Hua Hin – a Magical Wonderland

There is a special place in my heart for this beautiful little beach town, actually its one of my favorite places in the world to hang out. It surprises me that allot of people travelling to Thailand have never heard of the city of Hua Hin. Perhaps thats what makes it so special, its a bit more exclusive than the touristy cities like Phuket. It is also a little harder to get to as its airport rarely operates, so you will need to catch a 3 hour bus from Bangkok but I promise the journey is well worth it.

Getting to know the locals at Hua Hin Viewpoint

So what makes Hua Hin a Magical Wonderland?
For me it’s the slow paced life, the not so crowded beaches, the abundance of fresh fruit, fresh ocean air, the friendly people, take a trip up to Monkey Mountain or escape to a Magical Waterfall, Hua Hin really does have allot to explore! 

Hua Hin is also a great destination to go and work on your mind, body and spirit because it has lots of fitness centres, swimming pools, yoga centres, affordable therapeutic services, golf courses and running trails.

And If you really want to dance the night away, you can find a busy town centre bustling with night life, bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
Check out Panama Bar in the inner town centre for a bouncing nightclub experience!

 

Hua Hin Beach

Chiang Mai vs Hua Hin for Digital Nomad living?
Hua Hin could most certainly work as your home base in Thailand whilst working remotely. Finding a fast solid Internet connection is not a problem, there are some nice internet cafes and large shopping malls for all your modern tech gear.

It perhaps doesn’t offer the networking social groups that Chiang Mai is popular for but if you’re the type to work introvertedly then its not a problem. Living is as cheap as Chiang Mai with comfortable apartment rentals for as low as 4,000 baht per month.

It has one major thing over Chiang Mai, clear ocean air all year round and beautiful swimming beaches.

If your looking to stay 12 months or longer hooking up an ED visa is not a problem at one of the local language schools.

Lots of fresh local fruit at great prices

Chiang Mai Air Pollution | Burning Smoky Season

As human beings of this planet we all deserve the right to breathe clean air no matter what country we come from, and in March 2018 that right was taken away from me and left a dark stain in my mind forever. 

Every year around mid February through till mid April something tragic happens in the great North of Thailand, large crops of mostly corn are harvested and the foliage that is left behind is burned to clear the land in the most cost effective way possible. The majority of these corn crops are primarily grown to feed animal livestock like pigs, chickens and cow’s.

Chiang Mai Sky 10th February 2018
Chiang Mai Sky 10th February 2018

 

Chiang Mai Sky 1st March 2018
Chiang Mai Sky 1st March 2018

 

The smoke from thousands of burning crops across the Northern Thailand, Laos and Myanmar region make its way to the city of Chiang Mai where it becomes trapped amongst the mountain ranges. There is  no breeze to blow it away, very little rainfall or storms, just hot dry climate with thick smoky air.

I have been living in Chiang Mai for 3 years and it had bothered me on previous years but 2018 was particularly bad, I became effected physically, emotionally and energetically. 

 

 

Controversial Image drawn by local Thai artist

 

Staying protected

 

I avoided going outdoors, the clammy polluted air would get in my skin and my hair burn my eyes and make me feel really lousy. I ran my air purifier 24/7 and stayed inside as much as possible but sometimes that wasn’t enough. Especially for me being a guy that loves to run and play in the outdoors every day. 

I could see how it was effecting the local people, everywhere I went I heard coughing and spluttering, even people in my yoga class were wearing masks during yoga! How can I enjoy yoga, a practice that is focused on deep breathing when every breath I take is toxic. 

After around 4 weeks of living through the burning season It was definitely time to leave, so I made my way to Hua Hin by the beach. Here are some videos below I made documenting my experience.

For more information about the Air Pollution in Northern Thailand please visit these Facebook groups:
https://www.facebook.com/smokethedocumentary/

https://www.facebook.com/DustView/

My Ayahuasca story – Riding the Slippery Serpent

Being in the music industry I became surrounded by interesting people of alI walks of life, free-thinking creative types and in 2010 I became connected with someone who invited my band to participate in an Ayuhuasca ceremony facilitated by a Shaman. I had heard about Ayahuasca, I had watched documentaries about it and knew it was a pretty big deal but little did I know that the events to follow would change my life forever.

