Sherry's Tree

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Stuck in Ko Lanta :-)

AHHH..... relax, life is good

Back at the internet on the beach (hour walk from "home") but no one to help me with the photos, so more words....

Finally went on some fabulous diving trips. Highlight was on last dive... on seamonts way out in the ocean: huge Manta Rays that cruised around and over us divers for our whole dive, over an hour, so mezmerizing. It felt like they were the Motherships, coming to take us home???...i took alot of amazing pictures...xx

Two days ago, Catalina, Irene & I went "Jungle Trekking". We really didn't have a clue what we were getting into...ended up going on a 5 hour hike, UP the watershed of a small stream, climbing, climbing up slippery rocks, through the jungle to the top of a mountain. Lunch of fried rice & pineapple. Then slip, sliding down down down the other side, all the way to the other side of the island! We had two guides with us, one was the translator, he hadn't been on the trek before so couldn't tell us before what it was going to be like. The other man "knew everything" about the jungle, to him it was all easy, he walked like a cat on the trails, interesting to be in his energy. In the end, it was an adventure that while we were challenged doing it, we were happy that we'd done it...grateful we all survived without (major) injuries.

We were planning to leave Ko Lanta today but realized that since New Years seems to be Thailand's biggest holiday, traveling & finding accomodations could be a problem, decided to stay until Monday, after New Years...more beer, more Rumikubes. The plan was to go to No. Thailand so Catalina could take a Thai massage course but...we'll see, our departure from Thailand is Jan 13...coming right up.

Cultural tidbits: Thai people are very friendly, kind & smiley. They love their pets, both cats & dogs, take very good care of them. There are 5 roly-poly puppies at the place we're staying, too cute. The food is pretty good but I really like the Indian food some places serve.

Speaking of food, I think it's time for lunch...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

sunny in Ko Lanta :-)

so much to write about, so little time I want to sit in front of the a brief summary of current events:

Catalina & I went to Phi Phi Island, Fri-Sun. The weather continued overcast, occ. rain but it was fun to just kick back & play Rumikubes, drink beer. On Sunday we decided to go to the next island on our agenda, Ko Lanta. Finally on Monday, the sun came out! Today, Wed is quite hot. We found a very nice place to stay, bungalows on the beach for great price($15). We met a woman, Irene from Sweden (yes, there are alot of Swedes here) who teaches yoga so we have started doing yoga with her in the mornings. Good to have group energy. Yesterday we {Cat, Irene and Jara (Thai/Chinese woman opening a bar at our place) }went on an adventure with the owner of the bubgalows, Mr. Wee. He drove us to the Southern end of the island. There was about 3 miles of very muddy, rutted dirt road. Had to get a tow up a hill for the truck. At the end of the road is a national park with lighthouse & hiking trails, nice place. On the drive back we gave alot of encouragement to Mr Wee going up hills & renamed him Mr Whee. The natl park is actually a Marine Natl Park which includes parts of many islands but mostly water (ie.ocean).
I haven't figured out how the park protects the marine life yet. I also haven't been diving yet (maybe tomorrow...sort of waiting for weather to calm down, visibility improve, but also being lazy).

Think it's time for a beer!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Rainy Day in Bang Tao Beach

This is not supposed to be the rainy season but here it is, raining. So at the internet shop hoping to figure out the digitla photo challenge. I'm sure not such a big thing, once I do it.

Yesterday was a nice relaxed day on the beach. Yoga on the beach, hey look at that there's Catalina doing a headstand...where did that come from? And how does she do it sideways? Right now I'm waiting for the shop guy here to help me with the photos which he put on a CD. {later...well, he helped me get one pic on here, that's a start! guess more later}. So let"s see, I can tell you about going to the "orphanage".

Two days ago, our yoga group (6 persons) went to visit an orphanage, which was however, a daycare center. We met a woman to take us there, where they have a max of 60 (52 that day)children between the ages of 2 and 4.5 . The kids are adorable and so very well behaved. They performed singing & dancing for us & they were quite good for their age. Since it is "just" at a daycare center, the kids do have someone to go home to at night (oh darn). However the center is part of a program to serve very poor children from single parent families or parent(s) is in prison & they live with a grandparent or other relation. By coming to the center, they are learning alot of skills they would otherwise miss out on, possibly having no one to care for them during the day. This program, called Child Watch is a way for these kids to hopefully get out of poverty and all its terrible implications (eg sex trade, forced marriages) here. Through donations, the program provides food, shelter and scholarships for education . It costs approx. $150/yr for them to go to school. Also, Child Watch does run an orphanage for 30 or 40 kids. We were very moved by our visit, one of the men in our group decided then & there to "adopt" one little girl & gave money to go toward her education. (photo here). We all gave some amount of money. Check out their website. Give early, give often. They do celebrate Christmas here, altho nothing like our frenzy, one of the songs we were serenaded with was "jingle Bells". Somehow, I doubt that children in Thailand have any clue about snow, let alone a "one horse open sleigh".

Must go for dinner now, more later. love

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Beaches and more

Still on the yoga/snorkeling retreat, 2 days left. We do yoga every morning, followed by breakfastand then the activity of the day.

