Tag Archives: travel

Infinity Pools Are Infinitely Cheap In Pai, Thailand

Infinity pool in Pai Thailand

When you look at things like infinity pools, it’s easy to assume that these things can be only can be enjoyed by the super-rich, who have the cash to burn at $300/night hotels.

But those are the rules of the developed world.  In Thailand, things are done just a little bit differently.

On the grounds of the Baan Krating Resort in Pai Thailand, there is an amazing infinity pool located just above the banks of the peaceful Pai River, with clear views out to the mountains that rise on the other side of the valley.  While it is definitely more affordable to enjoy a touch of luxury here than back in the West (room rates start at 1800 baht or $60 USD a night), the common people can also sample an afternoon beside this aqueous oasis for an entrance fee of (drum roll please) …

50 baht.  That’s about $1.65 USD for those of you doing the currency conversion at home.

To find this place:

Front of Baan Krating, Pai, Thailand

Rent a scooter in town if you don’t have one already, and follow the handy dandy map I constructed for you below (I love Microsoft Paint 🙂 )

Map to Infinity Pool in Pai Thailand

Have you ever been to Pai, Thailand?  Got secrets to share?  Divulge them to the travel community in the comments below!

A Walk Through The Forefield Of The Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, CanadaThe approach to the Saskatchewan Glacier at the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada.

Lying almost on the border of Jasper and Banff National Parks alongside the highway that bears its name, the Columbia Icefields are the most visited attraction in Jasper National Park, and the second most trafficked destination in the Canadian Rockies, only bested by the more convenient Lake Louise.  Were it not for the distance involved in getting here, and the lack of a luxury hotel (though you can stay here in relatively basic but clean accommodations for upwards of $270/night in the high season and as little as $140/night in the low season), its visitation numbers might be higher.

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Here you have access to the land above the trees, where you can pick over rocky scree slopes that were once previously glaciated, and feel the bone-chilling glacial water that populates the outlet rivers and lakes formed by the nearby Saskatchewan Glacier.

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Walking along this relatively barren landscape, your mind shifts to the introspective aspects of its mission, evaluating one’s life to this point, and focusing on what one needs to do to advance to greater things in the future…

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Staring up at the ice that has accumulated over centuries and millennia of cold, snowy winters, one can’t help but be in awe of the chilled beauty that supplies that dry portions of the Canadian West with the water they need to survive from year to year, while providing them a legendary place to go and be at one with the wildness of nature.  All the more reasons to do what we can to reduce our impact on a warming climate to the lowest extent possible!

Ever been to the Columbia Icefield?  Have a humbling glacier in your backyard? Tell us about it in the comments below! 

Thai Food Markets: Your Source For Battered Chicken Feet

Thai Food Markets (like this one in Mae Hong Son) are home to plenty of interesting food

Back in 2010 on my first trip to Thailand, my good friend Katie introduced me to the cheap and abundant cheap meal source located in every Thai city, town, or village: the local/neighbourhood food market.  While modern supermarkets are spreading more and more with each passing year in Thailand, many Thais still pick up the ingredients they need to cook their meals at home at the local market every day.

Giving some chicken feet a try

For those who don’t want to cook or choose not to: there are also plentiful options for picking up a freshly cooked dish.  In the photo above, Katie, being the kind, supportive, horizon-expanding pal that she is, goaded me into trying a battered chicken foot.  It tasted like breading … and cartilage. 😛

What was the most bizarre thing that you have ever eaten?

Photo: A Park … In Korea?? With GRASS!?!

Park in Cheonan Korea

Throughout much of Korea, land is used to the maximum extent.  There are 50 million people living in a country that is smaller than the State of Ohio (or the island of Newfoundland, for my Canadian readers).

These people need a place to live, food to eat, and places to work.  Complicating things further is the fact that 70% of the land in South Korea is mountainous, severely limiting what can be built or grown there.

Parks as we know them in North America or Europe are very rare in South Korea for the reasons stated in the previous paragraph.

This makes the green space shown above that much more striking, as it contains an abundance of the parkland we take for granted back home.  Of course, this is South Korea, so signs of urbanity are never far behind.

The towers in the background is the new, dynamic Korea showing its much prettier face, a breath of fresh air from the commie block style apartments that litter just about every town and city in this country.

Cheonan is a rapidly growing area 1 and 1/2 hours drive south of Seoul, so the relatively underdeveloped land here made for an interesting experiment in cutting-edge architectural design, paired with green principles.

Not only is there a spacious park with easy walking distance of this mixed use tower, there are wind turbines and sports facilities on the other side of the hill, making this place the leading edge of a healthier way of life for people in Cheonan, and hopefully in the long run, for all people in South Korea.

The Tangle Falls Area: The Most Underrated Part Of Jasper National Park

The Columbia Icefield, located across from Tangle Falls

As you approach the southern border of Jasper National Park, the mountain scenery begins to get more epic.  After crossing the flood plain of the Sunwapta River near Beauty Creek, the road begins to climb towards the Columbia Icefields.  Before reaching this national park’s best-attended attraction, nature puts on a spectacle on the side of the road.

I’m not sure if parts of this are even accessible (the pull off from where I took the photo above) anymore without paying an admission fee to the newly constructed Skywalk (opening Spring 2014), but the views are no less stunning in spite of that.  Observe as the ice sheet of the Columbia Icefield spills over the side of the mountain plateau on which it sits.  Trips out onto the ice are available from guides in Jasper, but don’t attempt this yourself: guides have intimate knowledge of the crevasses that crisscross this area, which if fallen into can cost you your life.

Tangle Falls area, Jasper National Park, Canada

Views of the mountains are quite stunning in this area, so don’t be in a rush to get to your destinations further south: stay a while and breathe in the pine needle scented air and relax!

