Showing posts with label Thailand. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thailand. Show all posts

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Lanta Animal Welfare

When we went to Ko Lanta in 2010 I fell head over heels in love with all the beautiful dogs and cats on the island but was also rather saddened by the fact that there seemed to be quite a few straggly and malnourished looking strays on the island too.
On one of our pre-breakfast walks one morning we spotted a dog hiding away in the undergrowth, he looked really unwell and from what we could see he had a nasty gash on his leg, it looked as if he’d been stabbed, he seemed to be very scared and as we got closer he showed his teeth and started growling.
We got some food and water and put it down at a growls distance, moved away and watched as he limped over and devoured it hungrily.
Later that day we went back but he had gone and we never saw him again.
Throughout our holiday I had seen strays being chased away by locals in a rather brusque manner, so I gathered that they were not very popular on the island and would probably not be taken in or nursed back to health.
Therefore I was chuffed to bits when I on our last day there spotted a notice about ‘Lanta Animal Welfare’ in a shop.
I thought, "Thank goodness these poor mites have a guardian angel here after all" and promptly stuffed all my remaining Baht in one of their donation boxes.
 Needless to say I was thrilled to go back to Ko Lanta so that we could finally pay a visit to this brilliant organisation.
I only wish there was a Lanta Animal Wefare on every island in Thailand.
In the UK animal rights and animal welfare organisations comes as standard but in many countries throughout Asia they don’t and sadly without appropriate laws, it’s very difficult to combat cruelty and promote animal welfare in these countries.
When I read about the absolutely atrocious ways that some people on Ko Lanta use to rid the island of unwanted cats, dogs and strays I was naturally horrified but it also made me want to understand what really lay behind such appalling behaviour towards animals and in particular dogs.
The majority of the population on Ko Lanta are Muslims so I decided to have a gander on Google to see if I could find out if there was anything written in the Koran about dogs.
As with most searches on the Internet, this one yielded a heap of contradicting views and information.
From what I can gather there seems to be two camps on the whole ‘Dogs in Islam’ issue.
There are those who consider any physical contact with a dog an unclean act and state that Islam prohibits them from keeping dogs as pets and then there are the more liberal Muslims that seem to consider dogs in a more western context.
Apparently the Koran doesn’t say anything expressly against dogs however there are several hadiths (important sacred texts that many Muslims choose to live by) that seemingly condemn them.
"Five kinds of animals are mischief-doers and can be killed even in the Sanctuary: They are the rat, the scorpion, the kite, the crow and the rabid dog." (Book #54, Hadith #531)
I do want to mention that there are also hadiths that cast dogs in a more favourable light and because of that I’m not content in believing that cruelty to dogs on Ko Lanta is simply down to peoples religious beliefs.
Maybe to some extent there was some method in the madness when these scriptures were penned, serious decease like rabies may have been rife at the time and the hadiths were written to safeguard the people from being infected.
Unfortunately rabies is still a real threat in this part of the world, I found this information on the WHO website:
More than 55 000 people die of rabies every year mostly in Asia and Africa.”
“Dogs are the source of the vast majority of human rabies deaths.”
Thankfully rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease and the best strategy for preventing rabies in people is by eliminating rabies in dogs through vaccination which is one of the very important things Lanta Animal Welfare are doing.
I can understand the fear of decease, the want to keep animal populations at a manageable level and even that some people find dogs unhygienic and don’t want to keep them in their homes, each to their own.
What I cannot understand is how an individual is even capable of such unspeakable cruelty as to throw boiling hot oil over a poor defenceless animal?
Surely we’ve left the realms of religion here, or can people really rationalize doing stuff like that off the back of their beliefs and not see the utter evil in their actions?
A brutally sadistic act like putting fishhooks in dog food or leaving kittens on a cliff shelf when the tide is coming in would land you in a world of bother in the UK but goes unpunished on Ko Lanta.
Keeping the stray dog and cat population under control is of course very important but it should be done humanely and this is why a place like Lanta Animal Welfare is so important.
Through the provision of a humane alternative to population control and education of the younger generation they show the locals a better way of doing things and this in turn will hopefully stop the senseless violence towards these beautiful creatures.
This was the notice that I spotted in the shop back in 2010. The founder Junie Kovacs used to shelter the strays in her own home at the back of her restaurant & Thai cooking school 'Time For Lime'.

