Stopped in Taiwan to chang planes, they are serious about drug trafficing!
The past year has been utterly amazing; in many aspects it’s been the best year of my life! There have been deceptions revealed, mistakes, lessons learned, adventure, serenity, excitement, calm, respect and love. There have even been fleeting moments of humility! Gratitude, oh yes! I am so very grateful for my life today. May I share a few of the highlights? For the photo hounds, I’ll include the photobucket links relative to the last year. The list is at the bottom of the article.
Morning Light - Northern Thailand
The first three months were spent teaching English in an Akha village north of Chiang Rai. The kids were great. The foundation was not. By the first of November I had secured this marvelous little house in Chiang Rai. I was enjoying in two totally different cultural experiences.
|The Village People before school|
MaliwanAfter I finished at Phuket I came to Chiang Mai to help the foundation open a school in Chiang Mai. By mid March I had terminated my relationship with the foundation, as had the four other volunteers. Still, March was an amazing month! I enrolled in a Thai language course and there met my friend Mick Connolly who introduced me to the “Taste from Heaven”. Eating there surrounded by huge photographs of elephants we decided to take a day and go visit the park. I fell in love and the elephants and the project.
Artifacts at Wat in Chiang Mai
In early May I returned to Nan Rong and brought Maliwan back to Chiang Rai with me. We came as far as Chiang Mai by rail, stopping in Auttuya and Lopburi on the way North.
When you get to Lopburi, heed the signs!By June I’d decided I want to volunteer with the Save Elephant Foundation (also known as the Elephant Nature Foundation). I am now involved in helping produce a magazine. Besides spending time with the foundation I’m putting a fair amount of time and effort into Thai language schooling. I’m really spending as much time in Chiang Mai as I am at home in Chiang Rai; actually I really love it!
Lek one of her baby elephantsThailand is a wonderful place to live. The weather is warm; o.k. sometimes it’s hot and humid, but there is no snow shovel market here, not at all. Having said that, I’ve noticed a couple of contradictions that may be worth mentioning.
First Thailand has this love affair with the elephant, yet there is a history of elephant abuse here. It seems when the media objects then the officials clamp down, at least for a little while.
Nudity is illegal here. This aggravates me because I love photographing artistic nudes. I dare not even attempt such a thing here for fear of being arrested. At the same time there is a thriving, raging might be a better word, child pornography industry is Bangkok. (I suspect it’s also in Pattaya and Phuket, but I have no interest in verifying). For the past couple of weeks the Bangkok post has been reporting on this epidemic. A few days after the paper publishes the article, the nasty stuff is then reported to have disappeared. How was it allowed in the first place? Thailand is supposed to be involved in movements to stop child exploitation. More information could be found on www.bangkokpost.com if you are interested. www.Thaivisa.com also has some interesting articles.
Here there really is no freedom of speech, not like we have in the U.S. On the other hand the media isn’t controlled by the government in ways that’s obvious in the U.S. If you want to read nasty news about American officials, it would be available here in much greater detail than in the U.S. On the other hand if you want to read nasty details about the Thai elite, you are better off accessing the web from a site in the U.S.
The red-shirts and the current regime keep trading insults and accusing each other of all sorts of horrible things. Recent news is about red-shirts who were allegedly given weapons training in a secret camp in Cambodia. The official denial from the Cambodian government included text to the effect that such a thing would have been in violation of their constitution and therefore could not possibly have happened. I laughed so hard I spilled my coffee! Boy, I’m glad the American government would never come up with anything that ridiculous! You do know that I jest, don’t you.
O.K. enough ranting! Photographs are on line at www.phtobucket.com I’m running sort on space and plan to remove some of the folders in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, here is the list in alphabetical order:
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/46thSFCA_20100817/ - A day with the 46th Special Forces Association
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/April2010/ Includes “On do bus” and the first visit to Wat Rong Khun
Wat Rong Khun
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/BLES_20101001/ Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/CM_Zoo/ The Chiang Mai Zoo
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/Dec09_2/ December 2009 – Part Two. Nang Rong
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/Elephant_Freedom_Journey/ The Elephant Freedom Journey
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/ENP/ The Elephant Nature Park
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/ENP_27sep2010/ The Elephant Nature Park in September 2010
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/February_2010/ February 2010 – Includes Papa and Mama from the village. The old man was very ill and has since made his transition.
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/January_2010/ Includes Phuket and Phnom Rung
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/July_2010/ Features the tree planting, and Antoinette Van de Water
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/June2010/ Includes the ENP and Carol Buckley
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/March2010/ Chiang Mai
Mick and two of his fans!
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/March2010/Elephant%20Nature%20Park/ My first visit to the Elephant Nature Park
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/May2010/ Includes Ayutthaya and Lopburi
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/Nov09/ The Akha Village, Bangkok and a bit of Chiang Rai
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/Oct09/ The first month in Thailand
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/PhaiSiRescue/ The rescue of Ar Sii (they changed his name)
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/Red%20Shirts8_22_10/ Red shirt demonstration in Ching Mai August 22d.
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/September2010/ Bangkok and the ENP
Nothing like a good mud bath on a hot afternoon!
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/Street_Elephants/ Street Elephants
http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/Tachileik_MaeSai/ Tachileik Burma and Mae Sai Thailand. The photobucket people couldn’t handle the images of cigarette packages. I’ve never bothered to ask if they actually thought I was supporting a brand or if they were smokers who I offended. In any rate here they are: