Letters from abroad: Puerto Rico and Old San Juan | Changing Pages #Travel #Photography

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From “Thai Food Etiquette” | TBL Pt. 2

Thai Food Etiquette

Food dishes in Thailand are taste-bud popping plates of tantalizing yum. I would recommend to eat Thai the entire time you are there. (You will be disappointed after ordering Western food. Trust me.) Part of the experience of the Thai culture is the food. So dive in.

Chicken Fried Rice in Thailand
Chicken Fried Rice in Thailand

You may notice the large spoon that comes with every meal. In America, we use our fork in our right hand, and the fork becomes like a shovel to eat with. We had no idea what the spoon was for and assumed its purpose was for soup, if ordered. The spoon remained discarded on our table until about halfway through our trip. I happened to read on a menu how to properly eat Thai food.

In Thailand, the Thai people use their fork to scoop the dish and rice onto the spoon, and then the spoon is what takes the food to the mouth. The fork is merely used as a tool, a shovel, yes, but it does not go near the mouth.

The proper way to use silverware in Thailand
The proper way to use silverware in Thailand
How to use Thai silverware
How to use Thai silverware

Before I went to Thailand, I assumed they used chopsticks. This is obviously not so. Once we discovered the purpose of the spoon, we abandoned our American dinner table etiquette and began eating how the Thai people do. Thai dishes are an amazing cultural experience. Try as many as possible.

On a side-note, we had a lot of difficulty receiving our check at restaurants. A good thing to do is to ask for the check when the waiter brings your last food item or drink. Otherwise, they most likely will not come back. We sat at tables for long periods of time because we didn’t know how to obtain our check. I believe it has something to do with the culture and not wanting to seem rude and trying to rush you out of the restaurant. Of course, sometimes it is perfectly satisfying to sit back and enjoy the view. The bill, or a waiter, will come along eventually.

Dinner on a beach in Thailand
Dinner on a beach in Thailand

The Black Lion Paw


Rachel Routier
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Rachel

Text and Images © 2014 Rachel Routier
Re-print © 2014 The Black Lion Journal
Re-printed with permission.
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From “How to Climb Aboard an Elephant” | TBL Pt. 2

How to Climb Aboard an Elephant

To climb onto an elephant, one must say the command; the elephant will kneel down. Grab an ear and swing your left leg over. Always climb an elephant from its right side. Many elephants do not like to allow passengers to board the left side.

Some elephants cannot lower to the ground all the way–they might be too old or pregnant. Instead, they will offer you a leg to hop on and hoist yourself up from there.

An elephant that offers a leg to hop on.
An elephant that offers a leg to hop on.

Once on the elephant, situate oneself on its neck so that one’s knees and legs are directly behind its ears. Allow your feet to dangle in a relaxed position. (It is good to either go barefoot or have strapped on shoes and not just flip-flops.) Place both hands on top of its head and slightly lean forward for balance. Feel the wiry hairs on top its head. The hairs are thick and about three inches long.

Place hands on the elephant’s head.
Place hands on the elephant’s head.

When traveling downhill, one must pull their knees up and forward towards the top of the elephant’s head so that the feet now wrap around its ears. This prevents one from toppling over the elephant’s head and onto the ground.

Occasionally, pat the elephant’s head and tell them nice things. Stock pockets with bananas. Bananas are candy to the elephants. Trust the mahout. They know the elephants better than an old friend. And now enjoy!

Elephant Ride
Elephant Ride


Rachel Routier
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Rachel

Text and Images © 2014 Rachel Routier
Re-print © 2014 The Black Lion Journal
Re-printed with permission.
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From “There Are No Rules” | TBL Pt. 2

There Are No Rules

by Rachel Routier

Welcome to Phi Phi Island (pronounced pea pea). Beauty is abundant in the daytime, while the nightlife thrives once the sun sets. The movie The Beach was filmed there. And it’s a great place to snorkel in the ocean to see Dori and Nemo and many other lively colored fish. When I say there are no rules, I’m taking it lightly. Of course, there are rules and laws in Thailand. However, the beach parties on Phi Phi Island are more epic than anything I’ve ever seen at PCB.

*Disclaimer: Moms with teens/college kids should not read further. Instead, enjoy this post about the orchids in Thailand.

The beauty of the islands and waters around Phi Phi Island
The beauty of the islands and waters around Phi Phi Island

The Phi Phi Island beach party can be heard late at night from all aspects of the tiny, hourglass-shaped island. From a distance, one can see flames shooting into the air and sparks rising up into the night.

Phi Phi Island Beach Party
Phi Phi Island Beach Party

When I say no rules, I mean that this party is epic. Chang beer flows. Fire is abundant. I danced on a square shaped dance floor that was ringed with fire. I watched people do the limbo under a flaming bar. Others ran and jumped through a flaming hoop like circus lions in cartoons. I watched a Thai local carry people beneath the limbo bar. He cleared the flames every time with his charge, regardless of their size. I saw Thai people do amazing tricks while jumping over a flaming jump rope. People went skinny dipping, played strip Jenga, and I even saw one boy climb a wooden pole, take off his pants, and sit up there naked while drinking a beer.

Fire tricks
Fire tricks
A girl jump roping. I imagine her saying, “Look Mom! Guess what did on Spring Break?”
A girl jump roping. I imagine her saying, “Look Mom! Guess what did on Spring Break?”

The local workers did amazing tricks with the jump rope. I sat in the sand and watched them for several minutes. Sadly, none of my pictures of them turned out. I watched them do double Dutch, do pushups in a circle while hoping over the flaming rope, and other amazing tricks.

This girl jump roped a lot. “Look, Mom!”
This girl jump roped a lot. “Look, Mom!”
Waiting for that brave person to jump in
Waiting for that brave person to jump in

The party was amazing. Definitely something to go see. Just remember, do not walk home alone. Take the way back through the market that is bright with lights and full of people. Don’t walk home along the beach.

Sunset on Phi Phi Island
Sunset on Phi Phi Island

Even with music blasting from each bar and loud people, the sound of the ocean waves can still be heard. The sand is still soft underfoot. The lights and stars gleam off the water. And in the morning, you know this view is still waiting for you at sunset.


Rachel Routier
Blog
Rachel

Text and Images © 2014 Rachel Routier
Re-print © 2014 The Black Lion Journal
Re-printed with permission.
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