Bicycle Derby

Written by Life

Posted from: Beijing, China

My goal for the day was not to die.

I didn’t wake up with extreme sports on the brain. When I yawned and stretched at the God-awful hour imposed by the time difference, my first thoughts were not on how effectively I could off myself before sundown. I did have a pile of stuff to do, though, and had to do them faster than my feet could carry me and slower than a cab driver’s slurred Chinese. You see where this is going. I rented a bike. (more…)

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Back in the ‘Jing

Written by Travel

Posted from: Beijing, China

China. I’m back.

And before you ask or hope I had a, it was a superb trip. Su-perb. Travel at its economy class best. I slept through 9 hours of the flight, sprawled across the [only] empty seat [on the plane] next to me. I watched other passengers tentatively poking their egg and radon omelets while I nipped at Hollywood food from my backpack buffet. I invoked the scathing laser-beam enthusiasm of not one stewardess smiling as though around a mouth full of live worms. I got the last room in the first hotel of my choice, a decent discount, and then held and understood an entire Chinese conversation about how to use the telephone. There’s toilet paper, hot water, and – keep your hats on – temperature control. (more…)

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Chiang Mai to Bangkok: Flight of the Visaless Valkyrie

Written by Travel

Posted from: Los Angeles

There’s a very good reason that I ended up back here in Los Angeles several months too early, and without so much as a by-your-leave. It was a peaceful Monday morning like any other. I had sweat out 50% of my body fluids in my sleep and mutant, tropical bugs were waiting in my bathroom to send me yelping and mincing out of the shower – revenge for swallowing their compatriots in the night. (more…)

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Chiang Mai: Reluctant Rock Climbing

Written by Travel

Posted from: Chiang Mai, Thailand

So it’s rock climbing tomorrow.

Lydia and I signed up for a one day rock-climbing and rappelling course, both of us with very different motives. She, because she’d like to possess some basic knowledge of climbing in order to potentially pursue it for leisure when she’s back home. Me, because it’s so James fucking Bond. (more…)

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Obiter Dictums, Thailand

Written by Travel

Posted from: Chiang Mai, Thailand

I’ve been away from this blog for far too long, mainly due to lack of inspiration. Just because I’m writing again should not lead you to the conclusion that I am now inspired, however. Guilt, and a dedication to filling up my journal made of actual paper (to which I will print and paste this, sad as that is), sits me at the keyboard today. (more…)

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The Bug Eating Saga

Written by Travel

Posted from: Chiang Mai, Thailand

The bug-eating saga continues, as this evening found me in a Yunnanese restaurant eating a plateful of grubs. By myself. When traveling, I find that this sort of behavior is acceptable as long as you’re with a friend and going for the gross-out factor, or the two of you are vying for More-Culturally-harmonious-Than-Thou, but when you’re dining alone and you order (and finish) an entire plate of fried caterpillars, it’s time to write your soul mate, Ted Kaczynski, and ask him to support you while you battle your inner daemons. (more…)

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Maesai: The Dead and the Dying

Written by Travel

Posted from: Chiang Mai, Thailand

“Bob” and I drove forty-five minutes in the wrong direction based on the the strength of his intuition, though he’d never been to Maesai. It was around six in the morning, and he and I were day tripping to the Burmese border town on a motorbike to get our Visas renewed. Every month I make the pilgrimage up there, 4 hours up, one hour wandering the stalls and fending off the roaming cigarette peddlers, and 4 hours back. Until now, I’ve always taken the bus, and when Bob suggested going up on a motorbike, I welcomed the break in the monotony. (more…)

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Songkran Festival

Written by Travel

Posted from: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is Me Stew. In the midst of the steamy, humid air, I bob and simmer like so many diced vegetables. The weather is heating up day by day as I get a preview of global warming run amok. We seem to be barrelling towards some kind of Pomeiian apocolypse and I am exhausted easily with less expended effort. (more…)

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Mr. Monk and the Nuk Nuks

Written by Travel

Chiang Mai, Thailand

For the second time I gave my butt over to the less than tender mercies of Nuk’s motorbike and took the 10 minute trip to the suburb of Maerim for Mr. Monk’s Micky-Moused Acme Herbal Sauna and Health Retreat, Northern Thailand’s middle finger response to the pomp and swank of L.A. spas. (more…)

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Stopover in Ayuthaya

Written by Travel

Posted from: Ayuthaya, Thailand

The ruins at Ayuthaya were like nothing I’d ever seen. Wat Si Sanphet, the largest of the templates, boasting three towering stone chedis, was used by 14th-century kings. I’ve read that it “once contained a 16m-high standing Buddha covered with 250 kgs of gold which was melted down by Burmese conqueror.” (more…)

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