Songkran! Worship in Water

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!

Video of Songkran Water Fun

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! )

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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.

Turistas Por un Día

Yesterday BOLT had lots of fun being Ensenada tourists for a day. While Kathy and I are enjoying the simple life here at the Mona Lisa RV Park, there is not much excitement. So, along with our neighbor we set out to have some fun. We caught the mini-bus just outside our gate and within thirty minutes we were in the center of town. From there we had a great day! Let me show you in pictures. Our first stop was lunch. We ha a delicious and inexpensive meal at Antojitos Lula. Three meals, including soup, appetizers and beverages was 300 pesos ($15) total! Definitely a place where we will return. We worked off our lunch by strolling through the busy streets of downtown Ensenada, window shopping and just taking in the sights, sounds and colors. We visited this really cool museum. The Museo Histórico Regional is a small museum set on the site of a former prison. You can visit the former cells and there are exhibits about early life in Baja. I especially enjoyed practicing my Spanish with one of the curators. We both agreed that: “En todo el mundo la mayoria de los prisioners son inocentes.” That most are imprisoned for lack of money. Our walk continued to the cruise ship harbor. A big ship was in port so there were lots of vendors out. We are savy enough to know not to buy anything, it was all overpriced but fun to see. Our last stop was the beautiful Instituto Nacional de Antropologia y Historia. This is a fairly large museum and we didn’t have time to explore it all. The part we visited replicated a cave and had anthropological finds exhibited throughout. Another place we will definitely return to. We most definitely had the perfect day of tourism and we were happy to return to our peaceful Mona Lisa home.

!Es una vida maravillosa de perro!

It is truly a wonderful life for a dog here in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico!  In the U.S. Kahlo was almost always on a leash when outdoors and she spent a lot more time with us in the R.V. 

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Here at the Monalisa R.V. Park Kahlo has found a new way of life and we have too.  There are a lot of dogs living here (at least 9, including Kahlo). As there is no traffic here, they all run free during the day.  At first, I was very cautious about letting Kahlo join in the fun but now she runs with the pack for hours out of each day. 

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All of the dogs and their owners are very friendly.  It is interesting to see dogs playing together in this way. Nikko, the alpha male, keeps everyone in line. Kahlo is very submissive towards him and he is very gentle but firm with her.

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Another big difference from the states is that dogs run freely on the beach here. Kahlo absolutely loves this!  She is a really fast runner and loves to chase and be chased by her buddies.

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I love all the dogs here but I think Lucky is one of my favorites. He was a stray, in terrible shape, until Javier took him in.  Javier is the groundskeeper here and a lovely man.  Thanks to him Lucky is in great shape now!

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We are really happy to have found this puppy paradise and I am pretty sure Kahlo is too!

 

 

 

?Por Qué Ensenada? Cinco Razones!

This is our second visit in the RV to Ensenada and probably our fifth or sixth between cruises and car trips.  We never spent more than a day, usually just a few hours.  This time we’ve been here a few weeks and find ourselves loving it. What’s different? I think mostly it was our willingness to explore the city more deeply, to look beyond the smoggy, crowded big city feel or the cheesy touristy vibe near the cruise ship docks.  Here are some of the reasons  (razones) why.

Nuestro Barrio (Our Neighborhood)

We are staying well outside of the main city in the Chapultepec district. It has a very rural feeling with small tiendas (shops) and businesses that supply everything we need at very affordable prices. 

!El Océano! (The ocean!)

What more can I say? This is what we see, less than 40 feet from our RV door.  We are loving the sounds of waves crashing and seeing schools of dolphins swimming by.

Paradas Continuas (Continuous Stops)

These little mini busses are great!  For 13 pesos  (around 50 cents) they take you all around Ensenada and the surrounding areas. We’ve had lots of fun riding them up and down the hilly, small communities that surround the Big city. Soon we plan to take one into city central where we can visit the museums. 

La Marcoplaza (Grand Plaza)

Just a short bus ride away is this really cool spot with all the conveniences of any modern mall.  There always seems to be some sort of entertainment happening. There’s a Walmart, Home Depot and a really beautiful movie theater. We actually spent our first night in the parking lot here and were undisturbed. Now it’s a fun little day trip for us.

Persona Amable (Kind People)

Not just Ensenada but everywhere we have traveled we have been so blessed to meet kind and helpful people. It really does make a difference. We feel safe and  welcomed here in Ensenada and look forward to exploring more of the area. If you have any experience here we’d love to hear your suggestions. 

Along the Shores of Gichigami

Gichigami is the Anishinaabe name for the largest freshwater lake in the world. It has been given the name Lake Superior by the United States and Canada. The Anishinaabe are the First Nations Peoples who are from the areas surrounding this great lake. They are also known as Ojibwe, Ojibwa or Chippewa. I vaguely remember hearing Longfellow’s 1855 poem about this lake and more clearly remember a racist I Love Lucy sketch. It saddens me that I didn’t know, until 62 years of age, that this is a real place and with real people.

We have had a lovely 2 weeks driving and staying along this amazing lake. Our Gichigami drive started in Minnesota, continued in Ontario, Canada and concluded in Michigan. We’ve only driven about 2/3s of the lake!

We stayed at wonderful campgrounds with winding trails that led to the lake.

Along the way we got to learn a little Anishinaabe history. They were integral to the vibrant fur trading industry of the 1800s.

In Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario, Canada there is a beautiful trail called Bimose Kinoomagewnan (Walk of Teachings) trail. Along it you can read and learn of the Seven Grandfather Teachings from Anishinaabe elders and enjoy art work, representing the teachings, from the younger generation. The teachings are love, honesty, respect, wisdom, truth,humility and bravery.

In Sault Saint Marie, Michigan we saw the locks which enable ships to travel from Gichigami to the lower great lakes.

We are now on Anishinaabe land, staying at the Kewadin RV Park and Casino. It’s a beautiful and restful place. We are looking forward to attending a pow wow on Saturday. I’m really humbled by how little I know about this area and First Nations Peoples. I’m really grateful for any opportunity to learn even a little bit more!

Uh Oh! Do-Over and Never Again!

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. 

Uh Oh!

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There is a vast difference between economy class...

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and first class train travel.

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.

Do-Over…

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On our second visit to Georgetown we rode the ferry instead of the very expensive taxi we took on our first visit.

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We got to explore so much of Georgetown, including this beautiful Burmese Temple.

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And all of our wonderful Chinese New Year experiences.

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.

Never Again!

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Questioning our visit to the Tiger Kingdom, Mae Rim/Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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.

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The animals at the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia are free and happy.

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.

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What are some of your travel uh ohs, do-overs or never agains?  Please share in our comments section. We love hearing from you!