Brazil


South America’s largest country defies easy description. From the Andes Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean and the Amazon River Basin to the steppes of the Mato Grasso and beyond, Brazil encompasses a staggering 43 percent of South America’s land mass. In addition to being the world’s fifth largest country by size, it is also one of the continent’s most diverse lands. Brazil is a cultural amalgamation of indigenous roots and western influences. The former Portuguese colony has developed a unique culture shaped by native tribes and thousands of immigrants from Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, and elsewhere.  One of the world’s most important emerging markets with a dynamic, growing economy, Brazil has taken center stage in the sporting world as host of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. A short visit will only give you a taste of what this amazing place has to offer and leave you thirsting for more of its unique vibe.

More About Brazil

2008_07_17 Brazil Amazon River

2008_07_23 Brazil Rio de Janeiro IMG_4208

2008_01_19 Brazil Iguazu

2008_07_23 Brazil Rio Corcovado IMG_4155

Cross-posted from MGEdwards.com. Visit MGEdwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

Elephant Polo!


This is the final article in a six-part series about Hua Hin, Thailand, a coastal city near Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand. Hua Hin hosts the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, a fun and unique sporting event. The 2012 tournament inspired me to write the children’s picture book Ellie the Elephant about an elephant that dreams of playing in the tournament. Enjoy this and other travelogues about the Hua Hin area.

Elephant polo is a fascinating sport to watch. A variant of equestrian polo, elephant polo originated in Meghauli, Nepal and is played in Nepal, Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka. Teams from England and Scotland also participate in organized tournaments. The sport is governed worldwide by the Kathmandu, Nepal-based World Elephant Polo Association (WEPA) and in Thailand by the Thailand Elephant Polo Association.

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (9)

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (5)

The sport features Asian elephants ridden by a polo player and a mahout who steers the elephant. Players hit polo balls into goals with a mallet attached to the end of a long stick. Goal posts are located at either end of a pitch that’s three quarters the size of an equestrian polo field. Teams of four players, mahouts and elephants square off for two ten-minute “chukkers” (time periods) with a 15-minute time out (“interval”). The team with the most goals at the end of the second chukker wins the match. A full list of elephant polo rules is available here.

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (10)

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (11)

Thailand-based luxury resort and spa company Anantara Resorts hosts the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament in Hua Hin. Military marching grounds south of Hua Hin Town make an ideal pitch for a week’s worth of elephant polo matches. Dozens of sponsors set up pavilions on the sidelines that cater to visitors and polo players who come from around the world to watch or participate in the games. My family and I watched the 2012 championship match on the final day of competition; other spectators spent the entire week at the event.

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (1)

While the sport has come under some scrutiny for the use and treatment of elephants, the elephants participating in the King’s Cup seemed content on the sidelines and competitive on the field. They appeared as engaged and eager to participate as the human players. Elephant Polo in Nepal and Thailand is played under the auspices of the WEPA, which enforces strict rules on elephant welfare and game play. To my knowledge, no instances of alleged mistreatment of elephants related to elephant polo have been reported in Thailand.

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (3)

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (4)

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (6)

We enjoyed mingling with the elephants on the sidelines where the polo teams waited to saddle up. Several elephants huddled near the edge of the pen watching the matches and munching on feed like popcorn. They didn’t seemed to mind the spectators who gathered around them for photos. It was all part of their duties as star athletes. We enjoyed taking photos with a jovial pachyderm who inspired the character Ellie the Elephant in my book. This elephant was doing what Ellie aspired to do – play competitive elephant polo.

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (7)

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (8)

The mahouts tended to the animals, feeding them, saddling them up, and guiding them on the pitch. They appeared to have experience working with the animals, while the skill of the players varied according to their familiarity with elephant polo. One replacement player took the field for the first time and had trouble handling the cumbersome mallet taller than an elephant’s shoulders. Watching the elephants, mahouts, and polo players work in tandem was mesmerizing. When a player missed hitting the ball, the elephant would back up so they could try again.

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (12)

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (13)

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (14)

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (15)

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (16)

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (17)

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (18)

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (20)

All the teams we watched did a splendid job. While only one won the King’s Cup, every team took home a trophy in the shape of an elephant’s head. The tournament was competitive and fun with all the excitement you would expect at any sporting event. There were scrimmages, breakaways, and the occasional error – all in the name of fun.

