Tuesday, June 21, 2011

photo album 3

Some more pics!  From the latest trip...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

you live, you learn 7

- Although I'd already been in Southeast Asia for over a month, I didn't need to use a plug adaptor until I got to Bali.
- The most expensive coffee in the world is made from animal feces.
- On my flight from Bangkok to Denpasar, you could watch the runway in real time during taxi and take-off on the entertainment monitors.
- In Bali, some restaurant menus include tax and service charges in the pricing while others don't.  The percentages charged for tax and service are not consistent from one place to another.
- Herpes B infects 80-90% of adult macaques.  This is the type of monkey that lives in the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali.
- It's easier to find a tongue scraper than it is to find dental floss in Ubud.
- Some birds naturally give themselves colonics using their beaks.
- People who get botox injections feel happier as a side-effect because they can't physically make their faces into a frown.
- Termites eat wood twice as fast when listening to heavy metal music.
- The ideal amount of food to eat in one sitting is what fits into your hands cupped together.
- I was in Bali for 46 days and I did not get Bali belly :)
- The man in line in front of me waiting to use the washroom on one of my flights was barefoot.
- With the exception of adding a link, all posts to this blog while I was on this trip were done on an iPod.
- Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice.
- In order to thrive, a butterfly needs to struggle through the process of emerging from the cocoon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

and i quote 9

"Do you smoke?" - Ketut, my tour guide on the hike up the volcano for sunrise.  Although I'd just finished a month of intensive yoga, I was struggling...  Think I've realized that my MBTs, which I love to run in because they make it more of a challenge, are not the best hiking footwear... particularly on unstable, steep and rocky grounds in the wee hours of the morning when the only light is that of the moon. Good to know :)

"Happy marriage!!" - Kirin, a yoga friend I met in Bali, after telling her about my session with a palm reader.  Despite no concrete path to get there, she was really excited for me about an event that was predicted to be in my not-so-distant future... ;)

"No change given. Overpayment accepted." - Payment machine in a parking lot in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, a charming little town that happens to be Shakespeare's birthplace.  The machine has outlined the consequences of not providing change - how thoughtful!

"But you and I, we get on well don't we? We've known each other for what, an hour already? And we've gotten on well for that hour!" - Kris, a 21-year-old man I met at a bar in Birmingham, who was trying to convince me to take him home with me that night.  I'd just told him I was looking for something more meaningful.  Turned out he thought this was meaningful!..

"Your breakfast will be in your room at 8:35." - The owner of the B&B in the Lake District in England that my friend Lorna and I were staying at, to both of us at check in.  This place was supposed to be four stars yet it didn't allow any choice in the timing or location of your breakfast.  It also didn't have an ensuite in our room, which wasn't specified when we booked a room last minute.  I feel like the rating was a bit off...

"You can't live your life around Pringles now, can you?" - Lorna to me, as we were watching a guy dressed up as the Pringles man and his team set up for some sort of promotional event at the shore of Lake Windermere.  We were about to embark on a hike and stopped for a second to see if any samples were forthcoming.  They were taking their time so we decided to proceed without any further delay.

"Dietary information: Suitable for Vegetarians. Gluten free." - Label of a bottle of still spring water from one of the UK's largest bottled water companies, Shepley Spring.

"I'm home!" - Me, earlier this week. For the first time in a long time, I have no upcoming travel plans...  For now ;)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

view from the top 2

...of a volcano at sunrise :)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

and i quote 8

"Mmmm...  Good sauce...  Adds some kick!" - An American guy I was sitting across from at the shared table in a warung (local restaurant) in Ubud, Bali.  He was dining with a friend and had just poured sauce from a red bottle in the middle of the table onto his meal.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that the small label on the bottle facing in my direction had a picture of tomatoes on it, not chili peppers.

"Dear guests: To maintain the purpose of our restaurant, please refrain from transactions concerning CDs, massage oils, health drugs etc.  Thank you." - A sign on the napkin holder in another warung in Kuta, Bali (the party region).  People clearly must get distracted from their food at this place!

