A Travellerspoint blog

August 2008

Thai Fruit/Vegetable Carving & Zen in Koh Samui

...an older entry that I forgot to post!

sunny 33 °C
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Mike and I took a Thai fruit and vegetable carving class at SITCA, the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts before we left Koh Samui. It’s a 3-class series, each session 3 hours long. The first lesson was carving a watermelon into a flower pattern. It was a little stressful because if you cut at the wrong angle, your petals will fall off! Our charismatic instructor, Thim, has incredibly strong and steady hands…she carved a turnip into a flower in about 5 minutes! Next was the cantaloupe flower, and the third day was veggie carvings, plate decorating and garnishes. What fun!!!

Watermelons.jpg
Mike_and_Thim.jpg
Carving_Canteloupe.jpg
Finished_product.jpg

As you can tell, we haven’t had much wind here on Samui. Also, the beach where we’re staying is pretty narrow, so it’s tough to launch/land the kites safely. I’m the proud owner of a new waist harness, and I’m chomping the bit to get a good run on it…it just doesn’t feel really safe here, and that’s intimidating. Maybe Koh Samet will have some broader beaches and steady, howling wind!

We’ve visited a couple different Wats since arriving here. The Wat Big Buddha is located at the northeastern tip of Koh Samui, and you can see it from our hotel poking up above the trees. It’s 12 meters high and gold!

Big_Buddha.jpg

I got to pray just before the monks started their chants, which was very moving. I came down from looking at the Big Buddha, and at the bottom there are several smaller shrines.

Small_Shrines.jpg

I was trying to get a closer look at one of them, which had several small, square cushions on the raised floor in front of a beautiful gold reclining Buddha. One of the monks up on the platform motioned me to one of the cushions, so I took off my shoes and climbed up. As I got closer to the Buddha, I felt a very warm, vibrating sensation fill my body. As I sat down on my heels I closed my eyes and let the scent of sandalwood incense fill my nose. I folded my hands, palms up, in my lap, and said a few words in my head, and then my mind went completely blank. I was totally overwhelmed by the heat in my body and the feeling of fullness, gratitude and love. Placing my hands palms together at my heart, I bowed forward all the way to the floor. I wish I were a poet so I could explain the fullness and beauty of these moments…it was incredible, the energy of this place of prayer and reverence. I felt a similar feeling when I was in St. Peter’s Basilica in 2000. I think religions are like fingers on a hand…they all lead to the same source. We all want the same things right? Love, peace, happiness? In this place, in the dim light of late afternoon, I felt like part of the whole, completely connected.

Posted by kmpossible 20:32 Archived in Thailand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Koh Samet...

...hotter than Koh Samui!

sunny 33 °C
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This is just a short entry to let everyone know that we're burning alive here on Koh Samet. I feel like an ant under a magnifying glass...it's hot as hell! But I'm loving it.... There's just a small dirt trail through the middle of the island. We walked about half the length of the island yesterday...of course it was at the hottest point of the afternoon! Getting back to the airconditioned room was such a treat.

There seems to be very little, if any, wireless here, and we're too far to walk to the internet cafe, so this will probably be my only entry until we get back to Bangkok next Friday. We rented an ATV today to get around..I'm driving, and it's sooooo fun! It's a little weird getting used to driving on the left hand side of the road, but I'm adjusting quickly. Good thing, or we'd be roadkill by now.

We're staying at the Samet Ville Resort near the southern end of the island, on the east coast. It's a cute room with AC and hot water, but the restaurant is pretty bad. Breakfast was not good - it's included in the price of the room, but we've decided to go out in search of better vittles in the future. Today, what we found was not any better...and I'm HUNGRY! =( Oh well...maybe we'll stick to crap-jam and marj on toast with a bitter cup of nescafe, and get a hearty lunch. I'm almost certain it's impossible to starve over the course of a week. I complain, but the dinner we had last night was actually quite tasty. I'm in search of a beach BBQ for dinner tonight...fish on the beach + Singha = happy KimPossible...wish me luck!