2012_09_06 Thailand Hua Hin Elephant Polo (21)

If Ellie the Elephant were at the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament, she would have enjoyed playing or watching from the sidelines.

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And you would have too! Here’s a video clip of elephant polo in action.

Elephant Polo in Thailand

Ellie the Elephant is now available as an e-book or in print from Amazon and other booksellers! Get your copy today!

More about Hua Hin, Thailand

Hua Hin Town

Hua Hin Night Market

The Countryside near Hua Hin

Khao Takiap Village in Hua Hin

Wat Khao Takiap Temple in Hua Hin

map-ddaf71d935e422[2][2]

 

clip_image0023222[2]M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander and Ellie the Elephant, two books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Wat Khao Takiap in Hua Hin, Thailand


This is the fifth article in a six-part series about Hua Hin, Thailand, a coastal city near Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand. This post is about Wat Khao Takiap in Hua Hin Town. Hua Hin hosts the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, a fun and unique sporting event. The 2012 tournament inspired me to write the children’s picture book Ellie the Elephant about an elephant that dreams of playing in the tournament. Enjoy these travelogues about this fascinating area of Thailand.

Wat Khao Takiap is a Buddhist temple complex on “Chopsticks Hill” (Khao Takiap) south of Hua Hin Town center. One of the most recognizable temples in Hua Hin, it straddles a 272-meter (890 feet) tall hill that juts out into the Gulf of Thailand and is visible from beaches to the north and south.

2012_09_16 Hua Hin Temple (3)

A shrine shaped like a blooming white lotus flower sits halfway up the hillside. Although the 80 or so steps to it are a quick workout, one can drive to a parking lot part way up Chopsticks Hill. The view from the shrine and the shrine itself are both picturesque.

2012_09_16 Hua Hin Temple (4)

2012_09_16 Hua Hin Temple (5)

2012_09_16 Hua Hin Temple (8)

The parking lot area is even more interesting with an eclectic mix of Buddhist statues, including a Hungry Buddha and many-headed Buddha, dinosaur statues (seriously!), a prayer pagoda, souvenir and snack shops, and…

…monkeys! Hundreds, maybe thousands, of macaque monkeys live on the temple grounds. They are the inspiration for Monk the Monkey, one of the characters in my book Ellie the Elephant. People who work at the temple are the protectors of the macaques, who like to get too close to human comfort in their tireless search for food and drink. Tourists need to be careful because the monkeys target and steal bags, bottles, and anything else that looks like an easy meal. They’re not prone to bite but can become aggressive when the food runs out.

2012_09_16 Hua Hin Temple (19)

2012_09_16 Hua Hin Temple (20)

Here’s a picture of Monk the Monkey featured in Ellie the Elephant.

monk

The chickens that wander freely around the parking lot don’t seem bothered by the monkeys. Why should they? Some are larger than a mid-sized macaque and mean serious business in their hunt for chicken feed.

This rooster did not consider it a laughing manner when he crossed the road.

At the base of Chopsticks Hill is a large Golden Buddha standing 20 meters tall who looks out on the Gulf of Thailand with his arms outstretched. While he gave his blessing to the fishermen trolling the waters off the coast, we were blessed with delicious Thai food served by the outdoor restaurant at the base of the hill.

2012_09_16 Hua Hin Temple (25)

If you visit Wat Khao Takiap, don’t forget to give a donation. It could bring you good luck. Just leave it on this painted concrete block and someone will pick it up.

You’re in luck because Ellie the Elephant’s school, the Pachyderm School, is not far from Wat Khao Takiap. Stop by for an incredible adventure with Ellie!

Ellie the Elephant is now available as an e-book or in print from Amazon and other booksellers! Get your copy today!

Cover 5

More about Hua Hin, Thailand

Hua Hin Town

Hua Hin Night Market

The Countryside near Hua Hin

Khao Takiap Village in Hua Hin

map-ddaf71d935e422[2]

 

clip_image0023222M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander and Ellie the Elephant, two books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Khao Takiap Village in Hua Hin, Thailand


This is the fourth article in a six-part series about Hua Hin, Thailand, a coastal city near Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand. This post is about Khao Takiap Village in Hua Hin Town. Hua Hin hosts the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, a fun and unique sporting event. The 2012 tournament inspired me to write the children’s picture book Ellie the Elephant about an elephant that dreams of playing in the tournament. Enjoy these travelogues about this fascinating area of Thailand.

