Phra Moon Magic

In our quest to escape the rain in southern Thailand, we decided to head north. And that was harder then it sounds… We were in a hard to reach part of the country, the fastest way to a sunny sky meant many hours of travel. One of the nicest avenues of Asian travel is the “Night Train.” These trains are equipped with beds and curtains, it’s like a traveling hostel and are particularly good for destinations over 8 hours away.

My friend, just recovering from Thai tummy, thought maybe the night train would make them uncomfortable, so we had to look for another option. This added a couple days and destinations to our journey, but we saw parts of Thailand that not many travelers do.

To get to the train, we had to take a two and a half hour bus to Surat Thani where we spent the night on the ‘other side of the tracks.’ We wanted a cheap hotel, walking distance from the train station which meant we had to lower our standards for an evening. Although, the pictures online didn’t make it look half as bad as it was.

Our room was tiny, the window didn’t lock, and the bathroom was smelly and the ceiling was covered with what looked like black spore mold. Luckily we had an AC unit that helped to mask the smell. Needless to say, we didn’t spend much time in our hotel room.

In this tiny city, outside of Surat Thani, the streets were lined with food vendors. We spent hours walking around, admiring all the different types of food. Being that we love mushrooms, we ended up drinking mushroom soup served in a plastic bag, with a side of sweet bread that is oh so delicious and filling. We headed to a restaurant with wifi afterwards to have a drink and book our room for the following evening.
nakompathomAll the rooms in this area we asking quite a bit of money, I found one of the cheapest but it was a bit out of town. I thought,  “No problem, We’ll just take a taxi from the station.”
We arrived in Nakom Pathom after nightfall. From the station, the first thing you’ll notice is the Phra Pathommachedi standing tall, casting reverence over the city. Lit up in the night, we were drawn to it like moths to a flame.
The closer we got to the stupa, the more and more birds were sitting in the trees signing. The birds were so loud that we couldn’t even hear the motorbikes passing by. To me, this was very special. At this time, I had been in Thailand for over 20 days and this was my first encounter with such a large amount of birds in this country.

It felt very powerful and special.

After giving our respect, we began our search for a taxi, we walked all over the city, hoping that one would pass by. The only taxis that we saw were motorbike taxis, and with our luggage this was not an option. We decided to walk back to the station and ask if anyone knew where we could find a taxi. The answer to that question was no, there are no car taxis in Nakom Pathom….

“Uh-Oh,” we thought, “I guess that means we’re walking…”

It was just at that moment when a lady came over to me and asked in English, “Excuse me, where are you going?” It seemed she wanted to help. Immediately I could tell she was a kind person, she walked over to us with her family. They were waiting for the night train, her mother and sister(?) were headed back home to Ko Samui via the train to Surat Thani.

“Hmm an interesting coincidence I thought…” 

“We’ll help you,” she said, “I’ll drive you to your hotel after the train picks up my mother.”

“No, no” I said, “You’re too kind. We’ll walk. You don’t have to do that.”

She insisted, “It’s your first time in Thailand. We want to help you. It’s not too far from my house, it’s no big deal.”

So we put our fate in the hands of a stranger, they exuberated kindness. I know not to trust most people, but these ladies were good hearted, it was clear to see.

Still, I felt I couldn’t take the ride. It was too kind, who were we to deserve this? I wanted to call the hotel to see if maybe they would send a car for us.

The hotel owner didn’t speak English, again our new friends helped us with this too.
The answer was no, there is no taxi available to pick us up or drop us off at the station tomorrow.

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We shared laughs and good times as we waited for the train. We enjoyed hearing about their life and they enjoyed hearing about our travels through Thailand. Before her mother left we gathered together for this picture and to say goodbye.

 

“How are you getting to the train station tomorrow?” We were asked.
“I guess we will walk.” Having to walk to the station in the morning didn’t phase us, we tend to walk quite a bit.

“No, No. I will pick you up and bring you to the station.”

I tried to resist, “You don’t have to do that! We can walk. You’re too kind!”

“No, No, this is your first time in Thailand. We want to help.”

Beginning to accept her offer I said, “Ok…but can we give you some money?”

“No, I want to help you. This is all for free.”

I bit my lip and accepted this incredible chance of fate…

The next morning they arrived, just like they said they would (8:00 am!!).
and she had prepared breakfast for each us!
Again, I couldn’t believe it!!

She brought us to the station, we said our goodbyes, and we expressed our immense gratitude.

Days later, my heart is still heavy with gratitude and respect for this girl and her loving family;To go so far out of her way to help us, 2 complete strangers and to treat us so well. I feels so unreal.

{May good tidings be brought their way, I send to them my love.

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The locals I have met in Thailand have been so kind and caring.
We will be leaving Thailand in just a few days, and I am sad to leave.
It’s a really beautiful country.

