My final two weeks in Chaing Mai this April were horrible…one of the worst experiences of my life. This may come as a shock to you from a returning visitor for the past ten years who has never hesitated to put this beautiful historic city at the top of her list as the most desirable city in SE Asia to visit and possibly live year round. I can only blame this change of mind on climate change. This year Chiang Mai broke all their previous records for high pollution indices and even gained the dubious title of being the most polluted city in the world beating New Delhi and Shanghai, the usual winners. The PM2.5 ( fixed particulate matter) was hovering between 140 to 200+ the whole time I was there. I can’t imagine what effect that had on my all ready compromised lungs where some bronchitis had set in while in Bali.
‘Malaka’ is a Greek slang word meaning someone who doesn’t use his common sense. It’s used in the company of friends and considered rude if used otherwise. Men are more apt to use it as they might if saying ‘Dude’ or ‘Mate’.
While visiting the city of Melaka in Malaysia, I was confused by the numerous ways it could be spelled. I found it written as Malacca, Malaka, Malakka, and, finally, Melaka as the most commonly used spelling. In researching the spelling, I discovered the origin of the word which is even more confusing. How does this Greek meaning relate to the lovely, historic city of Melaka in the south-western part of Malaysia? I can hazard a guess that it somehow reflects the general make up of Malaysia which is one of diversity in its culture, religion, ethnicity, and language.
The majority of visitors to Cambodia’s southern coast should not visit Kampot without visiting its twin sister, Kep. I have dubbed them as sisters because to me they are like ‘salt and pepper’ where the one can’t do without the other. Although I might think of them as twins, they certainly are not identical because they are quite different.
Kampot, with a population of about 50,000, is the capital of Kampot Province. It lies on the Preaek Tuek Chhu River, better known as simply the Kampot River. It’s got a laid back vibe which has led to a noticeable growth in ex-pats. There are those who have chosen to live there for humanitarian reasons offering services for disadvantaged Cambodian youngsters by providing education and training in the arts, hospitality, and entrepreneurship. Then, there are others wanting to escape from the high cost of living in their own countries, such as France and Australia, to this town where they can lead a more leisurely life fulfilling a dream they could never afford to do in their country. By taking advantage of the opportunities offered here, many of the younger couples are starting their own families which indicates they are here for the long haul.
In a country beset with problems past and present, I made it my quest to find some good news to write about while visiting Battambang, Cambodia’s third largest city to the northwest. This was my second visit…the first was in 2015. On my fourth day, I was beginning to despair that I would find anything uplifting to write about. To me it appeared that the city hadn’t changed much except for looking a bit dirtier and dustier. Of course, I couldn’t help noticing far too much garbage everywhere. I would have to look beyond it and dig a little deeper to find what I was looking for.
Kratie is a small town of about 7,000 people in northeastern Cambodia situated on the mighty Mekong River. It’s a sleepy little place sporting a green, tree-lined boulevard which stretches almost the entire length of the town from north to south. It’s main claim to fame is its proximity to the dolphins which inhabit the Mekong’s waters just a little north of the town.
When I recently mentioned to someone I was going to take a trip up to Kratie, I got the following response: “What is there to do other than visit some dolphins with no guarantee of seeing any?”
Despite this warning, one of the first things I did was to go visit the dolphins, and I beg to differ that there is more to see and learn than just hope to get a glimpse and take a photo of them. For me, it was about how I got there and what I learned about the projects that Kratie is involved in to make their community more sustainable. What started with a small group of like-minded and concerned people just over ten years ago is slowly growing. They want to preserve what is left of their resources and natural habitat to improve the quality of the lives of those living there.
After a whirlwind of activity beginning with a special dinner with friends on Christmas Eve up to New Year’s Day which accounted for a total of nine days, I am now ready to face the reality of the other purpose I have for being here in Chiang Mai.
The reality I am referring to is to focus my attention on shopping the markets and my past suppliers to seek new and exciting merchandise for the clothing and accessories I will be shipping overseas to Canada for the Farmer’s Market beginning in May in Annapolis Royal. I have just three weeks to get this momentous task done because that’s what my single entry Visa demands.
Let me explain how Thailand’s present day Visa system for Canadian citizens works. I had three options to consider. My first was to enter the country for 30 days with no Visa at no cost….great for travellers just passing through on their way elsewhere. My second was to buy a single entry Visa which would allow me to stay for 60 days and then re-enter for up to 30 more days before leaving the country. This one costs $50. My third was to get a multiple entry Visa good for six months which would allow me to go in and out of the country as many times as I wanted. However, this luxury came at a hefty price of $250. Option number one was not nearly enough time for me, three was way too expensive, so I chose the second one. Continue reading
Here I am back in Thailand for the tenth time. Is this becoming repetitive to the point that I might have to call it my second home? Seriously though it’s a perfectly sane thought for me or anyone for that matter who is finding it more and more difficult to live in Canada or the US these days. There are definitely many advantages to living in a foreign country such as Thailand.
Why do I write this, you might wonder? Isn’t Canada one of the countries so many people from around the world aspire to come to make their home? Aren’t we on the list of the top ten most desirable countries to live in according to one of the latest polls taken? My research revealed that in 2018 the US News and World Report put us in second place after Switzerland.
With this honour I should be grateful for having been born on Canadian soil and be content to live there. However, with an insatiable desire tor travel most of my life, I have been fulfilling that dream ever since I retired from full-time work. My travels have definitely opened up other possibilities causing me to question whether I want to continue living in Canada at this stage of my life. Is it a good match for me? Does it satisfy my needs? What do I like or dislike about it? These are the questions that I must consider and Thailand is one of the countries that has perked my interest. Continue reading