Wednesday, July 23, 2014

And you know what else...

Nerves.... the ones that dance through your bloodstream causing havoc, and general symptoms resembling heroine withdrawals, they are also a culprit.  They initiate writing blockages the size of Mt. Helen. They stop the words from coming anywhere near this blog. A 15-paragraph pile-up of thoughts, feelings, unspoken fears have caused a traffic jam of epic proportions measuring back miles and miles.  It may take weeks for the appropriate authorities to clear the wreckage and alleviate the stoppage. Its those nerves that cause my heart to race once I allow myself to find the recesses of my mind that cause the twitching, asylum-like blank stares.  Those heart-racing anxiety permeated nerves, they suffocate my creative voice until its nothing but a squeak. Sometimes I don't write because I'm afraid my fearful thoughts will bubble out of me, and make loved ones concerned of my well-being. If I let all of those truths, rational or absolutely ridiculous splatter the pages of this journal. And when I say truths, I don't mean that my fears are truths, but the true thoughts, anxieties, and angst coursing throughout this body are real no matter how absurd.  I wont lie, this is a bit of a stressful time, and sometimes the unknown scares me so much I feel the need to clutch my heart and manually pump it, but I also have faith. I have faith that we are competent, talented and wont die in a gutter. I am confident in our ability to make this move work, and for us to find our own version of happiness and success. But it may take a while for the blogging to catch up as my fingers want to fidget more than they want to be a conduit of my thoughts.


P.s. Kyle says this post makes me sound depressed. Don't worry, I'm not. How can anyone be depressed with so many festivals. Seriously, Ohio has a festival for everything. I am just a worry-wort, I needed to express it. I think I come by that naturally.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Can you find the Dobbers?


Dobby, the cutest dog in the world, second only to Princess Aurora, may she rest in peace, felt uneasy about all of the packing we were doing. 10 points to who ever can find our puppy in Kyle's disasterous closet- and no, this closet does not look like a tornado went through it because we were packing, it always looks like this.



The picture of Dobby reminded me of Aurora as we were packing for Chile, South America. She also didn't like our packing and made sure to climb into the laundry basket of clean clothes to let us know. 

And here are some obligatory pictures of adorable Aurora, and Dobbydoos.


Monday, July 07, 2014

Road trip to OHIO!



Day 1: (3.5 hour drive) Brownwood: An adorable little town with a pretty spectacular new family, the Nesses, some of our favorite people in the world!   We made a stop in Brownwood to visit with friends and explore their amazing new house.


Kyle and Dobby taking a nap on the couch after unpacking
We drove through Dublin, the home of the first Dr. Pepper bottling company.
 Day 2: (4 hour drive) Dallas: We don't have photographic evidence of visiting with Kyle's parents, but we always love visiting with the rents. 
Dobby is an excellent backseat driver
Day 3: (6 hour drive) Searcy, AK: We had a lovely time visiting Shara and Mike, long time close friends who have housed on us on past cross-country road-trips as well.
Movie time!



Introducing Princess Kyle: Dress up time with Shara's daughter Addison was fun for everyone!
Day 4: (11 hour drive) Dayton, Ohio.  Home...our new home, at last.











Sunday, July 06, 2014

Fitting the pieces together

I'm kinda sick this weekend. I say kinda because as long as I'm not moving, I feel fine. Its only when I move from off the bed that I feel ill. I hope that it passes quickly, because its annoying being sick. Being sick cramps my style yo!  But as I was in the process of getting sick I realized that sometimes reading my body requires a lot of trial and error.  For example, yesterday, we went to the National Museum of the United States AirForce.  The museum is free to the public and is fascinating.  As we were walking around, a pain started in my stomach.
1st diagnosis: Thirst. "I'm really thirsty. I'm going to go find some water." I say to Kyle. The water fountain wasn't far, and after gulping half a liter of water, my stomach isn't quelled. 
Conclusion: Stomachache. Yep, it wasn't thirst, my stomach was aching.

My understanding husband took me home early without finishing the exhibit. The museum is free so we can visit anytime, and preferably on a day when I am not coming down with something. On our drive home, I felt as if my energy has been kidnapped. My body refuses to hold itself up. Once home, I flop onto our bed, and lay where I have fallen like a discarded rag doll.
1st diagnosis: I'm exhausted and need a nap, even though I have only been awake a few hours. 
Final Conclusion: I actually have a headache which is accentuated by movement.

