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Last post from Bangkok!

Yesterday afternoon I sauntered back to my hotel for a quick shower, to once again head back out within 10 minutes, but within the time it took me to change and shower it had begun to rain. And Rain, and rain. I sat at a table in the hotels outdoor restaurant and watched and waited for the rain to stop – it was too early to rain! And waited. It POURED sheets, and thunder and lighting. Birds were perched on chairs near me waiting for a break to fly away! No, break was coming!

The little restaurant has a 9 inch concrete slab surrounding it from the accompanying driveway and further away, the city street. As I sat at one table, the water started to slowly surround my feet, I was soo busy mezmerized and taking pictures that I hadn’t noticed!
I moved to a table further back, closer to the restaurant itself. About 10 minutes later……….I had to move again -water was beginning to overflow the concrete barrier at the other end of the hotel -which began to flow – towards the restaurant where I was sitting.

Then I begin to see people carrying their belongings assisted by hotel staff – from the lower floors, which we flooding from the ground, to higher rooms.

Finally the entire area where I had been sitting for the past 45 minutes was flooded! Water was only up to the top of the soles of my sandals – but THAT water my friends is NOT the water you want ANYWHERE near your body! So, I stood on the flight of stairs for a while watching the waters rise! And RISE!
The water had not yet breached the 9 in barrier where I was sitting but it had from another direction.

I resigned myself to my room, then a meal and then by the time I went downstairs again to assess the situation the entire lower floor of the building, the restaurant, the reception area – were in over two feet of water; ugly, dark water – which had a few fish swiming in it!

A few of us – a few aussies, Norwegan, English and German sat talking. One of them who’d been coming for the past 15 years had never seen that much water fall in 1 and 1/2 hours – that’s how long it took to flood the entire place!

This morning………..all dried up! or bailed out! Amazing! In case of a repeat I dashed off this morning to complete some errands and of course, sit at starbucks for a spell reading etc!

By the time I was heading back in the taxi from the bank – it starting POURING all over again! By 2 pm I was a hostage in my hotel! So, I took a nap, ate lunch and then finally after the rain stopped I hailed a motorcycle taxi to take me from my hotel to this internet place! Too much water to cross by foot! Not to mention – bacteria etc!

On that note, I see the sky’s darkening yet again. It’s about “that time of the day”! The guys at the hotel told me we may be in for a repeat of last night because all the local waterways are full to capacity!

Life in Thailand. Life as usual ? – just more wet!

I must dash! – love p

 

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Olah my compadres…

As I sit here typing, the streets are beginning to flood in every intersection, on every road, in the city of Bangkok! Earlier, as I ventured out to locate the exact location of the “Bus Stop” where I catch the Airport Express in 2 days time – I noticed some “frantic” activity of street vendors closing up shop; wondering why the fuss – I stopped and noticed a subtle wind picking up and omnious dark clouds puffing up the atmosphere above – yes, rain was forcast even before one drop sauntered down from the heavens.

Not even 2 blocks from my hotel, I immediately did an abrupt Uturn, remembering 3 days ago when I was caught in the last downpour, unable to get to my hotel without the assistance of a taxi, drenched – eventhough I was 1 block away – the water would have been up to my calf had I made the attempt! And, who knows what lurks in that water!!! eeeeks! And so I headed back for my umbrella – just in case!

An, hour or more went by – I located the supposed bus stop, a beautiful 5 star hotel, to find, as I had anticipated (which is a very healthy paranoia in this country where 75% of all information given will be either flat wrong or lacking in some majorly vital way!) that it not only didn’t exist where I was directed, but that the one that did exist, 5 blocks away, was not the one I wanted. Hm? AND, there was no further helpful information offered and frankly, none I would have taken at that point anyway – I will take a taxi!

I swear that touist “misdirection” HAS to be a Thai hobby or sport; I have heard sooo many tourist talk about the same thing………you could literally spend 1/2 a day trying to get somewhere that may literally be only blocks away because of the misdirection!

So, by the time I left the hotel, where my bus stop was not, the rain was coming down in sheets – no, thick blankets! No, how bout, VERY LARGE BUCKETS! I did wait a spell along with the Thais, under awnings as the rain poured, and waited, and waited – and then it occurred to me, “this is NOT going to get better – in fact, it’s going to get worse, as I witnessed before my eyes the water getting higher, and higher and – quick run for the hills!” So, I dashed into the rain umbrella in hand! A very attractive bright yellow umbrella, I might add!