At the base of Khao Takiap (Chopsticks Hill) in Hua Hin opposite the Gulf of Thailand lies a colorful and messy fishing village nestled in a small waterway. The organic place looks out of place, and yet, right where it belongs in this area east of Hua Hin Town.

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (1)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (2)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (3)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (6)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (4)

Suburban Hua Hin has expanded around it, filling the former wetlands with contemporary high rises and neighborhoods, but this timeless village stands out amidst the surrounding modernity.

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (27)

Hundreds of wooden fishing vessels clutter the waterway with a chaotic order that looks artistic but tricky to decipher. Boats with hulls of varying bright colors create a multi-colored menagerie intertwined with a spider’s web of stout wooden masts and booms.

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (8)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (9)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (10)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (11)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (12)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (13)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (14)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (16)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (17)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (18)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (19)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (15)

On the rickety wooden walkway that follows the water channel and sways with every movement, villagers prepare daily catches for the market, from fish gutting to drying squid and gathering seashells. It’s quite the sight for seafood lovers to behold. The smell is not overpowering as fresh hauls come in and the remnants are washed into the coffee brown channel. I glanced down into the thick water and shuddered to think what must have been lurking in its bowels.

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (20)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (21)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (23)

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (24)

Many villagers live on the boats while a few own freestanding homes that strike an interesting contrast to the high-rise resort rising just to the south. Some own seafood markets, restaurants, and souvenir shops just across the street in the shadow of Chopsticks Hill.

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Fishing Village (25)

The coin-fed washer and dryer machines in a kiosk along the road indicated that the villagers have ready access to basic necessities. In spite of what looked like poor living conditions when I visited Khao Takiap Village, the villagers seemed to live well with an ocean of seafood waiting to be caught on the leeward side, and to starboard, a sea of tourists waiting to consume whatever they could catch. While a fisherman’s life didn’t look easy, Khao Takiap Village seemed to be a good place to give it a go.

If Ellie the Elephant wanted to be a fisherelephant, she would live in Khao Takiap Village!

Cover 11

More about Hua Hin, Thailand

Hua Hin Town

Hua Hin Night Market

The Countryside near Hua Hin

map-ddaf71d935e422

 

clip_image002322M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander and Ellie the Elephant, two books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

The Countryside near Hua Hin, Thailand


This is the third article in a six-part series about Hua Hin, Thailand, a coastal city near Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand. This post is about the countryside near Hua Hin. Hua Hin hosts the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, a fun and unique sporting event. The 2012 tournament inspired me to write the children’s picture book Ellie the Elephant about an elephant that dreams of playing in the tournament. Enjoy these travelogues about this fascinating area of Thailand.

The drive from Bangkok to Hua Hin takes about two and a half hours as a drunken crow flies and when traffic is light. The scenery on southwest-bound Highway 35 is forgettably suburban Thailand with more and more rice fields and orchards as the cities thin. At little more than the halfway point near the city of Samut Songkhram, the highway merges with Highway 4 and heads south on the Malay Peninsula. Here lies the beautiful countryside of Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces between the Gulf of Thailand and Myanmar (Burma).

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Most of the drive to Hua Hin Town passes through Phetchaburi, one of three western Thai provinces that are popular weekend getaways for Bangkok residents looking to escape from the sweltering lowlands of the Chao Phraya River delta. (The other two are Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi.) The highlands of the Tenasserim Mountains offer cooler weather that blows in from the Andaman Sea. Phetchaburi is worth a stop to explore its scenic wonders, but for those on the way to Hua Hin, the province will still reward them with opportunities to enjoy picture-perfect scenery. Rice fields in the lowlands, including one farmed by Ellie the Elephant’s parents, share the land with rolling hills and craggy mountains.

2012_09_15 Thailand Hua Hin Countryside (1)

2012_09_15 Thailand Hua Hin Countryside (2)

2012_09_15 Thailand Hua Hin Countryside (3)

2012_09_15 Thailand Hua Hin Countryside (4)

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2012_09_15 Thailand Hua Hin Countryside (7)

You never know what you’ll discover in the countryside on the way to Hua Hin. During our drive to Hua Hin in November 2012, we spotted a thatched roof lodge at the foot of a mountain reminiscent of a traditional Thai bamboo house with some indigenous elements.

