Tag Archives: shots

Spay Camp and Elephants

Part of what the Animal Shelter does here, aside from the everyday free care and treatment of animals, is to go to neighboring villages and monasteries to spay and neuter dogs and cats of the area.  These spay camps (as we call them) are great opportunities not only to get a day out and away from the everyday tasks of running a shelter, but also to better the community so animal populations don’t run amok and also provides a way for surrounding villages to get to know who we (the animal shelter) are so they can feel more confident about coming to us if ever needed.

Dr. Mays set up several camps for us, two running on consecutive days and then two more for the following week.  Though I have had experience in basic horse care/vet skills, dogs and cats are a different beast.  I had no experience in giving shots, IVs, prepping animals for surgery, etc.  The spay camp I attended quickly changed all that very quickly for me however 🙂

We set off around 10 to a nearby monastery about 30 or so kilometers away (myself, Jo, Nyzil and J. (the vets)) and arrived about a half hour later to an absolutely serene and beautifully peaceful monastery nestled off the road among gentle slopes and lush vegetation.  We were greeted by residents of the monastery and were shown to a large covered car port where we began to set up two tables for surgery.  Since this was my first go round with spays, I was mainly just taking instruction on how to set up the table and basically aped Jo (who is well seasoned with spay camps) asking about a trillion questions along the way.

I was paired with J., the newest vet on the team, and Jo was with Nyzil.  I will admit I was at first a bit reluctant about how J. and I would work as a team because we had several miscommunications that led to many frustrations in times before.  I don’t know what it was exactly that happened however in the first few minutes of setting up the camp.  To this day I still can’t pin it exactly.  But what I do know is that as the table was set and the first two cats were starting to doze into a deep sleep in preparation for the surgery, something just clicked with J. and I.  It wasn’t spoken, it just happened and suddenly I began to understand how she thought and worked.

She taught me how to shave the cats, how to give injections, tricks on how to tell whether the animal was starting to come out of their slumber, how to check the heart rate and much more.  We worked fabulously together and by the end of the day, after a lovely lunch provided to us by the monastery residents, we had banged out 8 cat spays.  Well, in all honesty one of the cats whom we tagged as being female turned out to be male after failing to find the uterus!  Hey now, we all make mistakes!  No judging!! 😉

We finished about 3pm, packed up and headed out.  Since it was still relatively early and we had not received any news from the shelter about needing to return immediately, we decided to check out the Khao Laem National Park, just a few kilometers down the road.  The park boasts a nature trail several kilometers long with 9 different waterfalls and a rather impressively large tree.  We all set off for the hike and crossed the river about 250 meters in to see the tree, but when we crossed back over, Jo broke one of her flip-flops making it basically impossible for us to hike any further.  We instead opted to swim in the river for a bit then made our way back to the car.  The day was still young however so we decided to head off to a village Nyzil knew about that had elephants!

The turning for the village was only about 10km from Sangkhlaburi, but getting to the village required quite a bit of off-roading and a few minutes of scary grounds to drive across.  The dirt road kept splitting and though Nyzil was navigating, every now and again he’d say out loud “I’m not sure this is the right way because we are supposed to be heading toward the mountains”, lol!!

Luckily he did get us to the right place and my oh my, what a beautiful little village it was!!  Nestled at the base of a mountain, across the river on a rather shady yet sturdy bamboo bridge lay a magnificent quiet little community full of life of all kinds.  Nyzil had been there before on a previous spay camp and even recognized several of the dogs he’d operated on by the little notches left in their ears.  No one in the village spoke even a word of english and of course none of us knew the word for elephant in Thai, so we were left to a game of charades.  Correction: we actually left the game of charades to Nyzil who proceeded to try to act out what an elephant looked like to the locals all while repeating the word “elephant?”.  It was seriously quite amusing to watch and I’m sure the villagers were probably playing dumb for a bit just to keep watching him make impressions, lol!!

