Friday, October 22, 2004

Howdy from sunny Koh Phi Phi Don island!

I'm sitting here at an internet cafe on Tonsai Bay beach sweating like a stuck pig and frantically trying to let the world out there in cyberland know that it is not official....


I tried firing it up one day before I left for Krabi and it is toast. Won't even power up. So, needless to say, I'll be off-line until I can either get it repaired or (gulp) buy a new one. So, until then, expect few posts from me if any....I will try to get to as many internet cafe's as I can and keep you updated as to my trials and tribulations.

Meanwhile, I had a long, painful ride to Krabi yesterday in a crowded van and we ran late because we ran into two accidents (one fairly serious) along the way. Once in Krabi I finally got to meet a couple of cool folks who were in the back of the van, both from Argentina. We ended up all going to Phi Phi islands, so we got to chat a bit. Haven't seen them since we got on the island though, but I'm hoping I'll run into them before I leave.

Funny, but I can't remember the last time I saw someone from the U.S. All the people here are either from England, Australia, Sweden, Germany, Canada or elsewhere.

I'm going to try to book either an island tour or a snorkeling trip tomorrow, to top off my trip. Last night I got to eat some good seafood and enjoy a quiet evening watching some local kids play on the beach, while the sun went down. I didn't manage to see the fireshow at Carlito's because It's at 11:00 p.m. and I was just too tired to make it. Maybe tonight.


Saturday, October 16, 2004

This, by-the-way, is a fairly decent picture of a Songtaew.

They are typically different colors, red being the color of the ones that travel up and down route 4 from Hatyai to Sadao and beyond.

A major form of transportation around here and very reliable. Only 10 baht to go from my place to Hatyai.

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This is a photo of Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol.

I went for yet another interesting songthaew ride yesterday, into Hatyai, to meet my boss and go to immigration to get my visa extension.

Nope, no babies in my lap or anything like that...just tons of traffic as Thai's from many different provinces descended on the city of Hatyai to attend the graduation ceremony at one of the local universities.

It seems the Princess was in town to attend the graduation ceremony and hand out diplomas, which is why I ended up having a pretty eventful afternoon.

The streets in Hatyai were absolutely clogged with traffic. Truely unbelievable. I was once stuck in South Philly traffic after the Rolling Stones concert of three days duration let out at JFK stadium (circa 1982 or 1983) and even that didn't come close to what I experienced yesterday afternoon.

My boss Craig dropped me off at Tesco Lotus at around 5:00 p.m., and I ducked inside to quickly pick up a couple of things for dinner. I've got this thing for their deli's Chinese red roasted pork with sweet sauce and their rolled chicken baguettes...yum, yum....just slice em' thin, drown them in sweet hot sauce and enjoy! Ummm...ummm!

Anyway, I got out of there quickly as Lotus was packed to the hilt with people and the impending clouds outside were signaling another good soaking on the way. So, about fifteen minutes later I emerged, zipped across the walkover and picked up the first red songthaew bound for Thunglung.

Police were everwhere! I'd never seen so many of them. They were standing in the middle island in the street, one ever few meters yakking into their walkie talkies. Really, there were hordes of would have had to seen it. Traffic was bad enough, when suddenly I heard police traffic whistles going off like crazy. Suddenly the songthaew made a detour across the intersection we were at and I could see uniformed police, wearing white gloves, frantically blowing their whistles and directing traffic away from a section of roadway that had been deserted.

Putting two and two together, I figured the royal brigade was somewhere in that area, probably visiting some local businesses or picking up some eats at one of the local restaurants, so police had thoroughly blocked off traffic to this huge section of route 4.

The detour my songthaew took, into the bowels of Hatyai, was actually kind of fun. I got to do plenty of sightseeing of areas I had never been through. But, that pleasure got progressively old when it became evident that all the huge tour busses, songthaews, tuk tuk's and passenger vehicles alike, were crowding into these smaller, narrower streets....all making for a major traffic jam.

Then it began raining.