2012_09_15 Thailand Hua Hin Countryside (8)

Accustomed to seeing rotund statues of the Buddha, I stopped to examine some statues of a malnourished one. The “Fasting” or “Starving” Buddha depicted a time in the life of Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 B.C.), the Indian prince who founded Buddhism, when he wandered in the countryside for six years in search of spiritual enlightenment and practiced such an austere lifestyle that it left him skin and bones. Realizing that his asceticism would lead to death, not enlightenment, Siddhartha adopted a middle path between the luxury of his youth and his austerity. The statues on the way to Hua Hin recalled this period in the Buddha’s life.

2012_09_15 Thailand Hua Hin Countryside (9)

2012_09_15 Thailand Hua Hin Countryside (10)

Ellie the Elephant calls the countryside near Hua Hin home. Along with her parents and brother, she works in the fields when she’s not in class or playing at Pachyderm School. While she doesn’t mind helping out with chores around the farm, what she really wants to do is play elephant polo. Read Ellie the Elephant, her incredible story about following her dream – to play in the Elephant Cup tournament!

2012_09_15 Thailand Hua Hin Countryside (11)

2012_09_15 Thailand Hua Hin Countryside

Ellie the Elephant is now available as an e-book or in print from Amazon and other booksellers!

More about Hua Hin, Thailand

Hua Hin Town

Hua Hin Night Market

map-ddaf71d935e42

 

Maps courtesy of Google and Bing.

clip_image00232M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander and Ellie the Elephant, two books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Night Market in Hua Hin, Thailand


This is the second article in a six-part series about Hua Hin, Thailand, a coastal city near Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand. This post is about the Night Market in Hua Hin Town. Hua Hin hosts the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, a fun and unique sporting event. The 2012 tournament inspired me to write the children’s picture book Ellie the Elephant about an elephant that dreams of playing in the tournament. Enjoy these travelogues about this interesting area of Thailand.

Thailand has many night markets, and the one in Hua Hin is excellent. Located in the center of Hua Hin Town just off Phetkasem Road (Petchkasem or Highway 4), it’s open nightly from 6 p.m. to about 11 p.m. or whenever the vendors close up shop. Most stalls sell food, clothing, or souvenirs. It’s touristy but also frequented by locals. The Hua Hin Night Market covers a four block area packed with vendors. When we visited on a Saturday night in November 2012, it was bustling with shoppers.

Why does Thailand have so many night markets? The average temperature in Thailand is so hot that many people try to avoid doing anything outside until the sun sets and the air cools down. Evenings in Thailand can be hot but are generally cooler than daytimes. Thai markets are known for selling many of the same things – you can find the same souvenirs in stall after stall – but each market has a different flavor. Hua Hin Night Market is no exception. It’s perhaps best known for its good selection of fresh food, especially seafood, and wide range of local products for sale.

The iconic Hua Hin sign at the market’s entrance is a good place to take a photo to tell friends back home that you’re shopping in Thailand.

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Makeshift stalls crowd the pedestrian street that stretches for two blocks between two-story buildings with even more businesses.

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The delicious foods – raw, cooked, or fried – taste as delicious as they look.

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2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Market (5)

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A vendor gave my son a balloon that he enjoyed while my wife and I browsed a stall selling grilled chicken and local wines and spirits.

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The market’s many restaurants and bars offer a mix of Thai and international cuisine. Hua Hin’s location on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand makes it a great place to enjoy fresh seafood.

2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin Market (8)

We didn’t see Ellie the Elephant shopping at the Hua Hin Night Market. Then again, she probably wouldn’t have fit! She might have enjoyed the some of the yummy tropical fruits on display, but the vendors would not have been happy if she accidentally knocked over their stalls!

Cover 1

Ellie the Elephant is now available as an e-book or in print from Amazon and other booksellers!

More about Hua Hin, Thailand

Hua Hin Town

map-ddaf71d935e4

clip_image0023M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander and Ellie the Elephant, two books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Hua Hin, Thailand


This is the first article in a six-part series about Hua Hin, Thailand, a coastal city near Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand. Hua Hin hosts the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, a fun and unique sporting event. The 2012 tournament inspired me to write the children’s picture book Ellie the Elephant about an elephant that dreams of playing in the tournament. Enjoy these travelogues about this diverse area of Thailand.

