To Susie and Tan. Damn that was out of the blue!!!
And Lin for finally joining me in being 28 :) Its gonna be a helluva a year.

watted out

Lin and I are currently in Siem Reap. It is our fifth day here and well there is not that much to do in Siem Reap besides temple hopping. On our first day, we went to the old market area to look around and then took a boat ride through one of the floating villages in Tonle. The next day, we bought a 3 day pass to explore the ruins of Angkor. Oh my goodness. There are so many temples!!! and it was hot out. I mean HOT! Climb up, take pictures, climb down, drink water, sweat, drink more water repeat... The first day was the mini tour, the second day was the grand tour, and on our last day, we went kinda crazy and woke up at 5:30am for the sunrise. A bit cloudy, but the weather had cooled down immensely. The last group of temples at Roulous were probably my favorite of all the ruins. They were small, picturesque. Not so huge.

Today, we went to a silk farm to see how silk is made. Very interesting process. About 80% of the worms are killed, while 20% are recycled. The looms were quite impressive and the natural dye colors are really beautiful.

After that we went to Western Barray, a resevoir and local hangout, and chilled in hammocks along the beach, playing cards and eating mangos with our tuk-tuk driver. A couple more days and we'll be heading back to Bangkok, where I'll get to catch up with Patricia.

fun in the sun

After Chiang Mai, Lin and I took a train to Bangkok, explored the Chinatown area for a few hours and then hopped on a flight to Railey in Southern Thailand. On the first day, I was tired from traveling and just slept while Lin, who managed to sleep on the train explored the island. The next morning we took a half-day rock climbing course that was really fun and real rock is quite a bit easier to climb than indoor rock walls. I did four climbs :) Woo-hoo! Really fun.

We saw our instructors later that day playing frisbee on West Railey beach. Lin joined them in throwing the disc around while I sat and watched. One of the instructors, Nu, invited us out to dinner with his friend Bo and then took us to the Gecko bar where his younger brother, Lam, was the DJ. The rest of the rock-climbing guys were there as well. Not only are they rock-climbers, but apparently fire-breathers also. Three of them, Alex, Pak, and Ti, put on a fire show for the crowd. We went to bed early cause we had an early start the next morning.

The next day, we rented a kayak and explored the area around the island for 2 and a half hours, had lunch and ran in Alek, one of the fire-breathers. He took us to another part of the island where people were bouldering. Not much later, Nu and the rest of the rock-climbing bunch (Yawt, Lam, Boi, Ti, Pak, and Tack) joined. Nu is preparing for a rock-climbing competition in Malaysia at the end of the month so was timing himself. He climbed up the rock-face to the top in 50 seconds. It was quite amazing, but apparently, his best time is 30 seconds. Crazy!!! Spent the rest of the day playing water frisbee, had dinner, and then went out. The island is so small that we ran into Alek and Nu again walking along the beach and joined them at Jah Bar, where the other guys were as well. Spent the night playing Connect four, dancing and chatting til late.

On our last day, we saw the crew one last time on our way to the Lagoon with Alek. It was gorgeous. Afterwards, he drove us to the airport. So nice of him. Lin gave him her Bangkok Hat disc as a gift. Thanks to all the guys at Krabi Rock Climbing and Cliffman's for showing us around :) We had a lot of fun.

chiang dao trekking

Happy Lunar New Year's everyone!!! Just got back to Chiang Mai yesturday from 3 days of trekking in the mountains of Chiang Dao with Luke, Ethan, Angela, and Mike. Uphill was killer. I find that I have a hard time breathing at higher elevations or possibly I'm just in really bad shape, which wouldn't surprise me considering the week at Grandma's. The first day we went hiking and did a bit of spelunking in some caves. Really beautiful rock formations, some sparkly, some of which were hollow and we could play them like the drums. Lin has a audio file of the acoustics somewhere. Second day was spent visiting a village, more hiking, and lunch in the woods. Our guides made us chopsticks and serving dishes out of freshly chopped bamboo, so resourceful. We spent the rest of the night in the village playing cards by candlelight. On the last day, after another hour and a half of hiking, we went to ride some elephants. The elephant that Luke and I were on decided it was bit hungry and went charging off the path, taking us on a surprise ride through some branches to snatch a young banana tree for a snack, pulling it from the ground by the roots. During the 10 or so seconds the elephant was charging, the trainer turned over and kept repeating to me,"its okay, its okay." I was surprised, laughing, and just trying not to get hit by a tree branch. Lol. Luke, who was riding on the head of the elephant, luckily did not fall off, but thought the ride was awesome. Crazy dude. We ended the trek with a some bamboo river rafting and a little friendly race.

Then back to Chiang Mai to rest and celebrate my birthday :) You would think that a massage would be a nice present to myself, but somehow it turned out to be the worst massage experience of my life. So yeah, not all massages in Thailand are good. Take note. Oy! The masseuse had no strength or pressure at all. I keep telling her "harder", "harder". It was like she was just patting me. WTF? Ok, I got to stop before I get frustrated again.

