Tag Archives: tattoo

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

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

Military Tattoo & Fringe Festival

The Royal Military Tattoo

So, every year in August Scotland has a HUGE celebration known as the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  It is basically a festival that now stretches just about the entire month of August and it brings together the worlds best talents of musicians and performers from over 46 countries!!  One of the performing acts of course is the Royal Edinburgh Military.  They play the bagpipes and march in unison and at the very end of the show there is a lone bagpiper who stands at the top of the castle wall.  His performance is followed by the shooting of a cannon and then fireworks.  Guests from all over the world come to see this celebration, which has been going on since 1950 or so, and plan at least a year in advance in order to get tickets for the event at all!!

Needless to say, despite my description above of what the Royal Military Tattoo is, I never actually was able to see the performance while there, lol!!  Alas, the event has been described to me by K&E, and I was able to read a little bit of the history while standing in line waiting (and hoping) that some tickets became available on “the day of” performances.  In addition, during one week of the celebration the event was filmed and it is broadcast on TV worldwide so that all can enjoy it.  I did catch a snippet of the show when I Was in Glasgow weeks later, but didn’t really see the whole thing.

To be honest, and to my embarrassment, I kinda had a teeny little panic meltdown about seeing the show.  Instead of sticking to my usual attitude of “if it’s meant to be it will happen”, after going early and standing in line to get tickets (sometimes people would simply turn their tickets back in for resale due to unforeseen reasons that no longer permitted them to attend) and failing to get tickets yet again, I had a freak out . But thanks to the sound and calming wisdom of E, I was talked off the ledge and what began then was what I’d like to consider the theme of traveling Scotland from then on… “I must leave something to come back for”.  And trust me when I say, there is a TON of stuff to go back to Scotland for (and I’m not just saying that because of the numerous yummy men with their sexy accents living there;)) !!  A month was simply not enough , but rather is was barely enough to just scratch the surface!!

Just a little bit of interesting history on the word “Tattoo”… Basically, the origins of the word Tattoo go back to the 17th century when British troops were fighting in the Low Countries.  At the end of the day the duty officer would go around making sure each post was manned before the sounding of the Last Post.  A few drummers would accompany him for this task and if the soldiers were missing from their post, the ritual beating of the drum would ensue basically signaling to the soldiers (who were in town at the local pubs) that it was time to return to their posts or quarters.  The Dutch innkeepers would then turn off the liquor taps and say “Time’s up!” or in their language: DOE TEN TAP-TOE, basically meaning no more booze for you!  The drummers would continue to drum until all the soldiers made their way back to their posts for the sounding of the Last Post.  Eventually Tap-Toe (last call!) evolved into the word Tattoo!

The Fringe Festival

The Fringe Festival… well honestly I’m not sure of the orgins of this festival, but what I do know is it coincides with the Tattoo for about the entire month of August as well!  So really, tourists are able to experience two separate festivals in only one month if visiting in August!!

The Fringe Festival is basically a huge collection of artists, musicians, actors, performers, magicians, singers, dancers, etc, etc from all over the world who come and perform all along the Royal Mile for several of the “old town” blocks!!  The street is filled from morning till night with tons of performers just every which way you look!  It’s quite an amazing experience and honestly could keep one busy all day every day of the festival just checking out each of the performances!  People filled the streets handing out cards announcing or rather advertising various shows and where the venue was to take place.  Some of the shows were free (aka the ones I attended- but remember “free” is a term for “expected to tip performer at the end!!”) and others were anything from 5-12 pounds a piece.

I ended up attending one solo play about how making good decisions was actually bad for you… sounded interesting but sadly I found it rather dull.  The other venue I attended was for the Man of Steal… This was quite a great performance!!  Very informative to boot!  Basically it’s put on by a professional pick-pocket who works for the police and does these shows to educate the public on how to protect themselves from thieves.  I can’t say much more about it than that as we were all sworn to secrecy about the details of the show, so I will stick by that and leave the description at that:)

By far, however the BEST performance I saw on the streets of the Royal Mile during the Fringe was Joel Grainger… I was just coming out of a building after having bought a ticket for a tour of the Real Mary King’s Close and I had about a half hour to kill.  I walked on the street and was lured by the sound of a voilin.  I love voilin music to begin with, so I walked toward the sound and on a stage erected on the side of the street was Joel Grainger.  He was the only musician present, but due to his technique of “live-looping” he was able to play every note of a song LIVE!  He played “somebody that I used to know” by Gotye and Pachebel’s Canon in D in all their glory!!  I’m not going to be able to describe his technique of live-looping to do him justice, so you are just going to have to check him out for yourself… I know he’s on YouTube, and though I don’t Facebook, I know he is.  If any of you are fans of the violin, you MUST check him out!!  Google “Joel Grainer Fringe” and you will see one of his performances there from this past festival:)

Though I really wasn’t expecting the Fringe to be going on in addition to the Tattoo, it was quite a welcome surprise!  I could spend days on end just going up and down the Mile watching for new acts or collecting thousands of info cards on the various performers.  Quite impressive!!  Not to mention the tons of kiosks that were set up everywhere in town featuring everything from handmade jewelery to paintings to cashmere items, etc, etc!  I highly recommend for all those planning to go to Edinburgh, though it will be a more expensive time of year, make your trip in August!!!  And for goodness sake- learn from me and get your Tattoo tickets in advance!  Or don’t and just figure it’s something to come back for:)

Sadly, my pictures for this section really lack in what they should have been… I was just too engrossed in watching my surroundings and being present for them to take pictures I guess…Sorry!!

On to “Local” Tours

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