The Atmosphere In Omkoi Thailand

The author, Shama Kern, and his wife Jang at dinner in Omkoi Thailand

The author, Shama Kern, and his wife Jang at dinner in scenic Omkoi Thailand.

Just when you thought you have seen Thailand, something totally unexpected happens. Like you happen to be in an ordinary and not particularly interesting town or village, and suddenly there is this gigantic festival happening which transforms the town into an exciting, happening, fascinating place.

This happened to me in the town of Omkoi in Chiang Mai province of northern Thailand. My wife and I were visiting friends there. When we arrived, there was a huge festival going on with music, food, dance performances, and many other events. Read the rest of this story

If you have children, this is for you! Watch a big high school event where students from several schools in Chiang Mai, Thailand, are competing in sports and dance. The dancing is similar to western cheer leaders, however the sports events are less serious and more fun.

There is ‘sack hopping’, chasing a little ball with green eggplants hanging from the hip, and other fun events. This is not a tourist event, but footage about real life in Thailand. Watch the video below:

being right is my religion650

In western countries, like the US for example, being right is like a religion. People are absolutely convinced that their opinion is the only correct one, and they feel compelled to tell everyone. Read the rest of this story

How old are you

The reaction to the same question in Thailand would be very different

Why do the Thais always ask you how old you are?

In the western world you don’t dare asking a woman how old she is. It is considered rude and intrusive, and many western women will flat out refuse to tell you their age.

The implied concept is that aging is a bad thing for a woman and should be hidden as much as possible. Being secretive about age and even lying about it is considered acceptable.

Now let’s move on over to Asia. Here comes our first time Thailand visitor, a woman for our story, and she is taken aback since people regularly ask her how old she is. Why are they so nosy in Thailand? Why do they pry into such intimate subjects? Read the rest of this story

tourists posing with soldiers

Tourists are lining up to pose with the soldiers in Chiang Mai’s Sunday Market

I have lived through two military coup d’etats here in Thailand. They were both very uniquely Thai style affairs. Normally we associate coups with violence, shooting, arrests, and political prisons, in other words very unpleasant events.

However Thailand has come up with what I call “velvet coups”. I remember the first one in 2006. The army rolled out tanks in the streets of Bangkok. But instead of creating an atmosphere of terror among the citizens, many Thais took it as a fun event.

They climbed up on the tanks, handed flowers to the soldiers and had their pictures taken while posing on the tanks with the soldiers. No shots were fired and nobody got hurt. Read the rest of this story

Motorbike parking at the mall in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Motorbike parking at the mall in Chiang Mai, Thailand

There are lots of motorcycles in Thailand. Most of them are of the variety which we would call a moped or a scooter. They have small engines, between 100cc and 125cc in general, and they cost somewhere in the neighborhood of US $1000-$1300. They are easy to drive, easy to park and they are very maneuverable. And surprisingly they can carry quite a lot of weight despite their small size.

The Thais have been quite ingenious in coming up with lots of methods to use them. I have identified 8 methods how I have seen them used, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Read the rest of this story

Thai/Burmese border post

Thai/Burmese border post

Here in Thailand there is a kind of visa which requires that you leave the country once every three months, even if only for 5 minutes. It’s called a non-immigrant visa, and like thousands of other foreigners I have to make a “visa run” to the Burmese border (The country is called Burma or Myanmar) to get my new stamp. Read the rest of this story

Are you living on a different planet?

What if I told you that I live in a place where the year is 2559? No, I am not schizophrenic, I did not watch too many science fiction movies, and I do not live on another planet.

But I do live in Thailand, and the year is 2559 for the simple reason that they use the Buddhist calendar instead of the Christian one. The Christian (Gregorian) calendar starts with the birth of Jesus, 2016 years ago.

The Buddhist calendar starts with the birth of Buddha, 2559 years ago. Most dates in Thailand are written with the Buddhist year which tends to be very confusing for westerners. The trick is to subtract 543 years and you are right back to 2016.

Read the rest of this story

colorful thai temple

Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city. It is also the second most important city with a huge tourism industry. The latest push is to turn it into one of Asia’s main convention centers.

Chiang Mai’s population is exploding since it is one of the most appealing cities not only in Thailand but in all of Southeast Asia. Why? It still has a laid back atmosphere which has fallen by the wayside in Bangkok already. Despite being a major city, people are still friendly, courteous, helpful, and always ready to flash you a friendly smile. Read the rest of this story

Wat Rong Khun Thailand

Wat Rong Khun, the white temple near Chiang Rai, Thailand

By contributing author Meghan Pierce

Like most people, I felt a strong urge to flee the nest right after high school and to go and experience life on my own. Going to school at a university wasn’t enough. I didn’t want to just learn about the world, I wanted to experience it. I had my mind set that the only way this was ever going to happen was if I traveled.

I wanted an experience that was unlike anything that would ever happen to me in Western civilization. I had an imaginary globe spinning around in my head and it wasn’t going to stop until I stepped foot on a plane and headed to a faraway land. Or at least that’s what I thought at the time. Read the rest of this story