Thursday, May 29, 2008

No place like home?

There should be a word to describe the hazy restless half-awake state produced by too many hours confined to a small seated space traveling across oceans with a 4x4 inch personal entertainment console in your face and intermittent oddly timed meals. It's cause is probably more closely related to the time difference upon arriving and the bodily confusion of living the same day twice. Okay, so that is why I'm up blogging instead of sleeping.

We had an amazing trip.

The grand finale after leaving Thailand was a 3 day stint in the hectic but beautifully organized East-West fusion that is Hong Kong. We ate Dim Sum, had a tea lesson, and fell in love with Dragon fruit martinis. We also saw the largest, sitting, outdoor, bronze Buddha which definitely rounded out the collection of Buddhas we've seen recently.

Oh, and after hanging out in the fast-paced financial district full of sassy young professionals with ubber cool blackberries, Ryan coined a new term. "Thumbling" is the act of proceeding awkwardly or slowly forward while texting/browsing on your phone/PDA/iphone. Just think of the possibilities with this word--you can "thumble" into someone, perhaps you were brutally "thumbled" today, or maybe we should make a T-shirt that says "DON'T THUMBLE AROUND." Are you guilty?

There are many more stories, memories, and pictures (circa 3K?) to share but I think I'll leave that until later and try to get some sleep. For now, it is good to be home.

Friday, May 16, 2008


To catch you up in the most efficient manner possible, we went diving, got Thai massages, took a cooking course, went sailing, and then got so very sunburned that we're completely out of commission. Serves us right, but we've been having FUN.

This entry is slower than usual because I keep reaching back to unstick my shirt from my tender back area, but I can muddle through. The weather has turned for the better, it looks like we caught the last couple of rainshowers yesterday but for the most part it's been spectacular. We went diving in the midst of the rough weather and though it was fun, it was hard to see much of anything. There is something relaxing about being below the water, and the scenery around the dive site was beyond description. So was the dive boat - an old Thai fishing boat painted red and turquoise and rolled around in the water like a gigantic... um... large red and blue floating sea creature. As far as dive boats go, it was worth a double take.

The massages we got were out of this world, though the road to get to the spa basically necessitated some chiropractic attention. We were in 4 wheel drive most of the time, and I closed my eyes a few times out of fear. The spa/restaurant has the making of a movie set, and the entire experience was utterly relaxing. HIGHLY recommended the next time you're in Koh Tao.

Cooking class was one of our favorite activities. Aey (aieee!) taught us four of our favorite dishes over four hours in the kitchen, and we made everything from the beginning. Our own green curry paste, pad khee mao (drunken noodles), sum-tom (raw papaya salad w/ crab), and tom-kha (coconut soup). Out of this world good. Leave a comment if you want to come over for Thai food some time, you just need to bring your own galangal because we don't know where to get it yet.

Yesterday was sailing. It was fun and unorthodox. The wind kept changing direction, we got caught in a squall, the engine died on our way into shore - let's just say we got some really great sailing experience! Sascha and Danny were great company as they took us around the north end of the island. It was an inspiring and sobering experience to see how beautiful tropical sailing can be and what can actually go wrong while out on a boat. It pushed back our plans to circumnavigate the globe by just a few months, but made us all the more certain of going.

So now for the grand finale - we got roasted on the boat. We've got that funny grimacing awkward sunburned walk thing going on as we scuttle from shady tree to shady tree around the island. Serves us right, we were having way too much fun.

Now we're laying low, recovering for our next dive trip. Then we'll head on to the southern coast of Thailand in the Andaman sea for some more exploring. One more highlight to share - on our 20 minute walk home the other night, we were serenaded by bullfrogs that sound like a broken out-of-tune accordion and crossed paths with a giant fist-sized snail lumbering across the way.

We've also been wrestling a little bit with the extravagance of a trip like this. How do we enjoy it in such a way as to make it worthwhile? How can we live it up right next door to Burma/Myanmar where such horrific things are happening? The conclusion we're coming to is hopefully not a justification but an explanation, about balancing the desire to control the outcome of your actions with the delicious uncertainty of not being in control of how things play out. I think we're supposed to learn how to be more gracious with ourselves as part of this trip. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Voted off the Island

I threw up. But you must understand it was an all night train ride sitting erect followed by a windy bus ride and then finished with a grand finale 2 hour twisting turning rolling ferry ride in the rain. I hate admitting to sea sickness, but that last one did me in.

However, upon arriving to Koh Tao it all was immediately completely worth it. Wow. This place is unbelievably gorgeous and like nothing we've seen before. Gray rocks jet up from aqua waters that caress the whitest of sands. Then, from behind the beach, a cacophony of jungle sounds. It is much like paradise until the Thai staff at the Beach Bungalow Resort start waving their hands around pointing at the looming black clouds and sheets of rain visible on the ocean shouting "RAAAAIN"! And then the wind turns evil. We've had actually more of that since we've been here then the pristine sunny part I started out with. But it's still really cool. Just difficult to dry out--ever.

It's not the same cyclone that hit Myanmar, not even close, but apparently there are a few storms running around SE Asia right now.

So we've hiked to the volcanic peak on the island where we harvested a jackfruit but were ulitmately unsuccessful in our efforts to open it. And we've walked and talked and read and swam, and today we even got a couple of dives in during a sun break. ("Sun Break" for those of you not from the NW, is a short period of time during which you actually see and feel the sun. You notice it, define it, and take advantage of it because of the general absence of sun.) It's ironic that I'm defining that since we came here partly for SUN!

But we are happy, and there are still many many islands to explore.

Oh, one more thing: THE HUGEST SPIDER WE HAVE EVER SEEN WANTED TO SHARE OUR ROOM LAST NIGHT. And after a small battle involving chacos, water, flashlights, and a lot of laughter. It won. And there was consequently less sleep. Enough said.

Love to all!

Friday, May 09, 2008

We're waiting for a ride to the floating market...

but in the meantime, thought you might like to hear just a little about what we've seen. Imagine 400 people swaying in techno synchronicity in Lumphini park, a mesmerizing form of group aerobics. Breathtaking. Imagine a large lizard creeping up out of the pond to snap up the weakest exercisers. Imagine all the people enjoying the park in every way - cycling, rollerblading, rowing, paddleboating, running, badminton-ing, playing soccer, jazzercising, yoga-ing, and reclining stopping in their tracks, arms at their sides for the national anthem. That's national pride!

And there's food. Glorious gobs of food in every shape, size and array. Feet and eyeballs mixed in with piles of squid and hot thai chilis. Octupus, squid, crocodile... completely overwhelming. And not all gross, just many many options. And double the heat scale for your traditional American Thai food. We've been eating really really really well.

Bangkok is pretty overwhelmingly busy, from the crowded streets to the crowded supermalls. It's hard not to love, but it's really energetic. We're excited to get out of town and get some perspective on this place.

We've been intrigued by some fun phenomenon, like spontaneous clothing markets that spring up after the malls close in Siam Square, with hundreds (thousands?) of teeny boppers snapping up the latest brand name knock offs. We got caught up in the frenzy and landed a sweet sweater set.

We're finding that the services available for tourists aren't all they're cracked up to be. A day pass for the boat is 120 baht ($4) which seems like a good deal until you buy a single pass for 15 baht. We compromised and are using our day passes every day until we make up our losses, the operators don't seem to look at the date.

We really enjoyed the serenity of the Buddhist temple of the Jade Buddha at the Grand Palace here in Bangkok. Amidst the heat and craziness, there was a great sense of calm and reverence inside.

We'll have a better sense of Bangkok once we unwind in the islands a little bit, that's probably when you'll hear from us next.