My Eternal Thailand Summer

The humid, coastal / tropical conditions of the gulf of Thailand is beginning to get to me as I start to miss the lovely Arizona winter climate. Out here, it’s 85 fahrenheit every-day, and when I step outside my face drips with sweat.

But, I also realize I am on the swan song of my months in Thailand, and I’ll probably miss a lot about this country, including even the atrocious weather. I only have so much time left to make an impact with more cool photos and videos, while simultaneously I have to start thinking about my next job abroad and where else I can adventure (aside from my return to North Korea at the end of March).

It’s hard to leave a country you’ve adapted to. To leave means I must say goodbye to my girlfriend who I’ve been with for months through various arduous trials. She was there when I broke my leg in November, and helped nurse me back to health. Today, as I walk normally after a surprisingly fast recovery, I cannot take for granted that a few months ago I thought I’d be leaving Thailand in a wheelchair.

I’ve had a lot of crazy experiences out here. From the awesome friends I made in Bangkok, to my not-so-awesome experiences at an office-based job that completely fell to pieces. I’ve dealt with crazy farangs (that is – crazy British expats), crazy bar girls, and crazy Tuk Tuk drivers. But, even the crazy stuff has helped define my experiences in a positive way.

From going deep into Isaan, to the giant Buddha art of Ko Chi Chang mountain, there’s a lot of sights to see in this place. But, to understand Thailand you have to look beyond the tourist nonsense that everyone is over-saturated with, and get to know the Thai people – whether through new friends, or maybe a new lover. The Thai people are enigmatic – lots of smiles, but most certainly a level of poverty that influences their behavior – sometimes in a very negative way. But, nobody is perfect, and it’s impossible to leave this country without a ton of new friends and family.

I never really thought much about Thailand before my opportunity with a travel company brought me here. Now, inevitably, I will return here. The low cost of living is a major draw, but my need to stay in-touch with new friends and surrogate family ensures my eventual return.

My last chapter involves going to Phi Phi island in the pristine Phuket region, one of the nicest places on Earth (which means it will be swarming with tourists). After that a final reminiscent week in Jomtien / Pattaya, then back to America.

Faces of Pattaya 1

Pattaya, Thailand is an extremely unusual city, and thus contains a large amount of colorful characters. From bikers, to sex hungry professors ditching their wives in England, to people from across rural Thailand who are attempting to redefine themselves. I’ll try to do my best to represent some of these faces.

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The Furthest Reaches of Thailand

These photos chronicle life in the far northeastern rural countryside of Isaan. Many of the people in these remote towns are rarely exposed to farangs (foreigners), so it was an especially unique opportunity to join with a family for an annual celebration.

This celebration involved their family house being cleared out so that a troupe of Buddhist monks could visit and bless everybody in the neighborhood. Just about everybody within several kilometers arrived at this small farm to tithe with the monks and pray.

The celebration also included an Isan custom where new arrivals to their community are blessed by a priest, while all of the local women tie pieces of string to the wrists of the arrivals to further enhance their luck. I counted forty pieces of string on my wrist by the end of the ritual.

Most striking was a magnificent temple we visited very close to the farmhouse. The Prha Maha temple was more grandiose than even the temples of Bangkok. And, it was completely off the ‘tourist map’. Just to find the place I had to pay a local to drive me there, and she had apparently not seen a Western person in many years.

Together with the Thai family, we drove further west toward the border with Laos, where I went shopping at some obscure marketplaces directly opposite the Laos border, and then payed homage at another temple.

The entire region of Isaan shares many similarities with the country of Laos, including both cuisine and linguistics. In fact, many residents of this country are bilingual and speak both standard Thai and their own regional, Laos-inspired dialect.

This makes for a very unique culture that is equal parts sovereign and independent as it is a dynamic and unmistakable part of Thailand.

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Thailand Travel Journalism Galore

Here’s your chance to get a new perspective about Thailand, in particular the Chonburi district that contains the famous city of Pattaya, a place filled with crime, intrigue, and sordid amounts of sex. Most of my articles, however, are more of the family friendly sort. Guaranteed before I leave here, and once I learn to walk again, I’ll have a grittier perspective about my days in the City of Extremes.

Enjoy. Everything you never wanted to know about Thai bananas. Smoldering hot Thai food, what’s going on with that? How to get around in the terrifying world of Thai traffic. How going to Thailand can be a super affordable vacation idea. My first experience exploring a Thai monastery. Some of Thailand’s most awesome locations and things to do, all within a couple hours of each other. A trip to the remote island of Koh Sichang and the ruins of an old king’s vacation retreat. One of Thailand’s most interesting and remote monasteries on Koh Sichang.

Probably a lot more to come. Stay tuned.


In Thailand, with a broken leg.

Need I say more? My adventures have gone astray and now I’m confined to a hotel apartment for god-knows how long. A warning to all photographers: don’t jump up and try to grab your falling camera on an extremely slippery surface. In better news, I’m happy to see the North Korea movie getting a lot of hits on YouTube. Feel free to write me a line if you are curious about future projeccts. – CK