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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

Archive for the Thailand Category

Unlocking My Muscles at the Women’s Prison

June 5th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 5 Comments »

Massage places in Thailand are about as ubiquitous as Starbucks in Santa Monica, so choosing to allow a convicted criminal to pummel the daylights out of my muscles may seem like an odd choice – or an inspired one, depending on one’s perspective.

But, I chose the Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institution ( because it gives soon-to-be-released women a chance to practice a new commercial skill, to earn some head-start money and to interact with the public in a controlled setting. As the young electrical engineer lying next to me said, “It massages my heart, too.”
Following the narrow streets of the original walled city of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s first capitol and second largest city, I was confused by the ungated, pleasantly tiled patio featuring a sprawling mango tree with purple orchids cascading from its branches.

I was expecting cinderblocks, barbed wire, guns and guards. What I found was an atrium-like restaurant adjacent to a coffee shop serving cappuccinos and homemade pastries. (more…)

Category: , Thailand, Massage

When the Fish Fight Back

June 3rd, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 5 Comments »

I’m in Ko Tao, an island off the southeast coast of Thailand. Quite idyllic, with the best dive sites I’ve seen, lush hillsides, powdery beaches - you know, every one of those brochure clichés that must have been written here first. At the moment, I’m sitting at an open air bar/restaurant listening to the waves that are suddenly active and to pleasant techno jazz on the stereo. There’s a warm, cooling breeze drying my hair. (I just showered, following my night dive.) I’m eating a fabulous fresh steamed tuna in a garlic sauce, slipping bits to a nervous stray cat.
ko-tao.jpgThis magical place is the new partying Cabo, an Asian Key West, a young, oh-too-hip crowd bearing more skin, tattoos and piercings than Palm Springs during spring break. I’ve seen more white faces than natives. My fabulous $6 tuna dinner tonight notwithstanding, there are more restaurants here serving burgers and pizza than Pad Thai noodles. English is the default language of choice, and the median age for travelers seems to about, oh, 24. Even at 33, my cousin is older than most of the crowd partying all night at the beaches and bars. At 47, I’m downright dinosaurish.

The diving has been magical, though. Yesterday, I was attacked by a trigger fish 1/5th my size.
ko-tao-boats.jpg (more…)

Category: , Scuba Diving, Thailand
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