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History & Culture

Volcano (Mount Tangkuban Perahu) & Jungle Trekking in Bandung, Indonesia – Nov.1, 2013

By | History & Culture, Indonesia, Traveling | One Comment

Nov. 1, 2013

After spending a week in Jakarta (and getting a bit bored there), I can say that today was definitely the highlight of my trip to Indonesia. I arrived to the 2nd biggest city, Bandung a few nights ago via 3-hour Argo train ride from the Indonesian capital. When I was looking for my new hotel, I got lost and stumbled into a travel agency asking for directions. This ended up being the best thing to happen to me on my trip as the owner Herman, was super-friendly and spoke perfect English. After getting to know him (he’s Indo-Chinese and lived in various cities in the US while attending graduate school), he offered to give me a personal tour the next day. This is despite the fact that his travel agency mainly deals with large group tours visiting other locations/ countries.

We started the day bright and early with a drive up north Dago then through the town of Lembang (I think). First stop was a restaurant that’s built in the jungle with water running through it. Since it was early morning, they weren’t serving food but Herman just wanted to give me a tour of the place. The setup was unique with tables and huts spread out everywhere. It would def be a good spot for a first date, ha.

Shortly after that, we drove to the starting point of our hike. At first the trail was easy but then we had to cross a bunch of old, dodgy-looking wooden bridges. Some lacked side-rails and had planks missing , WTF!?! lol Towards the middle of the trek, we finally made it to the waterfall. Continuing on some steep climbs, we went through brush and tea plantations.  The green vegetation surrounding us was beautiful…coupled with the fact that we were the only two people to be walking through the trails, it really made it feel like an adventure into the jungle.  This all took about an hour and 45-min but was well worth it.
 
Next up was a stop at a local market…it had tons of fresh vegetables and fruits.  We picked up some sticky rice to eat for later.  Everyone in Thailand knows about glutinous sticky rice, but Indo’s got their own style. They stick fermented soy-bean paste with chilli’s in the middle of the rice block, almost like a sandwich Then top it with shredded coconut…I wanted to say ALOY MAK MAK b/c I don’t speak Indonesian, ha.  Last stop was a local spot eating dishes that are standard Indonesia cuisine.
 
After a relaxing meal, we drove up-to Mount Tangkuban Perahu, which is an active volcano. There has been recent activity and an advisory went out in October, causing the area to be shutdown to tourist. Luckily it was re-opened just 5 days ago 🙂 The drive up was foggy and you could smell the sulfur before we even got to the top. Once there, it was amazing to see…as I said, it was foggy and chilly which made the whole setting feel eerie, plus it was cloudy and you could hear thunder.  It almost felt like something bad was about to happen, lol.  Going to see a live volcano face-to-face was one of the main factors in choosing to do my visa run to Indonesia (not exactly a popular route for most people in Thailand).  Although this is my first time observing one, I doubt it will be the last.  
 
After pouring down hard for a bit, the weather cleared up…I was able to get better shots of the craters with improved visibility of the background. We walked around the crater a bit for different angles. As we left, the loud speaker issued a warning about the fog and to be extra careful driving down. The other tourists started leaving in a bit of a hurry, as if an eruption was imminent…drama-queens! lol  On the drive down you could only see about 5 meters in front of you.
 

Last stop was going for a dip in the hot-spring water via resort. Obviously the water is heated by the volcano’s energy. It was clean and didn’t smell at all. If you got close to where the pipes drained the water, it was almost scolding hot.

