Wednesday, May 21, 2014

It has been an incredibly long time since I traveled abroad.  Obviously.  I mean, look at when the last post was made.  It has been a freakin while.
My fascinating fascinator!
But now I'm off and out and on my way again.  I have to admit, though...not to be a travel snob, but I am in one of the more boring places to travel to.  The United Kingdom has never held much appeal or my interest, but hey.  A trip is a trip. 
And this is a trip!  My friend is having a wedding reception in her newly adopted home town of Wells, and a small division of Americans will be representing the States against a sea of Brits.  Since it is a formal affair, a fascinator has been purchased.  Clearly the cultural exchange has already begun.

Wells is a charming little city, just barely qualifying as a city because of it's cathedral.  Complete with mostly cobble stone sidewalks and streets, the main debate among the American contingent is whether it looks like a set from Universal Studios or a scene form Disney Land.  Everything from the signage to the homes and storefronts, the cathedral with its moat, are all satisfyingly British-looking and seeming.  The last time I was in the UK, I felt like I was stuck in a generic suburb that just happened to have English accents coming out of every mouth I ran into.  This is just so much more fun. 
In the last week I've spent most of my days reading writing, and working, with frequent breaks to check out cafes and pubs.  So far I've managed to drink at five different pubs in town...or is it six?  It's probably six.  Not bad for a city where I've also seen a dude drive a tractor down the main street like it was the most normal thing in the world. 

Also, the rumors you've heard are true; the food is getting better!  So far I haven't had a bad meal yet, which is fantastic.  I am considering taking up the habit of double-lunches just to make sure I don't miss out on anything delicious. 

On the menu today, besides a delicious open-faced sandwich and carrot & cumin soup, I've got a fungi & chicken meat pie, ginger chocolate biscuits, and fresh strawberries from the farmer's market on the menu. 
Tomato, basil and Welsh rarebit bruschetta with Carrot & Cumin soup
Yum city.  Oh yeah, and beer.  At some point today we will end up at the pub and toss back a couple of pints.
Okay England, you have me.  For now...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Magic doesn't live here any more....

I haven't traveled in a very long time. But someday soon, I will again. And then you'll all want to read about it!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Final look back...

Well, I've finally been home long enough to manage sleeping through the night, cleaning every article of clothing I took with me, and sorting through my pictures. Here's a couple of pictures form my last few days:

This is Sheila and I having our last lunch at Coffee Boat, our favorite little hole in the wall Thai place on Koh Tao.

My little cell to myself in Bangkok, though clean, was kinda creepy. The picture doesn't show that I was at the end of a dark hallway and very loud. But it was cheap!

This is the infamous Khao San Road, home to street vendors, over priced food, backpackers and travelers of all manner and destination, and, of course, people who will give you dread locks in the street for a few hundred baht. I declined.

This me in front of the Death Railroad, called that because so many people died building it. What a fun story, right?

And my friends and I on a bamboo raft on the River Kwai, on our way to Lunch!

At the tiger temple, I had to cover up my red shorts because, apparently, reds, oranges, and pinks can aggravate the tigers. All of the tigers were just stretched out on hot rocks, relaxing in the sun. You can not imagine how hot it was down there, with no shade and nothing but more hot rocks reflecting the sun back!

My Kanchanaburi friends on our last night in Bangkok. Sheila and I left for the airport at 3 am (so about 1 hour after this photo was taken!), and Natty and her boyfriend left the next morning to travel north to Chang Mai.

...and you all know the rest.

Friday, March 30, 2007

My last Thai Night

So I am home. Finally. One the one hand, it's great to be able to wake up not covered in sweat and bugs, eat cheese regularly, and wear jeans. On the other hand, meals now cost more than a dollar, I am back at work, and will probably not go swimming in the ocean again any time soon.

