Making my way through Asia (and grad school) one adventurous step at a time.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Adventures in a long path to a short story...

Today, I tried Googling my blog.  I never did find it, because the 1st hit I got looking for me was for my friend Sally's Blog.  (If you haven't read her Unbrave Girl, you really should...although you'll probably love it, and I'll never see you here again. I'll miss you.) 

Are you still here?  Really?  If I were you, I'd still be reading Sally's blog - but no matter.  Here's the story...the reason Sally's blog came up was that my name came up in her comment section.  Apparently, sometime last August, I commented on her post about making mistakes while traveling.  In the comments I referred to my worst travel experience ever (which I'll tell you about in a minute).  I started to wonder, "Is that really still my worst experience ever?"  It was 12 years ago.  I've traveled a lot since then - surely something dreadful must have happened?  Was it really worse than food poisoning on a 6-hour bus ride in Cambodia?  Worse than getting stuck in the current and floating 1/2 way to Vietnam before the snorkel-boat picked us up?  Worse than day 3 of a bike tour, pedaling uphill in the rain with a rash on my tushie?  Yes, Yes, a thousand times, Yes. 

The year was 2000.  I remember it well.  (I liked all the '0's.)  I was living abroad for the first time, and for the most part loving China.  My friend JM and I had just spent a few holiday days at the beach, and were headed back to Harbin.  On the way to the beach, we had booked a sleeper car on the train - the bunk-style beds were clean and comfortable, and the heater was fully operational.  We thought we had the same thing on the way wrong we were!  We didn't have a sleeper car for the return journey; we had seats on an un-padded, straight-backed wooden bench for the overnight trip.  We found ourselves squeezed onto the hard 2-person bench along with 2 other people near the end of a tightly packed car.  The windows were open, so whatever went out the window 2 seats up, flew back in the window 2 seats back.  I would doze off only to awaken when spit-covered sunflower seed husks landed on my face, or I was lightly misted with a mysterious spray after the toilets were flushed. I had also expected to be in the hot sleeper cars, so I had dressed lightly.  By 2am, I was freezing, couldn't stand up to stretch lest the passengers around me ooze me out of my 4 inches of seat, and was covered in unpleasant 'window gifts'. So yes, I still think that's my worst travel experience ever.

However, when I think about it, I'm kind of glad it's my go-to travel horror story.  If an exhausting night on a Chinese train is the worst case in my disaster file, I think I'm doing alright. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Adventures in Advertising


We interrupt this erratic and irregularly scheduled blog to introduce a new feature on this site.  Since Blogger changed their set-up setting-y type things, they've included a feature where you can see how many people are reading your blog, and from where. (Don't worry, they don't show your address, just your country.  Oh yes, Latvia.  I see you.) About 10 minutes ago, I discovered that I have more than 1 reader!!  I can stop addressing my posts to my dear reader(s), and can affix that pluralization with confidence.  Hellooooo readers!  Yes.  All of you.  Welcome!  Welcome to the community of people who really should be doing something better with their time.  This blog's for you.

Oh, yes, sorry, I was so dreadfully excited about addressing you (without hiding behind the ambiguity of a plural or singular 'you') that I forgot the reason for this interruption.  I've added (or will 5-50 minutes, depending on the degree of ineptitude I exhibit) AdSense ads to the blog.  I'm not actually expecting to generate any income from it; although, if you would like to click on the ads, please do so.  (I want to add "with reckless abandon!" but I think it would violate the terms of the user policy.  So please, don't be reckless.) To be perfectly honest, I'm really just curious to see what kind of ads Google will think are relevant, based on my blog content.  Really - I think this could be entertaining...or horrifically embarrassing.  We'll soon find out.

Ooooooh, I'm just so excited that there are so many of you!  Welcome, welcome, welcome.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Adventures in Circumventing the Long Arm of the Law...

Kudos to the Chiang Mai police department for trying to get motorcyclists to wear helmets.  Unfortunately, this is primarily done through setting up (highly visible) roadblocks near busy intersections.  The result?  Dozens of motorbikes braking to a halt and pulling U-turns in the middle of crowded streets.  Sigh.

The other day, I saw a new and interesting technique employed.  I pulled up next to a motorbike with a helmeted driver, but a helmet-less adult and a helmet-less child riding along.  Looking across the intersection, we both saw the police checkpoint already issuing tickets to the bare-headed. Instead of turning around and navigating an alternate route, the driver of the motorbike motioned to the truck driver next to him.  A brief exchange took place through the open window, and the helmet-less passengers hopped off the motorbike and climbed into the truck.  Arrangements were made for both drivers to stop again just beyond the checkpoint and allow the passengers to hop back on the bike. 

That's how we roll here in Chiang Mai.