Monday, July 30, 2007

me + my sunglasses

For those that know me pretty well will understand the urgency when I say " My sunglasses broke". I am never far from my sunglasses and they usually spend 16 hours a day attached to my body. I don't loose them, I don't break them for some remarkable reason I am able to keep a pair for years at a time. I consider them my most important accessory. Just in case you are wondering chapstick would be my #2 accessory in order of importance.

Yesterday, we spent a fun day out snorkeling around a national park off the island of Ko Tao. As soon as the boat stopped and they announced what time we had to be back. I dove into the water, you don't need to tell me twice that its time to get in. I just assumed everybody else would be thinking the same thing but as I dove in and surfaced, I was greeted with a large round of applause. Guess...they were waiting for somebody to be the first one.

Ok, now the point of this sad tale...when I jumped off the boat I had my sunglasses around my neck (as I always do in the water) but...the lenses fell out. These are the same lenses I had in Antarctica and so they are worn out and need to be replaced but I guess they thought there time to go was into the ocean. ( I don't blame them, it really was a beautiful spot).

When we got back to the hotel and I got into the shower, I had a great laugh as one of the lenses was stuck to me!!! I laughed, Sadie laughed and then we dealt with me being a pirate!!!
In this picture you can sort of see them around my neck without any lenses

Well...I cant go more than a couple of minutes without sunnies, so off I went to the store and this is what they had. This is what I am sporting until I get back to the states where I am sure I have a back up pair waiting for me.

Ko Pha Ngan

We are currently on the island of Ko Pha Ngan or "home of the full moon party". We like 30,000 others have come for the party which is TONIGHT!!! Its a giant dance party on the beach of Haad Rin, should be a wild time!!

While waiting for the party, we got out to explore some of the beautiful water/giant rocks around the island (before the tragic loss of my sunglass lenses)
3 islands joined together by the sandbar
We are not staying here but I wish we were!! You can just jump right off the rocks into the water. Next trip....

Ko Samui

I am back down on the other side of Thailand now and spent 5 days on the island of Ko Samui. This island itself was ok, reminded me of Phuket but....the best part and the reason I ended up stayed 5 days was the hotel. "The Jungle Club" was INCREDIBLE!!!

If 2 weeks ago I was asked what my favorite hotel ever was then my answer would have been "The Village" on the island of Pohnpei, FSM. However...this one is right up there. The cost was 600 baht ($17 a night) and that got you a super cute little hut, big bed, mosquito net, nothing fancy but the setting was unbelievable. Hammocks all through the jungle, million dollar views, wonderful staff, great restaurant/bar and one of those super fun infinity pools. It was so fun to lounge around drinking watermelon shakes and making friends with other travelers.

This is sweet little Sandy one of the hotel doggies

Sandy's brother having a scratch
Evening aerobics classes in the town
Our little hut, its seriously the cutest thing ever. Pretty basic, just a big bed, mosquito net and shower. This really was paradise!!!
This is my friend Sadie who I met while working/living on Kwajalein. She is here for a couple of months of traveling/studying and we met up to see Ko Samui & Ko Pha Ngan.

Here we are hard at work getting pedicures

One of the views from the Jungle Club pool
The restaurant/bar area of the hotel
The pool, that picture alone will make you want to pack your bags and get to Ko Samui
This is where I spent 5 days
This is smiley, happy Jack. I don't think the Jungle Club could function without him

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Ko San Road Experience...

This has got to be one of the more famous backpacker hangouts in the world
pineapple on a stick, soooo good!!!

daytime on the road, once darkness hits the street becomes an all night party
pad thai and spring rolls, the cost is about 15 baht (less than 50 cents) The dreads are back!!! Its been 5 years since my public head shaving on Johnston Island and I have missed them since the moment they were cut off. (that's a whole other story).

