Animal Shelter

This past summer in Thailand while on Koh Phangan [Island] – I was so excited to venture into the jungle on  in search of Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS). Having arrived on the island a week earlier, we had found temporary accommodation in the busy area of Haad Rin. Famous for its backpacker lifestyle, beach parties, pool parties and the full moon festival, Haad Rin was a fun, Westernised place. We decided to move a little more north though and settled on Thongsala, Koh Phangan. We booked into the extremely nice, comfortable Blessings Hostel right there in the middle of town; which I cannot recommend enough! From there, PACS is only a 5 minute journey by bike or cab for around 100THB.

Animal Shelter Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS) was founded in 2001, until then there was no animal or veterinarian help on the island at all – a shock to me as there are just so many dogs on the island. With the arrival of so much tourism in recent years, the dogs have no shortage of food or company and the majority of them are well fed – plump even and they know exactly how to get their meals. You will see many dogs hanging around certain hot spots like 7/11 stores, grocery stores, malls, food markets and temples as they know that between the Thai people and the tourists, they will be fed. Unfortunately one area that is lacking is medical care. The dogs often succumb to a host of skin deceases and rashes, ticks, burns and of course car accidents. This is what Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS) deal with the most.

WEB_DSC9060On arriving at the kennels, we were greeted by an all to familiar sound, the chorus barks that lets people know theres people arriving. First there was Boo, who is like 17 years old, he’s old and grey and has four legs but only three feet. He is an old man dog who sits in the porch just outside the offices and can get grumpy when not being included in the conversations in the nearby kitchen! We meet Paris too who I believe was born into a shelter and so lives at PACS full time as a resident, a sweetie pie with an eye for treats and thus – diets!!

Boo & Paris

We then are brought to the kennels to meet the host of patients. First we met Beatle, she’s a lifer. She was hit by a car at some stage and is paralysed in her back legs, she refuses to use a wheelchair and so just drags her arse around after her – happily! She’s a bit of a madam but I fell in love with her, big time. She just wants a little of the puppy attention you know?! Then there’s Skanky who has a very severe case of a skin condition called Demodex. It’s treatable but incurable. Skanky was treated and returned to his street home but kept retuning to PACS so often that they decided the best thing for him was to live there. Which he does with his mate; ‘Squealer’. This lady has been a resident since 2008 – she was only 4 weeks when she arrived and so has never known life as a street dog. She’s a happy thing with boundless energy!

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We met Gor-Goi who was doing a course of Hydrotherapy at the time of our arrival. PAC are working on getting one of her back legs working again after an accident. She shows some promise in that she moves it a little so there is hope that the use of it in the tub will help stimulate the muscles. She is the only dog here who walks around all day long freely in an attempt to get her to use her leg. Everyone else is either tied up or kennelled at one stage or another due to dogs not getting on, behaviour problems etc. But Gor-Goi? – she is probably the most chill dog I have ever met – in my life. A true lady.

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We meet the puppy brothers and sisters too which were dumped in box outside the gates of PACS – a normal occurrence here and indeed at every rescue across the world. They are a mixed breed, Thai Ridgeback and are only weeks old. We settle in for a day of playing, bathing and picking ticks off their tiny bodies. They lovvvveeee to hang out with the volunteers and just play then sleep then play again! They will be treated and vaccinated and hopefully adopted – if not, they will have to resume life as Koh Phangan street dogs. PACS will then take them in again at a later date to neuter them also. The hope is that they would be adopted as day by day they are becoming more and more domesticated and used to humans. Life on the streets can be very tough for these little dudes.

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Paula of FinsFangsFeathersAndFur Blog

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Saibh and a tiny rescue puppy

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Tick Paralysis is a huge problem out here too, the ticks latch on in their hundreds bringing with them their unique type of disease. The illness is caused by a neurotoxin produced in the tick’s salivary gland. After prolonged attachment, the engorged tick transmits the toxin to its host. Patients can experience severe respiratory distress (similar to anaphylaxis). Day after day, hundreds of ticks have to be pulled off the dog’s skin, ears and toes at PACS. I had done this at home, once or twice (ever!!) but nothing prepared me for the sheer volume of them here. Volunteers have to do alot of this with all the dogs and puppies as well as the joy and fun  of bath time where they are treated with special shampoos to treat and sooth their skin.

