Sunday, January 8, 2017

Fat Foot Syndrome

It happened to me. After a long sit on a plane for an obscene amount of time, I arrived in Thailand with elephant feet. I could feel them tingling with tumescence. I had to squish them into my flip-flops like meaty sausage. Later, when I took my shoes off there was an indent carved into my skin, like meaty sausage... I've seen this condition before; in old women with circulatory problems and generalized "oldness" symptoms. They are told to wear pressure socks and take diuretics to keep fluid from pooling in their 70 year old feet. But since I had just been sitting for 24 hours with my feet low I figured I would just walk it off.  After three days of walking the streets of Bangkok I still had these bloated stompers. The older women in the group complained of swollen feet but I never once admitted that I too was suffering. That would just be humiliating!

So I went through my whole vacation with inflated balloon feet, elevating them at night, semi-concerned that I may have a persistent condition, like forever. But after arriving back home to the desert my feet mysteriously deflated to normal within a couple of hours.

tropical foot
(my bones and veins and tendons are buried)                                        
dry climate foot: sinuous

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Great Shrinking Lake of Cambodia

Wet season, Dry season It's a big deal! There is a massive yet shallow lake in central Cambodia which provides fish for all of South East Asia. In November, after the rains, it swells up and leaves the trees and roadways submerged. During these times a fisherman might only have to climb 10 steps up to his house which is perched on stilts. His only way of transportation is his fishing boat. Then as the months progress the lake dries up and almost disappears, causing a river to reverse it's flow and  the folks who live in floating houses to seek wetter wet. The stilted houses are on dry land and a fisherman must climb 30 steps up to his house. Now the rice farmers take over. There is a lot of trade going on.
Great Tonle Lake, Cambodia




This fisherman moves his house to where the fish happen to be, soon the lake will be 1/4 this size

Next Up: Why Cambodia is my favorite

Thursday, December 22, 2016

2016 Cambodia: So Old...Yet So New

From Northern Thailand to Cambodia!
I know that most people think of Cambodia as an unknown nation, a blank space in the world. There is good reasoning for this. Until 1992 this country was scary! Civil war, genocide, starvation, land mines, unspeakable brutality and torture to human beings. This happened a mere 20 to 30 years ago.
Every single family in Cambodia has experienced tragedy and untimely death. They are a solemn people. Yet they are thriving. Tourism is bringing back prosperity and hope and happiness. Siem Reap, Cambodia, home to the famous ancient ruins of an amazingly flourishing past, is a testament to the remaking of a happy Cambodia.
Angkor Wat
This is the largest religious complex in the world, 1000 years old and one of the Seven Wonders. Built of solid stone blocks which were quarried 20 miles away and intricately carved and placed specifically to depict the sacred mountains and the history of the Khmer Dynasty. 





There are other such complexes, although smaller, which have been reclaimed by the Cambodian jungle. These have been practically untouched, unrestored and left to our imaginations. Ta Prohm is such a place. When the jungle is not kept at bay it will destroy all that is put in it's way. A seedling which sprouts in a roof tile becomes a massive tree, sending it's roots to seek soil. What once was a magnificently carved edifice becomes encased in the tree's roots and is therefore the jungle itself.


 Ta Prohm: My favorite ancient site of human endeavor

mossy, ruined, amazing


And then there are the places which make a person happy and proud. This next ancient site is recognized for it's remarkable face carvings of the tranquil and effervescent Buddha. All is well, all is good. 

Beng Melia, Cambodia (constructed 12th century)






Next Up: Cambodia and the reverse river

Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016 Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand


Chiang Rai, Thailand:  home to elephants and jungle covered hilltops


One of my favorite days in Thailand was the playful interaction we had with the elephants. We got to touch them and feed them bananas and sugarcane. All tamed pachyderms have a single, lifelong human companion who cares for them and trains them. The elephant and Thai "mahout" live together and interact daily with each other for their entire lives. Each mahout's verbal queues are unique to their forever elephant friend. These animals are trained to do a variety things.  Some do hilarious tricks and then saunter over to the applauding tourists in hopes of money, which they promptly grab and hand up to the mahout. To touch an elephant is an exhilarating experience. Their skin is surprisingly rough, thick and wrinkly.  Their trunks are powerful and kinda gross.



yes! this elephant painted this picture 


Sitting atop an elephant was not as smooth as I thought. With it's lumbering walk we were often violently thrown from side to side.




