Thursday, May 05, 2005

Scared to death

We just arrived by plane in the south Island of New Zealand (we flew into the north island, at Aukland and stayed in a dorm in a hostel with some other people from Scotland & Colorado - it was actually a really cool dorm, a lot nicer than the one I stayed in in Rome, it had a dance club, an internet cafe, and a restaurant),
Anyways, my shoulders are in knots b/c Zsila had to drive into town from the
airport. .

Zsila couldn't find the paper that showed my proof of having my license renewed so I couldn't drive until we could find an internet cafe and print one out.

Why is that a problem you say? Aside from the fact that she
is already a very scary driver:
1. We have to drive on the left side of the road. (which comes w/ more problems than you realize).
2. It is a campervan
3. There are TONS of hills
3. It a stick - Zsila doesn't drive a stick...

But aside from making everyone in Queenstown infuriated, nearly hitting two people and a black dog - we finally found a parking spot (although I'm not sure you could say we were actually IN a parking spot, but we were at least in the parking LOT.

I really thought we might die, we were lurching and stalling all over
the place! What a day...

Alright, we're gonna go ride a gondola and have some hot chocolate, it's deliciously cool here!


P.S. We were thinking about going skydiving, but I think I had all the adrenaline I'll be needing for a while just on the drive into town, so I think we're going to just take a hot airballoon at Sunrise on Saturday - they provide a picnic breakfast and everything - I'm soooo excited!

Everything went wrong, in Hong Konk by Zsila (my comments are in bold)

i have to type fast, but here's the scoop.

we had a layover in hong kong for five hours. so we got off the plane and took a train into the city then a fairy across to an island and took lots of pics of the skyline. it's all so high tech and definately not lacking in funds. it's very clean and sterile. it's like new york but more high tech. it's also kind of like san francisco b/c it's on a hilly island in the middle of the water. beautiful too!

okay, we made it back for our flight to aukland, NZ and had already checked our two suitcases from bangkok straight through to aukland. so we just had a huge backpack and smaller one to carry on in hong kong. well, as i try to go through the gate, a woman stops me and says my back pack won't fit in the over head compartment. i tried to nicely explain that it did in every other plane that is the same make and model of the one we're taking. she refused and showed me the dinky little basket that i was supposed to fit my bags in which were way smaller than the overhead space. so, then they told me to go check more bags in. julie was in the exact same boat. so, we go to check more stuff. they proceed to tell me it will be $250 U.S. !!!!!!!!!!! uhhm, hello, that is the price of another plane ticket somewhere. we had to pay supposedly b/c of the extra weight. of course we were overweight with luggage b/c we packed for a month in thailand and two different continents (and because we each have bought an entire other bag of stuff!). we both hurredly realized we were about to miss our flight so we just scrambled sitting on the floor in front of the checkout desk with everyone standing in line behind us watching us. (All the sudden it was like we were the only ones, in a room by ourselves, we HAD to figure out how to make it work). we both silently prayed for a miracle. we needed everything to fit as carry-on. They told us to throw away stuff. what was I supposed to throw away. so i started chunking shoes. good shoes! (I had a whole bag of stuff I was throwing away, shampoo & cond., I wripped the pages out of my journal that I had used, so much stuff, I was like what do I no *absolutely* need) then i had a revelation!!!! i pulled out all of the clothes and yelled for julie to start putting on all of her clothes and i would too. I already had pants and a shirt on. well, I then had three more pairs of pants on top of that. we were standing there in a panic just putting clothes on top of clothes. julie stuffed more shirts in her sleeves! (At least Zsila was wearing pants, I was wearing a skirt and had to put on Jeans under it, in the middle of the airport. It was totally nuts. We must have looked so rediculous standing there putting on every article of clothing we had with us, I Looked like a marshmellow! A shortsleeved shirt, several long sleeved shirts, a sweatshirt, AND my Jacket, in addition to several pairs of pants, I was sweatig like I'd never left Thailand.) I have never done anything more ludicrous or hilarious in my entire life in an airport. i passed inspection and made it in the gate without having to throw anythign away. wow!

we sat in the airplane hot as could be from all of our clothes we put on and had to take them all off and repack for our huge over head compartment space we had to put them in. a lady from NZ sat next to us who told us she had seen the whole thing. Man that was crazy. We were laughing hysterically as we sat and waited for the plane. Oh no, we have to go back through and do the same thing on our way home. please pray that we can pull it off again.



