Monthly Archives: October 2015

Bat Cave Again!

Anong and I met Martin and Dorothea at Bat Cave a couple days ago.  We replaced the last anchor on the 6b+ / 6b route and are trying to figure out if it’s possible to add another anchor for the 6b route so they don’t need to share an anchor.  Here’s the old anchor:

IMG_8040

IMG_8039

I’m not sure what that red cord was doing on the anchor.  I guess it made it prettier.  The rope looked to be in pretty good condition but that ring isn’t exactly inspiring confidence.  In Thailand, stainless steel isn’t exactly stainless.

We got the anchor replaced without much trouble and I climbed each route once.  By then it was getting late and the tide was pretty low.  It was a pain in the ass getting the kayak out to deep enough water where it would float without scraping rocks under the water.  Then when back to Arawan we were quite a ways from the shore and I had to drag the kayak through very sticky mud with lots of sharp little shells in it.  I think it took 45 minutes or so to go the couple hundred yards to shore.  Not fun and I learned my lesson.  Go back before low tide!

Climbing! Railay! Bat Cave!

The past month or so I haven’t been able to climb much.  The weather had been pretty bad.  Raining a lot.  Or I’ve had some form of injury.  I did something to my shoulder a few weeks ago but now it’s finally better.  Then there is the delicate balance with my elbow.  I’ve been focusing a lot on my exercises though and it’s been feeling a lot better.  Little to no pain the next day after climbing so that’s promising.

Last week I was able to get out climbing two times.  The first day was at Railay.  I wanted to climb at Wee’s Present Wall but it was wet.  So we headed over to Muay Thai / 123 Wall to brave the crowds of guides and tourists.  Many of the routes here were wet too but we did manage to find some dry ones that were available.  The first was Nuat Hin 6a+ which I have climbed before.  A couple holds were damp but the important holds going through the crux were dry.  It’s a fun climb and one of my favorites on the wall.  Next was a route a few meters to the left.  It wasn’t in the guide book but didn’t look to hard.  I climbed it and thought it was about a 6a.  I heard someone else say it was rated 5.  So I’ll call it 5+ 🙂  It was a fun route.  Big holds on the start then climbing up some tufas near the top.  Then we ate lunch and headed over to Diamond Cave.  We climbed No Name 5 and Chock Dee 6a.

A few days later we kayaked over to Bat Cave.  I bought some titanium rings that came a few days before so brought both of my ropes and sacrifices part of my old rope to replace the anchors on two of the climbs because the old rope and rings though probably ok was looking a little sketchy.  We climbed Mini Kingdom 6a and Pick Pickets 6a+.  I was feeling lazy so let just climbed them on top rope.  Here’s the nice new anchors with 50kn titanium rings!

IMG_8031

Mini Kingdom 6a anchor

IMG_8032

Pick Pockets 6a+ anchor.

IMG_8033

Another view of Pick Pockets 6a+ anchor.

Krabi Vegetarian Festival Parade

The vegetarian festival in Thailand is called “Tet-sa-gan Gin Je” (Thai: เทศกาลกินเจ).  It is the celebration of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.  Je (Thai: เจ) is the word for vegetarian.  But it really means vegan with additional restrictions.  Like vegans, dairy is not allowed.  Also not allowed are garlic, onions, alcohol, and sex.  A few days ago there was a parade in Krabi Town.  Parades in Thailand are pretty much like parades in America.

IMG_1344

There are spectators anxiously awaiting the start of the parade.  

IMG_1349

There are participants marching down the parade route carrying banners for the organization they represent. In this case, one of the 80+ Chinese temples in Krabi.

IMG_1385

There are people taking pictures.

IMG_1389

There are floats. Though they are not as elaborate as in America. These are just some small statues on top of the cab of a pickup truck.

IMG_1509

There are elaborate costumes.

IMG_1596

There are cute kids having a fun time.

IMG_1352

There is the blood…

IMG_1368

And the tongue slashing.

Wait.  What!?  I’m pretty sure we don’t have this in America.  Now that I think of it, parades in Thailand are nothing at all like parades in America.

IMG_1365

It was very crowded. Difficult to tell participants from spectators. Spectators would creep in closer and closer. Many people walking through the parade. Then everyone would get pushed back when a float / pickup truck needed to go by, only to creep back in a moment later.

IMG_1372

Then there are the piercings. Some are very gruesome as you will see later.

IMG_1381

IMG_1392

It’s not just the women that pierce their cheeks.

IMG_1413

All sorts of objects are used for piercing.

IMG_1417

Unfortunately I didn’t get a very good picture but look closely. This guy has two weed wackers! One in each cheek.

IMG_1433

Every now and then the parade would stop and the tongue slashers would put on a little show.

IMG_1448

Even the little kids get in on the piercing action.

IMG_1451

This guy appears to have pierced his cheek with a broken wheel from a motorbike.

IMG_1471

Most of the people appeared to be in some kind of a trance-like state.

