Chiang Dao Caves

Chiang Dao Caves

Chiang Dao is a town situated about 70km north of Chiang Mai. It’s major attraction for visitors is the caves under a mountain which houses a buddhist temple. Chiang Dao means “city of stars”

One of the major benefits of retirement is all the leisure time you now have to go and visit interesting places. Living in a different country opens up a wealth of possibilities.

About Chiang Dao caves

The cave of Chiang Dao is located 70 kilometres north of Chiang Mai on the road to Fang. The Chiang Dao Caves fishpond at Chiang Dao Cavespenetrate in to the Doi Chiang Dao which is a massive outcrop of rock rising to a height of 2,175 metres to be the third highest in Thailand. The mountain is usually shrouded in cloud and the area is home to Lisu, Lahu and Karen villages.

The Caves have had a significant presence for the locals for over 1,000 years as is evident by the ancient Shan Chedi near the entrance and the folklore surrounding the Caves. The caves are venerated by the Thai and Shan people as is evidenced by the offerings, statues and decorations present at the entrance and inside. At various locations within the Caves are small temples and statues of the Buddha. The caves also offer a plethora of stalactite and stalagmite rock formations

buddha statue inside the cavesOne legend holds that the caves are inhabited by an Indian recluse who has lived there for more than one thousand years. Another, more complex, tradition tells how a group of hermits who live in the caves once called a meeting of deities and angels to create seven sacred objects. A demon called Chao Luang Kham Daeng Khun Yak was appointed to guard these sacred artefacts which are hidden beneath the mountain.

It is only possible to see the illuminated areas without hiring a guide. However, this still allows you to see a great deal as you can go about 1km into the cave network. Moving away from the lit areas without a latern carrying guide would be suicidal. It would take very little time for you to get lost.

 

 

 

Video

I hope you enjoy my video from the day. The procession at around 6.30 is a Thai funeral. I was wondering what was going on when I saw all the people in the road before that giving directions. If you do, why not give it a “like” or even follow for future postings.

 

Beating Diabetes – Part 3

Beating Diabetes – Part 3

D-Day (Diabetes Day). July first 2016. Summoned to the doctors at 8.30am to discuss my latest blood test results asstethoscope and heart a matter of urgency. So with a spring in my step I wandered down the road with a pretty good idea of what would unfold. I knew what my blood glucose had been for the past 6 months as I had been self testing, so the concern could only be the dreaded “C” word……… cholesterol!

Amazed GP

The best thing about an 08.30 appointment was that it was the first one of the day. No hanging around for 20 minutes staring at the floor and the ceiling. So I parked myself in the chair in the doctor’s room to be told “I am concerned about your latest blood test. Your cholesterol level is now very high”. I decided to adopt a typical politician’s approach. “Before we discuss that, what was my blood glucose result”. She looking at my report replied “Well actually, it’s very good. It seems to have come down to normal levels”. So with a big smile on my face I said ” So, I bet it would surprise you to know that I haven’t taken any metformin or forxiga for the last 4 months then” Her jaw dropped like a stone.

It’s all Diet

I then went on to relate exactly what I had and, more importantly, hadn’t been eating for the last 4 months and that I had lost 17kg weight. At this point she insisted that the surgery nurse came to join us and I explained it all to her too. What happened next really made me laugh. The nurse said “So type 2 diabetes is all down to diet then”. “Well” I said “that is very true. The only problem is my diet isn’t what the NHS recommend is it?” I left it at that. No point trying to reverse years of doctrine however right or wrong.  LCHF diet food

Going back to the cholesterol I told them that it wasn’t that unusual for cholesterol levels to initially go up when changing to a LCHF diet, but it would settle down. From what I have read from informed sources, cholesterol along with dietary fat aren’t the demons they have been made out to be for decades. It seems that the mainstream press are also beginning to sit up and take notice, and traditional views dating back 60 years are being challenged.

Take a look for yourself

I stated in my last post I am not a medical professional. However there is an ever increasing movement of professionals towards this school of thought. I got most of my guidance from dietdoctor.com which is a great online resource. If you are suffering from weight issues and /or T2D it would be worth your time taking a look with an open mind.  I feel better, look better and enjoy my life much more now. I could not realistically contemplated coming to live here in Thailand when I had diabetes.

Disclaimer

I am NOT a medical professional. This personal account is a true description of the results I enjoyed on a LCHF diet. Nothing in this article, or anywhere on this site, should be construed as medical advice.

