Jamie Sinz in Thailand

The Final Countdown

November 19, 2008 by Jamie

Loy Krathong at the River in Chiang Mai

Loy Krathong at the River in Chiang Mai

Thailand time is coming to a close, and I have not been very good about telling you about it!  We leave for China in 4 days, and there is a lot to do.  Today we went to the train station to buy tickets to Bangkok only to find out that they were all full.  We moved on to Plan B, which was to take a bus instead.  Honestly, I prefer the bus.  They are smaller and somehow more personable.  I also enjoy the scenery from the bus more because you actually see towns and people and their homes because you are using the same streets they are.  AND on a bus you get to stop at the crazy Thai rest stops with tons of food!!  Nik prefers the train because they are safer…which is true…but I don’t think we should be scared of crashes and horrible things because we can’t predict the future.

So what have we been up to since we left India??  A lot and not much, all at the same time.  We have started to prepare for re-entry into the real world, which I am looking forward to.  I’m ready to have an income and a little responsibility.  We are still hoping to find work in Shanghai or Tokyo, and hopefully we’ll find out if it’s possible soon.

We have also been preparing for our trip to China.  Our itinerary is set…Beijing-Shanghai-Gulin-Hong Kong…and we have places to stay in Beijing and Shanghai.  We’re still working on Gulin and Hong Kong, but those will happen soon.  Our month in China is much less ambitious than our India trip because we feel like each city has so much to offer.  We have heard from several fellow travelers to stay out of the big cities…but you know what?  We like big cities!  We can’t help it.  We love wandering around for days in the midst of all kinds of people and getting lost.  We love finding the little respits of calm in the midst of chaos.  And I love the buildings, and the food, and the shopping, and the music.  So we’re sticking to our guns, and if you have any suggestions for the 4 cities mentioned…pass them our way.

Despite all of this prep work, we have also gotten out a bit.  I think we’ve visited four different waterfalls at least twice each.  We drove out to Hung Tung Tao Reservoir for lunch twice…once by ourselves and once with some couchsurfer friends.  We participated in the Loy Krathong festivities, some of which you saw with the 10,000 Wishes post.  We spent a couple afternoons reading in the park.  We went on walks.  I found a modern building in Chiang Mai!!!  It is a designers’ studio off of the Canal Road near Huay Kaew Road.  I was too shy to take many photos because people were working.  We have also quenched our hunger for sweets…at Dunken Donuts and the Milk Zone…among others.  And just today, we drove out to Bo Pang to see the handmade umbrellas.  More than anything, we’ve been enjoying our time together in an amazing city….what more can a girl ask for?

Oh, and I almost forgot!  When we were in Bangkok, we saw the current King of Thailand, Rama IX!!!  We happened to be there on October 23 which is King Chulalongkorn Day (in honor of King Rama V) so we went to the Dusit Palace hoping to observe some activity when people started congregating on the sidewalks.  At first we thought they were waiting for a parade, but found out that they were waiting for the King!!  We decided to wait with them, and right at 5:00pm, the motor brigade drove up, the King paid his respects, and the motor brigade drove away.  We waited there with the crowd for at least 4 hours.  All to see the King step out of the car for 2 minutes.  I was impressed by the Thai people’s devotion.

King Rama V Memorial in Bangkok

King Rama V Memorial in Bangkok

Crowds await the King's Arrival

Crowds await the King's Arrival

Our favorite waterfall off of Huay Kaew Road

Our favorite waterfall off of Huay Kaew Road

Near another waterfall

Near another waterfall

The kids' area at the river during Loy Krathong

The kids' area at the river during Loy Krathong

Princess Galyani Vadhana memorial at Tha Pae Gate

Princess Galyani Vadhana memorial at Tha Pae Gate

A little taste of Modern Architecture...and a water tank!

A little taste of Modern Architecture...and a water tank!

Sweet Tooth Recognized

Sweet Tooth Recognized

Sweet Tooth Recognized again with a Banana Split at Milk Zone

Sweet Tooth Recognized again with a Banana Split at Milk Zone

A couple days at the Reservoir

A couple days at the Reservoir

The unfortunate result of Loy Krathong is that we now see Khom Loy littering the sidewalks, roofs, powerlines, construction sites and open spaces.

