Wednesday, June 28, 2006

gradually on our way back

Walked across the border back into Thailand today. We're now trying to book a train ticket back to Bangkok. Not having all that much luck right now. Their excuse is that the computer is down, but I'm a little suspicious of the somewhat professional looking, preprinted sign that indicates that the computer is down. Sounds like an excuse for a mid day siesta to me.

Not content to do activities separately, Lorien has decided to join me in having an ear infection. Although hers isn't quite as serious, possibly because we recognized it and started treating it earlier, having learned a bit from my experience. We spent about 5 hours or so in a hospital in Malaysia yesterday (stupidly we forgot to bring reading material) trying to get examined by someone. I wasn't too impressed with the people that we immediately saw -- one of the things I was asking for was a painkiller stronger than ibuprofin, so she was trying to give me Motrin. I didn't have much luck convincing her that Motrin is just a brand name for ibuprofin (like Tylenol is a brand name for acetominaphen). Anyway, we finally managed to see someone that I think was a real doctor, and was knowledgeable, and spoke decent English. And I think we've both turned the corner and are on our way to recovering.

Anyway, at the train station they told us to stop by again after noon (funny how they know just when they'll stop having computer problems?), and it's a few minutes past that now, so we probably ought to get back.

We'll try to post a bit more, and maybe some more pics, if we have the luck and manage to find our way back to Bangkok one of these days.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

alive and sort of well

I've sold my first born to post from the Perhentian Islands that we're still safe and sound. The islands are beautiful, and we've done some great diving and found (after looking hard some great food). Rich is suffering from a bit of an ear infection, so no more diving for him, and we'll be leaving here for Bangkok withing the next couple of days. We'll post more then.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Monkey business

As Lorien mentioned, we finally made it out of the city to Bako National Park today. We took a motorbike to get to the boat, which wasn't too bad. Once you get off of the Kuching city map, mostly just go straight, although there's one right turn. I don't know how to describe it any better than to say if you find yourself in an industrial park, the last intersection that you passed through is where you ought to have turned right. If in doubt, ask directions. One guy we asked was wearing an Ameoba shirt (Ameoba is a record store in SF, Berkeley, and LA) which was somewhat surprising. Once you get near the ferry, things are actually signed. And within the park things are signed remarkably well, which is a nice change.

There's supposed to be a bunch of wildlife within the park. We went on a bit of a long hike (which was quite a nice hike) and didn't see too much along that hike, which was minorly disappointing. But the good news is that there's a bunch of wildlife that you can practically just sit on your butt in the park headquarters and observe, and they're clearly not afraid of humans. Here are a few pictures (out of the absurd number that I snap snap snapped away) of Macaque monkeys (according to Lorien, at least, which confuses me a bit because I thought that what was supposed to be in the park was Probiscous monkeys) that we passed by, along with a few other shots from the park.

It's getting late and we have to pack to get up early tomorrow, so I don't have time to say too much more now. Hopefully we'll be able to post a bit from the islands, but we really don't know.


So, the hair wasn't working out on account of the heat, humidity and rain. So I paid this nice lady 15 ringgit (about 4 US dollars) to make it go away. And a fine job she did too.

By the way, we did go to Bako National Park and had a great time. Rich will post details. I'm signing out for about a week, since I've heard that email on the Perhentian Islands is terrible.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Bako National Park (aborted)

So we tried today to head to Bako National Park, but it didn't quite work out that way. We're heading out on our way underpowered motorbike -- did I mention that the speedometer and odometer don't work, and that it doesn't have a fuel gauge? Not that the fuel gauge is broken, it just doesn't exist. Who the hell makes a gasoline powered vehicle where you can't tell how much fuel is left? (Yamaha, is the answer.)

Anyway, it starts raining a bit, and we're only marginally prepared for the rain (and I'm not sure how prepared the bike would be). The downpours here are often very hard, but very short, so we decide to pull over and wait it out (along with another bike). This one was indeed hard, but not short. At some point it let up a bit so we ran across the street to the cafe. But by the time it really started to let up a lot, it was about 2 hours later. And at that point we figured that by the time we headed to the ferry, and took the boat, and left enough time for the return trip, it just wouldn't be worth it. So we headed back into town and will try again tomorrow. (It did end up being a beautiful sunny day later on.)

