Sunday, February 28, 2010

And Then the Chaos Begins...

I dont really know how to explain Ho Chi Mihn City. If you have been here and you loved it I am not sure what to do with that either because im pretty sure I have aged another 5 years in the 2 days I have been here.

Its loud, chaotic, stressful and an absolute assault on the senses. This is how I know I couldnt do India. I wont lie, it is not my favorite place to be, but I met some great people that made walking around a lot more enjoyable. Gotta love the guys from London! I spent my first night here with 5 of them, drinking beers and eating delicious Pho, which is a huge plus of being here.

The next day I cruised around the streets with Joel, a guy from London. We battled the traffic (takes a few breaths to build up confidence to jump in) and visited the main market. I had to remember that people's sense of personal space in Vietnam is out the window. Being grabbed and pulled by the arm into someone's store is the norm. So is having your ankle grabbed by a homeless guy that was missing 80% of his skin on his face. That was when I knew I wasnt in Koh Phi Phi anymore. It takes getting used to, which I dont know if I will in 5 days being here.

The market offered another smack in the face when I watched this lady preparing frogs for a scrumptious meal. She was taking live frogs by the legs and slamming them into the ground with not even a thought. My thought was it might be time to consider life as a vegetarian. I have witheld the video, but its pretty narly.

The day ended when Joel and I decided to treat ourselves to overpriced cocktails on the rooftop bar of the Sheraton. Sometimes you just need a rooftop bar to get out of the noise.

I will be happy to get out of here and see what else Vietnam has to offer. It will also be lovely to cross a road without the fear of being run down by thousands of motorbikes. Don't worry, Dad...I take my time and usually jump behind a local to cross the big roads.

My Own Beach

Now that I am the proud owner of a cable that links my camera to the rest of the world, I can share some pics!

Our final night in Koh Lak, miss ya Mom!

Here was my little world in Karon Beach, the morning I woke up to visit The Beach in Koh Phi Phi.

Just me and the dog up at 6am

I took a 2hr ferry out to the island. Then it was calm...

This is what I was waiting for. All to myself! If you ignore all the tourists behind me, but I found my own little spot on the beach and pretended it was just mine. It was a happy day.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Made it to Vietnam!!!

Oh man...first huge hurdle leaped. No one told me about the visa you had to get to get into this crazy place called Vietnam. So I have spent the last week while in the beaches, pictures to come sooooooon, freaking out about getting my visa. Basically, a lot of man hours went into getting the thing online when I could have gotten it in Bangkok or the states. Note to future travelers: take care of visas BEFORE you get to Vietnam. Yikes.

But, im here!! Sorry, no pics yet cause I have to figure out how to get them off my camera without a cord (advice anyone?) cause I have some AMAZING ones of Koh Phi Phi and Karon Beach. Now, im in nutsville, also known as Ho Chi Mihn City. This place is like Bangkok on speed and whatever uppers its pharmacist could hook it up with. Im staying in the backpackers alley and im pretty sure no one sleeps around here.

So, on to the next phase! I just have to learn how to cross the streets while diving over motorbikes. Its like Frogger, Vietnamese style.

More to come soon...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just For Memes

Cant even tell you how much I miss you already and its only been a few hours. Its not as much fun people watching and enjoying tuna sandwiches, yes I had one for dinner. You are an amazing travel partner and I am so lucky to have experienced this with you. You are such a kick ass traveler too, minus the never knowing where we are on a map part.

Thank you for experiencing this with me Mama, I got a mango fruit shake just for you tonight. They charged me 50 baht. I cried and cursed the beaches for being so damn expensive.

Miss you tons, I love you so so much.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Serious veg out time

Oh THIS is what they mean about Thailand beaches! Ok, I'm not doing justice to the term back packer by staying at Le Meridian in Khoa Lak but I will surrender my roughin' it mindset for a cabana by the beach any day! Mom and I have spent our last few days together soaking up the sun (while under the safe cover of SPF 50) just north of Phuket. It has been delicious and I'm sad to think it will be over in just a few days!

But, before we made it to Khoa Lok, we visited some gorgeous gardens in Chiang Rai. I wont lie, besides the hotel and fab lady boys, this was the high point to Chiang Rai. For future travelers, I dont know if I would highly recommend trekking all the way up there. But, we still had a great time.

Khoa Lok was about 1 1/2 North of Phuket, but was well worth the trip! We fell deeeeply in love with Le Meridian and tried to take it home with us. I didnt want to pay the weight fees so all we have are pictures. Yum...

Didnt matter day or night, just an amazing beach

We decided to be active resorters and took advantage of activities like biking in 200 degree heat to a gorgeous waterfall. We also took part in Thai boxing, but thankfully there are no pictures of my fro hair and face drenched in sweat. Sorry, next time.

I had to say a very sad goodbye to mom and continue the adventure solo style. Im now kicking back in Karon Beach, a part of the Phuket province. It is a mixture of Cancun and Thai food. Not my fav, but I wanted to check out a few more beaches before I made it to Vietnam. I will visit the beach from "The Beach" and see if Leo still resides there. Im sure his dream is living where hundreds of tourists flock everyday. Definitely.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

McD's and Less Delicious Things

Just for my McD Lovers, mostly Jordana Monk and Bick Monk

And, this is for everyone. I wanted to try new things. This was a combo of many flavors including pesticide and salt.

