Learning Thai!

I have a confession to make. I love Thailand, I love Thai food, I love Thai people (this is not the confession). The confession is that I do not love the Thai language or maybe it’s that the Thai language doesn’t love me. I find Thai very difficult to learn and to pronounce. Just the other day, I found out that when I thought I was saying “take home” instead of the word for take I was actually using a rather common word for vagina! I can only imagine how the food vendors must have been laughing!

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I really want to do better! So starting today, I commit to learning and practicing a new Thai word or phrase daily. I already know how to say “Hello and Goodbye” (same word) as well as “How are you?”, “I am fine.” and “Thank you.  I also use “delicious!” and “cute!” a lot. Delicious because the food always is and cute because I love babies and little children.  Two other really great phrases that I love are “mai pen rai” which basically means “no worries” and “jai yen” which literally means cool heart and is a great reminder to stay calm and composed. The philosophy of “jai yen” is one of the many reasons I love Thailand so much!

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I am going to start with learning my numbers, 1-10, which I understand will also give me everything I need to say 20, 30, 100, etc.  Today I am also practicing “How much?” which is “Gee Baht?”.

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One thing I have mastered is to put the feminine “kha” at the end of every phrase. Men should say “krap”.

Of course, there are lots of websites, etc for learning Thai. I found this one helpful, here are their suggestions:

  1. Sa-wat dee (hello)
    Used for both hello and goodbye.
  2. Khop koon (thank you)
    How to show your appreciation once you’ve been handed your Singha beer and pad Thai.
  3. Gee baht? (how much)
    Essential for all the shopping you’ll be doing, or when haggling with tuk-tuk drivers.
  4. Yoo tee nai…? (where is…)
    Invaluable when lost!  Just point at a place on your map or in your guidebook and say ‘yoo tee nai’. Also useful when you are trying to find the right bus to go to Phuket or otherwise.
  5. Mai ow (don’t want)
    Useful for fending off persistent street vendors.
  6. Khor tort (sorry)
    Stood on someone’s foot at the Chatuchak market?  Now you can apologise.
  7. Neung, song, saam, see, haa, hook, jet, baat, gow, sip (one to ten)
    Impress the locals by reciting one to ten.
  8. Lot noi dai mai?  (can you make it cheaper?)
    If you are doing a lot of shopping then try this handy phrase. By speaking a little Thai you might just get a better discount.
  9. A-roi (delicious)
    Show your appreciation for that delicious Thai meal!  You never know, if you go back to the same place you might get an extra helping.
  10. Mai pen lai (never mind)
    A common phrase in the Thai language – if someone apologises to you (khor tort) then reply with ‘mai pen lai’.  If someone thanks you (khop koon) say ‘mai pen lai’.  If there’s a mix up (which invariably happens with a language barrier) have a chuckle and say ‘mai pen lai’!

So I say to you now: Sawadee Kha! (Goodbye!)

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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!

Why Chiang Mai? BOLT Top 5 Reasons…

A friend recently asked what made us choose Chiang Mai as our current home. Her question has inspired this post.

Kathy and I are thriving here. Not a day goes by without one of us exclaiming “I love Chiang Mai! There is a special vibe about this city that is hard to put into words. Simply put, Chiang Mai feels like home! Having said that, I will now list the top 5 tangible reasons that make this city a great choice for BOLT.

Affordability!

100 Thai baht is currently equal to approximately 3 U.S. dollars. We are able to live very well here on less than $1000 a month. Chiang Mai is a great place to save for the traveling that we love.

Creature Comforts and Amenities!

Chiang Mai has all the conveniences of modern life. There is great high speed Internet. The are wonderful malls, grocery stores and pharmacies. If we need health care there are state of the art medical centers. Public transportation by Grab Car or songtaews is easily obtained. I have found that we can get anything we need (or want) here.

The Food!

Thai food is delicious, varied and very affordable here. In addition, when we want something different there are restaurants that serve any type of food we could desire.

The Beauty!