Ahhh...let me rephrase doesn't "rain" here, it pours buckets and buckets. So here we were, at a dead standstill on some distant Hatyai Soi, in the pouring rain, breathing exhaust fumes and gawking at store fronts that were now beginning to close.

I began my songthaew ride home at around 5:25 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. and we finally reached Thunglung at 8:40 p.m. Three hours or so, jammed into a crowded songthaew in the pouring rain. Alas, I didn't have to be anywhere.....nobody waiting for me at home (besides Howard) and no appointments to keep, so I just settled in and enjoyed the ride to the best of my ability.

The dark Thai kid across from me, however, looked horrified. Made me wonder what he was missing out on....a date? His mum? Hummm...guess I'll never know. He pressed the buzzer and got off somewhere short of my stop and disappeared....running like a banshee, into the downpouring darkness.

A truly interesting afternoon/evening in southern Thailand!

Posted by Hello

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Laura Curry (Baltzell) where the hell are you?

Okay search your duty!

I'm looking for this woman, my sweetheart in high school, who wrote to me via "" but for some reason...DUMPED me, after a couple of e-mails.

Come on Laura, we spent too many years together for you to give me THAT sort of treatment.

Was it something I said? Did your computer blow up? What the heck???

I've reached out by sending all sorts of mail to all sorts of businesses in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and various websites that vaguely mention the name LAURA CURRY or LAURA BALTZELL.

Laura was last seen somewhere in Albuquerque, New Mexico, working in a bank and bowling in her spare time. She lived in El Paso, Texas on Filmore street, and graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School in El Paso, Texas.....before marrying Joe Curry, having children and moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

So, hopefully you'll get the message and drop me a line! I really hope so, cause I'd really like to be able to keep in contact with you.

Your pal,

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Well, it's official!

I'm going to Koh Phi Phi Don next Wednesday!

I'll leave Hatyai around 9:00 a.m. and will travel by van to Krabi, where I'll take a boat to the Phi Phi islands!

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Word has it that the seas can be a bit rough during rainy season, during the boat trip from Krabi to Koh Phi Phi Don, so I'll be prepared with my Dramamine because I get seasick standing in a mudpuddle.

I'll be staying at the Cabana Hotel for four days and three nights and enjoying as many of the activities available as possible - depending on both time and pocketbook.

Tonsai Bay seems to be where most of the action is, so you'll find me there, wearing some flashy tourist shirt and hat and chowing down on some fresh seafood. The fire dances, Thai boxing and other entertainments can evidently be found at the Reggae Bar, Carlito's and meet me there!

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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

During my college days, studying behavioral health, I remember study sessions where we discussed people's boundaries....

You know, that "invisible bubble" of space a person has that is their so-called comfort zone in relation to other people around them. We studied the possible reasons why people have "big" or "little" bubbles and the differences in comfort zones involving different cultures, religions and mores.

Yada, yada, yada...

Well, as you can probably guess....Asian people, in relation to interacting with westerners, are supposed to have pretty small bubbles.

Not so today, on my songthaew ride to Hatyai!


Here I sat in this crowded songthaew, people pressed against one another...but the skinny-yet-goodlooking woman to my right, although she had plenty of space, was practically in my lap. She had a young child on her knee, maybe one - two years of age and she was trying to balance baby-on-knee as she was also trying to change cell phone batteries between two different mobile phones in her carry-on bag,

She kept losing her balance, grasping at the baby on her knee, while trying to juggle these two cell phones in her other hand. Her husband sat across from us, but he had his hands full with a rambuctious three year old.

Finally, (and much to my surprise) she simply grabbed baby and plopped him into my lap, thus freeing herself of her burden so she could attend to more important matters.

Naturally (instinctively?) I held the baby, who seemed perfectly happy to be on my lap. He cooed and cawed (ahhhh, you know what I mean!) at me and gripped my shirt with both hands while looking into my eyes.

I looked up and caught the eye of an elderly Thai lady across from me, who just smiled knowingly, like she knew that life, as it was at that moment, was perfect in it's own sense. I, however, did not share this feeling, and only looked at her emploringly as if saying, "Would you PLEASE offer to take this kid?" But, she didn't seem to catch the telepathic message.