I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to my tour guide, Herman.  Fate had it that I get lost and bump into his tour agency.  During my few days in Bandung, he drove me to various spots, showed me local eateries and looked after me.  He was my long lost Chinese uncle while in Indonesia 🙂  If anyone is in need of travel planning, I’d highly recommend his company.  Judging by how well he took care of me, I’d say his customer service skills are up to par.  Both he and his wife run the business with numerous staff on-hand (they had about 5 girls working in the office the day I came in).  His contact info is:
 
Sakura Tour Travel 
Address: Jl Trunojoyo 14 
Bandung, Indonesia
 Email: siany@sakuratourtravel .com or accounting@sakuratourtravel.com
 
 
 
And the source of my inspiration to venture off to Indonesia by myself goes to fellow blogger Kristin Addis, who runs a highly-informational travel site herself.  She goes into quite some detail for those considering Indonesia, such as costs, where to go and how to do it by yourself.  Here’s a link to her Indonesia articles:
 
 
Nov. 17th, 2013 – Currently, I’m posting this piece from Chiang Mai.  My parents and youngest brother have flown all the way from NY to spend two weeks with me in Thailand (we spent last week in Phuket).  After they leave, I’ve committed myself to a 10-day silent retreat located here, at Wat Ram Poeng (Tapotaram).  http://www.watrampoeng.net/
 
Sabai-sabai,
Chris

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New Year, New Chapter…Moving to Thailand :)

By | Deep Thoughts, History & Culture, Preparing for your trip | 28 Comments

I retire!

It’s officially a wrap…Today I handed in my resignation with a smile on my face…for the past 8 years in NYC, I’ve worked for 3 different Wall St.  firms.  This past Spring, my MBA from Baruch was completed.  The next chapter in my life begins January 30, 2013 when I permanently move to Thailand.  🙂

1 year ago, I decided to make up a New Year’s resolution, which is rare, since I’m a firm-believer that self-improvement should be constant and not relegated to one day of the year.  This time I wanted to hold myself accountable in experiencing something new that was outside of my comfort-zone…thus Muay Thai was Googled and after reading some reviews on Yelp, Evolution Muay Thai gym in NYC was chosen.  The first class was not easy to say the least.  Mind you have I have asthma and previously experienced 2 separate incidents  of a collapsed lung.  But I got through it.  After a week of rest, I was interested in experiencing more Muay Thai pain…for the next 4-5 months, this process was repeated every Saturday or Sunday, as I would trek an hour from Hoboken into the city to get my fix…I only missed 1 class due to sickness.  At this point, my addiction was obvious.

After 4 years of balancing a full time job and grad school, my MBA was nearing completion.  And so began the process of planning some much-needed time off…My last real vacation was a year ago to Ibiza…so why not treat myself to a month long holiday in the birth-place of Muay Thai…Thailand!?!  I could train, sight-see and just relax…and it was long enough for me to really immerse myself in Thai culture, something that is very important to me when traveling, as I hate isolated resorty type of get-aways.  But in the back of my mind, I had also been looking for change…somewhere or someplace to start the next chapter in my life.  I found myself asking: did I really go through 4 painstaking years, just to change career paths, start at the bottom of the corporate ladder and grind it out again for the next decade?!?!  Am I prepared to make more sacrifices to my health and well-being?  The answer that kept coming back was a HELL-NO!

To be honest, I have good job with an Australian investment bank (don’t mistake this for a walk-in-the-park, the position is still very stressful and numerous times people have tested my patience) and live in a nice apartment.  During the recession, I survived numerous rounds of layoffs and was able to move into better positions.  But at this point in my life, it’s not about the money anymore…it’s not my main motivator, nor what makes me happy.  Now it’s about my passion, my goals and my dream.

So what exactly will I be doing in Thailand? Since returning from my trip 6 months ago, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this question and coming up with a plan (which usually occurred between the hours of 9-5, Monday – Friday, lol..kidding!)…

#1 – Obviously my passion is in Muay Thai.  I want to train full-time, meaning both morning and afternoon sessions, 6 days a week.  And with this training, step into the ring to fight, once or twice a month.   The form and technique that veteran fighters showcase, whether it’s during pad-work or against a live opponent, is both stunning and beautiful to watch. I want to achieve this same level of perfection…or get as close to it as possible.  My dream would be to compete at the Mecca of Muay Thai, Lumpini Stadium (Bangkok) before it’s set to shut down in 2014

#2 – Enrolling in a formal Thai language school to learn to speak, read and write.  Now that I’m going to be living here long-term, this is a vital step in fully immersing myself in the local culture…thus allowing me to further develop my relationship with the Thai people.

