Off the Paved Path in Thailand

Many people travel for vacation, going to the popular bars and attractions and participating in set tours.  Some of us travel as a way of life; a way to experience new cultures, vistas, and flavors. If this is you, you might be disappointed in finding how commercialized and touristy Thailand can be.

Don’t fret! There are always places to explore.

If you’re not interested in seeing heaps of youngsters wearing neon “same same, but different” shirts, book yourself a local bus or train ticket and venture to these five unconventional tourist spots in Thailand. They’re like the rest of Thailand, but different.

Isaan Country

Discover Thailand’s agricultural roots. Less developed and away from beaches, you’ll find little to no other tourists in this region of Thailand depending on where you go. Expect to find spicy food and to hear the Isan language, which is a dialect of Lao.

Norther Isaan

Must Do

Zazz in front of Buddha statue in Sala Kaew Ku, Thailand

Southern Isaan

Warning: In the recent past the border area of Si Saket provenance has been dangerous due to an ongoing border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia. Research before you visit.

Must Do

  • Phanom Rung and Phimai Historical Parks are like Angkor Wat without the crowds.
  • A temple made of beer bottles? Yes. Marvel at it in Si Sa Ket.
  • Khao Yai National Park, Thailand’s first national park for a reason.
Wat Lan Khaud, meaning, Temple Of A Million Bottles. Photo by Chris Mitchell

 Khlong Lan National Park

Khloong Lan a village in Kamphaeng Phet provenance in the west of Thailand. Khlong Lan is mostly inhabited by the Karen People, and being near Myanmar, has a bit of a Burmese influence. You’ll see some of the men and boys wearing longyi, which are sarong-like clothing worn by men.

Must Do

  • Take the local bus in from Tak. By bus I mean a truck with benches in the back. This is where you meet locals and experience actual traveling, and not just touring. Resilience alert: The road is long and curvy. If you’re a bit of a wimp, or have a serious reason like neck or spinal injuries, take the cushy tour-bus.
  • Try green tomato salad. It’s a Burmese specialty but is possible to find here. Also comes in an avocado version, one of my favorite foods in the world.
  • Khlong Lan waterfall. Speaks for itself.
Khlong Lan waterfall, Thailand.

 Mae Hong Son Provenance

A home to the Karen people and the Thai Yai. Occupied with misty mountains, historically, the area has been used for elephant training. Avoid the town, Nai Soi, which is set up like a human zoo.

Must Do

  • Namtok Mae Surin National Park and Mae Surin Waterfall.
  • Pai. A lovely touristy town, worth it if you enjoy hanging out with hippies.
  • Hitchhike. Yeah seriously. It’s the best way to meet locals, see places you otherwise wouldn’t, and the police and army will actually help you find rides. Be Safe, use common sense and don’t hitchhike alone if you’re a woman.
Hitchhiking adventure with beautiful Thai families.

Nervous about venturing off of tourist paths? Check out our Travel Tips for inspiration.

Episode Two Mut Mee

Dinner style conversation with the inhabitants of Mut Mee guesthouse In Nong Khai, Thailand.

Why is everyone traveling? Why do Asian men make such good lady-boys? Why are there eggs on the table? Find out by listening to this fun episode.

For more information on Spain’s unemployment problem and Finland’s mandatory military service, check out the links below.
Spain Out of Control
Compulsory Military Service
Problems with Soundcloud? Listen to episode two below.


Mut Mee

What is it about some places that bring people together? It’s almost as if there is an energy that attracts like-minded folks to a particular place.

I cant help but wonder, “Is it the place, is it the people, or is it a beautiful combination of both?”


Nong Khai, Thailand took me by surprise. The reason could be described in two words, Mut Mee, A lovely garden guesthouse right by the Mekong River.

I had expected a quite time alone for a week to work on my blog and podcast. I got everything that I had hoped for except for the bit about being alone.


The people of the internet would have thought me a nutter if I had attempted to do an interview-style podcast with myself.


Sitting in the beautiful gardens across from the river, I found myself quickly swept away in interesting and stimulating conversations with the people around me.

I was also happy to find that my company was diverse and often wiser or smarter than myself in many subjects. I don’t mention this in order to stroke egos or to impress anyone, but as a reminder to myself to mix up my socializing often.

A great way to learn is by surrounding yourself with intelligent people and listening to them.


Mut Mee did something else that was fantastic for me.

It reminded me of the importance of gathering.

Like Meccas for pilgrimages, meeting points are important for human connection and passing of ideas and information.

I am reminded of the old use of the word, “salon.”

Good ol’ Wikipedia defines a salon as,

“A gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation.”


So what was it about Mut Mee?

It was the people, it was the location, and it was the host and owner, Julian.

He not only created a beautiful environment on a riverbank to have people spend the night, he hosted his guests. He got involved in and struck up interesting conversation and made people feel welcome.

I apologize for turning this post into a guesthouse review, but something was done well here.

I encourage others to run businesses this way.

In a world where salons are now known for stimulating hair follicles instead of minds, and most social gatherings are to celebrate intoxication amongst music too loud to talk over, we could use more Mut Mees in the world.

Sharing political opinions, social concepts, groundbreaking theories and ideas are important for society. How are we to make any kind of positive change in the world without talking about it first?

Check out the website for Mut Mee at

Guilt of the Lazy Traveler

Leaving my hostel to the bus station I was told to pay no more than 30 baht (.96 cents) for a ride, any higher I would be getting ripped off. I was also given the advice to go to the main road and catch a blue truck, which Chiang Rai uses as public transport. Armed with this advice I headed out into the heat with my backpack; but my plan was quickly thwarted by the sudden appearance of a tuk tuk driver on the sidewalk, blocking my way.

Not wishing to walk any more in the heat with a heavy pack, I decided I would at least check the price. If I could match 30, no need for the blue truck. After a couple of rounds of a see-sib, sam-sib duet (40, 30) I was able to get him to agree on sam-sib baht, or 30 baht.


Except that this was before my slow realization that the tuk tuk was not a tuk tuk at all, but a good old-fashioned ricksha. And the driver happened to be a little old man who was smaller than myself. As he struggled to peddle my heavy bag and self to get started on our way, I realized I had made a horrible mistake.

With each valiant effort of my driver to peddle me to my destination, I began to feel more and more like an ass-hole tourist. There I was, a white middle class tourist paying a little old Thai man pennies to wheel me around.

Before we had even gone one meter I had agreed with myself to pay him his original 40 baht he suggested.

Whenever we came upon traffic or a slight incline upward, forcing our momentum to be lost, his bicycles wheels would lock, forcing him to struggle even more. With each moment this happened I silently told myself I would give him more.

“Ok, 45 baht…. No, 50. This deserves 50.”

I couldn’t back out, it was far too late. I had agreed to pay him money and he was determined to follow through no matter how shaky his legs got.

The apex of the situation was reached when we came to a stop light in front of traffic. As the light turned green motor bikes zoomed past us and cars waited patiently for us to get going.

We weren’t going.

I watched some pedestrians smile and chuckle as I silently put a leg out to help push the rickshaw forward. I was shamefully reminded of my youth, health and laziness in this moment. Why couldn’t I have walked one block further to the main road? This tiny old man was out-doing me by a long shot.

One hundred baht I decided then. This crazy old man was getting 100 baht.

Before handing him the 100 baht upon arriving, I asked for a photo which he proudly posed for. Before putting my camera away I handed him the 100 note, signaling to keep the whole thing. When I looked back up he had his hand stretched out for me to hold. I obliged and was surprised when he didn’t shake it, but held it firmly with both hands.

It was clear in his eyes as he looked into mine, that he was very grateful. I wish I could say it made me feel like a saint but 100 baht is only 3 USD and it was given partly out of guilt. I can’t say it was all out of guilt, however. That amazing old man peddling my 160 lb. bag and self through the streets of Chiang Rai undoubtedly earned my respect.

– Zazz

Finding God

Ladies and gentlemen, I have found God. I know who he is, I have met him.

I had the wonderful opportunity yesterday to meet a modern religious guru while in Pai, Thailand. The lucky guy knows god, and you can too!

Don’t worry everyone, I’m not being serious. In all actuality, there is something about hearing that statement which is really frightening to me. It’s so matter of fact, so confident, so end of the line, so… arrogant.

Reel ’em in with laughter, simple truths, dancing, orange robes, a shaved head, and a strong presence. After everyone’s smiling and soaking everything up like children, throw them the pamphlet about the course. The 7 day, articulately planned out course on how to be a better person and learn the truth.

Not a free course of course. But the holy man wouldn’t bring that up quite yet.

You see, I know a salesman when I see one, I’ve been a saleswomen myself. If there is anything I have learned in my life, its to be alert around the people who claim to know things with certainty about god. Be wary of the person who’s trying to sell you something.

I should have started out the post this way:

Ladies and gentlemen, I have found a wolf. Yet another person trying to sell you god. Yet another fisherman reeling in hungry fish, casting nets into the ocean of people and taking what money he can get.

All in all, he seemed a fantastic guy with possibilities of becoming a bit of a cult leader. You know, those types of people who have followers who go to seminars in fancy hotels in cities like LA. They know the secret to happiness, (so they say) and they’ll teach it to you for a fee. He is already holding seminars for large groups of businessmen, and I came across him tonight by a compelling situation of chance.

I’ve been looking for teachers, someone to teach me about Buddhism, meditation, Taoism, yoga, and pretty much anything related. And ‘lo and behold, this Russian Baba, who’s flying into town for a seminar in Bangkok, decides to be a day late so he could show up here in Pai, to speak with us. Not on purpose mind you, but by chance. Because he dressed like a sheep at an airport, and someone spotted him believing they’d be getting the real wool. Lucky us! I know I was fooled at first. His appearance in my life, just as I was getting into town, seemed like fate at first, and he seemed so wise and aware.

Perhaps I’m being a bit too cynical towards this guy. He was knowledgeable in eastern philosophy and religion, far, far, far more so than I am. More than 85% of what he said was great advice as well. Simple and beautiful truths that everyone needs reminding of now and again. Like, don’t be afraid to smile, be humble, remember to love, and all of those other great sayings you’ll find on cheesy Facebook memes. He had passion for what he was teaching, he was engaging, musically talented, and he could very possibly have had nothing but good intentions.

But… There’s that but.

And that, but, farted out, ” I know who god is, I have met him.”

I wish I could show you all my own picture of this guy and his companion. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera on me when I went to this bahajan/satsang gathering. He was dressed like a monk, sang hare Krishna, and preached of Jesus Christ. My reaction at the end if it all? Sorry dude, I was a Mormon once, I am fully experienced with people who claim to know and see god. Maybe many who claim it, believe it, and there is nothing wrong with that. But my opinion is that to claim to know, with certainty, anything related to the unknown, is stunting towards growth of actual learning.

My conclusion so far after this experience? God is still hiding, or maybe god is everything and nothing. whatever the case, people are still longing to connect, love, and experience life. There will always be charlatans and preachers and prophets who claim to know things, many of them do know great things, but always take it in with a bit of open-minded cynicism. Or don’t, it’s totally up to you. 🙂

Hare Krishna,


Chiang Mai Train Ride

Originally posted June 2013

A little soul on a train all alone.

How do you draw a great expanse of space and time? How do you write of the sensation of speeding past beautiful scenes on a clicking bullet; all the while being oddly aware, but not fully comprehending, the lands, mountains, and oceans separating you from home, friends, and anyone who knows your name?

I am simply a little soul on a train in a great expanse of land full of many. And there is something wholly awe-inspiring about that, something exciting as well as deeply lonely.

I plug my music into my ears and I can’t help but cry from the sheer beauty and power of this experience. Music, art, and literature are the tools we use to share and connect with the other humans around us. An artistic connection helps us not feel so alone in the world. But nothing can compare to the dizzying sensation of being completely in a moment.

I am not alone in my loneliness, therefore I’m not alone.


Peter Bradley Adams everyone,

Potted Plant

Originally posted May 2013

I would like to take this moment to say farewell to the potted plant outside my hostel door, for it will surely die from all of the stomach acid that it has consumed today. I am terribly sorry plant.

Today was a day from hell for Zazz. It all went by in a horrible blur of vomit, sleep, nausea, embarrassment, and other dreadful experiences that I’m sure no one Continue reading “Potted Plant”