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Over my short stay at PACS, I also met Tono, who was brought in with severe paralysis in is back legs and cuts and bruises all over is body. This red retriever is the most handsome, loving dog who for the first week I was there lay in his kennel looking out at us working and playing with other dogs. He longed to be outside with us playing but his paralysis had gone too far and he couldn’t walk, only watch. _DSC9884One day while bathing him out on the grass, we decided to try him in the wheelchair. He was a little shaky at first but after a couple of minutes and some stumbling – he found his feet/wheels! He was mobile again!! We were so thrilled – the joy that fills your heart when you see someone walk for the first time in a long time is just tremendous!! He was so happy to finally be able to get around the property an not only that but visit the kitchen too where all the girls hang out and food is made. This of course is a treat or someone who spent so much of their life just watching other people do these things. He was literally crying and squealing with excitement and happiness.
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PACS is a pretty incredible place, equipped with nurse’s room and surgery room with indoor kennels for critical patients. There is a pharmacy which is filled with mostly donated medical supplies and the island’s only isolation facility for animals with contagious animal diseases – mostly Distemper & Parvo virus. There are 9 outdoor dog kennels and an outdoor dog yard, cattery and feeding and bathing areas. As well as this there is accommodation, two offices, a kitchen and cleaning facilities. It’s not cheap and through generous donations and super fun events, PACS is leading the way in animal care on the island.
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Animal Shelter
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The animals and indeed the humans of Koh Phangan are very lucky to have PACS at their doorstep caring for the ever rising numbers of street dogs on the island. I saw some dogs in pretty bad shape on the island and know that while my time at the kennels was short – I didn’t see anything too unnerving. Click here to see some of the absolutely shocking cases that PACS has had to deal with.
Without any private or government funding PACS relies on the good hearts of people, both local and international! If you would like to help PACS continue to do this amazing work, treating and saving the islands animals, please donate through their paypal at phangananimalcare@gmail.com. Check out their website also to see other ways of helping. Donations, medical supplies, events, volunteering and sponsorships too!

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 Saying good-bye to puppy Fallon  – the hardest part! 

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Enjoying a cup of Tetley Tea

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Have to give a huge shout and thanks to the amazing team at PACS (Summer 2015); Issy, Avril, Hattie, Christine, Elle, Aggie, Federa, the four legged ones too and to all the wonderful volunteers I met working there this summer too – Asli, Annie, Linn and Lauren of Samma Karuna too.
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Find me! 

Following my first post of images from Thailand here I have now added another five weeks of travel shots. These are covering the two island, Koh Chang (White Sands & Lonely Beach) and Koh Samui (Fisheman Village).

Week 3 – Koh Chang

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Week 4 – Koh Chang

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Week 5 – Koh Samui

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Week 7 – Koh Samui

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Thus concluded another four weeks in Thailand in imagery. I have enjoyed all the islands so far but Koh Chang was definitely my favourite! It’s smaller than Koh Samui and alot less ‘Western’ / backpackers – theres much more Thai people, Thai restaurants and bars etc. It’s alot less busy at the moment as its low season but I think its probably like this all the time in comparison to the rest of the Islands. Its lush green with lots of elephants and lovely scenic beaches with crystal blue sea water! The accommodation and travel is very inexpensive and Air BB was a saviour here.

Koh Samui was also wicked fun but waaay more Westernised which, at this point, we weren’t used to. The beautiful Fisherman’s Village is a funky, cute little tourist area where I enjoyed lots of Yoga classes, great food and great market shopping! I stayed in a great area too which was inexpensive throughout Air BB and I just loved getting out on the beach! I visited the Big Buddha too early one morning which was truly magical.

Next stop, heaven itself – Koh Phangan! Be sure to stop by and see my photos from the next step in the journey!

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I’ve decided to document my Thailand trip over the next two months every two weeks with a ‘Photo A Day’ post. This covers Bangkok first, then onto the gorgeous town/city of Chanthaburi and then to the island Koh Chang. What a whirlwind adventure its been so far! Hope you enjoy.

 1 July – Bangkok

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3 July

Khaosan Rd4 July

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5 July – Chanthaburi

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11 July – Koh Chang

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14 July

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15 July

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16 July

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17 July

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There covers days 1 – 17 of my trip to Thailand. Its been such an adventure already with so much done and seen. Roll on the next  weeks!

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Before I left Ireland for Thailand, people would ask about my trip. “Oh you will hate Bangkok” they’ed assume, “It’s so noisy and crazy, you will want to leave straight away!”. I thought this was a crazy thing to say to someone about the place they were leaving for. I mean, I would never think to say to someone, “Oh you’re going to Spain? Oh you’re definitely going to hate it!” and push my opinions onto them. Whatevs.

On arriving in Bangkok, I knew the only thing I could do is take it at its own pace. Which is fast! The city is big, noisy, hot and mental! We arrived on the Khaosan road which is like the Temple Bar of Bangkok.. if Temple Bar was on acid or MDMA that is!

We checked into our hotel, the D&D – a pretty notorious backpacker hotel on the Khaosan Road as it’s the only place with a rooftop pool,  an absolute must for any newbie to the Bangkok heat.

Over the next few days in Bangkok, we acclimatised to the heat as best we could, explored our surroundings, lounged around the pool and ate some local grub. We discussed at length how people seem to have a bad view of Bangkok and how if you take it as it is, its a pretty great place!

6 Great Things About Bangkok

1. The People. This one is a no-brainer and everyone knows it. The Thai people are the sweetest, most un-assuming people ever. They are so super helpful and they love to chat with foreigners about where they are from and what they think of Thailand.

