Big Question Marks

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Beauty and the Beach

A quick hello from pretty Koh Samui, Thailand where we've been soaking up a few rays since Thursday now. It's a nice island, which we didn't hit on our last trip (due to time and its reputation for being a flashy, expensive, party spot) but are quite enjoying. The tourist shortage is hitting here pretty hard as well, with lots of empty restaurants and bars, so maybe our experience has been a bit quieter than most peoples' on the island. Of the many beaches here, we chose Lamai Beach, a gorgeous stretch of sand with palm trees, beach bars, and a number of poshy-looking resorts (though we still managed to find a reasonably priced one, thanks to much practice at bargaining!). Perhaps a few too many girly bars and dogged suit-shop salesmen for our liking in the town part of Lamai, but we've been having a really excellent time travelling and catching up with our German friend Birte, whom we worked with waaaaay back in the day as tomato-sorters in Echuca. Good times! Next on the itinerary is Koh Pha-Ngan, a gorgeous island not far away that we still dream about from our last trip, and we'll get in some diving at Koh Tao again before we do a rush trip down to Kuala Lumpur to catch a flight to Indonesia on July 3rd (wheeee!). Not sure what to expect from Indonesia but it'll be cool to get one more altogether different country into our trip before we start making the trek back to Canada (via England). We have a month to island-hop, taking in the best of the massive country's beaches, volcanoes, cities, and hopefully some Komodo dragons too!

But back to the "beauty" part... and no, I'm not referring to Samui's beaches here. Once in a while, even after all this travel, the most surprising and weird things can get in the way of a tropical exploration-- this time resulting in our first trip to an Asian medical clinic! Nothing serious really, but on our last few days in Bangkok, I (Dayle) started transforming into something resembling a unicorn, or perhaps more a rhinocerous-- yes, at first what looked like a skin blemish on the left-middle part of my forehead grew bigger and bigger and redder and redder, until on our second morning in Samui, I woke up incredible pain around my left ear and my left eye half-swollen shut. What the hell?? It's the strangest medical problem I've ever come across, so we thought it was worth a trip to the doc before I started growing hoofs to match. Luckily, Thailand's medical facilities and doctors are pretty excellent (cheap too!) and there just happens to be a million clinics on Samui (sooooooo lucky this didn't happen in Burma, as we'd heard a lot of weird medical ailments befall fellow travellers there). Following some sympathetic looks from the (flawless of course) secretaries, I was escorted into an office where I met a very nice, soft-spoken doctor who looked at my hideous face with fascination.... he did some red-and-blue pen drawings of my big "horn", as well as the little ones sprouting up around it, and explained it was something to do with chicken pox (the virus stays in your system forever apparently), set off by a mosquito bite most likely, and aggravated further by too much sun (and yup, we had quite a full-on sunburn day on our first day in Samui). I left the clinic with a cocktail of pills and cortisone cream, and now have to pull out my granny-bag of medication at every meal with some embarassment! On the bright side, I guess the doctor must have been OK after all, as my face started going back to normal by the next day-- but it's just so funny how no matter how careful one may be when travelling, getting shots beforehand, drinking bottled water, devotedly eating malaria pills, the weirdest jungle diseases can still take you by surprise!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Big "?"... At A Loss for Words

Hello, long time no talk! We've made it back to Thailand-- actually on Friday morning we flew in to Bangkok-- and have found ourselves with a lot to catch up on and a wee bout of writer's block. Not that Burma didn't provide us any material, stuff to think about, crazy scenes, etc.; it was anything BUT thought-provoking and memorable, over-stimulating perhaps. It was a busy and often exhausting three weeks, with a lot to take in and perhaps not enough time to really absorb it. We'll definitely need a few weeks on the Thai beaches south of here to gather our thoughts on what we've seen and experienced: Burma was that intense.

We'll do our best to try and tell you about the highlights-- make sure to check out our photos, which we've just put up (we'll caption them soon), because it was constant visual shock for us-- a totally alien nation, a forgotten place left behind in another time, but all the while still conscious of the outside world too.

We'll also backdate our Burma posts to when they actually happened, and try our best to describe this surreal and complicated place in the context of our travels. Maybe the pictures can better explain better the sorts of things we experienced...