Picture Dump from Ko Phi Phi

I found a little bit of free internet here at my hostel in Phuket, so I thought it might be a good time to dump a few pictures. Enjoy. To see larger version, just right click to view image (Firefox users). Also for a brief caption, just hover your mouse over each image. (Ain't I fancy?)

Wednesday September 27 2006File under: travel, Thailand

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Ko Phi Phi

Being the jet-setters that we are, the boys and I decided to fly from Chaing Mai in the north down to to Phuket in the south to avoid the two 14 hour train rides. The flight was less than two hours and even included a meal (take that, Delta.) After a packed taxi and a 2 hour boat ride, we arrived at Ko Phi Phi.

Ko Phi Phi was largely destroyed by the 2004 tsunami and it shows. Things are being rebuilt everywhere. Despite the obvious destruction, it is still a beautiful place. Anyone that saw the movie The Beach knows, as this was their island paradise. There are no cars on the island, and everything is more or less within walking distance. Today we plan on exploring the island a little more and getting in some much needed water time. Watch our sharks. Here we come!

With the beauty and isolation comes higher prices. Internet is 6 times as expensive here as it was in Chiang Mia, with lodging running about 3 times as much. Paying $6 a night for lodging!?! Who ever heard of such extravagance. Anyway, point being that I might scale back the posts a bit this week. Or not. I sure have been enjoying seeing ya'll's comments as much as you've enjoyed reading.
Monday September 25 2006File under: travel, Thailand

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This is what travelling is all about

Knocking a cigarette out of the mouth of an Aussie while passing clubs with a German, both of whom are more or less random strangers. You can see the smile on my face!
Saturday September 23 2006File under: travel, Thailand

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Week One Wrap Up

So it was a week ago almost exactly that I stepped off the plane in Bangkok with nothing but a backpack, a guidebook, and a vague plan. Now I am a streetwise traveler who has mastered the transportation, trekked in the jungle, tried a wealth of new foods, met new people, and even picked up a few Thai phrases. Not a bad start to my adventure.

Traveling with Andrew, Per, and Myke has been great. Having a group of similarly minded people to eat and adventure with has been just what I needed to get my mindset right. Just yesterday, they suggested we rent motorcycles to get outside of town a bit. It was just the ticket. And we really made a strong showing at the trivia night at the local ex-pat bar last night. (Actually we got 11th out of 12. Who would have known those ex-pats were so smart?)

Next week, those boys leave town, and a new contingent of traveling buddies arrive. I'm so fortunate to have all of this work out. It is funny to think that less than a month ago, this wasn't even a glimmer in my eye. Now I am sitting in an internet cafe in the north of Thailand, sipping a fresh fruit shake that cost $.43, contemplating the options that I have in front of me. So great.
Friday September 22 2006File under: travel, Thailand

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Trekking in Doi Inthanon National Park

In Chiang Mai, we signed up for a 2 day/1 night guided trek north of town. It was exactly what we were hoping. All in all, we hiked maybe 6 miles on sometimes slippery terrain. This was spread out over a couple sections in between various villages, waterfalls, etc. It was really cool to see the villages they took us to. The first one consisted of just 4 families, and everyone went about their business instead of putting on a show for us honkies. Their dwellings were a covered area, a small portion of which had a raised floor for sleeping. No walls. Otherwise, it was dirt floors. Very similar to other extra rural dwellings I've seen around the world. Hey, if it works...

Other highlights included the elephant ride, which I liked much better than I thought I would. We rode two to an elephant for about an hour. When our guy got moving, it got a little rough up top, but mostly he was just lumbering down the trail. We fed him bananas when he was a good boy, but he got pretty greedy and finished them off in the first 10 minutes.

The visit to the waterfall was somewhat marred by the presence of leeches in the water, but of course we didn't find those until we were out. Not too much of a problem, however. One did escape my detection, so I ended up with a much sated friend down the trail a ways.

We finished up the mini trip with a rafting excursion down a river. The rafts were long pieces of bamboo roped together. Our guide used a pole to keep us from banging into the rocks. We got to stand mostly, so it was like we were surfing down the river.

Coming back to Chiang Mai, we piled 14 of us into a small truck and just watched the scenery roll on by. It was really a great trip.