#3 – Working on my meditation/ mental strength training/ spirituality…during my last visit, I attended meditation sessions which helped me to relax and think clearly.  I also believe that there are valuable lessons to be learned from Buddhist values and traditions that are prevalent throughout the country…I not only saw this in how people act and treat each other, but could also feel it.  Eventually I’d like to attend a 10-20 day silent retreat.

#4 – Volunteer work ie. teaching English or working with orphans.  At my current job, I lead the “Winter Wishes” campaign, which collected holiday toy donations for kids throughout NYC.  I also helped teach a class at an elderly home on how to use computers and technology.  After Hurricane Sandy hit my home-community, Hoboken, NJ I spent a Saturday volunteering at city hall.  I realize that I’m blessed and don’t have to face certain problems, but there are still other people out there suffering.  I’m a big believer that everyone needs to do their part in helping the world become a better place.

#5 – Digital/ Internet Marketing…I did a dual MBA concentration in Finance and Marketing and plan on putting this knowledge to use through my side business ie. SEO  The work can be done via laptop, while sitting at the beach, ha.

I’ll leave with this clip I saw on someone’s Facebook page: What if Money didn’t matter

Sabai, sabai 🙂

-Chris

PS – I always enjoy comments from friends, family, FB friends, readers of this blog…so leave something below.  If you want to follow me, there’s an email box at the top right.  Please support me and “Like” my Facebook page to the right, thx.

 

Goodbye Chiang Mai…Day 29 – Part I (Sun 6/24)

By | History & Culture | No Comments

Today is my last day in Chiang Mai.  I had mixed feelings towards the city…Phuket was my “home away from home” for 3 weeks and I severely missed my good friends there…to compound this, I was sick and injured, and therefore couldn’t train much.  However, by the end of the week after meeting new friends, eating at plenty of good places and taking in new sites and culture (that seemed a bit more “authentic” ?), I ended up liking the city.  I could definitely see myself living here long-term.  The people were just as friendly and appeared educated as well.  Now I know why they called this place “New City”.

The day was started at the same Thai spot we went to yesterday, on some corner/ back alley.  Afterwards we walked around a shopping area, then stopped off at Wat Bupparam near the hotel.  Sadly it was time to pack up and catch a tuk-tuk to catch a 4:30pm flight to BKK.

Here’s a video of Chiang Mai on a scooter: http://youtu.be/GZ3X8Cexi7Q

 

Review of Tapae Place Hotel:

  • Some of the rooms had really bad wifi…I had to change rooms 3 times before finally settling on one with a good connection.
  • Has air-con.
  • Good location, right in the heart of the city.
  • Cheap at 650 baht a night.
  • Good customer service…the front desk people were very friendly and eager to help me with whatever I needed.  Thank you guys!
  • Nice sized rooms
  • http://www.tapaeplacehotel.com
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Training & Feedin’ Time! Day 28 (June 23)

By | History & Culture, Training | 10 Comments

Saturday I went to a somewhat popular Thai spot for brunch.  My friend and I were able to get a few dishes before they were totally sold out.

Chiang Mai has too many temples to count…there’s practically one on every corner.  But I had only been to the one atop of Diu Suthep.  So we went to one in the city, Wat Phrasingh.  What people need to remember when they visit these holy shrines, is that they are still active places of worship for Buddhists…therefore you will see people praying and what not.  It’s important to be respectful of this.

The first thing we did was go to the area on the side that sells candles, flowers and gift baskets.  These are for donations, ie. for the monks.  Then we went to the golden statue shrine, said a prayer, then lit the candles and laid down the flowers.

