Category Archives: Thailand

It’s black… It’s white…It’s not a Michael Jackson song — it’s Chiang Rai

White Temple

White Temple

I was insistent (Dave would say bossy) that we visit Chiang Rai while we were in Thailand. From the days when this here trip was but a twinkle in my airline miles account, I had been googling interesting things to see in Asia. I love me some modern art and I also, in a way, love me some Buddha. In some internet wormhole of daydreams on a Sunday morning between cups of coffee and all the things I *should* do I stumbled upon images of the White Temple in Chiang Rai and it zoomed to the top of my bucket list. Dave happily complied because it seemed neat and it was a thing to do. He is much more easily pleased in a way. So far each day we have a beer, eat some meat on a stick, enjoy some air conditioning, and logistics work out semi-decently he’s pretty tickled. He does have some underlying ennui as most Pisces tend to, but it is very easy to distract him with “moo ping” (i.e. pork on stick in Thai).

We were only in Chaing Rai 3 nights and 4 days and two of those days were travel days. One of those full days was already dedicated to luxuriating in the pool/grounds of the Le Meridien Chiang Rai where we had booked the night for 1,600 Starwood points and $30 USD. HOW CAN YOU NOT? We got upgraded, ate Western food, I got shockingly tan and there was an infinity pool. That does not count as Thai, not even a little (though it was awesome).

So — we had one full day to see the White Temple and its counterpart, the Dark Temple. So we were up and at them earlier than normal for a day of adventuring. We walked 2 km to the bus station from our guesthouse, grabbed a sandwich from a “local” bakery and then hopped on the public bus.

on the bus like a local

on the bus like a local

We did something peculiar here — we trusted Wikitravel. Wikitravel pointed us towards the right buses with the right fares. A kindly yet brisk lady who collected fares spoke the following words of English:

  • where you go
  • white temple
  • black temple
  • dog
  • walk down there

which were more helpful than the words we speak of Thai:

  • numbers 1 – 99
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • thank you/please
  • me want
  • no worries

We got on the first bus, and then 30 minutes later were dropped off on the side of a highway which we darted across and then made our way to the White Temple.

Which did not disappoint.

amazing

The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) is a modern Buddhist temple — construction began in 1997 and the artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat,  expects it will take until 2070 to complete his vision.  The whole temple is in a way an equal testament to his religious zeal and his ego.

cardboard cut out of the artist himself and me, mugging

cardboard cut out of the artist himself and me, mugging

The temple is ornate and all silver and white and gorgeous. On the inside where we couldn’t take pictures though I think is where the real powerful stuff was — frescoes of the modern world where Spiderman was saving people from the Twin Towers and materialism is the new god. Really amazing.

After we toured our way through the temple, Dave hilariously was like “let’s go check out the golden temple next!”. The “golden temple” were the bathrooms. I took a pose-y picture to commemorate our laughter.

the "golden temple" tee hee

the “golden temple” tee hee

 

The White temple was an amazingly impressive structure. Totally worth the trip and the hype. It was everything I wanted it to be and more:

DK and KSK proudly ignoring the "foreigners need a private guide" sign which was largely ignored

DK and KSK proudly ignoring the “foreigners need a private guide” sign

Amazing Buddhist imagery

guardians

guardians

Incredible detail work

You can see me taking the picture in the picture

You can see me taking the picture in the picture

Pretty, but

awesome dragon in the wall, right?

awesome dragon in the wall, right?

scary

skulls!

skulls!

After a restorative smoothie across the road, we darted across the highway again and flagged down a song taew which Chiang Rai (and Chiang Mai’s) public transit. Not glamorous, it is a pickup truck with benches along the back that operates as a shared taxi. It is cheap however — around 80 cents a ride for a decent haul — and you do get to mingle with locals who laugh at how formally you address them and how fat and big and white you are.

The song taew dropped us back at the bus station where we simply boarded another public bus to get to the Black temple. The same lady greeted us and this time she laughed at where we were going and put us on the right bus, collected the fare and when our stop came, pointed out which way we should go. Also, when a woman had a puppy asleep in her arms and Dave tried to call it “cute” the lady was quick to pipe up from riding along the open doorway to say “DOG!” and we chuckled. Yes! We are dog people! THAT DOG WAS TINY, ASLEEP, AND CUTE!