We're having mixed feelings about heading over to Borneo. I think there is a lot interesting to do here, but we kind of just need to get out of Kuching. But looking at our remaining time, and how much traveling we ultimately need to do in the reverse direction, and that we don't want to cut short our time on the Perhentian Islands, we just don't have quite enough time to explore Serawak (the Malaysian province we're in on the island of Borneo) as I think we need to to give it justice.

So tomorrow we're going to try again for Bako National Park, and then the next day we're moving yet again, heading in the direction of the Perhentian Islands. (We just booked flights from Kuching to Kuala Lumphur and then from KL to Kota Bharu, which is close to where we ultimately need to be.) This ought to hopefully leave us plenty of time to relax in our final beach stop and spend enough time there that we don't feel so much like we're moving from place to place. And give us enough time to spend a little bit of time in Penang and enjoy Bangkok again before we head on home.

The Perhentian Islands sound like they're fairly undeveloped as of yet, which means that available, uncrowded, reliable, useable, and/or cheap Internet connections might be hard to come by. So we might go for quite some time without posting, and uploading any more pictures might also have to wait awhile.

Malaysia Pics 2 of 2

Just in case you need a refresher on how to use a toilet, Western style.

This should have been our cake topper. Except that it's about 6 feet tall.

A mosque in Kuching.

Us at the Great Cat statue at the city gates. This whole cat thing is a little bit weird, we know.

View from the stairwell at our guesthouse in Kuching, as sunset approaches.

Malaysia Pics 1 of 2

Finally, as promised, here are some recent pictures.

It looks like blogger only lets you upload 5 at a time, so these will be in two batches.

Bougainvillea growing in the Cameron Highlands. With the weather being similar to SF, many of the plants are familiar. We have these in our backyard.

Another shot from the Cameron Highlands.

From the top of some peak in the Cameron Highlands (I forget the name offhand, on trail 10), as the fog rolls in.

Isn't this just unbelievably cute?

At the Sunday Market in Kuching.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Malaysian ramblings (alas, sans photos)

Finally, a chance to relax a bit and post some. Things have seemed a little hectic lately, maybe just a bit too much jumping around from place to place and going on boats, buses, trains, and planes. (We seem to be covering most forms of transportation in one way or another.)

As Lorien mentioned, we're now in a guesthouse in Kuching that we really like. I'll put in a plug for it in case it's relevant to anyone reading this, it's the singgahsana lodge, see for more details. Too new too be in the latest Lonely Planet for Malaysia, but I'm sure they'll be raving about it in the next edition. And I'll put in a negative plug for where we moved from, the Mandarin Hotel. First of all, we ended up there because we had trouble finding a room the night we got in. I suppose given that we don't plan very far in advance and aren't usually in a position to be able to make any kind of reservation, it's inevitable that it will happen sometimes. At first we thought it was because of some badminton tournament going on (there are posters advertising it around town), but in retrospect perhaps the fact that the Malaysian king and queen were in town had more to do with it (for some festival that we went to last night – and also we were browsing along the stores on the main street here by the river and a big motorcade came by and stopped, and the queen was shopping in one of the stores there).

But I digress... The hotel was kind of dingy and run down and had no common area, and we were pretty tired and wanted to sleep in and then got woken up to construction sounds at 8 something in the morning. (Although it was cheap.) So we decided to find better digs the next day, hoping to move the following day, but when we found a room available immediately we decided to just take it right away. They suggested here that we just give the old hotel our key and leave, but I felt a little bit bad about checking out way past the posted checkout time (like 8 something PM rather than noon). So I explained to the manager how we couldn't sleep because of the noise, and I offered to pay him half of the rate for the room, even though we weren't going to spend any time there that night. He starts yelling and screaming at me and keeps pointing to the list of rules with the posted checkout time. I kept telling him that we couldn't sleep and I was being generous by volunteering to pay half, but that didn't assuage his yelling and screaming. Eventually he made a counter offer (I think something like 70% of the rate) and we said fine, I just wanted to get out of there. His wife was a bit more calm and maybe she was actually amused by the goings on.

