Sunday, July 24, 2011


On this trip I have made it a point to push myself and to get out of my comfort zone. I drove and ATV and then  a motor bike. I hiked with hill tribe women, rode on a number of not to code boats and even feed wild monkys but yesterday I really jumped out of my comfort zone. I willingly got into cages with full grown tigers armed with only my camera. Yesterday I visited Tiger Kingdom outside of Chang Mai, Thailand and it was freaking awesome. Many people have said things about the tigers not being treated properly or that they are drugged but that wasn't what I saw at all. The tigers looked very healthy and had very clean living conditions. Like all cats tigers are nocturnal so they want to lay around during they day and get a belly rub. The tigers were very alert and aware of us while we were with them which would not be characteristic of a giant that had been drugged up. There were some cats that were running around and playing with each other; a few were even swimming in the tiger pool.
When we arrived we were all very nervous but also clearly excited. We chose to see the smallest and the biggest tigers. We got to go into their living area with them to pet them and of course get some amazing photos. The smallest tigers were so cute it was hard not to pick them up or play with them like one would a house cat. I wanted to stay with them for hours and just take photos. 

Seeing the babies helped ease us into the whole hanging out with an animal that could kill you with one paw swipe thing. As our turn to be with the biggies got closer it began to rain so we had to visit with them in their cages rather than the big open play area which was a bummer. Liz was the first one to approach the big tiger and well... to be frank... I thought we were going to die. As soon as she got near him he started making this really low growl and his ears laid flat on his head. I don't know a lot about cats but I know those aren't good signs. Liz quickly backed away and Laura and I practically threw ourselves against the fence. Then in what seemed like a millisecond he was standing on all fours (still growling mind you) and then bam off the table walking right toward me. Our photographer moved in front of me for "protection". His 95lbs would have only served as a great snack before me as the main course. The tiger guy kept telling us it was fine he was just hungry and not to worry but after the tiger jumped off the table he changed his tune and we moved to the next cage to let him deal with the GIGANTIC HUNGRY TIGER!!!! For the record the tiger was not hit or stunned or anything like that the man just yelled at the tiger. We were so nervous after that experience that it was hard to relax with the next two kitties. I was able to relax enough to take in the fact that I got to be that close to such gorgeous animals. Maybe there is a thin line between courage and stupidity but what the hell... I got to cuddle a tiger.
There wasn't much room to move away
He was calm for me
Not a happy kitty

My face got so itchy after that

My chingus

Friday, July 22, 2011

Top Chef

In the last couple of years I have really started to love cooking. I don't have a lot of things that I can whip up but what I do make I make well (I still can't bake). One thing we knew we wanted to do on this trip is taking a cooking class and we finally accomplished our goal the other day. We started in the morning with a trip to the market to get all of our fresh veg. Then went to the cooking school to begin. Our instructor was really wacky and the course overall was really laid back even though it was fast paced. We created a few dishes in the morning to have for lunch. My green curry didn't turn out nearly as tasty as it should have but I know it will after I get to make my own paste (or find a tasty one to buy). The other recipes will need to be tweeked too but overall I am proud of what I created.
Our overall menu was:
  • Green Curry Chicken
  • Fish Souffle in a banana leaf cup
  • Stir fried Chicken with Cashew nut
  • Thai style fish cake
  • Sweet and Sour lemongrass soup
  • Spring Rolls
  • Pad Thai (Thai noodles)
  • Steamed whole pumpkin with custard filling
Top Chefs

A+ students
My fish souffle

clockwise from top: Green Curry Chicken, Sweet and Sour Lemongrass soup,
Cashew nut Chicken, Fish Souffle, Fish Cakes