3 days ago we went on a boat trip to Maya Island where the movie"The Beach" (Leonardo diCaprio) was filmed....spectacular! big rock cliffs surround a huge lagoon (connected to the ocean) with a sugar white sand beach. We arrived early before the crowds, did Tai Chi on the beach. By the time we'd been there an hour, there were dozens of boats , hundreds of people on the beach. But the place is so grand, it has a special ephemeral quality that came though even with alot of people there. We also went snorkeling on the other side of same island for one of the best snorkeling experiences ever...crystal clear water, many, many different kinds of fish, beautiful.
After Maya Island,we went to Phi PhiIsland (say pee pee) which was hit very hard by the tsunami. This isl has the unusual shape of 2 mountainous islands with a sandbar between them. You can walk across the sandbar in 5 minutes but it's big enough that apparently it had alot of development on it...all gone. They are rebuilding rapidly but Julia, our intrepid leader, was there last year pre-tsunami & says its much better now, got cleaned out, although thousands of people died, high price. It's an interesting place, there are beautiful beaches and an intriguing maze of a shopping area, I am thinking about going back there after the yoga retreat is over. Pray for no tsunamis.

Two days ago,we moved to a different resort area,Phuket. Its a large area of different beaches and towns, all very developed. I, personally am not very taken with the area but other people love it . My favorite thing (of what we've seen so far) is the pristine white beaches on islands which only seem to be long boat rides from the mainland, day trips for us. But we can take a ferry to Phi Phi Island, if we decide to go back there.
Yesterday,we did another boat trip to a tiny little island which had white beaches, great snorkeling, the highlight was seeing a couple of 6-8 foot reef sharks cruising around rather close for comfort!! On the beach were hundreds of beach chairs, all in neat rows which the locals charged us $2 apiece to use. By the time we left they were filled with Japanese tourists who looked like they were at a concert.

Today we're having a day off. Tomorrow we're going to an orphanage, children of tsunami victims. Sounds heavy but I lots to learn.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Here I am in Thailand

My first adventure started when I checked in at LAX and Japan Airways informed me that the flight schedule my travel agent had given me was wrong! Instead of flying to Osaka and spending the night there, compliments of the airlines, I was to go directly from Osaka to bangkok, same day, arriving 10:45PM. Seemed kind of scary at first with no accomodation arranged and no way to get ahold of Catalina & others from yoga group. However, it worked out great. As most international flights arrive in Bangkok late I wasn't alone in my situation. First went to taxi stand but then found out about the airport bus into town & thought "that's me" I knew about a street where many backpacker travelers go, took bus there, befriended young Swedish man also first time there on bus. We walked down the street through swarms of people, it was very alive at 1Pm, looking for a "guesthouse" with space. A torrential downpour stopped our progress for about 15 min. Finally we found a place with 1 room left. At 250 BAht=$6.50 not the swankiest, but place to crash after 24hours awake (I don't sleep on planes :-() so I took Swedish friend went on his journey.

I had about 4 hours sleep & got up to the warm humid weather of the tropics. I had breakfast & changed my flight to Krabi so I could leave at 3PM with Catalina etal instead of 645. That taken care of, I had a few hours to kill so decided to take a tour of some sights in a "tuk-tuk" which is a sort of extended motorcycle/rickshaw thing. I found out that it was the king's birthday, a holiday, and as we waited, extra long at one intersection, a car procession went by which was the king going to his palace fora special ceremony! Apparently the king doesn't spend much time in Bangkok as the pollution is hard on his health (duh). He turned 78 this year & in pictures appears much younger.

I did meet up with Catalina et al at the airport, much to their surprise and now we have been in the beach resort, tourist trap of Krabi for about 3 days. Took me some time to get over jet lag & feel human. But yesterday was the best day ever...we went in a 'longtail" boat to 4 islands to go snorkeling. The snorkeling wasn't so great due to bad viz but the scenery is spectacular! There are at least a gazzilion islands out there, amazing huge limestone/lava rocks that jut up all over the place. Some have nice beaches, coves or lagoons. So beautiful. I did take alot of photos and probably they'll find there way here eventually. In the evening, Catalina & I went for massages which are a Thai institution. What a great exterience, lying on mats by the beach, watching the sunset, getting a great massage, all for $5!! I slept like a baby last night. There's alot of negative aspects here (like pollution & poverty... nothing like India...see Mark's blog) but also much to appreciate... :-)

Friday, December 02, 2005

off to Thailand

Hey, amazing! I am at sister Sally's house in Garden Grove, CA. Her fiance, Carl's, computer will actually let me write on my blog! exciting!

Dennis & I went to Quartzsite, AZ a couple of weeks ago. It is very deserty there & beautiful, too. I came over to Sally's a week ago & am imminently, ie tomorrow, leaving for Thailand.
I'll be there about 5 weeks, doing a yoga retreat, going to beaches, snorkeling, diving as well as traveling to other parts of the country. I got a new digital camera for the trip & hopefully I will figure out how to post pictures on here as well as writing about my adventures.