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Karen and Jack are here in Thailand now.
We're staying at a place called Cactus bungalows,
it's on Bo Phut, one of the quieter beaches
on the island of Koh Samui. Jack's loving
it: the family running the place also have
a two-year-old boy, Makoo, so Jack has found
an instant playmate.
My mini expedition in to the mountains near
Chiang Rai last week was both exciting and
satisfying. I went to visit some of the friends
that I have in an Akha village called Mae
Salep. I lived there for about six months
(over a three-year period) in the mid-90's
doing research as a graduate student in ethnoarchaeology.
It was nice to go back and just relax, not
having to worry about recording 'all of the
While there I got to attend a small 'child
wellness' feast, and I just missed a 'new
house building' party (though I got some
pictures of the dog slaughtered for the main
meal). I took a lot of good pictures of friends
in the village which I'll be posting here
over the next little while.
Thailand has changed a lot since I first
starting coming here in 1991. It used to
be incredibly unregulated and unpredictable,
offering a wide range of dirt-cheap food
and accommodation to both young and old alike.
However, since the opening up of neighbouring
countries like Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam
in the mid-nineties a lot of the young backpackers
have been heading to those destinations looking
for something a bit more wild, adventurous,
and cheap. Since then, Thailand has, wisely,
started to cater more to older, monied tourists.
You can see this shift in the way that things
have become more regulated. For example,
bars have closing hours and they are taxed
(because of noise) for live music, it's no
longer permitted in many places to build
rickety bamboo huts for tourists, every new
place must have a toilet and water.
Anyhow, Thailand's still a great place,
guess that it's just aging right along
I'll be updating Hunkabutta infrequently
for the next two weeks until we get back
to Tokyo. I'm going to show pictures in a
roughly chronological order, so next time
you can expect some photos of the northern
town of Mae Chan and the Akha village of
I'll be thinking of you while I lay
beach...or maybe not.
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I leave for Thailand tomorrow morning, Jack
and Karen will be following me a week later.
I'll be spending my first solo week up in
the mountain villages visiting some friends,
so I may not be able to post to Hunkabutta,
but I'll try to see what I can do when I'm
After the 17th we'll all be on Koh Samui
and should have Internet access.
I got my new camera the other day, a Canon
EOS D10. It's pretty sweet, but I'm still
learning how to use it. Let's hope I can
figure it out before I land in Chiang Rai
Wish me luck.
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Karen sometimes does a bit of modeling on
the side, when she's not being an editor,
and yesterday she did an interesting shoot
for the new Sony CD walkman.
The shot consisted of about 30 foreigners
dressed up as various music icons and stereotypes
-- Madonna, Sid Vicious, Salsa dancer, Mod
boy, Opera singer, etc. -- all heaped into
one contorted pile inside a giant plastic
CD case. The photographer was suspended in
the air directly above the models.
Karen was dressed as an 80's glam rocker,
kind of like Dee Snyder from Twisted Sister, with long hair extensions,
mounds of blue eyeshadow, hot pink lipstick,
and leopard-skin pants. She said that it
took four hours to do her hair and one hour
to do her makeup.
It was a long day for Karen: They started
at around 8:00 a.m. and didn't finish until
after 2:00 a.m. The shoot ended so late that
Sony had to pay for cabs for everyone because
the trains had stopped running.
Karen had a funny conversation with her cab
driver. After she flagged him down and hopped
in he looked at her in the rearview mirror
with wide eyes.
Then he said something in Japanese that Karen
could only understand parts of, something
like, "Blah blah blah, you blah blah movie?"
Karen replied in Japanese, "Oh, I'm
sorry, I didn't understand. My Japanese is
not very good."
The driver sucked his teeth in contemplation
for a moment, hummed and hawed, and then
"Ah, ah, you...you adulto movie...?"
"What's that," said Karen "Adult
movie? What do you mean?"
"Yes, yes," he said "Adult
movie, ah, ah,... Porno? Yes, porno?"
So,he thought that Karen had just finished
filming a porno and was on her way home.
Karen laughed and said, "No, no,...
No porno. Sony ad. Sony commercial."
"AH! Sony!?!?!" the driver gasped,
"I'm sooo sorry, so very, very sorry."
After that I don't think he said too much
more, and 20 minutes later Karen made it
home with a head full of fake hair and an
interesting story to tell.
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I was recently looking at 'like a man, as a man,' an evocative photo series that James Luckett
of consumptive.org recently put up online, and it occurred
to me that I rarely direct you to any of
the other great Japan photo sites. This has
got to change.
When I return from my vacation at the
of April I'm going to do a little revamp
of Hunkabutta and update my top page
to include a proper Japan section.
For now, here are a few other Japan-based
photoblogs for your enjoyment: