Tuesday, April 17, 2007


You can't visit an island paradise like Krabi without doing a little snorkeling, so the other day we booked a trip, set out on the high seas and enjoyed the scenery...

Our first stop was the Phra Nang Cave. No snorkeling here, just some sight-seeing. As we approached our destination the guide on the boat started to explain a bit about the Cave to me:

"Mister, inside the Cave you will see a lot of ________" (he used some Thai word that I can't remember). "Do you know what that is Mister?"

"No I don't," I replied.

"It is something that everyone wants and prays for. You too Mister. When you see it you will understand. If you don't understand, I will explain it to you. OK Mister?"

"OK," I answered confused yet curious.

As we approached the cave, there was indeed a large throng of people there. My kids had no interest in it, they just wanted to swim and play on the beach, but I had to check the place out.

When I got there, I found men and women praying to...

A huge shrine of wooden phalluses!

Upon further research, I have learned that Phra Nang means princess and this cave is believed by local fisherman to be the home of some mythical sea princess. People come here to pray for fertility and make offerings to the gods (apparently a can of Fanta will suffice).

There were piles and piles of these - er - objects - everywhere!

I guess people really want to be fertile in this part of the world.

After I had enough, I made my way back to the beach and was confronted with tons of these washed up sea creatures that resembled large, gooey contact lenses. I had never seen anything like this before, but I assume they are some sort of jellyfish.

Back on the boat (I didn't bother to get the official explanation about the contents of the cave), we made a pass at the famous Chicken Island - so named because it kind of resembles a chicken. (My daughter Julia asked "If it's supposed to be a chicken, then why doesn't it have that red thing on it head?")

Our next stop was Tup Island, where we hung out at the beach some more (still no snorkeling yet)...

And mingled with some of the locals...

Like all wild monkeys I've encountered here in Thailand, these guys appeared mean and aggressive and we kept our distance.

We ended the day on Poda Island and did manage to finally snorkel. That part of the trip was a bit of a disappointment - the coral reefs weren't too colorful and we didn't see as many fish as we have in the past.
Still, a day out on the water beats a day on land just about any day in my book...

Monday, April 16, 2007


Songkran (aka the Thai New Year) is celebrated every year from April 13-15. Since we were on holiday, we got to witness some traditional festivities as provided by the Central Krabi Resort. This included a procession of the Buddha, music and costumed dancers.

One of the main themes of Songkran is the cleansing of the soul and spirit. People are supposed to pour water on their elders and wash Buddha images out of respect and in hopes of gaining good luck and fortune. Over the years, this has evolved into a reason to stage public water fights complete with squirt guns, garden hoses and giant buckets of H2O. It's all in good fun and most people seem to get into it.

We made our way over to the nearby resort town of Ao Nang to do some shopping and check out the Songkran scene. I personally didn't mind getting squirted since April is so hot over here. It was kind of refreshing and fun. I did object to some old bat from Australia sneaking up behind me and pouring an entire bottle of water down my back, but I didn't get too worked up over it.

The scene was kind of wild, with pickup trucks driving by filled with would-be water-assassins. Notice the giant blue bucket of water in the next pic:

You can see that the pavement in these pictures is pretty wet, but this is all from the splashing and water throwing jollification (there was no rainfall that day). Also, check out the adults in the background with their giant squirt guns. This is the kind of holiday that kids and grown-ups can all enjoy, especially in the sweltering heat.

No matter where you turned, their was an water-toting assailant waiting in the wings with an itchy trigger finger.

Another Songkran tradition is to wipe plaster on the faces of people you meet. This is derived from facts that monks use plaster to mark blessings. We ran into many people who were only too happy to smear our faces with this stuff.

All in all, it was a good time, but I'm sure Songkran was downright crazy in Bangkok. As I was getting drenched in Ao Nang, I couldn't help but have visions of a cadre of old male Farangs riding elephants, brandishing squirt guns and water balloons, and attacking young Thai women in a drunken frenzy. I'm sure it was a site to behold.

Oh well, maybe next year...

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Right this second, we are on vacation in Krabi, (located in the southern part of Thailand) and staying at the luxurious Central Krabi Bay Resort. This place is located within its own private bay and only accessible by boat. As we motored toward it two days ago, I knew we were in for a special trip.

The entire resort is situated amid soaring limestone peaks and tons of green foliage. The effect is stunning, as is the view from the beach.

Everywhere you look, there is something to take your breath away. Hands down, this is the nicest resort I've ever had the pleasure of going to (at least from an ambiance standpoint).

The beach is nice, with clear water and white sand, but why swim in it where there is a magnificent pool nearby? I can do without the saltwater and sand in my swim trunks (but our kids still prefer the ocean).

Yes, there is something for everyone here, even for our son Max. No, he is not constipated in the following picture, he is just at the age where he thinks it's funny to make a goofy face and ruin a photograph while the rest of his family is trying to capture a nice digital moment.

