Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thai massage

I got my first Thai massage!!!

Woohooo. So I never really knew what the difference between a Thai massage and a regular body massage was, but it looked a little something like the above picture. Although they did a lot of things to me, I'm pretty sure it didn't make me turn into a cartoon character. But you never know.
A lot of Thai massage is based on cutting off circulation to a particular part of your body and then massaging it. For example your leg, if you cut it off near your hip, the feeling of the blood running through the limb again is a fun sensation. It also included a head massage and judo chopping my back. And one of the bigger suprises was when I realized this small Asian lady was standing on top of me!!! hahahaha took me a bit to realize, but man did it feel good.
The most Thai part of the whole massage was the ambiance. It was set to the background of a very loud TV blaring a Thai tv game show!! I guess I can't bargain for the price of 200 Baht (USD$ 6.50) for 1 hour. I was giggling inside most of the time at the funny situation. I think i'll have to try it again to see what happens next time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's a Wat?

What's a Wat?
You've heard of Angkor Wat? Comprable to Machu Pichu in Peru. Well a wat is a temple/temple area, and they seem to be everywhere. Thailand is sprinkled with historic ruins, more toward the north which is the direction i'm heading. The south is more pretty beaches. I left dizzy Bangkok after a couple of days, the heat was stiffling. I headed north by train to Ayathuya, the original capital city of Thailand. But this city was destroyed by Burmese invaders who sacked the city and stole all the heads off most of the Buddhas because they contained gold. But it left for a cool sight to see.

Wat in Ayathuya, the old capital of Thailand
 I met a friend, he was a British Italian guy and we biked around the the grounds. Thus creating a picture you can actually see me in...
I think it leans a little to the left, I like it!

I've been eating new foods as well. Granted because it is so hot and humid here, it really kills your appetite and normally I just crave something cool and soothing. These smoothie, slushie, cokes, water stands are everywhere and provide for a nice reprieve from the scorching sun. I've been pleasing my tastebud with delicious Phat Thai, egg rolls, noodle soup, balls of pork (not to be confused with the balls or testicles of a pork, I'm brave, but i dunno about that one!) and a bunch of other things that I didn't even know the name of. Also, while strolling through the large market, something caught my eye...

There was a bucket on the ground the size of a manhole cover, but the water was swishing around. At first I thought fish- common, logical. But then I got my face closer and to my surprise it was a bucket of about 50 eels!!!! One of my leaast favorite and the grossest animals , blehhhhH!!! Just ask brad about how I squirmed and gagged while at the Birch Aquarium eel exhibit ;-( But it got better. I looked up on the table and it looked like a 6th grade science project, about 5 frogs cut up the middle  showing their fine intestines, in case you interested in buying. Right next to them a large mesh bag full of live frogs squished together!! It was a jaw dropper, continuing down the line and seeing all the fish, shells, squid and shrimp- as many as you please. So when I say I've ate things I don't know the name of... as long as it isn't a frog or something. Although, gotta try everything once.... tbd

The Thai people have continued to be very friendly and helpful. And my budget has coincided with what I thought it would cost spending 15-20 a day if i've been moving around. And more towards 10 or less if I stay place. Much less than what it costs at home I gaurantee it!

I stayed in Ayathuya for a couple of days and practiced my Thai phrases and numbers with the guesthouse owner, Toi was his name. He was also a geography genius! For example (without using the internet or anything) if anybody can answer the following countries (w/o internet!) I will bring them back a souviener.
What 11 countries in the world have a name with only 4 letters.
I'll give you the first one
1. P e r u 2. _ _ _ _ 3. _ _ _ _  etc... etc... Hint: I didn't even get them all, how sad :-(

But after exchanging some Thai words, like 'Cheers' is pronounced 'CHOK DEE' and you have to look at the person in the eye. Also his friend should some magic tricks. It was a fun night.
The iconic Buddha head in the tree. Something I really wanted to see while here.

Today and yesterday I have moved much further north to the town of Sukothai. This town holds very important temples (wat s ) that are similar to the Khmer (Cambodian kingdom of the past) style of Angkor Wat. A English lady I met on the bus said that these temples are important because they were where the Thai people met long ago and started a new kingdom in order to push the Khmer rule out of Thailand and back to it's origin in Cambodia. These temples seemed very unique and were scattered throughout a forest.
I biked most of the day alone, exploring the nooks and crannys of the temples,  and then later met up with a German guy and a guy from Pakistan and we rode together. I'm sunburnt!!! The biking amounted to about 8 miles all day around temples, lakes, protective moats and forests. Beautiful scenery indeed.

The beautiful ruins of Sukothai

200 meters up to a Buddha statue in the forest. Overlooking Central Thailand <3

Today was an exhausting day riding around and walking the grounds so i'm off for a cold beer and some good food and goo d company, until then  my friends. Thanks for reading!!! The Good life.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thailand, the land of many smiles

Why, helllllooooo!!!!

