Friday, February 25


It has come time for me to begin to describe a bit of the wonderful foods I've been enjoying here. I'll start with the most misunderstood fruit of all, durian. For those of you who have had any encounters with durian, you're probably shaking in your boots, terrified about what you'll read next. Have no fear! The king of fruits rules with a spiny, stinky skin but is sweet and soft on the inside. Perhaps I'm waxing a bit too much. For those who don't know of it, durian is a tropical fruit, that is quite large, roughly the size of a soccer ball, but the shape of a football. It has a very hard skin that is covered with thick, sharp thorns. This fruit is serious about not letting predators in. When ripe it has quite a pungent aroma often described as "rubbish", "raw sewage", "vomit". Appetizing, eh? My first encounter with durian was in the Asian markets in Vancouver. I had to hold my nose when walking by. But never one to stand down a food challenge, I sampled some durian gelato at La Casa Gelato in Vancouver (this by the way is my most favorite ice cream (ok, gelato) shop in the world thus far, almost 500 flavors, over 200 avaiable at any one time). Ok, back to the durian gelato, it had hardly any flavor and still the nasty smell. Not worth it to me, but the most popular item at La Casa Gelato, it's the only one they keep prepackaged in pint containers (and also the only one they keep covered in the case).

Fast forward almost two years. Here I am in Thailand and on the night my food fantasies were fulfilled (see the Jan 20th post) I tried some durian again. It wasn't worth writing about as it was not good, again. It was hard and flavorless. Another month goes by, the permaculture course has just ended and the members are having dinner in Kanchanaburi. Matthew shows up with a durian. He explains that this one is very ripe - you can see that, it's practically bursting at its seams. He cracks it open and the inside looks like custard, not the hard lumps I'd experienced before. And the taste, sweet and luscious it practically melts in your mouth. AAAAAHHHH, this is what it's all about. I've now learned enough Thai food vocabulary to buy myself one and that I did. Magnus and I feasted on one sitting along side a canal in Chaing Mai last night. I can't wait to share this culinary adventure with folks back home!

Thursday, February 24

Up North

I left Bangkok for Chaing Mai, did I say that already? It's up north, not Khoa Yai National Park, though I may still get there. I've spent the last two nights with Jo and his community up at Pun Pun. So many beautifully built mud houses. So inspiring. They have gardens and hope to be growing all their own food by next year. Right now their biggest expense is having to buy food. The land is beautiful, rolling hills, brisk nights (though maybe that changes in the summer). Apparently in the rainy season, they get daily rains, but they seldom last for more than a few hours at a time. I'd like to come back and spend more time doing Tai Chi and gardening, but at the moment I've returned to Chaing Mai to meet up with Magnus, who is probably heading back now from Mae Taeng as he was on his way to Pun Pun to meet me. Life is funny.

Monday, February 21

next stop, chaing mai

i'm leaving around 7:30 this evening heading to Chaing Mai, directly north of Bangkok, but quite a ways north, to visit Jo, the earthen building instructor from my course to see the kinds of earth ovens he's built. The plan to go hiking in Khoa Yai has been moved to Saturday so I can connect with a friend of a friend. In the meantime, I thought I'd go back and add an entry or two from the past month. Please scroll down...

Sunday, February 20

a month gone

well, i'm now on the flip side of the course. and have so many thoughts and experiences to share, which have actually been fairly well documented by hand. i'm going to save the time and money to type them up for when i've returned though, so you'll have to wait a few days more. in the meantime, i'm back in bangkok for a night of feasting and dancing before heading to khoa yai national park tomorrow to maybe see some elephants and visit with some appropriate technology folks to learn more about energy and living alternatives. from there, it'll be north to chaing mai to visit with the earth building teacher i had and to see his community and earth ovens he's created. prehaps i might get a night or two with a swedish friend as well! details to follow :-)

Tuesday, February 1

Climbing a Waterfall

Writing the date, it's so funny to think that it's February. Joy and I took a walk a few weeks ago where we discussed winter and how for most of the nation, February sucks as that's when you are ready for winter to end and it continues for another month still. SF's is mild comparatively, we were walking in long sleeved t's and light pants. Here, in Thailand, I was sweating all day. We spent the day in Khao Laem National Park at the Rainbow Camp gathering, with children from Thailand and Japan. There was jump rope and karate this morning. Meals with meat! A long walk to some water falls.

I've discovered that my definition of waterfall is quite different than the Thai version. Here, we walked about 2 k following a mostly gentle slope, with a few steep climbs, where water was flowing and in a few cases falling, but never grand drops that I associate with the word waterfall. Kra Teng Peng falls seem to be a series of about 16 "falls". We bathed in on where the water was up to my chest and perfectly cold for the hot day. We reached a point where continuing further would be too difficult for the smaller children, so I took responsibility for the 2 eldest and continued up. Although, shortly into our continued climb, they bounded ahead while I battled with some thorny vines. Unfortunately for my arms and legs, the vines won. I was stuck for a good 2 minutes, wishing for a leatherman, thinking that I wouldn't be able to keep track of the kids, much less make my way back. Luckily, a Thai man came along and helped me escape. By the time I made it to the kids, they were jumping off boulders into what I'm guessing were shallow ponds.

The most surprising thing was that the "trail" led through the stream at many points. So we were walking up many waterfalls to get to the waterfall. Something like this would never happen in the US. One would see signs every where to "stay on the trail" and out of the water. Here, it was slippery, several people fell or got trapped in vines (ok, maybe that one was only me). The Thai folks were hiking in flip flops, some of the kids bare foot. Besides my scrapes, I don't think anyone got hurt. Such a different living and child raising philosophy.