Chiang Mai is a place of great beauty, both in a physical and spiritual sense. The over 300 Buddhist temples here are breathtaking. There are also great opportunities to enjoy natural beauty, in the mountains and hiking trails close by.

Community!

There are so many ways to enjoy community and “find your tribe” in Chiang Mai. Weekly Sunday Dinner with the Black Packers, the Chiang Mai Ex Pats Club and the Chiang Mai Rotary have all been positive experiences for us. Also there is a wonderful 12 step recovery community here. There are many Meet Up groups, classes and other social events as well.

So, we love Chiang Mai, Thailand this ancient city on the Ping River with a moat. Please consider a visit, we think you’ll love it too!

Finding Our “Perfect Home” in Chiang Mai

Kathy and I are so happy to be back in Chiang Mai and I’ll be writing much more about why in the coming weeks. We’ve been here a week, and girl!, it’s been a busy one. First on our agenda was finding a place to live. Last time we were here we just walked around and found one on our own. This time we used a wonderful service, Perfect Homes. A lovely young woman, Kwang, took us around town to several places. She truly helped us to find exactly what we wanted!

We are right in the heart of the city, close to malls, movies, restaurants and museums. That’s our building peeking out between the trees.

This is the view from our rooftop.

There are two pools, at least one pool was a big must have for me.

It’s a large building with lots of common areas for visiting.

Our actual apartment is a studio, big enough for the two of us. We have really embraced a minimalist life style.

I love having a kitchen, something we didn’t have in our last Chiang Mai apartment.

There’s even a gym! (A little pricy though.)

I love an apartment that comes with a built-in altar!

We even have a balcony, which looks out upon this community.

There are several restaurants, massage spots and even a mini mart in our building. Very convenient!

A desire for Kathy was a bathtub, very rare in Chiang Mai apartments. We have a lovely one!

This is our hall, there’s lots of security to enter.

I love walking past these grazing cows on my way home. They are right next door!

We are truly grateful for our new home! We would love to have you come visit! If you have questions about travel to or life in Chiang Mai, we’d love to share our experience. Contact us here or at boltraveling@gmail.com.

♡Hasta Luego Mexico♡

Tomorrow morning Kathy and I will be leaving Mexico. We will also be leaving Winnie, our well loved RV, and Kahlo, our beloved dog. We have really enjoyed our year and a half of RV life. We visited 22 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. We found and fell in love with Kahlo, met lots of wonderful people and have so seen much beauty.

However Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand, has been calling our names and we’ve decided to return for a year. Winnie will remain here in the safe keeping of the Mona Lisa RV Park.

Kahlo will also remain here for the year. We believe she will be happier here than in an apartment in Thailand. She has a best friend, Lucky, and Lucky’s owner, Javier, will take good care of her while we are gone.

We will miss her very much and probably miss RV life too. However this is the life we have chosen to live…a life of “home-free” travel, and sometimes sad good byes.

Un Viaje a La Bufadora

La Bufadora is a blowhole (marine geyser) located on the Punta Banda Peninsula, just outside of Ensenada. It is one of the largest blowholes in North America and probably the largest tourist attraction in the Ensenada area. Cruise ship passengers are taken to the site by bus for around $35.

Our neighbors and friends, Keiko and Graeme, were leaving Ensenada so we decided to pay a visit to this famous spot. The trip was three bus rides and about 40 pesos each from the Mona Lisa RV Park.


The spout of sea water is the result of air, trapped in a sea cave, exploding upwards. Air is forced into the cave by wave action and is released when the water recedes. This interaction not only creates the spout, but a thunderous noise as well. The phenomena repeats every minute or so with its volume depending on the strength of the waves.

See my video of La Bufadora here.

I actually enjoyed the scenery around the area more than the actual blowhole. Because there were no cruise ships in town it was actually very quiet and quite beautiful.

There are lots of little tiendas (shops) leading up to La Bufadora. All sorts of food, drinks and souvenirs are for sale. Keiko and Graeme had fun buying things to take home to Japan and Canada.

Although I would never pay the cruise ship tour price, I’m really glad I got to see this natural wonder and spend time with my friends.