// MY NAME IS DANIELAnd after years of dreaming I've sold everything I own and set off on the open road. I've made this site as a sort of photo journal of my travels. The map shows where I've been (red), where I've stayed a month or more (yellow), and where I plan to go (white). And so, armed with little more than a backpack, a camera, and a dream, I now take the road less traveled by. So it goes.
BANGKOK I arrived in Bangkok via overnight bus from Cambodia. I had originally intended to spend weeks traveling all over Thailand, but as it turned out, I was exhausted from months of travel through Laos and Vietnam so I decided I'd rent an apartement and rest instead. Initially I thought I would do that in Bangkok but something about the city turned me off. It was brutally hot for one, but more than that it showcased this frustrating tendency of some Asian cities to carve themselves up with highways and mega-roads and pretend pedestrians don't exist (even though the majority of city residents have no car). So in the end, I stayed only a few days then headed north.
CHIANG MAI Deciding Bangkok wasn't for me, I traveled to the mountainous regions of the north and arrived in Chiang Mai which was founded in 1296 as the capital of a Tai Kingdom called Lanna. The historic center of the city is surrounded by an ancient wall and moat, most of which is largely intact. Chiang Mai was quite lovely. Located in the mountains, the weather was great, and for the most part it was pleasant enough to stroll around. Though officially Buddhist, there are still quite a lot of little 'spirit houses', a practice which dates back to pre-Buddhist animism. Spirits are given offerings (in Thailand often red Fanta) to coax the spirits to come live in the little houses and bring good fortune. And finally in the last few photos is an amusement park representing Buddhist Hell (known as Naraka). Buddhist Hell differs from Christian Hell in that it's not eternal, it's simply the lowest level of existence one can reincarnate. Buddhists believe souls are trapped in a cycle of reincarnation, each time moving up or down the ladder of existence towards or away from Enlightenment (the breaking of the cycle). There's a lot going on at this park, but just a few tidbits: people who disrespected their parents have to climb trees of thorns while having their heads pecked on by birds. People who were jealous are turned into rabbits. People who stole rice are turned into crows. Drug pushers are turned into cows.