Hua Hin is a town in Prachuap Khiri Khan province on the northern edge of the Malay Peninsula that stretches from Thailand to Singapore. Situated on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, Hua Hin is located about 2.5 hours by car southwest of Bangkok. Best known as the site of Wang Klai Kang Won royal palace, Hua Hin is a convenient getaway for city dwellers who want to get out of town or hit the beach. It’s not as touristy, and the beaches aren’t as nice, as more popular destinations such as Phuket or Ko Samui, but Hua Hin has steadily developed as a tourist magnet in its own right. The Venezia, an Italian-style shopping center and Santorini Park, a Greek-themed shopping and entertainment complex in nearby Cha Am, opened recently and have helped put Hua Hin on the map.

Below is a sweeping view of the Hua Hin waterfront from Wat Khao Takiap, one of the city’s prominent Buddhist temples atop Chopsticks Hill (Khao Takiap).

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This is a view of the Gulf of Thailand from the waterfront.

The city’s main street, Phetkasem Road (Highway 4), runs north-south through town past shopping malls, hotels, and a night market. It looks like many busy business districts in Thailand.

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A stone building near the rocky beach below the temple offers great views of the Gulf of Thailand and the city.

The foothills of the Tenasserim Range straddling Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand crowd Hua Hin with worn hills that serve as pedestals for Buddhist sites such as the Wat Khao Krailas temple.

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The traditional architecture contrast with the modern high-rise hotels and condos hugging the Hua Hin waterfront.

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Although the sky was overcast when we visited Hua Hin in November 2012, the air was warm enough to enjoy the beach. Our son enjoyed making sand castles and sculptures. Vendors flocked to this little boy on an almost-empty beach, begging him to go on horse rides and buy souvenirs. He was having too much fun in the sand to pay much attention to them.

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2012_09_16 Thailand Hua Hin (13)

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You never know what you’ll find when you visit Hua Hin. You might stumble upon some delicious Thai food like we did near the waterfront or see a cute cat sleeping on the beach without a care in the world, or…

…Ellie the Elephant playing elephant polo!

Cover 6

Ellie the Elephant is now available as an e-book or in print from Amazon and other booksellers!

Map picture

 

clip_image002M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander and Ellie the Elephant, two books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

100,000 Travel Confessions


It’s time for 100,000 travel confessions! Wait, that’s not quite right. I have a few travel confessions to share but not that many. Oh, I remember what the number 100,000 means. It means that this blog just passed 100,000 hits! Thank you, dear readers, search engines, and cross-posters for visiting World Adventurers. It took two years, from October 2010 to October 2012, for this blog to reach 50,000 hits and then doubled this total in less than five months. That’s incredible. I must be doing something right.

I Must Confess!

So on to the Travel Confessions. A big thanks to Letizia for tagging me to make some Travel Confessions. Letizia was born and raised in the Netherlands but is now living in Borgomanero, Italy. I have to confess that her blog Dutch Goes Italian is excellent. I love her articles about Italy and mouth-watering food and drinks. Thanks for tagging me, Letizia!

About Travel Confessions

As you might know from other awards I’ve received, I enjoy researching the origin of blog series like Travel Confessions. Caroline and Josh from the blog Traveling 9 to 5 started the Travel Confessions chain in August 2012 as a way for travel writers like Letizia and me to confess our deepest, darkest travel secrets. As Traveling 9 to 5 puts it:

Is it a routine that gets you through long trips, a guilty pleasure destination or food, or maybe a pair of white Westin slippers that have seen better days? This is your time to come clean and maybe even feel better about your own confession as we read about everyone else’s!

How To Confess!

Here’s how it works:

1. Post a photo and description of your confession.

2. Tweet your post with hashtag #travelconfession and follow/tweet @traveling9to5

3. Tag 3 – 5 other travelers whom you would like to expose, and mention them on Twitter.

*This has no prize or big cash win at the end, it is for pure enjoyment for all of us travelers who carry our sanity around with us!

Confessions Badge

To my knowledge, no one has created a Travel Confessions badge, so here’s my own version of one. You’re welcome to use it if you wish.

confessions

My Travel Confessions

Without further ado, here are some of my deepest, darkest travel secrets:

1. When I stay in hotels with complimentary shampoo and soap, I like to take and use them on different continents. I once took a free bottle of shampoo made in the United States from a hotel in Punta del Este, Uruguay and then used it in Africa and Asia before it ran out.