The proceeds from 'Time For Lime' went to build this fantastic shelter situated by the Muay Thai stadium, where Pra Ae beach meets Klong Khong beach. 

If you are not a dog person there are plenty of cats to cuddle too.

Who needs elephant trekking when you can go on a stroke-a-thon outside the Happy Cat House :)

We spent a good few hours just cuddling the cats, they are very friendly.

I have a severe weakness for jet-black cats.

The shelter encourages visitors and there are free guided tours every hour.

The dogs are divided into four packs and spend the day outside in four spacious pens. At nighttime they stay in kennels inside. 

More cuddly cats. After you are all cuddled out with the cats, you can take one of the many gorgeous and remarkably well-behaved dogs for a walk.

Bones, Tarzan (who is in the process of being adopted), cheeky wee Spot (who went for walkies with us), Lanta, Sugar and my niece.

Rocket (possibly the most handsome dog I have ever seen), Gorgeous Chilli and Momma (who we took out for walkies). 

Whilst we were there on our second visit someone brought in a slightly different patient.

WALKIES with Momma, Spot and Star.

I really can't think of a better way to spend a few hours. We met some really nice people here too.

On our second visit I convinced my sister (who is afraid of dogs) to come with us. A bit of  Cognitive Behaviour Therapy whilst on holiday and guess what I think it worked ;)

Denver was trying to catch miniature crabs as they scuttled across the sand and Pepsi was sniffing out the bigger ones hiding in their holes.

This is Dok Dek and he was rescued after someone poured boiling hot oil on his head. He's a real cheeky chappy with bundles of character. All the dogs and cats at LAW are looking for loving new homes.
After spending a few wonderful hours with the cats and dogs not to forget the lovely people at LAW chilling out at Time For Lime's laid back beach bar is the icing on the cake.

If you want to find out more about Lanta Animal Welfare please visit their website and if their work speaks volumes to you why not make a donation to this wonderful organization, they need every single Baht to keep the good work going.

Before we traveled to Thailand I read about a dog called Sky on LAWs facebook page and needless to say her story made me cry. When I saw her in real life I just wanted to take her in my arms and keep her safe forever. How can people be so cruel to such a beautiful soul? If I had the money and lived in a big house in the country I would love to give Sky a new home. I hope someone with the biggest of  hearts finds their way to her.

I am so happy that there are people in this world like Junie Kovacs and all the brilliant volunteers at Lanta Animal Welfare, all I can say is thank goodness for them!
Lot's of love,