If you're looking for seclusion, Koh Samet seems the place to get it. We walked all the way to the next beach north of us yesterday on a very rocky & beautiful coastline and didn't see a single person or boat. There are loads of lovely outlook points all around the western coastline, which is mostly cliffs, it seems, though we haven't explored the entire length yet due to the heat/lack of sunscreen yesterday!

Pics to come...I'll email out a block of Koh Samui pictures when we arrive in Bangkok. Also, if you have any requests for goods from Thailand, this is your last chance! I'll be doing a bit of shopping in Bangkok, since we have a pretty heafty weight limit on our bags for the flight to San Francisco.

I'm sending you hugs right now!!! Muaaaa!

Posted by kmpossible 23:24 Archived in Thailand Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Koh Samui in gorgeous Thailand

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Mike and I landed in Koh Samui on the 14th after 12 hours of flying and waiting around airports (Jakarta and Bangkok). The airport is so cute here! When you land, a fleet of open-air busses greet you to shuttle you to the terminal (there's only one). The baggage claim conveyer is under a little palapa, and it took only minutes to get our bags and be on our way. It's much hotter here than Bali, so we now have an air conditioned room! It also has HOT water! ...I don't think I mentioned, but we've been living without hot water in our hotel for the last month. I didn't really miss it, especially since it's warm in Bali. You come in from breakfast and you're hot, so a cold shower is quite refreshing. Having hot water seems to be a bit of a luxury. We're staying at the Bangrak on Big Buddha Beach, which has a huge golden Buddha statue just east of us. We're gonna check it out in the next couple of days.

Yesterday we drove around the island in our rental car I like to call "Hairy Boy"...it's actually called Carryboy or Ladyboy or something like that...it's a cross between a jeep and a teeny pickup truck. Just enough room for our kites, boards and a pony keg. We ended up stopping in Chaweng Beach to buy a much-needed t-shirt for Mike and tank top for me - our other ones are starting to show the wear and tear of being worn every other day for 2 months. One of mine had a permanent funk from sunscreen and from lying on my wet kite (stinky!). So Chaweng according to the Lonely Planet travel books is the most popular beach on Koh Samui. It is definitely busy, though it wasn't very popular with us...when we stopped and got out of the Hairy Boy, the sewer smell almost knocked us over. Everywhere we walked, it smelled of poop. Not nice. I don't know if it was just a particularly hot day, or there was a problem with the sewer, no matter. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. We found our shirts and a couple inflatable rafts for the sea and hauled ass outta there.

Aside from that little hiccup, the island is stunningly beautiful. I'll upload some pics at some point, though we're without internet at our hotel, so who knows when that'll be. We tried to visit a snake farm and a butterfly farm, but couldn't find them yesterday. I had an image in my mind of what a snake ranch and snake rancher would look like...itty bitty lassos and cowboy hats? Yep, that's what I thought too! ...we may never know.

We're learning a bit of Thai which is cool...so far I haven't learned a stitch of any other languages. I now know how to say hello and thank you. I know, always the overachiever! =)

Posted by kmpossible 20:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Indonesia, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

A list of my favorite places.

sunny 29 °C

Sanur, Bali:
1. Ananda Beach Hotel & Restaurant – get room #6 or 7
2. Grilled sweet corn on the beach, north end
3. The Village, Italian restaurant on Tamblingan
4. Spirit Café, on the beach, free WiFi with purchase
5. Mango Café, on the beach, good food, really tough to get the bill
6. Bennos, on the beach, great chicken & coconut milk soup
7. Randy’s, restaurant on Tamblingan, best place for breakfast other than the Ananda
8. Picadilly’s International Pub and Restaurant, on Tamblingan, great pizza, fabulous guitar player, Agus on Monday nights
9. 6 Point Café on Tamblingan
10. Little Pond Homestay, on Tamblingan, clean comfortable room, very inexpensive, friendly staff
11. Circle K, Magnum ice cream bars & PopMie noodles, baby! On Tamblingan.
12. Chinese place across from the Hyatt on Tamblingan (can’t remember the name)

Gili Meno

Jimboran, dinner on the beach watching the sunset

Posted by kmpossible 23:15 Archived in Indonesia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

A Case of the Randoms

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One evening in Saigon:
From a distance I saw a cart rolling down the middle of the street – I thought it was the Ice Cream Man. It had a little light over the top and some things hanging from hooks on either side of the light, which I thought were wrappers of some kind or napkins, perhaps. As it got closer, I saw that the things hanging looked like 1/2-sized IV bags…it was the Dried-Squid Cart!

