Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The effects of seven eleven in a global economy

Seven eleven is an american chain which sells snacks and small toiletries and magazines among other things. It seems that Thailand is especially obsessed with this specific american oddity and has more of them in Bangkok than New York has starbucks. I kid you not.
So traveling for over six months now in some of the more underdeveloped and unsanitary countries of the world it appears that of all things seven eleven is the danger zone. Particularly their ham and cheese rolls.
After all this time, who would have thought that seven eleven of all places would be our demise and would give us severe food poisoning. And within a day of flying to Burma where I would have better luck becoming the next dictator before finding a decent hospital.
To make matters worse for me and funnier for you, is that as I was puking in Ayutthaya, a world heritage site, a fire ant somehow finds its way to my palm and bites me repeatededly in what I can only guess as an attempt to teach me a lesson for disgracing this ancient city. The bites result in a lack of movement in my hand, pain, muscle cramps and blistering. Not to mention a deep feeling of inferiority to an ant and shame. The train ride home was, well, a veeeerrry long one filled with several black outs and suicide thoughts.
So there you have it. I learned my lesson in trusting american grocery store chains in southeastern asia. And globalization.

I would love to post a picture, but amidst vomit and ant attacks, not a priority to tale a picture.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

An unpoetic update

Well I have decided, as lazy as I am.. to write down a bit of an update.


Vietnam seems like a million years ago, and with that as usual, the bad experiences seem to melt out of my mind, and the amazing highlights are remnant. The people being the biggest draw back- and I mean enough to change you into a person even a New Yorker would consider rude. But to an extent, they deserve it. Imagine walking out of your hotel room and not only being bombarded with a hundred tuk tuk drivers (hmm how should I explain what a tuk tuk is to someone who hasnt been here... a tuk tuk is like how a pharoah felt in egypt, being carried around in that little basket on the backs of lesser men. except this little basket is on the back of a motorbike and not a half naked slave. Same same.) well each damn driver yells at you "tuk tuk, miss, tuk tuk", and it would think logical that if i just said "no thank you" the first ten drivers that MAYBE I DONT WANT TO TAKE A FUCKIN TUK TUK.. but that logic apparently is drowned out by the hope of making some money and enters the logic of "well maybe she doesnt want THOSE tuk tuks, but NOW she wants one, Im special".
Well then you kinda start screaming at people.
Besides that hiccup, Vietnam has one of the best sights both natural and historic to see. Halong Bay is out of this world with the limestone karsk stones just ripping out of the blue waters, and Sa Pa is dotten with colorful hilltribe people in a picturesque mountainous backdrop.
Hoi An is charming with little shops in a small river city feel while also offering a beach and the best food ever. White Rose, mmmmm...delicious dumplings, dips, sauces,ahhhh.
Even got my very own 'Nam wound and scar falling off a motor bike on the way to incredible My Son ruins of the Champa people (who have all been killed out).
Well its all great and we even chose Ca Tien national park as the national park of choice due to the hope of spotting the Rhinos that live there. This was in September. Little did we know at the time, and what we found out later, was that the last Rhino was confirmed to have been killed back in April for his horn. The rest of him left there in the jungle.
Regardless we did get to see our first night safari!!ooohhhh got to spot a CIVET CAT - its a wild cat like a panther or tiger.. a bit smaller though ;)
we buzzed through Nha Trang to Dalat where we got to ride with a motorcycle gang around the coffee plantations, waterfalls, and generally awesome views until the damn typhoon cauught up with us. Saigon is a calmer city than Hanoi but still crazy.
We got to crawl through the Cu Chi tunnels which is where the villagers had to live since their real town above ground was constantly bombarded with.. well.. bombs. Funny thing, once we got blocked in the dark underground tunnel by bats, and another time we started to freak out cuz someone closed the exit door and we couldnt find it...underground..tiny tunnel... no light... yes.. the perfect trifecta.

Im going through this real fast... you got to see me in person to get the good stories.


ok so after a break on Phu Quoc Island, we headed to Cambodia.
Planning to spend a month, we did it in only 10 days. Given we didnt do any treks which i guess we should have. but we knew the guides speak almost no english, there are no wild animals, and that we would do plenty in Laos, Thailand, and India.
What Cambodia lacks in everythings, it makes up in food and Angkor Wat. The food was so amazing that we did a half day cooking course so we are gonna ROCK YOUR WORLD! at dinner.
And Angkor Wat, the remains of the Khmer empire, although doesnt have the world wonder status, definitely deserves it. Its amazing, undescribable and worth a visit! The three major temples: Angor Wat, Ta Prohm, and Angkor Thom can all be visited in one day ... which is TWENTY DOLLARS A DAY btw... and the other temples can be seen in another. Its giant. which is something I didnt expect.
And we got to see some rare river dolphins, the Irradaway dolphins ( I totally forgot the real way to spell it and am too tired to google it even though its only a CTRL + T away).
The majority of the remaining 60 live in a small pool of the Mekong river near a city called kratie.


