Friday, September 23, 2011

Want to Ride an elephant?

People seem to think it's glorious to ride an elephant.  Well, before you sign up, you might want to read this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We are Moving!

This is about delightful people, opportunity and perhaps fate.

For the past two years, well 23 1/2 months I have lived in Chiang Rai and loved every minute of it.  Opportunities and the winds of change dictate that it's time to move on to Chiang Mai.   Let's face it, over the last year, I've spent more and more time in Chiang Mai and less and less at home in Chiang Rai.  After we finished out meditations at Chom Tong it was clear to both Maliwan and I that it was time to move.

Standing in the Door of our new home, the lease is signed!
When I mentioned the decision to Lek she smiled, drew a map to an area where there were houses for rent. I wanted a house with a kitchen, not a condo, and not a room.  I also wanted to live inside the moat, inside the old city of Chiang Mai.  And I wanted to do this with not much budget.   The house we went to see is inside the moat and the rent is reasonable.  Setting this arrangement was a God Shot.  It was too easy to be anything else.
Maliwan watches Knun Nui lock the gate, we'll be back in a few days! 
As soon as we signed the lease, I went to tell Khun Nam at the Patchkit house.  She is happy for us and was perfectly happy to let us out of our lease a month early.   Need a room in Chiang Mai, please check out Great service, great prices and absolutely lovely people.  There new restaurant is really quite good.  Personally I think they do a better job with the Thai food than the Western, but I also recognize that the longer I'm hear the more I enjoy the local cuisine.

Today I went to break the news to Khun Choke and Khun Kan. They are always gracious and supportive, the lease says 30 days notice, they are not worried about such details between friends. We shall miss them terribly. The house we are now living in will be available for rent soon after the 1st of October. The house is in the small compound at 88 Ratchayotha Rd (almost across from the Shell Station) Khun Kan and her husband Khun Choke have been wonderful friends to me and to Maliwan.  I'm delighted to recommend to to anyone who will treat this home with love and respect.
Khun Kan and Khun Choke
I should also tell you that Khun Choke and Khun Kan have built a brand new apartment building which will be ready for occupancy by the 1st of October.  The apartments are spacious and the prices are very reasonable between 5,000 and 6,000 per month.  There are still a few units left, but at this price and location I wouldn't wait long.  They are cati-corner from the Chiang Rai Condohotel. You can contact them directly at or by phone at 089-998-9248.
The new apartment building, ready by 1 October! 
We have made friends in Chiang Rai who we will certainly want to visit and we will certainly hope they come to visit us in Chiang Mai.   This move is about opportunity and serves as proof positive that all things are impermanent, the way nature intended.
Khun Maroot Nui, Friend, neighbor and nephew of Khun Choke

Good friends, neighbors, Jose and Monique 
We are so very blessed!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Landmines Suck

Soon I will write a proper article about the rescue of Pansuawan and 18 year old elephant who was tragically wounded by a landmine and about the people who took action to help her, but not tonight.  That article I’ll post in Asian Elephant Stories where it belongs.  Tonight I just need to vent.

Yesterday I was asked to go photograph this elephant who had stepped on a land mine.  We left mid-day and arrive at the pick-up site about dark.  This morning we loaded her on a truck and took her to the  elephant hospital at TECC .  A lot of good people were involved and without them this would not have happened, but that’s the story line to be written after I’ve cooled off a bit.

Tonight I’m in my room in Chiang Mai processing the photographs from today and I’m getting more and more angry.  What stupid self-centered son-of-a-bitch decided that minefields were a good idea?  Someone came up with this method of making war, terrorism if you like that word; I don’t.  The tactic allows the good guys to deter advancing enemies, inflict casualties and reduce enemy morale all without committing precious manpower.  If you have studied any military science beyond boot camp you have already been exposed to this logic.  The problem is that the logic is flawed, horribly flawed.  For example:
  • a    I have never heard of a minefield being properly mapped and later cleared by the army who put it there in the first place.  Rather, armies tend to be mobile and fluid.   An area will be mined and in a matter of days it may have no military significance at all.   Do you think, even for a moment, that the U.S. Army has any clue as to the location of the mines it left in Vietnam?  Hell that was 40 years ago; same question replace Vietnam with Iraq / Afghanistan.
  • b      Armies may return to the area they mined a few months ago and find the minefields are efficiently killing their own soldiers.  This is a problem!
  • c.       Mines are indiscriminate.  A mine does not know the war is over.  A mine does not know that a child, a cow or an elephant is standing on it.  All it knows is that something set off the triggering device and it’s time to go boom!

Thailand is borders Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.  All three of these countries have mine fields.  Myanmar is by far the worst.  The border areas are infested with minefields.   It’s also fair to say that there are mines on the Thai side of these borders as well.

A week ago an elephant name Pansuawan stepped on a landmine.  It took a week for the owners to come forth with this information so the elephant could receive medical treatment.  They needed a way to not get in trouble, or so it would appear.   I spoke to the doctor who is treating her.  She is the 15th such case that he is personally aware of.   How many people?  How much live stock, how many wild animals have been killed or maimed in these fields of terror?

For tonight I’ll just say that landmines really suck.  I feel like more research on my part will be coming.  Perhaps I’ll get involved in some way.   I’m a tough old coot and I can work around tragedy and go home and sleep.  For some reason this elephant has scraped away a layer of toughness and I feel really raw.  Maybe it’s the fact that her wound is fresh and was untreated when I first saw her, maybe it’s the fact that she is extremely gentle and seemed to look at me with a love and respect I have not earned.  Maybe I’m just evolving.  Whatever it is, gentle reader, I thank you for letting me vent.
Abundant Blessings,
Yesterday I had the privilege of riding