Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving: a time to give thanks, and a time to eat. We'll start in reverse order here, with the food.

We invited some Canadians to join us for the big feast, being as Americans are few and far between over this way. It was a most enjoyable dinner. The menu included spring rolls, vietnamese "summer" rolls, red coconut curry with chicken, pineapple curry with seafood, fried veggies with chicken, lots of rice, pineapple chicken kebabs, fried rice with seafood, a coconut fruit shake, and a mixed fruit shake. There might have been some other stuff in there too. I don't exactly remember. (Oh and all for about $4 a person.) I'll miss the post-feast burritos with the stuffing and potatoes and such from home, but I can't complain.

And now for the thanks: Every moment I look around me, I realize how much I have to be thankful for. But for the purposes of this blog, I will be brief. On my trip, I have had the pleasure of traveling with so many good friends from home; Andrew, Per, Myke, Shane, Trista, Andy, Jodie, and Ryan. Throughout my travels, I've met some great people, as well; Racheal, Mark, Andrea, the Dutch Girls (whose name I could never pronounce, couldn't even begin to spell, so I immediately forgot), Esther and Paul, Aussie Dave, Abi, Michelle and Brenda, Pingping, Bruce and Betsy, and Kathy. So to all that have helped make this trip so great, I offer a heartfelt thanks.

I would also like to offer my utmost appreciation to you, the readers of BdW. Being able to share my adventures with you has made everything I've done that much better. Getting your comments, questions, suggestions, experiences, and encouragement has made it almost like you were all here with me.

So, file this Thanksgiving under "Awesome". (Oh, I also kayaked out to a nearby island and got an elite geocache!) Anyway, I hope you and yours have a wonderful day with lots of food, friends, and family.
Thursday November 23 2006File under: Thailand, holidays

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Beach life...(is the life!)

So perhaps I spoke too soon (and perhaps a bit generalized) in my last post re:traveling vs. vacationing. Where have I been the last 4 days? The beach. How do I pass my days? Chess, juggling, swimming, and reading. What are my plans for tomorrow? Kayaking to a geocache, chess, juggling, and swimming. How many of these endeavors involve local culture or any sort of worthy pursuit? None. But that's okay.

Ryan and I have lucked out on places to stay out here on Ko Chang. Our first hut was a great little one on the beach about a 20 minute walk down a dirt road. There was a huge lawn for juggling, a great beach for swimming, and hammocks all around for reading and chillin'. The downside was the surly dude that owned the place took an immediate disliking to us. And while we can't prove anything, a large number of fleas and ants did end up in our beds. Perhaps coincidence. Anyway, after a scratchy and sleepless night, we've moved down to the Lonely Planet-recommended Treehouse bungalows. Pictured to the right is my current digs, a tiny hut that will prolly have the porch over the water at high tide. Good times!
Tuesday November 21 2006File under: Thailand, pics

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Travelling vs. Vacationing

There is a subtle difference between travelling and vacationing, but it seems to come up a lot. Every traveller you meet has a different balance of taking in a new culture, geography, etc. and comforts and pleasure. For some, exemplified by those who choose all inclucive resorts in the Caribbean, the balance is towards comforts and pleasure. For others, the balanace is extremely the other way. Think of hauling a big backpack through the heat of the jungle and the chaos of local buses to see the ruins of some religious something or other.

For me, the balance is usually towards the less comforts, more culture side, (although I don't dis the resort life at all (case in point)) This eye opening and sometimes back-breaking pursuit is what I call "travelling". Well, travelling can wear on you. It takes a lot to wade through the challenges that throw themselves at you in a typical traveller's day. So I decided to take a vacation from my travels. Yes, I know. Right now you are saying, "your whole trip has been a vacation". Well, I assure you that there are definitely trials and tribulations that I've been omitting in this blog.

Anyhoo, the vacation: Ryan and I found ourselves in Pattaya, Thailand, a beach resort of some disrepute. (We found out the reason for the disrepute after visiting, and it is safe to say that I will never go back there again. Long story.) Anyway, what the town did have going for it is that it was geared towards vacationers. So for my vacation, I chose a movie in the cinema (James Bond in Casino Royal), a couple of rounds of minigolf, an air conditioned room, and an all you can eat breakfast buffet. Needless to say, it was great! Although I lost 300 baht on the golfing (10 baht per stroke. I'm far off my best), and prolly gained 15 pounds or so (I also upped my daily icecream limit from 1 to 3 for my vacation), it was a much needed recharge with western comforts after my time in China and before tackling Cambodia and Vietnam.

So now we are back in travel mode. We are in Trat, with plans to head out to Ko Chang tomorrow. Today, we took 3 local buses totalling 6 hours, part of which was so hot the sweat just poured off, another part of which was done standing in an oversold bus. Culture at its finest, I guess.
Friday November 17 2006File under: Thailand, pics

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Pictures,pictures, and more pictures

Here at BdW, we are using this week to get caught up and betterifying the site. Latest addition: a favicon . Everyone who is anyone has one has a favicon. Hopefully there will be another functionality addition or two soon, but don't worry, I will scale back the techo-nerd speak and quit pointing them out.

Anyhoo, the real reason for this post: I finally got a few Thailand pictures in order and have them ready for viewing. Again, no fancy slideshow (well fancy in a different sort of way), but it gets the job done. Please excuse the random order and only sometimes relevant captions.