Thankfully, Som saved the day. She came and took us to a nice Riverside restuarant, where we enjoyed some great Thai food, desserts, and some headbanging music. Thanks Lin for the ice cream cake :)

thai women are strong!

Just got back from another massage here in Bangkok, I've been here three days and have gotten 3 massages :) Needed them all though. We got here on Friday and I went with Lin to the Ultimate Frisbee Registration. There were a lot of people there. A few familiar faces from Saigon including Tino, Anne, Jae, Lester, Aaron, and David.

On Saturday, as Lin spent the day sweating out on the fields, I kept myself busy in probably the largest fleamarket in the world, Chatachuck. It has everything. So large I got lost a couple of times. Luckily I had a map and did find my way out eventually. Didn't buy that much, some earrings that I really liked, a few t-shirts, teva-like shoes for trekking next week, and a pair of white polka-dotted turquoise flats for $5 bucks. They're so cute :) Oh and a canvas bag to stuff it all in. Almost forgot that. So handy!

Today, I went to check out Lin and her white team. They won both of their morning games. Woo-hoo! Good start. I then headed off to visit The Grand Palace and Wat Po.

So the area around The Grand Palace is known for jewerly scams, which I was aware of but slightly forgot because of the heat. Anyways, after visiting The Grand Palace, very ornate I must say, I asked directions to Wat Po. I should have brought a map.... Ask several people and after 15 minutes of not being able to find it, one of the guards comes up to me and speaks to me in Thai.... umm... Where is Wat Po? help... ok, so a lady standing next to him tells me she is a officer and I could take a tuk-tuk there and should visit other locations in the area as well, some Golden Mount temple and a Thai Cultural Center. It so hot, if this will get me to Wat Po faster, why not.... Well, after going to the Gold Mount, where you can get a bird's eyeview of the city, the Thai Cultural Center turned out to be no cultural center at all. I walk in and its a jewerly shop. Damn.

The man asks, "Would you like to buy something for yourself?" at which I answer, "Do I look like I can afford it?" "Where is your boyfriend?" "You tell me. Do you see him standing next to me?" Then I walked out and told the driver to take me to Wat Po. I was a "poor" target, pun intended.

Wow, the buddha at Wat Po is HUGE! So many steeples.... After all the sun, headed home for a nap, went to dinner with Lin, who's team made it to the finals. She even got a medal. Go Lin!!! We ate at this vegetaran place called Tamarind on Soi 20. Really really good desserts. Thanks Angie. I'm going back just for desert tomorrow :)

Yeah, all that walking left me with sore legs and all the shopping bags with sore arms, so massages are oh so necessary. Compared to the Vietnamese masseuses, Thai women are really strong, so gonna take full advantage of it while I'm here.

lost in hanoi

Lin and I arrived in Hanoi yesturday morning and spent much of the day walking around the city. I tried really hard not to go shopping, but sigh... I failed. Got a bit lost walking back to the hostel and saw some cute shorts at a new store that apparently just opened 10 days ago. The shop is called Kelly Bui. She's a new designer. After my purchase I asked the saleslady for directions and she called an older man to help her out. He told me it would be confusing to explain so he would just drive me. Turns out he was the designer's father and she is fairly young, only 26. Anyways, I quite like her style, interesting cuts, understated color, a bit funky. Will definitely have to visit again next time I'm in town.

Afterwards, I finally met Julie and her friend Mike at the very chill Chim Sao resturant on 65 Ngo Hue. Great atmosphere and food, highly recommended. Thanks Julie !

We then headed to Dragonfly, a lounge/bar that Julie thought would be nice. Its too bad that she wasn't able to join us, but we had a good time nonetheless. Her friends Jimmy and Ben, collectively known as thirstythong showed up and we has a blast sipping our "Woo Woo" and "Yum Yum" while playing Jenga.

To Julie, Mike, Jimmy, and Ben :
It was great to meet you guys and thanks again for taking the the time show us around a bit :) We had lots of fun. See ya in Saigon.

Ok, gotta go get ready for the next flight. Picts will have to come later. Ciao for now.

my poor waist

I've been in Da Nang for less than a week and think I've put on at least 10 pounds. My relatives are constantly feeding me and Lin. Its not helping that its the end of the year and everyone is throwing end of the year banquets and they won't let you leave the table until you've eaten at least three bowls, one bowl too many...

Lin thinks its funny cause she's never seen me with a belly before...not pretty... I am so going on a diet after I leave Da Nang. Thank goodness we have plenty of trekking planned in Chiang Dao :)

We fly out to Hanoi on 7th and then on to Bangkok on the 9th. 10th and 11th will be spent there so Lin can play in the Ultimate Frisbee Hat Tournament. I'm hoping to get some shopping in and maybe check out the nightlife.