Yesterday is not my only example of this diagnosing trial and error. At Free Trade Alliance, on Monday mornings, I often got this sensation of restlessness. I would have a hard time concentrating at work, and staying on task. Sometimes it would take me all day to diagnose these sensations. Eventually what I decided that the restlessness had a source; sadness. It wasn't just sadness though, it was grief, and loss as well. I was sad because we were saying goodbye to the future I built up in my mind. Starting a business isn't easy, and requires a lot of energy, time, money and positive thoughts. After Kyle decided not to re-open WARSIM (after the debacle with the tax-man) my emotions flatlined. They remained in a state of shock for a time, or so I thought.

To be honest,  it took me a while to not only realize that I was sad, and then longer to figure out the source of my sadness. I didn't think I would be affected by the closure as much as I was.  WARSIM was Kyle's baby, not mine, but his business was the start of our dream, of starting our own business, and taking control of our lives. It may not have been the ideal, but it was a stepping stone in the right direction.

When we shut the door to that future, I mourned its death, and the loss of that possibility. I mourned the loss of that stepping stone, and path that we were on.

My experiences are not always clear. It took me a long time to realize that I was in mourning, and that I was sad.  But Kyle and I, if nothing else are always in motion. We do not stay stagnate long, and are always need to be working towards a larger, grander goal.  Thats not to say that we will continue to move constantly from country to country or state to state, but that we believe in having a dream and working towards that dream.

Am I the only one who experiences enigmatic sensations and has to fit together pieces of the puzzle in order to understand myself? Or does this happen to you too?


Saturday, July 05, 2014

Yep! We're in Dayton... Ohio

You heard right, the great world travelers are on a new adventure... Ohio. It may not be as exciting as hiking Machu Pichu in Peru or the rock climbing on the beaches of Thailand, but we have both been pleasantly surprised. Ohio is GREEN! As in the color not the movement. There are trees everywhere, big, old gorgeous trees, and grass; green grass! I know... crazy right?  Who knew grass was supposed to be a color other than brown?

Dayton first impressions:

Disjointed! If you're a Texan maybe you could compare it to Dallas. Dallas in itself is much smaller than its metro-area encompasses and is comprised of townships. Dayton is very similar to this. When we were researching I found some pretty large discrepancies when it came to population numbers. One website gave me a number a little larger than 100,000, while yet a different website gave a number over 1 million. What? Which is it? One of these numbers is missing a zero, right?

Nope! Dayton itself is small, but the metro-area is large with at least 20 towns. I know this because I looked up the Chambers of Commerce, and there are 25; that's a LOT.  San Antonio has something like 12 or 13, but for a different reason- we're crazy, no but really. San Antonio's Chambers of Commerce are divided by characteristics like, "Women's Chamber" or "Hispanic Chamber" or even "North Chamber." Dayton has so many chambers because each of its little towns has its own chamber.  And counties. There are sooo many counties.

I don't really like driving around the city. Things that look close, are often really far. I just don't understand it. Within a 24 hour period we drove 120 miles. Granted, we are actively exploring the city, and its townships, but seriously.... thats too much driving!  Gas is killing us as its at $3.75 here.


Another positive is that its been storming a lot, and Kyle and I love a good storm. And one evening in particular, we were blown away as the lightening ripped through the clouds in violent shards of white electricity, its tendrils enveloping the ominous clouds like a fish net being thrown across the sky.  I had been intending to go for a run. Our windows are North-facing and showed none of the onyx-color of the South or the light show spectacle occurring. We attempted to capture it on tape, but of course, our iphones failed to capture the true awesomeness of the event.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Blog Paralysis