and here we are at the last month. Laos. It is a vast vast country with differences between each city. not only differences in the city itself but in the tourists who tourist it. For example in the south there are lots of hippies, in the middle lots of drunk Brits and Aussies, and in the sporty Germans and French for the treks. Americans still dont know where Laos is, so cant really find us a demographic... we'll get there.
Four thousand islands in the south were relaxing as hell, they are islands on a river. Pakse was a base for our three day motorbike tour around the Bolavean Plateau which was quiet beautiful and afforded us a sneak peak into the life of villagers as we followed a small dirt round to a random silk weaving village which never sees tourists.
Vientiane was the best capitol we have been to. Quiet, intimate, fun, great markets, and some beautiful sights around. Vang Vieng where all sinners go to show their true colors, and Luang Prabang, a sophisticated river town with great food and a GIANT shopping market, and street all you can eat buffets..mmmm...
omg so much to cover..
ok we managed to get all the way to the North to see Phongsali where a rare minority lives. The Akha people, with their amazing costume and head dress, were run aways from the Yunnan province in China to Burma, where they had further persecution, so continued to Laos. but they only live in the HIGH HIGHlands, so you got to take nausiating bus rides up terrible roads in a two day trip to get to the base. We did a two day trek including a home stay in one of the villages. For a full report on how unlucky we were, please see me in my office.

finally pulling through to the west, on the border with Thailand, we got to do our most awaited and now our top five activity: The Gibbon Experience.
Although we had only spotted a dot of color of the gibbons, we did hear their beautiful sining after the rain had stopped early morning on the last day. and we were practically living with monkeys in our tree house since they surrounded our tree both nights and mornings. We even hear a massive gang fight.

so thats it... in a nut shell.
We have now entered Thailand, in Chiang Mai, and have enjoyed it here for the last few days. off to Bangkok on Sunday to be there on Monday for a huge celebration of the Kings birthday. YAY king!

Pictures will come later... i hope...
but i better get some comments!


Buddah park
This guy is giving me a reading of my future

asian calculaterpipe at the chief of the village's house
Akha woman

a school
Zipping through the national park looking for Gibbons!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Li'jiang Lullibies

Walking along the thousand year old stone studded streets which twist, turn and bend like caligraphy, you are tempted to believe you are lost in a different time. The rivers sing a white tune and the ever bright red lanterns line the streets like dragon's breath has lit them one by one. But you are soon awoken out of this fantasy as you are met with new sounds and songs of this charming dreamland... Snoopdog, JZ, and the Black Eyed Peas are the new stars of the streets when the sun goes down and the bright strobe lights come on. Screaming invitations is what might put you to sleep in 2011, and the high pitch smooth Chinese singing is left for old ladies at bus stations to sing.

Truly an amazing old town, over hundreds of years old and surviving an earthquake, we felt a bit at home. Getting to know each bend of the street, all of the millions of stone bridges over the streams, and every bargaining shop owner weaving their goods by the doors to show off their craft- which, just off the topic, I have bought plenty of.

Day time tranquility is chipped slowly away as the night life hits the streets:

We are for sure an own delicacy, but for the locals. Many of the tourists here are from the surrounding villages and have never seen foreigners in person. We have enough people sneakily taking photos of us to make Brangelina jealous. They are particularly curious of our eating habits, which is becoming difficult since I have to stop eating to pose or hide, depending on how creepy the person taking the picture is.

One of my fans:

We even ventured outside and walked to another village, about 3 hours of walking out. There we experienced much more shocked looks and head turns. Its strange, then becomes funny, and now its kind of expected - like, "you're NOT going to stare at me?!? But, I'm different!!!".

Other day trips from Li'jiang included seeing the 180 degree bend in the Yangzi river (seen below)- this is quiet unique to see and definitely requires a wide angle lense-,

-and the Tiger Leaping Gorge, which is one of the highest gorges in the world. Its also home to the Rip Off Monkeys. Argueably a human species, these especially irritating type of animal has evolved with a special skill of developing clever ways not to work but instead to rip off tourists. A particularly mad driving method is to build random traps in the middle of nature, put a lock on these traps, and not let you through until you pay. Its the modern day morph of trolls.

Once you get past these troublesome little monkies, you can enjoy the eye filling views. My personal favorite way to out smart the pesks is to tell them that if they want to get back home -and that would be on my side of the locked door - that THEY would have pay US! Believe it or not that worked. Of course if you know me, then you know I'm stubborn and proud enough to actually follow through with that threat and stand there until monkey girl gives in and tries to get home.

Tiger Leaping Gorge:

Here is Monkey Girl by the way:

She may look sweet, but notice the make-shift metal door thats attached to a rock to get me from going in!

As our next stop we went to an unimaginably beautiful town called Yangshuo near Guilin. I wont talk about the people because I would rather not complain, but we had a spectacular introduction the the limestone karsks that line the coast of China and Vietnam. Had some leisure bike rides, and a bamboo raft down the river... well, see for yourselves:

Leaving China was mixed feelings, and to celebrate we had to see the Detian waterfalls which lie on the border of Vietnam and China. The second largest intraborder waterfall in the world (First being non other than our Niagra!! woop woop!)

As amazing as all of this was, I am sure you all must know by now, the most amazing experience by far is the Panda hug!! Worth every penny of the 100 euros I HAD to donate!

Some extra pictures of conquests:

Climbing the Great Wall and Eating Snake (Both from our first stop in Beijing)

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