Monthly Archives: April 2018

Bali, Indonesia–Butterflies!

Ryan and I haven’t been in Bali long but we’ve done a lot of exploring and we’ve seen some amazing sights!  One of my personal favorites so far, although it’s on the touristy end of things, was visiting the Kemenuh Butterfly Park.  They have a nice facility with some of the most beautiful butterflies I’ve ever seen!

The facility is not large, but I still could have spent hours following around one beautiful butterfly after another.  There was a wonderful variety of colors and shapes and sizes.  Some of them were very busy, fluttering from tree to flower, while some of them were more quiet and cooperative when it came to posing for photos.

There was a pupa section that had some humongous and colorful moths.  The attendant was very knowledgeable and he talked about the life cycle of the moth and butterfly.  He showed us moth and butterfly eggs that would soon hatch caterpillars.  There were some big, juicy caterpillars in the pupa room.  There were also many pupae, from which butterflies and moths would soon emerge.

The environment was wonderfully tranquil and a pleasure for all the senses.  Soft music played in the background.  The trickle of a waterfall could be heard.  A cool spray of mist floated down from the air which was fresh and fragrant.  There was color everywhere from the gorgeous array of flowers and decorations, and of course, from the butterflies themselves.

After we had explored to our hearts’ content, and I tried to make the stay short and sweet for Ryan’s sake, we enjoyed a meal at the restaurant.  The food was good and we had a nice view from our table.  I took advantage of the restroom while we were there, and then were were off on our next adventure, certainly not light as air, but we certainly felt the breeze blowing through our faces.

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Phuket, Thailand–Operation Songkran

Ryan and I were fortunate to be in Thailand for Songkran, which is the Thai New Year’s festival.  Although there are many different traditions, including visiting local temples and making merit offerings, this holiday is well known for its water festival.  As you drive down the road, people will toss icy water on you from the curb or squirt you with squirt guns and hoses.  Meanwhile, a truck will pull up on your other side and dump buckets of water on you.  It’s a wild (and wet) time!

Ryan had done his research and so we had a pretty good idea of what was in store for us.  We purchased a squirt gun–they were selling them all over the island–and loaded up on Blue Betty ready for battle.  I had two jobs.  The first was to be Ryan’s gunner girl.  I squirted people as we approached or retreated (although I think the latter was more my style).  The little ones were the funnest to engage because they were so stinkin cute!  My second job was to film the festivities as they unfolded around us.  I’m not sure I was very good at either, but I had a blast!

Go ahead. Make my day.

In accordance with another tradition, we had chalky mixtures rubbed on our cheeks and neck.  As I understand it, the chalk marks one’s blessings and also symbolizes good luck for the new year.  The chalk came in many different colors and there were different scents as well.  One reddish-orange mixture smelled strongly of menthol.  Another had a distinctly spicy smell.  I was grateful we were wearing sunglasses and didn’t get any in our eyes.  I felt like I wearing war paint!

You should see the other guys…

When all was said and done, we returned in pretty rough shape.  Our spirits, however, couldn’t have been higher!  Songkran was one of the most interesting and exciting holidays I’ve experienced abroad.  People were so joyful and gracious.  Many even made attempts to wish with us “Happy New Year” in English or Thai, or a combination of the two.  I felt welcome and included.  It was a wonderful experience and I’m so glad were were able to celebrate Songkran with the good people of Phuket, and with each other.

Wow, that was pretty intense.

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Phuket, Thailand–Monkey Madness

Earlier today, Ryan and I took a short scooter ride from our house in Phuket and visited Monkey Hill.  I was very happy to have Blue Betty not only so we didn’t have to make the climb on foot, but also in case we needed to make a hasty getaway.  The monkeys of Monkey Hill are notoriously brazen and they can even be aggressive when you don’t give them what they want.  I was surprised how many there actually were up there, along with dozens of stray dogs.  They all (monkeys and dogs) appeared to be well fed and flourishing.  I’m sure it helps that they have many visitors to keep them fattened up.

Although they seem to have food in excess–there were piles of unopened, uneaten bananas ripening away in the hot sun–the monkeys were curious to see what new gifts the recent groups of visitors had to offer.  We were not among them.  If fact, we were lame.  The only things I brought were my camera and my party whistle to use in case of an emergency.  The monkeys didn’t take much interest in us and I was happy.  It was enough to watch them interact with more fearless travelers.

