We saw more than a few colorful fish, some (but not a lot) of coral, and a few jellyfish. All in all, it was the perfect final day in the South. Back in Bangkok today, we're heading to Chiang Mai in the North by train tomorrow. We only have 14 more days before our Thai visa expires and I think we'll cross the Laotian border exactly on day 14.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
She called back a few minutes later to say she thought maybe she could convince the next driver to bring it to us in the station if we were willing to pay 100 baht upon delivery. The deal was made. The only catch was that the next bus wouldn't arrive for more than 4 hours, and we'd have to wait in the hot, dusty, crowded bus terminal to meet him. Yuck.
While we were waiting, we decided to start a Thai lesson from our book. About halfway through we realized we had an audience. A young girl, maybe 11 or 12 years old, was smiling away at us. We smiled back and kept plugging away practicing our pronunciation. Before we knew it, she was correcting us. That caught the attention of her mother, then her father, then her brother, and before we knew it a whole crowd of local children were crowded around teaching us words.
The father pointed to Kyle's guitar and gestured that he'd like him to play, so Kyle obliged. Pretty soon, all the kids were strumming his guitar and the whole terminal lit up with smiles. Sometimes joy sweeps in when you least expect it.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
We're staying with some fellow couchsurfers, Sarah and James from the UK, in the their wonderful little bungalow in a small fishing village on the southern part of the island called, "Old Town." Their open-air home is beautifully decorated with blue and green tiles, stone flooring, old dark wood, and a lovely little fountain complete with fish.
The best way to get around Lanta is by motorbike, and we've rented one of our own for 250 baht, or around $7, per day. The drives to and from the various beaches are stunning. Tall moutains rise up behind dense forests with little fishing villages running alongside the road. The fauna's not too bad either. :)
Now, our hosts in Lanta were staying in Old Town, so we asked the driver to take us to old town. He found a girl in the mini-bus who spoke English and she assured us that that was where we were going. Then, we got to the island and the driver stopped at a little bus stand operated by the same company that had brought us there. He told everyone to get out and told us to take a taxi.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
From what Eve tells us, he deserves their respect as he is humble, un-materialistic and unselfishly serves his people despite his tremendous wealth. Her favorite story is this: The king often wears common clothes and walks unseen amongst the people. Once as he tried to walk down a street which had been blocked off, he was stopped by a police officer who didn't recognize him and refused to allow his passage. Rather than get angry, the King promoted the man to a higher office and gave him a raise for doing his job so well.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
On the way out, we saw a non-refridgerated, open-air truck full of intestines. Makes me glad we don't eat meat.
Of course, we missed our bus stop and ended up all the way out by the airport (which is on another island). We didn't want to spend any money taking the bus back to Lantau, so we decided to walk. The gondola didn't look that far away anyway.
Next to the base of the gondola was a stairway on the side of a hill with a sign that said, "this way to the gondola," or something like that. So we went up it. After nearly getting our heads taken off by a passing cable car, we discovered that we were not at the entrance to the gondola, but the halfway station. But we went up the rest of the hill anyway and found a really nice view of Tung Chung and the surrounding harbor.
Here's what it looked like in real-life 360 degrees! (You damn kids and your newfangled technology!)
At the peak of the hill, we found a little pagoda...
...with a little sign inside that read...
I'm finding out that I suck at getting us where we are going, but that I can usually stumble on something even better. When we finally did get to Tung Chung, it turned out to be a little tourist trap mall with an overpriced food court where we paid way too much for way too little Indian food. And the gondola (Which we just missed. They pulled out the red felt rope as we were walking up.) ended up costing $100.
Cheh Lap Kok was free.
On the inside it can either be white or pink with little black seeds. It's very attractive and really easy to serve. It has a texture a little bit like a firm kiwi. The taste is very subtle, just a little sweet but really juicy. Learn how to choose and cut one here.
Monday, January 12, 2009
The city itself is huge and difficult to navigate on foot. Plus, all the cars drive on the left side of the road so they put little reminders on all the crosswalks telling you which way to look. We managed to take in the view of the impressive skyline and Victoria Harbor from Kowloon. Turns out Hong Kongers love bright flashing lights. All the buildings were lit up with rainbows, and the skyline becomes a free light show set to music every night at 8:00.