Welcome to Bangkok ladies and gents. First things first, it is freakin hot and muggy. Eewww. Secondly, I have no idea what day it is. I could probably figure it out, but that would require intensive thinking and math skills, and also I'm not sure I want to know what day it is, it is nice being out of touch.
I left LAX at 1 pm on Thursday after saying my goodbyes, packing the bag which is quite small might I add, and cutting my hair. I flew 14 or 15 hours to Taipei Taiwan ont his jumbo of a jet, two floors! I've never been on a plane like that. Also picked up some local language via the interactive t.v. they had, a cool 'learn the language' feature for any country you wanted. Learning even bits and phrases of Thai is much harder than Spanish, mostly due to the different sound and tonal use. I expected myself to just be able to pick it up in a snap, but haven't yet. But also, i've only been here 2 days, maybe I should give myself some time, you think?
So I slept in the airport in Taiwan from 10pm-6am (their time) and then hopped on my flight at 7 am to Bangkok, arriving conveneintly at 10 am.
Anyways after finding this little guesthouse in the hip and touristy section of Bangkok (which includes Khao San road) for 170 Baht/night (approx 6 dollars a night) for a single with a fan! (oohh lala~ trust me, that fan is a NECESSITY).
I walked around a bit, got lost a bit, rested a bit, ate a bit etc...
I also found the famous backpacking/tourist hub of Southeast Asia....Khao San Road. Located in the old town of Bangkok, it is a pedestrian only street lined with hostels/hotels, knickknack shops, scam artists, american music and lots and lots of tourists. Too many. It is a bit comforting if that is what I'm looking for, but it is a bit overwhelming at the same time. So I'm finding a happy mix between Thai life and touristy life, both which are prevelant here in Bangkok.

Yesterday was spent mostly walking the streets, meeting people from random places (like Alabama, and France) drinking some local beer (Tiger beer!) munching down the street food getting a foot massage on the street (100 baht for 1/2 hour- approx 3 dollars) and catching up on sleep .

Today I did a few more productive things, while still touristy, very much amazing!
I took the river ferry to visit the Grand Palace of Bangkok. This was the previous royal home where 'his majesty' and the administration offices for the Kingdom were. But now it is just an attraction and administration offices (no hopes of seeing the King there) Below is a pic from the internet as I haven't uploaded any of my pics yet (Hold your breath for those...)

Aerial view

Me at the Grand Palace in Bangkok!!
 This is a sample picture. Pretty freakin epic. Every face of each building is covered in some sort of gem, glass, porcelain decoration. It was a bright shiny and amazing sight. Filled with all kinds of buildings, buddha statues, and the great Emerald Buddha. I went in the palace not knowing much, so i'm going to read up on teh place so I know the meaning of everything I saw today.

I also went and saw the Reclining Buddha (Oh by the way there are Buddhas everywhere!!) This is part of the largest and oldest wat (temple) in Bangkok (dated back to 17th century) and includes a 49 meter (150 foot long) Buddha lying on his side plaited in gold. Most of the temples have statues plated in gold. 

I walked and tuk-tuk ed (motorcycle/taxi vehicle) my way around some more. Thailand is known as the land of smiles, and I'd say it is fitting as the people smile quite a bit and are friendly and willing to help. Although you do have to keep your gaurd up so you don't get scammed into buying something you don't want or didn't ask for.
I will change and add pictures once I get a chance.
But to rap it up, I'm doing great and exploring and sweating my buns off!
My love to all at home :-) 4 months may seem a long way away...but I'll see you soon

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Last mintue

Last minute preparations!!! I'm a chicken with my head cut off. Trying to get  everything organized and packed. This is the rush without further ado I leave in about 15 hours!!!

...Next time I write , I'll be in Thailand!!!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nothing like seeing an ol friend

This past weekend, a friend from Minneapolis came to visit me for the weekend. Granted Minneapolis is -10 degrees right now, so she didn't mind coming and soaking up the rays in 70 and sunny San Diego. So Beth was sweet enough to come out and visit. I met Beth in Ecuador/Peru, and 'used' her as my disguise gringa while crossing the border from Ecuador to Peru. Mind you, I wasn't the most approachable person at the time as I was trying to devise a reason as to why I'd overstayed my visa by nearly 2 months. While being preoccupied with possibly getting slapped with a huge fine, or possibly getting deported or thrown in Ecuadorian jail, I eventually talked to the other American later after I skated my way out of my visa predicament. Long story short, Beth and I ended up traveling for a couple months togther in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Things we did in that time included; hitchiking for 7 days straight in semi's, renting beach bungalows for a week, drinking lots of mate, touring the salt flats, partying in Buenos Aires, and finally coming to terms that we are leaving that awesome continent and flying home together. 

Beth and Kristin keeping it CLASSY in Bolivia highlands
Beth, Michelle and I hanging with 50 of our closest Bolivian army friends. Totally normal.

Party Carnaval

Thanks to Beth, the idea of going to SouthEast Asia was opened up to me. She had traveled to those countries for 6 months 'back in the day' - really not that long ago. So while she was out we laughed about past memories, hung out with family and friends, did a classy tour of classy san diego, and shared ideas on future ones.

Southeast Asia sounds more and more exciting. Some things she shared;

-The most beautiful beaches, Thailand
-Cheap travel and great parties in Laos
-Ruins worth spending days at in Cambodia
-Cheap dive certification on the islands
-Moto bike tours of Vietnam
-Ping pong shows fo' sho' (shout out Cunninghams!)
And a bunch more

Beth and I down in Old Town SD reminiscing with South America pics
 All in all had a great time with my friend. She said it, you meet friends in the strangest places, and I agree! And hopefully I'll see her in a couple of months in Malaysia maybe? Thanks Beth!

...Southeast Asia here I come. 15 days left!!! ...