Leading up to the ceremony I was given strict guidelines to follow, eat a vegan diet with no added sugar or salt and abstain from sex, drugs, alcohol and pretty much everything else I considered fun at the time. Friday night came around and I found myself with 2 of my band mates and about 10 other people I had never met sitting in a circle in a dark room preparing to induce the thick dark potion presented to me by the Shaman.

After ingesting the thick goo we were all instructed to relax in the lotus position and wait for the plant spirit to arrive. Sitting in darkness with only the sound of breath from the people around me I began to wonder if anything was going to happen, 30 minutes past and there was not much to report. Then the Shaman re-enters the room, he begins to sing in a language I do not understand this is when something inside me awoke.

A snake awoke from inside my body slowly slithering in time and motion with the sounds of the shaman, climbing through my body I sensed this snake was about to unleash something hellish upon me. As the intensity of the shaman’s song built so did the serpents dance and then it happened, my world broke apart, my ego shattered into a thousand pieces. I was neither upside down, forwards, backwards or inside out. I was suspended face to face with the snake, his tongue flapping in my face showing me every bad thing I have ever done in my life!

Stepping through a bazaar passage of time into a world that had no time, the fear ran throughout my body this was not a hallucination, this was more real than anything I had experienced. Leaving our 3 dimensional world behind I stepped into a new world and 10 dimensional geometric patterns filled the air, I could see through the front and back of my head and at times it was all too much to bear. By this time the serpent had a strong hold on me and any resistance to his grip and I could feel it would bring the contents of my stomach to the surface.

Wails, cries and the sounds of purging filled the room and as the serpent pulled the dark energies from our bodies the shaman responded with an explosive thunder from his didgeridoo. This was a war! A war being waged between good and evil and the shaman had a very big job wrestling with all that was being thrown at him. Everyone in the room was intensely connected, I could feel and see the energy from others and sometimes communicating telepathically to the other people in the room.

The serpents ride seemed to go on forever and as visions of death consumed me the vomit expelled from my human body, squeezing my insides dry. Twisting me like an old sink sponge and then throwing me onto an anvil to be smashed by a giant hammer. Hours of ego shattering madness passed, moving between worlds and communicating with various beings from the inner and outer galaxies. Some friendly and some not so friendly. Relentless, topsy turby fury unfolded and refolded as the mind bended and boggled. 

With multiple trips to the toilet and violent purging (often at the same time!) the waste expelled from my body and when all the darkness had been pulled from my inner core I was finally floating in hyperspace, exhausted – motionless with no ego left to talk. Only a pure ball of energy and the shaman’s song guiding my boat down a slip stream of cosmic water. Gently carrying me into the early hours of the morning the serpent ducked and weaved his magic within my soul, showing me visions of ancient recollects from Egyptian Tombs, Aboriginal art and Buddha himself. The mind continued to expand as it filled with codes from ancient times. 

The bumpy ride was now over, as the clouds disappeared rays of light beamed down from above and raw emotions filled my heart. As tears fell from my eyes the plant spirit wrapped her tendrils around me holding me and loving me like a mother, showing me that life was simple and there was no need for conflict, worry or fear. Cradling me in her arms like a child she rocked me back and forth to the sound of the Shaman’s song. The feeling of oneness filled the room, inhibitions were lost as strangers hugged one another with no words spoken, only an exchange pure love – heart to heart. 

As I woke the next day I knew this was the start of a new journey, one that would take me out of the conventional world into a more conscious lifestyle. I came back again and again to meet the shaman and his serpent brew each time stripping another layer away, peeling me like an onion. All had been revealed it was now up to me to absorb what the serpent had shown me and integrate it into my life.

 

How to buy Bitcoin with Thai Baht

The Crypto currency market is hot property at the moment, with Bitcoin value soaring into the thousands and other strong currencies like Lightcoin and Etherium following suit. If you have been looking to invest into this digital currency market now is the time and with many different online exchanges open for trading I decided to test out one of Thailands most recommended sites. For a full description on this site and its functionality please check out the video below to visit the site click this link: https://bx.in.th/ref/B108u5/

BX.in.th Bitcoin Exchange Thailand

Chiang Mai Vegan Explosion!