This here encapsulated why we love the Thai people. Here, you are in on the joke with them. How hilarious is it that you are grown and have money and are stupid here? I know, right?  Other places, everyone laughs at how different you are. Here you smile along because — yeah– it’s HILARIOUS. I probably just said “niece feather triangle” instead of “iced coffee, two” so you just have to laugh. Dave saying “cute” was probably heard as “blerglegaidfnaf” and she was like, “hey dumb dumb – it’s a dog– relax”.  Then, we all laugh because YES!

Again, the bus dropped us off along the highway and we walked 500 meters to the Black temple. Ok, ran because I had to pee REALLY bad. We bought some special Chiang Rai pineapples — they are about the size of a large peach– and enjoyed them and they fortified us to walk the grounds of the temple. BTW a kilo of them were 40 baht, or $1.30. #winning

ominous, no?

ominous, no?

Dave didn’t love this one as much. He was like, “Ok,  I get it. Things are grotesque. To live is to suffer and to die. Ok. Suffering. Got it. “. I loved it.

main temple building with snake skins, horn chairs, and scariness

main temple building with snake skins, horn chairs, and scariness

 

scary horn chairs

scary horn chairs

 

this building looked like a big bug to me

this building looked like a big bug to me

The artist who created this place, Thawan Duchanee, is the teacher of the artist who created the White temple. Their work is similar in that they focus on religious iconography and purpose, but otherwise that seems to be it. The Black temple is actually a series of around 40 buildings which look like one room houses. Some look like living rooms. Some like dining rooms. Some like bedrooms. Some like tiny temples. The focus however is carnal. Nearly all materials are physical — either rocks or wood– or worse yet, animal skins, tusks and other parts. The whole place gave me the heebie-jeebies in a “isn’t this BRILLIANT” kind of way. The scariest temples even had rocks as the footpath so you felt uneasy walking on uneven terrain as you see freaky stuff.

Like this

scary horn chairs and rows of conch shells

scary horn chairs and rows of conch shells

and this

angry locks!

angry locks!

AND THIS!!!!

yep - dead alligator and scary horn chairs

yep – dead alligator and scary horn chairs

After this action packed day, we darted across our last highway, hailed our last song taew, and had lunch at 4pm. We walked 2 km home,  went for a swim at our guesthouse, drank a beer and then walked the 2km back into town to eat a huge dinner.

All photos are on our flickr page in our Chiang Rai album: www.flickr.com/photos/banhmiandyou

All in all, we walked over 11 kilometers, had charming experiences, and saw some pretty amazing modern religious art. We came, we saw, we gathered new subconscious fodder for nightmares, and we conquered.

 

 

 

Advertisements

And there was much squealing: a day at Elephant Nature Park

As DK says, "elephunks!"

As DK says, “elephunks!”

So I’m just gonna put it right out there — we petted elephants and we liked it. A whole bunch. I’m sure I spent most of the day talking about two octaves above where I normally do. That is, when I wasn’t worried that an elephant would step on me. I probably devoted about 5 full waking hours of my life actively worrying that I was going to have an elephant step on me and squish my foot. There were children running around this place and 30-year-old-me was nervous about having a cartoonish pancake foot. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.

We made reservations online with Elephant Nature Park after researching where the most humane elephant sights might be seen in Chiang Mai. There are loads of places where they do tricks and see shows and I had the feeling that might rub us the wrong way and also — Trip Advisor said to go so we had to. No choice.  Also,  we didn’t want to spend $500 which would have been easy. For a 5,000 Thai baht total (~$160 USD) donation to the reserve, we had a pass for a day which included transport, lunch, and countless photo ops.

(it should not surprise you that our camera died about 2/3 of the way through the day, then, as Murphy’s law would dictate)

We were picked up at 8:30 am and in an hour were at the Park. We were shown both a safety video in the bus as well as a short documentary about the park’s work. The safety video told us to be ready to run at a moment’s notice. I wondered how I would run with flat, pancake foot. I could hop?

lunch for 2 elephants

fruit for all

When we arrived we got right down to feeding the elephants lunch from the safety of a raised platform. Lunch was bunches of bananas, watermelon and pineapple. I  forgot about my future calamity and shamelessly elbowed people out of the way to feed the youngest elephant who was about four years old. Elephants feel strange — their hair is long and bristly. Their skin is one inch thick and boy does it feel that way. Their eyes are kind and understanding.  I began to think, maybe,  no elephant would WANT to step on my foot.

the both like lunch!

the both like lunch!

not pictured: 3 children she shoved out of the way

not pictured: 3 children she shoved out of the way

Then, we went to go meet NaVann — the 3 month-old-baby elephant and used

O.M.G!!