I contemplated cropping him out of the picture, but left him in there in hopes that the public humiliation will inspire him to stop doing this in the future. If you agree with me that he looks completely ridiculous, then feel free to leave a comment below stating that and I will see that he gets it. Maybe he will listen to someone else, because he sure doesn't pay attention to me when it comes to these types of things...

It should be noted that an island paradise such as this does come with its disadvantages, as this sign points out. Thankfully, the weather was pretty decent while we stayed (just some minor rain showers).

If you are looking for an amazing vacation spot in Thailand, then look no further than the Central Krabi Bay Resort. I can think of worse places to spend a holiday.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007






The Siriraj Medical Museum is described as a faculty of Medicine for Siriraj Mahidol University. It is located in a hospital near the Grand Palace and Chao Phraya River, which makes it quite an excursion from the rest of downtown Bangkok. Still, if you don't have a weak stomach and are a looking for a truly unique destination, it's kind of worth the trip.

4o Baht (a little more than one dollar) will gain you entrance into the museum's six departments: the Ellis Pathological Museum, the Ouay Ketusingh Museum of History of Thai Medicine, the Congdon Anatomical Museum, the Sood Sangvichien Prehistoric Museum & Laboratory, the Parasitology Museum and the Songkran Niyomsane Forensic Medicine Museum. The last one is by far the most popular and notorious.

This is the place you want to go to see photos of car crash, train wreck and burn victims (among other fatal accidents). If you were ever curious about what a skull with a bullet hole looks like, then a trip to the Forensic Medicine Museum is what you have been waiting for.

Was the skull too tame for you?

Wanna see what an actual severed head with a bullet lodged in it looks like?

Well if you do, gaze upon a cranium which has been neatly sawed in half and put it on display in two formaldehyde-filled square jars!

If that's not enough, other results of decapitations are also on display for your viewing pleasure at the Forensics Medical Museum!

Along with various other appendages (some with tattoos!)

And now for something completely different...

Are you a fan of abnormally large hearts?

Cirrhosis of the liver?

Or blackened lungs? Then the Forensic Medicine Museum is right up your alley!

The Museum is also famous for housing the mummified remains of Si Quey, a serial killer who gained notoriety in Thailand during the 1950s for raping, killing and then cannibalizing his victims. From what I've heard about this guy, he makes Hannibal Lector look like the Easter Bunny. After he was hung and mummified, his body was brought here as a grim reminder of what people capable of such grisly acts can look forward to if they are caught (there are a few other similar corpses of other rapists and murderers close by). The Forensic Medicine Museum is sometimes even referred to as "Si Quey's Place."

Right around the corner from Si Quey is another area with plenty of information and a life size diorama of people treating horrible wounds caused by Thailand's recent tsunami disaster.

One thing I didn't take pictures of were the numerous corpses of fetuses and toddlers displayed at the Museum that were the results of things like miscarriages, abortions, drownings and other tragic misfortunes. As the father of three, I just couldn't bring myself to record these kinds images. All of these displays are surrounded by things like candy and small toys, apparently left as a tribute by other Museum visitors.

Right next door to the Forensics Museum is one dedicated to parasitology, where one can go to read up on the dust mites that most likely inhabit your mattress, see photos of someone with spaghetti-like worms coming out of their butt and an actual preserved scrotum (and accompanying photo) from someone who was afflicted with elephantiasis. This has got to be one of the worst conditions anyone could have the misfortune of living with.

In summary, there are a few reasons that I can think of to visit the Siriraj Medical Museum:

1) You are a medical student or plan on getting a job at a hospital, morgue, funeral home or some other location that could potentially involve extensive gore and guts. I assume that the main purpose of the Museum is for educational reasons rather than for the sheer exploitation of severed body parts. There has to be someone out there learning something from this collection of macabre artifacts to justify its existence in an actual hospital.

2) You are a fan of morbid or simply bizarre things and are tired of searching the Internet for autopsy and crime scene photos. Your favorite movies may include films like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Dawn of the Dead," and "Saw III."

3) You are someone who abuses things like alcohol and tobacco and are curious about what your internal organs could possibly look like.

4) You are someone who lives in Bangkok, writes a blog and are tired of visiting wats, temples and other cultural places for your material.

Personally, I would fall into the last category. I really have no real interest in this stuff, but enough people in town have told me that it was a weird place to go, so I thought it was worth the trip. Unfortunately, I had to go twice because I lost the photos from my first excursion about a month ago. I spent ten minutes there today, snapping pictures (you're not supposed to, but no one was around to enforce this policy) and then was stuck in traffic for two hours on the way home. Oh, the lengths I will go to for my art...

That being said, the place didn't really creep me out too much. I didn't have nightmares about it the first time and don't think I will this time. I can handle this sort of thing although it's not really my cup of tea. It's somewhere that can inspire a plethora of emotions depending on the personality of one who chooses to visit. For me, these feeling amounted to nothing more than ones of numbness and indifference.