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Of Bangkok and Beagles, Bros and Baptisims

Visiting Southeast Asia without seeing Thailand is like reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but not The Hobbit, eating chili without any jalapeños (or a proper roux base, for that matter), or listening to all of Highway 61 Revisited, but skipping “Like A Rolling Stone.” It may not be your favorite, but it’s a central part of the experience, and perhaps the most well-known part of it at that. Without it, it’s hard to fully appreciate the big picture.

Anyway, I babbled enough about Thailand as a whole in my previous post. Here are some pictures:

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Zibby, with her good friend Maggie, Maggie’s fiancée, Pook, and their adorable baby, Issara. They live in Bangkok and were our unofficial hosts for a few days.

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A market in Chiang Mai, the biggest city in northern Thailand. We took a cooking class there and learned how to make khao soi, one of the most delicious dishes I’ve had on this trip. Here, I’ll show you…

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God bless you, khao soi.

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Allow me to explain this one. So there I was one day, just minding my own business on the Bangkok subway, when I suddenly feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around and am confronted by this random white guy, wearing a short-sleeved oxford shirt and a black backpack. “It couldn’t be…” I think to myself. “Surely not here, at least.”

“Hey bro, you wanna get baptized?”

Yep, it is in fact a Mormon missionary – and he just called me “bro,” apparently. “Nah, I’m good,” I hastily reply. And then I proceed to discretely snap this photo.

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I don’t actually remember where this was taken – at one of the approximately 600 temples and pagodas we’ve visited in the past few months, no doubt – but felt compelled to include it here all the same. Monks are everywhere in Thailand, and there are certain little bits of etiquette that you’d better know, lest you face a public shaming (always give your seat to a monk on the train/bus, don’t sit next to a monk if you’re a female, never touch a monk, don’t ask a monk whether he’s allowed to have a cell phone (they’re technically kinda not, but they do anyway)).

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Spent three days diving off the coast of Ko Tao, an island in the Gulf of Thailand. The diving was beautiful, saw some giant reefs and lots of marine life (sea snakes!) – but Ko Tao itself isn’t exactly authentically Thai. Its tiny downtown area feels more like Little Australia, and most businesses are run by Aussie expats. Man, Australians can get annoying sometimes.

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The sunset on Ko Tao wasn’t too bad, though.

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This lady ran one of the best restaurants we’ve been to on our entire trip, a little hole-in-the-wall place in Chiang Mai. I’d been frustrated at the time because, while I kept ordering my dishes “spicy,” the cooks assumed I couldn’t handle/didn’t want “Thai spicy.” Not this lady. I asked for a spicy papaya salad, and she did not mess around. I think we ended up eating here like four or five times in total; never underestimate a restaurant run by a sweet, little old lady.

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We did a three day/two night trek outside of Pai, in northern Thailand, which brought us through many a bamboo forest such as this one.

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I include this picture of the two Brazilians that joined us on our trek not because they were nice guys and fun to hike with (they were), but because of the exceptional, honest-to-god birth name of the guy sitting in the foreground. It was Rodrigo Hamburger. I kid you not: Rodrigo. Hamburger.

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The village, Karen, that we stayed in one night. The population was something like 50, and I’m pretty sure they were all related. Really nice people, though I’m not sure I’d be welcomed back. Long story that’s not fit to print. If you’re interested, feel free to ask me about it sometime…

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NERD ALERT!

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Muy Thai boxing.

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Spent our last night in Thailand in style on Ko Phangan. It’s the island known primarily for the Full Moon Party, a clusterf**k of drunken amateurs partying all night on the beach. We opted to stay on the far side of the island, which was much more laid back and offered views like this one.

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Actually, I lied. THIS was our true last night in Thailand, and this is us sitting on the train platform and trying to stay sane as our train was delayed for three-and-a-half hours (originally, it was thirty minutes, then an hour, then two…) in the middle of the night. Beer helped. All told, the journey from Ko Phangan to Chennai, India would take us just over 36 hours – via tuk tuk, ferry, train, another train, plane, taxi, and rickshaw.

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Look at this puppy! If your heart isn’t melting a tad right now, then I fear you don’t have a soul. I mean, just look at it! He’s so adorable, AREN’T YOU BOY? OH YES, YOU’RE THE CUTEST LITTLE PUPPY IN THE WORLD. YOU’RE A GOOD BOY, AREN’T YOU??

Excuse me, I lost control there for a moment. This dog belonged to a guy that owned a bar in Ko Tao. He was alright, I guess.

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