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Warning – vegetarians beware the following image!

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Becky 001.jpg

Above picture was taken at a market in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I took a cooking course (pics on Flickr) and we went to the market before heading out to the organic farm where it was held. I turned a corner and there it was – a smiling pig’s head. Uh, gross. I of course was thrilled at the photo op! The class was great, learned how to make a green curry paste (raw ingredients pictured below) which turned into green curry chicken, a stir-fry, a tom yam, which is a soup usually containing shrimp, but in my case it was “tom yam gai” which means chicken. Also made spring rolls and bananas with coconut milk for dessert. And the best part is that we got a cookbook at the end! Yay! The food is really amazing. I put a bunch of pics up on Flickr for you foodaholics. And who isn’t, really? Also a bunch of monks and some transportation pictures.


So I’m blogging from Luang Prabang, Laos. It’s a gorgeous city and kind of anachronistic (God, am I smart or what?) because it’s filled with this colonial French architecture, yet set between the Mekong River and another one whose name I haven’t bothered to learn. The Nam something. God, I’m lame. It’s beautiful, lush and touristy in the right way – not overrun, little restaurants next to the water with trees strung with fairy lights and few tourists cause it’s the rainy season, which I’m actually enjoying despite my remarks about constant deluges. The weather is very dramatic and the rain cuts the heat. Got here a few days ago via Chiang Khong, Thailand, and a two-day “slow boat” trip up the Mekong. It left from Muay Xai, Laos and everyone spent the night in a town called Pak Beng, then the next morning on to Luang Prabang. Didn’t get any pics of the boat – duh. May go take some of similar boats to give you alls an idea. It was a fun trip – turned into a booze cruise mid-way through each day, as it was filled with backpackers- all the Lao people were sitting in the engine room. Nice, eh? This group of drunken backpackers, BTW, was totally different than what I described in Thailand. Right. 🙂 I think maybe I just decided to loosen up and join them. The first day it rained quite a bit, but the second was bright and sunny. The river is pretty wide and very muddy – it looks like the chocolate river in Willy Wonka. The boat just kind of chugs along for about 6 hours before putting up for the night, and the same is repeated the next day.

Have met quite a few cool people in this stretch. Met a Dutch guy (sorry, faithful readers, no hanky panky) in Sukothai and we traveled together from there to Chiang Khong, but then got in an argument over a fan in the room, of all things. I wanted it on, he wanted it off. He unplugged it, I plugged it back in – and that was it, really. We were on the same boat of course, but have studiously avoided each other the whole time here in Luang Prabang. Wow, I’m getting into a lot of fights lately, eh? Maybe I should take a Thai boxing class or something to release all this pent-up aggression. Met some others on the boat though, and have been hanging with them. Went to a waterfall today, toured some more wats and stalked the monks for their pictures… and that about does it! I’ll leave in the next few days and head for a northern town called Luang Nam Tha, a base for eco-treks. I wasn’t going to do one, because basically, big, white minivans pick you up and drive you out to “remote” villages to view the natives in their natural habitat. Yuk. But this one has gotten great reviews, and most of the profits go right back into the villages. So, if I want to see Lao village life, this is what I gots to do. I’m in for a 9-hour bus ride over crap roads with no air-conditioning. Sounds like Africa! Sorry for the short entry folks, but nap time calls. Love youse!

Phuket and bucket do not rhyme

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007


Hey all – I decided to carry on with the blog after all for you loyal readers. 🙂 Putting a bunch more pics on Flickr too.

First of all, when they say “rainy season,” let me tell you, they mean it. I left you on Penang, where dare I say, I was one crabby chica. Traveling for this long on your own is bound to have its ups and downs, and I was definitely on a down. Malaysia was, for lack of a better word, bo-ring. I thought it was going to be very exotic, but all I can say is that they have a serious hard-on for 7-11s. As you can see by my Bangkok photo essay on Flickr, this trend continues in Thailand. I’m here in Sukothai, waiting out a deluge in an Internet cafe, and there’s a 7-11 two doors down, thank God. But back to Penang.

A few interesting things happened despite the bo-ring place…

1. At the hostel in Penang, I had just gone to beddie-bye, with aforementioned killer ear infection, when I heard a tremendous crash! (That sounds like The Night Before Christmas, doesn’t it?) Anyway, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter, thinking someone had dropped a TON of plates, maybe an entire cabinet, and discovered that a girl had walked through a plate-glass window! Not even a clear one. What a retard. It was pretty gross though, blood everywhere – and I don’t even think she was drunk. Ambulance was en route when I went back to bed.

2. On the minivan (more on that later) up to Thailand from Malaysia, this dude from New Zealand, hippie-looking dreadlocky guy, thought the driver gave him the finger in the rear view mirror, and maybe he did, but I wasn’t paying attention. So this guy gets right up in the driver’s face and starts calling him a cu#@, and saying “You know what you did!!” The driver pulls over and starts waving his cell phone, going, “Police?? Police??” Well, we got to our destination a tense hour later and the driver dumped dude and his woman somewhere random, they exchanged more words, and then the driver grabbed a metal pipe from the van! Punch-up! No, it ended non-violently, unfortunately, (JK!) and the rest of my day was a bore. Eight more hours in the minivan. Which brings me to my next observation:

Africa = where Asian minibuses go to die. Seriously, this thing was swank. No duct tape holding cushions together (I couldn’t even see stuffing!), no rust, Thai pop played at a reasonable level, three seats held three people – no chickens, no fish, no large plastic tubs of food. No one rushed the bus to sell us anything and my B.O. was by far the worst on there. And no one looked at or talked to anyone, including me. Let me reiterate: BO-RING. I have to give that to Africa – it’s certainly the most vivid place I’ve ever been.