We finally found one villager who acquiesced to knowing what we were trying to get to and he led us the way.  We walked through a rubber plantation…  Here I have to stop because I had no idea that rubber is made from tree sap!!!  There were hundreds of trees lined and tapped with a little collection basket for the sap and when I was told it was a rubber plantation, I just kept repeating “rubber???  As in rubber tires??” because I’d just no idea that’s where rubber came from.  I just assumed it was all a petrochemical production!  Just goes to show you learn something new every day:)

Moving on, we walked past the rubber plantation following the sound of a distant bell along a wee path.  Our guide then started off the path through the field to which Jo wasn’t able to walk on (no shoes) so she headed on the path just to explore while myself, Nyzil and J. followed our guide.

The sound of the bell grew louder and louder and a few minutes later, up ahead in the bushes enjoying a meal of various natural vegetation stood Moosa!!  What an absolutely BEAUTIFUL creature!!!  She wasn’t scared of humans as she worked in the village but when not working she had the run of the land, going where she pleased and had only a rope with a bell around he neck so she could be found when needed.

I had never touched an elephant before.  Had only fed them cucumbers and other veggies when in Ayutthaya.  This was how I’d wanted to experience them though.  In the wild, free from cages and tourists, no forced tricks or contraptions on her back to give tourists rides, no sticks with sharp hooks at the end to make her go one way or another, simply living free.  I couldn’t stop petting her and telling her how beautiful she was!!  We spent probably a good half hour with her as she continued to nibble then said our goodbyes and headed back to the path.  Interestingly enough our timing was just right as Jo was also returning from her walk along the path and she too had spotted the other elephant of the village down the way.

The sun was starting to set at this point and we were all getting hungry, so we set off for another spot along the way back to Sangkhlaburi for some dinner.  The Nature Club, a hotel and activities center only about 5km from the town was where we chose to stop.  It too is set in a beautiful location surrounded by mountains and a rather large lake.  We had a few drinks and food, then headed home.  The days activities and bonding that occurred throughout the day between the four of us was unexpected but absolutely amazing.  That day is now one of my fondest memories of Thailand.  It was truely a day I think we all came away feeling absolutely blessed and thankful.

On to The “Bum Gun”

Back to Thailand

Crazy Kanchanaburi Nights

From my other posts about Sangkhlaburi, it’s probably easy to tell that it is a teeny little place and while it has a lot of the necessities, it lacks quite a bit as well.  We have no proper grocery store here.  The market is where you go for meat, veggies and fruit (which personally I prefer anyway) but for other necessities that are generally found in a grocery store, well, we have a place called CJ’s that has the basics and believe it or not, if it’s not in CJ’s, the other “grocery store” in town is 7 Eleven… Yes, 7 Eleven!

Kanchanaburi in contrast has proper grocery stores and even stores comparable to Sam’s Club or Costco.  They also have proper pet and vet stores where supplies are easily found for the shelter.  As some items were starting to run out at the shelter, it was time for a run to Kanchanaburi to stock up.  I went along with 2 other girls from the shelter for a weekend getaway.  We drove there in a truck lent to us by another gem of Sangkhlaburi, Dr. Mays, a dentist in town and avid animal lover and made the 212km trek to Kanchanaburi mid-day a week ago on Saturday.

J, one of the three on the trip, drove.  She is from the UK so was used to driving on the left and had amazingly picked up the Thai driving style as I had several mini heart attacks along the way dodging in and out of traffic along the road.  Due to traffic we arrived later than anticipated and missed the vet supply office hours.  So we simply headed to our hotel, took showers in warm water (there is no warm water in Sangkhlaburi for showers unless you shower in the middle of the day when the water has been heated up by the sun), put makeup on for the first time in a month and a half and headed into town.

I will say since being in Sangkhlaburi, I don’t think I’ve seen myself in a mirror except maybe two or three times.  So needless to say, once in a bathroom with a mirror in it, it was almost surprising and shocking to see myself, lol!!

We headed out and first had a drink and shared a pizza at Bell’s, then went to the Lady Boy bar for some more drinks.  Surprisingly the other volunteer (K) who tagged along for the weekend getaway after only 4 beers was already quite drunk!  Normally she can hold her own, but for some reason not on this night.  In any event, since there was more drinking to be done for myself and J, we continued on to the Monkey Bar for another drink.  Then…. Well… though I had stayed away from the “get drunk for 10 baht” bars during my last time in Kanchanaburi, we ended up stumbling into there as well…

In all fairness really it wasn’t myself or J stumbling, it was only K.  Jo and I had a delightful time taking shots and sipping on buckets of booze while K kept excusing herself to the bathroom to vomit… Joy!!  Since J and K had been to Kanchanaburi several times before for these types of excursions, they inevitably made friends with some of the locals, including a tattoo artist with a shop in front of the Sugar Member bar, just across from the 10 baht bar.  The night continued with lots of drinks, conversation, and many bathroom breaks for K.  She ended up going back to the hotel early and passed out outside the room on the lounge chair (since she didn’t have the key) while J and I continued to party until 4am.

