Shots of my November-December 2001 trip to Thailand and (briefly) Hong Kong

Note that some of the images below link to bigger versions of the same photograph.

The incredibly beautiful Phi Phi Leh Island. The island is pretty much uninhabited - which is very cool - but it is frequented by boats full of tourists. Not to say I'm not guilty of something here :)

Hong Kong

This is a shot of me at the ultra-touristy Victoria's Peak. Pretty cool view, but I'm not sure if it counts when (1) you take an escalator to get up there and (2) there's a Planet Hollywood (or something of the sort) at the top.

Peter at Victoria's Peak. See last comment.

Hong Kong's skyline is really impressive - definitely more so than any US city.

Taken from a peak on Cheung Chau, one of Hong Kong's outlying islands. This island is pretty cool - no motor vehicles, pretty small, a lot more traditional and a lot cheaper than Hong Kong. The hike to get up to this point wasn't amazing, but it beat an escalator ride :)

Another view of Hong Kong's skyline - I think this was also from Victoria's Peak.

The wats of Bangkok

Bangkok's wats are often spectacular - I'm not sure that most of these pictures do them justice. I wish we'd taken a couple of shots of the city's streets, to provide a contrast with the temples. It's kind of astonishing to see these elaborate, pristine buildings in a city that is otherwise incredibly polluted, overcrowded, and (by American standards) underdeveloped. I've seen the same thing in small towns in the US and Canada - backwards rural places, with a big fancy church - but it's always an interesting commentary on people's priorities.

Our hotel in Chiang Mai

Peter and I have had a little debate as to who is the better photographer. I think this pair of pictures is a good comparative study - whose do you think came out better? :)

We spent three nights in Chiang Mai - with two nights in the jungle in between - at this quaint little place.

Trekking through the northern hills

The next couple of shots - plus a few of the tall ones - were taken from a bamboo raft which we took down the river. The rafts were made from scratch the night before our journey. Not wanting to be overly elaborate, we steered the boat down the river with only bamboo poles - none of that sissy oar stuff. When we reached our destination, the rafts paid for our lunch - our guide gave them to the local villagers to build a house, in exchange for our food. Personally, I thought they should have used PayPal, but when you're miles from any road, don't have electricity, and live in a bamboo hut... I guess PayPal hasn't quite penetrated that market yet :)

This is what my back looked like while I was in Thailand. Although I was definitely a minimalist when it came to clothing (it was pretty friggin' hot), I somehow managed to not get burned at all.

Peter and I, pretending to steer the boat with our long bamboo sticks. We're actually just posing for a picture (he says, as they crash into the giant rock).

The group of people with whom we trekked. On this sort of trip, one of my goals is to hike for ten hours a day, so that when I get to the village and lay down at night, I'm too tired to notice the fact that it's forty degrees and I'm sleeping on a hard wooden floor. Unfortunately, this is difficult when a large part of the group would have trouble climbing a flight of stairs - much less a small mountain. I did what I could to explore as much as possible - but unfortunately, I occasionally suffer from an obsessive desire to not be lazy :)

This is the village where we stayed on the second night of our trek. Believe it or not, this village is definitely more technologically advanced than the place where we stayed the first night. The first night was in a Karen tribal village - among people who lead a traditional lifestyle, speak their own language (not Thai), are far removed from roads, electricity, phone lines, etc., and pretty much rely on subsistence farming. This village is also a farming community, but gets a bit of revenue from tourism, has locks on the doors, (minimal) mattresses on the floor, and has their own elephants.

Riding an elephant was a pretty cool thing to do. It gives one a different perspective on the world, and elephants themselves are for some reason just fascinating creatures. I wouldn't want to make a living of it - it's pretty uncomfortable - but it's nonetheless amazing to be on these massive creatures as they make their way through trails that many humans would consider narrow.

Some pretty nice views in the hills of Northern Thailand...

Is this picture funnier with or without a caption? This is not really a candid - I told Peter to do something funny in relation to the hot springs in front of him. Note (1) the skills of the photographer in capturing this action and (2) the intelligence of the photographer for not finding himself pictured in such a compromising position (On a slightly more crude/juvenile note, I think an even better shot would have featured Peter bending over, assuming "moon" posture, with steam strategically protruding...)

A waterfall we encountered on our trek in Northern Thailand. Believe it or not, the water here is pretty darned cold, and it took some guts for me to brave it like this. Not only that, but the rocks around the waterfall were quite slippery - only a true fool would try to climb up them.

Peter, with one of the guides for our trip.

This picture, combined with the other elephant shot above, might lead one to believe that I sat in the little basket on top of the elephant, while Peter braved riding on her head. That's only very slightly true - Peter sat on her head for about ten minutes - long enough to get a picture in. He then "offered" that position to me. Over the next hour or so, I found out just how uncomfortable it is. And yet... no picture. All of the pain, none of the glory - outwitted again :)

A fool indeed...

Some of us weren't so adventurous and ambitious (translation: stupid) to climb up on the waterfall.

The islands of southwestern Thailand

The rainforests of Phuket