"We all have our challenges to overcome in life.  I was born a Catholic." - One of the international yoga instructors conducting a workshop at the Bali Spirit Festival, displaying a very non-yogi attitude during her session.  I was really surprised and happy she was not one of the instructors at my yoga teacher training.

"Can you settle a bet for us?  How do you pronounce your name?" - Jane, a newlywed friend-of-a-friend honeymooning in Bali, to me.  I'd introduced myself to her and her new husband Linus a few minutes earlier.  They had different perspectives on what my name was and wanted to find out whose listening skills were more accurate.  (Turned out it was Jane.).

"Can I use this?" - Putu, the Balinese healer I went to last year, to me during a treatment session this year.  He was referring to an inappropriate part of my body.  Needless to say, he is no longer my healer.

"Poor Canadian girl...  So innocent!" - Vasudev, the 40-year-old Norwegian man formerly known as Bjorn in my yoga teacher training, to me.  A group of us from the class were at dinner and the conversation had turned to mind-altering substances.  I think he thought my lack of experience stemmed from a lack of opportunity.  I explained to him that it was by choice.

"That's how they stay so white!" - Beret, another student in the class, making a joke during the environmental toxins lecture.  I had just shared that, ten years ago, I learned that polar bears have traces of Scotchguard (the carpet/upholstery stain prevention chemical) in their bodies. 

"You have a beautiful voice!  You should use it more." - Etel, my Swedish friend in yoga teacher training, to me, giving me some feedback.  We were doing practice teaching and each had to do 10 minutes of a 90-minute vinyasa flow class.  I had just closed our last session by sharing the manifesto of encouragement during savasana.  People were moved to tears.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

and i quote 7

"Excuse me but there is a big, fat insect on your back!" - Dani, a tourmate, to a random stranger at another table while at dinner at a beachside restaurant in Nha Trang. The poor guy had a cockroach on his back!

"If I go to happy hour, I'll be in the happy house!" - My roommate Jes, after hearing a woman cooking and selling seafood on the beach in Nha Trang announce that it was happy hour (which everyone seemed to do everywhere, regardless of what was being sold or the time of day). She'd gotten sick from some fish at a restaurant the night before (the same place as cockroach guy) and spent most of the night in the bathroom, which tour guides in Vietnam refer to affectionately as the "happy house".

"Happiness to everyone!" - The writing on a rubbish bin in the hotel bathroom in Halong Bay. There was a picture on there too. I forget exactly what was on there but seem to recall some sort of outdoor scene with a tree and an animal. In retrospect I'm thinking maybe it was some kind of environmentalist message that just forgot the "reduce waste" part of it?

"Instruction for usage: instant food."- The English translation on the back of a bag of potato chips in Vietnam... In case anyone who bought a bag couldn't figure it out.

"Same same." - Every local person I spoke to in Vietnam who wanted to indicate that two things were the same. Not a single person said it once... They sell t-shirts with this printed. I wonder if you can buy just one ;)

"I forget that you're older." - Athina, another tourmate, who is 18. We were clearly talking about one of those things where life experience makes a big difference :)

"The Best in Thailand" - The print on the toilet in the hotel room in Lak Xao, Laos. No thoughts about how to explain this one...

"Toronto... Toronto raptors!" - Erry, the customs agent I got when I landed in Denpasar, showing off his knowledge about my hometown.

"Aiili Kuutan" - For the first time ever, I was greeted by someone waiting for me at the airport with my name on a sign when I got to Bali! (An airport transfer was included when I signed up for yoga teacher training.) And no, the typo did not detract from my experience :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