Next Up: Siem Reap, Cambodia



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

2016 Chiang Mai/ Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand


Chiang Mai, Thailand: Busy little city in northern Thailand, great night-market and foot massage!





After a few sweltering days in Bangkok we flew north to the mountainous region of Thailand. This is the land of jungle, cloud forests, elephants and opium. Chiang Mai is a densely populated city surrounded by rice fields and subsistent farms. For a few days we mainly explored the rural countryside and tribe villages by boat and by local truck. Crops are planted and harvested by hand. I am amazed by the substantial amount of work it takes to put rice on my plate. There is an eleven step labor intensive process that has to happen before rice is eaten. In the poorer regions this is done entirely without machinery.


We took a boat ride into the rural jungle and waved to local fishermen on the river



Rice fields




 In the city of Chiang Rai we went to a recently built temple (2004) called the White Temple. It was white, ALL WHITE. Tiny, reflective mirror tiles were liberally included in the architecture and sculptures. The thing practically glowed in the sunlight. Again the detail of the design was breathtaking and overwhelming.


wow!
The modern features of this temple complex were strange
to say the least
                                                           



Next Up: Chiang Rai/Chiang Mai

Sunday, December 4, 2016

2016 Bangkok, Thailand

First stop on my excellent trip to Asia---Bangkok.

Getting to Bangkok takes a long time. I mean a really long time! And a lot of sitting. And this time some running. For the first time in my travel history I almost missed a crucial flight. Our stupid plane hit a stupid bird in Salt Lake City resulting in a 4 hour delay and by the time we got to LAX our ChinaAir flight to Taipei was already boarding! Hailey and I literally ran to the international terminal, a mile away, ran through security and then ran to the gate. Luckily the plane was super jumbo and we were the last in line of the 400 people that boarded before us. The next 14.5 hours whizzed by, with some pharmaceutical help, and the fact that it was a "red-eye". The  the next thing I know, after groggily waking up just to eat the 2 full inflight meals, we are touching down in Taiwan and ready to catch another connecting flight which would get us to Bangkok 4.5 hours later. Total travel time: 24 hours.

Once in Bangkok I noticed two distinct aspects: trashy and glorious

 On the one hand this huge city is very crude. Power lines are baffling, traffic is continuous and the driving habits are barbarous. Oh, and the street food! Everywhere!






A floating marked on one of Bangkok's many canals.




On the other hand, this city is home to temples and palaces that induce ornamental overload. So much  gold, so much sparkle. The intricacy and opulence of these structures blew my mind. Every inch upon inch of these temples are jeweled with magnificent color....just overwhelming! Within the grounds of the Royal Palace: 360 degrees of WOW!








And in another exquisite complex: The huge Reclining Golden Buddha


and the various passageways filled with sitting Buddhas

I love the diversity of Bangkok. It is real and urban. Modern yet backwards. The mass of people are hard working and continually busy selling, driving or shopping. The grand palaces and shrines draw Thai people and visitors alike, bringing out the Buddhist in all of us.

Next Post: Chiang Rai, Thailand



Thursday, November 24, 2016

Our Thanksgiving

Tanner and I are on our own on Thanksgiving and since Tanner doesn't care what food tastes like, I decided to be a great mom.... Last night at midnight my work served up a free Thanksgiving dinner for it's graveyard employees (cafeteria style). I grabbed dinner, wrapped it up and served it to the boy today. Yep, it's  a "diminished effort" and a "cop-out" move. Yep, I didn't even turn on the stove today. But I DID get to spend uninterrupted time paying attention to Tanner, which is what he wants the most.









He ate everything. With poppyseed salad dressing. He dipped his pumpkin pie in the poppyseed dressing. Yes, that is so gross!


 

 Then I built the first fire of the season and the boy was so excited that he didn't move from the fireplace for at least 7 minutes!

I am so thankful for this boy! He makes me feel like I am good. He makes me feel like I make a difference in this life. He makes me peaceful even though he is a disaster. I am committed to say that the disasters in our lives make us better. Not worse.