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Thailand 2009

a travel blog by brookejason


Brooke and I will be guiding this summer for Rustic Pathways in Thailand. This blog will keep you up to date on all of our adventures. I am leaving this Wednesday to head to Singapore to hang out with Mike before heading on to Thailand. Brooke is joining me on June 10th and then we are off on a full summer of adventure and service. Enjoy!
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Austin, United States




permalink written by  brookejason on May 25, 2009 from Austin, United States
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Anxious

Austin, United States


Somebody is anxious!!!!!! I am still in Austin just waiting to get to Thailand with Jason. Seeing as I am one of the most impatient people in the world, it's not going so well. Coping mechanisms have involved: sending way too many emails to Jason, obsessively checking Skype to see if he's on, looking at the Rustic website to read about our trips, and trying to relearn Nepali for when we go there at the end of our trip.

The most entertaining part is the packing process. I'm sure no one will be surprised to know that my bag was pretty much packed, well before Jason even thought about doing so (keep in mind he left 2 weeks before I will). Guess that's what happens when you have a mother who packs her bag for vacation several weeks in advance. Oh well. Now, since everything is out and ready, I am repeatedly reorganizing things. I have a major complex about traveling with a bag that is too big, so I am going to keep working on down-sizing. Realistically though, it will probably only grow.

I can't believe that in just over a week, I will finally be in Thailand. I am going on over 2 years of trying to get over there (ever since Jason went the first time). Not only am I excited to see Thailand and experience the other half of Jason's life, but I can't wait for the two of us to finally have an adventure together.

permalink written by  brookejason on June 1, 2009 from Austin, United States
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Terryville, United States




permalink written by  brookejason on June 5, 2009 from Terryville, United States
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Singapore, Singapore




permalink written by  brookejason on June 6, 2009 from Singapore, Singapore
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Tribal Trekking Scouting Trip

Chiang Dao, Thailand


The adventures have begun for me in Thailand already! Brooke is coming in a few days, and I can't wait. The last week has been amazing though and has made the time without Brooke pass by fast. I got to Chiang Mai and stayed here for a few days getting settled in and getting some work done before heading north to Chiang Dao to start scouting the trail for my trekking trip this year. Chiang Dao is a small town at the base of a beautiful mountain. I grabbed a bus out of Chiang Mai and met my friend and fellow guide Koko at the bus station in Chiang Dao. We would use his house as our base to figure out our plan for the next few days. We needed to find a trail and villages to stay in across a 40 mile area of remote mountains. The original plan was to walk it, but we had no time for that. So, Koko talked to some friends and came back with 2 dirt bikes for us to take. The next few days were spent tearing around the back roads and trails on these dirt bikes. I didn't have much experience on a dirt bike and the trails were steep and muddy. This made for a really fast learning curve and I feel like a pro now. We stopped at a lot of villages along the way and found everything that we needed for the trip. It's going to be an awesome trip. This area is one of the most beautiful and protected areas of Thailand, and we decided that our service would be to keep it that way. We will be working with a forest research center to plant trees in a community forest while we are hiking. We will also be staying at and working on 2 different organic farms and staying in villages that only run off solar power.
At one of the villages, I have worked out for us to teach at the school when we are there. Koko and I spent one night there this time and I taught the kids for an hour or so. They all said that I was the first foreigner to ever come to the village, and were really excited to have me teach. It's great being able to go to villages that no one has ever been to before. Amazing that they still exist in this world. Especially somewhere as visited as Thailand!

Well, thats it for now. Things are crazy busy right now as all of our staff is starting to arrive. I will be training them over the next week about how to run our Come With Nothing trip. As part of that, we will be visiting villages all over to find the perfect ones to go to. Its going to fun, but very busy.... and the best part is, Brooke will be there for it!

More to come from both of us after the training/scouting for Come With Nothing is done.


permalink written by  brookejason on June 7, 2009 from Chiang Dao, Thailand
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Chiang Mai, Thailand




permalink written by  brookejason on June 10, 2009 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
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Finally Here

Chiang Mai, Thailand


I made it! It was quite the trip, but I'm finally here. I left CT early last Sunday, drove to New York, flew 13 hours to Tokyo, then 6 more to Bangkok. I spent a night in Bangkok then flew to Chiang Mai the next morning. I was greeted at the airport by Jason's friend, Rob, who I thought I would be spending the night with. However, I was also greeted by Jip, a Rustic worker who quickly grabbed me, put me on the back of her motorbike and told me we had 20 minutes to get me to the bus station. The new plan was for me to jump on a bus, ride several more hours and meet up with Jason, who was scouting out hill tribes. So, that's what happened.

The whole trip was so crazy. I had no idea where I was, what was going on, or what was about to happen. All I knew was I was half way across the world from where I'd started and when I stepped off the bus, Jason was going to be there. How exciting!

After a quick dinner at the bus station, I got on a bike that Jason had borrowed from the hill tribe. Needless to say, it was questionable whether or not we were going to be making back out the tribe on the bike. Luckily, it did have a headlight. We made our way down a dirt road, heading out into the middle of no where. The fact that the bike had no power and we almost died at the top of every hill just added to the excitement as I was nearly almost thrown off the back of the bike every time Jason downshifted. Having a large pack on my back obviously didn't help with that.

We arrived at the village in about 30 minutes and I was introduced to hill tribe life! Since then, we have been scouting more villages and figuring out what service projects we can do to help them out.

