We Arrived at Seatac (Settle-Tacoma Airport) Early

September 11, 2017

This may be a first. We arrived in Seattle almost an hour early, which is good because the flight was not all that comfortable. Alaskan Airlines does NOT provide blankets or pillows ~even in ‘clasé primero’. This is very disappointing for me because I’m always cold on airplanes. And of course the food as usual, in first class sorta sucks.

I have to say good ole Hawaiian Air is much better, but the bummer is having to going through Honolulu (adding at least 2 hrs to your total time) as opposed to Alaska which flies direct from Kona to Seattle. On Hawaiian Air you get FREE meals, no matter which side of the curtain you find yourself, every bit as good as in 1st class on Alaskan. And by just buying “extra comfort” seats you get a blanket & pillow too. Lesson learned.

So we get to the hotel, just a quick over-nighter till we pick-up our rental car the next morning. Short story – we miss the fresh air provided by wide-open windows that we get to experience every night at home in Waikoloa. Naturally the windows in the hotel don’t open. The AC is either too cold or not cool enough and the only blanket on the bed is a 3-inch thick down duvet. Bottom line:  not a terribly comfortable night.

Nevertheless the next morning about an hour outside of Seattle proper we’re amongst big beautiful trees. The sky was clear blue, at least until we descended Steven’s Pass (less than 5,000 elevation at the crest) where the smoke from the local fires reminded us of the vog at home, ugh!

Still we’re on the open road and we’re managing to cope with the situation among the pretty big beautiful trees, and all of a sudden it got a lot easier:

That’s right, Washington State has pretty much a carté blanche on all things pakalolo, as the sign says. At home I’ve recently been using a fairly mild CBD oil to help me sleep, (Hawaii has legal medical marijuana) so I figured, what the heck and we stopped. Show a photo I’D and that’s all there is to it.

Front Street in Leavenworth

The rest of the day was good and when we reached Leavenworth, WA with a wide variety of local micro-brews and lots of good German food we decided to spend the night. And a good night it was.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.

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Calling All Adventure Seekers ~ “Budget Travel To Destinations Your Mother Would Rather You Stayed Away From”.

June 24, 2017

They call themselves Young Pioneer Tours, renowned and rated as one of the best North Korea travel operators and the one that lured young, impressionable Otto Warmbier to his ultimate death. Warmbier traveling on his own picked up the tour in Beijing. To quote Esquire Magazine, North Korea is not just another piece of pop culture. This despite what adventure you may be seeking or what you’ve seen of Dennis Rodman yukking it up with Fat-Boy. The obvious, stated by The Washington Post is that “the gulag of the Soviet Union, the concentration camps of Nazi Germany — they have been roughly replicated in North Korea. The whole world knows this…and yet the regime lives on”.

 

Young Pioneer’s Facebook page had this to say after Warmbier’s demise:

“The devastating loss of Otto Warmbier’s life has led us to reconsider our position on accepting American tourists. Now, the assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high.”

Ya think? Warmbier, the 22-year-old university student was medically evacuated from North Korea on 13 June and flown to the US. Warmbier had been jailed in North Korea after being sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after allegedly went into a staff-only area of the hotel and tore down a propaganda banner hanging on the wall, intending to steal it. He was returned to the US after 17 months in a state of ‘unresponsive wakefulness’ – effectively brain-dead where he died on June 19th. His parents have elected not to have an autopsy.

Is it a coincidence or are there freighting similarities between Young Pioneer Tours and Young Pioneers under the old USSR? That group of Young Pioneers according to Wikipedia, was a mass youth organization of the Soviet Union for children ages 10–15 that existed between 1922 and 1991. Young Pioneer camp was the name for the vacation or summer camp organized by the Communist Party for children in the 20th century these camps existed in many socialist countries, particularly in the USSR. The adolescents then typically join the Young Communist League. Prior to the 1990s there was a wide cooperation between pioneer and similar movements of about 30 countries, and not all of them communist. There were/are similar groups in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Nepal, Portugal, Sweden, and the US, where individual state districts continue the Marxist-Leninist tradition of supporting local youth chapters including the Texas, New York, Ohio, and Connecticut districts.

Is the attraction for this type of “adventure” the result of the garbage multiculturistic naiveté instilled in young people these days? I’m not sure, but whatever it was didn’t work out so well for young Otto.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.


Last Thoughts, Comments & Photos of Thailand

March 10, 2017

We are home now from our Thai adventure, but there are a few thoughts & many images I’d still like to share before I revert back to the usual conservative political commentary that I normally spew. It was a great trip but an absolute killer two days of flying home. Too damn long in airports and in the air but given the distance I guess it can’t be helped. This will be my last Thailand post.

Imagine dinnertime approaching and you don’t feel like cooking (me nearly every night). I don’t mind cooking, but every night? Ugh! So what if you could just step out your door, walk a few steps (a block or two at the most), and have a variety fresh-cooked, hot & cold food to choose from? You can, street food is everywhere in Thailand!

If you don’t like what you see just walk a little further. There are people prepping and cooking almost everything imaginable along every street from morning till night. When it’s over 90° a fresh squeezed, iced pomegranate or tangerine juice (for a little over a dollar) goes down really well.

Ice cold pomegranate juice

There’s all kinds of meat on skewers; chicken, shrimp or pork either small pieces or minced and mixed with various spices & condiments and then fire roasted. Spicy green papaya salad is another favorite. And there are quite a few unidentifiable choices. You either go for it or you don’t.

