Monday, September 22, 2008
The flight back was all in all pretty unimpressive and even disappointing given the plane I had for the 11 hour leg of the trip was like from 1989... No seat back entertainment, and just old. In other news, I bought a new laptop off of Craigslist which I picked up when I arrived back stateside. It's a Toshiba. Brand New :) The other one I bought never came. I got my money back, but my frustration was never compensated for so I am still a bit bitter towards buy.com.
I’m at Stanford now and happy to finally be back into some semblance of a stable life. Who am I kidding? Readjusting has been tough, but my first day of class was today so now all I have to do is get moving on the work that lies ahead of me. More from Palo Alto in weeks to come.
p.s. The jetlag from this trip finally caught up with me on Saturday. It was a beast. I think I am better now ;)
In any case, I stayed at the Stanford apartments at Nanyang Technological University. There were about 8 students sharing this apartment and so it felt a lot like a hostel which was cool. My classmates in Singapore were really great. We all got along great and it was very helpful to be staying in the same place because we all had basically the same work to do and schedules to keep and we could help each other which was nice. The course was intense. 4 days. (Plus a fieldtrip to the NEW water plant where they process used water to reach drinking water standards… pretty revolutionary. 3% is put back into the reservoirs which service the communities.) In total, 16 different lectures, 2 homework assignments and 1 group project. It was definitely a jump right in scenario. The campus layout was confusing but since I had arrived a few days early I knew where everything was so I become sort of the tour guide. I felt like my nickname should have been Garmin. Since the course was so time consuming I really only had time to explore the city one evening before things got rolling and then of course on Friday night which is a whole different story. But below you will find the photos from when Natalie and I went out exploring! My personal favorites are the ones of the huge crowd of Singaporeans doing aerobics along the river ;) Strange place, Singapore.
Friday night. I told you it was a story all its own and I wasn’t lying! So a group of us headed out to the Night Safari. I was very skeptical at first, BUT the fire eating group of indigenous Borneoans was enough to convince me to dish up my $22. It was pretty spectacular. People say the animals are drugged and while I would like to disbelieve them, there is no way you can convince me that all of those animals we saw were nocturnal. The coolest thing was the leopard. This huge cat had a glass enclosed viewing area and just while we were there it was pacing back and forth, back and forth in front of the window. You could crouch down on your knees and be at eye level with the leopard. As it would turn and walk towards you its eyes would pierce through you. Creepy. Especially since the only thing between you and certain death was a piece of glass. As if the Night Safari wasn’t crazy enough, our group somehow got separated in the bat house. Go figure. Of all places. A search and rescue ensued, but to no avail. We were definitely split up. Plans for meeting up with other people were on the agenda and not knowing was else to do, myself and another student hurried off in a taxi to the MRT station downtown where they were supposed to meet at 10pm. Well, it was way past 10pm and so after looking around we threw in the towel and went and enjoyed a nice Singapore sling…at an English style pub no less, it was the closest place we could find. Oye. The upside was we stumbled upon some sort of outdoor concert and arrived just in time to hear the last song, which was all I really cared to hear. I ended up taking a night bus back to NTU. Long night, but fun.
Anyway, here are pictures from Pulau Perhentian Kecil. Pretty.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Day 1 August 28, 2008
1:30pm Arrive at airport. Manage to get through customs, change my money and buy my bus ticket.
3:30pm-ish Arrive at Lub.d hostel and then venture out and find some food.
5-8:00pm SLEEP! I was so so tired!
8-10:00pm Waste time checking email, reading about Bangkok… and then go to bed for the night.
Day 2 August 29, 2008
8:00am Wake up, breakfast, meet a girl named Steffi from Germany.
9:00am Head out with Steffi and another girl, Margaret, to take the skytrain to the boat, to visit the Grand Palace and other impressive Buddhist temples.
3:30pm Amazing Thai massage at Wat Poh
5:00pm Visited the flower market. I love flowers.