Our last few days will be spent in Bangkok.

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Rainy daze in paradise

Since I’ve been in Thailand, the weather has been beautiful up until recently. The trend has been, if it does rain, it will rain for an hour typically in the evening or morning and it will rain hard. But the rest of the day, the sun is shining bright and hot. It’s been perfect.
The past week though, it’s been raining all day, which can be relaxing in a different sense.
Today is day two on main land in about two weeks, prior to this I had been island hopping in the Andaman Sea. It was splendid.
Here in Krabi, it’s a slow steady rain; with little wind. It seems as if this front is going to stick around for awhile.
Below is a weather map that I really find useful. It’s interesting; if one was to look up the weather for this area regularly; it’s going to say it will rain everyday and that’s far from true. The Thai people don’t seem to look up the weather themselves; maybe because it’s never accurate. But this map shows me it’s probably time to move out of this area.
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Click on the map above to see the weather map from the Bangkok Satellite


Not to mention, my travel partner has gotten Thai belly. I guess, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
The owner of the guest house we are staying at has been very helpful. She has explained to me what the root cause most people get “Thai Belly” actually is and what to avoid to prevent this from happening again!
Most people think that Thai Belly comes from the water, but that’s not the case; it’s the food.
A lot of restaurants and street vendors do not properly store their condiments, meat and fish. She said sometimes she too gets sick. In particular, many people can get sick from the chili/fish sauce combo that is served with every soup. That is because the condiments are sitting out all day and can go bad without being chilled in the hot and humid weather. She recommended to always smell the sauce first to see if it is sour.
She shared with me many horror stories of her guests getting ill and being painfully ill for days on end. I will spare you the details but here are two commonly considered helpful foods for upset stomach that are actually terribly dangerous.

1. Milk

2. Bananas

She told me that many times, visitors will think that milk is a good way to “cool” their stomachs down. But in reality, that may be the tipping for them to head to the emergency room.
She walked with me to the Seven- Eleven and showed me a drink she kept referring to as “Soft Water”

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Electrolytes!

She has shared with me a Thai remedy for upset stomach involving balm on the stomach and low back.

Alas, my friend is still sick and it is still raining.

Tomorrow we will start our voyage north! We have changed our plans due to the weather and the impending volcano eruption in Bali. As I have been spending my days in a Tsunami hot spot; the fear of such a disaster has increased with the possible volcano eruption. Although I love adventure; that may be just a bit much.

Where to next? Stay tuned!

What’s it really like to backpack?

What’s it really like to backpack


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“Living the dream” many would say.
And yes; I really am living my dream and I’m incredibly grateful. But would this lifestyle be fit for everyone? 

 

 

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, Travelers don’t know where they are going.” – Paul Theroux


Backpacking:

The only certainty is uncertainty.

  • Sometimes you can’t even count on your room to be reserved and ready for you upon arrival because the hotel has overbooked the room causing you to have to find other lodging, and quick… Sometimes the bus overbook too or they leave early or it breaks down. And sometimes the food you ordered went bad a few hours before you ordered it, without you knowing, causing you to take a few days off to recuperate.The only certainty; is uncertainty.
  • I haven’t stayed in a place long enough to unpack my bag since I left America. My clothes get wrinkled and forgot about in that backpack. My shoes, worn but still fabulous… I have a small collection of toiletries I carry and sometimes leave behind. But I take good care of myself and find laundry services along the way.
  • Many of the showers and toilets in Thailand are an all-in-one kind of deal, with a drain in bathroom floor somewhere near the wall. Which means; the bathroom is always wet.
  • Want to see the world on a measly budget? Well that means eating in… with no kitchen. Street food is cheap and good but 3 times a day is out of my budget. I tend to eat out once a day; a delicious Thai soup but not too spicy. For the other meals, I eat fruit from the market and carbs from the store. I have a whole new appreciation for 7-11s these days.
  • Staying in hostels; sharing a room with 10 strangers. My days of being a light sleeper are behind me. Ear plugs get more comfortable as they age and privacy is a luxury.  It’s a great way to meet people, all kinds of people of all creeds, shapes, and sizes.
  • Everyday there are challenges, and many are unplanned. Just today I left my phone charging at the hotel and didn’t realize until we were at the bus station on our way out of town. We acted fast and jumped off the bus to find our way back in town, and back to the hotel to get my phone. It added an hour to our trip and extra expenses along the way, but it had to be done.
    It’s a matter of surrendering and saying “OK. What’s the next best move?”

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A lot of this style of traveling is about letting go and surrendering to the present moment.

Letting go of expectations; letting go of fears and self doubt. Saying yes to the unknown and embracing the challenges before us with open arms and hearts.