The next day in Phuket we took a tuk tuk to kamala, a primarily Muslim community. This is where the tsunami caused the worst damage. All the other beaches looked completely cleaned up with only a few shops on side streets showing signs of destruction where the waves had swept through. However, this spot is just a few Km from the beach where we were & it was just sooo destroyed, I'll have to wait till I get home to update the blog w/ more pics (I'm in New Zealand and no longer have a personal computer & you can't do that at these internet cafes). It was really sad - people were outside of their half destroyed shops, hoping for tourists with their open signs posted. We bought some icecream and a coke for our driver. We also just walked around and prayed for the people there. It was quite sobering. It is just so weird that 5 months ago I was sitting in our living room over Christmas watchin the coverage day after day and then just a few days ago I was standing on that very beach and looking at the haggard hotels - piles of filing cabinets, chairs, and other debris all stacked up outside on the beach with "no passing" signs.
It was a ghostown.
It would have been nice if we could have some of our time helping there. At least we got to leave some monetary contributions...
I heard it snowed in Amarillo, 5 inches. That's crazy - and half way around the world I am seeing the effects of what probably also resulted in that crazy weather.

Reading the newspapers on the plane really makes you realize how mad the world is outside. I mean, I know we have weird horrible things in the US too, but I don't know, the rest of the world can be pretty savage and scary - but mostly - so unpredictable, in the worst kind of way. Nepal was in a state of emergency until a few days ago (the king fired the government, gave himself absolute power, and put most of the politicians in jail), in Laos parents make their children swim across the river to Thailand to beg for money. And it is a *rushing* treacherous river, and when they don't come back w/ enough money they get beaten. In India a priest (in addition to other people) was gorred to death by a bull (which is pretty Ironic considering they consider the cow to be a sacred animal - anything that would rip your flesh to shreads and leave you a bloody, dead mess doesn't seem very sacred to me, but then I'm not Hindu). In thailand a 14 year old boy was put in Jail for putting excess chili powder in a nearly empty bowl (there is apparently a specific law against this that was passed in like 1957, isn't that nuts!).

And that's your world news for the day.

On a lighter note we had great fun the first night we were there. There were about a zillion people out and about. In fact we had so much fun that by the time we decided to look at our watches it was nearly 4 in the morning! How was that possible! There were still people *everywhere* eating dinner outside and everything. It was nuts. That was a great little excersion...

Monday, May 02, 2005

Parasailing in Phuket

Hey guys. Change of plans...
So I was going to meet my friends sister in that country - We left for the Nan airport at 1:30 and didn't arrive in Bangkok until after 8. Yeah, we totally missed our connecting flight to Udon Thani where we were meeting our friend and all of her friends from Europe and her roommates AND there was not another flight that night. I talked w/my friend and w/ zsila & we all decided it wasn't really worth it to go there (b/c we would still have to take a bus from the airport etc.) I was really disappointed at first but we got a *great* consulation prize - even if it did cost us an extra $75 for the plane ticket. We had already called the Baptist Guesthouse in Bangkok (where we stayed the first time) and arranged to stay there when we were still in the airport in Nan. So when we got to the airport in Bangkok - which we are *very* familiar with - I even chatted with a friend I made at PB air the last 3 times we there and he gave us a bunch of pumpkin seeds to snack on :) We went to Thai airways and got our tickets transferred from Udon Thani to Phuket, which took some doing. We got a taxi and by this time recognized our surroundings enough to give him directions. We arrived at the guesthouse a quarter 'till 11, everyone there was already asleep or gone so we grabbed the envelope which already had our names on it from the inbox, stored our luggage in another room & drug ourselves upstairs.

