Kuantan Firefly Park, Malaysia

“Please don’t use flash photography,” said the man who’d offered his hand to help me get into the boat. The moonlight bouncing off the water seemed to cling to his teeth as he grinned heartily and waved our little boat off into the dark water.

“Of course!” I replied, easily smiling back as I casually twisted my camera’s settings into No Flash mode.

Scooting to the edge of the bench I looked off to the far side of the river so I wouldn’t have to peer between the couple sitting in front of me. We’d been organized into four people per boat with one oarsman standing at the back, tugging the oars to his chest as he propelled us around.

I’d hoped to nab the front seat, but all was forgiven as I earnestly peered into the low trees hugging the river’s sides.

As we drifted closer what I’d see next wasn’t at all what I’d expected.

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Wat Phra That Chae Haeng, Nan, Thailand

During my first semester in Thailand I had the opportunity to listen to at least two fellow exchange students grumble about how, “once you’ve seen one wat (Thai word for temple) you’ve seen them all”.

I’ll admit this wat displayed many familiar features: a massive stupa, a humble temple, a tall surrounding wall, a line of Buddha images ready to receive coins and two growling nagas racing down the hill to greet temple visitors. But it was the details that were the most intriguing.

With the initial awe wearing off I was starting to wonder about the meaning of the curious objects around me.

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Bangkok Songkran Two: April 13th to 15th

The goggles I’d picked up at a club two nights ago clung close to my face, which was both a boon and a bane. While the persistent waves of water weren’t reaching my eyes, my vision was constantly being clouded by condensation collecting inside. Risking a peek out from underneath the lenses after some frantic rubbing hadn’t cleared my sight, I sought my friends in the crowd.

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Wat Phumin, Nan, Thailand

When I first laid eyes on Wat Phumin I saw a fortress within which the quiet denizens of the area could seek sanctuary. Even with a bustling textile fair throwing clamoring bids and chatter about, and a fashion-show blasting music right across the way—the merriment couldn’t breach the temple’s grounds.

The two rolling serpent creatures, or nagas, upon which the temple seemed to rest—looked as though they were holding back the din, biting the air clear of noise and careless speech.

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Hey Big Spender

Before I left for Thailand I asked Google how do I avoid buying souvenirs?

It’s a question as foolish to ask as how do I avoid getting pregnant? because there are so many choices and Google shares some pretty hazardous answers.

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Koh Lanta, Krabi, Thailand

Wiggling my shoulders further down the hammock, my feet creeping up the other side to compensate for the shift, my back pushed into the pillows. The netting snuggled close on my arms, enclosing me but allowing the soft ocean breeze to caress my body through the net. With each soft push the hammock gently swung back and forth.

The sun relentlessly bore down on my surroundings, thankfully deflected by the roof over my hammock. I’d already embraced the sun a bit too much in the earliest day of the trip. For now I was content with my book resting on my stomach, my thumb poised to turn the page.

The trip to Otres Beach in Cambodia had reintroduced me to books and their teleportation abilities were just as mesmerizing at this beach. I gleefully dusted off the key to my imagination and lost myself in the halls of my mind. I’d remain lost each day until the mosques called their followers to prayer and the sun was preparing to dive into the ocean. Continue reading “Koh Lanta, Krabi, Thailand”

Khao Sok in Surat Thani, Thailand

The stone was warm. Not hot, just pleasantly warm. My left leg was propped over my right, topping the bent knee like the trees and brush blanketing the valley walls. Before my rocky podium, which stood taller than my height with fingers stretched, a green world rose. A great wall of trees hid the horizon.

Behind me a couple splashed and laughed as they dipped their toes in the river sidling past. Unfamiliar birds belted out their cries from the stillness of the trees. Elephants sauntered through this forest. Somehow. It looked impenetrable to me. My confusion tugged at my sleeve for attention so I played with it. Continue reading “Khao Sok in Surat Thani, Thailand”

Yeepeng International and Loy Krathong

Overhead a river of dreams twinkled as it receded into the black of night. Thousands of sparkles, each a hope and blessing, floated upward and onward. Like soft but determined little beings these messengers hurried on, carried aloft by the feelings of those who lit them, by fires as bright as the human spirit.

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The Defection of Bidhishna 3

Surrounded by the false darkness of Bangkok the audience around me gasps as Lord Rama towers over King Ravana. Steadying his position atop a fellow performer he brings his weapon to bear. Seconds after driving a blow at Ravana, Rama lightly steps to the ground as the human structure falls away. He and the demon circle each other, seeking another moment to strike. Just behind them their two armies wait, prepared to converge in a mass of honour, strength and death. Continue reading “The Defection of Bidhishna 3”

The Defection of Bidhishna 1

Bidhishna cowers before his brother, Ravana the Demon King of ten faces, as Ravana towers over him preparing to deliver the killing blow. The audience, wide-eyed by the spectacle, releases its breath as a moment later Ravana withdraws his sword and contemplates another punishment for his brother. Overhead birds skim across the sky ignoring the drama on the ground. In the far distance clouds, as indifferent as the birds, silently roll by. The sun has already moved on to awaken another part of the world. Continue reading “The Defection of Bidhishna 1”