World Adventurers Celebrates 1,000 Posts


Dear Reader,

World Adventurers hit a major milestone today — 1,000 published posts! A thousand articles and updates later, this blog is still going strong.

I started World Adventurers in December 2004, as a way to update family and friends about life overseas. It has evolved in ways I never imagined when I wrote my first “Hello, World” post. Since then I’ve written about my books, writing, news and politics, humor, sports, finance, culture, thoughts and sayings, updates from around the world, and other topics. My travelogues have been by far this site’s most popular feature.

The early blog hosted by the now-defunct MSN Spaces Live had more than 350,000 hits and was featured regularly by Microsoft on its “What’s Your Story” page. At a time when blogging was far less ubiquitous, World Adventurers was — and remains — on the frontiers of digital media. whatsyourstory

Readership declined when Spaces Live folded and I took a breather from blogging in 2008-09. World Adventurers moved to WordPress in late 2010, and made a roaring comeback since then with another 300,000 hits. Earlier this year the site moved to its new and permanent home on my website, www.mgedwards.com, and was rebranded as World Adventurers Magazine. This site hosted by WordPress and featured on Freshly Pressed has remained so popular that I haven’t shut it down; it’s still going strong and complements the new e-zine. All told, World Adventurers has had about 700,000 unique hits and tens of thousands of visitors since its inception.

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Here are the 20 most popular and memorable posts published on World Adventurers:

Thanks for visiting World Adventurers. Here’s to 1,000 posts and many more!

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Khao Yai National Park, Thailand


This is the final article about the Khao Yai area in Nakhon Ratchasima, a province in northeast Thailand. The first post featured Palio Khao Yai, an Italian-themed village, and the second Farm Chokchai, home to Thailand’s largest dairy ranch. This article showcases Khao Yai National Park.

Khao Yai National Park is Thailand’s oldest and second largest national park covering 2,168 square kilometers (1,350 square miles) in the foothills of the Dong Phaya Yen Mountains. It lies two hours by car northeast of Bangkok and is a popular getaway destination.

The Royal Thai government designated Khao Yai a national park in 1962. In 1984, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations named it an ASEAN Heritage Park, and in 2005, UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage Site under the name Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, noting that it “contains more than 800 fauna species, including 112 species of mammals, 392 species of birds and 200 reptiles and amphibians. It is internationally important for the conservation of globally threatened and endangered mammal, bird and reptile species that are recognised as being of outstanding universal value. This includes 1 critically endangered, 4 endangered and 19 vulnerable species.”

The name “Khao Yai” originated from a small mountain township (in Thai, tambon) incorporated in 1922 and abolished a decade later when the residents were relocated to the nearby plain.

Humans and animals continued to co-exist in the area after the national park was established. In addition to small villages along the park’s feeder roads, large-scale developments, from dairy farms and wineries to hotel resorts and residential communities, have sprung up in and around Khao Yai. This has led to debates over land use, local development, conservation, environmental sustainability, and wildlife protection.

We spent a weekend in February 2012 camping near the park. It was an odd setting for a camping trip as we stayed in tents on the grounds of Cabbages & Condoms Resort (also known as “C&C” for those who avoid mentioning its full name). Camping on manicured lawns on a terraced hillside amid uniform palm trees in the shadow of a Buddhist monastery was a far cry from the wilderness camping that I enjoyed while growing up in the western United States. Nevertheless, it was an excellent introduction to camping and “roughing it” for my young son.

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During our campout, we went hiking in the park and enjoyed its scenic beauty. The trail passed through subtropical forest that reminded me I was in Southeast Asia.

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I couldn’t quite forget that we were staying in a resort. Tempting as it was to use the pool, I resisted the urge to soak in the chlorinated water. If I couldn’t have an authentic camping experience, at least I did my best to rough it.

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Although we didn’t see any of the big game animals — elephants, tigers, or Asiatic black bears — along the way, we encountered some monkeys, lizards, geckos, and other wildlife as well as gorgeous flora.

We also saw some not-so-wild creatures such as an ornery gaggle of geese and the biggest rooster I’ve ever seen. After he crossed the road, I tried to ask him why, but he gave me a “don’t mess with me” look. I left him alone.

Signs of humans were evident throughout Khao Yai. Small farms lined the road all the way to the park’s doorstep. Unlike the large developments built in recent years, those who had lived in the area for decades seemed to have found a way to inhabit it without leaving an intrusive footprint, as evidenced by the “school bus” truck taking students home after school.

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On the last day of our camping trip, we drove through the rest of the park. Along the way we passed by villages, vineyards, homesteads, and gated communities. One moment we saw villas that reminded me of Tuscany and the next,  a Buddhist temple. It was an odd mix of development that left me amused and bewildered. I wondered whether the park would survive in the long term with this kind of encroaching sprawl.

