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Flight Of Gibbons, Grunstras And Moores

Today was certainly a unique adventure. We were swooped up at our hotel in a minivan full of 6 other adventurers. The van then shuttled us off to a mountainous area of Chang Mai about an hour outside the city. After many twists and turns, zigging and zagging up the mountain, we arrived at our destination. The home base for the Flight Of The Gibbons – A Rainforest Canopy Adventure Tour(TM). First things first….

Becoming acquainted with our safety gear.

And once we found a set that fit, it was time to strap in for about two hours of zip lining through the forest!

Once the gear was secured to us, and us to the gear, we took a quick hike from the main rode, through the forest…

…and down to the first platform…

Several meters away, high above the forest floor, was another tree. With another platform. Nothing between the two platforms but a metal cable suspended high above. Gulp!

There’s no turning back now!


Look ma! No hands! Wait, actually… mom, don’t look. Close your eyes.

Ok. You can open them now. I made it safely across to the other tree…

This routine basically continue for a couple hours. Zipping from tree to tree, making our way through the forest just like a gibbon would.

In between a few trees, we would have to lower ourselves to a platform below to reach the required height for the next zip.

Other times, it was a matter of crossing a narrow wooden bridge…

In the end, I’m happy to say that we all made it to the last tree, and down the last rope, and got out alive!

Another successful Thailand adventure for the record books.

Wat Did The Serpent Say To The Scorpion?

I don’t know wat. But I do know that today Rick took us up Doi Suthep mountain to see Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. It’s one of the more famous Buddhist temples and a very sacred place for many Thai people. At night you can see it glowing up on the mountain side almost as if it’s floating in the sky. During the day, and up close, the sights are equally impressive.

At that base of the temple is a long set of stairs leading to the entrance. The “hand rail” for this staircase is a uber long, and uber hungry serpent, that is either eating 4 other serpents, or is birthing them orally.

Either way, I don’t want to be anywhere near a serpent with those sort of powers! So it’s up the stairs we go — away from it’s mouth.

Atop the long staircase lies the first entryway to the temple grounds…

…once you pass through the entryway, you must take your shoes off near the doorway to the main temple area…

The main attraction inside is arguably the large golden chedi (a.k.a. stupa). Today however it was undergoing a bit of repair work. While some might have been disappointed, I found it made for a much more interesting photo. The very geometric grid like scaffolding that wrapped around the very organic structure added something to it all, almost as if the chedi was locked in a bamboo cage or something.

Maybe I’m just weird. But whatever, I like the photo. And not many people can say they have the same one!

All around the chedi are other buildings with alters. And there are Buddhas everywhere! Some under an overhang..

…some lined up neatly in a row near flaming flowers…

…some under golden lace parasols…

…and some that were taking naps.

After leaving the main temple area we explored the grounds some more…

…before heading back down the stairs, and then back down the mountain. On the way back down the mountain, Rick took us to his favorite temple which was a bit more secluded and perched near a waterfall with some dragon-like guardians.

If you think that looks scary, you ain’t seen nothing yet… We walked up to the waterfall as it was starting to get dark. Some vendors lined the pathway with their carts selling various merchandise. One group of vendors towards the end were selling the most unique products.

Critters for consumption.

These look like deep fried crabs on a skewer.

These are clearly cricket related.

I believe these are cajun scorpions.

And I’m no biologist, but unless I’m mistaken these can only be cockroaches.

It’s going to be a while before I eat again.

Posted Up In Paradise

OK, I cannot tell a lie. The unreliable Internet isn’t the ONLY reason new blog posts have been delayed. It’s about the halfway point in the trip, and Chang Mai is the perfect place to just relax…

…take it slow, and watch time fly by…

…and watch parades walk by.

We’ve also been taking some time to catch up on some long overdue work.

We’re now on our second hotel here, as the first one was trying to charge an exorbitant rate for WiFi. So we are boycotting, and moving locations somewhere closer to Ricks restaurant.

Speaking of Paradise Pizza… tonight, Rick invited us out to celebrate the 4 year anniversary of the restaurant. Congrats Rick!

It was also A’s birthday, so it was a duel celebration.

If I ever expect to beat her in a game of ping pong… she’s going to need to finish that drink! And probably several more. Argh!

Welcome To Thailand. Please Enjoy Yo…

As you may be aware, blog posts here have been a bit backlogged as of late. It’s not my fault! I blame the Internet connectivity here in Thailand.

We arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok from Japan on time…

…but like most things in Thailand, things tend to work only about 85% of the time. So our connecting flight to Chang Mai was delayed by about an hour. Upon arriving at Chang Mai airport…

Rick picked us up, and drove us into the old city. He took us to the most high-powered pizza parlor in all of Thailand…

Paradise Pizza located at 7/2 Ratchawitchi Road (try the chicken parmigiana sandwich! </shameless-plug>). After scarfing down a few slices of pie, and sampling the very tasty sour cream coffee cake, Rick helped us check into our hotel, and secured a nice room up on the 12 floor with a view of the city and the mountains.

The next day we just sort of wandered around the old city. The cool thing about Thailand, and Chang Mai especially is that you can stumble across some very intricate buddist temples on almost every block. Sometimes they are tucked in behind a building and harder to find…

…and other times they are really obvious and stick out like a beautiful golden sore thumb..

I Love Japan

I am hereby officially proposing a new flag for this great country.

Out with the old…

And in with the new…

Japan is the most efficient, the most clean, the most organized, the most advanced, the most polite, and the downright coolest country I’ve ever been to. I wanna have it’s baby!

One of the most awesome districts of Tokyo is the Shibuya district, which you may recognize from the movie Lost In Translation. An estimated 1 million people cross through this pedestrian scramble each day.

By my estimation Shibuya has to be the largest shopping district in the world. Now I’m not what you would call a shopoholic by any means, but I do appreciate creative and colorful advertising if it’s done right. Shibuya certainly has some of the largest, and most colorful advertising I’ve ever laid eyes on. It makes the billboards of Los Angeles look like a dump.

And the Japanese just LOVE their cartoons and weird animated characters.

I swear Peter Pan must have been inspired by a Japanese person. It seems like they never want to grow up. It’s no wonder they are so youthful and energetic and happy!

Melrose Ave. in LA has nothing on the building facades in Shibuya.

I don’t know what it is. But it’s impressive for a store front.

And that’s just the outside. They cut no corners in designing the interiors of stores either.

It’s this sort of creativity that allows huge corporate brands like McDonalds to take chances and think outside of the box. The results are often clever and witty. In this example, they go with the Less Is More mantra and do away with all branding. No famous golden arches. No Ronald McDonald clown. Just “Quarter Pounder” in red writing on a black truck. I’m not a McDonaldsoholic either, but I appreciate their willingness to experiment. It’s fun! Simple. Effective. Different.

The purpose of my trip to Shibuya today was to try and locate a store I had been to last year. It was part automat, part clothing store. I didn’t know the name, or the address. So all I could do was retrace my footsteps from memory.

Once I found the sports complex I knew I was headed in the right direction.

All I had to do was walk past the tower…

…past the swimming pool building…

…past the courtyard…

…and right over the bridge, I would be dropped off right near Harajuku St. This is one of the funkiest streets in all of Japan. So many unique individuals all with their own personal style.

Everything goes here. Nothing is too crazy. Experimentation is strongly encouraged.

Once I found the memorable “WHAT!?” wall I knew I was getting close.

Just around the corner would be the geometric glass Audi building…

…and just down the street a couple blocks was the shirt store I was looking for!

The cool thing about this store is that only one of each of the t-shirts they have for sale is on the clothing racks pictured above. If you like a shirt, you look at the tag on the shirt for a map of the store. It will tell you which floor your shirt is on, and which wall to find it on. You make a mental note of the shirt style number, and then you go look for that code along the wall where the map pointed you to. The walls are lined with shelves of LED numbers that coorespond to the shirt style numbers. Once you find your number, you pull the clear round tube with red screw-on top off the shelf for your desired size.  All of the shirts are custom designs by local Japanese designers. It sort of turns shopping into a little game and helps to put just a little bit of ‘oholic’ in even the most non-shopolholics. Fun. Clever. Unique.

With my mission accomplished and a couple of new t-shirts in my bag, I popped into a little resteraunt. They too had a unique purchasing system. You pre-pay for your meal at a little vending machine that spits out a ticket very much like a train ticket dispenser. You then hand the ticket to the lady behind the counter and they prepare your meal for you. Simple. Efficient. Tasty.

Everything about this country is so much fun! I love everything about it! So as you can imagine, it is with great sadness that we must bring our Japan stay to an end. I love this country. I will be back soon Japan! I’ll miss you!

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