Week One Wrap Up

So it was a week ago almost exactly that I stepped off the plane in Bangkok with nothing but a backpack, a guidebook, and a vague plan. Now I am a streetwise traveler who has mastered the transportation, trekked in the jungle, tried a wealth of new foods, met new people, and even picked up a few Thai phrases. Not a bad start to my adventure.

Traveling with Andrew, Per, and Myke has been great. Having a group of similarly minded people to eat and adventure with has been just what I needed to get my mindset right. Just yesterday, they suggested we rent motorcycles to get outside of town a bit. It was just the ticket. And we really made a strong showing at the trivia night at the local ex-pat bar last night. (Actually we got 11th out of 12. Who would have known those ex-pats were so smart?)

Next week, those boys leave town, and a new contingent of traveling buddies arrive. I'm so fortunate to have all of this work out. It is funny to think that less than a month ago, this wasn't even a glimmer in my eye. Now I am sitting in an internet cafe in the north of Thailand, sipping a fresh fruit shake that cost $.43, contemplating the options that I have in front of me. So great.
Friday September 22 2006File under: travel, Thailand

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Trekking in Doi Inthanon National Park

In Chiang Mai, we signed up for a 2 day/1 night guided trek north of town. It was exactly what we were hoping. All in all, we hiked maybe 6 miles on sometimes slippery terrain. This was spread out over a couple sections in between various villages, waterfalls, etc. It was really cool to see the villages they took us to. The first one consisted of just 4 families, and everyone went about their business instead of putting on a show for us honkies. Their dwellings were a covered area, a small portion of which had a raised floor for sleeping. No walls. Otherwise, it was dirt floors. Very similar to other extra rural dwellings I've seen around the world. Hey, if it works...

Other highlights included the elephant ride, which I liked much better than I thought I would. We rode two to an elephant for about an hour. When our guy got moving, it got a little rough up top, but mostly he was just lumbering down the trail. We fed him bananas when he was a good boy, but he got pretty greedy and finished them off in the first 10 minutes.

The visit to the waterfall was somewhat marred by the presence of leeches in the water, but of course we didn't find those until we were out. Not too much of a problem, however. One did escape my detection, so I ended up with a much sated friend down the trail a ways.

We finished up the mini trip with a rafting excursion down a river. The rafts were long pieces of bamboo roped together. Our guide used a pole to keep us from banging into the rocks. We got to stand mostly, so it was like we were surfing down the river.

Coming back to Chiang Mai, we piled 14 of us into a small truck and just watched the scenery roll on by. It was really a great trip.


Thursday September 21 2006File under: travel, Thailand

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Bangkok to Chiang Mai

After picking up Andrew, Per, and Myke at the airport, we spent one day in Bangkok seeing the sights and shopping for new Rolecks watches. But after about 2 hours of the hustle and bustle of the city, we all agreed that it was time to get out of dodge.

We caught a 14 hour overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the north. The was a nice ride with airconditioned cars and realtively realistic sleeping conditions. Still not adjusted to the time change yet (or maybe just because I am a natural early riser), I was up at 6:00 am watching the country side pass us by. There were rice fields galore with the occasional village of tin roofed huts. That quiet peaceful ride with the wind blowing in my face (the dining car, wasn't ACed) is currently vying for highlight of the trip for me.

So now we are in Chiang Mai. Yesterday we pretty much did the city: night market, day market, temples, etc. etc. This morning, we leave on a 2 day/1 night trek into the jungle (what is the technical difference between jungle and forrest anyway?). The trek is to include a visit to native villages, elephant rides, a trip down the river on bamboo rafts, and (this is what I am really excited about) a stop at a few waterfalls! It should be a good time.

So I had better go get packing. Sorry for the picture-less post. While traveling with the boys, I'm pretty much leaving the photodocumentary stuff to them. So far, they are doing a great job. I'll steal a couple from them for my next post. Also, be sure to follow what there is to follow over at brothersroot.com while Andrew and I are traveling together.
Tuesday September 19 2006File under: travel, Thailand

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Buddha Day!

As luck would have it, the day I arrive in Bangkok is Buddha Day, or the birthday of Thailand's equivalent of the Dali Lama (it is sometimes hard to get the full story when you don't speak the language). Anyway, the Thai government used the opportunity to encourage tourism to some temples and statues, some of which are open only for this day to non-Thais. Anyhoo, it lead to a lot of buddhas in a short time.

A tuktuk (3-wheeled motorcycle taxi) took us from temple to temple and waited while we looked around. At one wat, the lucky buddha (pictured right), we met a guy that explained the significance of it all, with personal anecdotes and everything. Besides buddhas, it was helpful Thai after helpful Thai.