At first I was very excited about heading to a new country – new food, new language, new experiences, but it's also been a bit stressful too. Thailand had a certain familiarity to it that we certainly don't have in Malaysia. And even the first time we visited Thailand, we knew a lot more what to expect from the food. But we're adjusting a bit and I'm a bit more relaxed now. Lorien mentioned that the food is a bit of a mix of Thai and Indian – I'd add Chinese to that as well. Which somewhat reflects the diversity of races and religions here – and the people seem to make a big deal of being a multiracial and multireligious country where different people seem to live together in relative harmony.

We took the boat from Koh Tao to Chumphon, then took the overnight train to Butterworth, which is right across from the island of Penang and the city of Georgetown. We kept trying to figure out on Koh Tao how we could buy a train ticket to go further, all the way to the Cameron Highlands, but finally realized that the answer was that you couldn't, Butterworth is the end of the line. You can take another train further south, but you have to wait I think almost a full day for that, so buses become a more attractive option.

No first class train on that route (I've gotten a bit spoiled by the niceness and cheapness of first class train sleeper accomodations in Asia), but second class was actually pretty nice. Except for the somewhat drunk and somewhat loud Canadians in the same car as us. Although they were somewhat amusing too us (maybe less so to the locals that had gotten on the train earlier and were already trying to sleep), and it wasn't too long before their drunkenness caught up with them and they were soundly passed out. One of the somewhat funny lines that we remember was one of them saying, as part of this real heartfelt, in depth conversation held at a fairly loud talking volume around midnite (quiet hours are supposed to be past 10 PM) was “Travel makes you grow up” (we pegged them as being in their early twenties, traveling for a few years past high school), not realizing just how immature they were being from the contents (and volume) of their conversation. Or am I just starting to sound like a cranky old man? Ok, maybe not, since we were giggling more to them rather than getting annoyed. Although we were vaguely considering slipping some Valium in their bottle (they were still drinking on the train) to get them to shut up, but that probably would have been a really bad idea.... Don't worry, I wouldn't really do that, I want to save the Valium for myself. :)

Ok, Lorien just returned and reminded me of a funnier quote from the Canucks: “I've never been able to trust anyone, and that's why I've never found love.” They just took themselves a bit too seriously.

Anyway, something I think around mid-day we ended up in Butterworth, which was far better than the 4 AM that we had to get off the train heading to Koh Tao. We got a quick bit to eat and then were pondering what to do next. We had considered heading in to Penang for one day. It's supposed to have very good food, and at the very least I feel like I owe it to myself to have Penang curry in Penang itself. And stopping traveling would have been nice, but the hassle of finding a place for just one night only to have to move on and travel some more the next day wasn't all that enticing either. We went to the bus station to check on schedules before deciding (it's right by the train station – why do so few cities consider the convenience of that), and there was a bus that was about to leave IMMEDIATELY, so it just kind of seemed like fate, and we hopped on the bus and headed on to the Cameron highlands.

Spent a few days hiking there. We stayed at the Cameronian Inn, which I'd also in general recommend, despite their somewhat nickel and diming for trivial items (like 1 ringgit for towel rentals, and something if you wanted more toilet paper). One really good thing was the detailed maps that they had posted on the wall of the hiking trails, put together by a “Good Samaritan”. FAR better than any official map we've ever bought in this area. But they don't have any copies for sale – they really ought to do that imho, or post them online. Anyway, I took some pictures of them and I think at 4 megapixels and high quality JPEG they're fairly readable, and I'll try to post them online after this trip is done to help any other travelers. We just hiked by ourselves – they really try to push you to hire a guide, but it wasn't what we were in the mood for. The only reason why I might suggest hiring a guide is that indeed some of the trails can be a bit hard to find, but with the maps we had it wasn't too bad, although we did get lost and have to backtrack a few times. But at least the trails we were on were never that far from some road, so I'm not quite sure how you could get so totally lost as to not be able to somehow find your way back. I suppose another thing that a guide would help you with would be transportation, but both trails we took had starting points very close to town. And the second day it was beautiful weather so we took a leisurely stroll back along the roads. And the first day, after sitting at the bus station for a few minutes chatting with a local, the VERY FIRST car to come by after we decided to try to hitch picked us up. (And he refused to accept any money for the ride.) One thing I should note is that even the easy trails can be slippery after a rain (which happens often there in the late afternoon to early evening), so decent hiking boots with good treads are a good idea. I wouldn't have wanted to do either of our walks in my sandals.