Once inside the temple, we went to a monk to get blessed.  We knelt down in front of him, offered up the donation basket and he then said some prayers…some water was thrown on us, and lastly a piece of string tied around our wrists.  This is for good luck ie. money J

We walked to the back area which has an orange sheet that you write on…I wrote asking for health & happiness for my friends & family.  Next to it is a big gong that I hit, haha.  There’s a tent selling candles so we bought some again.  But this time you put down your name and birth date and the actual day you were born on.  You light it at the altar and it’s for good luck.

Yesterday’s training went well so decided to go for the Saturday 4 PM session.

  • Only 5-6 guys were in class today
  • Warmed up and stretched
  • Did 3 rounds of pad work with either Kru Joe or Kru Gen (sorry guys, still can’t tell you apart haha)
  • Same combos as yesterday
  • Last 30 sec were burnout punches
  • Bag work
  • Kru Joe & Gen are really good with elbows.  They helped correct the movement of my arms and where to place my feet when executing them.
  • Practiced left elbow with spinning elbow
  • Elbow into solar plex (center of chest, which must really hurt)
  • Jab, jab, Jumping elbow (winding your arm like a windmill stretch)
  • Did clinching with Jasper – basic getting arms on inside position
  • Make sure to stand up straight
  • Worked in some knees
  • Getting out of bear-hug clinch
  • Avoiding knees, by spinning hip or using knee to block
  • Kru Joe & Gen showed us how to throw opponent, using bus driving analogy (ie. left hand pulls,  while right hand pushes away)
  • Then it looked like they did a teaching lecture
  • Flying knees on bags, group drill with knees & hand-weights around mats

One of the guys who helped me plan my Chiang Mai trip was Bill Forestell .   He runs the website http://fightpassport.com and helped setup the Team Quest gym.  This site has numerous articles and reviews on Thailand…an excellent source of information.  Bill has been living here for 4 years and has trained at dozens of different camps, even ones outside of Thailand, ie. Cambodia.  He’s documented a lot of his travels and experiences which are invaluable to anyone considering a trip.  I’ve been meaning to meet Bill in person to thank him for all the assistance he gave me.  Today he finally stopped by Team Quest and we chatted for a bit.  We were emailing each other back and forth since March about my Chiang Mai trip…it’s nice to finally get a face to match a name.  Thanks Bill!

Before leaving, I talked with Ian and Adrien who fought the other night.  I found out he’s only 24 years old and has been doing Muay Thai for just a year and a half, but already has 18 fights.

Review of TQ:

One of the main reasons for visiting Chiang Mai (originally scheduled for 10 days) was to get in some solid training at Team Quest.  Because I stayed in Phuket an extra week, this only gave me a week in Chiang Mai…coupled with my injuries and sickness, I only got to train twice there.  However, my overall impression of Team Quest is positive.  When I come back to Thailand, I will definitely stop back here for a longer term to train.  Some highlights:

  • As with most gyms, you will feel a “vibe” as to the students and kru’s.  If you’re not comfortable, then you probably won’t train well.  With Team Quest, I liked the atmosphere.   The other students I met there were international and friendly.  People helped me out with my technique.
  • The trainers: Kru Joe, Gen, Hut and Ping spoke good English, which is important when trying to teach you form and technique.  They had a good sense of humor as well and were laidback.
  • As I mentioned before, Kru Joe & Gen were really good with elbows.  When they demonstrate technique, they look graceful and badass at the same time.  I wish I had more time to work on my elbows with them.
  • The gym was only opened last year (Oct/ Nov I think) so everything is clean and new.
  • I met one of the owners, Ian Cartright (Canadian).  He explained to me he wants to expand the gym…he obviously cares about the facilities and has done a good job so far at maintaining its quality.
  • They have a very useful website ( http://teamquestthailand.com/ )which has tons of information, ie. which hotel to stay, activities to do, etc.
  • When I went, the classes did not seem crowded.  About 15 students and 4 trainers.
  • Good prices…350 baht per class.  Cheaper than Phuket, 500 baht.
  • Oh yeah, this is the same Team Quest brand that some famous UFC fighters have been training at.

