Wednesday, January 30, 2008

imagine this

I tried my best to get back into writing on my blog, but I just don't think its going to work. I prefer writing in my journal these days with good ol' pen and paper. I want to share a few pictures with you, though, so here's for your viewing pleasure. 

O yeah, I am back safe and sound (and wishing I were still traveling) in San Diego. 

Saturday, January 19, 2008

moving along

Vietnam was wonderful and much too fast. The highlight was definitely Halong Bay. We took a 3 day 2 night cruise which included 8 meals, one night lodging on the boat, one in a hotel, kayaking (amazing!), hiking and transportation to and from Hanoi (3 hours away) for $50. It was a wonderful trip because we became great friends with all the other travelers on board.

Two funny occurrences from the trip...

#1 Bethany got attacked by a money. We were halfway through our journey and made a stop at money island. The monkeys were brought to the island a few decades ago and have cheerfully inhabited it since then. We paddled our kayaks up to the shore and got out to take a look around. The monkeys were sitting on the rocks indifferent to the handful of people snapping pictures of them. Some people were getting within a few feet away of them and they didn't seem to care. Then, with an unlucky turn of fate, one decided to go vicious toward Bethany. She wasn't taking pictures or anything, just standing there. It stared her in the eyes for a few second before it came over and attached itself to her leg. She began kicking her leg around to try to get it off. After a few seconds, she finally succeeded and it came off along with her shoe. She wasn't hurt at all but she was definitely scarred by the whole event. We laughed about the incident the entire journey back.

#2 I made an addition to the items on my disgusting food list. Right after we finished kayaking we were hanging out in this little hut on the water waiting for our bus. And then we spotted it. On the wall here about 7 big jars filled with Vietnamese rice wine. This wasn't any rice wine, however. A closer look revealed all sorts of flavor additions to the wine. Rice wine with geckos, rice with with starfish. There was one with sea horses and one with clams. But the one that topped it all off was the rice wine with goat. No kidding... there was a whole baby goat in the bottom of the jar and it had been fermenting there for a year (we were told). As all of us were standing there in awe at the grossness of the fact, the owner of the shack came up and invited me for a shot with him. So, he dipped two glasses in and down they went. The actual wine didn't taste bad. It was kind of sweet and didn't burn at all. But the after taste was wretched...a bit too goaty for my liking.

I'm in Phuket now. This island is a tropical paradise. I've rented a scooter and am going to explore the island today including the orchid farm, monkey rehabilitation center and lots of beaches! AND, tomorrow is the start of my scuba adventure. I can't wait!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

the land of velocity

Welcome to Hanoi, city of noodles, city of lakes, city of streets which are better to cross with your eyes closed. This is so because there are such a great number of motorbikes coming your way that you just have to walk across slowly and let them weave around you as you make your way to the other side. Bethany and I usually line up parallel to Blaine so that if a unconscience driver happened to deck us, he'd be the first one to go. Amazingly, that hasn't happened yet!

Other than crossing the street, there is a lot to do here. Yesterday was my first day in the city. (read: more than 36 hours of traveling and I'm still wearing the same thing as when I said good bye to Grandma on the 9th...they lost my luggage.) Actually yesterday we just wandered the streets, stopping and peering in on all things unusual. This occured on average every 3 steps. The petshop was interesting. When I say shop I mean a collection of things for sale which are situated in the same general location a few inches away from the bustling traffic. Pet shop...imagine animals which look like they haven't had a bite to eat since the sad day their mother cut them off. There were strangly cats and dogs. There were lots of birds. Some lovely tropical birds bursting with color in cages by the pair. Then there were cages of small sparrow-like birds which needed a small arbouretum to properly balance the bird to breathing/flying space ratio. These birds were literally standing on top of each other. After the pet shop, we visited the meat market which was just a few convienient steps away. I won't write about this one in detail for the sake of keeping my readership to maximum numbers. :)

The food here is absolutely incredible. And its like a dollar. We've been eating mostly street food and yesterday for lunch we chose a shop which looked safe based on the number of patrons at the tables. We sat down, pausing only for a moment to wonder what we should order. Without saying anything, the waitress/cook/owner brought us each a basket of sticky white rice noodles and a big bowl with various types of greens. We looked around conspicuously to see how exactly we were to make a meal of this. Then she brought us each a bowl of steaming broth with a few meatball type of things in the bottom and a basket of fried spring rolls to share. We looked at her with "instructions please" eyes and she motioned that we were to take the lettuce in our chopsticks and dip it in the broth and the same for the noodles. YUUUUUUMY! It's kind of like Thai food in the respect that they seem to have found perfect harmony among sweet, spice, sour and texture. More to come in this department.

My bag is supposed to come today so I'll try to post some pictures when I am wearing clothes which look like they haven't been adorned for almost a week straight in a 3rd world country.

Until then, peace and love from the east!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

tomorrow is the day

Hello to all my faithful blog readers (87% of whose pictures are included in this posting :)

Just a little post to farewell to YOU

and to you

and even to you!

And after about 24 treacherous hours of sitting in one (or a few) seats and after my big toes have swollen to size of a small frankfurter I will be deboarding the plane, abandoning all cares and saying hello to you two!!!

I'm going to Vietnam!!!

Friday, January 04, 2008

anyone there?

So just because I haven't posted for a year or whatever doesn't mean you had to stop reading my blog...come on now. Just kidding, but I wanted to let you all know that I will ----hopefully----- start posting again. I am going to Vietnam and Thailand to meet up with Blaine and Bethany, so i figured I'd start greasing up the blogging wheels now.

And, a pic for your viewing pleasure. This is my new life as of now and I kinda like it. :)