But enough already. On with the show (no need to sign up. Just click the "View photos now" link under the elephant.
Wednesday October 25 2006File under: Thailand, travel

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Month 1 round up

Who would have thought a month could go by so quickly? Looking back, there were so many good times. I was fortunate in so many respects; everything aligning with my job, visas, and tickets to allow me to come here, meeting up with so many good friends and having a great time with them, and avoiding all the stuff travel horror stories are made of like sickness, robbery, and that crazy stuff that you never even want to hear about.

It works out nicely that my month 1 round up can exactly coincide with my Thailand round up. (I left the country on the last day possible on my 30 day visa.) There is so much to say about Thailand. Firstly, the Thai are some of the nicest people I have met. There was always someone around to help you suggest restaurants (sometimes a little forcefully, mind you), help you make travel arrangements, and always to offer a smile. Shane commented that there wasn't one person who didn't return his smile. Besides the people, Thailand has much natural beauty on its side. The islands of the south have beautiful beaches with picturesque views everywhere you look. The caves and waterfalls seem straight out of some idealic deserted island movie. In the north, you can barely walk 3 block in any given city without running into some gilded temple, almost all of which were open and welcoming to passing tourists.

All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Thailand. As a country, it is so tourist friendly that it served as a great jumping off point for me to kind of ease into unfamiliar territory. Speaking of unfamilar territory, I'm now in China. But we'll have to save that until next post.
Sunday October 15 2006File under: travel, Thailand

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Goodbye Thailand. Hello China

Okay, so this will be a quick one because I am at a funky computer kiosk at the Bangkok airport (and it is 4:30 in the morning). Just a quick note to say that after a wonderful month in Thailand, I am headed to China.

I had to get out of the country to renew my Thai visa anyway, and I've got this Chinese visa that I paid out the nose for, so I figured why not, right? So I bought a one way ticket to Xi'an China. Where's that?, you ask. I don't really know. In fact, I've never known less about a place I am traveling to. All I've got a is a Berlitz pocket guide to China and an adventurous spirit. We'll see how that goes, I suppose.

I've been meaning to make a couple of posts recently with pictures and the works but the tropical island internet gods have been conspiring against me. I hope to find a good internet connection in China and do a big ole picture dump soon. I've got a couple of good ones of Shane getting harrassed by a monkey, more caves (no cobra this time), a live puffer fish, and more monuments. I'll try to get those up soon.

So sawadee kahp Thailand, nee hao China!
Friday October 13 2006File under: travel, Thailand

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Everybody was Kung Fu fighting


Wednesday October 11 2006File under: Thailand, travel

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Careful - cobra

In an effort to see what Ko Lanta has to offer while we are here, Trista and I made our way to some much touted caves. Well, as with much of traveling, we didn't really have any idea what we were getting ourselves into.

The cave entrance was a 30 minute trek up slippery ladders, through streams, while dodging some pretty gnarly looking spikey trees. Our soft-spoken guide, who had obviously done this about 800 times before, was quick to offer his advice on wear to step, what was slippery, and what not to hit your head on all with one or two words. "Careful", "Careful: slippery", "Careful: head", all in his soft-spoken calm tone. While cruising down one of the trails, he slows down and points to the bushes, "Careful: cobra," he says. Sure enough, a 3-foot cobra is just chillin in the grass. Ah, Thailand.

The whole cave experience was something else. We shimmied through narrow openings, crossed slippery 2 log bridges, and just about ate it numerous times. I enjoyed myself quite a bit. I'm sorry to say we can't all say the same. Still, it was just another one of the experiences that make travelling so great and adventurous.
Tuesday October 10 2006File under: travel, Thailand

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It

Sometimes there are moments that are so perfect, so right, that you can't help saying to yourself, "This is it. This is what it is all about." These moments often only last for, well, a moment, and they require letting go of the future and the past. It is about the way things are now.

I had myself an it moment the other day. On a beautiful beach on Ko Lanta, watching the sun go down, with my arms around a pretty girl. I was lucky enough at the time to realize that it-ness of the moment, because it was quickly gone. But for that moment, things were right.
Saturday October 7 2006File under: Thailand, travel

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Week 3 wrap up

Three weeks gone already?!?! I guess when chillin' on the beach reading a book is the only thing you do, time just flies by. Well, yesterday we made the 1.5 hour boat trip from Ko Phi Phi to Ko Lanta. We've only been here for 24 hours, but I'm pretty sure I love it. It is low tourist season, so there aren't the throngs of tourists that there were in Phi Phi. Also, there is much more to explore. There are waterfalls, caves, and national parks that are all begging for my attention, but that will come in due time.

I think I am going to take this opportunity to really really chill. The place we stayed last night had a pool, chairs on the beach, T.V. (with HBO) in the bungalows - it was just gorgeous. And all that for only $2.50 per night. Tonite we are going to try out a new place. If it is anything like the last one, I will be a happy camper.

Okay, so sorry for the pictureless post. I will get to another picture dump here soon. I got a couple of great ones of the sunset last night. But in the meantime, turn your attention to Una Estrella for Andrew's pictorial wrap of his trip.
Saturday October 7 2006File under: Thailand, travel

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