The Magical World of Zoom

At dawn today I participated in the opening ceremonies of BLU via zoom. I was able to represent the far east with an altar dedicated to our ancestors, family, friends and community. It was an amazing experience, connecting with my sisters in the U.S. all the way from Da Nang Vietnam!

Later in the morning I had a good time laughing with the fabulous Jazzie Mas at her virtual comedy show, also on Zoom.

Then at noon today the Brothas and Sistahs of Da Nang group got together for a virtual brunch. It was wonderful to see everyone (we haven’t seen each other since lockdown began July 26).

I’ve played games at Zoom meetings and been to Zoom birthday parties. I use my free Zoom account to connect one on one with friends and family. Zoom is a real blessing for those of us in recovery. There are 12 Step Meetings for every fellowship!

This pandemic is awful. I never want to forget all who are suffering. For me, Zoom is one thing I am grateful for. It’s made these difficult times a little easier.

If you have any questions about using Zoom or connecting with any of the groups I mentioned email me at boltraveling@gmail.com

I’d love to hear about your Zoom experiences!

A Hidden Gem in Chiang Mai!

Horizon Village and Resort is a wonderful place to spend a relaxing day in Chiang Mai. It’s not on the usual list of tourist spots and even many long time residents don’t know of it.

Thanks to my friend, Keidra, who is a tour guide here in Chiang Mai, I discovered this hidden gem.

For an inexpensive fee of 85 baht (less than$3) you can enter the resort and spend the whole day exploring. There are waterfalls, a botanical garden, petting zoo, labyrinth, and more.

You can rent a bike for 75 baht for all day, which was a great way to explore the massive grounds. You can also rent a golf card or take a tram ride.

There are several restaurants and a coffee shop. We enjoyed a delicious, moderately priced lunch.

After a day of bike riding a visit to the resort pool (100 baht admission) was a perfect way to end the day!

There are all sorts of hidden gems and special ways to spend a day or longer in Chiang Mai. Contact Keidra for some great ideas or to book a tour.

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!

National Museum of Chiang Mai Excursion

The National Museum of Chiang Mai is a small space, located on lovely grounds. The majority of the exhibits were of Buddha statues. There were also exhibits on the history of the Lanna Kingdom. My intention is to do once a month excursions to local spots of interest. A small group joined me today and I enjoyed this first excursion greatly!

Getting a Thai Visa

5 Thai embassies

There are many types of visas obtainable for travel to or living in Thailand. If you are visiting for less than 30 days this post is not for you. You are able to fly in and obtain a visa exemption on arrival at no cost.

However, for those who wish to spend a significant amount of time in Thailand here is some information you might find helpful.

There are 5 Thai embassies here in the U.S. Luckily there is an embassy right here in Los Angeles. While it is possible to obtain many types of visas in Thailand we found the process much easier here.

If you are 50 years or older you can get a retirement visa, good for a one year stay. The big advantage of getting it in the U.S. is that you only need to provide proof of 800,000 Thai Baht (approximately $25k) in the bank. If you get this visa in Thailand you must put your money in a Thai bank. This is probably perfectly safe but we do have some concerns. The cost of this visa is $200. See the link above for all details.

Another good visa option is the Multiple Entry Thai Visa.

No matter what type of visa you want, read the information provided in the links carefully and do your best to follow the directions to the letter.

Some things we found out:

  • No matter the type of visa, you must pay by cashier’s check or money order. Cash is not accepted. We saw several people turned away because they missed this in the instructions.
  • Arrive in the morning. Long lines but the service is pretty fast.
  • Don’t pay for expensive passport photos. Take your own. There are several apps that can help. We saved over $60 dollars doing this!
  • Have all your paperwork in order. The more organized you are the easier it seems to go.
  • For the retirement visa you must obtain notarized statements from your bank. Our credit union provides free notary service which made it easy.
  • Also for the retirement visa you must have a clearance from your doctor and a letter from local law enforcement. The instructions say these must be notarized as well. Turns out this means that you sign the clearance reports and have your signature notarized.
  • We felt kind of overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork… breathe deeply, take your time, check, double check and recheck.
  • The laws and regulations can be confusing, they change a lot too. Be sure you visit the official Thai government websites and don’t hesitate to ask questions (I called the embassy at least 4 times).

