Tuesday, July 21, 2009

America the Beautiful

When people say they want to go some place beautiful and then complain that they have to travel so far, I wonder whether they've taken some time to see our own country. Now don't get me wrong, some of the places in southeast Asia that I've seen in the last 6 months have been absolutely stunning but I have to take this time to highlight the beautiful Pacific Northwest. As some of you know, I spend a lot of time flying back and forth to Seattle to visit my "soul sister" and her husband. We usually take a side trip to visit our other dear friend down on the Oregon coast. This stretch of coast is amazing, truly breath taking...from what seems like an endless Pacific Ocean to the gorgeous headlands and the beautiful mountains. After spending good quality friend time in Oregon, we spent the next weekend hiking through Whidbey Island. Between the beautiful weather, the fabulous look-out points, and the wonderful friends, this was a perfect day (well minus what seemed like the endless Phish concert playing in the car...sorry DAL & JML)! Special thanks to my very bestest friends Darci & Jacob for letting me stay with them and showing me the beauty of friendship, love, laughing, vegetarian cooking, and the Pacific Northwest!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Home Sweet Home

After 2 connecting flights, 1 screaming 15-mth-old baby, and 24 hours of travel, I landed safely in Seattle (with my bags, passport, and wallet...nothing lost or stolen in 5 months, yipee!). I filled out my entry card like I had done in so many other countries before and waited in line at customs but this time was different. I was in the local line staring back at the foreign line that curved around and around. I approached the customs desk waiting for the usual questions but this time no questions about where I'm staying and what I'm doing here...just a friendly smile and "Welcome Home, Ms. Turnof". My 5 month journey could not have ended any sweeter than that.

I will be on the west coast for the next month AND my iphone/old number still works! Looking forward to catching up with everyone soon!!

HAPPY 4th of JULY!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bali, baby!

After a couple of days spent with some friends in Singapore, I moved onto the beautiful and what I thought would be over hyped Bali. I was sure it was never going to live up to what everyone says about it...boy, was I dead wrong! It was beautiful, enchanting, serene and peaceful. I spent my first couple of days diving off the east coast and staying in Candidasa. We went to the USS Liberty Ship Wreck, diving through the caves that used to be the different compartments of the ship and checking out all the amazing aquatic life that now calls the ship wreck its home...beautiful. The next day we ventured over to "Shark Alley"...that's right I saw a number of sharks and one turtle that had to be the size of a small car. It was amazing...and I still have all of my limbs, fingers and toes! After Candidasa, I headed to Ubud. Ubud is known for its artists and Balinese handcrafts. The galleries, filled with local and international art work, were incredible. I stayed on a rice field pension overlooking the small river that runs through the town of Ubud. Each morning over breakfast, I would watch the rice field workers push the mud from one side to the other. After 5 months of rice paddies it's still unclear to me exactly what they are achieving by this task. When I was finished with the hippy artsy crew of Ubud, I moved south to the famous beaches of Bali. I spent my final days of my Southeast Asia Adventure relaxing on the beach watching the surfers make ever attempt had finding their perfect wave. I met some wonderful local surfers who tried so hard to convince me to take a lesson with them but I was happy sitting this one out. They then introduced me to this wonderful woman who made the most amazing Indonesian food and needless to say I had lunch and dinner at her stand everyday after that. When I would arrive at the beach I would stop to say good morning and she would tell me what specialities she cooked up for me for that day. On my final day, she made me a special dessert and had all my new Indonesian friends come over for a going away party...sooo sweet!! Bali is just as good as everyone says...if not BETTER!!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thanks for the memories, Malaysia (& Tova)

After purchasing my first rough guide/lonely planet book for Malaysia (that's right I went 5 months without ever purchasing my own tour book...oh yeah and it was from a Borders NOT a second hand book store where the pages are photocopied), I was ready to plan our jammed packed 8 day adventure starring my dear friend Tova.  What a great time we had...we packed in the city life of Kuala Lumpur, the beautiful scenery and fresh air of the Cameron Highlands, the old British colonial architecture of Penang, and the beach resort feeling of Langkawi.  As always it's an adventure trying to decipher the menu (the ultimate fusion of Chinese, Indian, Thai, Malay), decide transportation methods that get you from point A to B safely (clearly safely is the key word), and explaining multiple times to the locals that we are not sisters just friends (that happen to look alike with our big brown curly hair).  Special thanks to Tova for a spectacular trip (and bringing a little piece of home to Southeast Asia for me)!  

**Tova had the fancy camera so those will be up soon

Unfortunately, the rest of my Malaysia trip did not work out as swimmingly.  Yet again, I was locked out of hotels for local holidays...I really should have a local calendar handy!  So instead, I've landed back in Singapore saying a final farewell to my friends here and then I am off to Bali for my last stop before heading to the states. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

Destination: KL

That's Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for those of you not in the know. I certainly have arrived back in civilization and a damn good one if you ask me. While I await my dear friend Tova's arrival before we embark on 8 days worth of pure Malaysian fun, I have had some time to reflect on some of my new surroundings (while sitting in air conditioned malls and eating the newest Japanese frozen yogurt/gelato/ice cream craze...gosh they come up with some great stuff!):

1) I've now been pooped on 3 times by birds during my trip. Do I have a big bulls eye on me or am I just REALLY lucky...I love when people tell you that it's good luck because I just think it's super gross!

2) American movies, made in America, with mostly all American actors cost less in Malaysia than in New York City. (Movie in Malaysia: RM 11 or $3.14, Movie in NYC: $12)...incredible.

3) Malaysia defines multiculturalism. After arriving at Kuala Lumpur Airport, you are immediately greeted in four languages (Malay, Chinese, Hindi, English) and I couldn't help but notice how well everyone interacts. The Chinese teeny boppers hanging out with the Muslim headscarf wearing teens, the Christian Indians and the Mohawk wearing rockstars all enjoying their lunch in one of the many hawker stalls...it's really nice to watch.

4) One thing I did find curious was the number of women wearing burqas and shopping in jewelry stores looking for earrings, bracelets, and assorted other accessories. One of these days, I might need to ask why. If I find them in a bathing suit shop, I promise I won't tell a soul.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Yup that's right...

I'm still in Koh Tao, Thailand. Now I'm sorry to those that look forward to seeing and hearing about the next stops on my journey. My bungalow is still the same just a few added geckos, cockroaches, and a new bunk mate from England. I am now a certified Rescue Diver and can kick back and enjoy some fun dives. I'll say hello to the turtles and barracudas for y'all and maybe I'll rent a waterproof camera so that I can get some nice photos to show.

Next Stop: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Friday, May 22, 2009

Still in Koh Tao...

There is just something about this place that keeps people here. After my Open Water Diving Course, I was convinced to take my Advanced level course too. I switched beaches from being close to the pier on the island to a beach called Sairee (more dives schools than you can imagine). Before starting my new class, I wanted to go out one more time to make sure I wanted to do it. I met some really great people and decided to sign up right away for my next course. After successfully completing a navigation dive, cave dive, night dive, and couple others, I was officially an Advanced Diver. Of course, I celebrated with some of the guys I met during my fun dive and they convinced me to stay a couple more days. Who knows, the next course is a Rescue Diver...maybe I'll stick around for that!

A couple of other things keeping me here:
1) I had my first Western meal in 4 months (cheese calzone & tomato mozzarella salad...amazing!)
2) I have ESPN in my bungalow and I can watch the Yankees games live before I go out for my morning dive
3) There's always someone (usually British) really great to hang out with and chat about how both our countries' economies are in the crapper