30 December 2005

Just Pix

Four Face Buddah --- This is the 3rd face (love). People from Thailand & from afar come to pray here. There is a plume of incense that fills the air & venders lining the sidewalk to sell you flowers or other items to give to Buddah. I don't know if the women dancing is a regular thing.

Elephant Ride

The guy leading the elephant made this grasshopper for me.

Prayer flowers - Today is a Buddist day. There are 4-5 Buddist days a month.

29 December 2005

Beach Bums, Plantain Eating Elephants, & Going in Circles

∑ Coral Island:
We took a speed boat out to Coral Island where there were umbrella chairs & a long row of shops. I bought a few presents & a purse for myself. Christina & I took Jet-skis out for 10 minutes. We each had our own jet-skis & a co-captain. My ride & I caught air a number of times & my life vest would fly open each time. I know I made the co-c nervous a few times; him grabbing onto my life jacket was the hint. I haven’t driven a jet-ski in maybe 7-8 years. I am So glad I got a taste of it again! Too bad I don't live near open water all of the time.

After eating we headed back to the hotel for about an hour. Though, before driving back, this Hard Rock sign, um, unique. (‘No drugs or nuclear weapons allowed inside’) I wonder what inspired this sign to be made.

∑ Elephants:
First, we were taken through this lovely Orchid & flower garden. Among the flowers were a couple purple & red ones that are velvety to the touch. Then, we watched a Thai cultural show including some dancing, war displays, swords. They also included this funny boxing skit. Naturally elephants were a part of the cast. The 2 big elephants were just for show, but the babies loved to dance. It’s so funny how much personality they have.

After this show there was an elephant show outside. I have to tell you, I was wary of how these elephants have been treated in order to learn these tricks. Most of the trainers seemed like they bonded with the elephants & the elephants seemed happy playing games & dancing. Too boot, after almost each act they were taken out to the crowd to be fed plantains (like mini bananas) sold for 40 Baht each bundle, which is like $1.00 US. The Elephant Acts included: sitting, painting, football (US soccer), basketball, tricycling, lifting people up, pretending to step on people, dancing, throwing darts at balloons, & bowled.

∑ Revolving dinner on floor #52:
So, I saw that we were eating at the ‘Panarama Revolving Restaurant’ on the way to the elevator. Once, we were up there I thought “we aren’t revolving!” I know it’s hard to believe, but sometimes I can be slow. It took me a while to notice that the drinks kept moving further & further away from our table. Then, Christina informed me that We were the ones revolving around the center part of the restaurant.

∑ Out at 8:45: I can’t believe we stayed up so late! All decent people are in bed by 8, 8:30 at the latest. To make up for it, I woke up at 5:30 to shower, pack, & write up this lovely message.

28 December 2005

First Day Out - Bangkok

I am just going to bullet things. It is faster & easier for me to post like this. I am thinking that there will be Internet cafe's in Siagon like there are here, but maybe not. If I can't post more while over here, I'll post once I get back to Cali.

On Thailand ground...
∑ Breakfast:
pastries, fried rice, yogurt, noodle soup & omlets to order, fresh guava juice, tea, coffee, salad... According to Christina’s mom, Asian countries don’t distinguish between different types of meals, as we Americans do.

∑ Grand Palace:
The buildings have intricate such designs! We prayed in the Emerald Buddah Temple (rules: ‘quiet, no camera, not feet pointing towards Buddah’). Before going up to the temple everyone must take off their shoes. Inside there was a lot of gold, small mirrors & faux gems mosaic style. The golden pyramid leads up maybe 20’ to the ‘Emerald Buddah.’ There were also donation boxes inside & on the porch. Outside of the praying area there is a basin of Holy water & lotus flower buds, which reminded me of the Catholic tradition. Of course, I asked for blessings & protection with the Holy water.

∑ Driving to Pattaya:
90 minutes from Bangkok --- In Bangkok, lining part of the highway were several Small (maybe 10’ x 10’, maybe) shanty houses on stilts, metal siding as walls, & clothes lines with neatly hung clothes.

