Reminiscing - map and calendar

One of my major activities since coming home (aside from eating cheese) has been reliving, reviewing, and recovering from my trip. I've been compiling photos from the people I traveled with, sorting through maps and books I brought back, and transfering notes from the back of crosswords to a more usuable computer format. In light of these activities, I foresee a couple more travel related posts in the future for BdW. Here is the first one.

In my last couple days in Vietnam, I saw a fellow traveller outlined their general itenary on a big map. It was such a neat idea that I copied it. Here's what I came up with. It is best viewed at large size. (To avoid clutter, I left off the into and out of asia lines. Starting point is Bangkok and ending point is Seoul)

Also, on my trip, I kept a general log of where I was and what I was doing on a daily basis, just to jog my memory when I got back. The bold at the bottom of each day represents where I spent the night. It is prolly an overkill of information for all but the very bored.


Wednesday December 27 2006File under: travel, pics

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Back in the U.S.A.

Yep, so as most of you know, I've returned from my travels abroad. I come back enlightened, emboldened, enjoyed, and a bunch of other ens. I am happy to be home, even if it hasn't stopped raining and the temperature makes me wish I was back on a beach.

Last post, I asked what you would do on return from a long trip. Here's what I did: First agenda item was hug mom. Then it was straight to the refridgerator for a tortilla with cheese. (I told you I missed cheese, eh?). I followed it up with a bowl of cereal and sleep in my own warm bed. Other highlights of the re-entry process involved dinner with the family (homemade pizza (again, cheese)) and playing with the Punkso.

The holiday season is one to be with friends and family. It was with that in mind that I brought this jaunt to a close. And it was with great fun that I got to spring the suprise of my return on everyone (my mom actually jumped up and down). Anyway, surrounded by friends and family with beautiful decorations and atmosphere, I'm glad to be home.
Monday December 25 2006File under: travel, food

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WWYD

A popular activity for long haul travellers is to talk about what is going to be the first thing they are going to do when they get home. Common answers are take a hot shower, throw toliet paper in the toliet(!), stay in a cozy bed for 24 hours, drive a car (try not driving for a couple months and see how you feel), and eat. Eating is often people's most enthusiastic response. Nights upon nights have been passed talking about chips with salsa, real pizza, or pickles. The big foods that have been missing for me are cheese and cereal (not together of course (although...)).

Well, I ask you: what would you do? What is the first thing you would do after being away for an extended period. Any food that is particularly American that you think other countries might not have? Often it takes actually going away to realize what you miss most. So for those of you who have been holding down the fort, use your imagination.
Friday December 22 2006File under: travel, food

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Seoul Searching

Yes yes. You're eyes aren't deceiving you. That is snow you are seeing in the picture. I feel bad continually posting anecdotes on hot days, beaches, and relief at finding a room with A/C while all ya'll at home are dealing with wind storms, snow, and gloomy winter weather, so I thought I would make ya'll feel better by pointing out that travellers also hit runs of cold weather.

But global warming isn't bad enough that it all of the sudden snowed in Ho Chi Minh City. This picture was taken at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea. As I understand it, it is Korea's version of an imperial palace which I have seen so many other places. Beautiful architecture, grounds, and gardens made for a great place to meander around while enjoying the gorgeous winter day. (And yes, it was cold enough to warrant the long pants.)

Other Korean activities? Well, I got a geocache, of course. And following my love of public transportation, I rode the Seoul train. (Okay, that was the last bad "Seoul" pun)
Thursday December 21 2006File under: travel, Korea

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History Lesson

Everywhere you go, there are new bits of history to learn. Most of it is completely new to me, as Mr. Burnett's World History class somewhat glossed over the overthrow of Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia in 1970 by semi-US-supported (US-semi-supported?) troops, for example. But here in Vietnam, history is a little more real. Place names ring a bell (Danang, Dien Bien Phu, etc.) and when the tour guide talks of history, I can place what he says in context.

Yesterday, I visited the Cu Chi tunnel system that doubled as a kind of museum of how Viet cong(?) guerillas lived and fought. (There was a geocache there too!) It was, from a technical standpoint, really interesting how they engineered the tunnels, how to cover smoke from their cooking fires, etc. On the other hand, all the evidence of the bombing, agent orange, etc. made me pretty ashamed to be an American. Then, to top it off, I stopped at the war remnants museum on the way back. Sufficive to say, it didn't make me feel any better.

I will hold off on making any comments on my feelings on America's actions then (and how they possibly correlate to U.S. actions of today) because 1)I imagine the information presented can't help but have a bias (just as the textbooks I learned from had their own [opposite] bias and 2)I don't want the comments for this post to explode. But being surrounded by the history that I have only learned about in books and the Discovery Channel has been quite an experience.

(Oh, and I took some pictures, but forgot my transfer cable at the hotel, so you'll have to use your imagination. Or wait until the slideshow when I return. Or imagine me hunched over in a 3 feet tall tunnel holding my camera out in front of me so as to take a misdirected, out of focus shot.)
Tuesday December 19 2006File under: travel, Vietnam

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Throughout my trip, I've had the opportunity to visit some great places. Being able to be there and wonder in amazement at them has been an opportunity I know I won't forget. Part of the reason that they are still around for me and everyone else to wonder at is because of the efforts of UNESCO. Initially, I didn't really make the connection between all the wonderful places I've been and theWolrd Heritage List. On checking it out, I found almost all the cool places I've been listed on it.