Tangle Falls

A little further down the road lies the lesser known Tangle Falls, despite being stationed at the side of one of Canada’s busiest tourist drives.  This beauty is just hiding in plain sight, begging you to come closer and experience its wild nature close up…

Afterward, it was time to leave and carry on down the Icefields Parkway to the next point of natural interest.  It was with some reluctance, though, as I was graced with this view as I made my way back to my oversized Dodge Grand Caravan…

Tangle Falls area, Jasper National Park, Canada

Ever been to Tangle Falls on your journey up/down the Icefields Parkway? What did you think?

Photo: Hilltribe Farmland, Pai Valley Region, Thailand

Hilltribe Farm Pai Thailand

Travelling to any area is made infinitely better when you have a local contact that knows about the many hidden secrets it possesses.  For me, that was my friend Katie, whom I worked with at Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park back in Canada for three years.  In the winters, she typically lives in Pai, located three hours northwest of Chiang Mai on a winding mountain road (762 puke-inducing curves, yeehaw!), a pastoral mountain valley with a series of small friendly towns and villages, and a lazy river running through the middle of it all.

This part of Thailand is also known for its hill tribes, people who have been traditionally nomadic, having immigrated and migrated across silly imaginary lines on a map for centuries.  Back in the 1970’s, there were at the centre of a troublesome drug trade, growing opium poppies to get by from year to year.

Realizing the importance of getting them out of this destructive trade, the King and Queen of Thailand initiated a program to get them to grow high value temperate zone fruits and vegetables, allowing them to interact with the Thai economy in a legitimate fashion.  Today, alongside a burgeoning handicraft industry, this is what keeps these folks gainfully employed and productive in Thai society.

The pic above is of recently cleared farmland, reached by muddy pathways that needed to be negotiated with great care, as the wet Earth can lead to slippage, and potentially a motorbike on top of your legs! Ouch!

Ever been biking in Pai?  Share your favourite places to go to outside of town below! 

Scaling The Steep Hills Of Itaewon, Seoul, Korea

The Steep Hills Of Itaewon will test the sturdiest of legs

After the rain of the previous night had cleared away, I returned to the foreigner district of Itaewon in Seoul, Korea to do some shopping.  I was in serious need of new shirts that actually fit me without them stretching to the bursting point as if I were a sausage, and the shirt was the casing.

After I successfully accomplished my mission where I dusted off my haggling skills in the basement clothing markets, I went for a wander, as I didn’t have to catch the train for several hours.  So I took to the labyrinth-like back streets of the neighbourhood, trying to find hidden gems and excellent views…

 Itaewon Seoul Korea

As I got into the part of Itaewon behind the business district, I got into the residential area, which is quite a bit older than the modern businesses most people associate with the district.

 Itaewon Seoul Korea

Popping out of the alley and onto the edge of Itaewon Hill, I climbed up this steep street to get a photo of the incredible vista you see above.  But trust me, guys, this climb was seriously tough.  If I had a car, I’d be very self-conscious about parking my car on this road.

You don’t have to take my word for it, feel my pain in the video below … it was brutally steep!

In Motion: The Power Of Athabasca Falls In Jasper National Park

Athabasca Falls In Jasper National Park is a sight that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated

After a fun-filled long weekend catching up with friends in Hinton and Jasper, Alberta, Canada, it was time to head back to the big city of Calgary.

The great thing about this is that the way back home traveled on one of the most beautiful drives on Earth, The Icefields Parkway.

One of the first major attraction of this scenic byway is the powerful Athabasca Falls, which inspires and humbles the soul all in one go.

It is a sight to be admired, but from a distance: many people over the years have slipped on the wet rocks and fell to their untimely deaths.

The water is ice-cold and the gorge produces a washing machine-like effect.  Appreciate this force of nature, but respect the barriers and don’t get too close!

If you can’t get away to the Canadian Rockies anytime soon, watch the video and feel the cool mist of this glacial river on your face…!

What is your favourite waterfall?  Feel free to link to your blog post on it, or anybody else’s in the comment section below!

Photo Series: James And Bob The Elephant, BFF’s For Life!

Elephants in Thailand

On my first trip to Thailand, I spent a lot of time in the mountain paradise of Pai.  About two weeks to be exact.

During that time, I experienced many of the things that the Pai Valley had to offer, including one of many elephant camps.

Thanks to my friend Katie, who seemingly knows half the people in town due to spending seven winters in this sleepy place, I was able to meet my new pal shown above.

Feeding an elephant in Thailand

Bob, was hungry, so I fed him some delicious elephant grass…

elephant hugs in Thailand

… and found out that he was more than pleased with my generous gift.  Awww, elephant cuddles!

Have you connected with a friendly pachyderm on vacation in Thailand?  Share your tale below!

In Motion: A Rainy Night In Itaewon, Seoul, Korea

Itaewon Seoul Korea

Standing out like a patch of North America in the middle of South Korea, Itaewon is the preeminent foreigner hub in Seoul, and by virtue of this, the biggest gathering place for expats in the entire country. Western-style bars, restaurants, and stores with appropriately sized clothing are all available in relative abundance, leading to frequent trips to this area by desperate teachers from the provinces. Also, many Koreans find it to be the best place to experience foreign cultures in the whole country, made all the more significant by the fact that this country is very homogeneous (Korea is 98% ethnic Korean), making it hard to connect with all things international outside of this area.

Below, I make my first foray into this vibrant district, on a moody and rainy night in Seoul

Have you ever been to Itaewon?  Have a favourite bar/restaurant/shop you frequent there?  Let us know about it in the comments!