When you’re not a big fan of cold and wet weather and your home state gets hit with rare winter “atmospheric rivers” that allow your son to snowboard from the front door of his home and bring snow to your favorite beach volleyball courts, you know it’s time to search for warmth.
For me, in March, that meant returning to Thailand where I hoped to hike in the mountains of the north and scuba dive in the islands of the south. It was a wonderful trip even if circumstances forced me to alter many of my original plans. Here are a few pics to start off what will I expect to be a year filled with many adventures that I want to share with you all on this blog.
The first thing I noticed on this visit to Thailand was how different the air quality was compared to my last visit (in November/December 2019, just after the annual monsoons). I quickly learned that the farmers’ annual burning of their fields clouds the nation’s skies for a few months. This was very apparent in Bangkok…
… and even more obvious in the rural north. Compare this photo of the mountains from my apartment in Chiang Mai…
… to a closer view of those same mountains back in November 2019.
At least the particulate matter helped color the sunsets in both Bangkok…
… and Patong Bay.
One of my favorite things about Thailand are the inexpensive massages. At the airport, a 30 minute foot massage costs just US$7.25! I probably had a Thai massage, oil massage or foot massage every single day.
It goes without saying that the food is exquisite, so I won’t fill this post with curries. But I feel driven to share the artwork that is breakfast.
There is no escaping the grandeur of the innumerable temples and altars, particularly in the towns and cities. I had seen a lot of this on my previous visit.
What I found different on this trip were the many places of worship hidden amongst the paths I hiked, starting with this loop in the mountains above the university that also had some low-hanging obstacles on the trail that I am not used to ducking under.
While predominantly a Buddhist culture, the Thais have also adopted a number of Hindu gods, including Ganesh, “the remover of obstacles.”
On another hike, my unmarked trail slowly but surely disappeared in the rainforest, even when using the AllTrails app on my phone to guide me.
Yep, the trail is supposedly straight ahead!
Without a machete to help me cut through the brush, I turned back to try the opposite side of the loop and found another surprise: a dirt road where a crew of Laotian men were laying a new paved road. AllTrails will have to be updated!
After a few days, I flew to the south of the country where I hoped to do some diving. Unfortunately, I caught a cold somewhere along the way that developed into a sinus infection which clogged me up enough to keep me at the surface. I did manage some island hopping but mostly chilled by the hotel pool and caught up on some reading.
My trip was relaxing and enjoyable, even if not for the reasons I had planned. It was a nice way to escape the cold and to kick off my long series of trips in 2023.
A week after I returned, Joanie and I set out on our next trekking holiday, to the 3-dimensional American state of Utah with mountains, canyons, rivers and trails. Stay tuned!