If any of you have been to SE Asia as a backpacker then you have most likely made the journey to Ko San Road. Its a world of its own full of excited travelers of all ages from every corner of the world. Its a small street full that is full of life 24 hours a day.
When on Ko San, there are some things that everybody does:
1. You eat street food (banana pancakes, pad thai and fruit on a stick)

2. You get your hair dreadlocked or braided

3. You drink whiskey out of a bucket

4. You haggle over pennies with local vendors selling t-shirts and jewelry

5. You either make new friends to travel with or you meet up with people you have already traveled in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos & Nepal with.

It seems like you either love or hate ko san road and I am sure there are many traveler who avoid this street at all costs. I am on the other side and enjoy the madness for a couple of days at a time. No place I want to live or even spend a week but its been a fun past couple of days.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

You want maaassssaaaage?

There is nothing easier to get in SE Asia than a massage. Sounds ok right? Could be worse things on every corner.

About 3 years ago I was on a short vacation with my friend Alison & her mom Kate in Phonpei which is a small island in FSM (Federated States of Micronesia). We had spent the day swimming & snorkeling and decided to get a massage. I had never had one before and was excited about it. I went to the massage hut and it when it was obvious to the girl who did not speak English that I had no other clothes aside from the swimsuit/shorts I was wearing we left the swimsuit on. Again, I had never had a massage and only knew they were supposed to be "relaxing". I layed on the bed and before I knew it she was on top of me on all fours pounding the daylights out of my back. The old boombox in the corner was pumping out the Phonpein version of the song "footloose". Not only was I not relaxed, I was very tense the entire time. The massage did not get any better and I could not believe this is what people had been raving about for so long. Safely back in our hut I told Alison about it and she assured me that was not a normal massage..

I have avoided massage since my experience in Phonpei.

fast forward to this past weekend:

As stated above, massage ladies are on every corner here in SE Asia. I was on the beach in Ko Samet last week and after being harassed about it enough I gave in and gave massage another go. I am happy to say that it was wonderful and I was so excited to be over my fear of them. So today, I decided to have another one and this time I decided to try an inside one as opposed to laying in the sand. After the price was negotiated (200 baht/1 hour) I was told to take my shirt off and lay on the table. Ok...the only red flag at this point is its a room of windows and 3 other tables. No privacy here, ok...I can get beyond that. I do as I am told and instantly the pain starts, I realize very quickly that this is going to be very different than the relaxing rub down I had on the beach last week. Now, I know there are different types of massage but I guess my thought was how different can the great one I had last week be from this hour of torture I am going through now be? The island are only 100 kilometers apart. Well, it was a long hour full of pain and I think I left more tense than I ever could have been going in. I think it was a combination of the pain, being 1/2 naked in a very open room and the other 5 Thai girls in the room having a great laugh over their conversations.
Unfortunately I think massage maybe one of those things that I want to like but just don't. Its joining the list along with yoga, raisins and jazz music.
or maybe I will just wait another 3 years and give another try.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Good times on Ko Chang

I am currently on the island of Ko Chang which is on the eastern gulf of Thailand. Not far from the Cambodia border. This is a GREAT place and I could easily stay here for awhile. I like that its partly developed and the other half of the island is still untouched jungle. Its a jungle on the inside and then nice and beachy on the outside. Its full of cool little bungalows with jungle themed bars, hammocks and lots of travelers lounging about twisting up their dreadlocks or playing on the beach.
This is my standard tofu curry that I have eaten about 400 times in the past many months. However, this one was better because the serve the rice in cute shapes. I had 2 bears & a turtle in the 3 times I ate here.
These are the crazy girls I met on the boat ride over, Louy from Canada and then wild women Ros and Pats from the Caribbean/England.

I am a happy girl out on the water! We spent a day diving in Ko Rang which is a national park on the island.

But...I saw at least 20 big fishing boats, so not sure what the national park is doing except for making a profit from the illegal fishing they allow on a daily basis. Its to bad, they are absolutely ruining the underwater life with their giant nets. They are catching whales, dolphins, turtles, sting rays on a daily basis. When farang (non Thai people) try and do something like cut the nets or open the traps then often it results in somebody getting shot and killed over it.