Liz and I making our spring rolls

Very proud of my Pad Thai

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Full Moon Fun

Well, what goes better with a full moon than thousands of drunks on a beach? The other night the three of us went to the Full Moon Party and it was insanity from the get go. This party started in the mid eighties and has now grown to be a once a month party that has 10-30 thousand participants. This is not a beach party where one brings a blanket and some snacks with a six pack and chill on the beach. It is a party where every bar blasted music to accompany the strobe and other lights that highlight the party goers neon clothes, accessories and body paint. A bucket of liquor can be found in the hand of most everyone there and the only place to piss is in the ocean which is a challenge after a couple of buckets. I think the craziest thing I saw that night was the fire jump roping. Yeah lets play a game I like to call good idea bad idea.. I mean to get the courage to jump a fire rope one needs to have had a few buckets to start which does nothing for the coordination factor. I am ashamed that I was encouraging Laura to do it. For days after the FMP we have seen travelers with bandages on their ankles, arms and back covering the burn marks from their time competing in the idiot Olympics. It was an experience just to watch everyone but after a few hours we decided to hit the road. Liz and I were soaking wet and covered in sand (yeah that whole balance pissing in the ocean thing didn't work for us) and Laura was getting frustrated with some of the locals so we made our exit. To my surprise, on the way our I heard someone calling my name! It was a girl we had met when we were in Halong Bay so it was cool to see her again I just wish it had been before I was a "Svetlana" on vodka buckets and had to go home. Our taxi ride home was terrible and I thought one or all of us were going to get into a physical altercation with someone. Don't mess with us! My favorite interaction of the evening was when Liz told this jerkoff kid in our truck taxi that she would gladly watch him fall to his death ( he refused to sit in the bed of the truck like a normal person and chose to stand instead)...and then grabbed his package..twice! Yeah it was that kind of night. We made it home safely and it was something I'm glad that I experienced however I think on my next trip to Koh Phangan I'll stick to the "old people" part of the island and sip my bucket in a hammock. 
Fucket get a bucket 
Getting hot in here
Yes Laura, let's get drunk

Liz wanted me to take a photo of her bracelet..
I didn't understand

Second bucket, can't say I'm posing for this photo
that might be what I really looked like

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Island Fun

We arrived in Phuket and of course had to haggle a taxi to take us to our hotel which was quite a ways from the airport. We settled in and after dinner our first stop was of course the Hard Rock Cafe. It was a really nice on in fact the best one I’ve seen in Asia so far. They had an extensive collection of guitars and clothes. I got to see a Springsteen jean jacket, a collection of Beach Boys Hawaiian shirts and my personal favourite one of Stevie Nicks fringe laden robes. After our stop at HRC we wandered around the market place which was not a very fun experience. It wasn’t a market place as much as over 100 small bars lined up all promotion drink specials. Now usually I’m all for a cheap drink at an outdoor bar but not when every single bar come equipped with stripper poles. To say that it was a skeezy place is an understatement and the cherry on top of this uncomfortable sundae was watching a Lady Boy strip outside of his hut. The combo of his botched boob job and Barbie doll looking nether region let Laura and I know it was time to hit the 7/11 and head home to watch Harry Potter with Liz.
Hard Rock Phuket
The next day was beach day and it was glorious. After so long travelling through the rest of SE Asia it was nice to be back on the sand even if it was really crowded. I mentioned earlier that it was weird for me to see a burqa up close; it was far weirder seeing a burqa swimsuit. Picture a woman playing in the sea with her children in what can truly be described as a swimming “costume” as my British pals like to say. When they were walking along the beach they looked like some sort of performance troop. Really, throwing all other opinions aside, I just kept thinking about how hot they must have been.
Phuket was cool but it wasn’t a city for me and I was excited to head out to our next destination Phi Phi. We docked, booked our accommodation and then waited for a taxi. When a man with a glorified wheelbarrow showed up I was a little perplexed. Phi Phi is such a small island that one can walk everywhere and the taxis are really there to help with luggage. We quickly decided that this was not a place to stay sober and found Jordan’s Irish Pub a place with 3 for 1 buckets. We also found that they had a DJ that would play pretty much anything we requested so we had our own private dance party and it was great. We decided to check out the beach which was really insane. Fire Dancers, black lights, fireworks and of course more buckets. None of us truly recall getting home that night but we know we were together. What we do recall of the evening was really fun.
I swear I'm wearing clothes
Second day was hangover and beach day and I’ve gotta say the beach was really dirty, must have been from the all night party the night before. That evening as we snuggled into bed Laura realized that her crackers had been tampered with. A mouse must have gotten into our bungalow and munched down. It was gross but not the end of the world and we all relaxed to read. About 10 minutes later I felt a bug of some sort crawl from my knee down my leg and in the light of Laura’s kindle saw the giant cockroach scurry up the summit of my foot and dive over the side of the bed. I screamed and threw my body into a convulsive state once I realized exactly what was happening. The lights went on and we waited to see the vile creature again. Sure enough after about 3 minutes of working ourselves up we saw him climb up the wall. Liz, being the quick and logical thinker that she is grabbed a glass to trap it while Laura and I stood in a semi paralyzed state. After some work we trapped the roach in the glass and put the entire contraption outside. Little sleep was had in our bungalow that night and in the morning we discovered that our little vermin friend came back to eat Laura’s gum and my Lithium (we can safely assume he’s dead now). UGH!
Lizzy wasn’t feeling well the next day so she stayed home while Laura and I went on a speed boat trip around the islands near Phi Phi. The highlight of the day was by far Maya Bay. This is the island where The Beach with Leonardo dicapprio was filmed. It was phenomenal. White sand that was so soft it was like walking on a beach made of powder and water that was crystal clear and as warm as a bath. It was breathtaking in its beauty. I see what the movie described it as paradise and an island one would never want to leave. Our speed boat trip home was so bumpy I felt like I might puke or fall overboard at any moment but it was worth it to get to see such an awesome place. Phi Phi had great pizza and a few good bars but I’ll say I felt too old for that island and I don’t see myself ever visiting again.

