Southeast Asia Journal Number Eight and Nine

Good morning, all,

I hope this latest journal finds you all happy and healthy as we climb the cusp of the first month in the new year.  It’s been a little while since I have been able to write, so I hope everyone’s still interested in my trip and not too bored to stay with me.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I have been back from Malaysia, so that’s probably how long it’s been since I wrote my last journal.  And much has happened since then.

Work is going very well.  I am meeting lots of new people and I am finally beginning to understand much of what’s being said during the endless string of conversation carrying me from one place to the next as the Thai people exact their most honored traditions of chatting, eating and smiling.  I can pretty comfortably order food, discuss basic ideas, find my way around through the small catalog of directional questions and statements and I have even picked up a little slang.  I am finding that children, more than adults, are willing to spend as much time as is needed in order to ensure you have just the right dialect and intonation before moving on to teaching you more words.  It’s strange to think it, but the barrier being so profound from English to Thai is actually a point of interest and therefore a good bonding tool and conversation additive with the local people.

Inide the Kaoh Tapet Animal Sanctuary

This past weekend was really nice.  I got to spend lots of time (and very little money) doing some really relaxing and gratifying things.  For instance, I took a trip up to the animal sanctuary on the hill just outside of Suratthani known as Kaoh Tapet.  There were lots of animals; But the highlight was definitely the primates.  They were great.  They would preform these feats of acrobatic precision that were really amazing.  It was sad knowing that they were aware of their confinement.  Some of them even seemed to have lost any will to interact.  Their eyes, really, were indicative of the caged sadness that they have come to know.  But, nonetheless, it was a great experience and of course, since the sanctuary is on a mountaintop, I got to see the entire town where I live and finally began to get some bearings on where things are located, how the roads flow and where I live in reference to other important locations around town.

Suratthani is surprisingly small to have so many people living in it.  However, what was impressive to see was that just outside the city limits there was a vast expanse of foliage.  Overgrown, really.  God help these people if a mass fire sweeps through this area.  They’d all be done for.  But in any case, it’s a far cry from any of the cities that I have seen and over which I have flown and witnessed the type of sprawl that I have never really seen before in this

The people of Surat Thani

magnitude.  Even in South America where the cities seem to span forever, there is still a great difference in how they use the land.  For instance, you get the impression that the cities never really end, here, because of the water fields.  The local peoples use these fields to grow all manner of food, from rice and grains to prawn and catfish that all end up in the street markets.  When seen with the reflection of sun, these fields look like endless grids broken panes of glass laying atop a flat expanse of what was once a green and plush rain forest biome.

I have really enjoyed getting to see all the various places that I have been fortunate enough to see here in Southeast Asia.  It’s been incredible to witness the diversity and richness of this place.

As for the photos that I have uploaded; I have only selected photos from the animal sanctuary to put into the latest album.  This is because I am managing this new Picasa page a little differently than the shaggamaru account.  I am using titled albums with a specific focus.  I have plenty of photos that are ready to upload.  I just need to figure out a good genre under which to place them.

These latest photos can be found at

I am asking for a favor from all of you this week.  I would like for you all to go through each of the albums from the cyleodonnell picasa page and the “Malaysia” and “Thailand” albums from the shaggamaru account ( and put in a vote.  I am trying to find the top three photos from each of these albums and then the top three of all of those photos.  Please do me a favor and take a few moments to browse through these albums and choose three from each that you like the most and then your top three of all your favorites.  It would also be nice if you chose a favorite album, too.

How to do it:  When you are viewing the photos, there is a link over to the right side of the page that says, “More Info.”  This link will give you a multitude of information about the photo.  For those of you who are interested in finding out what settings I used for each photo, this section will tell you the exposure, aperture, focal length, GPS information, camera model, ISO and, most importantly, the name of the file.  Once you have found your top three favorite photos, just open up the information section on these photos and send me your list of photos by their “Filename,” found in this section.

Here are the votes:
–Top three photos from each of the nine albums (Malaysia, Thailand, Animal Sanctuary, Muslim Faces, Playing with Fire, Hindu Celebration, Surat Market Features, Krabi Features and Navigating the Waters of Paradise)
–Top three photos from all the favorites from each of the albums
–Favorite Album

If you are on Facebook, please pass along this vote/photo contest to those who you think might be interested in joining along.  Please be sure to include the web addresses of the albums.

I know that most of you are pretty busy people.  So I am extra appreciative of your efforts this week.  Thanks very much in advance and be on the lookout for the results of this contest in my next journal.

Thanks again for keeping up with me and thanks so much for all the comments and support.


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