Amazingly I woke the next day feeling great!  K and J, not so much…  We had to move rooms around noon (they put us in the wrong room the first night) so everyone was up in semi-good spirits around 11.  We jointly decided the best remedy for our hangovers was to have a yummy pizza yet again, though this time we were each getting our own to soak up the liquor, lol!!  We checked out Bell’s again (they seriously have a really good pizza!!) all craving the deliciousness we had the night before but to our dismay learned it didn’t open until 5pm!!

The idea was in our heads already however, and there was nothing to change it.  We were bound and determined to starve ourselves all day until Bell’s opened again!!  It seriously turned into a bit of a torture game and that day was the longest day I can ever recall!!  One would ask “what time is it” and learn it was 12:15… Then what seemed like forever later another would ask again the time only to learn it was 12:22 😦  The day went on like this with time slowing down just to mock us and as we didn’t have anything else to eat, the hangover symptoms started to even creep up on me!

What does one do to stave off a hangover??  You got it!  Drink more!  I caved around 3:30 and went to the bar at the hotel with K and proceeded to drink three White Russians.  Yum!!  It was definitely just what I needed to tide me over until Bell’s opened!  5pm FINALLY rolled around and we went for our indulgent meal of pizza with mushrooms and ham.  After dinner, K said she wanted to get a tattoo.  I, the night before, after meeting Joe the tattoo artist said I wanted to have him draw out a tattoo for me that I’d been thinking about for 7 years now.  So I tagged along…  J (the smart one) went back to the hotel for an easy night…

Well, of course since the tattoo shop was in front of a bar, we just had to get a bucket of booze to share!  I chatted with Joe about what I wanted, describing the design that I saw in my head and he set off to work as K and I got progressively more inebriated I kept checking back in with Joe every half hour or so to see how the design was coming along, giving input where needed.  About 2 hours later the design was done!  I really was thinking to just pay for the design and get the tattoo later, but then I started thinking “why not get it done now??”… Or maybe it was just the booze talking, lol!!  In any event, I bit the bullet and got it done!

It’s still a work in progress as I want some shading done on the moon and a Japanese word written in the space between the moon and cherry willow tree, but nothing another trip to Kanchanaburi can’t fix 😉  I will say I was quite impressed with Joe as when I said I wanted a Japanese word written in he said “I don’t speak Japanese” (he’s Thai) to which I replied “Google translate!” to which he replied “are you sure??”.  He got me to thinking and I’ve decided that until I find someone who speaks fluent Japanese, and someone who is trustworthy, I won’t do the lettering.  I’m not going to lie, the tattoo was quite unpleasant to get!  I thought the booze would numb me up a bit, but no luck there:(

In any event, after I got my tattoo done, K got one as well even though Joe strongly advised against it since he deemed her too drunk to get one.  Eventually he relented and gave her the tattoo and after a bit of drama over her paying him for his services (she only had a quarter of the money it cost and instead of going to get more money from the ATM in front of 7 Eleven, she wandered INTO 7 Eleven and proceeded to read the wording on every package of items sold in an attempt to avoid (?) having to pay… Once that was sorted out and she finally paid Joe, we wandered back toward the hotel and passed out around 4am… again… lol!!

The next day we rose (K with a hangover) and finally got the vet supplies bought.  We stopped at a REAL grocery store to stock up on goodies not found in Sangkhlaburi (coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and tabasco sauce for me) then headed home.

In all honesty, I was a bit worried that when I woke that morning I would be a bit regretful about getting the tattoo.  But when I thought about it, I had no regrets.  No butterflies or tight feeling in the stomach when one thinks of something they wish they hadn’t done.  It’s still a work in progress of course and it still has to fully heal (the wrinkles will dissipate) but I’m happy I’ve got it:)

On to Spay Camp and Elephants

Back to Thailand

Scots in Italy??

The reason I had been traveling through Europe so fast was so I could make it back to Italy by mid-October… I got news while in Berlin that Anna (my neighbor in Costa Rica who I visited in Glasgow) and her friend, and now my new friend Morna were coming to town for the week!!  Yay!! But, that meant to push the gas on the pedal for my other travels.  Hence, after visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle I booked it via train through the Alps back to Florence to prepare for their visit:)

Preparing for their visit is really just code for stocking up with lots of wine, lol!!  I believe during their visit, my dad got 20 liters of wine and between the two of them, they probably went through 12-13 liters… LOL!  But hey, I can’t blame them, they were in Italy for crying out loud!  If you aren’t going to enjoy yourself while here, why bother at all?

I met them in Pisa and we stayed the first night and the next day doing all the tourist stuff, i.e. getting a picture taken holding up the tower.  Morna didn’t want to get in on that action, but we got her later when we were in the top  cupola of the Duomo in Florence cupping another dome of Florence… I Should now mention that all the pictures in this post were taken by Anna and her camera.  Gotta give credit where credit is due:)

In any event, our time after Pisa was spent hanging out at my dad’s place eating delicious home cooked Italian food; getting tipsy on wine and beer and chatting about good times both past and present; taking hikes in the National Forrest to Vallombrosa and Secchieta; going into Florence about 3 separate times trying each time to get into the Duomo but failing until our last try (which we then ended up walking to the very top for a panoramic view);

Going to see Michelangelo’s David, of course!  (the picture below is of my favorite part of David… (no, not THAT part;)))

My favorite part of David
My favorite part of David

Making a wish at the porcellino;

Wishing on the Porcellino
Wishing on the Porcellino

And staying after dark in Florence to watch night life a bit.

Night Artists
Night Artists

Probably the most humorous time for me was the hikes… The first day we went, not more than 3 minutes after we left the house it started to pour down rain.  Did we turn back?  Naw, it was just a bit of rain and we were SURE it would stop soon.  Thankfully I had brought an umbrella and poncho “just in case” since it was a bit cloudy, and while I caved and took out the umbrella for shelter after about 10 minutes of walking in the rain, Morna and Anna were still braving it with the light jacket/sweater they brought for the walk.  About 20 minutes later they were drenched!!  They took the poncho, which was large enough to share and onward we went.  Along the way we spotted several deer!!  And that was probably only because the deer figured “no human in their right mind would hike in this downpour!”  They were wrong, lol!!

We eventually made it to Vallombrosa all cold and quite wet.  Thankfully there was a teeny bar on the side of the road:)  We had cappuccino’s, a sandwich, some wine, beer, some more wine and beer… Then shots to warm up a bit more (we were still chilly) then another shot or two until it was starting to get too late and dark to walk back down, so we called my dad to pick us up, lol!!

The second day of hiking was much less wet, but still cold and windy!  We did make it all the way to the top to Secchieta (where we had planned to go the first day) and once again at the end of the trail, what was there to meet us??  You guessed it, a bar!  We brought our own lunch that day so we just purchased some cappuccino’s, two wines and a beer:)  We behaved that day knowing we had to walk down but not entirely… You see, along with sandwiches for lunch, we also packed about a liter and a half of wine to sip along the way:)  We did behave on drinking it however because we barely cracked into it until we were heading down:)  Ah, good times!

More Florence pictures- notice the very artistic pictures on the Ponte Vecchio done by Anna:)

The three of us posing as stereotypical Italians (Mamma Mia!)

Acting Italian
Acting Italian

On to Venice

Back to Europe

Amsterdam!!!!!

Ok, now I know I’ve said this before about places I’ve been to… But I ABSOLUTELY LOVED AMSTERDAM!!!!!  Honestly if I can find a place with such charm, spirit, acceptance and SANITY as exists in the people and politics of Amsterdam, yet somewhere warm all year round, well let’s just say I will have found home:)  Alas, it does get cold there in the winter so sadly I won’t be able to call it my new home… The search continues, grrr!!!

