A quick note on technology

Welp, obviously the plan to live blog my SEAsia trip failed. It only took 1 finished post before I realized that typing on the touchscreen keyboard that my tablet provided was just not going to cut it.

pro tip: if you plan to do serious work on a computer, bring something with an actual physical keyboard. 

The good news is, I still have posts coming for you. Just like in the olden days, I put pen to actual physical paper and wrote down my experiences. In the following weeks (maybe months at the rate I’ve been publishing??) I’ll translate my analog ramblings to digital format, and spew them out here for your entertainment. (or utter indifference. whatever.)

Stay tuned ramblers. LAX

Day 1

I know the importance of being prepared. You can read blogs and guides until your eyes bleed, but nothing truly will have you ready for the first time you find yourself in a cab with a driver who doesn’t speak or read English or know the way to your hotel.

Each stop on pitch dark roads will be scary, even if you are reasonably sure their intentions are probably just to overcharge the meter and not to relieve you of all your cash. You will curse yourself for not using google translate to print the directions in Thai.

All the words of wisdom about the hucksters and hustlers in the main tourist area will not make the constant calls for your attention any less jarring as you carry your probably over packed backpack down the street trying to find somewhere clean that won’t rip you off.

When in doubt, just remember the words printed in bold on that most ultimate of travel books, the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. DON’T PANIC.

(And if possible find somewhere with good WiFi!)

Today I’ve done all of those things and will report back how they served me. 

what they don’t tell you about travel planning

This is supposed to be a travel blog. So far there have been small trips, but nothing that really would earn it the distinction of being of A Travel Blog.

And lately, it hasn’t been much of a blog at all…

But The Big Trip is now fast approaching, and I have a confession to make.

I. Am. Terrified.

As a first time solo traveler, I have almost pulled out a hundred times already. I can come up with countless reason why NOT to go, even with the ticket purchased. I’m inexperienced. It’s expensive. I don’t speak the Thai, or anything other than English fluently. The list goes on…

I told myself that once it got closer to the departure date, I’d have every detail figured out. This is not true. Partly because I was procrastinating, but also partly because the trip is meant to be minimally planned. Only rough ideas about where exactly to go and where to stay throughout Thailand, Cambodia, and maybe Indonesia.

That may sound insane, but I had plenty of information at my disposal and had been told that no matter how meticulously you plan your trip, once you get on the road and meet new people with good ideas you will change course. Through it all I had maintained the idea that no matter what, I would be coming home to my good job and safe little life.

Over the previous weeks all that has changed and I realize that absolutely nothing is guaranteed. Learning how to make peace with that and still jump into the unknown has been one of the most difficult lessons of my life.

Stay tuned for updates, because this is actually happening.

I hate, You hate, Red State, Blue State.

They ought to make shirts that say “I survived Phoenix” or “unmeltable” with the Arizona state flag in the background.

We returned from Phoenix this past weekend, in 105 degree heat in a car with no A/C and my only battle scar was one stupid driver’s side arm sunburned. I am, however, now firmly of the belief that the city of Phoenix is an abomination. An insult to nature. A testament to man’s arrogance that we can overcome something so powerful as the heat of the desert sun. (I’m pretty sure the surface of the sun is where people from Phoenix vacation.)

We native San Diegans are not known for being hardy souls when faced with weather related discomfort. 

The mere 6 hours from my sunny So-Cal home felt like I crossed international borders in more areas than just the weather. And not just because of the checkpoints along the highway with border patrol eyeing my beat up old van like I had 37 Mexicans and a couple hundred pounds of ganja stuffed under the seats.

It was a quick trip, but we did get a taste of AZ culture. I can check of Cracker Barrel from my bucket list. I am still amazed that biscuits and gravy (which is a meal….) is a SIDE of just about everything on the menu.

(Pro-tip, don’t ask them for a beer at 8:30am after you have driven all night. They will look at you like you asked to take an 11-year-old to senior prom…)

Heart-attack central

would you like a side of gravy with your water? It comes free with purchase of cereal…

 

But the local cuisine was not what made me feel like I was in a different country. Whilst visiting with family and being told deliciously embarrassing tidbits about my significant other as a child, (Thanks Grandma for ammunition!) some campaign ads splashed across the TV screen.

Asshole Campaign Ad

Overt racism much?

Now, I refuse to put this douche-canoe’s name up here and give him more advertising.

This kind of talk would get you shamed out of the room in California. It’s one thing to be tough on immigration policy, but this makes me feel like I fell into the Dr.Who episode I was watching last night and stumbled out of the Tardis in Mississippi circa the Jim Crow era. Since when is it OK to be against an entire race of people??