My list night in Bangkok was a little bit hectic. I did some last minute shopping during the day and had my last dish of 20 baht green curry. Walking around Khao San road i ran into a guy I'd gotten to know on Kho Tao, and we made plans to meet for dinner at 7 that night. I went to my cooking class and was 20 minutes early, which ment i had plenty of time to sit and sweat and reorganize my various purchases.
The cooking class wasn't really what i had expected. I should have guessed from the price (1000 baht or about $28), but instead of it being a low key class in someone's home, including my much anticipated trip to a real thai market where i could go crazy and buy tons of spices to bring home, it was a classy cooking school designed for hotel-saying tourists.
I actually felt quite scuzzy, being picked up from Khao San, the hippie/backpacker hangout, in my dirty fishing shorts and tank top, and then riding along as the taxi collected chilled pairs of people in clean, matching outfits. The cooking school was also pretty fancy, but it was nice because we each got our own student kitchen, so we got ot actually make the dishes ourselves. I made Pad Thai, fried fish cakes, coconut and lemongrass soup with chicken, and for dessert, Crunchy Ruby suop, which is made with water chestnuts, coconut milk, and sugar syrup. Everything was Great! Afterwards i bought some curry paste and a knife like the one i used...very nice and very cheap!
I got back from my cooking class late and was late to meet with a friend from Koh Tao. I had also stoped to try to check in for my flight online, to save time, but got an error message telling me to speak to a counter person. Which freaked me out. So, after wandering Khao San road for about 15 minutes looking for my friend, i ran back to my guest house to try to straighten out my flight. Of course everything was closed and wouldn't be open until 8am, at which time I expected to be in the air, so i decided to hell with worrying, and went off to meet my second dinner date of the night, my friends from the Canchanaburi day trip.
We met up and ended up following Natty, the Thai lady, to a little restaurant tucked away off the main path. I decided the fact that the menu didn't describe the dishes in english was a good sign, and let Natty do most of the talking and ordering. She was such a cool person, born and raised in Bangkok, and she really knew her stuff. We had an amazing dinner and a lot of Singha beer!
After a few hours of great food, great beer, and a couple of rounds of pool, Sheila, an older Canadian woman I'd met on the Canchanaburi trip went to check her flight details. It turned out she was on the exact same flight to SFO as me, so we ran back to say goodbye, then ran to our rooms to pack up. We grabbed a taxi at aobut 3am and drove to the airport. We got their early, beat the crowds and got all checked in and set. We had a little breakfast at the airport, a fancy western sandwich with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes. Even at the airport, Thai food is cheap!
The flight was tedious because i couldn't seem to sleep, but only about 6 hours long. Then we landed in Tokyo/Narita for a few hours. I bought some souviners and ate some sushi, which was pretty good for airport food! Then our flight to San Francisco, which i think took about 10 hours.
Long story short (well, kind of short!) I am home now, with a bit of a cold, and back to work and back to the grind. Now it's time to figure out my next steps in life!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I'm Home!

so i'm going to get some food. I haven't slept in over 50 hours and I've been traveling for 30 hours.
more to follow, promise!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Railroads & Tigers & Bears, Oh my!

Today was amazing!
let me start over; last night was weird and surreal, leading up to today, which was AMAZING!

After dropping Sheila off on the airport bus, i walked around a little bit dazed. It was weird not having my travel buddy/activities director with me! So i wandered the streets and made sure i knew how to get from my travel agent on Khao San to my guest house and back. I bought a few things here and there, making a few trips back to the guest house to unload so i didn't look like a walking money purse. I had a small and slightly over priced meal on Khao San, which made me miss the cheap family joints on th e islands, and then had a beer and went to bed. The three things worth mentioning were

1) how freaking cool it was to watch Khao San switch from day market to night market. Half the people closed up shop and went home while even more came int o replace them!

2) This old Thai blind woman who kept walking up and down the street with a karaoke machine strapped to her back, singing. Honestly, it was soo cool I didn't even think to check if she was begging until after the third time i saw her.

3) 25 baht spring rolls. I had two dishes of three, home/hand made by ladies on the street, cut up for you with large tooth picks to eat them with. Heaven.

Today I went to my travel agency at 7am to meet for my day trip to Canchanaburi. It took about two hours by mini bus (van for you Americans) to get to Canchanaburi, where we first stopped to see the War Memorial. It was basically a large cemetery for dead soldiers from world war II, but the cool thing was that the soldiers were from all different nations, all laying beside each other. Next was War museum and Death Bridge, which were also WW II related. It was all pretty cool, looking at the exhibits and picking up tidbits of history. I had no idea the Japanese played such a strong role in Thailand's past. Then the Death Railroad and bridge, which was basically a public works project started by the Japanese that hundreds of POW and Thais died constructing. Yay! Later on, after my Elephant trek, I actually road on the Death railroad, which has a gorgeous view of the River Kwai.