The unfortunate result of Loy Krathong is that we now see Khom Loy littering the sidewalks, roofs, power lines, construction sites and open spaces.

The Physics Building at Chiang Mai University...a study in details and color

The Physics Building at Chiang Mai University...a study in details and color

Red for emergency circulation

Red for emergency circulation

Green for public spaces

Green for public spaces

Blue for classrooms

Blue for classrooms

Bo Pang Umbrella Village Welcomes You!

Bo Pang Umbrella Village Welcomes You!

My favorite part of today was having my everyday moleskine cover hand painted by a local artist

My favorite part of today was having my everyday moleskine cover hand painted by a local artist

Of course, Nik has done much better keeping his blog up to date, so you can find several posts about our last month in Chiang Mai, and here are the links to those:

Minor Moments, Tiny Waterfall

Flu & Fire: Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Secret Waterfall on the Way to Doi Suthep

Hanging at Reservoirs, Waterfalls and Restaurants

Enjoying the Little Things in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Bangkok Before India, Bangkok After India

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10,000 Lanterns : 10,000 Wishes

November 9, 2008 by Jamie

**All photos were taken by Nik.

Fifteen hours later, and I am still in awe of watching 10,000+ lanterns float through the sky.  I suspect that I will still be in awe of this moment 15 years from now.  In fact, I think I might look at these photos every single day for the rest of my life.  And the most amazing part is that not only did 10,000+ lanterns float through the sky; 10,000+ people launched them into the sky, and Nik and I were among them!

The Buddhist tradition states that when you release a lantern, Kome Loy, into the sky, you are releasing your misgivings and are to make a wish.  This cleansing ritual makes it difficult to think of anything but how beautiful our lives are as we watched everyone’s wish float toward the heavens.

My wish is to celebrate Loy Krathong with my entire family through the act of releasing Kome Loy into the sky!

I also took a short video of the main release that Nik put to music.  You can watch a high quality version here on YouTube.  It is amazing!!!!

Nik also posted a lot of photos from our day of beauty: Fire in the Sky

The Floating Lantern Ceremony is part of Northern Thailand’s Loy Krathong Festival, also known as Yee Peng, and is held at the Buddhist Meditation Center, Tudong Ka Sathaan Lanna, behind the Mae Jo Agricultural University in San Sai District, Chiang Mai.

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Back to our Southeast Asia Home…Chiang Mai

October 26, 2008 by Jamie

Nik and I arrived back in Chiang Mai 2 days ago, and are experiencing the huge relief of not traveling!!!  We are staying with a good friend at the moment, but will hopefully move into an apartment soon.  Maybe even the same building as before.

Once we get settled, I am planning to do a huge series of India posts….people we met, places we saw, food we ate, etc.  So hold tight, and the exciting stuff will start streaming soon!!

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Driving in Chiang Mai

September 16, 2008 by Jamie

People on Trucks from Nik's Blog

People on Trucks from Nik's Blog

Yesterday, Nik and I spent some time driving around Chiang Mai simply to drive around Chiang Mai.  We have a love/fear relationship with it because it is fascinating to see things here that you would never see anywhere else, but because of these things it seems to be extremely dangerous.  Nik has done a great blog post and below is a video that we took that Nik has added some music to so that you get the jist.

Nik’s Blog: Sitting, Driving, Watching Chiang Mai Traffic

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8inch Pizza on Huey Kaew Road

September 15, 2008 by Jamie

8inch Pizza on Huay Kaew Road

8inch Pizza on Huay Kaew Road

As soon as I stepped in this little Chiang Mai pizza restaurant, I could have sworn that I was in San Francisco.  More specifically, I felt like I stepped into the San Francisco kitchen that I dream about.  High ceilings, great work space, casual seating, and good pizza.  The proprietor was very friendly and even turned on the AC and closed the front door after she saw us slapping at early evening mosquitoes.

I just realized what this place reminds me of!!  Ken’s Bakery in Portland, OR on Monday evenings.  (They might not be twins, but maybe distant cousins)  You see, Ken does great wood-fired pizza every Monday, and Alex (my Portland roommate) and I would go from time to time and have two pizzas, a ceasar salad and two glasses of red wine.  8inch doesn’t have the ceasar salads or wine, but it has the potential!  Alex, if you were here, we would be friends with the owner of 8inch.

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