Spent a night in Phuket (pronounced Poo-ket, which is still funny I guess), in the same shithole where they filmed the Bangkok scenes from The Beach. Took the boat to Ko Phi Phi (island) and I swear to God it was like a frat party or a Contiki tour bus exploded on the boat. Dear God in heaven, I thought, please help me. There was some douche bag on the boat with a t-shirt on that said “Sex instructor, first lesson free.” Awesome! Let’s go, big boy! At least he had a shirt on though; there were at least three guys who didn’t even bother to wear a shirt – on a 3-hour ferry ride – and stuck their “Phi Phi Ferry” sticker right on their chests. It’s was like Thai Cancun here, for reals. So, if you can’t beat them, join them and, in the spirit of the location, I got absolutely, AA-worthy, blind wasted! There’s a particular drink in southern Thailand, tailor-made for the backpacker set, called a “bucket,” which is a mixture of Thai whiskey, Thai Red Bull (which is illegal in the U.S., BTW) and Coke, actually in a sandcastle bucket. So, before dinner, I had three beers (empty stomach = idiot), then with dinner, split a bucket four ways, then after dinner, had two more to myself! It was 2-for-1! Spent the next day dry-heaving and wishing I was dead. I think that ship has sailed, my friends. I just periodically insist on boarding anyway.

Since the rain carried on there for the duration, I decided to head up to Bangkok a few days ago. Took the overnight backpacker bus from Krabi and arrived at 5:30am, deposited on Khao San Road, Thailand’s backpacker ground zero. Transport is so different here; the whole country seems set up for 20-something travelers, and I have to say the “let’s get wasted and party” thing doesn’t really suit me anymore, despite my par-tay on Phi Phi. I thought with so many other travelers here it would be easier to meet people, but I’ve found that Africa was actually much better. Many, if not all, of the backpackers here are 20, English, and travel in packs. Though I did see lots of other lone travelers in Bangkok, sitting in restaurants, there’s not a lot of opportunity to meet them, since everyone stays in individual rooms in guesthouses. Oh well. Spent three sweltering days in Bangkok, escaping to the air-con comfort of a mall and movie the first night, which I spent in an interior room a little wider than a coffin. Splurged on relative splendor the next two nights – a room with air con and my own bathroom. Saw the wats (temples) got a pedicure, ate, ate and ate…noodles, rice, curry. I’ll blog about Asian food next time.

So, back to Khao San Road. This is the street Leonardo walks down in The Beach if you remember it. It’s full of cheap clothes stands, cheap beer places, Internet cafes, pad thai food stalls, 7-11s, Boots Pharmacy, Thai people saying “where you go?” and pointing to their tuk tuks, which I swear I’ll get a picture of, women saying “masaaaaaaaaaaaaage” in a really long, whining voice – you name it. It’s like an alternate universe – more ‘Thailand does Cancun’, I suppose. I stayed nearby, not on the mothership. Went to a bar there my first night, purely because it was air-conditioned, all by myself. (Cue strings).

Ended up getting into a fight, about American politics, with me defending us, if you can believe it. This wasted, wasted Irish guy, 24, began his monologue (I can’t call it a conversation) by telling me all about his trip around the world (Canada, California and Vegas, New Zealand, Australia and Thailand) and how the exposure to all those like diverse cultures had, like, totally changed his viewpoint on the world. I expressed some dislike of the SexyBack vibe I was getting in Thailand, and he agreed, saying that on this trip to Thailand, his third, his eyes had finally been opened, since the last two times he came here, it had been purely for sex with Thai prostitutes. But no more. Then we started talking about money for the trip for some reason – oh, I know, cause he was traveling with a posse and bankrolling two of his friends – and I said, “How did you save all that money?” Well, he didn’t actually save it, he said, more like ripped off his former employer for 30,000 Euro. Still has 20,000 in the bank!

Then, after reassuring me repeatedly that he’s not a bad person, he started in on the States. We are so racist, he hates the south, the government is horrible, we support terrorists, the people are assholes (not me!) etc. Agreed in some cases, but seriously, dude. It was on. I think the conversation ended with mutual “fuck offs.” I totally won though. The next day dawned bright though, with the prospect of a trip to the Indian embassy ahead of me and more deliciousness to come!

I’ll leave you on that note, since this is already long and I know no one is friggin’ reading this anyway, apart from a few of you awesome posters. Please leave me some comments if you are reading and let me know what you think. It’s for you, readers, all for you. Mom, Dad, Janet and Karen, that means you. You are obligated to write on here. SO DO IT. xx

Is anyone still reading this thing?

Sunday, August 12th, 2007
Hi all! Here in Georgetown, on an island called Penang, still in Malaysia. And boy is it H-O-T. Seriously, I'm melting. I'll give you all the short version, cause I don't think anyone is reading this thing anymore. My enthusiasm ... [Continue reading this entry]

Don’t let the bedbugs bite…

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007
Hey all, blogging from busy Kuala Lumpur. It's my sixth day in Asia, and I'm still reeling a little, to be honest. I can't seem to get over the jet lag and am tired during the middle of the day ... [Continue reading this entry]