I have definitely been in millions of swimming pools in my lifetime but I don't ever remember being in one like this. It is the kind that actually goes out over the beach. it was the selling point to staying at the hotel and just to make sure we stayed there, the hotel girl told us that the other day there were dead people on the beach (due to swimming in a strong riptide).

next stop: back to big old Bangkok for a couple of days to meet up with a friend and then back to the beach, most likely on Ko Samui.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Who invented the western toilet?

I would really like to find out who invented the western toilet and thank him or her.
I have been here for several months now and have occasionally complained about but tolerated the excessive heat, monsoon rains, bugs, dirt, sleeping accommodation and just general daily corruption but the one thing that I really really don't like is the ever abundant squattie toilet. They are everywhere!!!

Chilling on Ko Samet

Ko Samet is on the eastern gulf coast of Thailand. Not terribly far from Bangkok, so many Thais come here on weekends or for vacation. Its a nice place, very sunny, pretty beaches and not as sleazy as Pattaya or parts of Phuket. I will stay another couple of days and then move further east to Ko Chang to do a bit more diving.

This looks like a good job, to be the beach divider on Ko Samet.

What I did for 2 was a really good book!!

Everything is better in color

This is me being excited about finally figuring out how to change the colors on the blog.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ko Samet

I am now in the small island of Ko Samet, to get here you take a bus then walk to a boat, boat to a smaller boat, walk to a truck and then travel through a super muddy bumpy road to a small set of cheap bungalows.

These 2 kids were loving the bumpy truck ride. They are dutch but mom is Filipino They had a deep and meaning full the entire boat ride. Imagine being an 8 year old dutch kid on this random boat in Thailand and meeting another 8 year old dutch kid! How exciting for them!!!
Looks like a nice place to spend a few days!!!!

The reason I went to Pattaya

This is a self portrait while wearing a blacked out mask. I was taking pictures as I was practicing being a blind diver. I spent a few hours with this mask on and got a better understanding of what it would be like to scuba dive/aseemble gear and just get around town without any sight.
A background story so you will understand what I did in Pattaya.

My two favorite jobs both out as volunteer positions when I was in college. The first was with Bend Parks and Recreation in Oregon. Mom and dad were paying the bills (thanks for that!) and I found myself with extra time and the itch to do something. I went into Bend P/Rec and asked to volunteer, I did exactly that for a few days when they called me into the office to ask if I would like to be paid for working. hmm....sure, I guess. Anyways, what that job did was it showed me that I could get paid to do exactly what I love to do which is play outside with other people!! It was a perfect fit and I quickly changed my college major from whatever had been written on my paper by some lady behind a counter to my new favorite word "RECREATION".

When it was time to get serious about finishing school a group of us from Bend found a college that advertised great skiing and a recreation program. We quickly made the move to Gunnison, Colorado. The well in the mom/dad bank had run dry but I found the instant money world of student loans. So again, I found myself with free time and wanting to do something....I saw a flyer up for the Adaptive Sports Center was looking for volunteers to ski with disabled people. I thought that sounded pretty interesting and so I went to the meeting and was hooked!!!! You can check them out at

Long story huh?? ok, let me try to sum it all up. I volunteered/worked with the ASC for my 3 years I spent living in Crested Butte/Gunnison and absolutely loved, loved, loved the work, the people & the organization. I skied with people of all types of disabilities and focused most of my training to instruct people in a bi-ski. In early 1999 I left Colorado for a very small island in the central pacific, I thought I would be there 6 months and then return to Crested Butte and the ASC. Its been 8+ years and I have not been back to live in the US and aside from a weekend in Denver have not been back to Colorado. I have missed working outdoors with disabled people very much. I find it really rewarding and interesting, I love figuring out ways for people to be able to do things they love that they otherwise may not be able to do.