O.M.G!!

both functional feet to run ahead. I quickly forsake the bond I felt earlier with the four-year-old I had fed and promptly (sorry, Mom) LOST. MY. SHIT. No nicer way to describe it.  Apparently everyone regresses to the point that they have to remind people to follow a good kindergarten rule and keep their hands to themselves as seen by the signs they had up. I WISH I COULD HAVE PET HIM. IT WOULD HAVE GIVEN ME IMMENSE PLEASURE, INDEED.

we quote this all the time. Like "that pork on a stick will give me immense pleasure".

we quote this all the time. Like “that pork on a stick will give me immense pleasure”.

If meeting the baby elephant was the sword in my side, it was twisted by seeing all of the elephants who were injured in the park. Many were blind — all the flashing lights from working the tourist circuit left many of them with cataracts.  Some had broken hips leaving them limping for the rest of their lives due to cruel

has a broken leg AND broken hip from cruel breeding practices.

this poor thing 😦

breeding practices. Some were robbed of their tusks and had mouth injuries.   But you have to think that they are at least somewhere happy and comfortable and are able to roam mostly free with their ele-phriends so perhaps not so bad.

After I returned to earth,  we ate a delicious vegetarian lunch ourselves and then it was bath time. We walked with the elephants down to the river and tossed water on them with buckets and rubbed the mud off them. This was where I was like “HERE IT COMES, PANCAKE FOOT!” but — shocker — I still have them both.

elephunk gets clean

elephunk gets clean

that she makes in all pictures "wwwwhhhaaaattttt!!" (ie the non duck face face)

that she makes in all pictures “wwwwhhhaaaattttt!!” (ie the non-duck face face)

After we fed them again and took 400 pictures (well, 23 and then the camera died) we learned about Thailand’s delicate history with its national animal. In  Thailand, using elephants for logging was banned in 1989, and left many

elephants out of work. Their masters (elephants are incredibly intelligent and emotionally intuitive) needed them to make money so many turned to tourism. Elephants live nearly as long as humans do (around 70 years) so It’s a vicious cycle for domesticated elephants — tourism keeps them from being abandoned, but tourism keeps up the demand for more to be bred for cruel practices. You’d never know that so many elephants are suffering by the sheer number of elephant crap hanging around this country. It’s like a bald eagle + the baby Jesus they are so revered. Later, in Chiang Rai, we saw elephants walking down the street “begging” with their owners and that made me wimper into my dinner. So now I’m some sort of animal person? WHAT?   Twenty years ago or so there were 100,000 elephants in the wild and now there are barely 15,000.  The government only protects those wild elephants but those who have been forcibly domesticated or born into captivity have the same rights as the delicious pig (yummy! porky!) we ate for dinner with rice.  Then we saw how poachers steal elephants and inhumanely tame by physically abus

ing them which was really difficult to watch. Then we were thanked for our donation which helps them buy more elephants to save them and have them enjoy retirement. That made me want to give more and…. OH. I SEE WHAT THEY’VE DONE THERE. USED MY OWN TRICKS AGAINST MYSELF.

:(

😦

#fundraising

 

 

 

 

 

(ps you can donate here: http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/howyoucanhelp.htm)

All of our pictures can be found on our flickr page–go and have a look.  Yes, there are a disproportionately high number of the baby. Whatever.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/banhmiandyou/

Don't tell Dave  -- we are adopting him?

Don’t tell Dave — we are adopting him?!

Chiang Mai: Thailand for White People

Would you like to visit Thailand but are worried about the language barrier, not liking the food or just worried about finding things too unfamiliar and scary? Don’t worry! There exists a place just for you: Chiang Mai!

Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city and is located a 14 hour train ride (or 80 minute flight) north of Bangkok. We’d spent a LOT of time in Bangkok and while we like the city, we were ready to see other parts of Thailand and to get out of Bangkok’s constant chaos. We love traveling by train (I do anyway, Kat’s learning to like it, particularly since she conquered the squat toilet on the train) and it’s much cheaper anyway. We booked 2nd class sleeper berths and we departed at about 6 pm.

