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June 11th 2016
Published: June 11th 2016
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It's been over since we last posted, and a lot has happened since. So I thought I'd fill you all in. Seth and I spent a week in the city of Hua Hin. We stayed at a “cozy” hotel in the center of the city, down the street from the Night Market. At this point, we've seen many, many markets. Local markets where mountains of curry pastes are sold alongside row after row of fish on ice. We've goggled at the hundreds of kinds of fish, squid, eels, crabs, cockles, prawns, lobster, rays, and even horseshoe crabs being sold. We've passed tottering Jenga piles of coconuts 20 feet high. We (meaning Seth), have sampled chili pastes of all kinds. We've strolled through night markets and ambled down day markets with foods unlike we'd ever seen before or imagined. The Hua Hin Night Market was the biggest of them all. Stall after stall, street after street, hawkers crying their wares, food stalls sizzling and smoking, pick pockets roaming the crowds, and Chinese tourists taking selfies. And again, shriveled old women smoking weed and stroking frogs, seemingly immune to legal repercussions because after all, they predate human laws.

Except for the one time where it poured so hard the sewage overflowed into the street and we had to wade through a foot deep bloodwarm river of rain and shit, the weather held up well while we were in Hua Hin. It only rained once or twice a day, and only for a half hour or so. Seth and I got a lot of good walking and exploring in. We discovered a huge anime store, an art store, great beaches, and an arcade with a punching bag machine that Seth fell in love with. Once we found a tree where the electrical wires were crossed and tangled in the branches, and there was a ring of dead birds and rats at the base of the tree. Our favorite find was the Artist Village. Just outside of the city, local artist have created an oasis of non commercial art. Every surface in this place was packed full of art. There was no entrance fee, and we spent hours wandering winding paths of paintings. There are many galleries in the city as well, but these all seem to pump out the same variations on a few themes: Buddhas, Marvel characters, three monks walking to a temple, and famous musicians. Whatever sells. The artist's village produced breathtaking paintings and sculptures. Including Asia's largest Watercolor painting, and a life sized arc-welded metal sculpture of a xenomorph. So, of course, I had to buy something.

Jennifer arrived halfway though our time in Hua Hin. Together we explored the famous Floating Market, and took a tour of the Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand. The Floating Market falls at Number 2 in the Top Things to Do in Hua Hin. It is advertised as a day market where local Thais go to sell produce, the catch of the day, local delicacies, and traditional Thai clothing. After paying a steep entrance fee, we found a polluted green pond surrounded by a “dock” selling clothing and souvenirs. It was a literal shithole. Eating a handful of fried maggots was the high point of this expedition. There were a few boats docked there, but they were closed. Apparently, after a fallout between the co-owners of the Market, one of the owners split off and formed a second floating market nearby. This split the tourists, the vendors, and the money. Since then it has become a Disney of faked Thai culture, forced to rip off the few customers who wander in to stay in business.

While the Market was famous, the Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand was not in any tour books. The Market was not worth the entrance fee, the WFFT deserved more for their work. This sanctuary is not a zoo. It is a rehabilitation and retirement center for the 530 animals it has rescued. The founder of this sanctuary has been petitioning to have the Tiger Temple reviewed and shut down for a decade. If you've been following the news recently you may have read that the Tiger Temple has been shut down for cruelty, trafficking, and having a fridge with the bodies of 40 tiger cubs. A heartbreaking loss. The WFFT played a major role in the exposure of this cruelty, and in the recovery of the tortured animals. We weren't able to see the tigers, but we did see a staggering number of monkeys, gibbons, birds, bears, deer and elephants. Many of these animals were kept as pets, chained up and away from their own kind. The WFFT helps to teach them how to be a monkey, gibbon, bear, cat, or slow loris again in the hopes that they can be one day released back into the wild. It was an amazing experience to meet these animals. A HUGE thank you for Jennifer for treating us to the tour. Probably the highlight of the trip so far!

So let's fast forward to now. Seth and I are in Chiang Mai! We took an overnight bus (12.5 hours!) and arrived yesterday morning. After a 6 hour nap, Seth and I went out to explore the city. And got very lost. Eventually we found our way to the Maya Shopping Mall, where we stumbled into a rooftop concert. Booze, pounding music, cheering fans, and light rain dancing in the roaming lights. Ammy and the Bottom Blues are our jam, yo. It was a great first night here in Chiang Mai. Today we are looking for an apartment where we will live for the next month.

Speaking of apartments, Seth and I found a place that we LOVE in Baltimore. It is in a safe neighborhood a 10 minute walk to the Nursing School. We will be living with another couple, Barrett and Lindsey, who are a musician and an artist, and Timber, a rescue pitbull mutt. We couldn't be happier with it!

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