February 28, 2009

Foodie Heaven

The interesting thing is that the quality of food is inversely proportional to the how fancy the joint is - guess the idea is that if you get tableclothes and a/c you don't need good food. The best food is found on sidewalks on local alleys. So today was not a sightseeing day as such, it was more a moveable feast kinda day. And how tasty (and dirt cheap) it is.

The other adventure of the day was in the form of transportation. First there was a fun ride on a river taxi. Then on the way back from the Indian markets, took a tuk tuk - talk about living on a prayer.

February 27, 2009

Jet lag continues its grip

Still having a hard time with the 12 hour time zone shift. Just cannot seem to go to sleep at night - and when I do, I nap - am up in a couple of hours. Yeesh.

Met up with Saf and Hip yesterday - friendly faces in the crowd. Fun time catching up. The adventure of the day was finding a new hotel. There are so many and all the ones I looked into last night were full. Found one that I like on my morning exploration, so set for now. It is just around the corner from my last one, so I decided to walk it. Crossing the roads here is kinda like a game of chicken/dodge ball combo. And it was even more exciting with luggage - good thing I travel light. And oh, just when I think I travel light, my sister has me beat by about 50%. For a 5 month trip - now that is impressive.

Explored more parts of Ko Ratanakosin - wats (so many wats, so little time!) and the amulet market. Also got my first glimpse of the mighty river - cannot wait to take the boat taxis. Off for more exploration.

February 26, 2009

Jet lag

Did really well yesterday and then jet lag caught up with me. Was up at 1am and could not get back to sleep. Groggy today.

Explored Wat Po this morning - the home of the reclining Buddha. Do think that this is my favorite wat so far. It has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand and the stupas! Wow! Have popped into various wats as well, and they are all an oasis of calm and peace in the midst of the city. Lovely.

February 25, 2009

Bangkok Days

Love this city. Love the grittiness. Love the juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness, noise and calm.

Got in yesterday - talk about a long flight, and crashed. Today I explored Ko Ratanokosin with the Emerald Buddha wat and the Grand Palace - words and photos cannot capture the incredible architecture. Have never seen anything like it before and will probably go back a couple of times to let it all soak in. Walked around exploring neighborhoods, and am currently on crazy Khao San road.
  • Monks in saffron robes in hot pink taxis
  • Monks collecting alms early morning
  • Spirit houses on every corner
  • I have seen more Buddha statues today than in my entire life so far
I can see how people either love it or hate it (India gets the same reaction). Love it.

February 22, 2009

Preparing for lift off ....

  • Met up with some new friends for a tea tasting Friday night. So many teas, so little time. While there, I had my leaves read by a leaf reader - what exactly do you call the woman who reads your leaves? Very interesting session. She was quiet for a long time before she started talking - started getting nervous. I have homework from the session!
  • Members of my book group gathered at home for brunch today - good discussion of the book "The brief and wondrous life of Oscar Wao". And we had yummy treats to munch on.
  • Am packed and ready for my flight to Thailand - leaves tomorrow morning. Am so excited - stay tuned for updates.

February 19, 2009


The theme of the month for Feb is "FRAMED". Here are my interpretations on the theme.

February 18, 2009

Recent Reads

My recent reads have been heavily focused on Thailand - not a surprise as I'm headed there in 5 days. The tough part is deciding which books to take along with me on my trip.

1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
My book club read for this month. I loved it. First work I've read by the author, who has a wonderful writing style. Learned a little about the DR - and realize how little I know about the history of the land and its people. The book has some tough subject matter, but is written in a conversational style that I really enjoyed. If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, this book is especially delightful.

2. Life is a Verb
I follow the authors blog, and loved this book. Nothing you have not heard before, but a good reminder to live life with intention.

3. Lonely Planet - Thailand
This is the book I bought to take along with me on my trip. It's hard to pick one travel guide - they each have their strengths and weaknesses.

4. Frommer's - Thailand
The other book that I read and almost bought.

5. Borderlines
Am currently in the last chapter, and enjoying the read. The author has a funny way of telling his story about travels in Thailand and Burma.

6. The Pleasures and Treasures of Thailand and Myanmar
An especially fun read if you are into shopping. Gives a good overview of what to buy where - the deals you can get, and the scams to watch out for. My first time reading one in this series.

7. Travellers Thailand
An excellent overview of the country. A really good place to start if you are thinking about visiting Thailand.

February 17, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake!

They give this expression a whole new meaning at Jean-Philippe. These are examples of custom cakes - they can create anything you desire. If in Vegas, you gotta stop by for some sampling.

500th Post

In celebration of my 500th post to this blog, here are some delicious treats from this store located in the Bellagio(with the largest chocolate fountain in the world!). My sweet tooth just aches looking at these. Yummy.

February 13, 2009

The real reason I go to Vegas

I do have the cutest nieces in the universe. They have grown so much since I last saw them - Bella is 6, and Sophia and Maya are 5. A fantastic age to hang out with them.

Year of the Ox

One of my fave things to do in Las Vegas is check out the Bellagio atrium - they change the display each season. When I was there in January the theme was a celebration of the Chinese New Year - The Year of the Ox. Most of the decorations are made with live plants - the pandas were incredible.

Random Musings

  • Ooh, the new Kindle has been announced. Would love one, but cannot quite justify it
  • Getting excited about my trip to Thailand - 10 day count down
  • Spent the past 4 days cleaning and purging junk from my study. It looks and feels great - so worth the effort - really amazing how much junk accumulates over time
  • We've had several days above freezing - it is starting to feel like Spring!