I've determined what has kept me away. Kept me away from something that I love. Its fear. Well its a whole host of things including grad school, exhaustion, noise, new job, but mostly I blame fear. More and more, in the day and age of the internet, and smart phones, and connection with the interspaces 100% of the time, no one is anonymous. Health insurance companies deny coverage because of posts on facebook, or job applicants are thrown in the trash because of questionable pictures found lurking on the internets. We are on display all the time, and whether we like it or not our guts hanging out can have serious consequences. When I was in S. Korea, I felt I had a sense of anonymity. Blogging isn't really as much of a thing there (at least as far as I know), and I didn't suspect my bosses would be interested even if they stumbled across my blog (not the least of which because of their inability to translate my verbiage without significant effort).  But in the U.S., it is common practice to do a google search of job applicants, and because of this, I have been paralyzed. What if they found my blog? What would they think of me?  I'm here, I mean, my raw honest self is out on display for the world to see, for judgement, and criticism, but more importantly, rejection. I like me, and I hope that most of my friends and family like me too, but maybe my directness can rub people the wrong way. I am determined to get back to blogging, and I hope that I can find the courage to be honest in a way that isn't too self-incriminating. For now, I have to find the balance between being safe and being real. Thanks for listening friends.

Monday, August 12, 2013

TEDxSanAntonio Video Trailer Contest

Family and Friends in and around the San Antonio area,
Have you ever considered yourself an amateur film maker? Maybe you aren't sure or you've never actually picked up your video camera, but you thought about it in your day dreams over your soggy cereal?  I have an opportunity for you to try out your film making skills to make a 30 second- 1 minute long video trailer for TEDxSanAntonio and win free tickets to TEDxSanAntonio plus become a star! It's true, guaranteed to make you as famous as a rockstar! (That might be a slight exaggeration) Its a fantastic opportunity for anyone thinking about filmmaking to try out their skills with because as we haven't had any submissions, it is very likely that you could win by just submitting!! Think about it!!  Do it quickly though because the deadline is September 1 at midnight!!  Click here for more details.

It's official: The job search is over!!!

Somebody hired me! Somebody is going to pay me in something other than experience. I'm so ecstatic I could jump to the moon using joy as my fuel.
I don't know how it happened? I had set a goal to be gainfully employed by the beginning of summer and when that didn't happen, plan B went into effect; Intern until a job with payment of green is attained (preferably by the end of the summer).  I met my goal! I didn't think it would happen, but it did.

 The thing about job hunting is that its treacherous to the ego. I had started to loose hope that I was worth anything. My ego has had a refill of late from the joy of being hired, but last week, my ego looked something like the mermaids that Ursala in "The Little Mermaid" had turned into withered, writhing creatures at the bottom of her cave.  They would reach out for help as any other sea animal passed, but instead of help they received glares, pitiful and frightened looks.  No one glared at me, or screamed at me, however all the same, I felt disregarded and useless.

I wish that I had blogged during the job hunt because there's a lot of good writing material there. There are so many emotions, its like being on a constant emotional roller coaster.  I can see why after a while, people just stop looking, when you feel like your qualifications aren't what the world wants, its easy to curl up in a ball and close your eyes to the rest of the world. Believe me, I wanted to do that so many times, and I was only in the "game" for a few months. Some people look for much longer than I did. I can't imagine the state of their self-esteems.  And after being ignored, looked over, told that you're not good enough so many times, you start to believe it.  Had I kept a blog it would have looked something like this:

Day 1: I spent 5 hours looking at jobs on the internet today. I signed up for every job search engine ever created, maybe even some that are scams. I don't know what I'm doing...

Day 3: I'm trying to stay organized with how many jobs I'm applying to by keeping an excel sheet, but really its just depressing to look at. I've applied to at least 20 jobs now, and no one has replied yet.  I even applied as an unpaid intern to multiple places, and I'm still not getting a response.  Seriously, am I that undesirable??

Day 10: No one is responding. If I have to write another cover letter or fill out another application, I might murder my computer.

Day 14: I sent out my resume to family and friends with a description of jobs to look out for. Why didn't I do that earlier?

Day20: Someone said they may have a job for me? Sending out my resume to my friends and family was a brilliant idea!! The job sounds amazing. I'm really excited about it.  It's working at a non-profit working with women and their families and I'd be helping to run it.

Day 25: It would have been perfect but it doesn't start for another three months at least. My hopes are a little higher, but still no job....

Day 27: I've lost track of how many jobs I've applied to now. My excel sheet is disjointed and depressing. It just shows how many companies think that I'm not worth their time.

Day 30: I applied to a job on craigslist. It was for a production company and they emailed saying they want to interview me. They want to interview me! No one to date has wanted to interview me....

