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

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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…. 

 

Oasis (or more accurately, my failure to generate material)

There is something about the Canyon de Guadalupe that defies words. (However, true to form that won’t stop my from trying. At length…) Located in the middle of an ancient dry lake bed, it is remote, and achingly beautiful. To experience this place with several hundred other beautiful souls was one of the highlights of my year.

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First, the apology, I had such a blast at this festival the camera came out for about fifteen minutes. (I just know you all so *very*, very sad you don’t get to see more of my vacation photos, because aren’t other people’s vacations just the most interesting?! <end sarcasm>)

This trip was different from any other I have taken down to the canyon because it was literally chauffeured. I took a shuttle with 32 other festival goers, and all their gear, from a meeting point near Balboa Park. Our driver Hani, was the best, as was his company City Captain Transportation, which goes across the border and into Mexico. I highly recommend it, and that isn’t just the drinks you get to consume *on the way!* down talking.

… but seriously, you get to pop back beers en route. I don’t recommend trying this if you drive yourself…

Set up in the dark, always fun, was actually not too bad seeing as how I had caved and bought a Kodiak canvas tent. The thing weighs about 50 lbs, but it’s a castle and setup is easy.

The rest of the weekend, which I had planned to document so very well and relay back to you, is quite frankly, blurry and mostly NSFW…

 

I seem to have forgotten the part where these festivals are the places you go to do shit you cannot get away with in the real world… 

 

I will spare you the rest of the vacation details other than to say we hiked waterfalls, danced our asses off to awesome sets, and ridiculous ones too… (looking at you Duckman…) 

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The lesson from all of this? A) No more promising epic posts until they are written, and B) The more fun you are having, the less you will bother with your damn camera…

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