Waterfalls and Bamboo

On Sunday the 30th, Hong Sar, James, and I each rented a motorcycle for CAD$5 and we headed out of Mae Sot to do a little sightseeing. Ann-Elisabeth came too, riding on the back of Hong Sar’s bike. We had three intended sights to see: two sets of waterfalls, and the gibbon sanctuary.

The first set of waterfalls was quite small and right beside a main road, but neat to walk through anyways.

This guy thought it was funny to see some farang in the neighbourhood. I always find these contraptions pulled by tractor engines quite intriguing so I stared back.

On our way to the second set of waterfalls, we passed this large sitting Buddha.

Nearby was a good view of the valley below:

The second set of waterfalls, at Pacharoen, was much bigger. We walked up the steep path along the left side, and continued long after the steps and railings had ceased to guide us. There was a relatively clear path winding through the forest so we followed it quite a way, through spiderwebs and clouds of bugs.

This tree reminds me a bit of Angkor Wat, where the trees have cracked the stones apart with their roots.

This clump of bamboo may not look impressive in a photo, but each of those bamboo shoots is nearly a foot in diameter! I’ve always been amazed by the giant bamboo you find in this part of Thailand.

As James and I walked deeper into the forest, the path was more and more overgrown. In one spot, there were some leaves jutting out into the path and I disturbed them a bit as I was walking through. Immediately a dozen or more green dragonflies took to the air like sprites. I stopped dead in my tracks and managed to get a few photos as they weren’t particularly scared of us. There were also a whole bunch of these spiders (some may call them daddy long legs, but I’m not certain these ones fall into that category) to keep us company.

This fungus thingy must have some sugar or something in it, as the ants really fancy it.

Eventually we turned around, got back on our bikes, asked a cop for directions, and made our way to the gibbon sanctuary. Which is what you’ll get to see in the next post.

First month visiting Canada

In 29 photos, here’s a summary of my entire month of June:

I arrived in Vancouver on May 26th, and on the 30th I took a bus over to Bowen Island alone to relax and go for a row while I could still climb in and out of the rowboat. It was good fun, but I took very few photos. On my walk up the dirt road to get to the ferry, I saw a deer in a neighbour’s yard where we often see them:

One of the themes I’ve noticed among my photos is my tendency to take photos of flags whenever I see them in the wind. This is the flag of British Columbia, the westernmost province in Canada. The flag in the background is just an ugly company flag for BC Ferries.

The next day, June 1, my sister Josephine took off for a two month solo backpacking trip in Latin America. She flew into the south of Mexico and will fly back to Vancouver from Bogotà, Colombia on August 8. We have the exact same backpack.

There are three sets of photos below: flowers in our garden, knee surgery, and Mt Seymour. If you’re bored by flowers, don’t give up; just skip down to the knee stuff, which should amuse anyone with a sense of humour as unrefined as mine.

After Jos left, I walked around our unkempt garden for a few minutes taking pics of flowers while I could still walk. These clematis blooms, about 7 inches across, are really neat:

I also really like these wisteria blooms that drop down from the archway overhead as we walk from the car to the back door of the house:

This fly stood relatively still on the grape leaf long enough for me to get a number of shots. I don’t have a dedicated macro lens, so this is the best I could do with my normal zoom lens.

Buttercups growing wild in the sidewalk cracks. If you hold them under your chin in the sun, your chin glows.

These chrysanthemums are inside in a pot. These blooms were already about a month old!

Then I went back outside to the front yard, where there are bright red/orange poppies that I gave my dad many years ago. The blooms are about 5 inches across! These flowers are really this bright; I only resized the following photos – I made no colour, contrast, or brightness changes.

I don’t know where these pink poppies came from, but they’re cool too.

More red poppies:

An iris a few days before blooming:

Pink poppy again, from the side:

The next day, June 2, my dad drove me to Vancouver General Hospital where I was scheduled to get my knee repaired. This is a picture of my left knee prior the hospital visit; it may look ok, but inside it was all messed up and hasn’t been functioning properly for 4 years.

I told the anaesthesiologist that I woke up in the middle of a hernia surgery two years ago and pulled my mask off (I was delirious, I’m not quite stupid enough to do that if I know what’s going on), at which point they had to pump more drugs into me. I also woke up in the middle of having all four wisdom teeth taken out last year. Although I was eating pizza later that afternoon, the pain when I woke up in the middle of having my teeth crushed into little bits was rather intense. So this time the guy said he’d be sure to give me extra drugs. I woke up in some other room with a bandage on my knee so I guess they gave me enough!

I don’t know if this is for visitors or staff…

This is my knee after the operation:

This is the back of my left leg, above the knee.

It’s all bruised because they cut out two lengths of hamstrings about 25cm / 10″ long, which they folded over and sewed together into a single string about 12cm / 5″ long. This is a replacement for my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) which was torn completely from my femur. Your ACL is almost definitely attached to both your tibia and your femur the way it should be.

The surgeon put two small holes above my knee, then put a wire through one hole and around the end of the new ACL, then back out the other hole. When he pulled on both ends of the wire, that pulled the new ACL up into the long hole lower down my knee and up into place by the femur. He then fastened that end in place with a bioabsorbable screw (they don’t use metal anymore – this screw will simply be gone about 2-3 years from now) which screws into a hole he had drilled into the bone. The lower end of the new ACL was put in place in my tibia without the need for the wire, and is held in place by another bioabsorbable screw. You can watch a video of a similar procedure online, just google ACL reconstruction surgery and you should find a few neat vids. The new ACL will, after about 3 months, be quite weak, but will then start establishing a blood supply with the bone the way the old ACL used to have. After about 6 months, it should have a full blood supply and those two hamstrings they sewed together will have become a functioning ligament holding my knee together properly.

I spent one night in hospital and left the next afternoon. A few days later, my friend Kelly and one of her friends came over to my parents’ house and we did some art stuff, since I never do anything art-related. We made shrinky dinks. They’re so cool. You draw stuff on plastic sheeting then cook it in the oven, producing toxic fumes despite no warnings on the packaging, and within a short time the plastic has shrunk into a much smaller size but much thicker. It’s 100% to scale, and it’s very solid. I traced, as best I could, one of the knee MRI images I have.

While spending many days in bed at my parents’ home, with my baby sister (17 yrs old, maybe not quite a baby anymore) Lisa bringing me food and keeping me company, I decided to spruce things up a bit, despite my general dislike of American/Canadian pro “football”:

By the end of the month, I had moved from crutches to a cane thanks to my physiotherapist, Dr Waymen Wong at Marpole Physiotherapy. Granny lent me one of her canes, the fancy hand-carved cane Lisa had brought back for Granny from Cuba a few months ago. So on June 29th my parents, Lisa, and I went for a short walk on Mount Seymour, just outside Vancouver. Nice place, filled with typical BC rainforest scenes that I’ve grown up with:

Lisa modelling my backpack:

Me modelling Granny’s cane (and actually using it to hold myself up)

Two waterfalls:

Dad and Mom:

More natural beauty:

Well, that’s all of June in one blog post. Next post, coming very soon: fire poi, also known as fire-spinning!