Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Summer Adventures: Nicholas Cage +John Cusack= Twinsies!

I’m going to be honest… I wasn’t so thrilled about taking a night bus that was scheduled to arrive at 3am in some random city in Thailand.
Night bus. Which naturally made me think of Harry Potter
Our last bus experience had been less than thrilling, so KNOWING that we were going to get dumped in a random street in the wee hours of the morning wasn’t something I was keen on. But my fearless travel partner had faith in the good people of Phuket, so we geared up on oreos and potato chips and boarded a bus head for Satun (pronounced “stone” or “sat-uhhn”, apparently either is acceptable). I was running on barely six hours of sleep for the past two days, so I had no doubt that I would sleep through the journey.
NOPE. Wide awake the entire bus ride, and too car/bus sick to read. All I could do was listen to my iPod and watch the desolate Thai landscape whiz by. Six hours later, we were dropped off (again, random street), and a minor panic set in. I will take this time to advise you that ALL buses in Southeast Asia (at least those in Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore) will dump you somewhere completely random. Anyways, back to panic. The 24 hour coffee house that was promised to us was nowhere to be seen. Thankfully a hotel was, so we dumped our bags, headed over to 7-11 for our last ever toastie (gift from heaven above) and camped out on the hotel lobby.
Toastie= British for grilled cheese
Emma, again, snoozed away while I sat on the couches of the world’s most uncomfortable lobby. It was decently clean and respectable, but the air unit would switch between hot air (think 90 degrees F and humid) and cold air (wild artic, dry air). Combine that with my lack of sleep and 2 toasties (ham+cheese and a chocolate croissant. DAMN you, glorious pastries) made for an incredibly nauseous night.
Tuk-tuk ride!
Four hours later, we again paid the tourist price on a taxi fare (which was just pilling up and leading to Emma’s inevitable taxi breakdown… that story is to come) but ended up at the international port bound for Langkawi, Malaysia. And now to load the world’s smallest boat. Hey guys, remember me? Prone to dock sickness, boat sickness, plane sickness, car sickness, bus sickness, anything that moves sickness. Two hours on THAT thing?!? Fantastic. Whaddya know, I would get to experience that last toastie AGAIN.
Satun ("stone"), Thailand
I tried to focus on the movie they were playing. Emma said it was The Knowing and I (again) freaked out. After years of trying to tell him that I really don’t handle scary movies well, the point really didn’t stick until I cried during The Knowing. Huge alligator tears. John was flabbergasted and had to put on FRIENDS while surrounding me with all the pillows, stuffed animals, and comforters we had to calm me down. I am quite the catch.

So Emma and I argued over if it was The Knowing or not; somewhere between the plane crashes, the earth falling apart, and fervent whispers of “YES, it is!” “No, it’s totally not”, the boat slowed down and we had arrived.

Another taxi ride, two hostel visits, an hour of FINALLY using the internet, we were there in Langkawi. Zombie-esque, and on the verge of snapping (at one point, Emma told me she could tell I was breaking and she was scared it was going to come out on her), but we were there. Hello again, Malaysia.

Random side note… if you look at our diaries, mine says “watched Nick Cage movie about end of the world. NOT The Knowing” while Emma’s says “watched The Knowing on the boat ride”, while. Funny thing is, we were both wrong. It was 2012, staring John Cusack. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Case of the Mondays: Sports Day recoup

Happy Monday! For once, not such a terrible Monday for me... we get the day off!! Works out well, as all three of us worked all day Saturday at our Junior High School's Sports Day. We all successfully got tanned, sweaty, and smelly watching our kids race, eat dirt, and have an all around good time. As for me, I somehow got sucked into performing the final dance with the kids. It was fantastic, considering I have NEVER seen or learned this dance before in my life. It was a great time, and the kids laughed with me (more likely at me) as I fumbled through the steps.

And here's the funnies...