Everything fell into place for the first day of my adventure. Now I just gotta get my sleep pattern adjusted to the 14 hour time difference, meet up with the fellas tonite, and then the adventure truly begins.
Saturday September 16 2006File under: travel

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Bon voyage

"I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain."

So as I finish up packing and get ready to set off, Red's words from Shawshank Redemption rattle around in my brain. Along with the excitement, there's a little bit of nervousness, but I suppose travel is all about getting outside your comfort zone. I suppose I am as ready as I will ever be. All that's left to do now is get busy livin', or get busy dyin'. I choose the former.

My beautiful custom travel bag complete with crossword puzzle pouch and everything by Cardinal Points



Tuesday September 12 2006File under: travel

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Having a beard is fun



Shaving it off is even more fun.
Sunday September 10 2006File under: pics, beard

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The greatest show on earth!

Last night, I saw Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Baily circus at the Everett Convention Center. I'm not going to lie to you: I didn't have high expectations. I've grown accustomed to fancy circuses like Cirque d Soliel and Teatro Zinzani. I was expecting some elephants rolling on large balls, and a bunch of clowns. Boy was I wrong.

Yes, there were elephants and clowns, but there was a bunch more. Hat juggling, acrobatics, trained house cats (which, we agreed, was right up among the top acts), a strong man, pyrotechnics, and 7 motocycles in the globe of death: it was great. I highly recommend going. The seats were cheap, and it was totally worth it.

What made the experience even better is that a buddy of mine from college is a clown with the show. Afterwards, he took us backstage where we saw the clown dressing room (and got a couple autographs), and then to the train. The train, when compiled, is almost a mile long. We saw where the stars of the show live and travel. All along the way, Dan told anecdotes and details from his two years traveling with the circus.

All in all, it was a late night, but so worth it. It was really something to see what it is like to be in a circus. I don't see myself running off to join one anytime soon, but it is nice to know that if I do, I'll know what is awaiting me.
Friday September 8 2006File under: events, juggling

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I love public transportation!

For the past 2.5 year, I have been doing what some call a crazy commute. On average, it is about two and a half hours each way. I rarely have done more than 3 or 4 commutes a week, but that is plenty. When people ask how I can stand it, it is easy. I love public transportation. It is cheaper (usually), you don't have to deal with the stress of driving, you can sleep/read a book/space out, you don't have to worry about parking, it is better for the environment, you have an excuse to leave work early, etc. etc. I'm grateful for this opportunity to have learned the ins and outs of greater Seattle's public transportation. I consider myself an expert, so let me know if I can help plan a trip for you.

Here are some links I've found helpful:
*Metro Transit Serving mostly local Seattle routes, also going to the airport from downtown.
*Community Transit Serving Snohomish County. Route #422 from Stanwood to Seattle has been a good friend of mine.
*Sound Transit Mainly a link from the suburbs into Seattle. The train to/from Everett is quite easily the nicest way to commute to downtown.
*SKAT What has been a somewhat cumbersome experience in the past keeps getting better with the addition of new routes and more convienient ways to pay. The Everett Connector has esp. been a great edition. This website also has a link to the County Connector, which connects Mount Vernon, Bellingham, Anacortes, and Oak Harbor
* Island Transit Although I rarely go down to Oak Harbor or Coupville, Island stops at Marches Point park and ride, and runs to Mount Vernon Transit station, connecting with both the Everett and Bellingham connectors. And best of all, it is fare free!

I hope you found some of these helpful. Three cheers for public transportation!


Monday September 4 2006File under: travel, work

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Two Weeks' Notice

"A lawyer decides that she's used too much like a nanny by her boss, so she walks out on him." Oh that Sandra Bullock. Can she *make* a bad movie? I mean, really. And I just can't get enough of Hugh Grant. So despite the bad grammar in the movie's title, Two Weeks Notice is the way to go.

But on a completely separate note, I've tendered my resignation to Photoworks and bought a one way ticket to Thailand. The plan is to meet up with Andrew, Per, and Myke. After that, the world is my oyster. I leave in 2 weeks with an estimated return sometime in December. Keep it tuned to BdW for the latest.
Friday September 1 2006File under: travel, work

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Comments Feature: Beta

One-way communication is so 1900s. With that in mind, I've added comments to BdW both for your entertainment and mine. The technology is uses is AJAX, which might cause some with you non-mainstream browser folks problems, but I think we've got it tested in Firefox and IE for the PC (thanks to the help of my testers!). If you do run into issues, please let me know.

Also, there still seems to be a bit of a caching issue caused by the browser XSL/XML parsing, so if you don't see the latest comments, just reload the page. Hopefully I'll figure something out for that in the future.

So comment nice and comment often!
Wednesday August 30 2006File under: blog

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