Speaking of weather, it did remind me a lot of San Francisco, although somewhat warmer. I might have been freaked out by the fog rolling in when we were at the top of a peak the second day had I not seen a similar sight many times before.

For food, the Malay/Indian place Suria was really good. And we also enjoyed tea and scones at the T-Cafe, although we weren't able to sample their raved about apple pie as when we returned for some in the evening, the kitchen was closed.

Oh yeah, and we also managed to continue our massage habit in Tanah Ratah (the town we were in in the Cameron Highlands).

After a few days, we were off to Kuching, where we are now, and where we had the hotel saga of which I already spoke. Indeed the cat at the Viewpoint guest house in Koh Tao was partially responsible for us ending up here, although maybe all he was really telling us was that he was hungry. Oh, while I'm at it, one more plus I liked about Viewpoint (and Big Bubble dive shop). We've been a bit dismayed at the amount of plastic that gets consumed on our behalf while traveling, despite our attempts otherwise. Viewpoint was willing to refill water bottles from a very large bottle (although we later found out it wasn't free and actually I think cost us marginally more than buying new bottles). Even better, Big Bubble had a water filter (that also chilled the water!) and refilling was free. I wish more guest houses would do that. In the Cameron Highlands, we were able to at least buy fairly large bottles (5.5 L) and use those to refill our 1.5 L bottles, somewhat cutting down on waste.

Anyway, back to Kuching. As Lorien mentioned, a few days out of tropical weather, and coming back was a bit hard for me. But I'm feeling much better today. We rented a way underpowered motorbike (I think something like 80 cc, and I keep trying to upshift when on main roads but find myself already in the highest (third) gear) and explored around a bit, including the cat museum. You really have to be a cat person to see the point, I'd imagine.

Ok, I think I've probably exhausted all I have to say for now, and perhaps bored anyone who's still reading at the end of this really long post. And I'd like to take a shower before all of the hot water runs out. (It's not quite hot enough for a cold shower to be refreshing. I find it kind of odd that we're nearly at the summer solstice, but since we're so close to the equator, that's actually not the time when the sun is most overhead.)

I really wanted to post some pictures (we have a bunch) right now, and we just selected some highlights, but there doesn't seem to be any software on this machine that lets you resize images, only view them. I wish I were traveling with a collection of useful software for Windows (or maybe even a self contained Linux distribution) on my USB drive, but with the wedding hecticness I never got around to that. Anyway, I promise we'll try to post some pictures the next chance we get. It's just not feasible to upload the high resolution images.

more kuching

Rich is currently lost in his book "The Kite Runner" and will hopefullly post some pictures soon. Yesterday we switched from our nasty dirty budget hotel, to a really great guesthouse with a nice community feel, from which I'm writing right now. They've got games, a library, internet, daily papers, a cafe, and a rooftop bar where I may actually go and watch some World Cup hulabaloo. We are two of very few Westerners here, and in Kuching at all it seems. There are plenty of tourists, but they seem to mostly be from other places in Malaysia, and from other east asian countries like Singapore and Hong Kong. It's funny to be in a city and have passerbys get all excited to be able to say "Hello, how are you" and practice their English.

After taking our readjustment day yesterday, we rented a motorbike today and went to the Sunday market, which is supposed to be the best market in Sarawak. It was fun (although nothing compared to the Bangkok weekend market), and we ate some laksa.