And oh me, oh my; the amount you will learn about yourself!

There may be no better way to show to yourself just how capable you are then to navigate through a foreign country on your own successfully.

You may quickly notice your strengths and weaknesses. But you may also quickly notice your weaknesses becoming stronger and less of an issue.
But if you’re lucky, and willing to keep growing, a new challenge is right around the corner.
So yes, I am living my dream but it is challenging, and grimey, and uncertain; but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Flying by the seat of my pants.

And what does “Flying by the seat of my pants” mean exactly?

Well Urban dictionary describes it as,
“1. to pilot a plane by feel and instinct rather than by instruments 
2. to proceed or work by feel or instinct without formal guidelines or experience”

I’m ‘Winging’ it, I’m following my heart, my instincts, my gut feeling wherever it may lead me.

I’m traveling with no written plan.

And what has such an action shown me?
How beautifully orchestrated this whole thing we call Life really is.

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When we let go of control, and let the wind push us and pull us this way and that, a really magical thing happens. Synchronicities begin to pop up over and over.

“Coincidences” 

Amazing encounters with complete strangers, that can make so much sense you may start laughing saying

“There is NO way that this is happening!”

These moments leave me star struck, in disbelief, flooded with feeling that makes my jaw drop down to my toes!

To me, this is one of the most beautiful aspects of life. 

This is what I live for.
This is what shows me just how intricate the web of life truly is.
This is what shows me I’m headed in the right direction.
It is to this force, that brings us together, that I give thanks.

“May the force be with you” 😉

Synchronicity:
Synchronicity is a concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.

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Ramps, Leeks, or Wild Onions

Ramps, Leeks, or Wild Onions are one of the first tasty morsels to pop out the ground in the early spring in the forests of Eastern North America. Their taste and smell resembles a cross between an onion and a garlic. Ramps, or Allium tricoccum are a member of the Lily family.

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Ramps have very high levels of vitamin C. Early settlers relied on the ramps for their restorative qualities after long winters.  Large doses of vitamin C can prevent and cure Scurvy.

The pungent and crisp flavor of the leek is hard to beat. Many consider ramps to be their favorite foraged edible. The whole plant is edible from the leaves, to the bulb.

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When foraging for leeks, it’s best to have a knife to CUT THE BULBS FROM THE ROOTS. Leaving the roots in the ground, will help ensure the survival of the plant for coming years. If you do not have a knife, you may do as I did, which was take LESS THAN HALF of what you find, leave the rest of the leeks to continue their life cycle in the forest. By helping the plants propagate, you can return to the leeks you’ve found for years to come.

Where to find the leeks

Ramps grow like scallions, in groups, with their bulbs underneath the ground. They prefer sandy, moist soil so looking near  streams and on river banks is a good idea.
They are also known to grow near certain trees: Poplar, Birch, Beech, and/or Maple trees.

Their leaves are deep green, and their stems grow red, their bulbs white, making them a very striking plant.

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Want to make sure it’s a ramp? Tear off a part of the leaf and give it a sniff.
If it smells like onions, you have the right plant!!!

How to forage:

To me, foraging is an art.

It takes patience, attentiveness, and the ability to follow your gut, your intuition, your heart. Where are you feeling led to? Go there. Don’t ask questions, don’t hold yourself back by logic. Follow your inner guidance.

I find that when I’m truly in the moment, I am led to what I’m looking for.

Harvesting

To retrieve the leek from the soil. Reach down to it’s base and cut right above the roots, leaving the roots in the soil.
If you do not have a knife, take less than half of the bunch.
Do not forage from small groupings, look to find large patches!

NOTE: In some states, “Ramping” (a term for foraging ramps) has become quite popular, which has left the ramp to become endangered in some areas, even illegal to pick! This is because people were removing the whole plant, and leaving no ramps behind. 

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Leave some behind!
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Time to thank the forest and say goodbye.

 

 

Cooking with Leeks

Treat the Leek like you would a scallion or onion.They are a great addition to most any meal! Since I harvested, I have been adding them to almost every meal I cook. They also make a great soup!

First wash off the dirt.

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Cut

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Try the leaves raw, I think they’re delicious.

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Or cut them and cook them with your dish

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Next, cook.
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& eat!
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I hope you found this blog helpful!

Stay safe out there! With the forest floor covered in last year’s leaves, it’s hard to tell the state of the ground beneath. Avoid steep banks and loose, muddy soil!  Especially if you’re alone. And remember, never eat something you’ve foraged unless you are 100% certain of it’s species.

“WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!”

 

 

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” – John Muir

 

 

The beginning

Synergy:

/ˈsinərjē/

noun

  • 1.the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

To live a life with synergy;

To live a lifestyle where mind, body, heart, and spirit live in a state of homeostasis; in balance, with harmony.