I hope this information is helpful. Thailand is such a wonderful country, the visa processes are relatively easy and most importantly…BOLT will be there! We hope to see you soon.

Chiang Mai Magic!

There’s just something about Chiang Mai! Kathy and I came here over 3 years ago and stayed over a year that time. Yes, we visited other cities and countries but we always came back to Chiang Mai. This time we came and have stayed a solid year. Except for a brief visit to Bangkok we have stayed in Chiang Mai for the whole time.

It’s hard to describe the magic that happens in Chiang Mai and I’m not sure if you can feel it during a brief visit.

Chiang Mai Magic occurs in the over 300 temples, places of such sacred beauty that I never get tired of visiting them.

Chiang Mai Magic is at the San Kamphaeng Hot Springs, one of my favorite places to practice self care.

Chiang Mai Magic is in all the wonderful festivals that occur throughout the year, especially Yi Peng, the Flower Festival and Songkran.

Chiang Mai Magic is overwhelmingly at Inthakin Green Village. There is so much magic and healing here that I have written several blogs about it.

Chiang Mai Magic happens for Kathy on the motorbike. She experiences magic on her many rides in and around the city. If you want to experience Chiang Mai in this way, I highly recommend the Honda Safety Riding School.

Most of all I think Chiang Mai Magic is the people, the beautiful Thai people, the fabulous members of the African American community here and beloved friends and family who have visited. The magic is in planned events and random meet ups. The magic happens just walking down the street where I always see and greet someone I know.

We leave Chiang Mai and it’s magic tomorrow. I’m sad to leave all this magic behind. However, part of the magic of Chiang Mai is that I know we can’t stay away for long. BOLT loves you Chiang Mai and we’ll be back soon.

Thailand Road Trip!

I love a good road trip and yesterday was the perfect one! We set out in the morning from Inthakin Green Village in Mae Teang. We headed north, destination Chang Dao, just a few kilometers from the Myanmar border.

Most of the drive was along the Ping River which was lovely in itself. We traveled through small villages and lots of lush greenery.

Our first stop in Chang Dao was the temple /home of a local monk. It was wonderful to see him again, he had given us a special blessing a few months ago. We also got to see our friend, Pi Oi, who lives near the monk.

No road trip is complete without delicious food. The gyoza at this small restaurant is amazing!

After our bellies were full, we headed up to this amazing wat (temple) . Called Wat Tam Mung Na, it’s building it built onto a cave. There’s an easy trip up several levels of ramps to the top where you find the cave and are surrounded by soothing chanting and can join in sitting meditation.

Many people come to spend the night or several days in meditation and chanting. There were tents everywhere.

These are the views from the top of the temple.

The temple grounds were very beautiful with lots of amazing statues.

There’s even a cute little coffee shop, which also offered amazing views.

Kathy and I had a truly fabulous day, made even more special because we spent it with people we love. Thank you Wanvisa, Jen and Ajan Sai for a perfect day!

Chiang Mai’s Ancient “Underground” City

Wiang Kum Kam is a really interesting place to visit in the Chiang Mai area. It is the “old” capital city of Lanna Kingdom before Chiang Mai was founded over 700 years ago. Wiang Kum Kam was frequently flooded, abandoned, buried meters underground and forgotten. It was only recently rediscovered again in 1984 by local villagers, and some of the sites excavated.


The sites are not in one particular location, but spread out through out the village. You can tour the site via horseback carriage, tram, or rent a bicycle. My friend, Lisa, and I visited and enjoyed walking and riding around the different sites. It was very uncrowded and a lovely way to spend a few hours.

N

I love living in Chiang Mai, there is always something new to see!

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.

The Amen Corner

I have discovered a new passion! Acting! I have no desire to be a star, in movies or on Broadway or even have a new career. However I love participating in community theater. It’s been a fabulous experience. We have a great cast and I’ve learned and grown a lot. I’m looking forward to acting in something else, stay posted!

We have 3 more performances of “The Amen Corner”. So I’m going to rest now. You can read more about it here: https://www.chiangmaicitylife.com/social-pics/dress-reheasal-amen-corner/.