Day 35: I had the interview. I asked him how I did at the end. He said I seemed nervous.  Thats not good. I didn't feel too nervous in that interview and if I come off as nervous when I don't feel too nervous what do I look like when I am nervous?

Friday: I sent my resume to a contact at the Free Trade Alliance today and we had a conversation about a job opening that might be available. It would be a perfect fit for me!

Monday morning: I got an email from the Production company. I didn't get offered the job. When I get bad news, my immediate reaction is to fall. My legs stop offering their standing services. I wasn't sure I would have taken the job anyways because the pay would have been really low, but at least I would like to know that I am wanted.

Monday afternoon:  I have an interview. My contact at the FTA called and said they want me to come in an interview. I have to find my suit and print out a recent copy of my resume.  From 4pm-10pm I spend preparing for the interviewing.

Tuesday: The interview went well... I think... Kyle told me last night that he thinks I sit too straight and pronounce my words too much like an actor. So I leaned in my chair and tried to have a more relaxed way of talking. I also did power poses from a TED talk before my interview.  Try it, I think it works! Oh my gosh, they're calling me right now. I'm interviewing again tomorrow!!

Wednesday: On Monday night, Kyle and I had worked on a brand for me.  I had a three sentence brand response to "Tell me about yourself." We read that they don't really want to know you, they just want to know what you have to offer. My branding didn't work. He wanted to know me past that. I never know where to begin with this question. I have a quilt of experiences that are patched together randomly.  I think its beautiful and it works, but not everyone sees its beauty.  Some see it as a raggedy blanket that doesn't have matching patches. He seemed to see it though because he's offering me the job.

Thursday: I just accepted the offer. Its lower than I wanted, but I am proud of myself because I discussed the salary and got a slightly better offer. I read that employers respect employees who are willing to have this difficult conversation. I hope that is true.  I'm employed! I'm employed! I have a job!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The last semester nearly killed me

Classes began, teachers were kind, I had high hopes for an easier semester. I was wrong. I was so wrong, there isn't really even an analogy to capture the wrongness of my assumption. It wasn't really my classes that killed me, because although they were challenging they were manageable. It was overwhelming number of things needing attention. 1) find an international internship for the summer. 2) find a job, one in which money is exchanged. 3) Compete in Free Trade Alliance business plan competition.  There was more, there must of been more, but at this point, my brain has stopped functioning. No one explained that brain malfunction would be a side-effect of grad school, nor did they illiterate the draining of energy that may or may not ever return. Grad school is a vampire! But instead of drinking blood, it feeds on brain power and energy, both of which have been fully depleted. I'm running on fumes at this point, my reservoirs are  nearly completely sapped and somehow I'm supposed to produce magnificent products. How, I ask, can I do that without a functioning brain??

So for now I'm an intern. An unpaid intern at that.
Mondays- I work for Hemisphere planning development department. 
Tuesdays-Thursday- I work for the Economic Development Department (EDD). Check out the blog I'm helping contribute to. Make comments! They'll love me if people make comments!
Friday- I work as a lab monitor at UTSA and a TA for a class I've never taken, trying to help students in a program, I don't know how to use. Ahhhh!!!  But I'm paid, $11/hour. Yea baby! I'm rolling in the doe!
My extra time, I'll be spending applying for jobs.
The weekends are mine... I think.... At least in my mind. I plan to do a lot of sleeping. A LOT!

Did I mention that I went to Costa Rica? That'll have to be another post. Okay. I'm off.

Your mission, should you wish to accept it: Go read my post at the EDD, make comments, share the blog, make me look good.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kyle is a sickie

I'm a little concerned about our lives when we are old and decrepit. Kyle's been sick for four days now; we're pretty sure its the flu, but its already the second time in 2013 that he's been sick. He started off the New Year with a pretty wicked cough and now before its even February, he's got the flu.  He had 103 temperature last night.  I knew we should have gotten flu shots.

Every time Kyle gets sick however, I go a little crazy. He's such a cranky-pants when he's sick.  (I'm sure I'm just a ball of sunshine.)  I just can't handle so much frowning so consecutively... If his immune system is this week when he's in his 20s, will he ever get out of bed after the age of 60?  Or will we turn out like the grandparents in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and never leave the comfort of our bed?  Maybe he'll turn out to be like Grandpa Joe and miraculously jump out of bed one day and then we'll have a life time supply of chocolate. I like that ending!