Suddenly, the skinny mother, now finished with her task, turned to me, smiled, and took her baby back into her arms, kissing him on the head and plopping him back onto her knee in one smooth swoop.

Minutes later we arrived at her and her husbands departure point and once they disembarked, she turned around once and gave me this quick, almost imperceptible wink.....

Which of course totally made my day.


Well, I found out it wasn't a fan error on my laptop.....

...and it wasn't errant "piss ants" scouring my USB port.

It was/is a computer virus!

I've spent two days researching the internet and downloading fixes to get rid of it, but lately I've found that "it" is in fact "them"....

So, although I'm back online with a bit more frequency, I'm still at battle with more than one of these nasty little mechanical codes, that some "dork" who has no life, has so skillfully seeded into my computer.

I'd love to get ahold of one of these little jerks who send these viruses out and cause so much havoc. I could think of a lot of little "torture" tasks to set upon them that would make Rumsfeld proud!

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In this online media world of hate, bombing, terrorism and the like, today I found an article that disturbed me more than any of the other negative news media reports....

The death of Christopher Reeve.

This man, to me, represented strength, purity, health, persistence, and just plain awesomeness. I can't remember a sadder day than today, upon hearing of his death.

To me and countless others, he will be sorely missed.

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My pals Ernest and Dwayne...


Just what is ugly?

Aimee is wrestling with this subject as I speak...My opinion? Ugly is as ugly feels (or something like that)....

Ernest describes himself as:

"Better looking than most, however I don't broadcast this"

whereas Dwayne states:

"I'd describe myself as 'irresistible' but I keep em' at bay cause of my dirty shirt."

You see, both these guys see themselves as "a touch above the rest" matter what "society" says, they are at one (and above) with their looks!

I mentioned to them that "society" considered them "UGLY" and this is their response:

Ernest: "Well, Society can just *iss my *oyal *ss!"

Dwayne: "Snivelling *sswipes...what the hell do they know? They can *uck my *ick."


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Monday, October 11, 2004

I was out surfing for new and interesting blogs today and randomly, over the period of about ten minutes, this is what I found:

"The Emotional Wastebasket"
"Flirting With Suicide"
"Kill Your Boyfriend"

Upon investigating these scary blogs, which were from all over the world, I found all of them to be authored by "bored, miserable" people, mostly in their teens to early twenties.

They spoke of boredom, hate, misery and depression.

Really depressed the hell out of me to read that crap....ten minutes was too long.

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Sunday, October 10, 2004

I've always had an interest in visiting Vietnam and it's one country on my list of "Places to see and things to do." It's only a matter of time before I make the trip there. Meanwhile, the next best thing has been to visit some Vietnam blogs...

One of my favorites has been "Our Man In Hanoi" which is a site that not only has some beautiful pictures, but is really a very interesting read too. While reading his blog, I was surprised to see yet another "Mooncake" article. OMIH writes:

"Another feature of this time of the year is the Moon Cake. It appears to be a real favourite with everyone and something of a treat but to western tastes it’s a little bizarre. You know those pork pies with the egg inside. Well imagine if the pork bit was replaced with chocolate but with the egg left intact. In addition the whole thing has a vaguely marzipan-like taste plus an unmistakeable hint of fried rice. All in all – not good."

I had to chuckle at this and quickly jot this information down for Aimee, who is collecting sensitive MoonCake information for some sort of sinister Halloween plan, no doubt.

OMIH also writes about a subject that I'd been thinking of blogging about, but couldn't seem to find the right angle. He writes:

"PS Slightly concerned. There’s a trail of ants leading to a USB port on my laptop. I have a feeling that my back home habit of eating lunch while using my computer has left a legacy of crumbs under my keyboard. Hopefully no serious damage will be caused. I’m hoping they’ll just clean up for me."

What a laid back dude! Heck, I've been hopelessly squishing the little pests as I see them, or fumigating them (and myself) with my handy-dandy can of KINCHO red (a water-based Aerosol insecticide).

These little ants seem to come from nowhere and they have totally infested my spotlessly clean house (NOT). They're the little red ones, or amber ones, which my ancient grandmother (god rest her soul) used to call....