Beating Diabetes – Part Two

Beating Diabetes – Part Two

It’s February 1st 2016, my first day of beating diabetes. I decided to be different and not start of the first day of the new year. January was a month for eating whatever the hell I wanted to. Get it out of the system, no excuse for turning back after I started. From February 1st, carbohydrates were committed to history as much as humanly possible. Bread,gone! Pasta, potatoes, rice, cakes and biscuits, gone!

I also quit something else, though it’s certainly not something I’d recommend and neither would your GP. I stopped taking my diabetes drugs and my statins. This wasn’t from some perverse bloody mindedness on my part, it was for practical reasons. My job involved driving a bus round Heathrow airport and I was petrified of my blood sugar going too low and having a hypo. Not the best scenario if you have up to 40 people on your bus. So, with a modicum of caution I took this decision.salmon-vegetables

Following the guidelines from my friends at dietdoctor.com, I put together an eating plan to follow. No more sandwiches for lunch at work. Now it was eggs, cheese, ham, tomatoes and salad. Hardly a carb in sight. Days off gave me more scope. Bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms and haloumi was my favourite. Now to many people that meal would be classed as fat boy food. As I was told and found for myself it was the total opposite. Dinners were often centred round chicken cooked in various ways and low carb vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, beans and courgettes, together with cheese and full fat cream. The rule with vegetables in general is that if it grows above ground it’s low carb, whereas vegetables that grow under the ground tend to be more starchy. Potatoes are the obvious miscreant here, but any tubers like carrots tend towards the upper end of carb content.

After just 3 weeks my blood glucose level which had been either side of 6 before I started was down as low as 3.5, no Metformin don’t forget . I had also lost around 5 kilos in weight from a starting point of 98 kilos. After 5 months my BG level was steady around the 4.0 mark and I now weighed 80 kilos. I had, in fact, overshot my weight target by 3 kilos, but am now stable at 83 kilos which is where I want to be.

In July 2016 I had my 6 monthly diabetic blood tests at the hospital.3 days later I go summoned to go and see my GP as a matter of “urgency”. What transpired there will be the subject of my next post.

Disclaimer

I am NOT a medical professional. This personal account is a true description of the results I enjoyed on a LCHF diet. Nothing in this article, or anywhere on this site, should be construed as medical advice.

Beating Diabetes-Part One

Beating Diabetes-Part One

Type 2 diabetes, sometimes called adult onset diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases on this planet today. It causes all kinds of complications like heart disease, amputations, sight loss and obesity.

My History

chocolate bar

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes around 2005, and to be honest I didn’t take it too seriously as I was pretty borderline. I did, however, modify my diet a little and initially this seemed to be beneficial. The problem is that it is so easy to become complacent and let things slip and so, after the initial enthusiasm, I became lax with my discipline and my blood sugar levels started to creep up. Of course I lied to the doctors a little about my diet and eventually they suggested I could go onto Metformin if I wanted. I was also suffering, and still do, from psoriatic arthritis and the drugs I was taking were costing me a fair bit. In the UK, people taking diabetic drugs get free prescriptions so rather stupidly I decided to go with the Metformin.  I say stupidly because in my mind that then gave me carte blanche to relax my diet even more. I didn’t have, and never have had, major weight issues. I was classed  by my BMI as overweight, but not close to obese. In fact many people were surprised that I had T2D because I looked fit.

Taking Control

sugar and syringes

Moving on to the end of 2015 I decided to stop being a fraud and to tackle this condition. The drugs were just an artificial safety net in my mind. They weren’t curing anything, just slowing the process down. I had started to get a rock hard mass of fat in my upper abdomen which baffled me. After all fat was supposed to be soft and wobbly wasn’t it? I started to do some research! What I had was visceral fat which I found was one of the worst types to fat to be inflicted with. It occurred to me that my pancreas was highly likely to be embedded in this visceral fat, so how the hell was it going to do its job. So now I set off on a mission to research everything I could find on the causes and effects of type 2 diabetes. As they say, Google is your friend. What I discovered was a real eye opener. It showed my how illogical the approach to diet, obesity and diabetes was. I’m not a doctor, I have no medical qualifications. I do however have an extensive knowledge of chemistry, I have a chemical engineering degree and the things I was reading made such sense. I failed to understand how on earth the “balanced” diet was beneficial to good health.