Monday, 14 January 2013

Holiday Snaps

When we first arrived in Thailand just before Christmas we spent two days in busy Bangkok before heading on to beautiful and tranquil Koh Lanta. 
The capital pit stop was probably more for my teenage niece, so that she could do a bit of hardcore shopping in the insanely huge malls over there. 
Living in London for fifteen years has made me develop a severe dislike for big cities and I actually think I'm allergic to super malls or as I like to call them 'bastard bastions of capitalism' cause I can't spend more than ten minutes in one before starting to feel decidedly queasy.
Despite the fact that only 4% of the people in Thailand are Christians, you could have been forgiven for thinking otherwise, the sheer amount of  gaudy Christmas glitz on display and tiresome tacky tunes abusing your eardrums was quite astounding in some areas.
The upmarket super malls had obviously been taking style notes from Oxford Street et al, with more Christmas lights than you can shake a stick at.
My favourite was the bright red faced Santa with Bono sunnies...DUDE!
We went walkabouts and took in the amazing flower market and Chinatown...
Then we jumped on a boat to get a view of the city from its Chao Phraya river and ended up at the Wat Pho temple, home of  Thailand's biggest reclining Buddha statue...
There are so many amazing temples to see in Bangkok but on our second day there we decided to seek refuge in Chatuchak Park instead.
I was thrilled to escape the city the following day, a short flight took us to Krabi and then onward with taxi to Koh Lanta.
Twelve wonderful days of lolling around on stunning beaches, swimming in the sea, snorkelling, going for long walks on the island, popping off for a couple of days amazing scuba diving, visiting Lanta Animal Welfare, cuddling with cats and walking some adorable dogs, spending a precious Christmas with the people that I love and meeting some awesome new people too :)
Klong Khong Beach on Koh Lanta.
A beautiful sunset is like food for the soul.
Scuba diving, snorkelling and fishing boats on Koh Lanta.
More stunning sunsets and a pic from an early morning walk with the locals bringing in their nets.
Fresh fruit shakes and fabulous grub.
I was tempted to try the Geek Salad but sadly I didn't, I did have a delicious Veggie Spattie though ;)
New Years Eve celebrations on the beach on Koh Lanta were a hoot and a half, the entire islands population seeminlgy had made their way onto the beaches. Fire works galore and literally thousands of Chinese lanterns lit up the sky. There were an abundance of fire shows and a scattering of local bands performing for free.
On New Years Day we left Koh Lanta to head for Langkawi...
We visited three waterfalls, namely Telaga Tujuh (Seven Wells), Air Terjun Temurun & Durian Perangin. 
Hired a car and explored the island, hung out on the beaches, went snorkelling and eat with the locals. 
I ordered veggie fried rice and found little sprat heads in it, I did enjoy the gorgeous ice tea though.
Trust me to find a car boot sale half way around the world :)
We went jungle trekking, saw the sunset from the top of the Langkawi cable car and enjoyed some general mucking about on the hotel beach and in the grounds.
All holidays come to an end too soon I think and before you now it it is time to leave paradise behind.
We had a day and a half in KL before we flew back home.
More shopping for my niece who also turned eighteen that day and more culture & city impressions for us...
We went to the amazing Sri Mahamariamman Temple which is the oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur.
Last time we were in KL we only managed to see it from the outside at night but this time we were able to delight in its interior. 
We also came across the Kuan Ti which is a Taoist temple but unfortunately it was closed.
The last thing we did before going to the airport was meeting up with our cousin who lives in KL.
He works on the 52nd floor of Petronas Tower 2 and was able to get us a couple of visitor passes to come and have a look...
The lift was amazing, you could hardly feel it moving, it was so smooth yet tremendously fast and you had to pop your ears ;)
Pretty amazing views and the building itself is pretty stunning too...
KL from above; they do seem to like their tall buildings...
...and that was that!
Then we jumped on a plane back to 'Ol Blighty.
I've just a few more holiday posts to do and then I'm back on normal Frocktasia duties again :)
Lot's of love,

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Monkey business, manta ray, moray eels, poolside lizard and a flying lemur

After spending a few weeks basking in the tropical sun being back in Balticus Horribilis is a bit like an Arctic Enema
To think that only a few short days ago I was strolling along a stunning palm fringed beach with silky hot sand underfoot and throwing myself into the salty swell of the Andaman Sea when the mood took me.
Now I sit here in our freezing draught riddled flat feeling as if I've been dipped in dry-ice with rigid fingers and a cold wee nose.
I'm more convinced than ever that I want to emigrate to a country that doesn't do cold winters.
Thailand ticks all the boxes for me but I would like to learn to speak Thai first ;)
Even though Koh Lanta (the island that we went to) is virtually a Swedish tourist colony, I would still want to be able to speak Thai if I was to go and live there on a more permanent basis.
Once we've done our rescue diver qualification and clocked up another ten dives we can crack on with the PADI Divemaster course and once that is completed we will be able to seek employment with dive shops all around the world, I'm very excited!
2012 was a pivotal year for us and I am very hopeful that we will continue moving forward in a positive direction in 2013.
Mark & I have found a new life passion in scuba diving and all of a sudden the door of opportunity that seemed jammed shut before has swung open. 
In one short year the scope has widened and more things seem possible and totally doable.

