Monday, September 19, 2011

Bike MS: Waves to Wine 2011 & Why I Ride (Updated w/ Final numbers!)

The Saturday Super Slugs getting ready to roll: Carl, Katrina, Sam, Tadashi and the team hero Dennis
(courtesy of Phyllis Taylor)
The Super Slugs rode in the Bike MS: Waves to Wine for the second year, although this time the team was more than double the size.  In additional to the original three,

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Two Books and a Website

Well, we've almost done it.  The book is now all put together and nearly ready to go.  Right now, we're just doing one last proof reading, then it's off to the presses!  But wait,

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Enjoying a quiet, rainy night

With the exception of pub street and the beer gardens, Siem Reap closes down by 9 pm.  Tonight it rained quite heavy, so I decided to enjoy the perfect weather and the music of the amphibious animal that is like a frog, but not a frog (and no, It's not a toad). 

Nobody we know can translate the name into English, but after many years of hearing it, we were finally lucky enough to see it (sorry, no photo).  It only comes out when it rains and it sounds like a calming, rhythmic zuzuvela (yes, I know that sounds like a contradiction). 

After spending half an hour out here, I decided it wad high time to crack open a beer and read a book.

Tonight reminds me why I love this town. I'll be sad to leave next week.  It's been a fantastic summer, and I think we've both learned that apartments are definitely the way to go.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My New Favorite Fruits

Mangosteen & Dragon Fruit
 I've always loved the fruit in Asia, especially the pineapple (which I

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Scary Barang

Went to my good friend Kimloe's village today.  It was so remote that I made two kids cry when I said hello!  TWICE!  Am I that scary??  bwaaahaaahaaa

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Enjoying the early morning

Was up early this morning and couldn't go back to sleep.  I heard the temple music, so I thought I'd get up, make a pot of tea and edit the book while enjoying the music.  It's a hot but beautiful morning.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

EXCITING NEWS about the book!

This summer is officially a success: We now officially have a first draft of the book!  It's not in print yet, but Tadashi is posing with the first chapter we had printed up a while ago.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Picnic at West Baray (Lake)

The other day, Sophath invited us to a picnic at the West Baray, which is a lake West of the famous temple Angkor Wat.  We were happy for the invitation and had a great time.  In attendance were Sophath, his wife Dahlin, and their daughter Leak (pronounced "Leah", whom we named), in addition to our new friends DJ, Chhuy and Hong Kong, as well as hong Kong's girl friend.
The picnic party

The West Baray is the largest lake near Siem reap, and the far end has lots of picnic shelters that you rent for the afternoon; they come with shade, a mat to cover the dirt and hammocks.  We were a large group, so we rented two little "rooms", one for eating and one for the hammocks.

As is the custom, Sophath made yummy fried chicken.  Siem Reap has a KFC now, but we had

Monday, July 4, 2011

American Independence Day in Cambodia

We celebrated Independence day with our Cambodian friends, including Sophath as well as Leak and Bun and their adorable son Chan Noriet (aka Mario).

We had a great spread, which was appreciatd by all.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tadashi's Guitar

Tadashi misses two things when we travel: Doritos and his guitar.  Today Tadashi finally got a guitar.  It was only $25 (that's less than our used Cambodian bicycles), and he'll be gifting it to DJ when we leave.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our Siem Reap Apartment

Tadashi and our good friends: Horn, DJ and Sophath
As you probably know, Tadashi and I came to Siem Reap to finish our book.  Since we'll be here for over a month, we thought it wise to get an apartment so we could spread out, have two desks and cook.  Our good friend

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another Night at the Bar

DJ, Sophath & Tadashi
The other night, our friend Sophath called and invited us to "a night of drinking." That can only mean one thing: more karaoke. This time, we charged up the cameras before we left the house.

But first, we had dinner at our favorite road-side stall. The tables are on the sidewalk, and the kitchen is which in a schoolyard. The schoolyard walls make a great shelf for the cook.
Yummy Dinner

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Drunken Holiday in Cambodia

You folks all know how much I love Cambodia, but last night was a testament to that. Our good friend, Sophath, who is like a brother to us, treated us to an action-packed evening.