All my research made to come to conclusion that a low carbohydrate diet was the way forward for me. By this time I have resolved that I would be diabetes free by the end of 2016 at the latest. In my next post I’ll tell you how I got on.

diabetic facts

Keeping it in the Family

Keeping it in the Family

Back in the day when I married my Thai wife, I got the added benefit of a ready made family. Despite our subsequent divorce I still regard them all as part of my family. She already had 3 children from a previous marriage and eventually, we got them all over to England. I’m happy that they have all become good citizens, contributing to the national purse. In addition, we had a son together who has now reached the ripe old age of 24. Having got a degree in film and media production and then attended the famous New York Film Academy he decided to become a freelancer. Maybe influenced by my decision to make Thailand my home, my son Kit concluded that he would give his talents an airing here too. The fact that he has a Thai passport makes working and living here a breeze, with no hoops to jump through like I have to do.

Decorated Passport

He, together with a friend, has started a travel blog and YouTube channel, Decorated Passport. The link to their first video is below.

Details of his site and social media are…….

http://decoratedpassport.com
https://www.instagram.com/decoratedpassport_/
https://www.facebook.com/DecoratedPassport/

 

 

The videos are very professionally done and are not the normal run of the mill YouTube fodder.

ENJOY!

The World’s Top 15 Cities

The World’s Top 15 Cities

The people at travelandleisure.com have just published their list of the world’s top 15 cities for 2017. This year’s group of winners span the globe, from market-filled Hoi An in Vietnam to Florence, a European cultural capital. Of note, however, is what ties these contenders together: Almost all are pedestrian-friendly, possess ample green space, and have a rich history that’s being thoughtfully preserved as the city grows.

 

 

This is an annual survey that T&L undertake and readers are asked to relate their experiences around the globe. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.

And the winner is……..

 

The overall winner was Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende, part of which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The World’s Best Cities list also speaks to our readers’ growing interest in Asia, as seven of the top 15 urban destinations are in the region. Kyoto, home to some of Japan’s most well-preserved traditional architecture, Chiang Mai, Thailand, best known for its walled Old City, golden statuesand Siem Reap, Cambodia, the jumping-off point for Angkor Wat, all made repeat appearances.

My new home did well

 

As readers will be aware, Chiang Mai is now my home and I am heartened to see it presence on this list. The diversity of the area means there tends to be something for everyone here. Whether it’s culture, relaxation or just a fun location you are looking for, Chiang Mai has it all.

 

The original article can be found at http://www.travelandleisure.com/worlds-best/cities#intro

Top 8 Retirement Destinations

Top 8 Retirement Destinations

In a recent survey of top retirement destination by a leading insurance provider, these 8 places were top rated for UK citizens relocating abroad.

Malta: One of the great benefits of Malta is that English is the first language of a large proportion of the people there. With over 3,000 hours of sunshine each year and an average temperature of 19 degrees it has obvious attractions for British expats. A downside, however, is that it is now one of the most densely populated countries on the planet. Portugal: Loved by golfers, Portugal represents 25% of the Iberian peninsular. It is well known for its wonderful weather and excellent health care. The property is inexpensive, about a third of French property prices and there is a large expat presence in the country.Portuguese coast

Spain: Probably no longer the jewel in the crown it was 10 years ago, Spain still has the largest expat community in Europe. Spain still boasts the lowest crime rate of all the countries surveyed, but it now pays to research which areas will be a worthwhile investment for the longer term. Read more

Mental Health in Retirement

Mental Health in Retirement

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

What You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk

 Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the biggest concerns many of us have as we get older. While you may have been told that all you can do is hope for the best and wait for a pharmaceutical cure, the truth is much more encouraging. Promising research shows that you can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s through a combination of simple but effective lifestyle changes. By leading a brain-healthy lifestyle, you may be able to prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow down, or even reverse, the process of deterioration.

What are the best ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s?

The thought of developing Alzheimer’s disease as you get older can be a frightening prospect, especially if you’ve witnessed a loved one affected by the disease. Researchers across the world are racing towards a cure, but as prevalence rates climb, their focus has broadened from treatment to prevention strategies. What they’ve discovered is that it may be possible to prevent or delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease through a combination of healthy habits. By identifying and controlling your personal risk factors, you can maximize your chances of lifelong brain health and take effective steps to preserve your cognitive abilities.

