Mystic Valley-Thailand

This past weekend, I worked Mystic Valley Thailand, in Khao Yai National Park. I was blessed enough to talk to two of my favorite artists (Nakadia and Alle Farben) who performed, and take many pictures of many beautiful people and moments (below). <3<3

Favorite artists:

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Nakadia (Thailand). Nakadia is one of Thailand’s most loved underground techno DJs. Even just watching her performance, her charisma and personality sparks laughter and smiles in the crowd from her pure light and energy. She grew up with little resources, and is self-made in every light possible, making her success all the more inspiring and beautiful. After working on her skills in Braunschweig, Germany, in the summer of 2003, she decided to move from rural Isaan in northern Thailand, and she started to DJ and play for European tourists in Koh Samui. She then started touring internationally as she gained fans, and since has been one of the first female DJs from Thailand to gain global recognition.

Br33zzyy Question: What is your favorite part of making music?

Nakadia Answer: To bring people together, to be able to represent my country and bring people a taste of Thailand that they normally don’t get, especially in the Western world, is amazing. I love music’s ability to do that- I bring all my friends onstage, and to be able to have friends from all over the world is awesome. If you have a passion, a drive, a desire to do well- you will always be successful. Every moment of your life will feel precious, and you will infect those around you with happiness- that is what living is all about.

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Alle Farben (Germany). 

Br33zzyy Question: Have you been to Thailand before? How does performing here compare to other places where you have played?

Alle Answer: Yes, I have been to Thailand before, but never to Khao Yai, and I feel blessed. I just played at Koh Phagnan, and it’s a magical place. All of Thailand is. Soon I will be touring in the US- I start out in LA. I’m excited to see California. This is one of the smaller festivals I’ve worked, but that’s nice because when they get too big it’s overwhelming and the vibes can get off-center. You can connect with the crowd and see individuals and their beauty a little bit more easily. Thailand has a vibe different than many other places- the locals are some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met, and there’s an eclectic expat community that attracts a lot of free spirits (besides all the old dudes trying to get girls). I definitely want to come back to Thailand soon.

 

 

24 Hours in Bangkok

love u

The ISA Journal

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Natalie Schunk is a student at Grand Valley State University and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Bangkok, Thailand.

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7 AM – Wake up at Green Park Home to get ready for class before having  breakfast: rice soup with squid. It’s common to eat a dish with meat, rice, or noodles even this early in the morning.

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8 AM – The van takes us straight from the dorm to Mahidol University. Classes are mixed with both International students and local Thai students, and the experience is truly special as you feel completely immersed in the educational environment.

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9 AM – Walking around campus, every student can be seen in uniform. Initially, the idea of wearing a uniform was off-putting, but it feels nice to be able to easily identify as a student. It also means less laundry to clean.

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10 AM –…

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Angkor Wat: an Empty, Hidden Treasure

Some depressing poetry to fit the mood of this beautiful, ancient place that was abandoned after Buddhists took power in Cambodia.

This bus window reminds me of Los Angeles, of dodging people dried out by drugs and the sun, drunk wanderings and eating Thai food. Arguments, lots of them, about things irrelevant, blowing through the air like beautiful dragonflies (ugly upon first glance), but blossoming into beauty, becoming nothing in a sky of love and hate and endless energy.

Did you come to say goodbye? Fire and water were never meant to balance, both selfish in their burns and drowns. Igniting the other, jealous of different strides and the qualities they wish they could both possess.

Distance and time have changed our minds, dreams and goals our spirits. I must be free, free, and you want security because you never had it. I let my flame down to lie, and watched your Grandmother die. I know you regret letting me in, and haven’t been right ever since, but how can love work when we both know that to trust is a sin?

I’m just speaking my mind, I’ve found the path of divine love that will never lead you astray. Once you love what makes you different, you’ll see that we’re all the same, and life is just a greedy game, darling it pains me to see you float away. No time or touch wasted, just growth for ourselves, addicted to each other, love our medicine instead of looking for help.

Lately I’ve been livin like I don’t care if I die, you say we’re too different, we manipulate with words like sweet cherry pie turned sour, too early or too late, always competing for who could have less on their plate, to feel empty inside to match how we’re feelin, if you compare us to others then life will have no meaning.

You say I don’t talk, but I’ll say I love you forever. Just hoping sanity and sanctions stay together, stronger for having known you, learning about my flaws and strengths. Your first true love, I wanted to love life like me, never wanted you to break. I can’t say if things will be better or worse, just know that I have always put you first. I’ll never forget holding your life’s strings in the hospital, playing with fate, for me it was always just love and hate, no one can do the same.

Sometimes I wish I could go back, before I knew the world was so big, now I see the truth and there is no time to waste on unhappy things.