Nowhere is safe from Kat's mugging, not even the top bunk of a Thai train.

Nowhere is safe from Kat’s mugging, not even the top bunk of a Thai train.

The train was quite comfortable and we both got a decent night of sleep. We had the top two beds while the bottom two beds in our berth were filled by two gregarious mid-40’s thai women who were quite nice until they decided to have their morning gossip session at around 6 am. The first thing we noticed about Chiang Mai was how much less humid it is than Bangkok. The weather was delightful – about 70 degrees at night and mid 80’s during the day.

This guy was our neighbor for our first two days in Chiang Mai. It gets “cold” at night so lots of dogs here wear sweaters. He was a great pug – super surly about being pet but even MORE surly when I STOPPED petting him.

This guy was our neighbor for our first two days in Chiang Mai. It gets “cold” at night so lots of dogs wear sweaters. He was a great pug – super surly about being touched but even MORE surly when I STOPPED petting him.

I know my introductory paragraph made it sound like we didn’t’ like Chiang Mai, but we did. You just have to accept it for what it is. It’s FULL of “farangs” (westerners) and the entire town seems to exist solely for tourism. Every storefront is either a travel agent, tour operator, western restaurant, or girly beer bar for the (sadly) thriving sex tourism industry. Every sign is in English. It’s Thailand but it doesn’t feel particularly Thai.

There are more authentic parts of the city. One of Thailand’s most prestigious university’s is in Chiang Mai and Kat and I went out there one day. It was like any other college campus – hip young Thai’s walking around, chic coffee shops and bars and restaurants. Chiang Mai’s old town is surrounded by a giant moat that runs around the entirety of the center of the city. Inside those walls it’s like a different world. If you want hamburgers and burritos washed down with Heineken while you watch soccer or rugby, you can have that all day and all night and never hear a word of Thai. Honestly, after 4 weeks of Thailand, the idea of a burrito sounded pretty good to us, so a day or two of “not-Thailand” was pretty ok, but I wouldn’t want to stay there long term.

Chiang Mai has dozens of "wats" (temples). Here I am at one of them. Photographer Kat's direction for this photo was "Dave, look at the dragon! Consider him..."

Chiang Mai has dozens of “wats” (temples). Here I am at one of them. Photographer Kat’s direction for this photo was “Dave, look at the dragon! Consider him…”

We originally thought we’d want to stay in Chiang Mai for about a month – rent an apartment and take a breather from traveling. We decided against this for several reasons: First, we realized we didn’t want to stay in Chiang Mai that long. Secondly, as it was high season, literally EVERY PLACE we called/emailed/faxed/smoke-signaled was booked to capacity. We thought we were really screwed and were talking about leaving Chiang Mai after only 2 days because we couldn’t find anywhere to stay. Luckily, one of the places that had told us he was booked, wrote back to tell us that he had a studio apartment available for 6 nights outside the old city. Sounded GREAT to us.

We loved our little apartment. It had a balcony and a small kitchen and for 6 days we felt like we had a HOME. We spent a lot of time in Chiang Mai just luxuriating in living like normal people. We found a grocery store nearby and stocked our fridge and for the first time in two months were able to cook our own meals. We enjoyed living outside of the touristy old city. Not to say even our neighborhood was authentically thai (in fact, there seemed to be more Israelis than Thais) but it seemed more like a place for ex-pat locals than backpackers passing through.

The one thing we DID find that was authentically Thai in Chiang Mai was our Khao Soi restaurant. Bear with me here. I know, it’s another thousand words extolling the virtues of a soup. WHY ARE YOU TWO IDIOTS SO EXCITED ABOUT SOUP ALL THE DAMN TIME? Believe me, I’m as surprised as the rest of you. Khao Soi, Wikipedia will tell you, is “a soup-like dish made with a mix of deep-fried crispy egg noodles and boiled egg noodles, pickled cabbage, shallots, lime, ground chillies fried in oil, and meat in a curry-like sauce containing coconut milk.” It’s a specialty of Chiang Mai and we were looking for the best place to get it. This is a hotly debated topic on the internet and there doesn’t appear to be ONE place that is recognized as best.