For dinner, we went to Chiang Mai’s best BBQ buffet.  I don’t know the name but it’s towards Doi Suthep and Chiang Mai University.  It’s gianormous with hundreds of tables.  They had a nice ambience going with a live singer / acoustic guitar performing both Thai and foreign songs.  The food selection was huge (all kinds of meat , seafood, apps, desserts and drinks included) and only costs 200 baht per person.

Here’s a Youtube video of the place: http://youtu.be/f1xD_Y2ifZQ

And one of the drive home…Chiang Mai at night:  http://youtu.be/W2ZatABurlU

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Back to Training (Team Quest, Chiang Mai)…Day 26 & 27 (June 21 & 22)

By | History & Culture, Live Fights, Training | One Comment

Day 26 Thurs 6/21

I was getting bored and lonely…the Dutch guys I met recommended going on a jungle trek (something I planned initially) because it’s a great way to meet people since you go in groups of 20 – 30 people. But it was already Thursday and they usually last 3 days…time which I didn’t have.  So I went to Doi Suthep again but this time to check out the park and waterfalls.  The entrance fee is 60 – 100 baht.

For lunch, I went to a back-alley spot with a friend I met in Chiang Mai.  She was a local so did the foor ordering…check out the chicken feet, hahaha.   Sitting at our table was a young guy…we started talking and he was from Germany.  He just got to Chiang Mai but has been all over Thailand and parts of Cambodia…he was even in Phuket for a bit and trained Muay Thai as well….he’s got an open-ended ticket.  It’s funny how we’re in some random spot in off-street alleys, but you can still meet interesting people and have a conversation.  That’s one of the things I love most about this trip.

For dinner, I wanted something besides Thai…drove past a falafel place so decided to check it out.  It was actually Israeli owned…when I asked  for a menu, they noticed I spoke English and the owner asked me sit with him.  He was a funny guy and used to be a Western Boxer.

Day 27 Fri 6/22

For brunch, I went to Better Butter dinner, an American style place next to the falafel place.  I was feeling a bit depressed from not training…my last session was last Thursday in Phuket.  So today I decided to just suck it up and take some Advils and Tiger Balm for my injuries…drove out to Team Quest and did the 4pm Muay Thai class.  Ian Cartwright, one of the owners greeted me and we chatted a bit before I started my warm up.  Did jump rope, then stretched and shadow-boxed.  During this time, I met some of the guys…some were from the UK, Canada, US and Iceland…the class size was about 10-14 people.

  • Did  3 -5 rounds on pads with Kru Joe (one of the twins)
  • Combo: Jabs, hook, right kick
  • Combo: Jabs, elbow , knee
  • Elbow combo’s: Left Up elbow, Right Up elbow
  • side elbow (left then right)
  • left-elbow side-ways going up, followed by spinning right elbow (my favorite)
  • 1-2, 2 combo, double kick, regular kick, followed by high-kick, leg check, followed by roundhouse, left uppercut / right uppercut
  • I really liked Kru Joe’s style of combo’s and they seemed to work well with my body mechanics.  He didn’t correct me too much on my stance or tech.
  • Last part on pads were 10 kicks on each side.
  • Pad work is always my favorite part of training sessions and it felt awesome to be hitting them again.
  • Next were rounds on the bags, with 15 pushups in between. Did this until everyone had pad sessions.
  • Then sparring with Kru Joe. They spar a bit faster here and I forgot my mouthpiece. He pretty much whipped my ass the whole time haha. I definitely need more sparring time.
  • Something funny I overheard was from Ian: “Get your Muay Thai swag on” he said to some new guy working on his stance.  This is the bounce, shoulders moving back and fourth.  Looks almost like the jig you’d do in a hip-hop club, lol.
  • End was cool down drills. Pushups (slow up, slow down), regular pushups. 200 sit-ups.
  • Hung around and spoke to Ian for a bit afterwards.  It was interesting to hear his story of how he ended up Thailand starting up a gym.  He wants to expand the gym eventually and use up the space in the back.  Class sizes have been increasing.
  • I bought some Team Quest Muay Thai shorts and a t-shirt.

