Archive for the 'Thailand' Category

Photos!

I know everyone is anxiously awaiting the posting of my trip photos.  I’ve decided to switch to the easier to use and easier to upload application on Facebook.  You don’t have to be a Facebook member to view the photos.  I uploaded my favorites and it’s by no means all of them.  I’ve seemed to misplaced one of my camera disks at the moment (lost in my room which is not entirely surprising).  I switched between using two different cameras- a “point and shoot” and my digital SLR-  so going through the memory cards and sorting the photos took some time.  I added comments on very few (very few!).  But, if you have questions just ask.

Egypt
(a few more I found that I like)

Day Trips from Bangkok

Cambodia – Angkor Wat

Cambodia – Orphanage Day

Cambodia – Khmer Rouge
(Warning: Contains some graphic images)

Vietnam – South 

Vietnam – Central

Vietnam – North

Laos

Playing with Tigers (Thailand)

Bungy Jumping (Thailand)

When I find more I like I’ll upload them to a new album so my loyal readers don’t have to go searching for them.  I’ve also added the links to the “Photos” tab located above.  Enjoy!

 

Countdown…3…2…1

Many of you would think that the countdown is for when I come home (which is very, very soon) but in reality it’s the countdown to when I leaped (leaped might be a stretch) off an 165 foot platform attached to a giant rubber band.  Bungee!!  I have the certificate to prove it and if that’s not enough I have the video as well.  I stood up there for I think 10 minutes or so before I finally closed my eyes and just did it.  I remember opening my eyes on the way down but the rest of it was a blur.  It’s very disorientating.  But, I do remember thinking on the way down “I’m doing it, I’m doing it.”  I’m so glad I didn’t back out like I wanted to.  I knew I would regret it.  It’s a good metaphor for this whole trip.  It’s scary but exhilarating.  I’m glad I went home when I did and glad I came back out into the world to finish what I started.  Now, I don’t have to think about the “what if’s” because I did it!!  Oh yeah, before I bungee jumped I played with and cuddled with some tigers- babies, small ones, and big ones.  Might as well do all the heart-racing stuff in one day, huh??

I’m currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand – home to trekking and cooking courses (among other things).  Since I’m not much of a hiker at home, I skipped the trek.  Instead, I signed up for a “Intensive” Thai cooking course in which I learned six courses not normally offered in the standard classes.  I can’t wait to have a Thai dinner party so that I can show off my skills.  Other than that I’ve been enjoying my last few days vagabonding.

Now, I’m going to go see if I can get my heart rate back to normal.

Quick Update

Just wanted to let everyone know that my new tour started today and we’re leaving for Cambodia tomorrow.  I don’t know how great the internet connections are there and the first week or so of the tour is fairly fast-paced.  I’ll update when I can.

I’ve spent the last week indulging in a little rest and relaxation.  I had another one of those lovely $7 facials last night.  I also bought some lightweight, cotton pants for about $6, hopefully they’ll keep me cool in the jungles (and hopefully they won’t fall apart!).

On to Bangkok

My last day on Koh Pha Ngan (paradise!) I decided to do something more than eat, nap, and laze around the beach all day.  I arranged for a cooking lesson with a local restaurant.  It was great because I got to choose three items from the menu and it was one-on-one.  I chose the Massaman curry, which I was obsessed with back in the states but it is twice as good in Thailand and ten times better at the Bamboo Hut Restaurant where I cooked in a small kitchen barefoot.  I also made Pad Thai and sweet and sour vegetables stir-fry.  I packed the dishes up and dragged them back to the hotel where some of my tour mates were thoroughly impressed.  But, I have to give credit to Gane (I think that’s her name) and her recipes.

The next day we left on our mammoth journey bck to Bangkok: 30 minute pick-up ride, 3 hour ferry, 1 hour bus, 12 hour overnight train and then we did an all-day tour to the River Kwai and the Floating Markets.  We finally arrived at our hotel at 6pm- a full 30 hours after we left the island!