Free shampoo and soap from around the world

2. My family and I often forget to bring something important when we travel. It got so bad that I had to make a list of things to bring. Then I forgot to look at it before our last trip and left something important behind!

todolist

A to-do list only works if you use it!

3. Travel wears me out after being on the road more than three weeks. After three weeks at home, I’m ready to hit the road again.

Wall in my office with arts and crafts from Africa, Asia, and South America

4. I like to keep track of how many American fast food restaurant chains I can find in a given city and pop in to see what local cuisine they’re serving. The McDonald’s here in Bangkok serves a spicy Thai chicken and rice dish that’s cheaper and tastier than a Big Mac. The taro pies aren’t bad but not as delicious as cherry.

A food court in Cape Town, South Africa

5. I enjoy getting lost in a place I’m visiting for the first time and wander around until I find a landmark I recognize. I once drove after nightfall in rural Africa toward Lake Malawi hoping to find the town of Cape Maclear, Malawi. Three hours and a lot of nervous sweat later, I finally found it.

Night

Nightfall at Cape Maclear on the shores of Lake Malawi

6. I have a fetish for photographing the hotel rooms where I stay because I want to remember all those idle moments and funky rooms.

Hotel (2)

Hotel

A boutique hotel in Cape Town, South Africa

Love Motel

A love motel in Wolchulsan, South Korea (with my family!)

Lucky Travel Writers

Here are three outstanding travel writers. Are they up to writing some of their own Travel Confessions? We’ll see!

1. BlueBalu (Living in Hong Kong)

2. Lesley Carter (The Bucket List Publications)

3. Russel Ray Photos (Life from Southern California)

clip_image003M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Kilimanjaro a Book of the Year Awards Finalist


clip_image002My book Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill is a finalist for the 2012 Book of the Year Award in the Travel Essay category. The finalists were selected from 1300 entries covering 62 categories of books from independent and academic presses. These represent some of the best books produced by small publishing houses in 2012.

Over the next two months, a panel of sixty librarians and booksellers will judge and determine the winners. Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards, as well as Editor’s Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction, will be announced at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Chicago on June 28, 2013, at The Pop Top Stage. Click here for a full list of the finalists.

Kilimanjaro is a travel essay that chronicles my attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. At forty years old and on the verge of a midlife crisis, I tried to change my life by climbing a mountain. This is my true story of facing Kilimanjaro and other challenges at middle age. The book, which features more than 60 photos from my trek, earned an honorable mention from the 2012 Global Ebook Awards.

Readers have called Kilimanjaro “life changing,” “inspirational,” “an epic journey of self-discovery,” and “a peek into someone’s personal travel journal.” It’s a book for anyone who feels over the hill and needs encouragement to make a life change in the face of difficult odds. It’s also for the casual climber, mountaineer, or hiker who is interested climbing one of the world’s tallest mountains. Filled with insights and advice for those who are contemplating their own Kilimanjaro climb, my book will put you on the mountain and inspire you to go over it.

Booksellers

Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill is available to purchase for U.S.$3.99 as an ebook, U.S.$9.99 (or equivalent in other currencies) from these booksellers:

Amazon.com (US for Kindle)

Amazon.co.uk (UK for Kindle)

Amazon.ca (Canada for Kindle)

Apple iTunes (iPad and iPhone)

Barnes & Noble (US for Nook)

Barnes & Noble (UK for Nook)

Blio

Diesel Ebooks

Google Play (Android)

IndieBound

Kobo Books (available in Australia and Canada)

Smashwords

Sony ReaderStore

The Wordshop

Kilimanjaro is available to buy in print for U.S.$9.99 (or equivalent in other currencies) from these booksellers:

Amazon.com (US)

Amazon.co.uk (UK)

Amazon.ca (Canada)

Barnes & Noble

Createspace

Diesel Book Store

Visit the Kilimanjaro web page for a complete list of booksellers.

Click here to read the first five chapters of Kilimanjaro. If you like it, you can purchase the entire book from one of the booksellers listed on the last page or from Scribd. Thanks for reading my memoir! I hope you enjoy it.

