First night

We landed in Chiang Mai after a one-hour flight from Bangkok—a much easier journey than the overnight bus trip I took to reach the northern city back in 1989. The flight was delayed so we landed at rush hour and faced long lines, and a 45-minute wait, for a taxi into town. As we pondered our options, a cabbie approached us and asked if we need a ride! Such luck, and we paid only 50 bhat more than those in the queue. (32 bhat=$1US). Money well spent. Clara took the wait in stride.

imageOur hotel is in a garden in the middle of the old city, sandwiched between two gold-plated temples.


After we checked into our mosquito-ridden yet lovely hotel room, we again walked out of our hotel grounds without any idea where we were on the map. imageThis seems to be John’s style, and it definitely adds a layer of excitement to our excursions. We decided to turn right from our driveway. We snapped a picture of the sign a the end of our alleyway, or soi, and hopped on a motorcycle with a covered seat in the back, called a dtuk dtuk.

An ancient wall, built in 1296, surrounds the old city, and our hotel, Chompor Lanna. A moat-like canal surrounds the wall. At each point of the compass, there is a break in the wall, called a gate. Each gate seems to have a specialty market, featuring either food stalls, flowers, fish or full-blown sell-a-thons that feature everything from fruit to fish, to Hmong handicrafts on certain days of the week. imageWe were hungry so, after some waffling (on my part), we ended at the market at the south gate. We didn’t know it was south at the time; we were just winging it. We walked around the food stalls crammed onto the traffic median, between the road and the canal, until one smelled so so so good, I couldn’t help but order. Pad Thai, as it turns out.

imageNot such an exotic dish, but it was especially delicious when cooked in a wok about two feet from the table. Clara was wide-eyed and still a bit overwhelmed by eating anything after her day two stomach troubles. She shrugged it all off by putting her head down and resting amid the chaos.

imageWe picked up some ramen noodles from the 7-11 across the street, which she ate a few sips of once we arrived back at the hotel. The next day we headed out to explore our surrounds.

Now to be clear, John’s work required him to travel to S.E. Asia. Clara and I are tagging along. But that doesn’t mean there is no time for family fun. On our first full day we oriented ourselves on the map and we took just a short walk from our hotel. Some 50-odd wats populate the city (Good band name, 50-odd Wats), and we visited about five of the temples in a couple of hours.

Here are just a few highlights our favorite, Wat Chiang Man. A lot more temple pictures to come, don’t you worry!



Soup and nuts

Grand Palace Selfie

After nearly 24 hours of sitting upright in 18-inches between the arm rests of  a coach seat while flying over land and sea, John, Clara and I arrived exhausted but without incident in Bangkok at 11:55 p.m., New Year’s Eve.

We cabbed to our Riverside hotel, then wandered around the streets, which were lively because there had been a massive fireworks display Continue reading

The meat we eat

Don’t we kinda already know that factory-farmed animals are not frolicking in the fields by day, slumber partying in the barn at night like the animals in the children’s book The Big Red Barn?

bigredbarnPlenty of films, videos, photos and articles detail the lives of animals in the industrial food supply. Together they don’t tell a happy story. Until recently, I have avoided delving deeply into such information because I wasn’t prepared to stop eating meat. Nor did I want to pay to eat grass-fed meat imported from as far away as New Zealand. I wanted another option, one that started more like the Big Red Barn and ended on my plate. I decided to Continue reading

A sound life for shells

Shells, like broken pieces of pottery, hold some fascination for me. When I see either scattered on the ground, I’m compelled to wonder how its previous owner used it. I want to know the back-story of where a shell or pot came from, and how it came to be tossed aside.

Since moving from the Midwest at age 12, I have been fortunate enough to visit many beaches. And from nearly every one, on nearly every visit, I have collected a shell or two, or 10 or 20.  No more do I want these relics from the South Pacific, New York, Mexico, California and Florida gathering dust in baskets or glass jars. So I’ve come up with a very simple way to put them in view. Continue reading