I say this A LOT
Finished reading Bossypants in about two days over summer vacation. I am officially obsessed with Tina Fey. And I've got a full on girl crush on Liz Lemon. So sue me. I laughed out loud more times than publicly acceptable and loved every stinkin' minute of it.
The next ecard is essentially my every day life as an ALT... except replace the word "hear" with "understand" and it's dead on.
I have accepted #3 as the headline to the papers after my body is discovered in chopped up bits in my room. But having a bit of cool air makes it worth it.
Pretty much...

after eating all the cake, of course

EVERY TIME!!! WHY is that song so catchy?!??
What I'm spending my day off doing
And that's it for today. While I sit here enjoying the Seattle-like weather (meaning, I HATE this weather. Is it raining or NOT, Japan?? Be decisive already) and genuinely enjoying my day off, I hope you all enjoy your football filled Sunday. Go bolts!

Friday, September 14, 2012

The 30 List: Dream Job

7. What is your dream job, and why?

Ok so yeah, I'm jumping around a bit. 

Well, obviously a job where I can sleep in until 10 am, take week long vacations to travel, AND have weekends and holidays (and important birthdays/personal celebrations) off. 

AND then a combination of the following three jobs...

Cookie baker. Just cookies... I will also settle for cookie/dessert taste tester. The "why" should be obvious- who wouldn't want to eat/bake cookies all day?!??
4th of July Margarita cookies

Writer. I've grown quite fond of my blog. I will settle for blogger... So since this is a "job", I would get paid for writing- something I enjoy AND already do on a semi-daily basis! Plus it would validate whatever tiny feelings of skill I have in writing. I have so many writers that inspire me, I would love to have a following like that.

 Anddd of course, my 24 year old dream... dolphin trainer. And since this is my dream job, it would be on the SeaWorld stage. First asian dolphin trainer ever. 

Anyone hiring?

We've actually been talking a lot about real life and what careers we are headed for once this Japan gig is up. It'll be interesting to see where life takes us and what I actually end up doing! 

Until next time minions... I'm busy having the time of my life!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer Adventures: The Bachelorette Date

After the ladyboy show and gorging ourselves on McDonald’s, we woke early the next morning for a day trip to James Bond Island. Had no idea what that was all about, except for the fact that some James Bond movie was filmed there (big surprise, right? Apparently it was The Man with the Golden Gun). All I knew was that it was in a place called “Koh Phang-nga” and Emma and I got a kick out of trying to pronounce that.
We groggily went through the motions of loading a bus, than a boat, making a note of the most annoying tourists joining us (the winners for this trip by far went to an obese German family) along the way, and laughing about the whole thing.
Bachelorette fantasy date. Yes, I feel shame in knowing this
The boat took off… and I realized “ohhh crap, this is IT!!!! THIS is the Bachelorette place!!!”. It was finally happening, and I was finally in that picturesque place I had been watching Ashley Herbet go on all those dates. The water was a gorgeous green color and the weather couldn’t have been better (a bit overcast, perfect for pictures). The skyline was scattered with impressive rock formations, it was impossible to be disappointed with the scenery. It was exactly what I had pictured when I heard “Phuket” so many months ago, while Emma and I stressed over vacation details, city destinations, and finicky Air Asia prices.
The map of our day's journey
We had four islands to hop around. We were lectured on how to store our valuables, the maximum passengers in a canoe (it was a max of three, but you better believe that the German family tried to squish all FIVE of them on one floatie). We were assigned a “guide”, who would paddle us through the caves and lagoons. Uhhhh what?!? CAVES?!? Emma and I exchanged panicked looks. Both of us are not so great with being submerged into darkness. IN CAVES. 
pre-cave jitters. Jack took the time to paddle us directly under some bats
coming out of the caves
We hopped in the inflated canoe and met our guide, Jack. Emma gave me her usual “I’m really bad at getting on and off boats” speech (which is complete crap, by the way). Anndd we were off! We laid down to prevent head scrape-age from the caves (which got blindingly dark and made me laugh nervously while Emma held off a panic attack) and then the caves opened up to reveal some of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen. We were surrounded by a circular wall of cascading vines and leaves and trees. Cries from birds, monkeys, and stupid tourists echoed in the lagoons. My neck hurt from constantly peering at the ginormous limestone creations around us. It. Was. EPIC.
 Jack kept pointing out rock formations in the shapes of piranhas, elephants, monkeys, and people to me… but I couldn’t understand a word he said. He gave up on trying to pronounce my name and settled on calling me “Lady”. For the rest of the trip, it was “Hey lady, look!” “Hey lady!!!!” “Lady, jadkel helklwh pwinnfg” Yes, pretty sure he said that verbatim to me.

We (and by “we”, I mean Jack. Emma and I sat like princesses on the canoe, not having to do anything but snap pictures and take it all in) canoed around 2 islands. One of the other islands was the infamous James Bond island (haven’t seen the movie, so none of it had a huge HOLLYWOOD significance to me), and at the other island, we were given the option to swim. We swam around, and then got the canoe from Jack to paddle around it. It was all fine and dandy until we spotted a giant jellyfish… and that was enough for us. 
The man with the Golden Gun
Ok, we knew at least THIS much
Jellyfish beach... and Jack
 When Phuket came up so many months ago, my voiced filled with excitement. “YES!!! We HAVE to go to Phuket”. Emma shrugged and said “Uh really?!? It’s not all that great…” Pretty sure Phuket made the list on the sheer basis that I watch trashy TV and had no idea of what Phuket legitimately was. I now understand Emma’s hesitation, but I am so grateful we dropped the money for a day trip. It ended up being one of my favorite memories from the trip… and it was everything the Bachelorette portrayed it to be (sans my own handsome man feeding me strawberries).  
Ashley's bachelorette date in Phang-nga

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Summer Adventures: My 25th Birthday

I’m going to be honest- on the morning of my birthday, all I wanted to do is throw myself a party. A pity party. I was in a city of untrustworthy people who refused to help unless it had big $$$ attached, in a place that was worlds apart from what I had imagined. I rationalized that it was MY birthday and if I wanted to wallow in the hotel room with A/C and English movies, then so be it.

However, Emma had other plans. Better plans, might I add. If we had
  done MY plan, we would have missed out on what was an incredible day (one of my favorites of the trip).

She got dressed and sat there, ready to go, while I dallied around  with what outfit to wear, dragging my feet everywhere (yes, I’m sure I was a REAL joy at this point). When we finally left, we were met with the blazing sun and the city’s dirt and grime only amplified by the light of day. I wrinkled my nose at the smell of pickled fruits, pungent body odor, and the overwhelming stench of sewer. I yearned for the comfort of A/C again. Somehow, we found our way to Patong Beach.

Public bus to Patong Beach, taken by the Japanese tourists
On the bus, we met Japanese tourists (Emma got to practice her Japanese) AND a girl from Auburn, California. When we arrived, we saw a sight for sore eyes: Burger King. I don’t think I had seen one since I left America and BK is Emma’s all time favorite fast food.
Naturally, we had lunch there.

The day unfolded quite well after that, we managed to book an elephant
  trekking trip for later that day (we dropped the “But it’s my birthdayyyy” line for discounts as much as possible), a lady boy show for that evening, and a day trip to Phang-nga for the next day. Add in a CRAP LOAD of shopping- I went a bit overboard, using the “it’s my birthday” line as my excuse.

Me, Jack, Doo-doo and Emma.
Elephant trekking was incredible. I could drown on and on about how amazing it was, but I’m sure the pictures speak for themselves. I was quite certain that Emma or I or both of us would fall off the bench at some point in the ride. Fresh sunscreen, leather seats, and the blazing sun make for a mini-swimming pool under your legs. We slid around, at the mercy of Ryo-ryo (or Doo-doo if you want to be a ridiculous tourist like me). It wasn’t until we were headed back to the loading docks that Jack (our elephant wrangler/trainer) said “Oh shoot, I forgot about your safety belt!” and threw us a rope to tie us into the seats. Nice.
Sans the safety belt
The lady boy show left me speechless and gasping for air. No, not  because I was in awe at the incredible talent and choreography, but rather because I was amazed by the fact that “dancers” (yes,
quotations were necessary for that word) make a living off these shows AND THAT I WAS ONE OF THE PUTZES who paid for a ticket. Pretty sure me, and six other of the least musically and dance inclined people would have put on a better show. Half the “dancers” had a dead-pan face (or a “I- would- rather- be- plucked- hairless- than- be- HERE” pained expression on their face) and the other half decided to give their middle finger to the choreography and just made up their own dance on the spot. The costumes and backdrops were elaborate… the ladyboys were not. It was entertainment in itself, butttt not for the reasons you would expect. Best ab work out I’ve ever gotten.