So, here I sit, 1/2 block from my hotel, my pants soaked up to my thighs, the roads outside flooding, my hotel – besieged by rising tides -… What’s a girl to do? but wait until the rains subside and the roads clear. Sheesh! I can already here a slight lull in the rain but you know what lulls are? Exactly! ( the calm before the storm).

While I wait….
Here are some of my life saving tips for surviving as a pedestrian in Bangkok in case you ever venture this way.

1. Take a taxi
2. Take a taxi
3 Take a taxi

Ok ok, this is ideal – but not practical.
So, in leiu of taxis –


1. follow behind the locals – I mean RIGHT BEHIND!


2. allow them to be on the side of traffic whenever possible – so if someone gets hit………what can I say, they should know better how NOT to get hit, I am just saying, rely on their street savvy to keep you alive!

3.crosswalks were only created for tourist to believe they might have a chance to cross the road without fear of being run over – the Thais know – they are in fact, NOTHING but white lines on the road!

4. This also holds true for green lights! They don’t always mean that you have the right of way and that cars, buses, taxis, tuk tuks, motorcycles, police vehicles, etc won’t come hurtling at you from all directions anyway….on that note, dogs here seem to have a very good sense of crossing the street.

5. when in doubt follow a dog

6. don’t cross streets- just make sure everything you have to do is on one block and on the same side of the street! ( which given the crowded, cramped conditions of the shops etc here, wouldn’t be that hard to do!)

Ok, so, off I go into the floods. Speaking of floods! I read in the newspaper earlier today about flooding all over Thailand which has put 140,000 people in the hospital due to water borne illness; and that’s only counting the ones that actually make it to the hospital! It has made7.7 million people homeless AND they are forcasting more wet weather to come!

I think now is as good a time as any to start making my way back home! And, I am looking forward it!

Be well, be happy – p

PS: I hope to do a post blog apon my return, so stay tuned!

Hello!

After spending time in the landscape of an environment not easily expressible wtih words, walking amongst throngs of people, taxis, buses, cars, motorcycles, bicyles, rikshaws (people powered “taxi”), roaming cows, mangy dogs in streets no wider than a small back alley, and amongst a people light and grounded in all this, makes me humbled and grateful beyond imagining for the opportunity to live in such an AWESOME country as the USA! (Understanding of course that we have our own issues)

This has invariably always been one of the greatest values to my wanderings…………remembering how blessed each and every one of us are to have been born in the USA! I could go on and on about the oppenness, the spirit etc etc etc.but I would bore myself – and perhaps one or two of you…(you know who you are…. Sylvia…)

So, recent pictures show different aspects of the preparation for the yearly festival where they celebrate Shiva – the god of creation and destruction. I believe they are celebrating the destructive aspect of Shiva in the form of Kali thus explains why each family has to buy a goat for the celebration and eat it over the week long festivities! These pics show different stages of the procurement of the goat, which is done on the side of the roads where the goat herders gather to make the bulk of their yearly income over a few days stretch . I had one really cool picture of the goat in between 2 men on a motorcycle, not uncommon, which unfortunately came out blury. But you’ll see a few standing tied to the top of large city buses! And others where the goat is giving his new owner a difficult time. And a smatering of other pictures of country life, work and scenery! And of course – clouds and sky.

I am also including several photos of homemade kites that dot the sky line of Kathmandu as far as the eyes can see, virtually, hundereds every day! It MUST be a national pasttime – because it’s daily you can hear near and far in the distance (mostly) boys shouting from their rooftops every time one loses thier kite or gets bumped off by another kite! Soon after another is flying where that one once was!!! Often, as many kites are flying suspended by their owner are equally as many wafting high in the different jet streams ..above!

http://photos.yahoo.com/jphitz

Many of the photos were taken with my new Olympus while riding in a bus from Pokhra back to Kathmandu! Notice how clear and focused they are! I LOVE my new toy!

Wellh, as many of you already know…………..I will be home earlier than planned, but planned for! My “spidey” or was it my “bat” sense told me that perhaps something would go awry -though my visa – was the LAST thing I had anticipated! It’s all good and I am happy I came! Though it is just shy of 1 month it feels as if I have been gone – several and experience has seeped into my bones!

Wellh, my family and friends, the days of your living vicariously thru me, as I venture out to distant lands and exotic locals, I believe, have officially come to an end! Yes, I believe the “poisionous” venom of the “travel bug” has finally worked it’s way out of my body completely thus the desire to hurl my body thru time and space has, alas, dissipated!