 

Hopsin: Savageville Tour Comes to San Diego

Can’t wait til I move to Cali<3

Victoria Moorwood

This show was crazy. It was unlike any other show I’ve ever reviewed, mainly because of the uniquely high level of interaction between Hopsin and the audience. He brought three volunteers on stage who claimed they could rap a verse of his classic Sag My Pants, crowd-surfed, and came to the edge of the stage and shook hands with everyone (myself included!) in the front row. I was particularly thrown off guard when he singled me out and spoke to me as part of a transition to a new song. He came to the edge of the stage, crouched down, and said to me, “I know you from somewhere, you look familiar.” He got a line of it wrong and messed up the transition, but his fans chanted his name “Hopsin! Hopsin!” signaling they were still having a great time.

He covered a wide variety of his music, which…

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How to: Enjoy North-Western Thailand

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A Memorial Paying Tribute to Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Pai

After living in Salaya (the suburbs that stretch west of Bangkok near Mahidol University) for quite some time, nature has been a pretty foreign concept. On our travels, my roommate and I heard of a remote destination called Cave Lod with caving, hiking, and village tours. It is close to a small tourist yuppie town called Pai, a few hours from Chiang Mai of Northern Thailand. After a ten hour ride from Bangkok to Chiangmai and three hour bus ride from to Chiang Mai to Pai, we stayed in Pai for a night. Vegan cafes, long motorbike roads, waterfalls, and lots of through-hikers made up the cute place.

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Our Airbnb in Pai, owned by Milk who also runs a jewelry shop and makes homemade soap!

Our Airbnb in Pai was serene; run by sisters who also have a jewelry shop and showed us around the marketplace. I rented a motorbike for only one hundred baht (only about $3!) and took myself on a tour of the rolling hills.

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A Pai motorbike adventure

Not only were the views spectacular, but I made some friends on the way. The rolling hills reminded me so much of Munnar and Kumily in Kerala, India, complete with rice and banana plantations, as well as temples nestled in the mountains.

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Kisses from some friends

After enjoying some serenity and meeting people who had been living near me in California this past spring (funny coincidence), the next day we continued our van journey. We finally arrived at our destination after an hour ride from Pai to Sappong, and thirty minute motor bike ride to Cave Lod.

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One of the many farmer huts in the countryside near Cave Lod

It is still the slow season; more tourists will come in the next few months, but it is also quiet because of the King’s recent death, putting all of Thailand in a period of mourning and decreasing the amount of tourists wanting to come here because of restrictions on partying and such. Thus, it was tranquil at Cave Lod, making our stay nice and relaxing, once again meeting lots of travellers from all over the world. Most of them planned to travel to Laos, Cambodia, or Vietnam next.

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Monks strolling by the river

We decided to take one of the day cave and adventure hiking tours for our full day at Cave Lod, and ended up trekking, crawling in about a foot of space in between the cave wall and water, seeing cave formations that looked like they were from another planet, and immersing ourselves in largely untouched nature.

 

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An entrance to one of the caves

Two of the caves were dry, while one had a waterfall that dropped forty kilometers!

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\A rock formation resembling coral

In between the caves, we hiked and made friends with our guide, Tan.

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Tan leading the way

I wish that I had travelled here sooner! I felt great peace and prosperity here, and it made me grateful for the chance to experience such a beautiful place. Between beaches, the mountains, and a thriving city life, Thailand has such immense diversity and abundance to offer that is rare to find in just one country!

Music & Art Throughout Western Europe: A Guest Post

 

The following is a guest post by Victoria (you can follow her blog here).

Music & Art Throughout Western Europe

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The exquisite architecture of Paris, France

I recently traveled through France, Italy, Spain, and England. Backpacking, touring, and living in large cities and rural towns exposed me to the many similarities that bind Europe as a cultural, artisan, and historical hotspot, but also showed me the differences in tradition, customs, and approach. Europe as a whole is so unique to the rest of the world in its beautiful architecture, rich history, and renowned art. However, each European country is unique in its own respective ways, too.

My first experience was in Paris, France, where I was exposed to local music and art. I slept in a tent in the middle of Paris in an outdoor community that resided in a run-down hospital’s backyard. There, I met two Parisians who told me about their music group. They gave me a logo sticker as I was “checking in” to my tent. Their group is called *****, and they make music that is electronically powered by riding a stationary bike. The bike is hooked up to their speakers, and they’ve set up cycling in place to propel the electricity to perform their electronic music for people. Environmental consciousness is highly regarded in France; this type of music was just one example of how people actively promote conscious consumption! These guys were so passionate about their craft, they showed me their bike, how they’d set it up, played me some of their music, and gave me way too many stickers. It was awesome!

 

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The streets of France

The French art scene is obviously incredible too. You don’t even need to go to the Louver to see incredible design; it’s on the streets. My favorite visual part of France is its architecture. Walking through alleys, getting coffee on the first floor of tall buildings, looking up at the incredible intricacy and detail put into each establishment is truly exquisite. Everything is so old. This kind of unique attention to detail is credited to the ancientness of its architecture.

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The gondolas of Italy 

Traveling to Italy, everything is different. Art is all about color; music is all about live performance. People don’t pass out CDs, stickers or flyers to promote their band. They play it live, on every street corner, outside every restaurant, and make their talents heard that way. I went to Venice and dined so close to the Grand Canal, that when Gondolas swam by, it would make the water overflow the cement so close to my table I picked my feet up to avoid getting soaked. Outside this restaurant, and every other on the Grand Canal, stood a violinist, guitarist, bassist, or trombone player. They share their music for a dollar, and thus the streets are filled with sounds.

Art is in the buildings, like France, but not in attention to detail or architecture; in vibrancy of color. Each house, business, and establishment is unique in structure, design, size, and most importantly, hue. This makes the streets, particularly of Venice, bright and captivating. Whereas France has a more traditional sort of tone, Italy is bold and loud. This, combined with the bands on street corners, creates a lively atmosphere.

Venice, Italy and Paris, France, are just two examples of the alluring differences and similarities across European art and music. Spain is a whole other monster, which I divulge into more on my blog. Europe is unique for its blend of complementary alikeness from country to country, while maintaining each city’s independence. And as for art and music, specifically, I’ve yet to found a continent richer.

Veganism: a Comparison Between Thailand and America

ka-phun-ka-chinatown-bangkokRainy dinner, Chinatown, Bangkok

Thailand: the land of smiles and flavours. In any given meal, a Thai tongue seeks to taste salty, savory, sweet, and sour all at the same time. Markets offer fresh fruit and vegetables (what a novelty compared to the GMO-ridden produce of the United States), as well as seafood that has been caught a couple hours earlier. American food is bland, dull and uninteresting in comparison (not that I eat “normal” pizza or cheeseburgers anyway).

morning-veggies-som-lom-thailand_-copy-2A morning market at Som Lom

However, Thai people also eat lots of meat- practically at every meal! Usually it is made up of chicken, cow, and mystery meat;). But being in the city of Bangkok, I have yet to see any of these animals. Which begs the question: where do they come from?

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Pig Heads, Ban Tai

Similarly as in America, Thai meat is produced in the countryside in large slaughterhouses that mistreat animals and cause environmental degradation and pollution. According to The Guardian, in June, Thai police found a tiger slaughterhouse used to raise tigers for their skins on the black market. The act of raising animals unjustly for human consumption is equal in both countries, although Thai people eat more seafood, leading to less of a demand for meat than in the US.

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Chili crabs at the floating market

According to Forbes, America is the second largest meat consumer in the world after Australia. Reducing our meat intake is the most environmentally conscious action we can take to reduce our carbon footprint. That, combined with how energized I feel when eating vegan, and how great I feel about not mistreating animals, is why I have been vegan for a year and a half. Interestingly, under Buddhism one must not harm any living creature, yet Buddhists eat meat (so they must harm these animals which they eat).

black-chicken-ban-tai-thailand_Black Chickens, Ban Tai

In regards to the ease of being a vegan, I would say that it is about equal in Thailand and the United States. It has been more difficult for me in Thailand because I cannot fluently speak Thai, and it is therefore difficult to communicate my dietary needs because all I can say is “jay”, or “vegan”, but often the Thai people are not familiar with that word. It is not popular for people to not eat meat or animal products here; there is fish sauce in most stir fry and curry, and almost always milk in coffee. “Thai sweet” describes how drinks such as coffee and tea are served here; sugar with a little bit of liquid.

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Jay pad thai with tofu, one of my favorite dishes near our dorm, Green Park

However, I have found a few places where I can eat “jay” and the workers remember me and make delicious vegan options! Above is from pasta lady, a wonderful woman near our dorm Green Park who makes delicious noodles. Pad Thai with fresh peanuts and lime juice is hard to beat.

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Yum, Chinatown, Bangkok

In America, being a vegan is much easier in some instances. Living in Los Angeles, I was constantly surrounded by healthy, vegan food options (ironically, most of what I ate was vegan Thai food). Even back home in Maryland during the summer, we grow corn and zucchini in our own garden. However, if one is living in a food desert in a city like Baltimore, then they will not be able to have ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

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Ladies sell their fresh seafood at a local floating market.

But regardless, in most American cities one can purchase produce from a local supermarket or Walmart. I am greatly missing kombucha from back in the states, but have been enjoying the delicious desserts that make use of lots of sweet rice and coconut milk. Thailand offers many vegan desserts, while in America it is difficult to find enjoyable ones unless made at home or living in an urban place.

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Delicious, Chinatown, BKK

Mango sticky rice and coconut pudding, both delicious vegan desserts, Chinatown.