In the lobby of the Ladyboy show
We ended the night with bags of stuff, sore stomachs, a sunburn, and amazing pictures. The cherry on top? McDonald’s was delivered to our hotel and we had a wine cooler to celebrate my 25th year in existence. Pretty amazing birthday, indeed.
Happy 25th to me!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Summer Adventures: Leaving Paradise and the Journey from HELL

                So the whole reasoning and timing of our arrival in Koh Phang-an was for the notorious FULL MOON PARTY. Emma couldn’t be more excited and she raved insane reviews of last year’s events. Annd on the morning of the Full Moon Party, my dear travel partner woke with a nasty stomach virus. Not to be taken down by some silly urge to throw up every minute, Emma painted her body in the customary neon paint. We geared up to face the crowds, but I had NOOO idea what kind of “crowds” we were in for. 
No stomach virus brings down EMMA JACKSON!
                The beach was packed as if never before. Literally, wall-to-wall with people. I was used as a stepping stone for a 300 pound (sweaty, tub of lard) man. I was used as a steadying post for many drunken passer-byers. I was used as a towel for people to wipe their dirty, grimy hands on. After about .02 seconds of this madness, I was over it. I was disgusted by the amount of people (I couldn’t get fresh oxygen), and wanted to make it all go away. Unfortunately, our hotel required a trek across the beach. There literally was no other way. Even more unfortunately, the beach was SO PACKED that we were forced down to the shoreline. About two feet into the ocean, men were spaced three feet apart. All facing the same direction… and all of them were urinating. For miles, you could see them staggered out. Not to say that girls weren’t doing the exact same thing. Uhhh yeah, time to go home. And then… the most horrific thing happened. A wave washed on my feet and I screamed a blood curling hyena cry. People probably thought I was being stabbed. I turned to Emma and yelled “Well, my feet just got washed in TOILET!!!”
                Gross. Over it. And I, for one, do NOT recommend the FULL MOON PARTY
Remnants of neon paint still on my body
  We spent the next day recovering from the emotional trauma and planning our travels to the next destination: Phuket. We would be in Phuket for my birthday, and to be honest… it was more than exciting to me. You see, when I pictured what Phuket would be like, I saw Ashley the Bachelorette on her amazing dates with breathtaking views. I saw emerald seas and sandy beaches and picturesque cozy towns. 

What I didn’t see was being kicked off a bus at 11:30PM (our scheduled arrival was 7:30pm), into a dark, grimy, dirty alleyway with ladyboys who were trying to con us into the only lit building for miles. What I didn’t forsee was having NO TAXIS at this time of night and having no way to get to the hotel we pre-paid. What I didn’t see was a 15 hour journey (which should have taken maybe 10 hours) that ended in Emma and I BOTH fighting away tears and a MAJOR freak out session when two guys tried to get us into their unmarked “taxi”.
but imagine it at midnight
 But I’ve been told that I have the tendency to turn molehills into mountains, so I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as I am telling it. 

It ended up working out ok. We paid double the amount for a 7 minute taxi ride (in which I sat at attention, mentally noting our route and the major streets we were passing, just in case we needed to make a run for it) in order to have a female escort with us. No joke, Emma and I reviewed self-defense moves and where to hit/punch guys [all you need is Miss Congeniality... and to S.I.N.G.] before we got in the car. I also pointed out our whistles attached to our backpacks. 