On the way back from the death railroad bridge, i bought some noodle soup to go, which meant in a plastic bag with no utensils. Luckily the man i bought an orange drink from (so i could try to eat with a straw) gave me some mini chopsticks/extra large tooth picks. Then we took a bamboo raft up the River Kwai, which was really cool. I mean, when i say raft i mean a bunch of bamboo strapped together and some bamboo benches on top to sit on. An older man and a little boy paddled us slowly up the river, and every time a real boat came by I lifted up my backpack to keep it dry! We stopped at the guest house where the people doing a 2 day trip would stay and they had a lunch all set up for us, which was great. Then we took a truck to the Tiger Temple!!
Wat Pa Luangta is outside of Canchanaburi, and apparently it was a monastary for a while when a cub, orphaned by poachers, needed someone to take it in after a botched attempt at stuffing it (yeah, that's right, the rich a**holes tried to have it stuffed alive, but the poor thing survived). Basically, the monks, being good Buddhists who want to minimize the suffering of all creatures, took in this cub, and then others until the temple became a sanctuary for the tigers. We went in and walked around, meeting peacocks, wild boar, water buffalo, cows, horses and wild roosters before reaching the tiger area. We got to watch some cubs play with their older brother, and then walked down to another area where we got to have pictures taken petting the tigers! So cool!! They were all quite calm and really didn't seem to care about us people sweating to sit next to them for a few seconds. Pictures to follow I promise!!

After the Tiger Temple I went on an Elephant trek, which was actually a little disappointing because the elephant didn't go very far and was under suck excellent control that nothing of extreme interest happened. I did have a great time, though, getting to know some of my companions: a Canadian woman named Sheila who was in Thailand on her way home from Japan after working there for the last 5 years, an Austrian couple who kept entirely to themselves, and a Swiss guy and his Thai girlfriend, whom i had so much fun with but deffinately was in possession of an Adams apple. They tried to convince me to break my plans and stay on another day in Canchanaburi, but i left after making plans to meet up with them for drinks tomorrow night.

I am exhausted and hungry! Tomorrow is my Thai cooking class, and then I leave for the airport at 4am. Soon cold showers will be an option!!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Back to Bangkok!

Sheila and I are back in Bangkok, which is great because the food is really the cheapest and best here. After paying 50-60 baht (just under $2) for mediocre Pad Thai on the islands, I get excellent Pad Thai from a lady with a street cart for 20 baht (about 60 cents). love it. For an extra 25 baht I got fresh squeezed tangerine juice. I can't imagine wanting anything more from a street cart for breakfast!We left Koh Tao yesterday afternoon and took a ferry and a very long bus, which got us into Bangkok at 3am, a few hours after the estimated arrival time of midnight, but that's kind of how things go.

On our last full day in Koh Tao, Sheila and I rented a kayak for a few hours and made our way up the northern coast of Sairee beach. There are so many bungalows and resorts lining the coast line, even beyond the dive resorts in the main beach, which i am sure account for the fact that Koh Tao, unlike Koh Pa Ngan, had people of all different ages on it. I saw a very old man, probably in his 80's, walking down the beach with a cane in a speedo. He was quite a sight!

We also went out to a fancy dinner with some friends, which was really nice. After weeks of curries and pad thai, it was actually great to have a bit of cheese! After dinner we all went to a party at a 'castle', which was really quite cool.

Tonight Sheila leaves for India and then Kenya, where she begins her safari, so I'm on my own for the next few days. Tomorrow I've booked a day trip to Canchanaberrie, which should be really cool. We are going to a war cemetery, a tiger temple where I've heard you can hang out with the tigers, and an elephant trek! Very cool, and it will be nice to have something to do early in the morning. Apparently backpackers (sheila included) are not big fans of waking up early, so Kaoh San Road doesn't really wake up until afternoon.

I'll be home soon, which is so surreal. I am, though, looking forward to wearing jeans and eating cheese. Oh, yeah, and seeing you folks again. that too. :)