Then we got our cat groove on. We drove up to the cat museum which is pretty much what you'd think it is, then got some roti canai to eat, then drove around town in search of cat statues.

Tomorrow we're heading up to Bako National Park to do some hiking, and see some Borneo wildlife, hopefully.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

now in Kuching

After a flurry of travel, we're now in Kuching, in Malaysian Borneo. We're here because when we were trying to decide where to go in Malaysia, a black cat came up to us and started meowing. Kuching means "cat" in malay, so here we are.

First, though, we did a couple of days in the Cameron Highlands. This area is a hill station known for growing tea and strawberries (we bought a bunch of strawberry tea as a souvenir, but then realized that we'd been bamboozled and that what we'd bought had been imported from Sri Lanka). The climate is similar to San Francisco, but about 5C warmer. They've got good fog, though, and a daily deluge in the early evening. Since it's so much cooler than the rest of the region, we did some good hiking, from which Rich will hopefully post some pictures. We punctuated our hikes with tea and scones in town, which is a facet of British colonialism that's survived in this era. It actually got Rich liking tea!

The highlands were a nice introduction to Malay culture. The country is a mix of Muslim, Chinese and Indians who all seem to get along, at least on the surface. You certainly see plenty of people from different races dining and hanging out together. Malay food seems to be Thai meets Indian, but less hot (as in piquante) than either.

Yesterday we took the bus down to Kuala Lumpur and a flight out to Borneo. We're currently trying to readjust to the heat (amazing how just a few days of normal temperatures has unacclimated us) and figure out what we want to do here besides be amused that we're in a city named "cat".

Friday, June 16, 2006

We're still alive

Sorry we haven't posted in a while, but we've spent a few long days traveling, and the last town we were in for the most part shut down at 10 PM and we never got a chance to blog before then. And the one Internet place open later than that was jammed full of people and a connection to overseas servers was basically unusable.

Anyway, we're fine, and now in Kuching, in the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo, farther down south than I've ever been (about 0.5 degrees latitude). We'll post more, and some more pictures later, but right now I'm at a single shared terminal in a coffee shop and have to go.

Monday, June 12, 2006

goings on in the world

Right now in Thailand it's a big deal that it's the 60th anniversary of the King ascending to the throne. Today is the day, but there has been stuff going on (esp. in Bangkok) since we arrived. It's a pretty big deal here, the royal family is held in high regard, and there are pictures of the King everywhere. Everyone's got on these matching yellow shirts for the occasion. And lots of fireworks and lights and parades and other such stuff in Bangkok. Probably would have been neat to be in Bangkok for it, but not neat enough to have hung around there that long.

The other big going on is the World Cup, which seems to matter here even though Thailand doesn't have a team competing. But maybe football is just a big deal everywhere but the States. It seems to keep the Europeans occupied in the loud bars where everyone is watching the TV, which is fine for us as that's not likely where we want to hang out anyway. Word has it that the World Cup is actually affecting tourism now, as people are staying home in Europe. Which again is fine for us, traveling at a low point for travel makes things less crowded.

And is there some political news from home about Al Gore? There was some editorial cartoon in yesterday's Bangkok Post that had Al Gore and Hillary Clinton in it that made us speculate that he announced he was running for president in 2008 or something like that. Although I suppose I could just check google and see myself...

That's about all for now, next post from Malaysia, unless I think of any more to babble on about.

random Thailand observations

Don't assume that if you order food in Thailand in Thai that they'll understand you. Twice in Koh Tao we ordered in Thai and the response was that the person wasn't Thai and didn't speak very much Thai. Probably less of a problem on the mainland than in the islands, I assume.

People here answer the phone "hello", or at least a Thai sounding version of that. Or at least that's what it sounds like to me. Not sure if that's actually an interesting observation to anyone else, but it amused me a bit.

