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Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

I was fortunate this year to be in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, for the annual celebration of Loy Krathong, on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. This is usually in November. “Loi” is “to float” and “krathong” is a little raft traditionally made from a section of the trunk of a banana tree. (These days they are often made of styrofoam.) The krathong are decorated with flowers, candles, incense sticks and sometimes money. People then release them to float away on a river.  See the short video of a sky lantern going up, up and away. (more…)

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The White Stork’s Christmas Story or how a little boy and his mother found a home.

Life is an adventure but you can never be sure where it’s going to lead. My friends in Bangkok, Lee and Rick, have an unusual story I’ve asked them to share in this season of giving. Although you might think it’s about giving, it’s really a story about how much we can receive when we open our hearts – and wallets.

Rick tells the story:
“In the real world, a new-born baby comes home from the hospital in a car. In fairy stories, a white stork leaves them in swaddling clothes on doorsteps. However, our baby boy arrived at our neighbor’s house when he was three weeks old. (more…)

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Lake Ontario, Canada, of course, is the perfect place for sailing; plenty of wind, on occasion, local storms to entertain, no tides, and close to home.  But if, in March, you found yourself staring into the bright sunshine and yearned to be already on the water, you might have wondered where else in the world you could go for a warmer experience and a long sailing season.  You might have thought of crystal clear waters, navigating to any of numerous islands, cheap alcohol and on occasion too much sunshine.  No – not the Caribbean.

Exactly on the other side of the world stretch the turquoise waters and emerald islands of Thailand and Malaysia in the Andaman Sea.  That may seem a long way away, but apart from the length and cost of the flight (about 19 hours and $1200 return) once you get there, everything else is much cheaper and much more relaxed.  In all, the total cost is likely much the same as the Caribbean.

The delights of sailing in Asia include not only some superb sailing (more later) but a complete change of environment – welcoming people, outstanding foods, pleasant climate, fascinating cultures – but also all the comforts of home.  All at prices that can make a dollar go a long way.  Yachting in Asia is well developed in the key locations, with excellent suppliers, service in English and access to the wider world through the internet and couriers.  First-time visitors are always surprised at the infrastructure. (more…)

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Close up of Kuan Yin before she was put in place high up the mizzen mast. She holds a sprig of willow in her right hand and vase of "holy" water in her left.

Many people have asked me about the figurehead standing halfway up the mizzen (aft) mast of “Kuan Yin”. Who is she? What is the she doing up there?

The figure is, of course, Kuan Yin herself – the Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion who is revered throughout Asia. More specifically she is the “patron saint” of fishermen, sailors and expectant mothers. All of them wishing for a safe passage!

Properly, she is a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, meaning “the lord who looks upon the world with compassion” and can also be represented as a man. However, as compassion has been reckoned a feminine virtue, Avalokiteshvara is now suually represented as a woman.

The tradition of having a figurehead on a sailing vessel goes back at least to the 15th century, and to the Greeks and Romans in the West if the non-figurative emblems are included. The purpose of the figurehead was to ward off evils and dangers, to pacify the seas and to help illiterate sailors find their ship. (more…)

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