Tag Archives: Chiang Mai

Blue Diamond located in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Cozy as a Campfire
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How many people do you know who are drawn to a microwave, much less sit around a microwave singing, playing guitar or telling stories? Consider sitting around a campfire and waiting for the coals to heat a kettle of water. Compare it to heating up a cup of water in a solar powered microwave. Both could be sustainable forms to heat water, but the quality of living greatly differs. With crackle and flames, campfires draw in people. Soon you might have several people enjoying the fire as the water heats up. They tell stories, create friendships, and plan their next Rucksack Wandering adventure.

While farming in Thailand, I worked with two types of farmers: an economic sustainable farmer and a social sustainable farmer. I discovered people’s omelet recommendations reflect their preferred type of sustainable farming. When asked where to eat an omelet, the farmers’ answers differed like a harvest moon and a milk moon – in completely different seasons. The economic sustainable farmer recommended a restaurant at the mall. The farmer likes to visit the mall because the mall is a wasteland of cheap electrical appliances waiting to be unwrapped, which will set free the harnessed power of solar energy. While at the mall, it’s best to buy for your farm and stomach in the same trip, even if that means a deep-fried omelet for lunch at KFC.

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The social sustainable farmer suggested I eat an omelet at the Blue Diamond in Chiang Mai, Thailand. A person eats at the Blue Diamond because of the many choices of organic fruits and vegetables and baked breads. By asking the question, “how will my actions better my life and community,” the answers direct me towards the Blue Diamond.

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When making my omelet choice, I chose lifestyle over profit. I tried the Blue Diamond because I enjoy eating healthy and local. While waiting for my omelet, I read the paper, had a conversation, and took in the smells of bread coming out of the oven. The omelet came with fresh avocado and was infused with a pleasant blend of herbs. The quality of the food, the pace of the service, and the fresh fruit reminded me of life on the farm. To sum it up, the omelet at the Blue Diamond was as cozy as a campfire.

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Some thoughts that didn’t make it into the omelet review:

As consumers become more green, organic, sustainable, livable, whatever catch phrase is being used at the moment, people will read more quotes like the ones below, both found in the February/March 2007 issue of Plenty.

From the article Truckin’ Awesome by Philip Armour: “Forget the environment and political reasons—which are convincing. Just look it from the pocket book. I used to get six miles to the gallon. With biofuel, I get seven. So I’m taking home more money at the end of the week.”

From the article The Farmer in the High-Rise by Alisa Opar:
“He compares the vertical farm to the hybrid car, which now everybody is producing. They aren’t doing it for the sake of the environment; they’re doing it to make money.”

This sort of outlook will hopefully give us more time to prevent the impending global warming disaster but will not help us prepare for the next disaster brewing due to the short sights of an economic outlook towards life.

These thoughts were developed when I visited Pun Pun and Panya Project.
Pun Pun
The Panya Project

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Bicycle = Hope

A person visiting the USA and only going to Disneyland and Disney World by airplane is one way to describe the typical foreigner’s travel through Thailand. Now consider taking a bike from Disneyland to Disney World. The adventure will stimulate your imagination more than meeting a talking mouse or puking in a teacup. However, the typical foreign traveler I’ve met in Thailand would rather spend their days waking up, getting a bite to eat at a foreigner’s Thai cafe, riding in a tuk tuk to the bus station, suffering through the four hours of motion sickness to get dropped off at another bus station, riding in a tuk tuk to a guest house, then eating watered-down Thai food for dinner while watching a Walt Disney movie.

Meeting fellow travelers and hearing their tales can either make me squirm with disgust or lighten with hope. Hope is what happened when I met Nicolai from Copenhagen, Denmark and Sandy from Ottawa, Canada, both traveling SE Asia by bicycle.

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Nicolai Bangsgaard began his journey in Denmark in April 2006. I met him in Luang Prabang, Laos a few weeks ago, where he’d just arrived from cycling through Vietnam. Planning to circle the world, he shares photos and writing along the way at www.worldtravellers.dk

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At the age of 65, Sandy Mackay cycled across Canada with his daughter. Now he is 69 years old and had just ridden 182 mountainous kilometers from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, Thailand. Sandy’s two day bicycle ride of meeting friendly people is the real Thailand that many travelers dream of experiencing. However, for many people, bicycle travel is not considered convenient because it might not involve a comfy guest house or foreigner’s cafe at the end of the day. I suppose it is a daunting thought being half way between here and there with no consumer familiarity in sight. The only western comfort is what it’s in your heart. Hopefully you brought lots of respect, trust, and kindness from home. And in return, you can expect lots of love and generosity. When there is no western tourist economy, you can’t rely on your pocketbook. All you have to rely on is your humanity and charming personality.

The Bicycle

The bicycle is the only salvation
For a planet choking to death
On its own convenience

from A Promise for Siam by Tom Radzienda

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