7:00pm Washed up back at hostel. Went to the SkyBar at the State Tower.
9:15pm Dinner with friends from hostel at my favorite Thai place, Muvio.
Day 3 August 30, 2008
7:00am Leave hostel and head to weekend market.
7:45-1:00pm Weekend market 9,000 vendors!
5:15pm Enjoy an awesome dinner cruise on the Loy Nava.
Day 4 August 31, 2008
11:00am Wake up after sleeping in!
12:00pm Work on IWA stuff and pictures at hostel.
2:30pm Venture out to the MBK and ultra modern shopping area. Succeeded in finding USB wireless network adapter for my computer.
8:25pm Dinner at the Italian restaurant Scoozi.
9:30-1:00am Complete all my internet tasks, bought plane ticket to Kuala Lumpur, Skyped with parents :)
Day 5 September 1, 2008
8:00am Wake up, breakfast, postoffice and head for Southern Bus Station.
10:00am Bus leaves for Kachanaburi.
12:00pm Arrive and find awesome raft lodging at the Sugar Cane Guesthouse.
2:00pm Leave for visit to Tiger Temple
6:00pm Early dinner then picture processing while watching Pride and Prejudice, yes, yet again...
Day 6 September 2, 2008
8:00am Breakfast, leave for all day tour trip.
9:00-11:30am Exploring waterfalls at Erawan National Park.
12:30pm Elephant ride and bamboo rafting.
3:30pm Cave visit and train ride.
5:30pm Walk the Bridge over the River Kwai used during WWII, made famous my movie of the same name.
6:00pm Bus back to Bangkok
8:45pm Arrive back at hostel after an expensive taxi ride and a fruitful search for a small, cheap dinner of fried rice.
9:30pm Laundry, met Jay (another Stanford student on the course), booked hostel in Kuala Lumpur, headed to bed (1am)!
Day 7 September 3, 2008
6:50am Wake up, taxi to airport.
10:00am Leave Bangkok
1:15pm Arrive Kuala Lumpur airport, change my money, get bus to KL Sentral station
3:00pm Bought ticket to Warfa Bharu, found monorail and ventured to find hostel
3:30pm Arrive at hostel, chill out for a bit while writing this ;)
I arrived at the hostel thinking it was Wednesday August 27th, when in fact there was a two day time change and I arrived on Thursday August 28th instead. Luckily the hostel only charged me for the three nights I was there instead of the four I originally booked ;)
The tour guide was asking me if I wanted to “go to toilet?” But I kept hearing her say “go to Thailand?” and I’m like… duh, I’m in Thailand! Who would have thought toilet and Thailand could sound like the same thing.
On the bus back to Bangkok, I was starving… and then out of nowhere at this random stop this guy gets on selling these very tasty coated and fried banana snacks, which definitely hit the spot.
The Bangkok International Airport is more like a shopping mall than a gateway to international destinations.
The dryer at my hostel would not dry my clothes! After an hour they were still wet. It was like 12:30am at this point and I just want to go to bed, so I bit the bullet and put in 80 minutes worth of change and crossed my fingers that they will be dry in the morning. They were.
There are these great fruit vendors in Bangkok who walk around with carts of fresh fruit like watermelon, papaya, and pineapple for sale. Cold and already cut up ready to eat.
On Monday, I was surprised to see there were a ton of people walking around with yellow shirts on… then I remembered yellow was supporting the PAD. Tuesday, the Thai government declared Bangkok in a state of emergency. Even though it didn’t really affect me directly, I was happy to be leaving. In general, I would imagine things will get worse before they get better.
At the weekend market Steffi lost her camera. Seriously. She was resigned she would never see it again and was naturally pretty upset. I made her calm down and think about when she had it last. We determined it was at the booth where she bought her luggage lock. However, that was about 20 minutes ago and we have been wandering. Nothing is marked and frankly the place is a labyrinth. I was pretty confident we could find the booth, but less confident that they would have it and if they did have it giving it back would be another miracle. After retracing our steps, patiently, we found the vendor and he had it! And, he gave it back! Steffi was so happy she was literally in tears ;) Nothing is impossible.