Chiang Mai has been rated one of the top Vegan friendly cities in the world, with its abundance of tropical fruits and a saturation of Vegan restaurants its the reason why I have called this place home for the past three years. Its believed there is over 100 vegan friendly places to eat, so where to start??

To ensure you dont miss out on the very best Chiang Mai has to offer, have a read over this article and drool over the pics. 


 

Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant
Im going to start with one of my neighborhood favorites.
Serving up authentic Thai cuisine done to perfection and bursting with flavor. Anchan always delivers the goods! 
The restaurant is nice inside with friendly staff and the generous portions will ensure you are fully loaded by the time you leave. 
Favorite Dishes: Massaman Curry / Pad Thai 
Google Maps Location


 

Goodsouls 
Located inside the Old City Goodsouls is to be experienced to be believed! Undeniably the best burgers found in Chiang Mai, the flavors the sauces and the entire menu is all 100% vegan, made with Love and guaranteed to blow your mind! With an extensive menu covering everything from Pasta’s to Thai food to Burgers to delicious desserts this gem ticks all the boxes. Great customer service with a perfectly priced menu in a modern and cosy, stylish restaurant. Right now this is my top pick, you will see me here every second day! 
Favorite dish: Quinoa Eggplant Burger
Google Maps Location


 

Pun Pun Vegetarian Restaurant 
Located at the back of What Suan Doi Temple with some indoor and outdoor dining. Pun Pun has a very large menu with many creative Thai dishes and healthy drinks. With lower prices and smaller portions, I find the best way to enjoy the food here is to order a variety of things, fill up and table and indulge. Pun Pun’s Som Tum is the best in town! Its truly amazing! Ensure you visit Pun Pun during your time in Chiang Mai.
Favorite Dishes: Som Tum Laos
Google Maps Location


 

Vegan Heaven 
With a massive menu of both Western and Thai dishes. Vegan Heaven has it all! Feeling like a burger and chips, hot dog, falafel or bacon sandwich? Its all at Vegan Heaven all 100% plant based and delicious! Drop in for breakfast and order the breakfast set of scrambled tofu, hash browns, sausage and beans. Prices are excellent, portion sizes are generous, loosen your belt load up and indulge. Enjoy Vegan Heaven and support this 100% Vegan Enterprise in Chiang Mai! 
2 Locations in Chiang Mai with exact same menu
Favorite Dishes: Hot Dog with cheese / Vegan Brownie
Google Maps Location 1
Google Maps Location 2


 

May Kai Dee 
This little back alley restaurant serves up the most delicious and unique asian dishes. The food always taste fresh and bursting with flavour and like most Chiang Mai restaurants the prices are excellent. The banana flower salad is really something very special and complements all the other dishes. There are some tasty mock meat options that I highly recommend. Its all excellent! A must visit during your stay in Chiang Mai!
Favorite Dishes: Cashew Nut Sushi / Banana flower salad
Google Maps Location


 

ImmAim Vegetarian & Bike Cafe
Owned and operated by local legend Mr O and his family, ImmAim is a trendy little spot in the heart of Santitham. If your after super clean and fresh healthy ingredients, this is your place! The salads are the best in town, the curries hit the spot the smoothies are to die for. Portion sizes are generous and the price is cheap. The interior design on this 2 storey abode is very stylish and makes for a great dining experience. A new addition to ImmAim is the vegan bakery goods including sourdough bread, croissants and other sweet pastries.
Favorite dish: Sweet potato salad with Pumpkin dressing
Google Maps Location


 

Ice Love You
A Vegan ice cream parlor with a Superhero theme! This place is just unbelievably cool, swankfully decorated with some cosy sofas to chill out on. You have tons of home made vegan ice cream flavors to choose from, take a selfie with a superhero mask on and chow down on some mango sticky rice. 
Favorite Dishes: Durian Ice cream / Roti Love you 
Google Maps Location


 

Pure Vegan Heaven
One the newest additions to Chiang Mai’s Vegan circuit and a much needed vegan choice for the Nimman area is Pure Vegan Heaven. They have amazing Mexican food with real authentic Mexican taste! Super fresh ingredients here. Loads of superfood smoothies, Thai dishes and even falafel. A great menu with many creative healthy items to choose from! Drop in for breakfast and get energized with a smoothie bowl. 
Favorite Dishes: Mexican bowl / Soft shell tacos 
Google Maps Location

24 Merican rd Guesthouse – a home away from home

Sometimes on your travels you come across a bit of a gem, something that is truly worth sharing to anyone that might be on a similar journey to your own. Check out this little AirBnB delight that has left a warm fuzzy place in my heart, a home away from home.