Friday, January 25, 2013

I've made a resolution, just now... so I'm not sure it can be considered a New Years Resolution, but its a resolution all the same. Instead of writing stories as has been my pattern in the past I'm going to use the blog as a sounding board.  That is sometimes I might just write a few sentences about the thrilling or mundane. That is until I have time again to incorporate blog writing into my life once again.

Update:
  • Grad school is half way over... 
    • WHAT!?? Yes, this one year program that I started in June ends in August 2013!  This is my last semester of courses, I have an international internship, and then...I have a masters!
    • My courses this semester are Management Science (STATS), International Fincance, International Economics, International Marketing.  Plus two weekend courses.. Human relations and.... I don't remember
    • Anyone want to give me a job?  Or an internship?
  •  WARSIM has great plans for this year... I'm not sure how much Kyle wants out on the internet so I'll just say, the plans are gonna be great!
  • We are both volunteering with TEDxSanAntonio.  TED Talks are amazing and if you haven't watched them, you are severely missing out. TEDx are locally organized events in the spirit of real  TED. It's a great opportunity to work on something I'm so passionate about. I even wrote a blog post for them. You can read it here.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

How is it a new year again?  How do the years fly by so quickly?  This time last year, we were packing up our apartment in Korea.  It was an arduous process which included LOTS and LOTS of boxes posted home.  Nearly $700 later, it was all sent.  Had we flown directly home, we wouldn't have had to pay even close to that, but we weren't flying home.  At least not straight home.  We were hoping on a plane to Malaysia for our four month adventure through Southeast Asia with stops in England, Ireland, and New York on our way home.  It wasn't as easy as we had thought it would be. Tears were shed.  It was an end to an era.  An end to our time in Korea.  And we would it miss it, but mostly we would miss the community of friends we had formed.  In my life, I've become accustomed to change, and I don't dread it like I might have in the past, but it is still hard saying goodbye.

Here's a brief overview of 2012.

Jan- Malyasia and Laos
Feb- Vietnam and Cambodia
March- Cambodia and Thailand
April- Jennifer travels Thailand with us.
          We visit our friends in both England and Ireland.
          Visit Jen along with other friends in NYC.
          Arrive home to live with my mother and grandmother in the new house.
May- Lots of projects and cleaning
June- Vanessa starts grad school.
July- Grad school = NO LIFE!
Aug- WARSIM is created
Sept- San Antonio Airsoft is purchased by Warsim.
Oct- Grad school is less intense than in the summer, but still has taken over my life.
Nov-.....same same
Dec- Warsim nearly quadruples sales from San Antonio Airsoft last year this month.

As for 2013, we'll still be chugging away.  I'm looking forward to putting my degree to use starting summer time, and Warsim has big plans, big plans.... look out 2013, here we come.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Back to Blogging!

I'm not going to even count the months I've been away.... Its been a long time.

I've missed blogging... I've missed reading updates on my blogging friends....I've missed the process of recording my thoughts, and of having a record of what was going on in my life in a certain month, in a certain year... 2012 is completely remiss.

I had such good intentions.... When we returned home, I'd spend a week locked away with my computer editing photos, writing down stories, editing video.... and then life happened.  We got swirled together with projects, applications, reconnecting, and my life recording tumbled off a cliff.

And then GRAD SCHOOL started.  Summer school took over every waking minute.  If I did anything except study in my free time, guilt curled its way around my soul and squeeze the life out.  Economics was especially tough.  I made an "A," but I'm not sure the anxiety was worth it.  Before one of my tests, I started swallowing air.  My throat had restricted.  The internet explained that these were signs of extreme stress...

I'm now in the second semester of my international MBA and its much calmer.  Its not a breeze by any means, but I have a few moments to catch my breath.  Something I didn't feel I had before.

