Monthly Archives: June 2016

Our Summer Home

Our Summer Home

At last we’ve gotten to the reason for our trip to Southeast Asia this summer: a two-month housesitting assignment on the island of Penang just off the northwest coast of the Malay Peninsula. In exchange for a free place to live, we’re looking after the house, garden, and cat(s) of a European couple who are… Read More

The Shadow Puppets of Nakhon

The Shadow Puppets of Nakhon

It’s not every day that you get to visit the workshop of a national treasure. Suchart Subsin, who died last year at age 77, was a master of the ancient art of Thai shadow puppetry. It’s a form of theater, dating back at least to 400 BC, that tells stories with flat figures made of… Read More

Where Is Everybody?

Where Is Everybody?

Some people dream of having a beach all to themselves. Right now, we’re living that dream, and although I’m a confirmed introvert, I initially found it a little unsettling. We’re at Nai Phlao beach near the town of Khanom in southern Thailand. It mainly draws Thai tourists, though it must be in some European guidebook,… Read More

Life at the Beach on Koh Phangan

Life at the Beach on Koh Phangan

The long, thin peninsula that stretches from Thailand down to Malaysia is blessed with beautiful beaches on both sides. The last time we visited Thailand, it was January, and the islands on the east side were having bad weather, so we concentrated on the west. (See the photo galleries for Koh Lipe and Koh Ngai.)… Read More

Photos of Ayutthaya

Photos of Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya in central Thailand is now a modest town of 55,000 people, but a few centuries ago it was Thailand’s bustling capital city, with a million residents and many foreign delegations. The major draws of Ayutthaya now are the picturesque ruins of elaborate temples commissioned by Thai kings, mainly in the 15th and 16th centuries.… Read More

Thailand’s Answer to Angkor Wat

Thailand’s Answer to Angkor Wat

An 80-kilometer trip north of Bangkok takes you back 400 years in time. Ayutthaya is Thailand’s Angkor Wat: the remains of a former royal capital, now in ruins. But unlike Angkor Wat, which largely stands by itself, Ayutthaya is still a modern town. That leads to sights like high school students using the lawn around… Read More

Photos of Bangkok

Photos of Bangkok

Our guesthouse in Bangkok was across the street from the city’s oldest Buddhist monastery, Wat Pho, founded in the 1600s. It’s famous for being a center of learning (especially about traditional medicine and massage), for the elaborately tiled chedis (memorial pagodas) built by early Thai kings, and for its enormous reclining Buddha.   Bangkok has… Read More

Bangkok’s Royal Bling

Bangkok’s Royal Bling

The story of Bangkok is the story of the Chakri dynasty: nine kings, all called Rama, who have reigned in Thailand since the late 1700s (as absolute monarchs until the 1930s and as constitutional monarchs since then). Rama I established Bangkok as the royal capital and built fortifications, palaces, and monasteries that still dominate the… Read More