Kho Phangan has been a blast. We got our resort for a fraction of the cost it would have been because Laura is an expert negotiator. Lying by the pool all day is a great way to spend a vacation. Since the beginning of the trip Liz has been excited to get motor bikes and I have been dreading the moment that I would actually have to try to ride one. Well the other day it came and I really didn’t think that I was going to be able to do it, neither did Liz or Laura. Once I got the hang of it and didn’t think that I was going to die at every turn I started to enjoy myself. Now I’m psyched and think about getting a bike now! Being on a bike is so freeing and not to mention a great way to cool down from the island heat. 
Biker Babes

Wow look at the rack on that mermaid
We have ridden our bikes all around the island including two trips to see elephants. I love elephants and have since I was a little kid so being able to finally pet and feed them had been a dream come true. They are so beautiful and smart and it kills me that they are used for treks but I’m happy to go feed them bananas and pet their trunks.

Aww they are making the same face

10 year old baby
Koh Phangang is amazing and I really love each day that I'm here. I'm so happy that we have decided to spend so much time here. 
Swing swing

From Bankok to Burqas

Ahhh back in Bangkok. The smell of tuk tuk exhaust, pad Thai and vomit never smelled so good. We booked ourselves up at the D&D hotel mainly because they have a pool but it did not meet our expectations. Bangkok is the city that never sleeps. Outside of the hotel a DJ that played loud dance music all night long. By bar of course I mean a cooler full on Chang and buckets full of rum and of course by DJ I mean Lady Boy with per I-pod. The patrons of this bar are some of the douchiest looking people ever. I was loud and I’m sure to some obnoxious when I was younger but I could not possibly have as many people who love me as I do today if I had ever acted as douchy as some of the travellers I’ve met on this trip so far. Not just in attitude and mind set but in general appearance as well. Now we all know that I was not a very cool kid... a shocker I know. I had outfits that my friends still make fun of me for 20 years later. One such gem is an outfit that my mom made for me. It was a sweatshirt with the map of the world and little pictures of the endangered species from that area on it. Not geeky enough? How about the matching jeans that had the same map on the lower left leg? I loved LOVED that outfit. Well apparently I was just too early with my fashion trends. One of my other favourite looks from my childhood was a one piece outfit that was made of a light cotton flower patterned material and buttoned up the front. The shorts part of it was comfy and looked almost like coolats. Remember those? I am pretty sure they were all I wore on the Washington trip. Well they are cool again! The girls rocking outside of my hotel at 4am were decked in sweetass outfits that my aunt Kim and I rocked in 1986. Mom jean shorts, neon jewellery, feather earrings... oh I’m sorry ONE feather earring, a purse big enough to fit a Yugo in and a Marb light always in hand. I guess I hit my peak of cool too soon because in Thailand, in July, I am far more worried about staying cool than looking cool.
Even on limited sleep we realized that in order to stay in Thailand for the rest of our trip we would have to leave the country and fly back in. After an entire morning of Liz and Laura searching web sites, making phone calls and figuring things out we found the cheapest solution... Malaysia! The next morning we were on a flight to Kuala Lumpur for a couple of days. It was a nice little jaunt. Our first night there we decided to grab some dinner and drinks at Reggae Bar which after 10 pm was only reggae in its decor. I’m pretty sure Ice Ice Baby is not part of the reggae genre but it was a blast to dance to. We got the party started and within minutes the dance floor was packed with people jamming out to mid 90’s classics.
KL was interesting for me because I had never seen a woman in a burqa up close. It was very interesting to see them haggling with street vendors over the price of a fake Louis V bag or Tiffany bracelet. After I got over my initial shock and I’ll admit discomfort I mainly just felt bad for how hot they must have been. 
We of course went to the Hard Rock Cafe to have a look around and to get my pops a pin. After that we went to see the Petronas towers which are the world’s largest twin buildings. We didn’t go up in them but admired them from outside. Had ourselves a nice little walk around the park and dipped our feet in the pool before heading off to “Little India” to get a few photos. Before we knew it we were heading out on our flight from KL to Phuket to start our island hopping adventure. 

