in the entire complex that wasn’t white.  Turns out, it was the bathroom!  Apparently the artist chose this opulent color for the toilets as a comment on worshipping worldly desires and what their actual worth is.  In other words, we tend to associate the color gold with things that are important (because gold is materialistically valuable.)  So when you first see the ornate golden building standing amongst the white ones, a person might think, ‘Oh, that must be a special building because it’s gold and that’s a special color!”  Alas, no, tis the toilet.

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A beautiful golden building…
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…oh, it’s the bathroom!

Next, we came upon a half finished building and some tree looking things next to it.  As we got closer, we realized they were made out of thousands of hanging tin ornaments.  They are sold for 30 Baht and visitors can write a wish or message on it, then hang it one of the ‘trees.’

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Silvery tree-thing
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The trees are actually made out of thousands of tin ornaments
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You can purchase one for about $1 to write a message and hang.

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Right next to the trees was a gazebo, all in white, just like the temple.  Inside was a beautiful golden wishing well.  Not sure if the gold was another symbolic choice like the toilets?  On the inner ring of the well was a picture of each astrological zodiac sign.

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The gazebo
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The wishing well inside the gazebo
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The bottom of the well, encircled by the 12 astrological zodiac signs

Around the corner was a structure styled just like the big temple, but it had a rope across the entrance so visitors could not enter.  We weren’t sure what this building was meant to be, maybe it was a newer structure and not entirely completed?  Still very beautiful to walk around and admire, though.

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A smaller building with the same architectural style as the main structure

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Finally, it was time to visit the Ubosot!

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The Ubosot is surrounded by a shallow moat full of large, white koi fish.  As we got closer to the front of the building, we were greeted by horrifying creatures lining the edge of the walkway.  The temple building represents the realm of Buddha, and one must cross and escape the earthly desires (symbolized by demons and ghostly, grasping hands emerging from the earth) in order to enter.

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The moat in front of the Ubosot full of white koi fish
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Agh!
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Hands reaching up from the ground

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The bridge, guarded by demons

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Once we managed to escape the demons and impure desires, we reached the main temple hall.  Photography is not permitted inside the temple, but it was unbelievable!  The walls were covered in murals including Western idols such as Michael Jackson and Neo from the Matrix amidst writhing flames and demons, but there were also people riding in tranquil cloud-boats that were sailing over a sea of rainbows.  Sounds bizarre (and it was) but there is really no way to satisfactorily describe it.  You can look at some pictures of the murals here.

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Successfully fascinated and weirded out, we headed back to our hotel where we took a nap (couldn’t help it) then went out to explore the Night Bazaar in town.  It was a really quaint little market and we got some delicious barbecue for dinner for less than $6.  Win!

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The next day we set out to visit what could be considered the White Temple’s counterpart: The Baandam Museum, also known as ‘The Black House.’  Like the day before, we wandered down street to find a tuk tuk, and agreed on a 300Baht round trip fare.

In contrast with the White Temple, the structures of Black House are (as one might expected) mostly dark browns and blacks.  The complex is the creation (and former home) of a late Chiang Rai artist named Thawan Duchanee.  In fact, he was the teacher of,Chalermchai Kositpipat, the artist who designed the White Temple.  Like the White Temple, construction is still in progress at the Black House, and it seems the artist put things in place to have it continue after his death.

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The entrance of the Black House complex
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And another photo-op with Thawan Duchanee. Wonder who had that idea first?

Unlike the White Temple, there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much religious significance to the Black House.  It seems more like an ornate collection of things like animal furs, bones, and sculptures.  Although it has a darker vibe to it, we found the architecture at the Black House to be more elegant than that of the White Temple.

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Intricate carvings in a door at the Black House
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Inside the main building
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A huge alligator skin, amongst other bones and furs.
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An enormous snake skin used as a table runner.
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A…cat?
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The elegant architecture of the Black House
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Another intricately carved door frame

The grounds are full of buildings of similar style, containing all sorts of strange things.  Some are monstrous, some are relatively small.  There are even bathrooms decorated with seashells and wood sculptures.  There was also some of the most ornately carved doors and furniture we had ever seen.

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Some phallic sculptures and seashells…
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It’s hard to see in the picture, but there were two enormous boa constrictors in a little hut in the middle of the grounds.
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And a large owl that peeped at us as we walked past.

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It was a strange combination of totally creepy, yet somehow elegant.  I think it might have trumped the White Temple in weirdness.  Wild animals, phallic sculptures…even the skeleton of an elephant…

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A whole elephant skeleton!

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The Black House has gained so much notoriety, Thawan Duchanee has been declared a National Artist in Thailand.

Perhaps the most bizarre two days of our entire trip, but a good balance between the black and the white!  And we couldn’t resist another barbecue dinner at the Night Bazaar.

4/5

Breakfast: 120b ($3.69)

Coca Cola: 25b ($0.77)

Tuk Tuk to White Temple: 300b ($9.22)

Ornament: 30b ($0.92)

Sticker: 20b ($0.61)

BBQ Dinner at the Night Bazaar: 205b ($6.30)

Ice Cream: 220b ($6.76)

Water (2): 28b ($0.86)

Accommodation: 250b ($7.69)

4/5 Total Spent: 1,198b ($36.83 USD)

4/6

Breakfast: 180b ($5.53)

Tuk Tuk to the Black House: 300b ($9.22)

Pizza Company: 468b ($14.39)

BBQ Dinner at the Night Bazaar: 115b ($3.54)

Water: 14b ($0.43)

Ice Cream: 100b ($3.07)

Accommodation: 250b ($7.69)

4/6 Total Spent: 1,427b ($43.87 USD)