While in Thailand, I have had my fair share of amazing messages. Thai massage is a very famous, ancient healing system combining Acupressure, Indian Ayurvedic principles, and assisted yoga postures.

There are no oils or lotions used in Thai Massage and one remains clothed during the treatment. There is constant body contact between the therapist and customer as the body is compressed, pulled, stretched and rocked. The therapists who administer these messages quite literally get up and walk on your back!

Recently while in Chiang Mai, I came across Lila Thai Massage, there are a few of these places scattered throughout Chiang Mai.

Established by Naowarat Thanasrisutharat who is former Director of Chiang Mai Woman’s Prison, Lila Thai Massage helps support the lives of newly released inmates in society. Admirably, Naowarat Thanasrisutharat has spent the greater part of her 40-year career understanding and bridging the gap between the public, and the problems released inmates encounter when adapting to a new community. Prior to their release, these carefully screened inmates go through an extensive training program which allows them to make a living and contribute to society.

In Thailand like Ireland and many other Western Countries, these detainees often encounter discrimination from potential employers who refuse to hire these skilled therapists. Thus, due to lack of employment opportunities, some ladies may return to crime and find themselves back in prison. The Lila Thai Massage was established to help eliminate this pattern of crime and lack of

“The Lila Thai Massage was established to help eliminate this pattern of crime and lack of opportunity.”

Personally, when I came across Lila Thai Massage while out and about one day in Chiang Mai and when I heard all about the program, I was intrigued and knew I wanted to experience and support this establishment.

On my first visit, I had a foot massage/reflexology as well as a Back, Shoulder and Neck message. Once inside the beautifully designed reception area, my therapist washed my feet as per the customs here in Thailand and led us upstairs to the changing room. We were then given clothing to change into. These garments included a light, cropped blouse and a pair of traditional Thai Fisherman PantsOur bags, phones, and wallets were then locked into personal lockers and we were led to one of many massage rooms.

Settled in a cost, quiet room with five beds, our treatments were exceptional.  We were treated to sweet Thai tea as well throughout the session. Both our massage therapists were absolutely lovely, professional ladies; always checking in to make sure we were okay and comfortable.

Of all the messages I’ve received in Thailand (too many to count!) these were probably the most professional and highly trained therapists. They were very experienced, polite and kind. My double massage, which turned out to be a full body Thai masterpiece set me back about 650 Baht/€17.

Of course, you can find cheaper massage therapists in parlors all over Thailand offering massages for as little at 300 Baht/ €4, but I suppose quality trumps quantity here as Lila Massage definitely delivered!!

Information from Lila Thai Massages site tells us that the “Chiang Mai Women’s Prison and the Institute of Skill Development have designed an 180-hour massage training course for the inmates, which are endorsed and meet the requirements of the Public Health Department.”  –  Thus, we, the public are guaranteed to receive a fully trained professional massage therapist.

On my second visit to Lila, I was in a lot of pain in my shoulder, back and arm due to a long few days sightseeing and hiking. I opted for the Hot Oil Massage as well as the Thai herbal compress also. I hadn’t known much about the herbal compress before this trip to Thailand so I was excited to try it out.

The oil massage was absolutely beautiful. The hot oil worked wonderfully on my muscles and tendons which I hadn’t noticed but really needed it due to the sheer amount of yoga and walking I am doing every day. This was followed by the Thai herbal compress application.

Thai herbal compress therapy dates back nearly 5,000 years, to a time when the knowledge of plants, including their effects through ingestion/application on the body, were thoroughly researched by healers and passed down from generation to generation. therapeutic herbs like

Therapeutic herbs like prai, ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass are used in the compress to relieve pain and inflammation. These herbs are then bundled together and wrapped in a muslin compress, steamed and applied to the body in gentle pressing, circular and rolling movements.

This was a treat for my very sore back and neck! Hotter than your normal ‘Hot Stone Massage’ but also different in the process of application. This is definitely something that I will do again as it really worked out a lot of muscle pain for me and left me feeling blissfully relaxed and at ease.

All in all, I really enjoyed my therapies at Lila Thia Massage and highly recommend them to anyone who may be visiting Chiang Mai. The massage parlors are impeccable clean, comfortable and rather luxurious. The decor is also beautiful, in shades of Orchid purple.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of my experience here as the have a no photography policy as well as it being a very relaxing place where phones are put away so one can enjoy the atmosphere. (They do have Wifi though, you know.. while you wait!)

I really love and have respect for this program also whereby former inmates get training and job opportunities after serving their time. It sheds a very a positive light on their new lives and allows them to earn a living and start a new life to support themselves and their families.

Find Lila Massage here and be sure to visit them next time you’re in Chiang Mai!

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” Buddha

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Thanks for reading, leave me a comment or find me on social media!

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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! 

So, with a huge trip to Thailand on the cards at the moment, I decided to buy a GoPro Hero3 Camera. Not only does this tiny camera look like a toy but it weighs next to nothing (great for traveling!). The GoPro Hero3 is the new go-to camera for travellers at the moment and has been on my wish list for some time. Although I have been taking pictures for years, I have never ventured into the video side of things so Im excited to give it a go.

Camera and Travel guides

The GoPro Hero3 captures 1080p30 video. A variety of photo modes like single photos, time lapse photos and burst photos up to 3 frames per second. It has built-in Wi-Fi which talks to the GoPro App which I can control on my phone or laptop and edit easily for sharing online. On top of that, the GoPro can be mounted to practically everything. Head mounts, body mounts, boats, cars and more. I plan to make a body mount for Juno when I’m home, see what that puppy gets up to when she’s out and about! As the camera is housed in a tiny but rugged water-proof casing which is perfect as one of the most sought after uses of the GoPro is to use it with the head mount while diving – after all it is waterproof up to 40m.

GoPro Hero3 Camera

Like a lot of my camera equipment and accessories (which I have alot!), I purchased my GoPro Hero3 from Pixmania.ie which is a great online retailer for electronics. As always, I read all the reviews over on Amazon.ie and plagued my friends who have GoPro’s for information and then found it on Pixmania to buy. I believe the best, most honest reviews of anything ever are on Amazon which is vital reading when considering a big purchase online.

Along with my Nikon D600 Im excited to use my GoPro on my trip and see what happens.. Have you a GoPro? Let me know!

Find me! 

While in Canada this past summer, I went to Niagara Falls, Ontario. Probably the most amazing sight of the natural world I have ever seen. Its funny, your driving along this busy road full of people and suddenly its just right there in front of you, a 173 foot drop with about 5.7 million liters of water flowing into it and just a little railing between you and it! Its pretty breathtaking, I couldn’t help but stare for ages at the entire scene.
The smell, the noise, the water spray, the rainbows and the mist. It’s fantastic. Niagara is right on the border between the US and Canada. So on the other side is the US state of New York; who have their own, smaller falls. The town there is bizarre, its like a mini Las Vegas. Falls Avenue is lined up & down with casinos, wax museums, gimmick hotel and restaurants. Colourful, noisy and exciting!