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Thursday, August 20, 2009

We Bid You Adieu!

Well we have some sad news... Our trip through China has so far been nothing short of spectacular, and we've got more amazing pictures than you can shake a stick at, but unfortunately thanks to Communism (damn Reds!) we can't share any of it because China blocks all access to blogspot (not to mention facebook, twitter, and a host of other fun sites). At any rate, through a nifty little bit of internet maneuvering on the part of our host in Shanghai, we've managed to mask our IP address and access blogspot one last time. Sadly, this is the last you will likely hear from us so long as we are in China. So if you were wondering why we've been so radio silent, well, now you know. We've both got our flights booked back Stateside on Sept 3rd though, so we'll see you all soon, and we can share our stories in person. Cheers!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Love and Hookers

We're just waiting around for our shuttle to the airport and then jetting off to China, so we thought we'd share one last little gem from Thailand.

Yesterday morning, we came back from Northern Thailand on a bus which arrived into Bangkok at the ungodly hour of 5:30 AM. Much to our chagrin, all the hotels were booked solid, so with not much else to do, we decided to wait around the hotel lobby hoping someone might check out early. There was also a tiny internet station in the hotel, manned by an upset Thai women. Strange time to be fuming at a keyboard? Yeah, that was the first sign.

Jessica got roped in (as she often does) by the relatively innocuous request for help translating a letter to English. Five minutes later, curious as to what was going down five feet away I got roped in too. Turns out, our young Thai friend was composing a letter to her American "boyfriend," explaining that "He had one week to write her back, or else..." But she liked him, and seemed relatively distraught about that prospect. Should she be more adamant, she wanted to know? Should she threaten to "go with another guy?" Why was he not returning her emails? So this was sad enough, but we also had the sneaking suspicion (as we do about most of the Thai/westerner relationships) that not everything was as simple as it was being put forth. This poor woman was trying to decide whether to give him the full blown anger or tone it down, and somehow we had become her Dr. Phil at 6 in the morning. You can imagine how blunderingly stupid our advice must have been. Just exactly how DO you coach a prostitute to rebuke a client for hurting her feelings, and yet help her snare him back in the same email?? She wanted to know if she should tell him she loved him. We weren't sure. We were in fact a little uncomfortable.

So at this point when we thought we had had about enough weirdness for one weird morning, we started the process of extricating ourselves from the situation by bringing up plans for breakfast. But lest this woman be deprived of the real advice she was after, she then dropped this little bomb:

Thai girl: "But, what should I do about the money?"
Us: "Uhh...."
Thai girl: "What about the money?!" she insisted.
Us: "Uhh.... the what?"
Thai girl: "The money!! He owes me money!!"
Us: "Uh... yeah. Uh, yeah, that's a tough one. OK breakfast? Yeah, Breakfast."

And there ladies in gentlemen was our funny and awkward goodbyed to Thailand. It was an adventure! We'll be back up from China shortly. Adios amigos!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why Did The Elephant Cross The Road?

Elephants are SOOOOOOOOOOOOO cool! I bet if they were in a ninja fight, they would win! Have you ever seen an elephant prodding stick? Those are worse than ninja stars! They are also useful for prodding your girlfriend/boyfriend, but truth be told, I don't know why anyone in their right mind would purposefully poke an elephant with a sharp stick. Seems like a less than smart move. And apparently they have good memories AND xray vision.

All kidding aside, our trip to the Elephant Nature Conservancy in Chiang Mai was great. We've been hanging out with a French Canadian, Olivier, and his Chinese girlfriend, Jess (so we were like mirror images) who we met on the bus ride up here. They motivated us to rent motorbikes and brave the 150km roundtrip ride to the park to spend a glorious day with the behemoth mammals. We got to see the tail end of the elephant show which reminded us of seaworld. They train these rehabilitated elephants to paint pictures of flowers, other elephants, abstract art, etc. It's disconcerting that elephants have better artistic abilities than we do.

The highlight of the day, which you can't really see from the pictures since it was impossible to get the angle right, was our elephant ride through the jungle. At one point, the elephant let out a monsterous growl and I thought we were done for.

We're both fighting a little stomach bug right now. How we managed to avoid it in India but get it in Thailand is a mystery to us. We were supposed to take a cooking class today but the thought of grounding curry paste was a bit nauseating, but we're going to try to fit it in tomorrow before we take off back to Bangkok on the 1st and then ship on out to China on the 3rd.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Angkor Wattage

We've been holed up in Bangkok the past few days, but we're rolling on outta here on the night bus to Chang Mai up north come this evening. Bangkok overwhelmed us our first time through, when all the convenience of a true traveler's hub was just too much after India, but this second go-round has been just dandy. Pad Thai, and fried rice everywhere, cheap massages and all the amenities. Sometimes the pampering aint bad. I've even been checking into having a couple of suits tailored. Life is grand. But we're exctited to head up north where supposedly the "real" Thailand resides. In the meantime, we wanted to leave you with some of the pics from Angkor Wat and the other temples. It was a two day bikeriding extravaganza which kept us hopping from temple to temple. There's more photos than we knew what to do with, but this should at least give you a taste.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Angkor, What?!

Wat a week! We did the ultimate temple tour yesterday on rickety third world bicycles. My bike had a bell, which I used liberally. We went to watch the sunset at Ankor Wat, then saw the Bayon, Ankor Thom, and a bunch of other wats the next day. Each temple had its own charm. Ankor Wat is the largest temple and is the furthest along in the restoration process. But one of our favorites was Ta Phrom, which is still surrounded by huge piles of rubble that have yet to be pieced together. Parts of Ta Phrom were intertwined with the roots of giant, beautiful trees (we took about 300 pictures and put the best in the slideshow). Very impressive!

Biking in Cambodia is surprisingly easy despite the lack of traffic lights, laws, etc. Cambodians have no problem sharing the road, which is great because I like to drift and take up the entire lane. It's been raining like crazy for the past few nights and we got stuck in a storm on our ride back from the temples, which made for an even more eventful day.

We tried to watch the eclipse this morning but Cambodia wasn't prime viewing location. The morning was overcast so we missed most of it!

We're back to Bangkok tomorrow then continuing on to Northern Thailand. Cambodia was well worth the trip. Will post again from Chang Mai!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Photos! - Snorkeling

Hi everyone. Sorry for being so slow posting of late. Cambodia has a lot of cool things in it, but superfast internet is not one of them. These are some of the last photos from our island stay in Thailand. We're heading into Angkor Wat tomorrow so I imagine we'll have some pretty sweet photos from there. We've had a pretty tough stretch of weather so far in Cambodia, so our last four days or so have mostly just been spent hunkering down, but the town of Siem Reap where we are now is suiting us well and things are looking up.

Monday, July 13, 2009


This has trickled out to a few of you guys already, but I figured, I'd just go ahead and make one big announcement here for everybody.... Jessica and I have some news.....

HAHA... not that news... In case the post title didn't give it away, I got a job offer the other day to go work at Pasteur Institute in Paris starting in October. It's working with a scientist I really respect on Staphylocoocus aureus, which for you non-science types, is the nasty little critter that causes MRSA infections (staph infections) of which you may have heard about in the news. So I'm really excited! Really nervous too, since "bonjour" is about half of my french vocabulary, but it should be a great adventure and at the end of the day, I guess you just don't get that many opportunities for great adventures, so I'm thrilled. Jessica and I have downloaded Rosetta Stone, and we now spend some of our beach time practicing French in Asia. It's a funny world, eh?!