The White Temple


Structurally similar to other Thai temples, the White Temple is outside of Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand. It was pretty spectacular, silver and white, sparkling like diamonds in the unrelenting sun. It was pretty, sure, but I couldn’t help but sigh internally. Another temple, great. 

Crossing the street, I noticed this concrete traffic cone… Strange, but kinda cool. 

IMG_2894Then there were the trees…

IMG_2897 IMG_2899

And the statues…


And well, I’ll just let the pictures explain the rest.

IMG_2912 IMG_2916 IMG_2910 IMG_2909

Inside the temple, where you were not allowed to take pictures, there was an elaborate, half-finished mural on the four walls surrounding to lone monk. On the front wall, there was a giant, hellish/scifi landscape of pinks and purples and oranges. And all over it, painted images of celebrities, like Michael Jackson, Harry Potter on his broom, Spiderman, Neo from the Matrix, Batman, Elvis, Jack Sparrow, George Bush, Osama bin Laden, the Terminator. The idea is that these heroes cannot save you or your soul, so you must trust in Buddha… That explains the hellish landscape of the temple, as if you’re going through hell to emerge clean on the other side after being cleansed. It’s a nice idea…


But REALLY weird to see.


Drinking and Diving in Sabang, Philippines

… but you know, not in that order… or even consecutively, really… definitely not concurrently.


I had about eight days to spend in the Philippines. Rather than try to rush around and do too many things, particularly in a country where boat and bus travel travel are very important to mobility  I decided to visit one location. So I took a taxi, bus, and ferry to Sabang, on the northern tip of the island province of Mindoro.


The fact this area is known for it’s amazing diving spots is not lost on the face of the town. Every second structure on the water is a dive shop (and every first is a bar/restaurant). Sabang’s winding walkways are an intersting mix of covered stalls and shops a block from the water and cracked cement past the dive shops/bars along the water. Connected via this stone walkway is Sabang’s identically structured, but noticeable quieter cousin, Small La Laguna.


It was in Small La Laguna that I chose a dive shop to get my PADI Advanced Open Water certification. I chose the top pick on tripadvisor, Action Divers, and was not disappointed. Not only do they have great dive-and-stay deals and awesome instructors, but they offered me the flexibility to perform my five dives whenever I wanted allowing me to show up (or not) at my leisure.

Now, about the not showing up… I will say that there are three types of tourists in Sabang: couples, single guys ranging in age from 30 to 70, and Asian groups (Korean, Chinese, etc). These single guys really drive the party, moving from bar to bar (some of them the infamous girlie bars) until 4 or 5 in the morning.  Enjoying the town to that extent leaves you indisposed for a better part of the next day.


One fascinating aspect of life on the island is not the unhurried pace, but how that applies to payments for goods and services. Not just the hotels, but convenience stores, where my friend was told that she could just pay later in the week when she had a smaller bill. Even Action Divers didn’t seem too concerned with accepting my payment before I started to dive.

This small taste of the Philippines has left me with a serious craving for more. I’m so glad I got the chance visit here and can’t wait to be back!