so far, so good

Recently, I was asked to be a guest on a Thai travel show called Sofar So Good. Sofar So Good focuses on showcasing some of that elusive unseen Thailand. Oh, and they let one of us farang tag along too, likely for a bit of comedic effect (not saying I’m funny – just sure that Thais get a kick out of the way I pronounced Wat Pha Sorn Kaew).

I was booked for the Phetchabun (pet-cha-boon) trip, but we combined my episode with the Phitsanulok (pit-san-uh-lok) episode, since the locations are not far from one another. Coincidentally, my good friend McKinsey (Mac) was the guest for Phitsanulok, so I had the pleasure of experiencing all of this with a fellow photographer and friend – plus a truly awesome film crew and our host, Bom.

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Our first stop straight from the airport was The Rainforest Resort in Phitsanulok to prepare for white water rafting. Not sure if I’ll be able to make it back to Phitsanulok but if I do, I’m staying here. Beautifully lush grounds with a waterfall, adorable loft style bungalows, sweet staff and an excess of outdoor communal seating that immediately had me imagining enjoying many Singhas with a big group of friends.

Honestly we weren’t sure what Thai rafting would be like. The only “rafting” I had seen so far was some plastic chairs on a bamboo float, lazily bobbing along with a slow river current. Luckily, this rafting included legitimate rapids. We ended our expedition with some of the best dragonfruit since moving here.

Then we moved on to a little pad thai place in town where we absolutely stuffed our faces with all kinds of variations of pad thai – vegetarian and spicy Thai sausage, glass noodle and the traditional flat noodle. For sunset we found ourselves amid electric green rice fields surrounded by ancient mountains. I think it was around this time the crew realized they had a problem on their hands, inviting both Mac and me and our cameras on this trip…

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The view we woke up to in Phitsanulok…

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a version of Thai breakfast

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The following are shots I snuck while Mac and co. were filming on a small local farm.

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^ via Mac…just love it too much! She is a wonderful photographer.

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After lunch between Phitsanulok and Phetchabun, we made our way through the mountains to Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park, where I began filming. From 1967 to 1982, this area was deemed a red zone and served as a battleground between the Royal Thai Army and the Communist Party. I could see why these mountains were ideal places to defend yourself in battle. The terrain was pretty crazy – the top of the mountain at the overlook was covered in what Mac and I immediately named “earth pimples” (glad I didn’t say that one on TV). I’ve been to a lot of national parks in Thailand, and this one was certainly unique.

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poncho people

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our guide, P. Sua (sua is Thai for tiger)

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That evening we stopped by the Phetchabun city center for their weekend night market. I was immediately pulled into the dance circle (and apparently I am a fan of hand dancing), we somehow ended up making an iron machete on the side of the street, and I was thoroughly creeped out by some wax statues at the Lom Sak museum. In the show I gushed about the wonderful craftmanship – and it was! But. Can anyone say that they aren’t slightly weirded out by a wax human statue?

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exploring a century-old traditional Thai home

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My cooking experience was making kanom jeen from scratch. Add it to the list of my favorite Thai dishes!

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Our last stop was Wat Pha Sorn Kaew. I speak about it briefly in the episode, and the photos really don’t do it justice, but it is now my favorite temple in Thailand. Unbelievable beauty. If you do one thing while you’re in the Lom Sak district, go here. Our filming and my photographic exploration was cut short by a pretty intense rainstorm, but even a few minutes here is moving.

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The past few months of my life here in Thailand have been rough. To sum it up – it was like the life I knew and loved just completely blew up and every facet of my life changed in a matter of weeks. Usually I embrace change. But this was too much change that I didn’t want. There were times when I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to handle it. I went days without eating, nights without sleeping. I thought, “maybe I should cut and run; go back to Arizona.” But I stayed. I leaned heavily on friends, I drank, I smoked, I ran, I did yoga, I wrote music, I painted. Now…several really incredible opportunities have presented themselves to me the past few weeks, including this adventure with Sofar So Good. I was more than sad when I filmed this episode. But re-watching the episode, it’s apparent how traveling does more to heal a heart than anything else. I am thankful to be able to take solace in myself, solace in the beauty of new places; to have the mindfulness and grace to embrace a future that is such an unknown…and – so far, so good.

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Here’s the full Petchabun episode! Apologies to those who do not speak Thai. The drone shots alone make it worth watching even if you don’t understand the language. Look out for me speaking with a Thai accent, using the word “bulbous” and presenting some pretty frightening finger guns at the end…

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