Friday, June 28, 2013

Bad Photo Friday: Lemur edition

Lana and Lemurs
This may come as a surprise to you, but taking a photo of yourself with lemurs on your shoulders isn’t easy. It does, however, make for a fantastic edition of Bad Photo Friday. I’ll admit I was a little freaked out initially, as the whole thing seemed like a bad idea, from smearing banana all over my hands to giving my camera to the boy who took us on a “tour” of “Lemur Island,” an island off the coast of Madagascar called Nosy Komba. But I’m kind of lemur crazy, so I did it anyway. You’ll notice there are no pictures of David doing this. Oh no. Also the bulk of these bad photos were taken by said boy who took my camera to take photos after smearing my hands with banana and giving the lemur (which he called "monkey") an invitation to jump on up.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Radio Silence

Hi all--sorry that things have been a little sparse around here. Since we flew to Madagascar in mid-April, we've been going at a breakneck speed, and with little and/or very bad internet.  But great transportation.

We do have some news, however. We bought a ticket home. We fly from London to Denver on July 23rd. We know some of you are very happy we'll be home (Hi Moms!), and some of you will be disappointed that the journey is over.

And while we're not sure that the journey is over, we're very weary of packing our bags, and moving them. We're weary of restaurant meals and the same six sets of clothes.  We're worried that we're not as excited about seeing things as we used to be. And that means it's time to come home.

But we still have a month in Europe and lots to tell you about what we've been up to in the last few months and we'd like the time to do it properly.  We'll catch up when we can, but we just wanted to let you know where we are (Krakow, at the moment) and that we're fine, and that we have lots more adventures to share!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tea Class

Pouring Tea
We are both tea people—tea snobs, possibly.  Excellent tea was one of the things we left behind on our journey.  We haven’t had access to actual tea, even in teabag form, for most of the trip—there are a lot of hot drinks around the world that are called tea but have nothing to do with leaves from a tea plant.  We knew that Hong Kong was one of the best places to seek out some truly spectacular tea, so we did our best to find some. The recommendations we found were to visit somewhere called LockCha Tea Shop, so we took ourselves there on our first morning in town. After tasting four different kinds of teas and then buying some (yeah, we know, we don’t buy stuff), when our tea sommelier told us about a tea appreciation class that was available at the Museum of Tea Wares, we signed up on the spot.
Outside the tea house, they had a section of tea plants growing, which were quite pretty.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hong Kong: Snapshots

Spiral HK
Hong Kong was vibrant, culturally diverse, and very easy to get around on foot and by public transit.  It was a pleasant surprise, and a good change, after Singapore.  Some snapshots, and brief notes:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bali Batik

In Bali, we got sucked into exactly the kind of look-and-buy “workshop” tour that we hoped to avoid.  We had rented a tiny villa outside Ubud—8 minutes outside, by car, but about 45 minutes on foot.  We had prearranged a transfer from the airport to the villa through the owner, and the driver lived nearby, and was available for day trips, or just a drive into town.  The driver seemed great, and after he dropped us off, we arranged a day trip for the next day, to see some of the sights around Ubud.  We had an idea of what that was going to be like; it did not overlap much with his idea of what it would be like, and his fluency in English seemed to decline whenever we were trying to communicate that we weren’t interested in buying paintings, sculptures, furniture, etc.  Our first stop was at a painting factory, where the demonstration portion was essentially paint by the number.  After walking around the gallery in horrified stupor, we tried again to explain what we wanted to do.  Our next stop was at a bird and reptile park, which sounded good, but wasn’t—imagine a petting zoo from the early 70s.  We won’t dignify it with any more description.  We had a quick conference together on how we’d turn the day around, and went back to the driver, resolute.  David has since ridden on a donkey, and the struggle for directional control is not that dissimilar—if you are persistent, vigilant, and quick to react, you can mostly go where you want, at the speed you want.  Tour guides don’t have ears that rotate towards the tasty greens—or passing donkey flesh--they want to chew on, so that makes them a little harder to anticipate than donkeys.
However, we did get to see a batik fabric workshop that we really were interested in.  Aside from our stop at a grocery store, it was the only redeeming factor in his tour. 
Handmade batik is beautiful; it was neat to see the process in person:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Shoes: June

Shoes - June
Another month, another set of shoe pictures.  The Ecco Trail IV’s have been through a lot of rocky, sandy hiking in Egypt and Jordan, and are holding up pretty well, but the right shoe has one minor seam that’s letting loose.  I’ve got an eye on it, and may need to visit a cobbler somewhere in Europe.  I haven’t brushed them for a while, as I’ve been hiking in rough terrain with them at least once a week, and what’s the point?  It’d be like brushing your teeth before eating a poppy seed and spinach salad.  Unfortunately, that makes them a magnet for wandering shoe shine men, and at least once, I’ve had to physically stop someone from trying to apply some unknown cleaning solution to them.
My SuperFeet insoles are showing some pretty heavy wear, though it’s not visible here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hong Kong Markets

Dried pig haunches?  Anyone?  The streets around our hotel, in Hong Kong, were filled with curious dried things.  Nominally, we were in the dried seafood market, but the items certainly weren’t limited to the sea.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Meals of Asia

The next installment in our meals around the world includes: Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.  We had some amazing meals, in Hong Kong and Vietnam in particular.  We were no strangers to Asian cuisine, but were surprised by the difference that local ingredients and regional variations made.  We were also surprised by the variety of delicious, cheap fruit smoothies, and you'll see we had them with most meals.  That may be what we miss most!

Here is the slideshow version: