Why Bangkok?

When I made up my mind to find a place to work for a few months, I went through a process of trying to figure out what would be the best place. Inside, however, I sort of knew the answer the moment I asked the question: I’d be going to Bangkok.

In the three weeks since I’ve been here I’ve met many expats living in Bangkok and travelers passing through Bangkok who have contacted me via Twitter. While I often meet people in cities I visit, nothing has come close to the volumes of people there are to meet in Bangkok. Every major world city has some expat population, but nothing seems to approach the size of the community I’ve met here in Bangkok. It isn’t just the size of the community either. It seems to have a special draw to bloggers and location independent workers. It is true of Thailand in general, as I know of even more people who are staying in the islands in the south or up in Chiang Mai, but Bangkok is the clearly the center of the action.
Continue reading “Why Bangkok?”

Living is Easy, Bangkok Edition

@bkkgreg was the MC of TEDxBKK
@bkkgreg was the MC of TEDxBKK
First, let me say I haven’t forgotten about the rest of my street food adventure. Suffice to say I’m still mostly eating street food. My final installments in the series will be video and a photo essay, so I’m taking my time.

I’ve finally caught up on all my photo editing. I haven’t been in this position in over a year where I didn’t have a folder of photos staring at me on my laptop.

Outside of working I’ve been meeting with other bloggers and travelers. Almost every day I’ve been having dinner or drinks with someone passing through town.

On Saturday I attended TEDxBKK, which is a regional TED conference. (If you haven’t watched some of the videos which have come out of past TED conferences, you should.) The conference was speeches on a diverse array of subjects. Several of the presentations which stood out was a woman working in Cambodia who spoke on the effectiveness of giving things to people as a form of aid, Chris Mitchell who spoke about swimming with the Great White Shark, Bruce Poon Tip, CEO of G Adventures, who spoke on how they help the communities they visit, and Prae Sunantaraks, a Thai woman who is slowly losing her sight. Continue reading “Living is Easy, Bangkok Edition”

Operation Street Food – Day 3 & 4 (Khao San Road)

Pad Thai on Khao San Road
Pad Thai on Khao San Road
Here is my street food breakdown for days 3 and 4:

Day 3

  • 1kg longkong and 1kg rambutan – 200 baht (US$6.02) This lasted two days
  • 1 mystery meat – 20 baht ($0.60)
  • 2 chicken gizzard skewers and 1 roasted fish – 30 baht ($0.90)
  • Pad Thai with chicken – 40 baht ($1.20)
  • Mango with rice – 25 baht ($0.75)

Day 4

  • 3 gizard skewers, 2 pork skewer, 2 grilled fish – 75 baht ($2.25)

Continue reading “Operation Street Food – Day 3 & 4 (Khao San Road)”

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

World Heritage Site #110: Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site: My 110th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site:

Cahokia Mounds is the largest and earliest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico. It was occupied primarily during the Mississippian period (800–1350) when it covered over 1,600 hectares (3,950 acres) and included some 120 mounds. It is the pre-eminent example of a cultural, religious, and economic center of the Mississippian cultural tradition, which extended throughout the Mississippi Valley and the south-eastern United States. This agricultural society may have had a population of 10,000–20,000 at its peak between 1050 and 1150. Cahokia is an early and exceptional example of pre-urban structuring.

Cahokia Mounds is a very odd world heritage site. From a historical standpoint, it is perhaps the most significant settlement north of Mexico in North America. Most native peoples in North America were nomadic so there is little in the way of cities or structures for people to visit today. Cahokia Mounds is the closest thing we have to the ruins of an ancient city above the deserts of the Southwest.

On the other hand, very few people know that this place exists, despite the fact that you can see the St. Louis Arch from the top of the mounds. From a tourist standpoint, there is very little to see other than some dirt hills. As a photographer, I had no idea what to take photos of. A few grassy hills in a grassy field. That’s it.

This isn’t my proudest photo, but I didn’t really have a lot to work with.

Overview

The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Collinsville, Illinois. It is located east of the Mississippi River and St. Louis, Missouri. These mounds are also among the most popular tourist destinations in Illinois. These mounds are ruins of the former large American Indian cultural and urban complex. This society flourished during the 1000 and 1350 AD. The entire site – that encompasses these mounds, homes and farms – span 4,000 acres in land area.

Important Facts: Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Interested in visiting Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site? Here are a few facts that you need to know:

  • These man-made mounds were built during the 700 to 1400 AD.
  • During the peak of this civilization, it was estimated that it had 10,000 to 20,000 in population. At some point, it was believed that the population rose to 40,000.
  • There were 120 mounds in total that were built but only 80 of these remain at the historic park in Illinois.
  • The site of the mounds is considered as one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. It provides a glimpse into the culture of pre-Columbian cities.
  • The site is currently administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency along with the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society. Visitors are welcome to visit the site.
  • There are two types of mounds in the site, each of which serve their own unique function. Platform mounds have buildings on top of them while conical mounds are built for burial purposes.

About the Cahokia Mounds

The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is the site of a pre-Columbian native city located near the Mississippi River, which is now the modern day St. Louis in Missouri. This historic park was established to protect this rich cultural heritage in the area. The historic park was much larger during its heyday than what is represented in the protected area today. This site is composed of over 120 man-made earthen mounds that vary in terms of size, shape and function.

Aside from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is also a National Historic Landmark. Hence, this site was designated for state protection. It is the biggest collection of prehistoric earthen mounds north of Mexico.

The Monks Mound is the largest structure in this collection of mounds at the site. It was also the central part of this prehistoric city. This massive platform mound is made with four terraces and rises up to 10 stories high. It took several centuries to completely build this mound in order to make it higher and wider. This mound was named for the Trappist monks that resided in this mound for a short period of time. There were excavations done on the top of this mound that produced a large collection of archaeological evidence.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 8:58 pm

Operation Street Food – Day 2 (Tropical Fruits)

Jackfruit Vendor
Jackfruit Vendor
Another day of street food has come and gone. Here is what I had to eat on Thursday.

Lunch

  • Jackfruit – 20 baht (US$0.60)
  • bag of chicken skin and 2 chicken wings 42 baht ($1.27)
  • bag of longkong – 50 baht ($1.51)

Dinner

  • Skewer of chicken gizzards and grilled fish – 20 baht (US$0.60)

I had a big lunch and not much for dinner. I skipped breakfast totally, which is what I usually do.
Continue reading “Operation Street Food – Day 2 (Tropical Fruits)”

Mammoth Cave National Park

World Heritage Site #109: Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park: My 109th UNESCO World Heritage Site and my 17th US National Park

From the World Heritage inscription for Mammoth Cave National Park:

Mammoth Cave is the most extensive cave system in the world, with over 285 miles (456 km) of surveyed cave passageways within the property (and at least another 80 miles [128 km] outside the property). The park illustrates a number of stages of the Earth’s evolutionary history and contains ongoing geological processes and unique wildlife. It is renowned for its size and vast network of extremely large horizontal passages and vertical shafts. Nearly every type of cave formation is known within the site, the product of karst topography. The flora and fauna of Mammoth Cave is the richest cave-dwelling wildlife known, with more than 130 species within the cave system.

Mammoth Cave is the biggest cave system in the world. From a photography perspective, it is also the most boring. Given the way the cave system was formed, it doesn’t have much in the way of the majestic stalagmites or stalactites you see in other caves. I took over 200 photos in Mammoth Cave and walked away with 12 that were any good, and 4 of those were taken above ground. As an added kicker, they do not allow you to bring a tripod in the cave, which makes photography just a wee bit tricky.

Overview

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the state of Kentucky in the US. This natural property listed into the UNESCO list in 1981 is recognized for having the largest network of natural caves and underground passages in the world. Moreover, these caves are also home to limestone formations. Hence, the park was established in 1941 to aid in protecting and preserving these cave limestone formations. According to survey of the cave, this passageway stretches to over 560 kilometers in length.

About Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park is an expansive cave system that covers up to 52,830 acres of land area. It is located primarily in Kentucky’s Edmonson County as well as some parts of Hart County and Barren County. This cave system is the longest known cave system in the world; in fact, the world’s second longest cave system (which is the underwater cave of Sac Actun in Mexico) is only half of its entire length.

The limestone labyrinth is the most important feature of this cave system, aside from its world-record length. It is composed of Mississippian-aged limestone strata that are built with a layer of sandstone. Hence, this makes the entire cave system incredibly stable. There are nearly 400 miles of passageway within the cave. However, the cave system is still being studied and explored. It is therefore expected that the actual cave system is longer than what it is depicted to be as new paths and parts of the cave are continually being discovered.

The cave system is divided into different parts and the upper sandstone member is dubbed as the Big Clifty Sandstone. This area is composed of thin, sparse layers of limestone that are interspersed with some sandstone layers in some parts.

Within the park, there is a massive sinkhole known as Cedar Sink. The sinkhole starts off with a small river on one side before it disappears onto the other side. Within this cave, there also lives the endangered species of sightless albino shrimp.

How to Get Here

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park is located along 1 Mammoth Cave Parkway in Kentucky. If you are traveling from the north, you can take the Interstate 65 route and then exit to Exit 53 (also known as Cave City Exit). Head right to KY-70 and then traverse 70/255 as it will lead you to Mammoth Cave Parkway.

If you are from the south, take the Interstate 65 and head to Exit 48 (also known as Park City Exit). Turn to KY-255 on your left and continue on until 255 where you must turn left as you reach Mammoth Cave Parkway. This route will lead you to the Visitor Center.

Tours and Activities

There are tours available for tourists who would like to visit the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. During the tour (which can last between 1 to 6 hours, depending on your chosen tour), you will be able to witness a few notable sights within the cave including the Frozen Niagara, Grand Avenue and Fat Man’s Misery. These are all limestone formations within the cave that are distinctive and has therefore become quite famous.

There are two types of tours to choose from: electric-lit routes or those wherein tourists are all required to carry their own paraffin lamps as you go about the tour. The Echo River Tour is one of the most famous types of yours inside the cave. In this tour, tourists will ride a boat to explore an underground river. However, this was discontinued in the early 1990s due to environmental and logistics constraints.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 8:57 pm