It's been amazing already! More to come in a few days when we head to the islands..........

permalink written by  brookejason on June 13, 2009 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Thailand 2009
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Finally Here

Chiang Mai, Thailand


I made it! It was quite the trip, but I'm finally here. I left CT early last Sunday, drove to New York, flew 13 hours to Tokyo, then 6 more to Bangkok. I spent a night in Bangkok then flew to Chiang Mai the next morning. I was greeted at the airport by Jason's friend, Rob, who I thought I would be spending the night with. However, I was also greeted by Jip, a Rustic worker who quickly grabbed me, put me on the back of her motorbike and told me we had 20 minutes to get me to the bus station. The new plan was for me to jump on a bus, ride several more hours and meet up with Jason, who was scouting out hill tribes. So, that's what happened.

The whole trip was so crazy. I had no idea where I was, what was going on, or what was about to happen. All I knew was I was half way across the world from where I'd started and when I stepped off the bus, Jason was going to be there. How exciting!

After a quick dinner at the bus station, I got on a bike that Jason had borrowed from the hill tribe. Needless to say, it was questionable whether or not we were going to be making back out the tribe on the bike. Luckily, it did have a headlight. We made our way down a dirt road, heading out into the middle of no where. The fact that the bike had no power and we almost died at the top of every hill just added to the excitement as I was nearly almost thrown off the back of the bike every time Jason downshifted. Having a large pack on my back obviously didn't help with that.

We arrived at the village in about 30 minutes and I was introduced to hill tribe life! Since then, we have been scouting more villages and figuring out what service projects we can do to help them out.

It's been amazing already! More to come in a few days when we head to the islands..........

permalink written by  brookejason on June 13, 2009 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Thailand 2009
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Come With Nothing Staff Training

Chiang Mai, Thailand


So, Brooke made it to Thailand and we have spent the last week together scouting villages to use for the Come With Nothing trip. We took off into the mountains with 10 American staff and 10 local staff to look for good villages to help this year. We also used the time to train the new staff on how to run the trip. We have some really great guides this year and I am really excited about the trips.

The villages that we found this year are going to be really good. It looks like we are going to be be building a lot of water tanks for villages this year. A lot of villages don't have enough water in the dry season and need big tanks to store water. We even went to one village that had water tanks, but they were lower on the mountain than most of the houses, so all the houses that were higher up didn't get running water. Hopefully we can help to give all of the houses in the villages we go to running water this year.

Tomorrow, I will make a plan about which villages to go to and make the final adjustments to the Come With Nothing trip, and then Brooke and I will head down to the south of Thailand. We are leading the Island Hopping and Diving trip with one of my best friends, Bay. We will be diving on Koh Phi Phi, rock climbing in Krabi and sea kayaking in Pha Nga bay and Koh Samui. More to come from those adventures soon....

Jason

permalink written by  brookejason on June 16, 2009 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Thailand 2009
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Village Life

Chiang Rai, Thailand


An introduction to village life............

As you know, I was quickly introduced to village life upon my arrival, so I figured I would fill you in on what it's all about.

The villages we have been visiting are generally accessible by four wheel drive truck only and are up to 45 minutes off of a regular road. So getting there involves piling into the back of a truck, holding on tight, and preparing yourself to jump in the event you roll off the side of a mountain or a bridge gives way! It's fun, trust me.

The villages we've seen are made up of about 10-25 houses. All are pretty primitive. The houses are made of teak or bamboo and are all open air. Most consist of one or two large rooms and a porch out front. We've just been sleeping on the floor under mosquito nets. Each village also has it's own personal zoo, which without fail, wakes you up at 4:00 am every morning. Between roosters, dogs, pigs, and small children, it's quite the wake up call!

Bathrooms are fun too! Squat toilets get very interesting when trying to balance with wet flip flops on. I'm anticipating an injury in the near future. It brings back memories of Nepal, and reminders that my quad strength has dwindled since the ride last summer.

Most of the villages have no electricity and run off of solar cells.

Overall, the villages have been really receptive to us coming in to help. An interesting situation came up the other day though when we went to a village that is becoming a popular stop on trekking routes. We explained to the head of the village that we would like to come in and do a service project for them. They were excited about this, but told us that we would have to pay to come into the village. Apparently, trekking companies have been coming through, so the village is capitalizing on this. They had a hard time understanding at first that our intentions were different and we would be spending lots of money on the project, so it wasn't right to charge us an entry fee as well. We aren't sure if we will end up sending students to this village or not, but it definitely led to an interesting discussion........

We had the opportunity to visit our friend Bay's village as well. Bay is one of the Thai staff, and one of Jason's best friends over here. He will be guiding with us on all of our trips this summer. He's crazy! Pretty much the funniest, most upbeat guy ever. We're really excited to have him on our trips. We went to his village the other day and got to meet his mom. His mother makes the most beautiful bags and clothing, embroidered in traditional Akha style. I had told Bay I wanted to get a bag and he said I should get one from his mom. When we went to the village, he mentioned this to her, and she got out a bag to show me. Unlike many villages, where the woman want to sell you things, Bay's mom almost disregarded the fact that this was an opportunity for her to make money. Instead, she simply wanted to show me her work. She proceeded to pull out a closet full of clothing that she has stitched for Bay and his future wife to wear on their wedding day. Apparently, the women begin working on this as soon as the children are born. It was really cool to see how proud both she and Bay were of her work. I did end up buying a bag from her as well!

That's all for now. Time to go pack for the islands..........!!!!

permalink written by  brookejason on June 16, 2009 from Chiang Rai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Thailand 2009
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