Yeah Reggae Bar!

Hard Rock Kuala Lumpur

Petrones Towers

The market in China Town
Just a lil' dip

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Later Laos heading back to BKK

What the hell have I been doing? How could I leave all of my faithful followers for so long without updates. Well the truth is I've been too damn busy and when I have had time to relax the thought of sitting at a computer just didn't appeal to me. Well let me see now.. I last wrote about Laos and our trip to get there. After Luang Prabang we headed to Vang Vieng. Once again our travel was interrupted. An accident had happened that shut the narrow road we were on down for over an hour. We finally got moving again only to come upon another accident about 15 minutes later. I was convinced we would never make it to Vang Vieng. I was excited for VV because it is know as a great place to go tubing. We unfortunately arrived during a terrible 2 day downpour and were not able to partake. Vang Vieng is also know for "magic shakes" and playing Friends on a constant loop in every bar there. While I would gladly watch Friends for days at a time some of the bars realized not everyone would. Many of the bars have taken to playing Family Guy on repeat. For some reason none of the Friends bars had wifi so I was stuck with Family Guy which is one of my least favorite television shows ever. I know, I know it's soooooooooooo funny but I just don't agree. On our second day there with no chance of rafting in site Laura and I decided to partake in some magic shakes.  I don't really know what the recipe is but let me tell ya there are more ingredients than were added to our happy pizza in Siem Riep. Within an hour I was out of my god damn mind. Family Guy began to look like it was created by Picasso and my entire body felt like mush and I became convinced that the mildew drenched pillow that I was sitting on was the only thing keeping my body from melting through the floor. I was prepared for a little buzz not a full on experience that only ended once I got back into my bed and shut 'er down. Oh it was like 7:30 pm by the way.
Next stop in Laos was Vientiane. We did some sight seeing and ate some amazing food at a bakery there. On Brittny's last proper night out we went to a bar with a live band and really tied one on. Picture a dimly lit bar with small tables and even smaller votive candles lighting the way for the couples to sip their cocktails and whisper quietly to each other. Cut to the four of us singing along to the band drinking G&Ts and beer and eventually getting up and dancing like our lives depended on it. It was a blast and we can say we sent Brit out in a proper way for sure. Liz and I got back to the hotel before the other two and decided to place all of the figurines and plants from our hallway in front of their door. Oh we are just a hoot aren't we?

Me at somethingorother

Liz and me at what Vientiane calls their biggest mistake

No joke dancing for our lives

awwww yeah
I must have a million photos of me in this pose
haha so sneaky!
Finally we hopped a night train heading to Bangkok. We had a waitress who was far too enthusiastic but made our meal times fun.
This ride brought to you by Change beer
Super fun, Super Fon
It felt like I was heading home. I had only spent a few days there at the beginning of our trip but I knew things that made it feel welcoming. I knew where to get sunscreen without a whitening effect and where to got to get meds for my ever increasing ear pain ( it was strep ear and I'm fine now thanks to Z-pack) and of course I knew where to get a motherfuckin' double cheeseburger. Yes Korea had McDs but no doublecheese. Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos are all McDonald's free so yes I'll admit it I was psyched for a double cheeseburger with a 7/11 slurpee for dessert. I know I'm a fatty but when you are so far from home and have been for so long something like McDonald's can completely help ease the homesick feeling. Screw American as apple pie it should be American as a McDonald's double cheeseburger meal!