Khao Soi. Another picture of soup. Deal with it.

Khao Soi. Another picture of soup. Deal with it.

After a month in Thailand, I have a list of hallmarks that I know indicate a good restaurant. Is it a hole in the wall that looks something like a rundown auto garage? Does it serve no more than 2-3 different dishes? Is there an angry granny preparing the food up front? Is it full of Thai people (preferably police officers or moto-taxi drivers) eating  at all hours of the day? If you hit at least 3 of these, you’re nearly guaranteed a good meal. The Khao Soi place we discovered by accident on our way to the supermarket hit all four. The angry granny ONLY makes Khao Soi. That’s it. When we sat down, they didn’t even take our order. We just sat down and 2 minutes later two bowls of soup appeared in front of us with no prompting from us at all. I’ll spare you from writing out in full all the inappropriate noises and comments that we made upon tasting this soup. Just know that we ate at this restaurant three times. We’ve ordered Khao Soi in Bangkok and it just isn’t the same. This restaurant with no name will forever be a happy place in our memories.

Many people come to Chiang Mai as a base for trekking out into the mountains of northern Thailand – particularly to see “Hill tribes.” To me, this is the absolute worst of tourism. You’re taken to see these indigenous people out in their homes in the mountains. Let’s call it what it is: a people zoo. Would you like it if people tromped through your living room and gawked at you doing “traditional” activities? This is a hotly debated topic and I don’t want to get into it too much here, but it’s the sort of thing that isn’t for us and I’ll leave it at that. Bangkok is a big, big city and it exists for itself. Tourists are there in droves, but tourists don’t control Bangkok. Ultimately, it felt a bit too much like Chiang Mai exists solely to provide tourists the sort of touristy crap that we really hate. There’s a real heart and soul to Chiang Mai but you’ve got to try really hard to find it.

One thing that was on Kat’s bucket list for this trip was to hold a baby animal. So, we haven’t done that yet. But something we DID get to do in Chiang Mai was play with elephants. Yes. I have pet, fed, bathed and loved all over several elephants. But we’ll get to that in our next post. TEASER.

Bangkok, Buddha, beaches and buckets

After 20 hours on a train, we promptly drained our brains of all things Malaysian, much like getting water out of your ears after a swim, and we staggered out into the world from our train and Bangkok greeted us with a smoggy, humid embrace.

oooh! splatter paint!

After a stupid taxi ride (we had yet to learn numbers and universal life lesson: cabbies who hang around at train stations are all sort of jerks) we found our guesthouse– Silom Art Hostel. We stayed here 2 nights and then 7 nights more. It was great! Hot showers! Great location! Near public transit! Near good food! Free and fast wifi! Cute artsy decor! Adorable gay boy front desk staff!

The first day we arrived, walked around our neighborhood and slept. I should

also mention we ate about 16 servings of fruit. Fruit is everywhere here, cut up and put in a bag with salt, sugar, and chili powder if you like. We woke up the next day after binging on fruit and beer (BEER IS SO CHEAP! THERE IS NO JUDGEMENT! HALLELUJAH!) and went out in search of breakfast. Our hood had lots of street food but without being able to read Thai we had to stick our faces into other people’s breakfasts and the gesture that we would want the same. We sat down next to some guy eating a red soup and were like, “sweet! Curry things!” and gestured for two. The granny in an apron looked at us warily and then minutes later two bowls of pink soup arrived. Pink with a few drops of blood, tentacles sticking up and fishy fish balls. All before 11am. We powered through because it was good– it just wasn’t what we wanted at that time. After we googled what the hell we ate, we laughed and then we hit our fav BKk tourist attraction from our last visit here– Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. Buddha is cool. We made merit, took pictures and ate 3 pounds of papaya, which fortified us for the ferry to sky train journey home.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

There was a handmade poster of photos of HRC and BHO at Wat Pho. It made us proud to be Americans.

There was a handmade poster of photos of HRC and BHO at Wat Pho. It made us proud to be Americans.

Reclining Buddha

Reclining Buddha

Reclining Buddha

Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

The next day we were just too excited to do much because we were meeting up with our long distance gay besties (LDGBFFS)– Brock and Josh. We met them at the airport waving pom poms we bought at a Japanese dollar store and then we were off in a cab to catch up with some friends to Koh Samet, otherwise known as Donkey Island for Russians Who Take So Many Glamour Shots In Various States Of Undress.

