The veins in the tops of my feet have been virtually sucked dry. There are 25 mosquito bites on my left leg (most concentrated on my ankles and feet) and 23 on my right leg. The veins on the tops of my feet are bulging and itchy and my tummy is rumbling in a most precarious way. It's a travel day --which worries me-- because I have no clean, comfortable, western toilet stocked with plush t.p. to call my own when the inevitable explosion occurs. There is sweat running down my face and neck and into my cleavage, collecting under my boobs which is uncomfortable and gross. I am flying from Bangkok to Jakarta tonight, and am not really looking forward to it. I want to just be in Bali and be over it. Indonesia is a bit unstable, and according to David (perhaps my new boss-to-be) everyone there is quite shady and will try to take advantage of me as soon as I step off the plane. I decided that instead of show up in an unknown place at midnight with nowhere to stay, I would simply suck it up and stay at the airport hotel and bum around until my flight to Bali, tomorrow at 4pm. It is sure to be a long night.
Jen left on Monday after an amazing and raucous couple days in downtown Bangkok. We stayed at the new Dream Bangkok-a swank hotel geared towards young, crazy partiers. Our room looked straight out of some music video or something. There was recessed blue lighting under the beds and in the walls, a huge flatscreen tv, an ipod hookup so we could blast music and even a chandelier! The beds were big and white and cushy and I doubt I ever wasn't wrapped up one of the big amazing terrycloth robes...even when I was jumping wildly from bed to bed.
We even splurged and went out to a nice meal at a really adorable veg place called Tamarind Cafe. We had sesame covered fresh falafel balls with three different mediterranean dips that were to die for. We also had a potato gratin, a fantastic mushroom pasta and this creamy tofu dish with the tofu fried, thai-style served with a fresh tomato sauce. We also had two bottles of white wine (which were both affordable and delicious) I think they were a Sauvignon Blanc of some sort and Brooke fell down the stairs after we finished the first one and had gone outside on the roof deck to smoke a cig before our decadent chocolate cake arrived (with the 2nd bottle) for dessert. Luckily, she is a pro at falling, because she kept her wine glass in the air and managed to land on her knees and one wrist to save the glass! A girl after my own heart: never allow a drop of wine to go un-sipped!
Now I am off to buy some more books before I go to Indo. I have much more to write about Laos and Cambodia, but that is going to have to wait, I'm afraid. I'll wave to you from the top of a volcano!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
At the moment we are in Laos in a little town called Vang Vieng and the sun has finally decided to come out. Lately it's been cloudy and drizzling everywhere we've been, so now that the sun is out we are renting bicycles ($2 a day) and going to ride out to some limestone caves and then go tubing down the Mekong River. Laos is a lot like Thailand, but there are a lot of French influences because it was a French colony at one point. I really need to study up on my Laotian History! Wow, I can't belive the last time I posted was back when we were on Koh Pha Ngan. Well, after that we took an overnight train to Bangkok (lovely)and then flew to Chang Mai. If we had more time we would have taken the train all the way, but 36 or so hours of train time when we have time-constraints wouldn't have cut it.
Chang Mai is probably my favorite town in Thailand. The old town is surrounded by a moat and there are wats everywhere. The night markets are flush with every sort of food you could possibly imagine, all for about 20 baht for a bag-full. On our first night, Courtney and Joe took us to the market by the Chang Mai Gate and we feasted on sticky rice, a bamboo/straw mushroom soup, Som Tom (Papaya Salad) and fried vegetarian spring rolls. We stayed at an awesome guest house called Julie's where we spent a good chunk of time on the roof deck overlooking the city. We had a very livable room and paid 160 baht for the two of us (about $2.50 each)and rented a scooter to explore the town with. I met a guy named Mike who is studying the Ancient Art of Chinese Nerve Massage which is completely insane. Basically, he is studying under the master of this healing practice and he is unbelievable. Just by looking at my weird curved fourth toe, he knew I had siatic and hip issues. Then he started to move my nerves in my arm around and it was the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. Many people say that it is even more painful than getting a tattoo. He did about an hour's work on my arms, and I felt like I was going insane. I tried to concentrate on my breathing and it took all of my inner strength to not scream in pain and let him finish. When he did, I could really feel the difference though, my arms actually looked straighter, and felt way less tense. My fingers are still a bit tingly, and I have bruises on my upper arms, but he said that he undid about three years worth of damage that I did to myself by waitressing; in fact he couldn't believe that I had only been a waitress for two and a half years, from the damage and strain, he would have guessed eight! Unfortunately we were only there for three days, but I am going to have to go back to continue my nerve massage. To look him up, go to www.ancienthealingmassge.com
So we left Chang Mai on Thursday and flew to Luang Prabang in Laos. I guess we really aren't "hard-core budget travelers" after all, seeing as though we'd rather spend money on an hour-long plane ride then spend three days taking boats and buses. I'm sick of all these holier-than-thou self-proclaimed "hard-core budget backpackers" anyway. It's possible to spend a long time travelling and living cheaply without becoming a stuck-up hippy. Isn't being a stuck-up hippy like completely against what a hippy should be? Hippies should be welcoming and friendly and happy that other people are travelling and experiencing different cultures, not pissed that everything is becoming "touristy". Aren't they tourists? What-EVER!
Anyway we are now in Vang Vieng, and Laotian food is not as good Thai food, but more like a Vietnamese and HIll-tribal Fusion sort...sticky rice with every meal, lot's of scallions, lime, lemongrass, chilis, moss (!) and even water-buffalo thrown into the mix. We just got back from a two-day trek into the Laotian jungle where a guide took me and Jen into little Hmong and Khmu(?) tribal villages up in the middle of NOwhere. We did a pretty intense hike (about 5 hours) up a mountain where we spent maybe 15 minutes wandering around a tiny (40 family) Hmong village and then set off down the other side of the mountain which was extremely muddy and slippery and dangerous. Jen was only wearing flipflops and almost slid all the way down the side of the mountain! But our stoic guide stuck his foot out and caught her. I slipped twice and by the time we arrived in the larger Hmong village to eat and sleep we were absolutely covered in red mud. But that didn't stop us from befriending the village teenagers and we proceeded to get them drunk off of lao lao (laotian whiskey) that came in a large lable-less jug and only cost about 15 cents. That day we also rode on elephants which was amazing and I was happy to see that the elephants looked very healthy and well taken care of. Yesterday we left the tribe and hiked for another couple of hours, swam in gorgeous waterfalls, then kayaked back to civilization for about 3 hours down the Nam Khan River. Tomorrow we are going back to Luang Probang, an absolutlely adorable little town where we can explore some more vats (buddhist temples) and buy some hand-made crafts from the hill tribes that come down for the night markets. On Tuesday we are flying to Siem Reap in Cambodia to see Ankgor Wat -- the mother of all wats and after that back to Bangkok. It's really sad that I don't have more time to really get to know all of these places, but that just means I'll have to come back! See you soon,