I still feel guilt at not studying in my free time, and using it to blog, but its okay.  Life is going to be okay.  I'm not sure if I will be able to regularly blog again until after I graduate, but I'm gonna try to update more than I have.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Projects

I know its been a while since I've posted. I've been home for at least three weeks, and my original plan was to take a week off, and then start the editing, writing and blogging marathon. What I didn't anticipate was the amount of work that our new house and unpacking required. I never got that week off.  We hit the ground running as soon as we arrived. Unpacking a house is tortuous, and tedious. I'm pretty sure I'd  choose water-boarding over unpacking this amount of stuff. It should be given the same level of respect and accomplishment as a marathon. Its a monster that just can't be beaten with a special shaking of the controller like in mario cart. It takes patience, endurance, and a mind for organization. Basically, I'm failing at this game the house and I are playing. It beats me into submission every single time. I come out looking like a domestically abused woman. I just can't level up and the more I unpack and take more things out that don't have a place, the more I get discouraged. I've begun to slouch so far over that people mistake me for Egor. There's just too much stuff, and the stuff doesn't have a home, and I don't know where to make it fit in. So basically, instead of facing the house head on, in a face to face match off, Kyle and I are going in on a side angle sneak attack, stealth-like; projects. We may not be good at finding stuff a home, but we're good at making certain things look better.

What have we done???  Oh so many, its hard to count....well, I have enough fingers, technically to count them all, but, really, you don't want a number...(read not enough to really brag this much about but I need something to feel good about).
Below are three of our accomplishments.
1) chalkboards for the kitchen
2) pot hanger
3) makeover on an old drawer


These first few pictures are of the chalkboards.  We went to Goodwill and bought some cheap frames.  I sanded the paint to give it a bit of an antique look, painted the glass with chalkboard paint, and turned old spice containers into chalkholders.   We're pretty happy with them so far.




These next few pics are of the pot hanger which doesn't have any pots yet.  Another find from Goodwill, we took it home, painted it black for a primer, painted turquoise blue on top lightly and hung it up.  I'll put up final pictures of the ladder when its complete with the pots hanging decoratively from its posts.


This last project is of a drawer my mother couldn't let go of because it was from her childhood.  There was nothing endearing about this drawer.  It was simply misplaced sentimentality. But against my better judgement, we kept the horror.  But in order for me to keep it in my kitchen where I'd have to look at it daily, it was decided on high, that decoupage was in its future. It was hideous. I really should of taken pictures of this wooden heinous fiend with aging, curling yellow lining previous to its transformation.  But I wasn't thinking that far ahead. I'm pretty pleased with the finished product, although I'm not sure decoupage is the best way to go for kitchen things that occasionally get wet.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Home at last

We've arrived home in San Antonio Texas finally. It's been a long amazing journey and we're ecstatic to be home. I didn't intend to give up my blogging while traveling but thought I'd be remiss to focus on blogging while I was out seeing the world. There was so much to eat, see, smell, touch and experience, and I kept trying to find time blog instead of experiencing all that our travels had to offer.

For the time being, we are living with my mother and grandmother.  The house is not fully moved into, and so we plan to spend much of our days, trying to transform the house into a livable space rather than a box-occupied disaster, but I must say, organizing is not a strong suite of mine, and the whole process is more than a little overwhelming.

Figuring out what to do with all of our junk!!
 June 4th, I will begin classes for an international masters of business at the University of Texas at San Antonio. While Kyle has plans of his own which deserve an entire post onto itself.  Although our traveling has come to a temporary halt, and we have stopped moving from city to city and are actually settling into the same bed for at least a year, our adventure is far from over. In fact this journey is just the beginning and I hope its shaping up to be just as amazing.
My mom's new house

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Laos 3

Jan 17  We’ve chosen Elephant Village for our Elephant riding tour. It’s an Elephant sanctuary for old and dying elephants and the animals are well cared for and not abused like at some of the other places.  We climb onto the Howda (elephant seat) and set off.  Its bumpy and the seat sways under the elephants powerful muscles.  I clasp onto Kyle as we descend down a rather steep hill.  Whats to keep the elephant from tripping and toppling down?  I almost feel as if I’m at a 90 degree angle. I picture myself being trampled under this magnificent beast.  Watching National Geographic is one thing, but to be on top of a creature with so much weight and power is breath-taking and poignant. I fear and respect this animal more than I ever have before now as it holds my life strapped to its back.