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I think the area will ultimately find the right balance. Thailand has found a way to flourish organically, and Khao Yai is a heterogeneous microcosm of all there is to love about this wonderfully diverse place.

If you’re looking for a fun daytrip out of Bangkok that will give you a taste of the eclectic side of Thailand, Khao Yai is a great choice.

More About the Khao Yai Area of Thailand:

Palio Khao Yai, an Italian-themed shopping center near Khao Yai National Park.

Farm Chokchai, Thailand’s largest dairy farm with theme park-style attractions and entertainment reminiscent of the American Frontier.

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buythumbM.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.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Farm Chokchai – The Old West in Thailand


This is the second of three articles about the Khao Yai area in Nakhon Ratchasima, a province in northeast Thailand. The first article focused on Palio Khao Yai, an Italian-themed village, and the next will feature Khao Yai National Park. This post is about Farm Chokchai, home to Thailand’s largest dairy ranch.

With more than 5,000 head of cattle ranging over 8,000 acres, Farm Chokchai is Thailand’s largest dairy farm and one of the largest in Asia. Established in 1957 by Thai cowboy Khun Chokchai Bulakul on 100 acres, the farm has grown during its 55 year history. It has had a colorful history experimenting with different businesses ranging from selling machinery and construction materials, raising beef cattle and exporting beef, operating steakhouses, and selling dairy products. Its current iteration is as a dairy farm. Farm Chokchai went through some setbacks during the mid-1990s Asian financial crisis but bounced back in the next decade. It is now one of Thailand’s major dairy brands with a variety of milk products, including its Umm…Milk line.

Farm Chokchai is a tourist attraction for those who want to see how a dairy farm and ranch operates. A two-hour drive from Bangkok, it gives those who have limited knowledge of western-style farms the opportunity to get away from the city and “experience” a farm with a “Wild West” flavor emphasized by its owners, the Farm Chokchai Group. The wood false-front stores reminiscent of the American West, souvenir shops with assortments of dairy products and plush farm animal toys, and carnival games give the place a theme park atmosphere. The farm offers a daily tour geared to children as well as “Farm Chokchai Camp,” a facility where visitors can stay overnight and enjoy the countryside. It seems to tap into the same nostalgia for rural life as the online game app FarmVille.

My son and I toured Farm Chokchai in May 2012. We watched a movie about the farm’s history, then joined a Thai-speaking guide who showed us equipment once used around the farm, including a John Deere tractor that is reportedly one of just two still in existence — the other sits in the company’s headquarters in Moline, Illinois. We then entered a showroom where the farm processes some of its milk products such as yogurt and ice cream. Conspicuously absent was cheese, a food that few Thais eat. The showroom demonstrated how the farm turns milk into dairy products but did not operate as a full-fledge processing plant.

We proceeded to another building where a man demonstrated how bulls are “milked” for sperm to sell to other farms. I was glad that he didn’t show the group of kids on the tour how it’s used!

After our biology lesson, we tooled around the farm in a wagon pulled by a tractor. I enjoyed the beautiful views of the Thai countryside surrounding the dairy farm. The scenery reminded me of places I’ve seen in the United States, especially Northern California and the Mid-Atlantic coastal region.

We stopped at a corral surrounded by a ring of frontier-style buildings to watch Thai cowboys demonstrate skills once needed to survive in the Wild West. The crowd watched in awe as a cowboy astride a horse rounded up a calf and took it down with a lasso. A woman showed the audience how to twirl two pistols simultaneously, and a man showed off some fancy rope work by twirling his lasso in the air. For many spectators, this would be the closest they would get to a seeing a rodeo.

The wagon brought us to an area with a stage where animals wowed the crowd with their talents. A macaw rode a miniature bicycle; another solved math problems. A goat rode a barrel. A dog bottle fed a calf while other dogs (literally) jumped through hoops. PETA wouldn’t have approved, but then again, Farm Chokchai is a large-scale commercial enterprise that puts animals to use in many other ways.

We finished our tour at a petting zoo where visitors, children and parents alike, fed the cows, goats, and Eld’s deer fawns. My son enjoyed feeding the fawns. I almost had to rescue him from the herd as they pressed in on him eager for food.

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Like the nearby Italian-themed Palio Khao Yai, Farm Chokchai is a place in Thailand with an atmosphere that can make you forget you’re there. The farm did a good job of presenting the Old West and western-style farming to local audiences in an entertaining package that’s attractive to kids. I don’t recommend the tour as a daytrip for tourists visiting Thailand for the first time, but if you’re planning to stay a while, it might be a good diversion from the hustle and bustle of urban Bangkok.

Even in Farm Chokchai, you won’t be able to get away completely from reminders you’re in Asia. You’ll still see dragon fruit (pitaya) trees and spirit houses that give a distinctly Thai flavor.

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More About the Khao Yai Area of Thailand:

  • Palio Khao Yai, an Italian-themed shopping center a few kilometers from Farm Chokchai

buythumbM.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.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.