But alas, not to despair – just because exotic locals are not on my radar screen for the near future – DOES NOT MEAN that I will cease to be exotic!!!!!!!

This has been fun!

Hope this note finds everyone dangling precariously between joy and laughter – just because life is dangerous and none of us get out alive!

Big smiles and kisses – Love -p

Check out: http://photos.yahoo.com/jphitz I suggest you use the “View Slideshow” option!

So, about photos! What an absolute challenge it has been! YOU HAVE NO IDEA!!!!!!! This is what I have figured out! I am directing you to my yahoo photos page where I have created a photo album!!!! Thailand and then Nepal! I discovered this to be much easier than figuring out how to work with the blog page – sorry.

 

Pokhra……has been incredible! I have taken lots of photos…….been having sooooo much fun with my digital camera! The Himalayas are breathtaking……….and I can tell you now………photos DO NOT capture their Magnificence!!!!! But I tried!


Two days ago I went on a short trek – very short and had to stop a lot! The altitude, the air, the incline…..I spent the night in a “hotel” in a tiny village 1595 meters in the mountains! Besides the fact that the “hotel” had A LOT to be desired the views were breathtaking! To tell you how on the edge we were – there was a landslide that is slowly taking the “hotel” down the mountain; the next monsoon may finally take it away! See photos like being on the edge of the world! That short day hike confirmed the fact that I would not enjoy the 8 hour a day trekking that people do into the heart of the Himalayas! The guide that was with me the two days told me that the treks are at steeper inclines and many people get sick or turn back because of altitude sickness!

I have enjoyed the company of Israelies, Swiss, German and one American; lots and lots of Israelies everywhere

Anyway, life is good. India is now officially off the radar due to the craziness of not being able to get a visa! I still CAN’T BELIEVE IT! But I take it as a sign from the universe that India is NO LONGER AN OPTION for now!

I am thinking of other options since I am in this part of the world……perhaps I will take a short visit in Taiwan – see where my sneekers are made and my watch and my cell phone! Take a factory tour………you know – fascinating stuff like that!!!!


Today went to a Tibetan settlement and said a few prayers going round and round a very large prayer wheel; didn’t think to take a photo? Hm?

I hope this note finds everyone splendidly enjoying moments and everything in between!!!!!!

Love- paula

http://www.therandirhodesshow.com/live/newsletter/09.22.2006.html

One of the major differences that I have noticed here unlike the states, and I am speaking of the east in general, is the hopefullness of the future. I look and see the economies in these countries booming, the middle class expanding, US multinational corporations coming in and opening up shop, and industry and production…etc. Last night I heard a very interesting news report out of Germany that pointed out the US expanding economic boom and record breaking corporate profits….yes, last night. Then I think, why do we see it soo differently. The dwindling middle class, the separation between the haves and have nots, the medical insurance crisis…………….and I wonder………..what are we being told? What are we being told? What kind of reality about the nature of our economy and the “sacrifices” we have to make, will have to make, that are based on nothing more than creating more profit for large corporations and the dwindling resources for our average american. Not only now but in the furture. Anyway, I got this link at my email address and thought that I would share an alternative perspective about the nature of war and the face of the war makers.

I guess the bottom line is that – I want us to know – the rest of the world is doing really well. Is looking toward a future that includes universal health care, real retirement benefits, infrastructure that is state of the art 20th century!

I believe we are being dooped – in a BIG way……..we are being trained to accept less than is the hope and destiny of our heritage and we should be pissed!

Ok, I have a Tibetan Lama waiting for this computer! Feel the pressure have to run!

Pokhra tomorrow!

-p

Beautiful…………….almost as I imagine ShanGriLa ……with slightly less dirt, traffic, pollution and people..but the land itself, the air, the sky, the feeling in the air…………it is quite magical! It does feel as if I have entered a different realm……….or it could be altitude sickness! I’ll let you know in a few days!

The computer connection here is dial-up and I have already lost a longer message, thus i will keep this short.

I love reading everyones responses. Crystal I hope your delivery is as smooth and effortless as is possible! And I will look forward to hearing your progress! Let me know what you have(not that it really matters, just as long is there is life and limb!)

Today I am checking into flights to Pokhra, which is a village at the base of the Himalaya; my original intention was to take a bus to see the sights along the way but after many discussions with many longtime travelers that say that “if I want to risk my life with the buses – along dirt roads that wind perilously besides 1000ft cliffs drops, driven by 19 year old boys who think they are immortal, then it is an adventure, it is better to pay for the 20 minute flight; and the views are just as stunning!” Fine, too many people were repeating the same thing! I figure a few more years on this blue ball would be a good thing!