Hong Kong Park. It's a really nice park, better even than Central Park. It had an aviary, a conservatory, a Tai Chi court, a foot massage path, a walk-in fountain, and an artificial lake with mustached goldfish. We went into the aviary as it was closing and the women let us in, but then walked behind us the entire time saying, "bye bye."
Friday, January 9, 2009
So I was going to travel the world independently with the woman that I love, but then I decided to join the marines instead. I mean, on the way to Iraq we stop in 12 ports in 10 different countries. So it's like a world tour that I get paid for. And at the end of this one I get to kill some people.
Ohhhhhhhhhh!!! Gotcha! I didn't really join the Marines.
These are the real reasons that I cut my hair.
1. It's hot in the tropics. And long hair resting on a sweaty neck is not comfortable.
2. You get less hassle at international borders if you don't look like a hippie. Or at least, this is what I hear, and we plan on crossing a lot of borders.
3. We can measure the duration of our travels by the length of my hair. Theoretically. If I don't cut it again.
4. It is symbolic of my rebirth, or indicative of entering a new phase of my life, or something like that. But it is significant... spiritually. Or something like that. You know, like what monks do... or soldiers i guess. Wow. This blog has come full circle.
Our last glimpses of Ohio were beautiful and strangely fitting: stark white snow against the dark brown of trees in a gray sky. We've been in NYC for only a day, but my anxiety levels have already been elevated by the rush of the city. Makes me glad we're flying out in the morning, even if it is a 16-hour direct flight from JFK to Hong Kong. We're finally starting to feel a little exhilarated.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
First off, our backpacks. We each choose 50 liter packs, which are fairly medium-sized backpacks. We wanted to be able to carry everything we need, but we also kept in mind that we would be carrying them, so we kept them on the smaller side. His is an Osprey Atmos 50, and mine is an Osprey Aura 50. With everything crammed in, mine weighs 21.4 lbs and Kyle's comes in at 22.8. Not bad considering some packs reach an upwards of 100 liters and 50-60 lbs.
As for everything inside, here's a complete list of their shared contents:
mesh lingerie bags (for organizing our clothes)
1 king sized sheet sewn into a sleep sack large enough to fit both of us (thanks Mom!)
1 full sized sheet sewn into a sleep sack for one
2 collapsible water bottles
2 pack towels
1 small single blade knife
1 Leatherman multi-tool
4 boxes water-proof matches
1 hand-held voice recorder (a sort of music journal for Kyle)
various guidebooks (Lonely Planets)
1 travel journal
passports and photocopies of passports
1 camera with memory card
1 photo uploader thinger
rechargeable batteries and wall charger
1 Ipod charger
2 money belts
2 camping forks
2 camping spoons
1 mini-sewing kit
20 ft. 3 mm cord (multi-purpose clothesline)
1 international power adapter kit
1 back-up pair of glasses and case
5 sets of contacts and solution (beach life here we come!)
2 backpack rain covers
2 purse umbrellas
1 tiny shopping bag with stuff sack
Anti-biotics (in case of severe traveler's diarrhea)
12 packs birth control
1 bag of TP
1 universal sink plug
10 packets cold-water laundry detergent
1 pillowcase (for dirty laundry)
First aid kit:
Pepto Bismol pills
Burt's Bees chap stick
1 pair Teva sandals
1 pair Keen sandals
1 pair ballerina-style Crocs
1 pair Teva men's casual slip-ons
1 cotton skirt
1 pull-over cotton dress
1 multi-use sundress
1 sleeveless shirt
1 multi-use scarf thing that can be made into a skirt, shirts, etc. (see video)
1 waffle shirt
1 lightweight long-sleeved shirt
1 pair linen pants with drawstring bottoms that button into capris (thanks Mom)
1 pair lightweight waffle pants
1 headbandy headcover thing from Costa Rica
3 pairs socks
5 pairs underwear
1 white men's dress shirt
1 pair linen drawstring pants
1 pair khakis
3 pairs socks
5 pairs underwear
1 long-sleeved waffle shirt
1 pair waffle pants
1 pair swim trunks
3/4 sized guitar and carrying case
5 sets nylon guitar strings
Notice there are no shorts or jeans. What are we, a buncha tourists?