Tonguester, Larry, Gordon, Franz and Annoying Bastard…new friends. Tonguester is a dog we’ve “adopted” in Bali. She lives at the end of our street, and has her tongue hanging out of her mouth all the time. It may be an injury or a birth defect, whatever the cause, it’s really cute. She doesn’t seem to mind it, and when the time comes, she can pull it back into her mouth if she wants to. A couple days ago, I found out that her real name is “Fifi”…I still prefer Tonguester. Larry is the lizard we keep seeing as we walk from our hotel to the street that leads down to the beach. He’s really quick, and a man of few words. I’ve actually never heard him talk. Then there’s Gordon, the gecko on our wall outside our room – he’s been trying to sell us insurance for 2 months now – tenacious little guy. He joined me for yoga on the patio the other day, and he’s got a great upward facing dog posture! Franz is the fly who always tickles me at the beach by crawling on my legs, and last but not least is Annoying Bastard, the rooster. He’s been following us since we left the US. I hear that I shouldn’t be upset about it because roosters are good luck. Whoever told me that must not live next door to a rooster.

Cat oven: literally, paint oven. We have seen these signs all over Bali and were like “What the hell? Who bakes cats?” Everyone knows they’re best sautéed. These signs are seen at auto body shops.

We were on TV! In Bali, anyway…during the Sanur Village Festival (Aug 6 – 10) we were interviewed by a camera crew doing a piece on tourism in Bali. We were on the beach, just setting our kites up. They filmed a short interview with Mike and I, then filmed me pumping up my kite – always a flattering thing to be doing on film.

On Gili Meno:
Sitting on the porch of our hut I heard the tinkling sounds of an ice cream truck. I immediately looked around for the squid truck, but saw none. I did, however, see a guy on a bicycle with a cooler bungee-strapped to the back. It really WAS the ice cream man!

Skype is fantastic! Use you computer’s internet connection to make phone calls – especially internationally. It’s cheap and very easy to set up/use. Go here for more information:
www.skype.com

Some books I’ve read while on the trip:
Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Quantum, A Guide for the Perplexed by Jim Al-Khalili
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins (THIS IS A MUST READ)
And now on to:
The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels, and the Business of AIDS by Elizabeth Pisani.
I would recommend all of them.

I’ve been meaning to write about all of this, and now that I’m sitting in front of the computer screen, I can’t think of the other 20 things. Figures.

Anyway, we’re getting ready to get on a plane to Thailand tomorrow evening (Aug 13th). I feel lucky to have been here during the Sanur Village Festival last week. There were so many people around and things going on. The people here are lovely. Even with the language barrier, we’ve made a lot of friends. Some people are easier to understand than others, but mostly it’s been a little difficult to have full conversations. Folks have really wanted to talk to us, and vice versa, but it’s hard to know if we were having the same conversation. Every day when we walk past our favorite watering hole, Picadilly’s, one of the bartenders will ask “Where are you going?!” In fact, I’d have to say that’s the most common question/statement I’ve heard here. In Balinese it’s a form of greeting to ask someone where they’re going, so a lot of times when we’re leaving the hotel, the front desk person will say “Where are you going?” instead of saying hello. (It was the same in Saigon, too.) Sometimes it catches me off daydreaming, and I realize I don’t have any idea where I’m going, and I have to stand there for a minute staring at the sky trying to think of a place I may be going that day.

Another thing that’s been eye-opening is people’s knowledge of politics here. When I say I’m American, several people have said “Oh, Obama!” I on the other hand have no idea who the politicians in Bali are…. Yes, Bali is smaller than the US, but people here - in general - seem to be more attentive to what’s happening in the world at large rather than just what’s happening at home.

I'm sad to say goodbye to Bali, but looking forward to meeting more new friends in Thailand.

Posted by kmpossible 23:13 Archived in Indonesia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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