Hope everyone is well and happy…………..p

Ps: I have figured out how to download photos but with dial-up it will take an eternity! smiles….

Well I just got on line to inform everyone that the ” Military Coup” in Thailand isn’t what we would think of……….the short version is that the Thai people love love love thier King………I mean you have NO IDEA……….and this is actually an opportunity while the prime minister is at the UN to “show” the King thier love……sounds simplistic but it is more show than it is “military” I was out all day all night in the downtown heart of Thailand and I didn’t see one military personal! So, this…….and also I leave for Kathmandu tomorrow! It’s funny because the last time I was here they had a coup too…

Some “bad” news…….although I am just laughing now, which WAS NOT my reaction earlier ………I was denied an Indian visa!!!!!! Can you believe it! Denied! My first thought was f_ _ _ing Georg Bush………then I finally managed to get out of them – that I had “overstayed” my visa the last time I was there!!!! I actually remember that……….I told them it was because I had underestimated how long it would take to get from the “middle Of India to Calcutta to leave”. I remember, at the very most it was 2 weeks and the least 8 days!

They are sending an appeal to India but it could take up to 30 days! Eghads! Welcome to India…….meanwhile it took me 2 1/2 hours for them to tell me that!!!! They are sooooooooo slow, disorganized and SLOW……………My next attempt will be to see about getting my “case” transferred to Kathmandu and see what happens.

My only thought is that it would have been nice to beable to fly out of Delhi and see a little bit of the north………..but I am fine with whatever decision ends up ………I am just kinda throw my hands in the air and say “se la vie”………….

So, yes, tomorrow to Kathmandu! While I stood in line today at the Indian embassy and had the opportunity to connect with a very pleasant American who not only travels in this part of the world, does business in India and thinks that Kathmandu is the most amazing place on the planet!!!! I “downloaded” all his information …..and picked his brain for small details….He has been there 5 times in the last 7 years…….

Ok, I am well, next……from Kathmandu…….with love -Paula

Ok, so this is the scoop……..I didn’t download any yet! A) because I don’t know how to make the pixel level smaller B) no one in Thailand appears to understand what the heck I am trying to do! If any of you know – definitely write me! If I download them the way they are now it will take ages to both download and to view! Eghads! Hopefully soon!

While I write I will say this! Age, my friends, has caught up with me! I am laughing! Not just the tell tale signs of taking taxis instead of buses and tuk tuks – although these I wil do for shorter distances – or getting hotel rooms with air conditioning and hot water, which is more expensive as a ‘budget traveler” – granted, the last thing you want in t-land is a hot shower! Or, that I think 2, 3 sometimes 4 times before I actually eat from a street vendor; which I did the other night with the french women -but only after I found out they had eaten there the night before and were still alive to talk about it! No, my friends, it’s even more telling than all of these. Sit down, it is a little devastating….or perhaps I am just sooo over temples ……so, today I went to this 650 year old temple that juts out the skyline of this little city- the shapes so distinctly eatern – like candy for the eyes, anyways……so, after climbing up very steep stairs to the top once inside there are equally as steep stairs going down -I am talking verticle!

This canadian guy and I were walking around together at this temple and I let him go down first and tell me what was down there! After he reported back, ” just a small room, with no exit” I decided that was all i need to know. I wasn’t about to go down there! 10, 20 years ago I would have been down those damn steps to see for myself! I am just smiling……………..I like getting older…this same young guy climbed back up those steps after my hat that I had left at the top – it’s not all bad getting older!

It’s been very wonderfu to get out of Bangkok. Authaya is much much much smaller I am one of perhaps 5 people staying at my hotel. The city is very clean and fresh and the people definitely more happy than in Bangkok – Today I rented a motor scooter from my hotel and have had a blast driving it all over this small city! People are ” staying back” when they see this white chick riding around – really great AND a great way to cool down after walking all over temples!

I’ve lost inches already, don’t know how much longer my long hair will survive – the temptation is overwhelming to chop it alll of – sooo hot!

I can’t believe I have been gone only a week. Feels like soo long already!

Ok, I am off to meet that Canadian guy at Tony’s Guesthouse for dinner – best food for our western sensitivities – last night I went to the outdoor market -the only thing I can say is that we have such a sterile culture! I could go on and on about the comparisons!

bye for now……glad to know some of you are liking this blog idea! love -p

Yesterday, I thought I might take the river boat from one end to the other, which I did….but inbetween after speaking with a helpful Thai man, who’s english professor was american he summarily decided my days events should include a tour of all the major buddhist temples because “it is a buddhist holiday and a very good day to get good luck”. Well, who am I to say no to good luck! At which point he hailed the neareast tuk tuk, which I had discernly decided against using as a means of transportation, because of the soot from the smog which feels as if it sticks to your skin like a fly paper.