you live, you learn 6

-Thai Airways has the largest airplane bathrooms I've ever seen!
-The bus from the Thailand-Cambodia border to Siem Riep had the driver's seat on the right-hand side of the vehicle, even though in Cambodia they drive on the right-hand side of the road.
- Angkor Wat is the largest temple in world. It was constructed using 300 million tones of stone.
- Crickets don't taste like chicken. They don't taste like beef either. They taste like... cricket :)
- S21, a jail in Phnom Penh that was used during the genocide in the 1970s, had VIP rooms for government officials to be interrogated and tortured in.
- The young girls selling trinkets on the beach in Sihanoukville offered threading (i.e. hair removal) as a value-added bonus on any purchase to try to entice you.
- A second 3-digit luggage lock combination randomly reset one morning, while securing my luggage.
- At the hotel in Chau Doc, there was a price list for the room inventory items (i.e. bed, TV, remote, fridge, etc.) but no price list for the in-room items that were actually for sale (i.e. water, chips, etc.).
- Some of the "fixed price" stalls at the market in Ho Chi Minh City will actually negotiate on pricing.
- Facebook is blocked in Vietnam.
- Morning glory, a green vegetable commonly served in restaurants over here, is grown in fields with sewage.
- Vietnamese people eat pho for breakfast.
- It's worth going first class on trains in Vietnam (not because it's cushy, just because it's cleaner).
- While waiting to use the shower by the hotel pool in Nha Trang after we'd checked out, I saw two men wash their hands before, but not after, going into the urinal area.
- Some of the roundabouts in Nha Trang look like intersections except instead of having lights, they have a small post in the middle of it with arrows to direct traffic flow around it.
- Monks in Cambodia wear orange all the time. Monks in Vietnam only wear orange on special occasions.
- It takes about 3-4 hours for a one-armed woman to make a bamboo hat. It costs about $1.50 US to buy one.
- During monsoon season, people can fish in the rice fields in Vietnam.
- Sixty-two percent of the scientists in Vietnam live in Hanoi.
- Despite his desire to be cremated, Ho Chi Minh's body has been preserved since his death in 1969 and is on display in a mausoleum.
- In Luang Prabang, the experience of cleaning an elephant costs more than riding one.
- As a result of too many tourist accidents, it's illegal to rent motorbikes in Laos.
- The concept of possession doesn't exist within Lao culture. The word for "mine" and "yours" is the same.
- Everything closes by 11:30 pm in Laos because there's a government curfew that requires everyone to be home by midnight.
- In Laos, as a foreigner, you can only legally have sex with a local if you marry them.
- In Bangkok, apparently it costs 3000 Baht (about one hundred bucks) to get someone shot dead. My expat tour guide only gives his Thai wife 2500 Baht at a time... just in case ;)

Monday, March 21, 2011

transit etiquette

On the metro in Bangkok...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

view from the top

...of an elephant ;)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

and i quote 6

A few from the last trip...

"I need a bigger one." - Greta, a friend I met in Indonesia.  She was buying a wooden penis-shaped bottle-opener as a gift for a friend back home.

"Transport? Magic mushrooms?  Balinese boyfriend?" - Some of the things offered by the men in Bali as you walk down the street.

"Mid-life crisis at 31?  I love it!" - A 43-year old man I chatted with while waiting to board my final flight home from Chicago, making a judgment on my life.  I had just told him that I'd been in Australia for 6 months and was planning to do some more travel in the coming year.

One from a trip to Montreal while I was home...

"Oh good! It's only minus seven!" - My friend Shiv when I went to visit her in January, as we were about to head out to an evening event outdoors.  (For you non-Canucks, that temperature is in Celsius and about 20 degrees Fahrenheit.)

And now that we're caught up, some from this trip...

"Do you mean on purpose?  Or did you get lost or something?" - Mark, one of my tourmates, from Bristol, England.  Maria, another tourmate, had just told him that she'd been to his hometown.

"I thought I was going to get robbed tonight." - Maria, a 24-year-old traveller from Ireland.  We'd just walked into a riverside restaurant in Phnom Penh for dinner that offered a lot of great photo opportunities.  She'd left her camera at the hotel, heeding our tour guide's warning to take only the pocket money you need for the night with you as any other items would attract thieves.

"Are they all wearing their pajamas?" - Maria, wondering if we'd caught the women in the street-side shops too early in the morning.  Women in parts of Vietnam wear loose-fitting, light-weight tops and bottoms made out of brightly-patterned materials during the day.

"I'll never order prawns again." - Nina, another tourmate from Austria, while we were out for dinner in Ho Chi Minh City.  She didn't realize that her grilled prawns would be cooked at the table using live creatures, allowing her to see them struggle through a hot, painful death.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

here i go again

This time, to Asia! Stay tuned for more details... :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

photo album 2

Some pics from the last couple months of my trip...