Blog Archive


The Kingdom

March 03, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
His name is Bhumibol Adulyadej and his face greeted us minutes after our plane landed in Bangkok. I had no idea he’d be following us throughout our stay in Thailand but on the car ride to our hotel after clearing customs I saw him on virtually every street corner. It would be hard to imagine Queen Elizabeth’s face greeting me on every street corner in the UK.      I recognized him from the money I exchanged at the Hong Kong airport; Adulyadej is the King of Thailand, and the longest reigning monarch in the world. Approaching his sixty-eighth year on the throne, he’s ruled Thailand longer than Ramses II ruled Ancient Egypt. And it’s quite clear his people love him. In fact, the current government ...

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A Tale of Two Buddhas

March 05, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    Did you know that according to the Guinness Book of Records, Bangkok’s official name is the world’s longest? Its actual name is:   "Krungthep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahadikok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit"   Which translates to:   “The city of angels, great city, residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.” ****************** In s ...

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March 07, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I never research our trips beforehand because I like to be surprised by what I see, and I had no idea Thailand (Siam) had a capital before Bangkok which, as it turns out, is not even three hundred years old, relatively new as far as world capitals go.      Near the Grand Palace in Bangkok stands Wat Arun, The Temple of Dawn. I’ve seen it depicted in dozens of Thai restaurants but I had no idea as to its significance. It turns out that King Taksin and his court passed this spot, a village known as Bang Makok, in boats after fleeing the destruction of their ancient capital at Ayutthaya by the Burmese in the seventeenth century. A small temple already marked the site. The King saw rays of light emanating from the ol ...

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An Eden for Elephants

March 10, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
One of the reasons for selecting Thailand as a vacation destination was my desire to interact with elephants. I’d hoped to experience them in India last year but saw very few. Later, I was told that Thailand was the place to experience pachyderms. I even joked that I was looking forward to experiencing an animal I wasn’t too fat to ride.      I noticed the importance of elephants in Thai culture even before leaving Bangkok and flying to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand for our pachyderm experience. Statues and pictures of elephants were everywhere, as prevalent as images of bald eagles in the States. My surprise at the absence of elephants was reinforced by the ubiquitous images of them surrounding me. I&rsq ...

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Where's the Peanut Sauce?

March 12, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                I enjoy Thai food and looked forward to wonderful meals on our recent trip, but Mrs. C. took her enthusiasm for cooking to a higher level by signing us up for a day at the Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School. Had I studied the brochure I’d have known what I was getting into, but of course I didn’t.      We were picked up at our hotel and driven to an open market for a lecture on local cooking ingredients. Live fish and frogs were in tanks and I tried not to make eye contact with them. Mysterious animal parts hung from chains dangling from the ceiling, casting shadows over rows of severed pig heads. I’ve never eaten pig face. I understan ...

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D & D

March 14, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        I’m taking a break from my travel posts to share a disturbing occurrence with you. This might compromise the opinion many of you have of me but it’s said honesty is the best policy and…and…I just can’t believe I did it. I’ve heard of people doing this intentionally; back in my salad days lots of teens and college students bragged about doing it, but I figured it was just bluster. I never imagined I’d be guilty of such a thing.      I was seated in an Indian restaurant with my good friend Jo Barney, who you might remember from her guest post at Chubby Chatterbox. She was sharing pictures from her trip to India and I was sharing stories from my ...

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Thai Contraband

March 17, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  On my first post after returning from vacation I tried to entice you with these words: Had the massive outdoor statue of Buddha spoken he might have warned me that another Buddha would figure more prominently on this trip, forcing a confrontation between me, Mrs. Chatterbox and security in another country, prompting a situation that would send us to a guarded room for a bevy of questions designed to see if we were antiques smugglers, but I’m getting ahead of my story. The time has come (as Paul Harvey often said) for the rest of the story.      On our last night in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand we rode a tuk-tuk to the touristy downtown Night Market. Over the years we’ve cut back on souvenir buy ...

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Angkor Wat

March 19, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
After forty years of marriage Mrs. Chatterbox continues to surprise me. While planning our trip to Thailand she informed me she wanted to make an excursion to Cambodia. I had no idea she wanted to cross Angkor Wat off her bucket list.      We flew from Chiang Mai, Thailand, to Siem Reap in the Kingdom of Cambodia. I didn’t know what to expect, and it dawned on me that we might not be well received since the US bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War, but travel is the best way to correct misconceptions. In spite of its troubled past (Pol Pot murdered three million people in the late 70’s trying to turn the country into a communist farm) we discovered a land filled with warmth and fascinating scenery. &n ...

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March 24, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs. Chatterbox and I have toured with busloads of people, but we were surprised when we discovered our trip to Thailand and Cambodia would be different. At three of our destinations (Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Siem Reap)  we would have our own private guides. At first we were hesitant but it worked out wonderfully; our guides were knowledgeable and personalized our excursions. Kong, our Cambodian guide, was exceptional and surprisingly pro America, although we did learn something unsettling about his past.      Kong picked us up at Siem Reap Airport and we were immediately impressed with his English and cheerful demeanor. He shared a wealth of knowledge as we toured Angkor Wat. Along the way he nearly made Mrs. C. f ...

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Phuket Island

March 26, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Mrs. Chatterbox and I planned our trip to conclude back in Thailand on Phuket Island.  We looked forward to unwinding and relaxing on sunny beaches before the grueling trek home. Of course we couldn’t have imagined the entire world would soon be focused on this part of the world due to missing Malaysian flight MH 370.      Aside from lying on a few pristine beaches, I wanted see the famous islands surrounding Phuket. We booked an excursion on a Chinese junk and sailed from The Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea. The sky was blanketed with haze when we disembarked but the hot sun quickly burned it away. Somewhere among the thousands of islands was one that had captured my imagination by figuring prom ...

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Writer's Blog Hop

March 28, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    Val the Victorian at Unbagging the Cats is one of my favorite bloggers. She is an excellent writer with a penchant for Jerry Seinfeld and the ability to endlessly amuse me with stories about her high-energy family. Val claims nobody wants to read about hillbillies going about their wacky lives in backroads U.S.A., but she couldn’t be more wrong. She recently participated in a blog hop where she singled me out (along with a few others) and said some very nice things about me. Even if she hadn’t I would encourage you to check out her blog. This blog hop requires me to answer these four questions:   #1 What am I working on?      I’m currently working on a collection of stories gle ...

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Juan de Pareja

March 31, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      There was a time when I owned scores of books filled with art reproductions and biographies of the artists who created them. I didn’t care for many of these artists but I wanted to learn as much as I could about their creative philosophies. Eventually, I returned to those artists who time and again made my spirit soar by touching my heart instead of my brain. I’ve written many posts about art but now I’ll reveal my absolute favorite painting—Velasquez’ Portrait of Juan de Pareja. Although my personal favorite, it’s my belief that this is only the second greatest portrait ever painted. Why am I discussing the second greatest instead of the first? Let me explain.     ...

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