About the Book of the Year Awards

ForeWord’s Book of the Year Awards program was created to highlight the year’s most distinguished books from independent publishers. The awards announcement provides an additional publicity opportunity for publishers long after a book’s initial publication date. After months of perusing the list of submissions, librarians and booksellers eagerly anticipate this announcement of finalists—a valuable resource for discovering obscure titles from the world of indie publishing.

2011_12_29 Mike Kilimanjaro

Pick up your copy of Kilimanjaro today!

clip_image001M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Eurasia: Getting Up in Europe


This is the tenth installment of a story about my travels in 1994 as a college student. The six-month journey took me to 20 countries in Europe and Asia. This happened on my first full day in Graz, Austria.

Thursday, March 3, 1994

I woke up in the morning to the sound of cooking and the smell of breakfast. Wiping the sleep from my eyes and peering through the fog toward the kitchenette, I saw a stranger making eggs and toast. I assumed he was my roommate Stephen and had slipped into the apartment when I was in a deep sleep. The delicious smell of breakfast crept into my nostrils and teased my stomach.

“Guten Morgen,” I greeted him with a croak. My throat felt hoarse after days of travel and cold winter wind. The long, hard sleep left me feeling groggy, and bad German poured from my mouth like a drunken man trying to find his tongue. “Hallo, ich bin Mike.”

“Hallo, I am Stephen,” he said in crisp English accentuated by the loud clink of a plate on the table. “Welcome. You must be my new suitemate, Michael.”

“Yes, I am,” I said, sitting up in bed and giving him a sheepish wave. Fortunately, he seemed to prefer English to rudimentary German; my brain was too muddled to speak anything else.

Stephen invited me to eat some breakfast and shared some of his meal, as if he had seen my conspicuously bare side of the kitchenette shelf and knew that I had nothing else to eat. I devoured the eggs and toast like a castaway recently rescued from a deserted island. My roommate didn’t seem to mind.

“Danke Schöen,” I suppressed a belch. “Do you know where I can buy some groceries?”

“Yes, of course,” he answered. A man of few words, Stephen seemed a quiet sort or reluctant to speak English. Or perhaps he wasn’t in the mood to chat. It was difficult to tell.

I spread a large city map of Graz on the dining table. He drew a circle around our apartment with his finger and said matter-of-factly, “We live here. Walk this way a bit, and there you will find the grocery store.”

His finger traced a red line on the map representing the street passing by our apartment and pointed near the river. I noted the location and said, “Great, thanks.”

“You are welcome,” he said and stood up stiffly. Washing the dishes and drying his hands, he said as if in a hurry, “I must be going now. Goodbye.”

“See you later, Stephen. Thanks for your help.”

Without another word or a look, he donned his coat and scarf, grabbed his satchel, and left our apartment.

The odd exchange addled in my brain as my hands collected a few items and tossed them into a small backpack. I had a long and busy day ahead getting to know my adopted hometown. I felt like a stranger in an unfamiliar land but was determined to learn my way around the city.

I bundled up for a cold winter’s day and headed downstairs. The payphone near the front door of the apartment building reminded me I needed to call home to let my family in the United States know that I arrived safely. Inserting all the change in my pocket, I dialed my fiancée’s phone number. Moments later, I heard a sweet voice say, “Hello?”

“Hi, honey, it’s me! I made it to Austria.”

“Hi! I’m so glad you made it,” Jing said. Her voice sounded lovely. Suddenly, she didn’t seem so distant.

“I’m tired but got here safely,” I said as the rapidly depleting payphone credit caught my eye like the countdown of a ticking time bomb.

“That’s great,” Jing said. Suddenly, another woman’s voice interrupted the line to inform me that I needed more credit. My coins were gone! I said, “Honey, I’m out of money. Sorry, I’ll call you as soon as I…”

The balance hit zero, and the line went dead. I slammed the handset back in the cradle and stomped out of the building. Pocket change was a priceless link to the ones I loved. My search for more coins had begun.

To be continued…

Graz 6

Previous installments of Eurasia:

 

  1. Leaving America
  2. Vancouver to Frankfurt
  3. Adventures in Frankfurt (Part One)
  4. Adventurers in Frankfurt (Part Two)
  5. On to Munich
  6. A Respite to Rosenheim
  7. Rosenheim, Germany
  8. The Austrian Express
  9. Settling in Graz

 

Map picture

 

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.