In the last 8 years I have become an avid scuba diver and have worked my way up the ranks to being an instructor. I remembered seeing some blind divers in a pool in Colorado once, so I started to look into that and found a program that I could become a certified instructor for disabled divers. PERFECT!! I am now hoping I can find a job that I get to do exactly what I love to do which is be out in the ocean and working with people who want to scuba dive and just need a few adaptations to be able to.

enough are a few pictures from the past few days of my training

We spent the first day at the pool. I practiced being a blind diver, also a parapalegic and quadrapalegic diver.

This is "Slinky" my instructor. He was a PADI instructor before his accident left him in a wheelchair. He is back to instructing and it was great for me to learn from his first hand experience as an avid diver.

Thailand is not accesible! This pictures shows the stairs we had to come down to get to the boat, the distance from the stairs to the boat and then the stairs up the boat. I am hoping there are some places where its going to be more accessible! This is very tough for a wheelchair!!!
Thats it for the course, I wish I had some underwater pictures to share but I dont. It was intersting stuff and hopefulllly I will find somewhere to put to use what I have learned.
Jomtien Beach, Pattaya

I sat on the side of the road this morning waiting for my very late bus. I was entertained by this lady who was very meticously going through this dumpster. I dont know if she found what she wanted but she sure took her time sorting throuough the super smelly trash.

These guys!!! I was on truck taxi going back to my hostel and these 3 super super drunk polish guys got on. When they found out I was from America they went crazy!! Shouting "AMERICA is great, Bush, Poland loves America". This went on for 20 minutes. They were so drunk and so insistent that I understand how much Poland loves America. I missed my stop in the taxi and ended up at a restaruant with these guys. I left when the one in the middle was trying to give me his gun. He said because I was American I should have a gun.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I am a night writer (sounds like knight rider)

I heart watermelon shakes!! These have been a staple of our daily eating patterns here in SE Asia, they cost about .50 and are wonderful!!!
I need a switch on my head...I swear I get all my best thoughts and ideas while I am either in the water or trying to go to sleep. Neither of which is convenient to getting them written down. I am pretty sure that last night I wrote the next Oprah book club pick and I even dreamed she was interviewing me about the book.

Anyways, I started this blog when I went to Antarctica and am now updating it as I travel. Because it was all about the ice I thought I would share a couple of friendly blog links. I had a few friends from Johnston Island and Kwajalein on the ice and one of them is Amber, she came down at Winfly (last August) and so we got to spend a few months together down there. Check out her site at

Like you do in these random remote places, I met some great people that I am hoping will be friends for life. One of my roommates (she was upper bunk) was Cindy O, she has done and is doing some interesting things and thought you might like a smart read about her travels (hope you don't mind Cindy!!) She even has cool colors and all that on her site, I just cant seem to figure out the bells and whistles of blogging.

Anything goes in Bangkok

A nice portion of local bugs will cost you about 20 baht, which is roughly 60 cents.
Bangkok is a wild place where anything goes at anytime of day or night.

I find myself liking Bangkok and am wondering why. This is my 2nd trip to Thailand and I am questioning my perspective. My first time here was in 2001 and I arrived in Bangkok after a very crazy trip with my brother to India & Nepal. I went to Bangkok to escape the martial law/riots that were going on in and had completely closed down the city of Kathmandu. As I left the city that day I saw bodies being carried to be burned. point is I don't know that there is anything in this world more shocking than Calcutta, so after being there Bangkok seemed like being in Mayberry, USA. This go around we have been through many other major Asian cities and I arrived in Bangkok from Hanoi which to me seemed like a circus (with puppet shows to go along with). So what I am wondering is if I arrived in Bangkok from Mayberry or Portland or Honolulu how would it seem. I have not met many people who do like the city, they say its dirty, loud, polluted, over populated, pushy, hot & even dangerous. I agree and think its all of those, so why do I like it? The only thing I can come up with is my perspective is totally jacked up!!