This lady has a selection of curries and some roasted pork

Seafood from the night market

Khaw Soi -a dish I made in my cooking class

Typical condiments which accompany many meals

Being in Chiang Mai for ten days (still a city, but much smaller than Bangkok) gave us enough time to find a few favorite spots to eat. One was an open-air restaurant as most of them are, called Ugo. It was a good place to people-watch and the food was great. One of the regular waitresses at Ugo spoke very good English. We complimented her and asked where she learned to speak it so well. Turns out her mother sent her to Catholic school from 4th grade on specifically because they had a rigorous English requirement. I asked her if she was Catholic. “Oh no, I’m Buddhist” as are 93% of the Thai people.

Chicken wings from Ugo

A refreshing & cool cucumber, apple & mint drink also from Ugo

We did spend the majority of our time in cities but also got away a bit too. There just wasn’t enough time but we did visit a village of hill tribes where the people still live in the old way. Following are some photos of the hill tribe people and where they live.

Nearly 50% of the arable land in Thailand is in rice

A Kayan Hill Tribe “long neck lady”

Typical thatched homes of the Hill tribe people

And finally the ancient town of Ayutthaya about 80 miles north of Bangkok and the old capital of Siam, and Baan Thai House, my favorite spot of the trip.

Our room at Baan Thai House. Note the light-leak around the doors. The teak building if very old.

A peak-a-boo view of our cottage over the pond

We had a great, busy three weeks, saw many interesting things and experienced new and different foods, but as always it’s great to be back in Hawaii.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.


Temples & Dragons

March 8, 2017

I could never finish our Thailand chapter without mention of the many, many Buddhist temples. Dragons are another common feature in Buddhist culture. It is said when Buddha summoned all the world’s animals, after the long journey only a dozen made it and the dragon was one. They appear often in the architecture and throughout the temples and are a symbol of wisdom, longevity and supernatural power.

The amazing thing is these temples and Buddha statues are huge, elaborate and beautiful, many covered in gold, but somehow all the sidewalks are a wreck and the electrical wiring -OMG! -a rats’ nest. The sidewalks are cracked and crumbling with chunks missing and all buss-up as we say in Hawaii. You have to seriously watch your every step wherever you go or you’ll end up on your keester. This I know from experience!

Check out this electrical wiring & these sidewalks.

 

Note the size of the statue compared to the doors at the side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beautiful temples, statues and art work versus the busted up sidewalks and seemingly unconventional electrical work is quite a paradox, but nobody seems to bat an eye over it and we enjoyed all of it!

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

 


The Uniquely Thai Greeting

March 4, 2017

The Thai people are humble, very friendly, always eager to help and there’s always a lot of bowing with hands in the prayer position. I guess it’s the Buddhist influence. This is the typical Thai greeting, called the “Wai”. It is used to say hello, goodbye and thank you. The higher the hands are placed, the more respect is shown.

The Wai is common in Southeast Asia in the Buddhist countries of Cambodia and Laos. It is not a religious practice but can be part of rituals in religious observance.  Southeast Asia was subjected to a process of Indianisation and so probably the Wai has its origins in the Indian practice of ” Namaste ”

For us, the Wai began oddly enough on Korean Air where the possibly Thai flight attendants for the Bangkok bound flight approached each passenger, introduced themselves and thanked them for flying with them. The “Wai courtesy” was the same on Air Asia or Thai Air carried right through to the clerks in stores, the front desk people at hotels and even the many people preparing and selling street food all over Thailand.

Here are some common greetings that go along way even when you are obviously an outsider.

  • Sawadee = Hello
  • Kop kuhn ka = Thank you
  • Sabadee mai = how are you?

And when all else fails there’s always sign language or pantomime.

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)


Bangkok’s Chinatown

February 27, 2017

Every city has a Chinatown and Bangkok is no different. I’ve been to Chinatown in Honolulu and San Francisco, but somehow the Chinatown we visited here last night seemed more authentic to me. Maybe because this is due to all the foods & dishes we saw that I did not even recognize. And they weren’t so accommodating as to provide pictures so you’d have a better idea of what you were ordering. I have to admit we played it safe with spicy fried noodles with vegetables and barbequed pork with prawn wanton.

Some more sights and flavors of Bangkok’s Chinatown.

No question, that’s a pig’s snout

These are ducks (beaks to the right)

One of the many shops selling uniquely Chinese products

More Chinese street food- prawns, some kinds of foil-wrapped fish, and oysters 

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)


The Cannonball Tree

February 24, 2017

I’ve never seen this tree before even though I’m pretty familiar with tropical foliage. The common name in English is the Cannonball tree named for obvious reasons. The fruit (cannonballs) are very heavy and the flowers look somewhat like the Venus Flytrap and there are some wicked thorns.

Another name for this tree is the Sala Tree and per google, it’s main usage seems to be medicinal, specifically for veternary purposes. The pulp is fed to chickens as a vaccine against respiratory and other diseases. It is also rubbed into the skin of mangy dogs (seen a few of those), and the stem, bark & flowers have antifungal qualities. As you can see, the flowers are quite pretty.

Other than this, the vegetation looks pretty much like what we’re used to in Hawaii, although the papayas are much bigger with orange pulp and not as sweet as our Solo Papayas are. Of course, coconuts are a mainstay and I’ve already had a coconut milk popsicle today as a heat deterrent while visiting a few of the many temples (Wat) which are everywhere around Ayutthaya.

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)


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