Ok, maybe I'm stretching for things here, but we're waiting for the train and killing some time with random babbling on this blog (after some good food at the night market in Chumphon) seemed as good a thing to do as anything else.

details details

Our time at Koh Tao is over, and we're now in the town of Chumphon waiting for a train. We just ate dinner at the night market and bought a bunch of fruit (including durian) to eat on the train. As Rich mentioned, we're heading down to Malaysia for something a little different. Thailand was nice to land in, but we're really excited about going on to new places (although we hadn't been to Koh Tao per se, all these Thai touristy islands are same same different, if you know what I mean).

Also, in a stunning reversal of character, I'm going to post the details of our Koh Tao stay, for the benefit of other travellers.

Guesthouse: Viewpoint - at Ao Chaulok Ban Ko (beautiful, secluded but not inconvenient)

Diveshop: Big Bubble - nice people who usually remember to speak English instead of German

Restaurants - Papa's Tapas at Sairee Beach (the place that Rich mentioned) and nearby Monto nearby (next to El Gringo), Famous House at Ao Chaulok Ban Ko.

Spa - Jamakhiri (or some such spelling)
Other Massage - Thai Health Massage at Sairee Village - some badass Thai massage ladies

Snorkelling Coves - Shark Bay (Tien Og) and Ao Luk

Sunday, June 11, 2006

departing Koh Tao

Well, we're still in Koh Tao, somewhat in spite of our original plans. We neglected to consider that when trying to leave Thailand for Malaysia on a Sunday that's right at the end of a Malaysia school holiday and there's one train a day and two planes a week, that maybe a bit more advance notice is required. So we got "stuck" here for another day, but I really can't complain too much, I can think of much worse places to have to spend some time.

The first pic here is the view looking out from our bungalow. I'm really glad we stayed where we did, it was the right combination of being a bit remote and chill, but not located too far away from everything else. (Some of the areas of the island are a bit of a challenge to get to, the roads being little more than a narrow strip where there happens to not be any vegetation.)

We've been continuing our quest for good food and have found some more. One of these days I should actually post some details about some of our favorite spots, in case anyone traveling in the future reads this blog, but right now I'm a bit short on time (a taxi to the pier where we catch a boat and then a train is picking us up soon), so that will have to wait until another day.

We ended up going on 6 dives over the course of 3 days. I'm starting to get much more comfortable with it and am therefore able to enjoy it even more. We also did some snorkeling on one day, which was really amazing. There's coral reefs that are very close to shore and at very shallow depths and have lots and lots of fish around them.

And we went beyond the simple Thai massage and took a full on spa treatment one night at a fairly posh place. It felt SO honeymoon.

We've had a few bumps in the road so to speak (yesterday we lost the key to the rented motorbike, and in an area that wasn't even paved, but luckily you don't need the key to push it, and most of the way back was downhill -- and then today in paranoia about losing another key I put our room key in a zippered pocket and subsequently the zipper got stuck and I had to take apart the stiching in the shorts to retrieve it), but overall things are going very well. We're also having some camera issues -- see the third picture here that shows what happens if the camera doesn't want to fully open the lens cover. If the problems continue and we can't remotely get either or Nikon to do anything about it (I'm doubtful), we may just buy a new camera in Malaysia. I've really gotten into taking tons of pictures with the digital camera and don't want to be without it.

Speaking of Malaysia, that's where we're off to next. Taking the overnight train down to Penang, and after that a bus (probably, not sure yet) to the Cameron Highlands. The main things to do there seem to be to hike and eat, which suits us well. And the weather ought to be a bit cooler there, more like San Francisco weather than the heat of the tropics.

I'll try to write more later and maybe post a few more pics (esp. if the camera cooperates), but now I've got to go.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

To the beach

We headed south from Bangkok and have been on the island of Koh Tao for the past couple of days.

Bangkok was fun for a while, but we're glad to be in a more mellow atmosphere now. We've gone diving for the past two days, which is a spectacular experience that I highly recommend for anybody that has never tried it.