The 6 foundations for reducing your risk

Alzheimer’s is a complex disease with multiple risk factors. Some, like your age and genetics, are outside your control. However, there are six foundations for a brain-healthy lifestyle that are within your control. The more you strengthen each of these in your daily life, the longer, and stronger, your brain will stay working.

Read more

My New Chiang Mai Home

My New Chiang Mai Home

Last week, I finally moved into my new home on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. I had been living in an apartment close to the city centre since arriving nearly 4 months ago. I had originally intended staying there for 6 months, but the allure of countryside and peacefulness became too much to resist. Also, the process to get a 12-month visa had taken less time than I envisaged so changing address had no drawbacks.Moo baan (gated village)

City or Suburbs?

Despite the fact that I lived in and around London for 44 years before moving to Thailand, I am a country boy at heart. I wanted space, no traffic, no tourists, my own space. The cost of living in a condo in the city is comparable to the cost of a detached house a few kilometres out from the centre. To me, at my age, it was a no-brainer to go for the house. For a little under £300 a month, I have a 3 bedroom detached bungalow with a small garden, air conditioning, fully furnished and in a secure gated community.

Transport has to be a big factor in choosing where to live. I have a motorbike here, not everybody’s cup of tea I can well understand. I find it suits me, as I can bypass much of the traffic when I go into the city. Having a car, while being probably safer and more comfortable, comes with the drawbacks of central Chiang Mai traffic which can be a pain at times. I did, however, find the big disadvantage of the motorbike last week when I was caught, not once but twice, in violent thunderstorms. I could not have been more drenched if I had been thrown fully clothed into a swimming pool!Palm trees in moo baan

Moo Baan Living

Around the major cities in Thailand, you will often find small security gated “villages”. These are known as moo baans . They cater for not only the expat community but also the more affluent endemic population. Most, including the one I now live in, have facilities such as a pool, a gym, an on-site shop, restaurant and laundry for example. You could, if you wished, almost lock yourself away from the outside world in a moo baan. However, if you were to do that you would be missing out on all the great places that the province of Chiang Mai and its surroundings have to offer. There is so much to see and do here that you wouldn’t ever want to miss out.

Moo baan house

Eating in Chiang Mai

Eating in Chiang Mai

Moving to another country can be a shock to your digestive system. However, with a bit of research, you can pretty much cover all bases as far as eating is concerned.

This post is about available food in Chiang Mai, but can equally apply to other cities in Thailand. Being a popular tourist destination, Chiang Mai caters for all tastes. As well as the local cuisine, Chinese, Japanese and western food is easy to find. Here we have MacDonald’s, Burger King, Dominoes, KFC, etc. which I actually find a little sad. The waistline of many of the local population is somewhat different to what I remember when I first came to Thailand, 27 years ago. 

Cost

As well as dependent on your tastes, a budget can be a major factor in choosing where to eat. Local cuisine is very cheap, especially if you visit the street food vendors. Pad Thai is available from around 50 baht, and various rice and noodle dishes come in at the same price. A well-worn myth is that eating street food can leave you in danger of food poisoning, more so than eating at a restaurant. In my experience, and in that of many others, there is little or no foundation in this. Street food is freshly prepared for each customer and all ingredients are freshly bought each day. I’ve only ever had food poisoning once in Thailand and that was back in 1989. I had some clams in one of the best restaurants in Pattaya, seafood being something of a lottery wherever in the world you eat. Apart from that, I’ve never had so much as a tummy twinge eating in Thailand.

Other Cuisines

In the time I have lived in Chiang Mai I have eaten Vietnamese, burgers, Mexican, Indian and Chinese. As a rule, these foods tend to be a little more expensive than the local fare, but on the whole are still much cheaper than in their native lands. I have very, very rarely been disappointed with any restaurant in Chiang Mai. Service is generally very friendly and the quality of the food is great.

Alcohol

There is no problem here with drinking alcohol. Local beers are much cheaper than imported ones and likewise, Thai spirits are much cheaper than say scotch or bourbon. The one disappointment I have here is the wine. Local wine is available, but it is “fortified” with fruit juice which isn’t really to my taste. Imported wine is available but at a cost, making a bottle of Shiraz an expensive option.

Shiraz grapes

In my view, the food available in Chiang Mai and the rest of Thailand is a big plus. I love the local food and alternatives are available if you want a taste of your old home or just fancy a change