Monday, July 30, 2012

Back in Thailand, Always Learning

Whenever I've arrived in a new country, I've had to re-learn basic skills. 

In Indonesia, I had to figure out how to take a taxi.  The first men who approach you at bus stations yelling "taxi!" actually drive private cars and will quote you double what you should pay.  Official taxi drivers wear uniforms and use a meter to determine how much you owe.  By contrast, bus drivers and workers do not wear uniforms.  You have to get used to trusting the guys in cargo pants who tell you which bus to board by yelling destinations.

On the way to Gunung Bromo on Java - Probably not the best way to flag down a cab

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tamed by a Taco

Today I ran into a strange predicament.  For lunch, we went out to a delicious Mexican place here in Chiang Mai called Miguel's.  It is one of the few excellent Tex-Mex restaurants I've seen outside of the United States.  We started off with chips and salsa, my downfall snack.  (There were many late-night study sessions during college after which I realized I had devoured half a jar of salsa by myself.)  I ordered a taco and an enchilada, and my plate came with rice and beans.  I happily munched away until I was stuffed.  

Tortillas are on the long list of food from home that I miss.
Also on that list: mac and cheese, hot dogs, turkey sandwiches and chicken pot pie.
Looking down at my plate, I had half an enchilada left and the majority of the rice and beans.  Excuse me?  I devoured an eight-course meal last August, have eaten most of a Cottage Inn medium thin crust sausage pizza on my own, have always managed to find room for dessert, and now I'm being felled by a taco and an enchilada?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Volcanic Adventures in Java

Eric and I decided that we didn't want to leave Indonesia without hiking one of the country's many volcanoes.  After looking into a few near Bali and being stopped by three-day hikes, 36-hour ferry rides and other travel-related issues that would delay our return to Thailand, we decided to fly to Java and make our way to Mount Bromo.  The others would certainly be worth the effort, but maybe on a different journey.  (We're already brainstorming a south Pacific trip for the future.  There's so much to see!)

Bubble bubble bubble

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Budget Traveling in Beautiful Places: An Update from Indonesia

When Eric and I first got to Indonesia, I felt mislead.  I had heard stories about how cheap it was to travel through Indonesia.  Other travelers had spent weeks and months going through Java and Sumatra.  At something like 9400 rupiah to the dollar, it seemed that we would live well on our backpacker budget.  However, we struggled to find any hostel that fell within our $20 per day limit, even on the outskirts of towns in Bali.  As we counted up our daily expenses, I grumbled that Indonesia was the most expensive country we'd been to yet. 

A pleasant homestay that cost us $27 per night and had hot showers.
When we got to the Gili Islands, we found rooms within our budget, but without hot showers.  We started to look at other guest houses and homestays that had warm water, and I began to realize that while Bali and the Gili Islands are too expensive for our limited budget, you can find amazing accommodation and food for much less than what you'd pay in the US or Europe. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

From KL to the Beach

June flew by before I even noticed.  Looking back, I realized that my last couple posts have been on general topics rather than what we've actually been getting up to.  Here's what's been going on for the past few weeks!

After sixteen days in the Cameron Highlands, Eric and I started moving again.  We spent three quick nights in Kuala Lumpur.  Due to illness and the heat, we didn't explore the city much.  A few highlights were the delicious street noodles and satay, great nights with some new friends, and winning at beer pong and flip cup at the rooftop bar of our hostel.

I ate this dish at least three times in the three days we were in Kuala Lumpur.