∑ SRIRACHA Tiger Zoo:
Pigs and Tigers together for docile behavior – The pigs milk is supposed to be quite nutritious for the tigers. Scorpion Lady. Croc show. Tiger Show. I held a baby tiger! Ate a soft coconut and Croc. meat on a stick.

∑ Unordinary foods (well, for me anyway):
Mangosteen (fruit-hard purple outer shell with a white fuzzy citrus like center), Sharkfin soup, bird nest soup, P...n (some huge grapefruit-like fruit called), crocodile (oh my)

∑ Cabaret:
“Whoa, hot man-chicks with boobs (PIC4). Guy (as a guy) with wicked eye contact. Made me feel kind of funny. In a good way,” Christina wrote with zest!
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

∑ Thai Massage!:
Once you try it, it will be Hard to go back to regular ol’ Swedish! Picture it, a room with about 30 rubbery beds, a woman at each post, curtains wide open, naked bodies (kidding! We changed into pajama like clothes.). The women used their full bodies to massage & close contact wasn’t a question. Mostly pressure point & lymph drainage techniques. Two hours is the standard time I guess. One hour would cost $6.25, or 250 baht. We were told to tip 60 baht, but tipped 300 much deserved (aka $7.25). Now I'm going to have to see what a Vietnamiese massage is like :-)

Thailand Tidbits

Here are a few things I have learned about Thailand.

* Thai thank you = “karw pboon kaI” for a woman to say it (“karw pboon cup” -- for a man to say)
* King Rama IX has reigned 59 years so far; 78 years old. B-day on Dec 5th. His wife is 73.
(There are tons of huge photos like this one as well as statues & shrines posted all around the city)

* Bangkok has 10-12 million people out of Thailand’s 65 million

* 5 dynasties, all of which have been independent.
* Baht is the name of money used here. 100 baht = $2.50
* Thai do not believe in asking for tips in the morning.

* Flag: Red-nation, Blue-royalty, White-religion
* 5 meaningful colors: Red: Lucky, Gold: Stability, Blue: Sincere love & 4 the king, Green: Health, Yellow: Peace
* Five different flowers have five different meanings (orchids-don’t go away?, lotus-wisdom?, a yellow carnation looking flower, jasmine?, rose-smarts?…)

* Silk as well as Sapphire & Ruby gemstones are a specialty here.
* Many houses have Spirit Houses outside, which are decorated & adorned with flowers, incense, & idles. Thai believe in Spirits, so having these Spirit houses will help protect their families.

These houses are for sale. I didn't take a picture of any Spirit houses that were adorned.

26 December 2005

17 ahead of AK, 13 hours ahead of NC ...

Going backwards to forwards in time, uuhhh 'Back to the Future' (cheese, I know.) It's easier to think we are behind CA time by 3 hours, but really we are ahead in the game of time.

The Flight Over ---

∑ Entertainment? -- 2 movies (Perfect Man & A Beautiful Mind), beaded 1 gold ornament (3 to 3 1/2 hours non-stop) & 1/3 of a green & red one, read a couple chapters of Matchstick Men, slept, ate... Exciting, I know.

∑ Before decent to Tokyo, Japan --- 8000 vertical miles, 10 1/2 hours in the air, 30000+ altitude
∑ Tokyo airport --- Real Sushi!

∑ To Bangkok, Thailand --- another 7 1/2 hours in flight from Tokyo.

25 December 2005

I *heart* My Family

So, I've been feeling a bit homesick amongst the excitement of traveling.

The cure - a couple of calls home...
First, I called my mum. We haven't talked in quite a while & it was nice to catch up. My little sis, Tesia, was away so I didn't get to talk to her. :-( Mom had friends over for what was probably a half day feast including chit chat & music. Good times.

Then, I called my Grandmother Steele's house. Upon answering the phone G'ma shuffled me over to Pops because her hearing aid wasn't working. When he announced to everyone that it was me, my aunt Linda chimed in with 'We wish you a merry Christmas' and all uncles, aunts, cousins followed suit. Of course, that gave me a big smile! Afterwards, I proceeded to talk to my aunt Linda (in Asheville, NC), & cousins Eden (Colorado Springs, CO), Laurel(Queens, NY), Katie (NC, soon to leave for the Army again), & Madalyn (in H.S., Roanoke Rapids, NC). Then, to my aunt Elaine, uncle Ron (Charlotte, NC), & my dad before hanging up from the 2 - 2 1/2 hour phone conversation.