February 9, 2009

Visual Journal

The first of these pages shows a fun thing to do with all the scraps collected during ones travels.

February 8, 2009

February 5, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

I've been tagged twice, so here are some random tidbits about me:

1. I am an island girl. Was born on an island, hope to die on an island - ideally one in the tropics. It's one of my life goals to to step foot on all the islands on the planet - yup, I dream big.

2. I think Kenyan AA is the best coffee in the world. I love coffee smells in the morning, but find it tastes disgusting. I like my coffee late at night after a good meal. And none of that decaf crap for me.

3. I find it strange that while I was in school in Kenya (KG to High - which translates to junior college in the States), I was popular with both teachers and students. I was always elected Prefect and was Head Girl, and never lost any friends over it.

4. I cannot play a musical instrument of any sort, but think the sax is ever so sexy.

5. I cannot imagine my life without books - to read, to write in, to simply smell.

6. Photography is one of my passions.

7. I believe that it's never too late to have a happy childhood.

8. I am a cat person, though dogs of all shapes and sizes seem to love me.

9. I believe that people come into my life for a reason. The trick is learning what they are trying to teach me.

10. I love children, but have never had the urge to biologically have one of my own.

11. I think of myself as spiritual but not religious.

12. I always thought that I would be a doctor (a dream my Mom had for me), and was in a pre-med program before coming to the states.

13. I love to travel.

14. I used to have many pen pals when I was a kid. There was nothing quite like the thrill of connecting with all those people in far away places on my atlas.

15. I love getting letters and postcards in the mail. Snail mail.

16. I really do have quite a fetish for paper. I collect (really horde) paper of all kinds.

17. After I moved to using fountain pens in the third grade, I cannot write with a pencil. Just seems strange to me.

18. As much as I enjoy virtual time with people (email/phone, etc), nothing beats the pleasure of face to face contact.

19. Chocolate. (Need I say more?)

20. I wear turtlenecks almost year around. Ditto for socks. They just feel like a hug.

21. My favorite subjects in school were biology, history and religious studies (go figure!).

22. There are days when I simply do not get out of my PJs - actually more days that you might think.

23. I love eating delicious meals, but not enough to learn how to cook them. Am much more of a baker.

24. I live by the "one cup rule" every chance I get. This is where you get out of bed in the morning, then promptly jump back in to read for while.

25. Every time, and I mean every time, I do anything physical (hike, bike, etc), my body screams bloody murder for the first 20 minutes. After that I'm good.

February 4, 2009

Recent Reads

1. A Million Little Pieces
Yes, I know there is much controversy surrounding this book, but it is a gripping read none-the-less. Really hard to read at times, but the guy is quite a compelling story teller.

2. Disgrace
One of my Jan book club selections. First book I've read by the author, who has been on my list to read for a while. He writes beautifully. He is able to convey large themes with very few words. This was a really hard book to read - I felt like I needed emotional downtime afterwards, but it was worth it.

3. The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality
Another of my book club reads in Jan. Do you have to believe in God to live a moral life? What purpose does religion serve? If this is the first time you've read anything on the topic, this is a good read - though I do prefer Dawkins. There to seem to be alot of exclamation marks! :-)

4. In the Convent of Little Flowers
I do not usually read short stories - just as I get into the characters, the story is over. These stories are really crisp and well written. Very disturbing subject matter in all but one of the stories that deal with arranged marriages, abuse of aging parents, etc.

February 3, 2009

2009 Book Club Selections

My book club has finalized our list for the year - cannot wait to dive in.

January: 1-Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee, 2003 Nobel Prize, 2-The Little Book of Atheist Sprituality, Andre Comet-Sponville
February: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz, the winner of 2007 National Book Critics Circle, and 2008 Pulitzer Prize
March: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
April: White Tiger, Aravind Adiga, the winner of 2008 Man Booker Prize
May: A Mercy, Tony Morrison
June: The Queen's Fool, Philippa Gregory
July: The Outcast, Sadie Jones, the winner of 2008 UK's Costa First Novel Award, and shortlisted for the UK's female writers' Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction
August: When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris
September: The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery(French), translated by Alison Anderson
October: Proust Was a Neuroscientist, Jonah Lehrer. We'll read the sections about: Walt Whitman, George Eliot, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, and Virginia Woolf. Reading the remaining chapeters is optional.
November: The Secret Scripture, Sebastian Barry, the winner of 2008 UK's Costa Novel Prize, and shortlisted for 2008 ManBooker Prize
December: The Great Man, Kate Christensen, the winner of 2008 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction

February 2, 2009

Only in Vegas

The Miss America contest was taking place during my visit to Vegas. We had stopped to take photos of the Vegas sign, and ran into Ms. Nevada, Washington and Idaho - quite fun. Tried to get a pic of my nieces with them, but they suddenly got shy (my nieces, not the women). You can see more pics here.

Happy Groundhog Day

Phil Says "Six More Weeks of Winter!"

Phil's official forecast as read February 2nd, 2009 at sunrise at Gobbler's Knob:

Hear Ye Hear Ye

On Gobbler's Knob this glorious Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2009

Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators

Awoke to the call of President Bill Cooper

And greeted his handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths

After casting a joyful eye towards thousands of his faithful followers,

Phil proclaimed that his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were World Champions one more time

And a bright sky above me

Showed my shadow beside me.

So 6 more weeks of winter it will be.