After being told repeatedly by your roommates that “you will, in fact, be raped and/or murdered on this trip” for the past month, you start to feel a little nervous. Combine that with my father’s overprotective and paranoid nature and I. was. A. MESS. 

But we survived. Rape and murder free. And that was how we rang in midnight of my birthday.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Case of the Mondays: Scherbatsky the Avenger

Srsly. I heard Bob Saget's voice
Last week, Emma and I went to go see The Avengers. I liked it more than others... I sat there with a ridiculously big grin on my face and clapped/laughed/cheered shamlessly out LOUD while Emma took a nappy-nap through the loudest action scenes in the movie. Run-on sentence much? But really, Robin Scherbatsky on The Avengers? I didn't buy it.
 I realize that is the second time in a row that my caption has said "Seriously". But honestly... we don't always agree on Politics. I've finally had to hide some people from my newsfeed because of the [how do I say this correctly?] nonsense they were posting. You're really not going to change anyone's views from freaking Facebook.
Can't blame him
My thoughts exactly.
 Some of you may know how much it pains me to post that ^ on my blog. But it is so funny, it had to be done

I totally do this
To all the ALTs who are spending this week slaving over skits and student speeches, I feel yah. Happy Monday.

To all you stateside friends... Happy Sunday, you lucky duck you. And thanks for reading.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Summer Adventures: Koh Phang-an continued

The next couple days were paradise. We ate lunch on the beach, bathed in the crystal clear, perfectly lukewarm waters of the beach [only slight drawback: be careful of the sea lice!]. We found a restaurant that showed FRIENDS continuously (yep, our new favorite place), shopped till we dropped, met new friends, ran into old (ok, ran into ONE of Emma’s friends. But across the world and on a beach full of hundreds of people? That’s a pretty impressive find). They were glorious days. I think one of my favorite (if not THE favorite) experience was the boat trip we took.
new friends + Cat, Emma's friend from home
            We knew we wanted some sort of excursion, something that included lunch (obviously) and awesomeness. We booked the cheapest boat trip we could find and headed down to the beach early in the morning. After carrying our stuff above our head through four feet of water, we boarded the monster ship in the bay. We were treated to different beaches around the island, snorkeling (I will now fully disclose that I SUCK at treading water. This fact sometimes taints the first few moments of snorkeling in PANIC), authentic pad thai on the beach, sunbathing on Bottle Beach, and ended on a “hike” to the waterfall. Well, it’s not really a hike if you can do it in a bathing suit and flip flops, right? The trip was all-inclusive of bottled water, spirits, fresh fruit, and freshly cooked onion rings (best I’ve ever had). Also included: the most interesting gathering of people. There were the old couple (ok not OLD, but on an island of 20 year olds, it’s quite easy to be old there) who rudely shouted at the driver because she couldn’t understand him. There were the teachers on summer break (seemed to be most people’s story), and then there were the strippers moonlighting as synchronized swimmers. All made for a very entertaining day.
We're on a boat!
            It was an amazing day, but the waterfall was a bit of a letdown. When you’ve been treated to sights of Yosemite Falls for most of your life, other things just aren’t as impressive. They might as well of pushed two pebbles together, poured some water on THAT and called it a waterfall. Plus, the water was the murky pond of my nightmares. People hopped in without a care, while I was the lame tourists who sat on the rock and flicked the water with my big toe. On the hike back, I noticed a small wet brown thing stuck to a girl’s leg. I pointed it out to her, she flicked it off and immediately asked me “Do you think it was a leech?” Yeah, SUPER GLAD I didn’t get in.
Yosemite Falls has ruined my life.
            We spent the rest of the night on an epic quest for onion rings (courtesy of yours truly). We went to restaurant after restaurant looking for a batch of perfectly crispy and savory deep fried rings. Four restaurants later… we were there.
First onion ring place [fail]. Plus we were photobombed
 That's all for today! [ironically, that's the same line I use to end my classes when I teach]. I'm starting to feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of TIME it is going to take to blog all this. If this were someone else's blog, I'm not sure I would even read it. Buttt it's only day 3. Can't give up now, right?!
view of Haad Rin beach