That night for dinner, I went to the night bazaar.   Ate at a restaurant called Ping Ping which has fresh seafood at reasonable prices.  Definitely recommend it if you visit Chiang Mai.

Afterwards, I went to watch the Team Quest guys fight Kawila Stadium which was not far away.  Since I train with them, I get discounted admission for only 300 baht at the door.  Kru Gen’s knee was hurt so he didn’t fight.  However, Adrien was still scheduled to fight.  Before his fight, we were in the stand-up viewing area where other fighters were, just hanging out with the Team Quest guys…he was getting warmed up and massaged with oil by the kru’s.  When it was his turn, we got to go inside the seated VIP area and had a great view.  He landed a flying knee.  In the 3rd round, the fight was called and he was victorious.  It was definitely an exciting fight to watch.  Check out the video here (just round 3) : http://youtu.be/PqswooTiQks

Full 3 rounds by Team Quest:   http://youtu.be/zGC2HgZrCBc

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Heading to the Jewel of the North, Chiang Mai – Day 23 – 25 (June 18 – 20)

By | History & Culture | 2 Comments

Day 23 Monday June 18

I decided today I would fly to Chiang Mai (which means “New City”) so bought a ticket online for a  5pm flight.  It only costs 2100 baht or $68 US via Bangkok Airways.  Today was also Fathers’ Day back in the US, so Skyped with my rents for a bit, then with my younger brother Andy.  I ate brunch then checked out of the hotel.  They got me a cab which would take me to the airport for 600 baht plus tolls.  However, we needed to make two stops.  The cabbie was fine with this.

First up was Action Zone since they’d be open today.  It’s the low-season so they lady/ owner said not much inventory. Everything was in boxes.  However, I did pick-up a red pair and a blue pair of Fairtex hand wraps for 200 baht each / $6 US.  I like them better compared to Twins because they’re kinda stretchy and make it easier to wrap your hands for Muay Thai.

Then I walked over to the tailor for an initial fitting.  I tried on both the jacket and pants.  I explained to them that they need to make the shoulders a little wider and the pants an inch looser.  This is because I’ve lost some weight due to training…and when I return back home, I’ll fill out again.

Finally, we drove off to the airport.  The airline told me the flight was delayed an hour but I could hang out at the lounge with free food and internet. Plus they gave me a food voucher.  I walked around a bit, then checked into the Bangkok Airways lounge…it was nice…food, drinks and free WiFi.  Then the lady told me the flight was no longer delayed.  So I rushed back to the food court to order a personal pizza with my free coupon.  I got it to go then raced to the gate…luckily I made it for the 6pm lift-off.  The pizza was like Pizza Hut’s…I eat pizza once a week back home and was starting to miss it, so this was “acceptable” haha.

I arrived to Chiang Mai around 7pm and took a quick 5-min cab to my hotel, Noble Place.  After unpacking and settling in, I walked down the road to grab a bite to eat.  There’s not much around but luckily a few carts were open still.  After I walk down the road to explore, but it was a bit boring…just gas station convenience stores…ehhhhh!

Day 24 Tues 6/19

I woke up, had breakfast at the hotel then walked over to the Central Plaza Mall.  It was pretty big and the food court had a lot of choices…ended up having two lunches, haha.

Since I still had a chest cold and my knee and foot were still injured, I decided to take the next couple of days off from training to get better.  This coupled with the fact that my hotel wasn’t in the city of Chiang Mai, lead me to feeling bored already and missing Phuket, along with my friends there.  So I decided to check out a scooter rental place do some sight-seeing.

