Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Take Poo to the Loo

I received this quite funny video from my dad the other day. Apparently they were talking about the public defacation problem here in India on a morning radio show and promoted this video. I realize that some people may think I am exaggerating, but it truly is a problem, largely because of the lack of access to toilets.

UNICEF India has created the slogan "Take Poo to the Loo." It is a silly way to capture the public's attention and bring light to this issue. I posted it on Facebook a few days ago and not a single person "liked" it. I thought for sure it would be a hit! 

 I'll just leave you to watch this video and form your own opinion...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thailand & Bali - the Highlights

We just returned from a trip to Thailand and Bali last week, and it was amazing! Probably one of the best trips we've taken.  It was a good mix of relaxing beach time and exploring. Despite having only been here for three months since our return from the U.S., it was a much appreciated break.

I took hundreds of pictures, so I will do my best to post the highlights.

Our trip started off with a few days in Bangkok, and I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it there. I didn't expect it to be so clean and modern.  On our first day we took the train and water taxi to visit several wats (temples). Before going on this trip I decided that I would be in charge of learning the train system and handling the map.  I have a terrible sense of direction and thought this would be an appropriate time to improve my map reading skills.
I was wrong. I quickly gave up my responsibilities at the train station where I fumbled to put coins in the ticket machine and almost put us on the wrong train. The overwhelming number of people there rushing around me while I stand around with a giant map didn't help. After that we resumed our usual positions - Matt handled the map and I took the pictures. It's a good thing.

Temple of the Reclining Buddha

The Grand Palace
I made the mistake of wearing shorts this day. I had to borrow one of these wraps to cover my legs. I swear it was made of wool, very hot and itchy. 

Wat Arun with some VERY steep stairs! 

Our second day in Bangkok, we spent the whole day at the humongous weekend market. I liked all the brand-name knock offs, and Matt enjoyed the various types of "meat on a stick." I wouldn't even dare to eat street food in India, but in Thialand it was some of the most delicious food you could get.

This mango was delicous!


Matt browsing the watches

The market was filled with everything and anything you could want. It was fun to walk around and take in all the sights. I appreciated that not a single person hassled us to buy anything, which made it very enjoyable. There were also some small restaurants where we could stop and get a cold drink and yummy Pad Thai.

On our last day in Bangkok we had a driver take us an hour and a half to a floating market. When we first got there I was turned off because we apparently had "idiot tourists" written on our face. I would bet the woman charged us four times the normal price and she wouldn't budge and bring the price down. We had driven so far it wasn't like we could just leave. So getting on the boat for the market neither one of us were in the best mood, but once we got going it was actually very fun.

Cooking on their boats. She made us really good chicken.

On our way out of the floating market we saw a sign for the Tiger Zoo. It was just a few minutes away so we decided to check it out. This is what happened...

Feeding this "baby" tiger some milk was one of the coolest experiences I've had. Looking back on it, it was a pretty sketchy situation. There probably should've been someone nearby with a tranquilizer in case I got mauled. Luckily I still have all my fingers.

Right now I am realizing how long this post is and I am only on day three!
More pictures, less talking.

After Bangkok, we spent five days in Koh Samui which is a tiny island about a forty minute plane ride from Bangkok. There were beautiful beaches and plenty of night life to explore. 

Angthong National Marine Park where we snorkeled

This guy would set up near our hotel. We got the juiciest pineapple and mango from him. It was convenient that vendors would walk by selling things, but never bothered you.

We rented this scooter for just $12 for 24 hours. We drove around to see the different temples on the island, and took this road through the middle which was all jungle.

Big Buddha Temple

Wat Plai Laem

After our time in Koh Samui, we went to Bali. Bali is a place I've wanted to go for a long time, and I am so grateful we were able to go there. 

Our first stop was the Monkey Forest. I like to appreciate the monkeys from a distance so I opted out of feeding them bananas. Matt however doesn't mind having rabid animals crawl all over him.

Some of the monkeys were newborn and just learning how to walk - so cute!

After the Monkey Forest we headed to the Tegalalang rice paddies. The sights were breathe taking.

These are the offerings to the Gods which are everywhere. Their religion is  Hindu-Buddhist and the offerings can be seen outside businesses and temples to bring prosperity and good luck to their day. Each piece represents something specific, and the time it takes to make these daily is a sign of sacrifice and devotion.

We went to visit a small temple on the cliffs on the west side of the islands. I learned my lesson from Bangkok and wore capris, but Matt had on shorts which is why he's wearing this lovely purple wrap.  I don't even think it was much longer than his shorts.

One of the days in Bali we took a boat out with a dive company. It was great because there was just one other couple. Matt did two dives while I snorkeled. The first stop was at Manta Point where there were dozens of HUGE manta rays! The water was deep and the visibility wasn't great so they were hard to see until they were right below me. I was pretty scared when I saw the first one. Matt was diving and said at one point six were swimming in a circle around him. 
Manta Point

On our last day in Bali we drove up to the north side of the island. We went to visit the Temple on the Lake, and Gitgit waterfalls.  It started to rain as we got higher into the mountains, but it was still a fun day. 

Wow, that took me a long time to sort through all those pictures!

Our transition from vacation to India was fairly smooth. Thankfully there are no major catastrophes to report. But now I'm sure I've jinxed it, so I'll be sure to let you know when the next ridiculous thing happens.