Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Clara channels her Inner Buddha

Is that a BIG STUPA or are you just happy to see me!!!

New Country, Same old headbutting technique

knock, knock

who is there?

The Subcontinent?

The Subcontinent Who?


Looks like it was a good thing we couldn't find a place to watch the Super Bowl. We are in the Northern Thailand town of Tak, about 50 miles from the Myanmar border. One of us wants to cross the border and start the revolution, the other doesn't. Guess which one is which?

We spent the morning headbutting baby elephants in tests of strength, Kevin v. the Elephants! Sort of like World's strongest man with kids. We were visiting an elephant retirement and breeding home, which included a tiny premature baby elephant who hung out under her mothers belly most of the morning. You can visit the reserve and be "assigned" an elephant to take care of, you feed it, clean it, clean up after it!, and take it into the river to play and into the forest to eat. Elephants eat over 300 pounds of food a day! They are so smart, so playful, each with very different personalities. We can't get enough of them.

The scenery is rice paddies, sun with occasional clouds, humidity, different palms, trees and bushes, many varieties of orchids around which makes Clara happy and interested. The roads are nice, the people are very friendly although language difficulties abound, and the food is good. Thailand really is one of the paradises of the world.

It reminds me a bit of Costa Rica. They are the only country in the area never to succumb to foreign rule. The king is revered, and there are pictures of him everywhere. Due to the fact that they haven't had wars, things are in good shape, the people have houses, clothes and schools, things are clean, they have univeral health care. In short, a great place to live. We have already met a number of ex-pats, including an English teacher who is shuttling between here and Istanbul, but fully plans on retiring here. We had a nice dinner with him, John or Giovanni, a good Italian boy who grew up in Providence, RI.

It is nice to be on some straight roads here after the Himalayas. The roads there make the Isle of Man look like a dragrace. We went 170 miles one day in 7 hours, and we were by far the fastest vehicle on the road. Constant curves, bad road, and slow traffic (even some Indians in brand new Tata's to drive the curse home!) make for some exhausting, although visually exhilarating riding. I kept thinking of the line from Caddyshack: "and it dropped down a 10,000 foot crevice". At times you could peer over the side of the road and there was a multi-thousand foot crevice right there.

It's in the hole!