Songkran (the Thai New Year Celebration) is celebrated over three days. This is an ancient Buddhist holiday marked by the bathing of Buddha statues, pouring out of water blessings on loved ones and strangers and other ancient religious rites. Songkran is celebrated all over Thailand and in many other countries in Southeast Asia.
This year we were honored to be invited by our friend, Wanvisa, to celebrate the first day of Songkran (yesterday) with her. We started the day with a visit to ancient Wat Chang Khum. It was lovely to start the day with quiet prayers, meditation and Buddha bathing. I took this photo of Wanvisa standing in front of this Spirit Tree. These other photos were the last I was able to take because…
Chiang Mai is home to the “world’s largest water fight” for Songkran and I put my camera away!
Our friend, Monique, was able to take the above video of the craziness that ensued for the rest of our day.
We loaded into the truck with a large vat of icy water, lots of buckets and water guns. It was so much fun to experience with Sally, Wanvisa’s daughter. It is truly a wonderful holiday for children. We returned home exhausted, throughly soaked but delighted.
For the next 2 days there will be water and dousing everywhere. If I’m brave enough to venture out, I may put up more pictures. I hope you enjoy these. Sawadee Pee Mai Ka! (Happy New Year! )
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.
Kathy and I have been traveling for eight months now. We’ve been extremely blessed with drama free experiences, good travel health and very few problems. We’ve learned a lot about what works for us, what we love and what we prefer to avoid.
Economy Class Train Travel
While traveling through Indonesia we missed a connection to the “first class” train we had reservations for. An economy class train was leaving the station soon. Rather than wait a whole day for the next first class train we decided to hop on this really low priced train. I remember thinking “how bad can it be?”. Well, it was pretty bad. Economy trains make more stops so the anticipated 4 hour ride turned into 8. The seats were uncushioned, hard benches. We had to sit 3 across where even 2 people would have been uncomfortable. There was no air conditioning. I was pretty miserable for most of the trip. The upside was we were sitting with very kind and helpful local people. Locals travel this way all the time, it is not for me for long trips. The experience helped me see how privileged we are and also what I’m willing to pay more for. This Uh Oh! was a great learning experience.
Georgetown, Penang Island, Malaysia
When we first got off the boat, landing in Singapore, we moved pretty quickly. We spent a day and a night in Singapore, 4 days in Kualu Lumpur and 5 days in Georgetown. Neither of us were crazy about Georgetown. We had yet to learn the value of slower travel, longer stays. I’m really glad we made a decision to visit Georgetown again. Exploring this lovely island town a second time, for a whole month was a wonderful experience. Now Georgetown is one of our favorite places, it’s even on our short list for a permanent retirement home.
Tiger Kingdom, Chiang Mai, Thailand
We visited the Tiger Kingdom on our first visit to Chiang Mai on a whim. We did no research. We just hopped into the cab of a friendly driver for what I thought would be a pleasant adventure. Had we done more investigation we would have easily seen that there is a lot of controversy about this place. Mistreated, drugged tigers are kept in small cages. Tourists (including Kathy and I) lie on, pet and take lots of pictures with these beautiful animals. I wanted to believe what the keepers say: that the cats are not drugged, that they grew up with people and are thus friendly. But I left with the nagging feelings that those things are not true. I have decided to never again visit attractions involving animals without first making sure the animals are being treated humanely.
Home free, serendipitous travel has great opportunities to find out more about oneself. I’ve learned that I like a certain level of comfort and am willing to pay for it; that staying long enough to get to know a place is best and that thorough research is a valuable tool in deciding where to visit.
What are some of your travel uh ohs, do-overs or never agains? Please share in our comments section. We love hearing from you!