First, a Khmer BBQ dinner at street stall (Yum!) with Sophath, his wife Dahlin and daughter Leak (pronounced "Leah"; you may recall that we named Leak, so she's a like a God-daughter to us). Also at the table were four of Sophath's employees, De Jay, Hong Kong, Horn and Cheuey (pronounced "chewy"). It was a fun bunch. Sophath brought a bottle of gin and the drinking commenced with many, many rounds of gin and tonics. A good time was had by all.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bike MS: Waves to Wine Ride 2010

Team Super Slugs (L-R):  Sea Slug (aka Tadashi), Sassy Slug (aka Katrina), Suave Slug (aka Carl), and our virtual rider, Ryan (not pictured). Combined, we raised over $5700 for MS research and programs. Katrina alone raised $3600, making her the 40th fundraiser of the 2,000 riders!

We'll be riding again next year in 2011, and we welcome new riders.  To make a donation or join our team, visit our team website.

Below are photos from the 2010 ride: 40 miles on day one, and 50 miles on day two.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Life on The Beach

The good news is that I'm coming home. The bad news is that Tadashi won't be coming with me. Don't worry -- nothing's wrong; we just decided that since my computer is still defunct and I'm getting worn out from traveling, that I would go back home a month early. This works out well for Tadashi as well, because he was really hoping to get back to Ladakh, India this trip. Since there was no way I can go back to India this year, he can now go alone. The added bonus is that I can then help my mother, katch, finish remodelling our kitchen. So my going home early works out well on all sides; it's win-win-win!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wait A Second -- Why Are We Here? (Updated)

You may think that we've forgotten that we're here to do a project, that we're not on vacation. Sure, we are having fun doing parahawking, but despite what it may seem, we have not forgotten our purpose. In fact, in addition to following birds off cliffs, we are talking to people about education. Indeed, our time here has given us quite good material to include in the book. We have also worked out some organizational issues and are slowly catching up on our transcribing, among other things.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Parahawking - Again!

Tadashi and I went parahawking again -- this time for sunset. Although we weren't leaving until 4 pm, we weren't too keen on leaving the Maya Devi "compound", as it was Holi. Holi is a Hindu holiday during which kids and young adults throw colored powder and water (plain and colored) at each other. There are kind adults who will gently give you a tika. Tadashi and I were both blessed with a tika by the Maya Devi restaurant manager, Nani.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ParaHawking! - UPDATED March 11

A friend of ours had told us about Parahawking in Nepal. It's paragliding using hawks to find the good thermals. We watched a bunch of YouTube videos before we left, and were very excited to go once we arrived in Nepal. The parahawking is done in Pokhara, Nepal -- a 7-hour bus ride from Kathmandu. We were able to fly with two Egyptian vultures, Bob and Kevin. The great part is that we each got a falconry glove and were able to feed the vultures mid-air! In the picture at left, you see Bob on my fist as well as Tadashi and Brad in the background (Tadashi's in front). It was absolutely amazing.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Follow-up to Tadashi’s Blog - UPDATED March 11

I thought I should follow-up on Tadashi’s blog, On Leaving Rajasthan. Tadashi and I both wanted to share why we left Rajasthan, but we were not sure how much of the story to tell. While we had heard reports of “some women” in Rajasthan being given a hard time, neither of us were prepared for the gravity of the problem. We decided it was important to share just how bad the situation is there for women.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Waterways of Kerala

Tadashi & I went to Kollam for a tour of the Kerala backwaters; we elected to go by using a dugout canoe. Apparently all the day-trip tours go the same island. Sadly, this tour felt like a ride at a theme park. You know the ride where you’re in a car, and you can pretend to drive while the car goes through different parts of the city/county/world, but really the car is just on a single track that automatically pulls you through the ride? Well, that’s what this tour felt like, except we were in a boat.
Sure, we saw some wildlife;

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Lowlands of Kerala

Kerala is a long and narrow state of India, stretching from South of Mangalore, to nearly the tip of India. It goes inland to the tea plantations in the mountains (gats). We spent about a week in Kochi, in the middle of the state. We actually stayed in Fort Kochin. There's not a whole lot to see here, although it is a relaxing place if you stay away from the famous Chinese fishing nets. Sadly, nearly all our time her was spent in an internet cafe downloading software to fix my computer. We've since purchased "WiFi on a stick"; that is, a USB stick that uses cell phone technology to get wireless internet (made by !dea, if you're interested). With this, we get unlimited wireless thoughout India for month -- for only $10! (Plus the cost of the stick.) We spent that much at the Fort Cohin internet cafe in one week.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Kolkata (Calcutta)

Arriving in Kolkata was a surprise. I had expected a loud, dirty, crazy city. But overall, it’s pretty clean & tame. Except for the traffic. Having been traveling in SE Asia for 5 years now, Tadashi and I have had a lot of experience crossing the un-regulated streets of Asia. In SE Asia, you wait for a break in traffic, then beginning slowly across. You keep a steady pace, and the traffic gauges you speed and veers either in front of you, or behind you. The cars, trucks and motor bikes will come really, really close, but they won’t hit you. The worst thing you can do in SE Asia is to stop or run. Changing speed, stopping or running can cause you to be hit.
But in India, if you DON’T stop or run, you will be hit. So crossing the street here is an entirely different game. We often find ourselves running back to the sidewalk along with the locals.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Edible India

The good news is: we've been in India for two weeks and neither of us has been sick yet!

Talk about no good deeds going unpunished: we think we figured out why we got so sick last time we where here. We like to be responsible travelers and not use so many plastic water bottles, so we bring our own water purifier. Even though our purifier is still pretty new, Tadashi decided it would be a good idea to test it before leaving for this trip, just in case. And a good thing too! It turned out that this purifier -- although it's only been used a few times over the last few years -- wasn't completely purifying the water!

AND, It was the same purifier we brought to India last time.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Finally Back on Track

My computer is finally fixed! So far, almost our entire trip in India has revolved around getting this thing fixed. Unfortunately, getting a new hard drive here in India was looking to be a very bad deal indeed. First of all, it would mean not being able to recover any documents on the hard drive. Second, the warranty tech people here would only install the hard drive – not the operating system. So even then, I wouldn’t have a working computer, nor any recovered documents, and would have to pay for Windows all over again.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Quick Note From Kolkata (Calcutta)

I had a really good blog all set to go about our 3 days in Kolkata. But that will have to wait until later, as the hard drive on my NEW Toshiba laptop has decided to call it quits. That darn thing is only 7 months old!! A similar problem happened to my Sony and I blamed Sony for the problem. Maybe it's time to start blaming the hard drive manufacturer.

Add to that the fact that I can't seem to shake this ridiculous cold, and that now Tadashi is beginning to come down with a cold as well; you can imagine that we're not in the best of spirits right now. But we've been catching up on our HBO and Star Movies.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Karaoke At A Temple

The first time we came to Luang Prabang, in 2005, we met a very nice young man named Sinchan, who worked at our guest house. We would often help him with his English and he would ask very tough questions. He often wanted to know the difference between two words whose definitions were very similar. The one I recall most was when he asked the difference between melt and rot. Tadashi and I had to think for a few minutes before coming up with an easy explanation (ice melts and wood rots).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Visiting an Old Friend in Hoi An

Our only purpose for visiting Vietnam this year was to see our friend My (pronounced Me). We met My on our first visit to Hoi An in 2004. How we met her is actually quite an interesting story. We were originally trying to leave Hoi An the morning we met her, but that bus was full and we had to take the afternoon one. That morning, I was sleeping in and Tadashi went for one last morning walk along the river. He was taking pictures on a bridge when My approached him, said hello and started up a conversation. It turned out she was going to try to sell him a boat ride, but was clever enough not to be obvious about it (usually people just ask, “You ride on my boat?”).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

CAMBODIA: Education and Corruption

I promised this in July 2008, and I apologize for the delay. Once you read it, I think you’ll understand why it took me 6 months to write; it’s disheartening and depressing.

Cambodia is a country where corruption is so ingrained that it is essentially part of the culture. One would not be surprised to find that many politicians are corrupt, but it is shocking to find that some monks and teachers are as well. Even the people that run orphanages and schools for poor children take a cut of the donations. In Cambodia, the notion of a “not-for-profit” is all but unheard of.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Notes on Cambodia – Part I

We wanted to visit Cambodia on this trip because it’s the only country we know of where the children attend school in the summer. We spent two weeks in Siem Reap (the town closest to Angkor Wat) this summer and were able to visit a lot of schools and talk to a lot of local Khmer.
According to Cambodia’s Prime Minister, 50% of that country’s budget relies on foreign aid. On the one hand, it’s good that foreign governments and people are helping this poor country (one of the poorest in SE Asia), but on the other hand, seeing all the corruption and lack of involvement of the government makes me wonder if the aid is a good thing, or just allowing the county to slide by without any incentive to fix itself.
Now I am not trying to be judgmental, but I certainly think that there are some screwed-up things happening there. And after talking to a lot of locals, I know that many Khmer feel the same way that I do.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Notes on the Vietnam Aspect of the Project

Sorry for the long delay in blogging. We are actually home now. We came home 2 ½ weeks early because we finished our work a little early (more on that below). It turned out to be a good thing, as I developed both bronchitis and pneumonia at the end of our trip. (Yay! Another visit to a hospital! We're getting travel insurance next time.) I’m better now except for this darn cold. UPDATE: Actually, it's strep throat. Even my doctor was disappointed.