Welcome to 24 Merican Rd and delightful hosts Peter & Mei. 
This lovely Malaysian couple have crafted a cozy colorful 5 bedroom guesthouse in the quiet reserved streets of Penang. Its perfect for budget travelers, digital nomads and anybody doing a Visa run to the Royal Thai Consulate of Penang. Its away from the hustle and bustle of Penang’s busy streets yet conveniently located just a short walk to Times Square, restaurants, street food stalls, a handy supermarket and the bus station that will take you just about anywhere on Penang Island. For those on a visa run its just a 5 ringgit Uber ride or a 20 minute walk to the Royal Thai Consulate to submit your visa application.

24 Merican rd has great security that is modern and well designed, the wifi connection within the entire house is solid,  there is excellent air conditioning throughout the building and a few different places to chill out and relax. It offers a large communal kitchen, 2 bathrooms (good hot water pressure), large screen cable TV and the cute kitty cat named Ally… Oh and did I mention the place is always super clean! 

Expect to feel refreshed and chilled while staying at 24 Merican rd!

To book just click this link to view their room listings:  https://www.airbnb.com/users/24346538/listings

For more on Penang Malaysia read my blog here: 
http://esquiresound.com/index.php/2017/10/31/penang-malaysia-travelers-tale/

Penang Malaysia – Hidden Treasures

In 2015 I made my first journey to the highly diverse Island of Penang, since then I have returned every year and like any good blogging explorer I have documented my discoveries to share with the world.
Penang is a bustling little Island full of wonder, its rich in ethnicity, culture, language and religion. From its megolithic buildings that reach high to the sky, to its thick tropical jungle there is much to explore so dont be afraid to reach outside the city walls into its less populated areas,  you are sure to find a hidden treasure! 

Penang is quite different from Thai cities like Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya. It has a more westernized infrastructure. What you can expect to see is grungy streets with abstract street art, Muslim, Hindu & Buddhist temples and very large shopping malls. Many of the malls have interesting exhibitions happening like dinosaur museum, durian museum, a seen a strange haunted house (wtf?) and theres also the massive Komtar Tower. 

For anyone traveling to Penang I highly recommend exploring outside the city, bus transport is cheap and can take you anywhere around the Island. If you want to discover something with spiritual value make you journey to Kek Lok Si Temple. To get to the temple you will need to catch the bus to a drop off point then walk up a winding mountain road which in itself is a beautiful experience. Your now out of the city and amongst lush rainforest and enjoying some fresh air. Standing tall is the stunning Kwan Yin Statue at the peak of the temple grounds, an epic monument! Enjoy its beauty and the other wonders that surround it, the rest is for you to discover!

Another Temple I discovered on one of my many visits to Penang is the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple, This is the tallest Hindu temple in Malaysia. Make sure you have allot of energy because you will need to climb many flights of stairs to reach the top where the temple resides and offers a breathtaking view of Penang City below. Incense fragrance fills the air as many Hindu people participe in religious traditions, reciting mantras and meditating. Be prepared for the cheeky monkeys that duck and weave around the temple walls looking for offerings of food or a chance to snatch something from your bag! 

Ok, enough of the temples. Its time to check out Penangs natural wonders. The Botanical Gardens are bursting with flora and fauna, lush running waterfalls and places to sit and relax and take it all in. Keep an eye out for more cheeky monkeys though, as there are literally hundreds up to all kind of monkey business throughout the gardens. The beautiful black “Dusky Leaf Monkey’s” singing and playing together is a real sight to see! As an Australian, I am not used to being around monkeys and when about 30 “Long-tailed Macaques” surrounded me I must say my heart was racing and I needed some space, It may be best to travel with a friend. Take your camera and you will be sure to capture some magic in Penangs Botanical Gardens.