IMG_1473

Plenty of blood.

IMG_1513

A little hard to see but they guy squatting down is dancing directly over firecrackers.

IMG_1530

Show from another group of tongue slashers.

IMG_1555

Bloody!

IMG_1563

Hoses!

IMG_1564

Knives! And Thread?

IMG_1565

He was flinging blood everywhere.

IMG_1567

Saw guy again. Really getting into it.

IMG_1626

Seems rather tame now.

IMG_1636

More costumes.

IMG_1646

And an ambulance in case anyone gets hurt.

Well, it was interesting.  I’ve been observing the festival with my girlfriend for 8 days now.  It started on the 12th and goes to the 21st.  Two more days and I can eat a hamburger and drink some beer.

Guns

gun2

We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming for something completely different.  A few days ago there was yet another mass shooting in America.  Over the last few days without fail people have been using this tragedy to advance their own political agendas.  Democrats are calling for a ban on scary looking guns and magazines with a capacity over 10 rounds.  Republicans are saying it’s not guns but our failing mental health system even though they have no intention of actually fixing it.

So I thought it would be interesting to compare the United States gun ownership rates, murder, and suicide to some other countries.

Country Guns / 100 people Murder* Suicide* Gun Murder* Gun Suicide*
United States 112.6 4.7 12.1 3.55 6.70
Japan 0.6 0.3 18.5 0.0 0.4
Switzerland 45.7 0.6 9.2 0.23 2.68
Sweden 31.6 0.7 11.1 0.19 1.20
Thailand 15.6 5.0 11.4
Australia 15 1.1 10.6 0.11 0.62
Australia 1995 1.7 13.0

*Rate per 100,000 people

Sources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_country
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

United States – ‘Merica Fuck Yeah!  We’re number one in gun ownership.  We have the highest murder rate of other developed countries but despite the high rate of gun ownership we’re about average when compared to the rest of the world.  Suicide rates are similar to other developed countries.

Japan – Has almost no guns in private ownership and also has an extremely low murder rate with 0 murders committed with guns.  Amazing!  It would seem to support the Democrats conclusion to ban guns but what’s up with Japan’s suicide rate?  It’s off the charts.  Perhaps this suggests that banning guns would not do much to reduce the suicide rate in the United States.  If people want to kill themselves, it seems like they will find a way, gun or not.

Switzerland – Pro Second Amendment groups often like to use Switzerland as an example of guns not causing murder.  Switzerland has the second highest gun ownership rate in the world yet the murder rate is much lower than the United States.  It’s also interesting in that Switzerland allows people to store fully automatic assault rifles in their home while serving in the military and gives them the option to keep them when their service is done (after being converted to semi-automatic) yet these scary looking black rifles aren’t indiscriminately killing people on the street.

Sweden – Another country that has a relatively high gun ownership rate yet low murder rate.  It should be noted that Sweden (and I presume Switzerland) have stricter gun control laws than the United States with laws that require licensing and registration but I’m not yet convinced these laws are responsible for their drastically lower murder rates.

Australia – Is interesting because in 1996 there was the Port Arthur massacre.  In the wake of this tragedy the prime minister basically said, “OK, no more guns”.  There was a massive gun buyback and strict gun control laws were put into place.  So this gives us some data to compare the effect of these laws on the murder and suicide rates before and after they were implemented.  Since 1996, Australia has seen a decline in murder and suicide rates but the United States has also seen similar declines over the same period. Yet over this same time period, Australia has actually seen an increase in robbery and sexual assault while the United States has seen a decrease. Before 1996 the murder rate in Australia was already relatively low so I’m not sure how one would conclude gun controls similar to Australia would solve the United States gun violence problem.

Thailand – Oh Thailand!  My beloved “Land of Smiles”, full of kind, gentle, and peaceful Buddhists actually has a thriving gun culture!  Who knew!?  The firearm ownership rate is very close to Australia and has licensing and registration requirements but has murder and suicide rates similar to the United States.  I’m not sure how to explain this one.

To me it seems obvious guns are not the root cause of the gun violence problem in the United States.  It’s not even mental health.  Would stricter gun control and increased funding of mental health reduce gun violence?  Maybe, maybe not.  I picked the countries to compare above because they all have very different cultures.  I believe it is these cultural differences that are responsible for the varying murder and suicide rates.  Not the types of inanimate objects that people own.  When will people wake up and realize it’s not just guns or mental health but the entire culture of the United States?  Gun violence will not be reduced until a meaningful conversation on the root cause of these problems can take place.  I’m not sure what the solution is but it’s not banning guns and it’s probably something more along the lines of better education, eliminating poverty, social injustice, police brutality, and inequality.  Big issues that will take generations to address.  Not passing a feel good, do nothing gun control law.

I’m not confident any real change will take place when the media, society, and politicians are more interested in “calling out”, “slamming”, and “shutting down” other people through sound bytes, click bait articles, and deceptive tactics.