My Fair LadyBoy

Yes, finally. We found it. The combination of Thai Drag Queens (Lady Boys) and American show tunes. That, paired with Thai Mexican food, and I had quite a night in Chiang Rai!

While mom devoured a whole fish and I tried to keep my food down from looking at the fried cockroaches, we enjoyed a delicious LadyBoy show, which you should as well, below:

They were fab and we loved them. The best was when they would yell at each other to bow and to step right instead of left. No matter what country, a diva is a diva. Yesterday, mom had the genius idea instead of taking a 4 hour bus ride straight from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, we would instead do a tour and just have them drop us at the end. Note to anyone: this is WAY better than being stuck on a bus for a few hours. We got to see some great stuff, my fav being the White Palace. It was this weird combo of super tacky beauty and a mesh of American humor.

I couldn't take pics on the inside, but the temple was covered with images of Superman, Spiderman, Keanu Reeves and for some reason the Twin Towers.

We also hit the Golden Triangle for some peaks into Burma...and of course some over sized elephants. Now that we have made it to Chiang Rai we decided to take it eeeeeaaaasy today. I know its not nice to brag but COME ON. Our hotel is delish. Here is just a few, mostly so I can remember what clean looks like for when I get to Vietnam and Laos.

Mom in her "Gabe" pose.

Why am I just so tan?

Tomorrow we will venture into town and I am hoping to get a pic with a LadyBoy. Maybe one dressed as Babs or Cher? Shes such a survivor.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Did I Miss A Day??

Well, they all say that you will get food poisoning or water poisoning or air poisoning when you are over here. I believed it, and got it, but what they didnt tell you is you will lose a day or two and not even realize it. It's 6am and we are already leaving Chiang Mai for Chiang Rai! I feel like I only had a day here, when really it was 5.

We spent one day doing what I am finding I like the most here, jumping on a bike and crusing the town! We checked out some temples and I found my elephants being worshiped on the side of one.

Because I am still healing from hugging the toilet, I apparently can't fathom the idea of eating thai food yet, depressing. So all I wanted was a tuna sandwhich (quiet, Jordana). I found heaven in a sandwich and thai iced tea.

Yesterday was great. We spent 160 baht (around $5) to jump in the back of a truck taxi and climb a mountain to see a palace and the most sacred Wat (temple) in Chiang Mai. Obviously, I was dressed wrong so while I didnt include the most heinous picture of what they made me wear, I will include the process of them slapping on some "oh, man...please cover up you dumb American" robes.

One would think that someone who has spent the last 2 years working in Israel where you never think twice to cover up would know better. BUT, im gonna blame it on the food/water poisoning.

This was from the top of the 376 steps that we treked up, thank G its not too hot here.

Mom, in her fav. pose.

And here is my favorite. We found this guy in a temple while riding around. Mom literally sat there for an hour watching him. She was miming to Thai people a heart beat to ask, "is he real? is he human?" For SOME reason they didnt understand. When we asked outside, they told us he is a Monk who died a while ago, this was his wax statue. Whatevs, we were sitting by fans so it was ok.

See you in Chiang Rai!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cruising Sukothai

We left Ayutthaya and took a wonderful 6 hour busride to Sukothai, this one had AC at least. Sukothai was a little rough around the edges, as in hardly any sidewalks and scary dogs you had to side step. But, we found our way into the old city (*note for anyone going to Sukothai, stay in the OLD city!!), where we ventured into the National Park. It was amazing, and such a breath of fresh air away from cooked balls of meat on the street. We cruised our bikes around the huge park and pretended we were profesh photogs is some of our work to be dispayed at the Met when we get back.

My favorite Buddahs

The Elephants!

After one day in Sukothai we were done and jumped on another 5 hour busride to Chiang Mai! Our first day here was spent at one of the most amazing places I have ever been. It is an elephant sanctuary for abused elephants. This is a one of a kind place, far from the elephant painting shows and jungle rides. It changed my perspective on these huge animals and I couldnt bring myself to ever ride on one after I saw the way they break them down. In most elephant camps, there is a process of breaking the elephants spirit in order to make them submisive. It is heart breaking, and unless you know for a fact, hard to know which companys use this tactic. We spent the day learning about their lives and each story, there were 33 in total, all with gut wrenching stories. Some had their backs broken by being forced to mate, one had stepped on a land mine, another had been forced amphedimenes to work around the clock.

This one was blind because it was shot in the eye with a slingshot, because it wasnt working hard enough. I loved her because at feeding time she would just stand there, mouth open, waiting for someone to give her food. I like that idea...

This is the only way, in my opinion, to really see elephants in Thailand. I just wanted to watch them be elephants and not have to perform or carry me around. We got SO close, fed them, washed them and of course I thought I made a personal connection with one and she would want me to be her best friend forever. It was probably because I was holding food, but whatever. Let me dream that Dumbo and I made a true friendship.
I am bonding with my new BFF
I got to give her a bath too! Im pretty sure this is where water got in my mouth thus beginning the water poisoning process for me.

After our elephant experience was when I felt the onset of my very first food or water poisoning! Yes....I knew it would happen sometime, I am just SO thankful it happened while we stayed at Le Meridian. Much better to pass out on the bathroom floor here than anywhere else.

Now just imagine me wrapped in this bed begging for death. It was a beautiful thing! Now we have a few more days in Chiang Mai, we are going to hike, bike and hopefully keep all food down.