Ok, one of my favorite moments while visiting Penang was my trip to Batu Ferringhi Beach, I visited around mid October and to my surprise I had about 1km stretch of beach all to myself! The sun was shining about perfect 33 degrees, the beautiful ocean air smelt divine it cleansed my lungs and the water was luke warm yet refreshing. A splash in the water and a bit of sun baking was a blissful escape from Penang City’s bustling streets. If you are a beach lover I highly recommend setting aside a trip to Batu Ferringhi, its easily accessed by public bus, around 2.70 ringitts and 25 minutes drive from the city bus depot.

This article wouldn’t be complete without a review of Penangs food, if you are lucky enough to travel during June – August you will be in durian heaven. My first trip to Penang was during this time and there were many durian stalls set up around town, the durian was reasonably priced and some of the best I have eaten!

Over the 3 years traveling to Penang I have seen a explosion of Vegan options available. Some of the highlights for me included “Wholey Wonder” a little cafe that makes super healthy hearty vegan pizza’s, smoothies, pastas and all kinds of super food infused goodness! Also check out “Pinxin” a really nice restaurant with high quality asian inspired dished including Tom Yum noodles, currys and more! A trip to Little India town and you will discover many meat-free Indian Restaurants, let Happy Cow on your smartphone locate the rest.

Looking for quality budget accommodation in Penang? 
For 3 years running I have stayed at the lovely 24 Merican Road guest house in Georgetown, there is a reason I keep coming back to this place. The hosts Peter and Mei are a lovely couple that provide a warm friendly environment for you to chill and relax. For anyone doing a Thai Visa Run this place is within walking distance from both the centre of town and the Royal Thai Consulate. Read more about 24 Merican Road here > http://esquiresound.com/index.php/2017/11/04/24-merican-rd-home-away-home-guesthouse/

That concludes my Penang Adventures for now! 
But I will be back again soon and so this blog will be updated with my new discoveries over time.

Pattaya Thailand – Diamonds in the rough

Working as a travel agent in Thailand often leads me to Pattaya for a week or 2 of work throughout the year. Pattaya is well known for its busy nightlife, red light districts and the infamous walking street. 

A stroll out of your hotel to find some food at night and you will be confronted by many scantily clad ladies trying to lure you into there massage parlor or gogo bar.They have a slogan in this town “Good guys go to heaven, bad guys go to Pattaya” and this may be true but I was determine to discover some culture and hidden gems in this sleaze ridden town after all I was still in tropical asia, the land of the Buddha.

I had heard of a magical place before and seen photos of what looked like something from a Disney movie. I set out to discover “The Sanctuary of Truth” to see if the legends were true. And true they were, as I approached this megolithic structure towering above me, my breath was truly taken away. I had seen many temples in Thailand perhaps hundreds. But rarely does one have such an effect on me as did “The Sanctuary of Truth.” The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and it was the feeling of being in the presence of something truly magic. The Sanctuary of Truth is completely hand carved from wood, even the bolts and binders holding it together are all completely wood. The details were impeccable and faultless but also very organic. I believe it was the pure passion and detail that had been woven into this beast that gave it the power it possessed. In a digital world that often feels so disconnected from purity and in a place like Pattaya where perverted and sadistic minds run rampant. This was Art at its purest form and no unpure energy was going to touch it, it stood tall and strong on its own, perched up – overlooking the ocean. It was a haven of peace and magic. Inside and out. A place I will never forget.

My next discovery was the “Khao Chi Chan Buddha” also known as Buddha Mountain. This is a magnificent image of Buddha carved into a massive rock wall. This unique structure attracts many tourists and passers by as it can be seen from miles away. You can’t help but wonder as you stare at this perfect image of Buddha is… how did they do it? It is a feat of wonder and beauty, surrounded by a lush garden and forest its a great place to disconnect from Pattaya city, enjoy some fruits and snap a few photos with your loved ones.