Rivers in the rainy season are much less appealing to swim in than rivers during the dry season. The water is so cloudy it looks like you would have to cut your way through it.
On the day long tour there were 3 couples and myself. Awesome. Two of them were French and was a man man duo. I don’t even know… Anyway, there were three benches in the van and somehow I was in the middle row with the Lithuanian couple. The French people proceeded to talk to each other like the whole time talking very loudly across where we were sitting. It was being stuck in a cross fire of crazy fast French. I understood some of it, but frankly my head hurt too much to think about it. Oh and every other person including the tour guides and the driver smoked. At least not in the van. I count my blessings.
Laying your hand on a tiger is pretty exhilarating.
The little boy driving my elephant looked like he was about 11, but said he was 16! I don’t know if was lying or not, but he did have an incredibly impressive command of English. I was grateful to have a buddy for a few minutes.
Traveling alone means lots of meals by yourself.
I was quite adventurous at dinner tonight and ordered something that I had no idea what it was. It came and I was a bit freaked out, but once I got over myself and tried the food it turned out to be pretty good!
Enjoying a Mai Tai at the open air SkyBar 64 floors up is probably the most fun I have had in a while.
The shrines are pretty and all, but definitely not for me. The emerald Buddha is supposedly the most sacred, but FYI it is like 16cm tall. I much prefer the reclining Buddha which is unbelievably HUGE!
At the Italian restaurant I ordered this pasta and turns out it was really spicy. Like my mouth was on fire, and I was not enjoying the meal as I imagined I would. Sad.
Two things in particular I would like to go back to Thailand to do… 1. Learn Thai massage. 2. Learn Thai cooking.
The money exchange place I used when I arrived had a same rate buy back guarantee which was part of the reason why I chose that agency instead of another. Well, I wanted to take advantage of that guarantee on my way out today, but the guy didn’t want to give me the same rate because I didn’t have some flyer thingy. After explaining to him that I was never given one and being a bit of a pest he honored the buy back rate. Persistence is the key in certain situations.
They seem to have all sorts of fruit drinks and various smoothies here in Asia and I love them! They are also like $2USD or less which makes me really happy.
The MBK shopping mall was really more like an organized, permanent, clean and high tech flea market. Go figure…
I love the street vendors. I would support a comeback of such options for food in the US… not limited to hotdogs and candied nuts. But fresh fruit, spring rolls, and the like.
This is the book I chose to start reading before I left. It is about a family facing difficult times and even tougher decisions. One daughter is sick with a rare form of leukemia. The other daughter, engineered to be perfect donor match for her sister, struggles with her role in keeping Kate alive and her own ambitions. The book is told in the first person with the author taking on the persona of each character in various turns. It is a wonderfully written story that will challenge each reader in a different way. There were parts that made me want to cry, parts that made me laugh, and parts that made me thankful I was not in Anna’s position. It didn’t help my emotional state that the mother of the family going through these trials was named Sara… In any case, I highly recommend it. (Recommended to me by the Illustrious Leanna. Shout out to
Leaving Stanford, heading to
I had a layover in
Wu Song Fights the Tiger
Too much hesitation
Suffocates all possibility
The unknown is a ferocious tiger
Swallowing all smiles
Strutting and singing
Madmen are never lonely
The future has a hint of homesickness
Full of anticipation
But yet, mixed with
Smilingly greet each possibility
High and low, wax and wane.
If existence is a burden
Routine can replace thought.
Before I left I emailed the duzz and asked them to pray for me; that I would have a safe trip and that I wouldn’t be afraid. Just knowing they were praying for me, spending some quite time on the plane, and the encouraging and timely words of those poems made arriving in
The things my family does for me… Photos of the dress inspired black tie send off.
So before I made the clichéd, “big move out west” I had a wonderful opportunity to enjoy some to