Moving on… Why do I LOVE Amsterdam so much, you may ask??  The reasons are so numerous I’m getting excited just thinking about the prospect of writing about them!  Their views on sex and drugs, their tolerance for people of different religious backgrounds, races, sexes and lifestyles.  Then tack on the natural and pure beauty of the city itself with the crazy architecture and lovely Venice-like canals running throughout.  So many extremes live peacefully together within a stone’s throw of each other.  Everyone is accepting of one another and though they may not always agree, they don’t bother or use any sort of violence toward another.  They just coexist and go along with their lives and leave what they don’t agree with in peace.  Ah, just wonderful!!  So many places and people could learn a lot from this kind of mentality.

The only warning I will give people about Amsterdam is BEWARE THE BICYCLISTS!!!!  Seriously, they will run your rear over and not even look back if you dare to get in their way!!  Not kidding either… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stepped into the bike lane or even in the street and had a near heart attack because I was almost run over by a passing  cyclist.  As one of guides during a tour I took said (and I’m paraphrasing here): the people of Amsterdam are wonderful and friendly people.  However something happens to them when they get on a bicycle.  They suddenly morph into crazy homicidal maniacs who will take you out if you get in their way.  LOL!!!

I stayed at the StayOkay Stadsdoelen Hostel a short distance from the train station and just a few blocks from the Red Light District.  The hostel itself was nice and located directly on one of the canals, and even though I was sharing the room with 19 other people, being on the canal gave it a nice view and some charm.

When I first arrived via train into town I have to be honest that I wasn’t impressed at all.  The area around the train station isn’t anything to write home about as it’s kinda dumpy and industrial.  However just a few minutes of walking took me into one of the hearts of the city (the Red Light District) and the cute homes, canals and vibe started to thrill me.  Funnily enough, I had no idea that I had been walking through the Red Light district while trying to find my hostel and only learned later while looking at a map where I’d been.  That just goes to show you how classy the area is.  It’s not “in your face” or intrusive in any way, though it’s there.

Oh wait… I did say I had only one warning about Amsterdam for tourists.  Well… I just thought of one more… Do NOT take pictures of the women in the windows of the Red Light district!!!  This was a warning given to us during the “free” walking tour and the “Red Light District” tour I took later that night.  As it was told to us by our tour guides the women of the district are entrepreneurs.  They are not things to be gawked at or disrespected.  And if they catch you taking pictures and you don’t pay them anything for them, they may come out from their window, chase you down, take your camera from you, stomp it to a mechanical pulp with their 6-inch heels and walk away.  Yes, apparently this does happen quite often… In fact it happened during my tour of the District to an unfortunate gentlemen.  Personally I was so freaked by the prospect of my camera getting stomped to death that I didn’t even take my camera out while walking through the district, lol!

The walking tour I went on started in front of the National Monument just across from the Royal Palace.  It covered the Red Light District, Rembrandt’s house, the Nieuwmarkt, coffeeshops, a little known community of charitable women, the homomonument and we were left just about a block away from the house of Anne Frank.  At this point I had been on several of the “free” walking tours in various cities and what I really appreciate about them is that each is so unique.  Not just because they are obviously about different cities, but because each guide tells the stories that they find most interesting.  So each tour guide will give a different experience to each participant.  Love it!  I paid for a tour of the Red Light District which included stories on the history of the district, a peek on a live sex show, how Amsterdam has come to embrace the district and ended with drinks at a club.

Now I will admit that while I was perfectly fine during the walking tour, I was a teeny bit (fairly plastered) drunk during the Red Light District tour… I do regret that I was so intoxicated during the tour because I don’t recall as many of the stories as I would like to have.  But I guess you could say it’s just another reason to go back:)

In my “defense” the reason I was so intoxicated is because I was thinking about getting a tattoo or new piercing so I would always be reminded of the good times in Amsterdam.  I even went so far as to check out various options.  Turned out to be too expensive and I wasn’t terribly inspired on what to get so I ended up settling on a pair of flip-flops to remember my time by, lol!!!  But after deciding against a tattoo or piercing I had several hours of time to kill before my night tour, so I wandered into a bar…

Turned out it was a gay bar, which didn’t bother me because it had fabulous music, was low key and not terribly crowded at the time.  However as the hours went on, the crowds grew and I had befriended several of the other bar patrons hanging out and the next thing you knew shots were being bought for me, I was buying shots for others, and well, I’m just happy I made it out of there and to the tour at all!!  The shots were a typical (and yummy I may add) shot of Amsterdam called “Heuge Meug” made of cognac, Tia Maria’s and a splash of Bailey’s… YUMMMY!!!  But lethal too, lol!!