The last Heritage Site was the Complex of Hue Monuments in Hue, Vietnam. It was a rainy rainy day so I pretty much had the place to myself. Very chinese in all the decorations. I also got to catch a "traditional" dance/music affair. Here are some pictures I took. (Sorry, I don't feel like writing up a fancy javascript bit for image swapping.)
Sunday December 17 2006File under: travel, Vietnam

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Fruit Shakes Anonymous

My name is Wren and I'm addicted to fruit shakes. It all started very innocently: "Maybe I will try a mixed fruit shake instead of a fanta", I told myself. Then it became having one with every meal, if it was convenient. They are a healthy alternative to soda, right? Well, that may be the case, but it has gotten out of hand.

Fruit shakes vary by country and even by restaurant. (Believe me. I've become an expert.) In Thailand, they were mostly just fruit, occasionally a vegetable or two, and ice. It all goes into a blender and comes out a slurpie-like consistency and is delicious. Cambodian fruit shakes tended to have less ice and were more like a pulpy juice, but still not bad. Here in Vietnam, occasionally they will add milk or yogurt to form a more creamy mixture.

So now I am averaging about 4 fruit shakes a day (with the occaional 6-a-day binges). Ask anyone that has travelled with me and they will tell you: if a fruit shake ain't on the menu, we ain't eating there. I prefer a good mixed fruit shake because you never get the same thing twice. My favorite place in Thailand put tomatoes and carrots in theirs. I'm pretty sure one I had yesterday had avacado and dragon fruit in it. If mixed fruit isn't available, I occasionally go with a coconut, pineapple, or watermelon (thanks for the tip, Nate).

I don't know what I will do back in the states where quality fruits aren't available at ridiculously low prices. Turn back to fanta, I guess.
Friday December 15 2006File under: travel, food

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A long search is over

For almost as long as I can remember, gramicci shorts have been my uniform. They are comfortable, durable, and even stylish enough for the likes of a slob like me. But in the past couple years, I've had a hard time finding the right size, color, style combination (not to mention recent inconsistencies in fit).

Enter Hoi An, Vietnam. This place, which was one a major trading hub with the Portugese(?), has clothes shops on every corner with quite persistant sales women. Wearing my ragged gramiccis through the market yesterday, I got talked into having a replacement pair made for me. I was skeptical of the whole endeavor. But lo and behold, I return today and was knocked off my feet. My new pair is so like the old ones, it is uncanny (minus the tears and holes, of course). I commissioned another pair on the spot.

On top of the satisfaction of getting such a great pair of shorts, the transaction felt good because I knew wearing my clothes were coming from. Over at his blog, Saxtor mentions his concerns on globalization, esp. as it affects the clothing industry. While I don't share his point of view entirely, bypassing all the middlemen and corporations that are usually involved did give me a sense of everyone involved getting a fair deal.

Time will tell on the quality and durability of the purchase, but in the mean time, I've made a friend in the seamstress and I've got a great story to tell.
Wednesday December 13 2006File under: travel, Vietnam

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Sledding

Some years ago, Jule and I were in New Zealand and had the opportunity to try out a little thing called sand sledding. Being the stingy young 'un that I was (yes, folks, I say was. You got a problem with that?), I opted to watch instead of joining the masses hucking themselves down the hill looking like they were really enjoying themselves. Ever since, I have kind of regretted not joining the fun.

Well, Vietnam has given me a do-over. The white sand dunes outside of Mui Ne aren't quite the same as those at 90 mile beach in NZ, but they were nonetheless spectacular. And while I ended up with pockets full of sand and completely out of breath from trudging up the dune, the sledding was totally worth it.
Tuesday December 12 2006File under: travel, Vietnam

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Good Morning Vietnam

For you food lovers out there, I've got a doozy. But first, a quick note.

I'd like to apologize about the negative tone of my previous couple posts. They aren't necessarily a reflection on a change of attitude towards traveling, as some have suggested. It is more just that travelling isn't always sunny. I have tried to do my best to keep this blog that way, but I must have let a couple slide. (Actually, just that one, because the Christmas lights one was actually a happy one that was just poorly phrased.)

After a long day of travel yesterday, I woke up this morning on the beach in Mui Ne, Vietnam. (Okay, not technically on the beach, because the sand fleas would have gotten me, but close enough.) To celebrate a new country, currency, and culture, I went out for a big breakfast. I ordered a tomato omelette, fresh orange juice (no ice), and a pineapple pancake. (I was hungry). The omlette turned out to be huge and come with prolly 3 sliced tomatoes and 2 baguettes. Then came the "pancake", which was actually breaded, deep-friend pineapple slices, served with sweetened condensed frosting of some sort. So good, yet so unexpected. Tea was thrown in as a freebie, with the total bill coming to 37,000 dongs (quit that snickering), which is about $2.50. After nearly 3 months of traveling, this is the first real cultural breakfast I've experienced, and I loved it.
Saturday December 9 2006File under: travel, Vietnam

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