Category Archives: Thailand

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

It’s Still Hot, but at Least It Glitters

It’s Still Hot, but at Least It Glitters

After a 13-month absence, we’re back in Southeast Asia. When we left in April 2015, we were determined not to go anywhere so hot for a long time. But then we heard about an opportunity to housesit for free in July and August in a fun part of Malaysia: the island of Penang. We applied… Read More

Gallery: Chiang Mai Temples

Gallery: Chiang Mai Temples

Some of the most interesting things to see in the city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand are the beautiful Buddhist temples and monasteries (called wats) that appear every few blocks in the old quarter. They’re peaceful places of carved and gilded wood, sweeping tile roofs, gold-leaved or emerald-green Buddhas, and every style of religious… Read More

Gallery: Misc. Chiang Mai Scenes

Gallery: Misc. Chiang Mai Scenes

Random scenes from around Chiang Mai, including street art, Thais’ penchant for odd little figurines, a very Western-looking mall (with some key differences), street food, people hanging out or heading home from their labors, and some very strange examples of English. Read More

Gallery: Chiang Mai Cafes & Selfie Spots

Gallery: Chiang Mai Cafes & Selfie Spots

The neighborhood where we stayed in Chiang Mai, Nimmanhaemin Road, is full of trendy cafes and shops crowded with local university students and Asian tourists. One thing they all love doing is taking pictures of themselves with the many silly statues that are set up in front of shops and restaurants to lure the selfie crowd. For… Read More

Gallery: Chiang Mai Flower Festival & Market

Gallery: Chiang Mai Flower Festival & Market

Our time in Chiang Mai coincided with the city’s yearly flower festival, which featured parade floats made of flowers and pretty orchid displays in a local park. After enjoying the blossoms, we strolled though the Saturday night street market, held in what was (and still is) the silversmiths’ district just south of the old city. Read More

Chiang Mai: The Bad, the Good, and the Silly

Chiang Mai: The Bad, the Good, and the Silly

Before we post about Vietnam, where we are now, we want to finish some posts about Thailand, where we were last. The northern city of Chiang Mai is billed as one of the top tourist attractions in Thailand. Frankly, we’re not sure why. It makes a useful jumping-off point for treks into the nearby mountains,… Read More

At the Top of Thailand

At the Top of Thailand

When Thai people find out where we’re from, they often ask “It’s cold there, with snow?” Thinking of recent reports from our friends back home, we answer an emphatic “yes.” Such is Thais’ fascination with the idea of cold weather that in January they’ll drive to the top of the country’s highest mountain, 2,565-meter (8,415-foot)… Read More

Northward Bound

Northward Bound

After getting our visas renewed in Phuket, we decided to head to the city of Chiang Mai in the far north of Thailand—a journey of almost 1,000 miles. We broke it up by staying for a few nights in the completely untouristed towns of Surat Thani and Phetchaburi. Both had wonderful night markets to stroll… Read More

Andaman Sea Kayaking Gallery

Andaman Sea Kayaking Gallery

Here are scenes from an amazing day-long kayak trip we took with John Gray’s Sea Canoes Company in Phang-Nga Bay (part of the Andaman Sea east of the big Thai island of Phuket). The trip featured visits to hidden lagoons inside limestone islands reachable only through sea caves at low tide. Along the way, we… Read More

An Extraordinary Day

An Extraordinary Day

It’s not every week that you get to kayak through a cave into a beautiful hidden world—that is, unless you’re a guide for John Gray’s Sea Canoes. For decades, this company has been taking people on nature tours in Thailand’s gorgeous Phang-Nga Bay and has earned a great reputation. While we were in Phuket, we… Read More

Phuket Gallery

Phuket Gallery

Thailand’s largest island, Phuket, draws millions of travelers each year with its huge beach resorts and party atmosphere. After two weeks on much smaller islands, we went to Phuket for more prosaic reasons: Read More

Rats and Rabbits and Goats, but Why?

Rats and Rabbits and Goats, but Why?

One thing we’ve noticed on some Buddhist temples in Thailand is unexpected animal symbols. Elephants, monkeys, and peacocks all show up regularly in temple carvings or murals, and all have royal or noble associations. But what about the temple we saw that had large carvings of white rats around it?  Read More

Back to Normal Life for a While

Back to Normal Life for a While

Four months of traveling seems to be the point at which life on the road starts wearing on us. Interesting as it is to always have new experiences, our brains are feeling full to bursting from navigating a new country every month and trying to learn about its culture, history, and language. Read More

Koh Ngai Gallery

Koh Ngai Gallery

Warning: If you’re struggling through a cold northern winter, the pictures in this gallery may offend you. Or they may help you daydream your way through the next blizzard. Our second island stop in Thailand was Koh Ngai. We couldn’t resist the lure of an island so small and quiet  Read More

Koh Lipe Gallery

Koh Lipe Gallery

From Malaysia, we headed north to Thailand, hopping from island to island in the Andaman Sea like birds (by plane and boat), never setting foot on the mainland. Our first stop was Koh Lipe (koh means island in Thai). It’s a small but rapidly developing island with beautiful beaches of white powdery sand. Read More