Not far from Buddha Mountain is “Viharn Sien” a Chinese art Temple Museum. A home to the shrines of many ancient Warriors and Saints. A small 40baht entry fee gets you through the gates to wander the temple grounds graced by massive statues of towering figures accompanied by their description and story. You can take a walk through ancient history in this majestic palace. As I wondered the bottom floor I was determined and hoping to come across a Legend I had read so much about – “Bodhidarma.” It wasn’t until I reached the second floor outside level I came face to face with the man himself. The original master of Zen and Kung Fu. This was a great moment for me. 

 

So there I was in the presence of magic and greatness in Pattaya. Yes the stories are true, Pattaya has a dark side, take a stroll down the infamous walking street and you will see many sad and sorry faces. But follow your heart and you will find the magic in this place and your energy will be uplifted by pure art and history. 

Enjoy Pattaya! 

On my next journey in Pattaya I plan to visit the Islands and seek out some beautiful beaches. Stay tuned for that!

The Link Between Dairy Protein, Casein, & Cancer

T. Colin Campbell is an American biochemist who specializes in the effect of nutrition on long-term health. Campbell has become known for his advocacy of a low-fat, whole foods, plant based diet. He is the author of over 300 research papers and three books, The China Study (2005, co-authored with his son, Thomas M. Campbell II, which became one of America’s best-selling books about nutrition), Whole (2013) and The Low-Carb Fraud (2014). Campbell featured in the 2011 American documentary Forks over Knives.

In this compelling interview Dr Campbell talks about his years of research and how it led him to discover the cancer promoting effects of casein in dairy, especially in prostate, ovarian and breast cancer growth. Campbell states “casein in dairy is the most relevant chemical carcinogen ever identified, make no mistake about it and the data supports it, we could turn on cancer growth just by increasing the level of casein and turn it off by replacing it with plant protein.”

Dr Campbells nutrition programmes have been life changing and helped many to overcome cancer. See more in the video below. 

The Black Nazarene: Passion & devotion in the Philippines

I had many amazing experiences during my time in the Philippines, some deep and profound feelings I will carry with me forever. Particularly on how the country and the people re-connected me to the power of Christ consciousness.
I have never encountered such a devout and religious culture, so expressive for their love of Jesus Christ. I witnessed many people living on the streets in poverty with desperation in their eyes, praying to God for salvation bearing a cross in their hands.
At times I felt quite overwhelmed and emotional by the whole experience and as my journey through the country unfolded I knew there was a deeper reason I was in this place and it all came together when I arrived at Quiapo Church in Manila and looked into the eyes of the Black Nazarene.

It is considered the most religious icon in the Philippines, the Black Nazarene is a dark skinned life sized sculpture of Jesus Christ bearing the cross in a kneeling position.

Representing his passion and suffering and is believed to be miraculous by many filipino Catholics. Carved in the 16th Century by a group of Spanish Augustinian Recollect Friars in Acapulco Mexico then carried to the Philippines in a Galleon ship. The ship caught fire on its journey to the Philippines destroying all the cargo onboard and scorching the image of Jesus to black, which is how it became to be known as the Black Nazarene. For centuries the statue survived fires, earthquakes and even World War II and is believed by many filipino catholics to possess mysterious miracles and just touching it can cure disease and suffering. 

Millions of devotees gather in the heart on Manila on January 9th every year for the biggest procession of the year “The Feast of the Black Nazarene”. On this religious day the statue is carried through the streets for around 14 to 20 hours and devout locals are seen barefoot climbing over each other in a large crowd frantically pushing and shoving their way in desperation for a chance to touch the sculpture and receive its blessing on this holy day. 

Do I believe the Black Nazarene can perform miraculous miracles? Im not sure, but perhaps all the passion and energy that is being poured into the statue by the Catholic people has created something that can indeed give someone a profound experience. As my hand touched the foot of the Black Nazarene I stood their motionless and had a flash of images of what I would describe as the embodiment of Jesus within everyone around me, I seen the crucifixion and the rise of Jesus in a flash of white light leaving me feeling connected to everything he represents. That beyond suffering to always have Faith in the greater good. 

Watch the passion during the “Feast of the Black Nazarene” in this amazing video below.