Yeah - an airconditioned room! It was soooo nice. Then we woke up the next morning and headed back to the airport. I finally talked (actually, *paid* -literally) Zsila into going to this really awesome hotel. I mean we are going to be here for ONE night, we might as well do it right, when will we get to be here again. We are staying at a new hotel in Patong - IT IS BEAUTIFUL!!! It is either a 4 or 5 star hotel and was only like $96, isn't that amazing! As soon as we walked in we got first rate treatment, they had us sit down and brought us ice cold cloths and these great iced ginger drinks while they checked us in. Our room is awesome, I LOVE the bathroom, sooo nice - especially after what we have grown accustomed to over the past month. The beach is breathtaking and the night life is great - soooo much going on. We ate two huge hamburgers then laid out by the pool this afternoon. The pool is enormous, like 3-4 olympic size pools placed end to end with all these neat alcoves and shallow places to sit. Then we went and walked on the beach - the sand *literally* sparkles like diamonds, I've never seen that before. It is so beautiful. There really weren't that many farong's (westerners) on the beach, but a lot of local thais - mostly just wearing their clothes (either b/c they don't have swimsuits or they are modest). Hey Dustin & 'Manda - the beach we are at reminds me a lot of that one we went to in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua - only bigger, more touristy, and more pristine. The mountains on the side even wrap around like a crescent - just like they did there. Our hotel is in an awesome spot! I love how they sell fresh chopped fruit on the side of the road and on the beach - yummy! When we were walking on the beach we saw these people parasailing so we decided to do it - I mean what an awesome view - It was such great fun! The thai guys running it were a hoot! We got all harnessed off and we started out just standing on the beach with the big speed boat on the ocean in front of you along with a pile of rope and then as the rope unravels and disappears in front of you they are like "one, two, three, run! And then all of the sudden you are just waaaaaay up in the air looking down at all the clumps of fish - thankfully I saw no sharks:) And then you just stretch out your hands and it is like you are flying high above the ocean looking at the mountains and the beach below. Gorgeous. And well worth the $15.
Then the boys took us back to the hotel on their little motorbike (don't freak out Dad - it was right down the road) so we could pay them. I reeally have to go to the bathroom and I have a feeling this place only has a squatty potty & I am not to keen on those so I might have to wrap this up quick. We just went to this fun bar and had lattes (yes it's 10 million degrees outside but I had a latte). We made friends with the girls working there and I bought a T-shirt. It is called 2blacksheep - it's an Irish pub! But, of course not really. They had this crazy band of younger to middle agers rocking out, playing all the songs we know, actually when we were walking by they were singing "I love rock and roll." Hilarious. These people all look like, well, not a band, and they are all rocking out with their cute thai accents. The played the cranberries - which the British dudes we befriended were singing at the top of their lungs. It was just too much! The weirdest juxtaposition of cultures and environments, and music. So after the band took a break we talked w/ the Brits about how scandelous Prince Charles and Camilla are, how Prince william is probably really so&so's son (princess Dia's "officer & a gentleman"), and how they all want him to be king and think Charles should just move away. It was all very entertaining. This morning on the plane I was reading the Bangkok post - I'll have to bring it home, it was soooo interesting. In it was a lot of stuff about Nepal, Burma, etc. They are so jacked up. Anyways, at one of the little shops outside we met this guy that is Nepalian, grew up in Burma, and now lives here, so I picked his brain about the situations there. I love talking to people from other cultures. I have learned so much this month.

Ok, I had to suck it up at use the squatty potty. It's basically like a urinal stuck flat in the ground and you just literally squat, I forgo to put toilet paper in my purse earlier so yes, I had to drip dry (I know TMI - too much information!) Then you take the bucket from the trashcan fool of water next to it and dump a bucket full of water down so it will "flush." How nuts is that, I'm sitting here typing on a computer (even if the letters are writtin in pink magic marker on the keyboard!) and there isn't even proper plumbing.

Oh, back to the Nepalian - He recommended this place for us to eat - about 20Km south of where we are. So we got in a song tow (and the driver offered to wait 2 hours while we ate and then drive us back, I'm talkin' serious service in this country people - we bought him a chocolate Sunday 'cause he was so nice!) This place rocked! The tables were right on the beach - the beach that was littered with all the little wooden curved fishing boats that had been out no doubt catching our dinner. We walk up and do we get a menu? No we get this cut little Thai girl (and this is ALL outside) pointing at these cement vats filled with water and HUGE fish and blue crabs and she is like - "pick." That's what I call some fresh seafood! I talked to my little blue crab. I was like "sorry I'm about to murder you..." He tasted delicious. As they say here - arroy ma ka! Zsila picked out a white snapper - that sucker was splashing all over the place! (that is until they grilled it with coconut and ginger and it came out as a flaming soup, it was awesome). We shared the two and then both had chocolate for dessert - I had a banana split - mmmmmm.

I cannot tell you how utterly surreal it is to be here. Do you know how absolutely glued I was to the TV over Christmas break... I was completely captured by the tsunami coverage. I remember doing my FP rotation and telling the staff how I didn't know where I was going to go in April but how I would really like to come here and now here I am! God is good.

Ok, I will write more later.

Love y'all!