Cured! No more home-sickness...

24 December 2005

Asian Holidays

This Christmas I'm spending away from 'home' in NC. I am definitely missing my family & friends already on this Christmas Eve. But, I also have butterflies in my stomach about the trip to Asia I'm about to embark. Woo hoo!

Right now, I'm in Sacramento, Cali. Tomorrow, on Christmas day, we (my housemate Christina & her parents) are going drive to San Francisco & stay the night. Monday fly out to Bangkok, Thailand to stay for 5 days. New Year's Eve I will be in Vietnam (Ho Chi Mein city) for another 5 days. The final stop for my Asian Holiday will be Hong Kong for 3 days before going back to Cali. until the 12th of January.

We will arrive back in California 1 hour Before we left Hong Kong ... so wierd. I hear that the jet lag hits on the way back rather than on the way there.

~ What makes us who we are is how we experience the opportunities we are given. ~

21 December 2005

Jr. High creativity

This message was sent to me today by my roommate Christina:
"So the Teens (Jr. High) have placed a "window" on the wall that separates mine and Eric's room. In his room they put a picture of my head (and drew my body) sitting in the window looking in at his class. When they made the window in my room they decided to make Eric an elf. Hee hee."

The text bubble says, "I want to be on top of the pyramid!" This is part of what they are doing for the Christmas program. On the board in the background, it says, "Dear students, don't mind me & my suit because I'm Santa's elf." ...


12 December 2005

S-Mac’s Getting Hitched

Yeah Sara Mac & Shaun Pzy…!

Heat Wave in the Tundra Triangle

First, I live within 5 miles of two villages: Atmauthluk and Kasigluk (which is really two villages across the river from each other also: Akiuk & Akula). At times, this ‘triangle’ is the only place people cannot travel, hence the ‘tundra triangle.’

Well, I just have to say that last week we had a heat wave. Most days it was right at 30, one day it was even 34 degrees. Needless to say a lot of snow melted & compacted. Oh, to boot, it rained! Yes, rained in December, in Alaska, on the YK Delta, rain! Unfortunately, now that it’s 9 degrees again, we have ice on the walkways and stairs with & without railings.

Thanksgiving Throw Down

Anchorage seems like the place to be during Thanksgiving for AK bush teachers. There we lavish ourselves with indulgences (the usual sex, drugs, & rock-n-roll) for 4 days. Actually, the indulgences consisted of massages at the spa, eating out, friends from other villages, alcohol, movie theaters, health food stores, & shopping. Being able to get to know people that I barely knew from other villages, meeting S-Mac’s new fiancĂ© (as of that weekend we found out later), & meeting more of Sara’s family were highlights of the trip.

One thing I did not get a chance to do was look at a snow machine. We will just order one over the phone or online & have it delivered after our Christmas break. I can’t wait!

We hung out at the Dimond Center Hotel a lot playing Risk & card games, watching a bit of TV (mostly when Eric had sports on), listening to music & telling stories. There is also this awesome, huge chessboard, but I didn’t get a chance to play. To boot, I saw a bull moose for the first time! It was by the road at 33rd & Denali; they aren’t really shy about coming near traffic. This moose’s head was seriously at the top of the SUV in front of us; the horns were above. I did manage to take a picture, but my computer is on the outs right now. This was a definite treat!

08 December 2005

Hollywood Red

Check out www.hollywood-red.com.

Woody is a friend of mine from Asheville, NC. His music is so powerful & you can definitly feel the energy & soul behind it!

He has one album with 'Hollywood Red' on the market right now. If there isn't a link on the website to buy one, I can score it for you. It is definitely worth the $15 investment! I hope he has another album coming out soon with more acoustic songs (hint, hint). Did I mention that he has written all of the songs, sings, & plays the lead & rhythm guitars?

Here's a quote I like from his website:
"Woody Wood is the real deal: one of the best flat-picking acoustic guitar players of his generation... He seems the most likely to single-handedly tear down a hundred years of accumulated rock pomposity." - Sub Pop Free Press, Seattle, 1999