There were monkeys of all shapes and sizes.  Every now and then someone would feed one by hand.  Meanwhile, a mother would case the parked scooters carrying an infant around under her belly.  There were groups enjoying an afternoon grooming session.  Some were taking naps while others swung from branches in nearby trees.  I hung out with a relaxed group of mothers and their babies.  They were very tolerant of my presence and I enjoyed just sitting quietly nearby observing them.  It was a wonderfully mellow scene.

When all was said and done, Ryan and I made it out without an incident.  Neither of us were frisked, scratched, bitten, or maimed.  No feces were thrown.  There were no surprise attacks.  I didn’t even have to use my whistle.  While it probably helped that we exercised some caution, I’m sure that there was a certain amount of luck involved as well.  Some–and I’m assuming that these were the ones with the especially delicious treats–were not so lucky.

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Phuket, Thailand–Fight! Fight! Fight!

Ryan and I recently attended our first Muay Thai fight here in Thailand.  Otherwise known as “Thai Boxing”, Muay Thai is a full-contact combat sport that combines stand-up striking and the use of the fists, elbows, knees, and shins, along with various clinching techniques.  For this reason, it is known as the “art of eight limbs.”

The event began at 9pm and was held at the Bangla Boxing Stadium in Patong.  Tickets were sold at the door, ranging in price from $1700 TBH (for stadium seating) to $2500 THB (for VIP seating).  This is about $57-$83 USD.  We’d done enough looking around different parts of the island to know that these prices were legitimate and weren’t highly elevated for tourists.  Here in Thailand, that is a lot of money, which shows just how highly the sport is valued.

People come from all over the world to train and compete in Muay Thai.  On the night we attended, the competitors were from Thailand, France, Russia, China, and Israel and they ranged quite a bit in age as well.  We got the “cheap” stadium seats but it worked out nicely because we sat high up directly below the fans.  From here we could take in the whole ring at a glance.

The event began with a fight between two youngsters who displayed serious determination and great sportsmanship.  It included (among many others) a brutal battle between female competitors that ended with bloodshed–no surprises there.  It concluded with two different championship fights (I’m assuming in different weight classes).  Everyone had a slightly different style which kept things interesting.

As a spectator, I had little idea of what was going on.  I still enjoyed watching, however.  To make things even more exciting, Ryan and I each bet on a contender at the beginning of every fight.  I’m pleased to report that by the end of the night I had beat him soundly 5 to 2.  While I know that this was entirely due to luck, I still walked out of there feeling like I’d won a small personal victory, and I didn’t even have to get in the ring to do it!

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Phuket, Thailand–Sunset Sneak Peek

Ryan and I were recently lucky enough to watch a beautiful sunset here in Phuket.  We drove to Kata-Noi Beach and grabbed some seats on the sand to wait for it to unfold.  As sunsets tend to go, it took it’s time.  I’m notorious for getting bored waiting for the sun to set and more often than not, we go about our business before the show’s even begun.  (What!  We have to wait another 45 minutes?!  I don’t think so.)  Luckily for me, there was a pretty entertaining pre-show leading up to the grand finale.

Starting to set

This light is a really great color on you.

I recently learned about Instagram.  (I know, gasp.)  For those of you who are less in the know, as I tend to be, Instagram is a social-networking service similar to Facebook that deals almost entirely in photos.  I’ve never used Instagram.  However, there are A LOT of people who do.  While we were waiting for the sun and the sky it do their thing, I noticed a couple of girls down the beach taking some interesting photos of each other.  One was even coaching the other on the best way to stand and stick this out like that.

Getting lower

Can you give me more of a pop, please?

After a while I noticed that the couple on our left was doing it as well.  “What are they all doing?” I asked Ryan.  He shrugged and said, “Instagram,” as if that explained everything.  Apparently it did and he got me up to speed.  At last I had something to keep me entertained!  For the next forty-five minutes (and then the next forty-five minutes after that, because let’s face it, it’s a sunset) I had a great time taking pictures of people who were taking pictures of themselves.  Ryan wasn’t thrilled by my newfound source of entertainment–he was just sure that he was going to get blamed for taking the pictures himself when anyone happened to look through our photos–but at least it meant that we were going to be able to stay long enough to watch the sunset for a change.

And lower

Lookin good, Sweet Cheeks.

I’m pleased to announce that the preshow/sneakshow/peekshow was a success!  Eventually the sun did set and the colors came out and completely transformed the sky and it was truly spectacular!  It might have been one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.  I owe a special thanks to Ryan for driving me all the way to Kata-Noi Beach, and for all of those Instagram subscribers who made the wait worth my while.  It looked like the photos they got were worth the wait for them as well!

There it is!!!

Applause!

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