BOLT Reviews: Ba Na Hills

Take a deep breath, face any fears of heights you may have and ride the world’s longest non-stop cable car to the beautiful Golden Bridge.

I had been looking forward to seeing this bridge since I knew we were coming to DaNang, Vietnam.

Little did I know, Ba Na Hills, home to the Golden Bridge, offers much, much more.

Bà Nà Hill Station (or Bà Nà Hills) is a hill station and resort located in the Trường Sơn Mountains west of the city of Da Nang, in central Vietnam. The station, advertised as “the Da Lat of Danang province” by local tourism authorities, was founded in 1919 by French colonists. The colonists had built a resort to be used as a leisure destination for French tourists. Being located above 1500 metres above sea level, it has a view of the East Sea and the surrounding mountains.

Today it is home to a world class theme park and a must visit when in DaNang. There are several levels of the park with cable cars and walking paths connecting each level. The Golden Bridge is the first stop and of course, everyone spends lots of time marveling at the bridge and taking pictures.

There are meticulously maintained gardens and lovely statues to enjoy. We certainly got a lot of walking done on each level.

There is a whole amusement park level full of rides, exhibits and arcade games!

I was especially impressed as all the games and rides were included in our admission price of 750,000 Vietnamese Dong ($32 USD). Its really a great place to take children of all ages. You could really spend the whole day just on the amusement park level.

We enjoyed a modestly priced Asian buffet ($14 USD) and there are lots of snack options throughout the park.

We went with a great group of people which of course made the whole outing more enjoyable. I highly recommend BaNa Hills to anyone visiting this part of Vietnam. If you have any questions or comments please leave them here. We’d love to hear from you.

Our Colorful Chiang Rai Trip

Chiang Rai is known for its colorful edifices. Our lovely group of 10 set off from Chiang Mai to explore the Blue and White Temples and the Black House. We left at 6 am for the 4 hour drive to Chiang Rai in a comfortable air conditioned van. Our driver, Pituk, was friendly and helpful. We made one stop half way there at a local hot springs. There we had a restroom break and were able to purchase some local fruits, goodies and clothes.

Arriving in Chiang Rai our first stop was Baan Dam. Commonly known as the Black House it’s a park containing a diverse and sprawling series of buildings, displays, sculptures and installations. The park and highly eclectic contents are the life’s work of local and nationally renowned artist Thawan Duchanee. We spent a delightful hour exploring the grounds and exhibits.Our next stop was for lunch. Lesson learned: don’t ask your driver for restaurant recommendations. Leelawadee was overpriced with not very good service. The food was delicious though and we had a nice view of the river.Full from lunch, we ventured on to the Blue Temple. For me this breathtaking temple was the highlight of our trip! I understand that this is a fairly new temple. It is built at the site of a ruin of an temple abandoned 80 to 100 years ago. In 1996, the villagers decided to rebuild a temple here. The construction started in October 2005, the White Buddha was completed in 2008 while the main hall was only completed on 22th January 2016. There are so many intricate carvings and paintings to enjoy!Our last stop was the White Temple which is the most famous temple in the Chiang Rai area. I’m sorry to say that the temple was closing when we arrived. It turns out there is a special event there right now where they illuminate the temple in the evenings. As we only had our van until 10 pm we had to leave for the 4 hour drive back to Chiang Mai before the illumination began. We did get some good photos, both of our own and a very kind Thai lady who shared hers with us.Overall our trip was wonderful. I especially enjoyed the time spent with members of our beautiful Chiang Mai community and visitors!

Living That Chiang Mai Life!

“Living that Chiang Mai life!” is a favorite expression of our dear friend, Ken. Kathy and I are truly doing that and it’s a great life!

Folks ask us all the time, where do all these Black folks in Chiang Mai come from?

The answer is the answer that is true for Black folks everywhere…from all across the diaspora.

Many of us are from the U.S. as evidenced by this election watch party, but even then there was a Canadian in the bunch.

We are from South Africa as well as other countries in the Motherland. Some of us are from Europe.

No matter where we come from, we find a lot of joy and community in Chiang Mai.

We participate in community theater; we work as teachers, digital nomads or entrepreneurs. We volunteer and we are students.

We are tourists and residents. Some come for medical care or spiritual growth. Like Kathy and I, many are retired. Some of us stay briefly and some are here for life.

I really wish everyone reading this post could come and experience the beauty of living that Chiang Mai life! Kathy and I are happy to help.

A Quick Update from BOLT

img_68401166333299.jpg

One of our faithful followers reminded me that I haven’t posted a blog lately. Kathy and I have been very busy but I wanted to take a few minutes out for a brief update.