Yesterday was the official last day of the tour.  It was sad to see everyone go but I’m looking forward to the next phase of my journey.  I had a busy day yesterday as well.  I had to go to the US Embassy to add more pages to my passport.  I also needed to find a new, more budget friendly hotel and organize getting the visas for the rest of my trip.  Proud to say that I had success all around even though I had a few bumps in the road.  I found it difficult to get a taxi to take me to the “US Embassy”.  They just didn’t understand me until I finally said “AmericanEmbassy.”  I used a visa agent recommended to me by the tour leader and will pick up my passport on Friday with, hopefully, a Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos visa in it.  I found a great hotel near the famous Khao San Rd but not on it.  Two years ago I stayed on Khao San Rd in a small, smelly room for around $15/night.  Now, I have a larger, pleasant smelling room including breakfast for around $20/night.  I guess my days of roughing it in cheap, budget rooms (hello? $5/night in India!) are over.

Khao San Rd hasn’t changed much other than some bigger neon signs, more streetside bars promising strong drinks and not to check id’s (but when have they ever checked id’s).  Also, the tuk-tuk drivers are still there annoying as ever but after asking me if I want a tuk-tuk they ask under their breath “ping pong?”  Do I look like I want to go to a girly show?!?

Khoa San Road is the epicenter of all SE Asia backpacking travel.  Travelers have either just arrived or are awaiting their departure home.  Everyone comes and leaves from Khao San Road.  It’s frantic, but fantastic!

Last night, I had an amazing facial on a noisy street with honking horns and blaring music.  And all it cost me including a generous tip was just over $7!!  I have forgotten how cheap Thailand is.  I might be getting some more of those before I leave.  The lady also gave me a shoulder, neck, and arm massage well more like a beating (and I’m not kidding a beating… I surprised I don’t have bruises).  No one said that Thai massage was supposed to be relaxing during the actual massage but boy do my shoulders feel much better now.

Tomorrow I am going on a day trip to Atthuya (I think that’s how you spell it), Thailand’s ancient capital.  I was planning to do the trip on my own as it’s just a 1.5 hour train ride a way but when I found out that the organized mini-bus trip including lunch was around $17 I signed up quickly.

Wish you all were here!  Bangkok and Thailand are great.

Return to Paradise

After Kuala Lumpur, we went up to the Cameron Highlands.  It was nice to escape the heat for the first time in six weeks.  The Cameron Highlands are known for their tea plantations which is very similar to the ones in Sri Lanka.  So, I got to visit a little bit of Sri Lanka afterall.  We got to see the entire process from picking in the fields to processing it.  They have been using the same machines since 1935.  Afterwards, we got to sit down to a cup of tea and eat a yummy scone.

After the Highlands, we made our way to our last stop in Malaysia- Penang.  We stayed in the colonial town of Georgetown.  It was very hot and since there wasn’t much to do other than wander the streets I ended up in a nice air-conditioned mall.  I had some extra ringgits to spend before heading to Thailand.  I opted to not buy anything because I don’t have much space in my bag.  So, instead, I jumped head first into the fierce hair salon competition.  I wanted to cover what my stylist at home affectionately calls “pre-lightened” hair whereas the Malaysian stylists bluntly call it “white”.  I had no less than four sets of hands in my hair at one point or another and came out two and a half hours later with 2.5 inches lopped off and blonde highlights.  Overall, the result turned out good and it’s nice to brighten up my look since I haven’t had a haircut or color since March.

The next day we made the long journey (10 hours!) into Thailand to the small town of Surat Thani – the jumping off point to the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan.  I came to Koh Pha Ngan two years ago this month to the same beach resort and it is still the paradise I remember.  So, for the next couple of days I will be getting some well-deserved rest and relaxation and if I’m lucky some color on my ghostly legs.

Tonight, some of us are going to see Thailand’s top Reggae band (our Tour Leader is a big fan), apparently they’re well-known, but then again I wonder if there’s really a competition for the top spot because seriously how many reggae bands are there in Thailand?  All well it should be interesting.

Next stop is Bangkok in a couple of days.  And I start a new tour that takes me to Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos soon after.  Stay tuned and don’t forget to leave me some comments I love reading them.


Where’s Stacy?

Stacy is in West Virginia and totally amazed by the power of Math. (Nerd, I know!)

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