At any rate, let me tell you about our progress on the project.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Hoi An at Night

Hoi An's old town is beautiful and charming. Part of the old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with French-colonial architecture, and narrow streets that cars are not allowed on.

While we were there, the Miss Universe pageant was beginning its visit to Vietnam, so they made a stop in Hoi An. There was a parade through the old town, so only foot traffic was allowed.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Vietnamese Weaving

Flower H'mong fabric being woven in Sapa

Vietnam has some beautiful textiles, and we were lucky enough to see some being made. One town we visited, Hoi An (in the center of the country, near the de-militarized zone) is especially famous for its clothing. Nearly all people who come here get clothing made. Although we left without custom clothes, we did get to see the pre-process in action.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Trip to Moung Koung

A sweet family in Moung Koung
As you know, we have many friends in Sapa that we made the first time we went there. All of our friends are doing very well, and Hang and Nam are no exception. We first met Hang when she worked at the Mountain View Hotel, where we stayed the first time. She was the front desk manager, and so we came to know her well. (It turned out that it was her husband Nam’s bike that Tadashi crashed, causing the muffler burn on my leg.) We became quick friends with Hang, and she invited us to her room for dinner one night.
We had hot-pot for dinner and it was fantastic. She and her husband rented a little room that was about the size of a dorm room, but with an attached bathroom. Although it was small, they made it very cozy.

The last time we we in Sapa, (3 years ago) Nam & Hang had opened their own CD/video shop. This shop was small, but it was theirs and it had a nice size sleeping room above it.  This time we went to Sapa, they are doing even better: they opened their own restaurant.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Planting Rice in Lao Chai Village

Last week we helped Gom and her family plant their rice. Once again, Tadashi has a great story to tell about this as well.

All of our H’mong friends – as well as most of the H’mong selling to tourists in Sapa – are from the village of Lao Chai. This is a huge village, and

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The walk to a H'mong Wedding Reception

About one hour into our stay in Sapa, we were invited to our friend's wedding reception -- which we had to leave nearly right away for. Tadashi's written a very good description about this on his blog, so I won't try to be redundant. You can read about it

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Finally in Vietnam

After 24 hours of traveling, we're finally in Hanoi. The flight to Hong Kong was 14 hours, then 2 hours to Hanoi. I tried a pair of compression socks for the long flight, and man-oh-man, what a difference! It was so amazing that I'm going to get T a pair when we get back.

We've been to Hanoi many times, but a lot has really changed since the last time 3 years. The biggest difference is

Monday, June 2, 2008

Great News About Our Project

It's official: Tadashi has been approved for a sabbatical Spring 2009 semester to work on this project!!!

And I've been ok'd to take a semester off (without pay) to work on it with him! (Not easy to be non-tenured and given a semester off!)

Although we'll be beginning the project this summer as planned, we'll be in Southern Asia working on this project Jan - July 2009. Freaky, isn't it??

We will begin in Vietnam, in Sapa then Hoi An, before moving on to Siem Reap. Look for an update in the next week or so.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Our New Project

You may be interested to know our plan for this summer. We're especially excited about this year's trip because we're beginning a book project!

We're going to begin working on a book about education in poor, rural, Southern Asia countries. This book will have narratives about teachers, students and parents that we will interview. It will also have background information on the country and area, as well as photos of our informants, the schools and the region.

To begin this project, we're going back to the places that first inspired this project: Northwest Vietnam, to Sa Pa, and Siem Riep, Cambodia (that's where Angkor is).

Our very dear friend, Gom, lives in Sa Pa, so we're going to start the project off by interviewing her and her family. We're also going back to a school in Siem Reap.

I'm in the process of finding a publisher for this book, but we'll see how that works.

I may not do the e-mail list this year, as I have a new blog. That way, I don't have to worry about clogging up your inbox. Anyone can leave comments, and I've set it so that you don't need to have an account or anything. You can check my blog here.

Also, Tadashi has a blog that's been maintaining. He updates it quite frequently with his most recent photos, so it's definitely worth a look as well. You can get there through his website, or go there directly from this link:

That's it for now. Best to all!