Koh Samet is a blur of Issan food, sleeping in, lazy beach days swimming out to a pontoon and then having beers, sundowners, cocktails served in buckets and

Still not sure why I didn't make him my puppy stowaway.

Still not sure why I didn’t make him my puppy stowaway.

then a cheeseburger made by an amazingly beautiful “ladyboy” (gender in Thailand is both more fluid and more complicated than the US. I use quotes because that is the term used here not to indicate that she was any “less” of a lady) who I hope makes a killing and can retire early and lounge about in vintage caftans and cackle about how Western people act crazy.  After the glorious cheeseburger we’d go to bed at 3am and rise and repeat. One bar had puppies living under the stairs. Welcome to Asia. We’d go and then beat back all the Dutch kindergarteners to hold and snuggle them.  My liver is still not the same after you drink a piña colada from a enough buckets to make a fortress of a sand castle. Thankfully, there were 40,000 Russians there taking pictures that were all Courtney Stodden lookalikes as they frolicked for Facebook. Nothing like feeling judge-y to make a mild hangover disappear. I have never seen someone pretend to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel in the sand with that little irony.  I have also never seen such…uh…flashy? swimsuits on so many pronounced heterosexuals but that is perhaps another entry for a slimmer audience.  Also, as you might expect, unfortunate, saggy speedos on exactly who you don’t want to see them on.

When the beach and buckets made us weary of another day, we headed back to Bangkok where Dave and I succumbed to a vicious case of food poisoning or some weird 12-hour illness after dinner that left us looking pale even after 4 days at the beach,  but (upside?!) impossibly thin.  Suffice to say, a flat Sprite, lots of naps and a bag of chips later and we were out to dinner at an amazing restaurant God-knows-where in Thonburi eating some of the most magical food I have ever tried. Pad Thai without noodles was the real standout. I know it sounds like sacrilege but trust me — it was amazing. I slurped an oyster 10 hours after being violently ill. This is how persuasive this restaurant was.

Here is where we stopped being tourists and started acting like locals which meant we saw no sights but ate awesome food, drank more drinks, danced, shopped and shimmied through the rest of a week. Ok, Kat did those things. DK did not shimmy or dance but that is not his way really. It was fun to be with people who lived here. We also proudly avoided Khao San road entirely. Hooray for being old and for knowing people who know where cool things are!

When we bade our LDGBFFs goodbye after a very restorative BKK Bagel lunch and then sent them back to Tokyo we returned to tourist-ville for a while.  Wat Arun was spectacular and it was nice to not drink beer and be active human beings.

View from the top of Wat Arun. Gotta love Asia for its mix of skyscrapers and temples

View from the top of Wat Arun. Gotta love Asia for its mix of skyscrapers and temples

This is the vew from the first level looking up -- steep temple stairs!

This is the view from the first level looking up — steep temple stairs!

Wat Arun detail work

Wat Arun detail work

We also, oddly, ate a TON of soup. We have been soup fiends. Why I don’t know, maybe to empathize with friends and family in the US and UK getting some snow. We visited Hat Man Soup shophouse TWICE it was that good. We ate Khao Soi with some of our Samet friends (ooh- and

HAT MAN SOUP! Pork broth, pork, yellow noodles, won tons and morning glory.

HAT MAN SOUP! Pork broth, pork, yellow noodles, won tons and morning glory.

DELICIOUS mango sticky rice) and found a delicious cart that makes soup by our new guesthouse and were able to order in Thai. Well, I pronounced things as best I could but I’m sure what I asked for was “shark purple Cousin this with across, please” but the vendor kindly inferred “Pork noodle soup with yellow noodles and wontons please” out of pity and nodded.

I now write this from Bangkok again while we enjoy the city for what feels like five minutes before yet another overnight train to Chiang Mai where I hope to befriend a humanely treated elephant, rent an apartment for a few weeks,  and do some yoga. Traveling is great but there comes a time where you really want a few small comforts of home. Furniture to sit on that is not a bed. Not having to leave the house for breakfast. A bathroom that has a separate shower –dare I dream– instead of the Asian all-in-one wet bathroom? Of these things, something tells me the elephant is the only thing I may be able to count on.