I promised more holiday pics in my last post and I wouldn't like to disappoint anyone ;)
I usually average around two hundred pics per day on holiday, mostly cause I like taking pictures of animals and they tend to move around a lot so you have to take a whole load of pics to get one that's good.
I have a Canon 1100D which is the Canon entry level DSLR camera.
All these pics were taken with the standard 18-55mm zoom lens that came with the original camera package cause I couldn't be bothered bringing my macro lens with me this time, you really need to mount the camera on a tripod to get the best picture quality with that lens and it's just too much stuff to cart half way around the world. 
I'm not a photographer, I just love taking photos and with subjects like these anyone can make a half decent capture...
When we went to Langkawi two years ago I was desperate to catch a Great Hornbill but they were elusive to say the least, I did see one high up a tree in Kuah town but the cheeky begger flew off as soon as I pointed my lens at him. This time they were literally everywhere. Feasting on red berries in the trees around the resort. They were still a bit camera/people shy and would jump higher up in the trees as soon as they clocked you.
We stayed at Mutiara Burau Bay beach resort two years ago and absolutely fell in love with its stunning surroundings and outdoorsy vibe so we decided to go back there this time.
Monkeys & lizards just wandering around in the resort area and accessible jungle trails within walking distance...I mean what more can you possibly want?!
There was even a poolside lizard that would go for a swim every now and again.
The Macaque monkeys have a bit of a bad reputation on Langkawi, there are stories about tourist being "robbed" of their bags etc. It is of course because the tourists have been feeding the monkeys, who now equate tourists with getting food, so some of the macaques can get a bit aggressive if you don't bring on the buffet or will snatch things out of your hands if they think it's edible. I try to maintain a respectful distance to any animal and only ever move in close if I feel that I've established a certain connection with an individual.
The other type of monkey in Langkawi is the slightly more timid Dusky Leaf Monkey and we were lucky enough to get a visit by a troop with adorable babies... 
Besides the daily encounters with monkeys we were treated to pretty rare chance meeting with an amazing Sunda Flying Lemur as well. 
Whilst sitting on the beach loungers enjoying an early evening drink we spotted a Macaque climbing up the palm tree just behind us, seconds later a ruckus broke out at the top of the tree and what we thought to be a leaf came tumbling down onto my lounger only to rapidly propel itself onto the palm tree directly next to me.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing and I was gutted that I for once did not have my camera with me.
Thankfully Mark had brought his, so we got a few pics.
The poor thing must have been in shock cause it sat like frozen on the trunk for a good few minutes before continuing its skillful climb up to the top of the tree.
These animals are strictly arboreal (they are pretty hard to spot cause they like to hide away in the canopy)  and they are also nocturnal so had it not been for Mr Macaque disturbing its peace we would have never have seen this amazing creature...
 There are also loads of  gorgeous cats and dogs lounging around everywhere both on Koh Lanta and in Langkawi.
I'm doing a separate post about our two visits to Lanta Animal Welfare mainly cause I think this brilliant organisation deserves a post all to itself but also cause I went a bit snap-happy those two days ;)
Here are a few non-LAW pics of Thai & Malay dogs and cats that I petted on my travels...
Gorgeous creatures!
My next post will probably be a random pics post. 
We stayed in Bangkok when we arrived in Thailand and in Kuala Lumpur for a day before we flew back home so we managed to squeeze in a bit of  capital culture too ;)
I will blog about "the near death experience" boat trip to Langkawi but we haven't started editing the video footage from that trip, so bear with me.
In the meantime here's a little clip of lizards that hubby put together:

Here's another little clip that hubby put together with footage from our two diving trips to Koh Ha, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang...
I was absolutely thrilled to see several moray eels but the highlight of our diving trips was definitely the manta ray, what an amazing creature.
Lot's of love,