As a kid I used to giggle to beat the band when she'd say piss ants, because I knew that "piss" was a so-called "bad" word (according to my mother).

"Piss ants" is one of those old sayings that seem to flourish in the southern U.S. I never really understood why they were called piss ants until one day when I was haplessly smashing them with my hand and finally noticed the awful smell my hand had undertook from said smashing. Although the smell was far from what "piss" is supposed to smell like, it was bad enough for me to learn my lesson...or so I'd thought.

So here I am, at my laptop computer, "haplessly smashing" once again, as the little piss ants begin to advance upon my USB port, also uttering another old saying my grandmother used....

"Well shit fire to save matches!"


This is undoubtedly the oddest thing I have ever seen once arriving in southern Thailand.

Kids, teens and adults alike....all adorned with a facefull of white powder. The boy pictured here is only minimally covered. I've seen some of my kids come into my class (especially after lunch, when they have had a chance to shower and put on some fresh powder) looking like mimes. It really sets you back on your heels if you've never seen it before.

Naturally, I had to ask about it and was told that Thai's strive to be "White, white, white," because in Thai culture...

"White is right and Brown is wrong."

I notice it mostly in the early morning while walking to school, right after lunch and in the late evening. It's comical to me, but perfectly natural to the Thai people. You even see Thai's on local T.V. program's adorned with powdered faces. Really odd!

But, not so odd when you think about travels to the Philippines, although not as strange as the white powdered face thing, saw many of the middle and upper class Filipino women walking about in the bright sunny day with an umbrella. My old flame Celerina (or Cely to her friends) told me once, "It is important to us not to become too dark skinned as dark skinned people are associated with the labor class and islanders."

So too is the reason here in Thailand, or so it seems. The funny thing is being a Westerner and coming from a land that "promotes" darker skin to look beautiful....Products on the shelves like "Quick Tan" and other commercial skin darkening products....whereas here in Thailand, you see just the opposite on T.V., commercials promoting skin whitening products and underlying themes that the girl with the whiter skin seems to get the guys.

I never saw this when I was in Bangkok, but then Bangkok is a bit more upscale and westernized than southern Thailand. But, I'm assured by my friends here in the south who have more Thailand travel time under their belts, that the white powdery faces are everywhere in Thailand and certainly not restricted to the less civilized south.

Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The old: “God I’m bored, but I still wanna post something” hoopla…

  • Do not eat natural foods. I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes.
  • When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
  • The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.
  • Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
  • There are two kinds of pedestrians: the quick and the dead (this is REALLY true in southeast Asia).
  • Life is sexually transmitted.
  • An unbreakable toy is useful for breaking other toys.
  • If quitters never win, and winners never quit, then who is the fool who said, "Quit while you're ahead?"
  • Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
  • The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
  • Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach that person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for months.
  • Some people are like Slinkies: not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs.
  • Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.
  • Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder, no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?
  • All of us could take a lesson from the weather: It pays no attention to criticism.
  • Why does a slight tax increase cost you $2500 while a substantial tax cut saves you $25?
  • In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.
  • How is it one careless match can start a forest fire but it takes the whole box to start a campfire?

[Thanks to Deb, aka: Midnight lace]


Friday, October 01, 2004

Malacca...The Damn Truth!
This photo of the famous Strait was taken from high atop the old fort in Malacca, during my visit to Malaysia in May.
A little history:
The Strait of Malacca is perhaps the most important sea route in the world, carrying over 50,000 vessels per year through this narrow passage that form the main passageway between the Indian and Pacific oceans.
Okay....enough history. Here's the deal...I've got this thing about swimming (or at least setting foot) in the major waters of the world. To my credit, I've swam or set foot in the Philippine Sea, Andaman ocean, South China sea, Pacific, Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. So, it makes sense that being so close to such a famous body of water as the Straits of Malacca.....
Yep, I just had to do it.
Only problem was...dragging poor Annie into my little scheme.
Like a trooper, she went along with my idea, holding my camera in hand, poised on high (and dry) land.
More to follow.....

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