Example, on day two of our adventure we decided to visit the Wat Pho Temple. We’re not the best with maps or anything and tend to just wander about completely in our own world of chatting, cracking jokes and falling about laughing. So we are wandering around when this man comes up to us stating he thought we ‘looked lost’ and assumes (correctly!) that we are trying to find the temple. So in his broken English he proceeds to chat with us for about 15 minutes! Not only that but instead of walking straight there, he sends us on this little known river boat adventure around the old city to get there – WIN! He even took out a pen and paper from his briefcase and draws us a map. A MAP. We instantly fall for this guy.

The girls with the lovely thai man

2. The Pad Thai. Paula is a huge Pad Thai fan when she’s at home in Ireland so she was dying to get her paws on some in Thailand! For those of you who don’t know, Pad Thai is a stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food in Thailand. It is made with soaked dried rice noodles, which are stir-fried with eggs and flavoured with fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic or shallots, red chili pepper and sugar. We literally lived on this dish for four days in Bangkok. We had restaurant food one evening, which was good but not a patch on the street vendors delicious offerings!

We have since eaten Pad Thai in restaurants here and nothing compares to the street food made right in front of you in Bangkok. Yum!

Pad Thai Food

3. The Temples. We finally got to the Wat Pho Temple via our Thai man’s lovely little map and boat adventure. Wat Pho is a Buddhist temple which houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, including a 46m long Reclining Buddha. Its a huge complex which full of the most amazing temples, alters, gardens and statues all adorned with mosaics of colourful glass and mirror tile squares. There are pools of beautiful coloured Koy fish too!

The Reclining Buddha is 15m high and 46m long represents Buddha during his last illness, about to enter the parinirvana or Nirvana-after-death. He is lying on his side with his head resting on a cushion, supporting his head with his hand.

Personally, I share my home with some Buddhas and I find it hard to pass one by without photographing him or rubbing his belly (for luck). So, being here and seeing this amazing, huge ancient structures in all their golden and gem covered glory is quite moving.

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4. Rooftop Pool. Yeah so we were SO HOT in Bangkok. Having just landed from the cold rainy, summer weather of Ireland, this was a predicted shock to the system. Our digs, the D&D hotel is the only one on the Khaosan Road with a pool so this was where you could find us during the day.

Techno, long island iced tea, sunshine and the rooftop pool – heaven. Tacky? Maybe but when you’re this hot, you need the pool! We also found a nice gazebo also cos ya know, proper pale white girl skin situation over here!

Rooftop Pool

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5. Old Bangkok by Boat. Our newly made Thai friend who gave us directions to the temple sent us to the pier to get a longboat ride around the city. We went down, hopped on a boat and  off we went. This did not disappoint. We were treated to a forty minute gorgeous boat ride through winding canals of Bangkok. We literally were in peoples back yard. The houses are so lovely all perched high above us on stilts and decorated with wind chimes and colourful art.

Our lovely driver also gave us chunks of white bread and gestured to trow it in the water to feed the Catfish! Hundreds of Catfish all going completely Catfish crazy, fighting for the bread. Mental! We also saw a alot of Monitor Lizards. Our resident reptile expert was keeping a close eye and educating us all the way. These giant dinosaurs were very used to boats and people and really didn’t mind our intrusion.

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WEB_DSC7882WEB_DSC7881WEB_DSC7889WEB_DSC7858 WEB_DSC7859All in all we were pleasantly surprised by Bangkok. Sure, its overwhelming, its loud, busy and colourful but isn’t that what travel is all about? Seeing new things and experiencing new cultures. If I were on a two week trip to Thailand, I would probably spend little time here but I would never rule it out or try to tell anyone it wasn’t worth it. Bangkok is an amazing city with beauty and grace, you just have to look for it.

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At the end of last year I managed to get over to the UK to see some friends for a bit. We decided to take a road trip to Glastonbury to climb the Glastonbury Tor. The Tor is a very prominent hill (518ft) overlooking the Isle of Avalon, Glastonbury and Somerset. I admittedly hadn’t heard of the Tor before but was excited to and somewhat nervous to climb it. I know, I know, its not that scary but having just injured myself weeks before, I was preetttyy sure I was going to fall and die and could totally imagine myself needing to be airlifted to some UK hospital..

Weather wise, the days prior to our road trip were horrendous. Cold, wet, foggy and windy – so we really were hoping for a dry day for our climb. We woke early that morning and as we set off from Bristol, we could barely drive through the dense fog. Luckily as we arrived in Glastonbury though, the fog burned off and the sun made a pretty glorious appearance.
The climb was wonderful, if not a bit scary! The little path stared to disappear beneath our feet about half way up and its a very steep climb. I think it took us about 20mins to climb to the top. I really resisted every temptation to grab someones hand during the climb. Upon arriving at the top, we see for miles and miles. A roofless St Michael’s Tower believed to have been destroyed by an earthquake in 1275 was the prominent figure.  The views of Glastonbury and Somerset from the top are absolutely breathtaking! Beautiful, lush green countryside. We couldn’t have asked for a better day to sit at the top and soak up the sun and fresh air. The journey back down was steep as it was on the way up but the grass was dry so we could kind of run down parts of it. We said hello and goodbye to the Ram friend we made at the start and headed into Glastonbury town for some lunch.
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