We've decided to splurge a little and ended up in a VIP bungalow (they like that term here) that has beautiful Balinese architecture and sits on a small peninsula overlooking the Gulf of Thailand -- very honeymoony. We're continuing to eat great food -- we just had a meal at a fantastic restaurant that, while not strictly Thai (more of pan-Asian fusion), was fabulous, really the best meal we've had in Southeast Asia period, including our previous trip.

We'll probably stay here a bit longer and relax some more and do some more diving before moving on further south.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Good to be back in Bangkok

Here are a few of the pictures that Lorien mentioned. Hopefully they're shrunk down small enough to not be painful online (which is probably more of a problem from here than home). We'll eventually post all of the original high resolution pics on our website.

Landing in a familiar place was pleasant. And it only took us about 10 minutes out of the airport building before we found ourselves engaged in a conversation with someone about Berkeley Bowl. (A pair of Americans from Colorado who we split a cab ride with, one of them had been an undergrad at Berkeley). It really does feel like a small world sometimes.

It's pretty hot here, and humid too, but not nearly as bad as I had thought it might be. Both days it's rained a bit in the afternoon, which cools things down somewhat.

As Lorien mentioned, it's peak fruit season for many things now, which we really like. We've had rambutans, lychees, mangoes, custard apple, mangosteen, durian, and a few things that we're not quite sure what they were. Kind of like we're working our way around the table names from the wedding (in case you didn't get the theme). Basically we're spending much of our time so far eating, wandering around aimlessly, and getting massages. Which is pretty much according to plan.

Here's shot from the one somewhat touristy spot we've been to so far, the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. It's BIG, this picture can't even show all of it. The best thing about this Wat is that it's also home to a well known Thai massage school, which means that you can also get a massage

I was going to post a few more pics, but now this machine doesn't want to seem to be able to recognize the SD to USB adapter that I bought. Hopefully it's just Windows being stupid and not that the brand new adapter is flaking out.

That's about all for now. We take an overnight train down south tonite, and then a boat tomorrow morning to Kho Tao, for some scuba diving. We're not really sure of our precise schedule after that, but it's probably heading further south across the border into Malaysia.

Passing through Tokyo

It's been a few days now, but we haven't had much of a chance to mess with the Internet lately.

We flew through Narita airport in Japan. It was the grand opening of the terminal we were in, so it was all decorated, fresh flowers everywhere, and they were giving out free whisky. Definitely one of the more pleasant airport layovers that I've ever had, and we took time for some good sushi.

It amazes me how the Japanese can make even the mundane things seem cutesy. Check out this poster about health dangers in the aiport.

On the way back we've got a much larger time available, so our plan is to head in to Tokyo for the day. If anyone has any good ideas about what to do with one day (middle of the day only, have to be back at the airport by night), please let us know.

I'll write more about Thailand next, but first I want to see how uploading this picture goes.


Wow, we finally found an internet place that's both high-speed and has firefox loaded. And is airconditioned since the mornings here are totally brutal before the afternoon monsoon rain cools things off. Rich is at another terminal stuggling to make Windows do what he wants with respect to loading up some of our pictures.

I think we're finally getting over jetlag, although we did get up without an alarm at 7 am (although most places are still closed at that time). It's been really nice to be in a place with which we have some familiarity while walking around like sweating zombies. We've spent the last couple of days eating, getting massages and wandering around town doing minor shopping. We went to the temple of the reclining buddha, which I believe is the final major tourist attraction in Bangkok that we hadn't yet done.

Right now it's tourist low season now, and friut high season, both of which are great and the opposite of our last trip here. The lychees are phenomenal and rambutan are 50 cents a kilo. Hopefully Rich will be able to post a picture of the fruit market.

Tonight we take a train down south and head to Koh Tao, where we'll hopefully do some scuba. No more posts for a while, internet on islands tends to be excruciatingly slow. Next post will probably be from Malaysia!

Friday, June 02, 2006

And we're here!

Just wanted to let y'all know we arrived safely. It's pretty late now, and for some reason this computer seems to think I'm in Japan, and I don't have the energy to figure out why, so we'll write more later.

It feels good to be back, and after getting some Pad Thai in our bellies we're ready to call it a night.

Thursday, June 01, 2006