Anyways, how could I say no and after he mapped out my entire route! I only ended up going to 3 temples which was my limit but if I had gone to Wat Po only, it would have been enough. This is the temple that has an enourmous buddha lying on its side. It was built 180 years ago. OH MY GOD! It’s massive! I was awed, breathless, – inceredbible. Words obviously do nothing………..At all temples I donated some money for 3 incensce sticks and a candle whereapon I wafted the incense in the air and lit the candle, wishing peace and happiness for all sentient beings and then put them on the alter in front of the buddha.

Needless to say, I also took a few side trips with my tuk tuk driver to two outlet jewelery empouriums under the guise that if I go and stay for 10 minutes he will get a free gas voucher, which by the way, is only 00.83 cents a gallon! He was with me for over an hour, driving all over kingdom com and he charged me 50 baht – or roughly translated $1.50.

After he dropped me at the pier to catch the river taxi!

Here are the some pictures. So far I have met some very fun people. An austrailian guy who looked Rashtafarian who had been away from home more than a year and a half – mid 30’s. We had breakfast together. Very interesting guy – wild and untamed but very smart and curious…….I wish I took a photo!

I also had another breakfast with a young Serbian man who is in Thai land doing his IT internship and now is traveling before he goes back home; he loves New York.

Yesterday I met a french couple at Wat Po and we ended up having dinner together and lively discussions about europe, politics life etc They are two women who have been together for 8 years and this is their last big vacation before they settle down to have a baby.

I’ve also met a smattering of other fun people a few americans and a very funny Irish kid who just cracked me up!

Ok, this is all for now. I am off to the former capitol of Thailand for the next few days a two hour train ride away.

later….p

PS: I’ll have to upload more photos later, after I learn how to make their pixel smaller!

hi, I am alive and well”, I had an entire row of seats to myself! Slept really well, had dinner, breakfast, dinner between 18hours of flying…….it was perfect timing in ALL regards!

life in thailand is DIFFERENT and interesing, crowded and dirty, and in some ways wholesome and still innocent – and this is not just a projection….Perhaps it’s because I don’t really know – but I suspect that they are not overwhelmed with constant messages of fear, doom and gloom that is constantly being portrayed in the US media; this is actually one of the benefits of traveling – unplugging from the constant barrage of images, ideas, beliefs etc of how we are shown to see the world. Not only this but it is good to see how the rest of the world views life, how they move and express their lives – different than ours – slower and in lots of ways more balanced. The Thais are such a peaceful gentle people. Buddhist monks carryng their begging bowls walking down the street, orange clad, along side the rush of tuk tuks, crazy bus drivers and merchants selling their goods tightly together on the edge of all this humanity.

I moved hotels yesterday, closer to the fun part of the city – Khoasan Road – not ON khoasan – and slept from 2 pm till 10pm! I awoke at 10pm and was ready to go! – I think it’s going to take my body some time to adjust – especially since i keep sleeping LA time!

Thai Land is just as interesting as I remember before and somehow even more so; I am happy to be here – my soul is smiling pleasantly that as my sister said ” I am closer to home” I think she thinks of India as being my other home – little does she know that “love/hate” dynamic that I feel being there. I am smiling pleasantly because I am “free to move about the planet”!I’ve already seen so many sights, had one very interesting conversation with two canadian guys who travel every year to thailand and nepal (who were able to give me LOADS of great info on Kathmandu – by the way, they said that where I am going is completely safe and nothing to worry about. That most of the trouble is in western Nepal.On that note, the same holds true for Thailand,) and as usual, lIfe is asian countries where you barter for EVERYTHING, I have already paid too much a few times for most everything – but I just laugh – a definite learning curve!

Today I am off to get a visa to India, a ticket to kathmandu and buy a camera…….

Ok. interesting………………looking forward to getting to kathmandu………, if I stayed too here long the smog would kill me! I am already thinking to buy clear glasses just to protect my eyes from the smut. and soot. It’s unfortunate that along with all the electronics, foods, style, etc that they have imported from the west -they have not imported SMOG CONTROLS – I can’t imagine what the asthma rate is here! And most are completely unfazed!

Ok, enough for the moment.

later -p

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