As for the walking tour, here are my favorite bits.  The next post on ‘Sex & Drugs in Amsterdam’ are also highlights from the tour, but I just had so much to say on them that I thought it best to put them in a new post:)

Stock exchange: The World’s first stock exchange started in Amsterdam with the establishment of the Dutch East India Trading Company, the most powerful and successful trading company to trade goods out of Asia.  How did they become so good at their trade (pun intended)??  Traders in the Netherlands devised a deal with one another.  Instead of sending separate ships to Asia, one for tea, one for spices, one for pepper, etc. they would send out 20 ships and load 5% of each product on every ship.  That way, if one ship sank during adverse weather only 5% of each supply was lost instead of losing 100% of a supply.  So everyone was able to get their particular product back for trading.  Clever, clever!!  The trading company reigned for more than 100 years but eventually did decline.

World's First Stock Exchange
World’s First Stock Exchange

Coffeeshops & the Red Light District: I write about these bits in great detail in the next post but for the picture below, this coffeeshop is actually where they filmed a scene from Ocean’s 12.  The scene didn’t make any sense and in the next post you will learn why:) Notice the unexpected critter in the shop too… LOL!

Community of Charitable Women:  This community started back in the 1600’s and is alive and well today.  The way it originally began was with a group of women who wanted to take on the charitable responsibilities of nuns without actually having to take all the vows or chastities of nuns.  Hence began the community of charitable women:)  Now this title I’ve assigned is my own title- it’s not what the group is actually called (since I can’t recall specifically) and I’m not even sure where the community is in Amsterdam since I neglected to take a picture of what street we were on when coming to it.  But I guess it’s meant to be that way since it was sort of a secret of the city.  Behind the door in the picture below lay the community of women who simply want to live life giving to others.  That is how the community began and today it is a peaceful and very sought out area of town to live.  This community only allows people who meet the following criteria to live there: 1) they must be female; 2) they must be over 30; and 3) they must be single.  To live in this community is so sought after that women are put on a waiting list.  One story told to us was of a woman whose name was finally called after 10 years of waiting.   When the call came she had been dating a steady boyfriend for several years but she promptly broke up with him so she could move into the community, LOL!!  The picture of the grave below is of one of the original members of the community who died in 1654.  She wanted to be buried in the street so she could feel the rain wash over her.  When she did die however she was buried in a regular cemetary, even though it was against her wishes (If memory serves it was her family who buried her in the cemetary).  One night the women of the community knowing her final wish for her resting place went to the cemetary, dug her up and took her back to the community where they burried her in the street.  Now those are true friends!

XXX: No, this doesn’t refer at all to the Red Light District or anything at all to do with anything X-rated, it is merely at the core of the 500 year old coat of arms of Amsterdam.  It can be seen just about everywhere throughout the city however from the flags to street signs and of course on the coat of arms itself.

XXX
XXX

The Nieuwmarkt: this building is was the old gate to medieval Amsterdam and was built in 1488.  It stood in the canal until 1614 and in 1617 it became a weighing station.  Interesting story told by our guide about this place is that it was also the location of several “human experiements” shall we say…  Doctors and surgeons way back when used this location to perform a variety of disections on human bodies to figure out how they work.  If memory serves it was also the site of many executions that then led to their bodies being taken apart piece by piece to see how they ticked… Today it is a restaurant:)  Steak anyone?? 😉

Homomonument:  This monumnet is made up of 3 triangles, that if viewed above form a larger single triangle where each of the three smaller forms a point of the larger one.  The Homomonument serves as a memorial to all gay men and lesbians who have had to face persecution at any point in their lives because of their sexuality.  To me it once again shows how wonderfully accepting and celebratory Amsterdam is of the people who make their lives there.

 

More Miscellaneous Pictures:

On to Sex and Drugs in Amsterdam

Back to Europe