No curve was too sharp for them and their bicycle. No puddle was deep enough to stop them. -- Friends by Helme Hein

24 January, 2009

Holiday Light Show

For the holidays, Tokyo Midtown created a giant light show featuring our solar system, the stars and the milky way.

2 cars, 2 hits, 2 days--I need to get out of Tokyo

I know I rush too much to get places, but it's the drivers fault, too. I've been tagged by 2 cars in 2 days. They just aren't respecting the crosswalks and I'm plowing through them too fast. Today's car flew out of the McDonalds drive thru and edged into the street without looking at the sidewalks. I couldn't stop in time and went tire first into his passenger side door. While his wife looked on in horror at the gaijin (foreigner) who had hit her car, the driver finally got out to survey the scene. Nevermind checking to see that I'm ok, he first leans over to check out his car, wipe off my tire mark, then retreat away from me in disgust finally asking "daijobu desuka?" Are you ok? I've learned my lesson about rushing, but I'm tired of being looked at in fear because people are afraid they can't communicate with me.

A few more interesting pictures of Tokyo. I'm afraid this blog will get stale if I don't leave Tokyo soon.

crazy Shinjuku buildings

it's like what I imagined the future to be, only without hovering cars

they can do amazing things with cell phone stickers in this country--this is only the start

plastic food in windows has saved our hungry butts a few times

Harajuku crowds

I love this shot--it's everything Harajuku is and more

#10 fureofu fushyo (fillet of fish)

facemasks really are everywhere


James thought she was my japanese look-a-like

13 January, 2009


the beautiful Spa Beach Resort. It's a health resort spa that offers fasting and cleansing programs. We didn't do that this time because we wanted to eat as much delicious food on our vacation as possible. It also offered yoga, awesome Thai massages and facials.

our favorite tuk-tuk in Bangkok

the bird of paradise drink--thats a whole banana on the rim of the glass, balanced by the long straw

James at the tailor. Pants too tight.

Thai food in Thailand

Buddhist monks eating at Dairy Queen in the Bangkok airport

James and the tuk-tuk driver in Bangkok

Buddhist monks being served food early in the morning by our hotel. The man squatting on the ground in the orange vest was massaging the legs of the monks.

Cory is always looking out for those in need. Cory met up with us in Bangkok our last 3 days in Thailand. He went to a job fair and scored a teaching job just a short plane ride away from us in Seoul, Korea for next year.

Leaving Koh Samui to get back to Bangkok was our only misadventure throughout the entire trip. This is our bus from the ferry dock to the airport for 90 minutes. He drove with the door open the whole time. We were minutes away from missing our plane take off because the owners of the travel company scammed us and about 250 other travelers. We made 3 stops before getting to the airport. This was after the terrible ferry ride (see below).

gray day on the seas heading from Koh Samui back to the mainland

This was a frightening boat ride. This is the top of the ferry, overflowing with people sitting on every part of the deck. The inside was overloaded, too. I had visions of headlines: FERRY FULL OF BACKPACKERS CAPSIZES IN GULF OF THAILAND. The boat was pitching so far to the side a few times that the captain had to turn off the engines to prevent us from capsizing.

orchids are everywhere in Thailand

among copious amounts of other street meat, full ducks for sale

the fruit was the best part of being in Thailand--cheap and plentiful

The ever present king. Every cabbie and bus driver has a picture of the king in their cars. Some even wear his picture on a pendant around their neck.

colorful fishing boats in Nathon on Koh Samui

on the docks in Nathon. We rented a moped this day and did the whole loop around the island, stopping for pictures, a swim and food as we pleased. Despite the gray skies, it was still warm and pleasant for swimming.

fireworks exploded all along the beach on Koh Samui for New Years. We watched them from a hillside at our Spa Village Resort with our new Kazak friend, Olga. All that sleep and relaxation made us tired--we were asleep by 12:15.

our jungle bungalow

cool plant

view of our porch and hammock from the bungalow

the restaurant view of the Spa Beach Resort--we spent a lot of time here

The food was delicious and cheap and healthy. This was my favorite order: fruit salad, chai tea and fresh Vietnamese spring rolls (all for around $3!)

the beach and fishing boats at Spa Beach Resort

the neighborhood water buffalo

James and the moped at Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui. Just a fun picture of everything going on in Thailand from fast food restaurants to English services to laundry. Everything is for sale in Thailand, everything.

even Ronald bows and says "sawadee ka"

Big Buddha on Koh Samui. He was really big.

everything in Thailand seemed so colorful and vibrant

getting my fortune read at the Big Buddha temple

Watching the Thai Christmas Carolers...they tried so hard, but they were basically just turning Christmas into a party...something felt really cheap about it. Maybe I am a christmas puritan.

watching the tuk-tuks roll by in Bangkok. After dark, this sidewalks in this area are packed with food vendors, make-shift bars and people selling pretty much everything from CDs to clothes to souvenirs

07 January, 2009

Happy New Year!

Shocking cold, organized streets and fast trains warmly welcomed us back to Tokyo on Monday. The map makes Thailand look deceivingly close, but it was still a 6 hour flight (only 3 more to make it the States) with a connection in Taiwan. Add in cabs, shuttles and trains, and it takes a full day of travel to get home.

The best (and worst) part of our whole trip to Thailand was the food. Green curries, red curries, massamun, phat thai, fresh mangoes, coconut soups, and oh, the shrimp. My oh my, the shrimp bit back at me. I went a little overboard on the fresh prawns when I saw the affordable prices, and my stinginess got the best of me. Food poisoning hit my last night there and I spent the morning in the airport puking my guts out. 3 days later and the poison is still taking its sweet time leaving my body. Aside from eating the food, I got to spend an afternoon learning to cook Thai food on Koh Samui. It was the highlight of the trip to learn about all the different herbs, colors and flavors. Come visit and I'll make you a delicious homemade green curry and spicy noodle salad.

My camera broke half way through the trip and I can't offload the pictures yet. Fortunately, we still had James's camera for pics. I'll post some soon. I prefer to write with the pictures, but the trip was truly wonderful. Bangkok was every bit as dirty as it's reputation and the shopping was just as cheap. We slept often, ate more often and swam in the Gulf of Thailand. It rained daily on the island, but it was still so pleasantly warm that you could cruise around on a moped in a tanktop all night.

More soon...