Tony’s Rental Shop was recommended by TripAdvisor.com so went there…but they were out of scooters (however, they also do laundry so dropped off my dirty clothes…30 baht per kilo, cheap!).  Down the street I found another shop (“Pop Car & Rent”).  Some guys were in the process of paying for their bikes so I asked them about the place and which model they were getting.   They recommended this shop because the guy was honest…a few other places already ripped them off with “fake damages”.  The guys ended up being kewl and we grabbed a bite.  Two of the guys were from Holland, Ribas and Ty…the 3rd was Canadian, Gabriel.  They were finishing up their time in Chiang Mai and continuing their vaca to Phuket / Koh Sumui. Their flight left in a few hours so needed to kill some more time. We went to a massage place…I got a foot massage and they got a Thai massage.  I asked them which hotel they were staying at and they said Tapae Place hotel ( http://www.tapaeplacehotel.com/ ) which they recommended.  Before their cab to airport, they went to pickup their bags and the receptionist let me tour a room.  It was nice and big, and cheaper than my current hotel (650 baht).  So made a reservation for the next day.  Check out TripAdvisor’s review:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g293917-d557936-Reviews-Tapae_Place_Hotel-Chiang_Mai.html

Day 25 Wed 6/20

Wednesday morning I packed my bags and moved to my new hotel.  Because I had a diesel suitcase, I had to hire a tuk-tuk driver for it, and I followed him on scooter.  The main reason I switched hotels is because I wanted to be in location closer to the heart of Chiang Mai.  Noble Place is a nice hotel, affordable and very close to Team Quest.  But since I wasn’t training, I wanted to do some sight-seeing and Tapae Hotel was in a better location for this.  Even if I decide to train, it’s only a 10-15 min ride over to Team Quest.

After checking in to my new hotel, I decided to take a ride up to the famous Doi Suthep mountain to check out Wat Prathat.  I had to change into jogging pants and a t-shirt because no shorts or tank-tops are allowed at temples. Also women need to be covered up.  It was about a 45 minute ride up to the mountain…very windy and foggy.  Once I got there, I stayed for about an hour just walking around the beautiful sacred area and taking pics.  At the entrance, there’s a sign that says foreigners need to go buy a ticket…since Chris look Thai, Chris no buy! 😛 I also got blessed by a monk (see the string around my wrist).  It started to pour as well.  Before I left, I picked up some souvenirs.

The trek down the mountain wasn’t too bad…I made a few stops at some waterfalls.  Here’s a video while riding my scooter: http://youtu.be/h63WcZFRkX0

For dinner, I had a chicken sandwich at some place called Mike’s “Converting vegetarians” was their motto.  It ended up being near a Muay Thai stadium (Loi Kroh)…there were numerous bars surrounding it.  It didn’t exactly seem like the place that offered high-quality, authentic fights…probably just for foreigners, haha.

Across the street was an ink shop, Naga Tattoo.  Like the one in Bangkok, it looked like it had character, as the front was very decorated and had two crazy dragons protruding out…so decided to go check out some artwork.  I spoke to the one of the workers for about 30 minutes and they were actually ranked #1 at some tattoo festival in Bangkok…2 trophies were at the desk.  The inside had lots of kewl paintings and artwork on the walls.  One of the guys who designed the “White Temple” in Chiang Rai had work hanging up.  I really liked Thai style dragons so was asking about their background. In some statues of Buddha, you’ll see 7 dragon heads behind him…that’s Naga.  So badass!  He’s there to protect him.  When guys get it, it’s “to be lucky with girls” lol.  In Thailand, I don’t think anyone needs that ha.  We also talked about the famous, big tattoo festival that’s held Wat Bang Phra and he showed me a picture album.

http://www.wat-bang-phra.com/

*IF* I was to get another tattoo, this would definitely be one of the places I’d go.  Here’s their website:

http://www.nagatattoo.com/

As usual, I went for a foot massage after dinner.  It was a really good place on Loi Kroh Road, across from the Ramming Lodge.  1 hour was only 120 baht, the cheapest yet.

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