The ground levels off and the line of elephants splash into the river, but I don’t truly feel my most at ease until I’ve switched with the mahout (the elephant expert driver) and am riding on the elephants neck.  Her skin is as rough as sandpaper and as wrinkled as a farmer whose worked in the sun 80 years.  Its so thick I wonder how hard I’d have to pinch for her to feel anything.  I like feeling the elephant directly under me. I can ride with her, moving as she moves, and its much more comfortable than the seat on top.  She continues walking as I stroke her leathery skin. (All of the elephants at the sanctuary are girls, the males cause too many issues- as they tend to do across species)

It's amazing.  Truly amazing.  I loved being on on the elephant, and can only wait impatiently for the next elephant riding experience we might get. 

After our elephant excursion, we head to a waterfall.  The water numbs the skin with a single touch.  Lisa, Kyle and Deirdre jump in anyways.  I happily film and take pictures warm on the shore.













Lisa and Deirdre climb into our bed after dinner for our final goodbyes.  We’re parting ways after the evening, they to Vietnam, and us on an off the beaten track tour.  We chat laying comfortably on each others laps across our queen size bed until both Lisa and Kyle are snoring.  Although we are sad, we plan to meet them in Ireland in April so we know it isn’t our final goodbye.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Laos 2




Our bungalows

Jan 14
Vang Vieng is one cool town. Its completely overrun with drunken, partying tourists, but its situated along a river among the mountains and has restaurants of every type galore.  I can’t help myself.  I love this place.


 We’re supposed to go tubing today but we’re off to a slow start..

We share a tuk tuk- a motorcycle with a cage like cart on the back perfectly purposed for carting tourist around- with an Australian couple, and three German girls.  It’s begun to rain.  I can’t help but pout.  I wanted to go tubing today, and the weather is not cooperating.  We’re going down to the river anyways just to see whats the big fuss.

 Bars line the river.  Free shots of Laos whiskey are given at the entrance of each bar.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this.  Its just a drunken party along the river.  Were I warmer, I might enjoy myself more, but all I wanted was to go tubing today, not getting drunk by four in the afternoon in crappy weather.  Why did I not bring warmer clothes?  Its winter for goodness sakes.

We see the Irish bloke we met last night.  He doesn’t remember us.  He’s been drunk for 30 days straight.  He’s a hilarious fellow, with red hair, and calls himself, “the ginger man.”  He plants his legs, bends his knees and does a funny jig when he introduces himself. He says he has a pain his back, we're pretty sure its his liver.




"side effects to our malaria tablets.  We especially like the oe that says 'breast-feeding'"



Jan 15
We’re staying an extra day.  The sky is clear, and the sun has emerged bright and shiny as a newly minted coin..  We’re going tubing today.  A number is written on our hand in permanent ink.  Tourists, especially the drunk, rowdy ones have been known to take others tubes while they’re at the bars and profit on the deposit thats returned to you upon return of the tube unscathed.  These people, the ones who are drunk before noon, give westerners such a good name.
The water is a bit chilled from the rains yesterday, but I’m ecstatic to be tubing again. 
A water bottle slams into my face knocking my sunglasses off.  Two men standing on a platform in the middle of the river are waving happily at me.  A rope is attached to the water bottle so that one can be pulled into the bars.  I tuck in my growl, and say “no thank you” as they balk that I'm not tubing to go the bars.

Groups of children with baskets are collecting the riverweed.  They eat it after its been fried and salted.  Its like seaweed except from the river.  I can’t help thinking, “shouldn’t they be in school?”


We took a cooking class and cooked four dishes.  They were all fantastic: Penang, Laotian sweet and sour, Laotian pad thai, and a coconut curry soup. 

Jan 16
9:00 am is when were supposed to be picked up for our trip North to Luang Prabang.  They’re never been on time.  We choose a minivan over a bus this time.  It might have been the wrong decision.  Half of us don’t have backings; no support for our necks or heads for six hours.  The road is serpentine and twists our stomachs until everyone in the car wants to hurl.

Without a hotel room booked, we wander around a bit looking for rooms.  We run into two of the Aussies in our van.  With six in our group, we’re able to negotiate for better rates.  Score!  And whats more, we’ve made friends, and we’re going to dinner with them.

Lao Lao Garden is amazing!  Its set outside, under the night sky, with a cool breeze drafting through. Water buffalo is a fantastic meat.  Some of their cocktails use coconut milk.  Unconventional- but delicious. We're coming back here for sure!