20180619_08202336822095.jpg

One project that is keeping us joyously busy is helping our dear friend, Wanvisa, in the development of her wellness center, Inthakin Green Village.  We’ve had lots of fun brainstorming ideas, getting treatments (the best part) and doing some administrative tasks. Kathy has been working hard, designing a website and it should be published soon.  We do have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Inthakin-Green-Village-254781621989943/

img_20180821_234525774852982.jpg

The other thing keeping us (me) busy is that I am doing my first community theater gig. It will be a readers theater production of James Baldwin’s “The Amen Corner”.  I am working with a fabulous group of people and we are under the direction of the very skilled Stephan Turner, who is the founder of the Gate Theater, here in Chiang Mai. If you are in or near Chiang Mai please come out and support us: https://www.facebook.com/TheGateTheater/photos/a.466250796762976/1791627774225265/?type=3&theater

fb_img_1484534352547.jpg

So that’s us for now, how about you? We love hearing from you: where you are, what you are doing and how can we help?  More about our Black Old Lesbian Traveling adventures soon!

Thailand with Pheuxn (Friends)!

It has been a whirlwind month for BOLT. In addition to our wonderful stay at Inthakin Green Village we had a delightful time playing host to our dear friends, Lecia and Sergio.

It was wonderful showing them around, playing tourist and sharing with them the Thailand that we know and love.

Kathy and I are not crazy about Bangkok but it is a must stop for your first visit to Thailand. We were waiting for Sergio and Lecia at the Air BnB we rented and had planned a fun-packed 5 day stay in Bangkok. The first day we spent shopping at the humoungous Platinum Fashion Mall. We had fun, got great bargins and returned home exhausted.

We had a ball the next day, being pure tourists at the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. We even got to enjoy a boat ride during a monsoon rain!

Of course, no visit to Bangkok is complete without going to the Grand Palace.

Thanks to Lecial and Sergio we finally got to visit Wat Pho.

In contrast to the sacred beauty of Wat Pho we got to experience another type of beauty…the faboulous queens at the Stranger Bar drag show!

One of the most fun things we did in Bangkok was also the cheapest! We took the local (15 Baht) boat and saw the city from a different view point.

We loved showing Lecia and Sergio around our beloved city of Chiang Mai. They got to meet some of our friends, do more shopping and enjoy the local cuisine. Lecia and Sergio also got to spend some time at an elephant camp.

It was crazy fun seeing my bestie enjoy her first tuk-tuk drive!

We ended our friend’s time in Thailand in the best way possible: a healing stay at Inthakin Green Village.


Saying good-bye was bittersweet but I know we will be seeing our friends again soon. Afterall, who can resist Thailand?

If you are planning a visit to Thailand please let us know. We would be honored to show you around Chiang Mai and the surrounding areas.

This is What Community Looks Like!

My dear friend the phenomenal Lacey Clark asked the question that inspired this post. She asked what does community mean to me. While I can’t give a precise definition I can share what community looks and feels like for me.

Community is embarking on a 5 hour pilgrimage up Doi Suthep Mountain for Visakha (Buddha Day) with the beautiful group above. Community is getting a Facebook shout out even though Kathy and I quit after 2 and a 1/2 hours.

Community is Sunday Dinner and seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

Community is cherishing friendships and having great memories no matter how far away the friends are.

Community is beloved family, near and far.

Community is hours spent at Cafe De JJ talking politics, philosophy, science and a bunch of other random stuff, not to mention enjoying the love on a plate served up by the fabulous Beer (top, right above)!

Community is making friends everywhere we go and doing our best to stay in touch. Hey Keiko (our friend met in Mexico, from Japan and currently in Canada)!

Community is exploring nature with friends. Community is something that must be built, nurtured and cherished. I’m sure community is something that looks different to each of us. One thing I know for sure is that true community feels so wonderful and is something I need. I am grateful to have found it here in Chiang Mai!

Durian and Salak and Longan, Oh My! The Wonderful Fruits of Thailand!

As Dorothy, famously said, “We are not in Kansas any more.” Nor anywhere close! The wide variety of exotic fruits is one way I know this for sure. I had my first bite of durian yesterday. Durian is known as the king of Asian fruits. It is considered a delicacy and is quite expensive. It is also so stinky that you will see signs in hotels and on buses, across Asia, warning no durian. The fruit vendors, above, were kind enough to give me a taste. I have to say, that once I got past the smell (kind of like rotting fruit) it was quite delicious. It has a creamy sweetness like a cross of coconut and mango.

Passion Fruit

Lychee

Rambutan

Longan

There is such a great variety of fruit here in Thailand. Things I had never tried or even heard of before. My favorite is the tart and juicy passion fruit. I have it almost every morning. There is lychee, rambutan, longan and salak. Right now the longan is still sour but later in the season it becomes very sweet. I have had lychee and rambutan in the states but only rarely saw it. Here is is everywhere. Salak, also known as snake fruit is weird. It is very prickly and hard to open, kinda smelly and with a taste that is hard to describe.

There are also most of the fruits I am familiar with in the states. We are only buying locally grown fruits so I skip the apples that come from New Zealand. But there are plenty of coconuts, oranges, mangoes, papayas, watermelon, pineapple and banana. I think the tropical climate makes everything extra sweet and juicy.

This week, at our local mall, there was a fruit festival. There was an all you can eat fruit buffet, entertainment and lots of samples to try. I thought this was a good week to write this post and share the pictures I took. Hope you enjoyed them!