Thursday September 21 2006File under: travel, Thailand

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Bangkok to Chiang Mai

After picking up Andrew, Per, and Myke at the airport, we spent one day in Bangkok seeing the sights and shopping for new Rolecks watches. But after about 2 hours of the hustle and bustle of the city, we all agreed that it was time to get out of dodge.

We caught a 14 hour overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the north. The was a nice ride with airconditioned cars and realtively realistic sleeping conditions. Still not adjusted to the time change yet (or maybe just because I am a natural early riser), I was up at 6:00 am watching the country side pass us by. There were rice fields galore with the occasional village of tin roofed huts. That quiet peaceful ride with the wind blowing in my face (the dining car, wasn't ACed) is currently vying for highlight of the trip for me.

So now we are in Chiang Mai. Yesterday we pretty much did the city: night market, day market, temples, etc. etc. This morning, we leave on a 2 day/1 night trek into the jungle (what is the technical difference between jungle and forrest anyway?). The trek is to include a visit to native villages, elephant rides, a trip down the river on bamboo rafts, and (this is what I am really excited about) a stop at a few waterfalls! It should be a good time.

So I had better go get packing. Sorry for the picture-less post. While traveling with the boys, I'm pretty much leaving the photodocumentary stuff to them. So far, they are doing a great job. I'll steal a couple from them for my next post. Also, be sure to follow what there is to follow over at brothersroot.com while Andrew and I are traveling together.
Tuesday September 19 2006File under: travel, Thailand

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Buddha Day!

As luck would have it, the day I arrive in Bangkok is Buddha Day, or the birthday of Thailand's equivalent of the Dali Lama (it is sometimes hard to get the full story when you don't speak the language). Anyway, the Thai government used the opportunity to encourage tourism to some temples and statues, some of which are open only for this day to non-Thais. Anyhoo, it lead to a lot of buddhas in a short time.

A tuktuk (3-wheeled motorcycle taxi) took us from temple to temple and waited while we looked around. At one wat, the lucky buddha (pictured right), we met a guy that explained the significance of it all, with personal anecdotes and everything. Besides buddhas, it was helpful Thai after helpful Thai.

Everything fell into place for the first day of my adventure. Now I just gotta get my sleep pattern adjusted to the 14 hour time difference, meet up with the fellas tonite, and then the adventure truly begins.
Saturday September 16 2006File under: travel

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Bon voyage

"I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain."

So as I finish up packing and get ready to set off, Red's words from Shawshank Redemption rattle around in my brain. Along with the excitement, there's a little bit of nervousness, but I suppose travel is all about getting outside your comfort zone. I suppose I am as ready as I will ever be. All that's left to do now is get busy livin', or get busy dyin'. I choose the former.

My beautiful custom travel bag complete with crossword puzzle pouch and everything by Cardinal Points

Tuesday September 12 2006File under: travel

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Having a beard is fun

Shaving it off is even more fun.
Sunday September 10 2006File under: pics, beard

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The greatest show on earth!

Last night, I saw Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Baily circus at the Everett Convention Center. I'm not going to lie to you: I didn't have high expectations. I've grown accustomed to fancy circuses like Cirque d Soliel and Teatro Zinzani. I was expecting some elephants rolling on large balls, and a bunch of clowns. Boy was I wrong.

Yes, there were elephants and clowns, but there was a bunch more. Hat juggling, acrobatics, trained house cats (which, we agreed, was right up among the top acts), a strong man, pyrotechnics, and 7 motocycles in the globe of death: it was great. I highly recommend going. The seats were cheap, and it was totally worth it.

What made the experience even better is that a buddy of mine from college is a clown with the show. Afterwards, he took us backstage where we saw the clown dressing room (and got a couple autographs), and then to the train. The train, when compiled, is almost a mile long. We saw where the stars of the show live and travel. All along the way, Dan told anecdotes and details from his two years traveling with the circus.

All in all, it was a late night, but so worth it. It was really something to see what it is like to be in a circus. I don't see myself running off to join one anytime soon, but it is nice to know that if I do, I'll know what is awaiting me.
Friday September 8 2006File under: events, juggling

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