The pervasiveness of this ultra-conservative mentality was driven home when while driving I saw a billboard that had a candidate’s name, and check boxes saying Pro-Choice, Pro-Obamacare, Pro-Gun Control. At first I thought it was an opponent to the aforementioned D-bag, then realized this was an *attack* ad against the candidate listed.

(For a second I thought maybe there was tiny, silent, liberal minority, but NOPE) 

All this gets my left-of-center panties in a bunch. (that actually sounds like it would bunch up your panties…) I absolutely hate people who are intolerant and insensitive. Which is a funny thing to say, because I’m hating an entire group of people for hating an entire group of people.

I suppose travel is about perspective and opening up your worldview. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it…

Countdown to Meltdown in 3… 2… 1…

Without starting off yet another blog post debasing myself for a lack of material… YES, I know it’s been pretty quiet on this oh-so-oft visited corner of the interwebs.

That being said, I finally have a weekend trip planned, although it’s not exactly the most exciting or exotic location this time. Boyfriend and I are heading out to Phoenix, AZ to visit some family. Driving. In a car. With no air-conditioning.

hand holding thermometer and heat weather

 

(oh god) 

It’s 6 hours by car from home and we plan to do part of it at night, but on the way home there is no avoiding the evil day star that I assume is going to cook us whole in the tin can on wheels we will be riding in.

I’m not the best with unforgiving sun and 278 degree summer temperatures. Think Irish-guy-at-the-beach, damn-girl-did-you-just-get-burned-by-the-full-moon? level whiteness. So I’m going to grease myself up with SPF 70  like Paula Deen would butter a honey ham and hope for the best.

(It’s never a good sign when your own family says, good luck, Phoenix in summer is “UGLY!”) 

Considering the debacle with the brakes on the last road trip, this is going to be an interesting one. Stay tuned for pictures of tires not just on fire, but probably melted to the asphalt!

heatLasVegas-Phoenix

 

Pray for us Ramblers…. 

 

Happy Father’s Da– FIRE!!

Yes, I know, bad blogger. One of these days I will get the hang of regular posting, but my travel schedule has been a little light. After long festivals I age about 20 extra years and the most ground I want to cover is between me and the remote for Netflix…

Because of the relative sloth that has taken over my existence, I have little post-worthy material… but I do have one tidbit for you all. Over the past weekend yours truly went on a short camping trip up into the San Bernardino mountains, near Big Bear Lake. The trip was wonderful, with lots of friends, food, beer, and puppies playing all around us all weekend.

bigbearlake

photo credit: http://www.interiorsbbl.com

The weather was both hot and cold, with warm days that facilitated runs to the old-school (somewhat janky) water slide near by. (It’s a lot more exciting when you aren’t sure those 1970’s era plastic pipes are up to code…) 

On the way home, with my freshly serviced van, new rotors and brakes installed, packed full of camping gear and two tired, dirty campers, we sailed along at a good pace, having beat most of the traffic. Suddenly, my dirt caked nostrils picked up the scent of something burning. As the car in front of us was a brand new Lexus, I guessed it might be us.

Smoke began coming from the wheel wells once we came to a complete stop. After we popped the hood and there was no fireball exploding outwards (both a relief and a disappointment. Hollywood you have clearly misled us!) we determined it must have been something with the brakes.

Ah yes, that lovely feeling you get when you spend $400 and yet you STILL catch on FIRE, which was exactly what the mechanic warned you would happen if you did not, in fact, take advantage of his services. 

We let them cool and continued down the road, hoping to limp down the hill and get somewhere with a garage. After a short while, the scent of burning rubber once again filled our noses, and we pulled over. This time however, not just smoke greeted us.

Boyfriend yelled for water, and I rushed over to see actual honest-to-goodness flames coming from behind the hubcap… holysweetjesusfuck!  

Once again, my knowledge of cars + fires leads me to believe that a mushroom cloud of major proportions is coming our way. Hastily we put the raging fire small flames out and I do what any self respecting adult who is *ahem* approaching 30 years old would do.

I pulled out my phone and called my Dad.

“Happy Father’s day Dad! … Um, I don’t think I’m making it home to take you out to dinner… my brakes just caught on fire! What do I do?”

Yes, just what every father wishes to hear on the day designated to make him feel special. His progeny in danger of meeting their end in a fiery death, tumbling over a cliff side when the brakes fail…

After some A+, top-notch, Dad-worthy advice from the man that gave me life, we managed to make it down with the car in low gear.

The kicker? After taking it back to the same mechanic they basically said there is no way my story was true. (Now listen it may have been a fun weekend in the woods, but none of the mushrooms from the forest would have made me see FLAMES Mr. ASE-certified-know-it-all.)

Someone is getting a shitty yelp review. And you can believe it ain’t gonna be my Dad.

Happy (late) Fathers Day & Ramble on People!