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Archive for July, 2007

Welcome to Thailand!

After a surprisingly pleasant 16 hour direct flight from JFK, we are finally starting to settle in to our new home in Bangkok. So far everything has been incredibly smooth: from the excellent service on our Thai Airways flight to our beautiful new condo in Nichada Thani. Now if I could only sleep at night and be awake during the day, life would be pretty close to perfect…

Image: http://www.mercola.com/images/newsletter/2005/06/25/jet_lag.jpg

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Photo Hunt: Creative

The big day is finally here! Alex and I are off to Thailand this morning to begin our new life in Bangkok! Considering that our shipment of all our worldly possessions will not arrive for at least two more months I had to get really creative with the packing this year. Both Alex and I have all sorts of things we would not normally have for a summer vacation: suits, dress shoes, blankets, sheets, along with a professional wardrobe to last at least the first two months at school. Of course, all of this has to fit into our three duffel bags and one suit bag:

Creative

In addition to all our creative packing, we’re definitely going to have to be creative to entertain ourselves on our eighteen hour flight today…

How are you creative?

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The Expat Life

Inspired by Preya’s recent post on Dreaming of Hanoi

A while back Alex and I were hunting through the web for the perfect quote to laser engrave on my new iPod Nano. Which, I might add, was quite a hassle because for some reason I can not think of my own favorite quote. I must have one, but I seem to be unable to recall what it is on my own (even now, weeks later, this continues to be somewhat of a problem). And, thus, Alex was forced to spend day and night scouring every lame quotes website available to find something that:

a) represents me (oddly, somehow easier for him than for me – what does that mean?)

b) is short enough to fit on back of the iPod

c) is not too serious

d) is easy to understand should anyone happen to pick up the iPod and glance at the back

In the end we settled on a Tolkien quote (well, the one line of the poem that would fit on the back of an iPod) that Alex’s dad read at our wedding (which can still work me up into tears if I think about it): “Not all those who wander are lost.”

However, in the process, we did find another quote that I loved:

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”Gilbert K. Chesterton

Although I wasn’t aware of it before we started the search, both of these quotes are absolutely perfect for me. After reading Preya’s post yesterday, I can decidedly say that they really sum up my philosophy of travel and expatriation: Purposeful travel to learn about other cultures as well as yourself. Learning how to live everywhere and nowhere. Being at home in the world by seeing beyond your local horizons.

I remember coming back to the States after my study abroad in Italy (during my sophomore year in college) and thinking to myself, as I drove around town, “this used to be my universe.” It was honestly shocking to think that my boundaries truly went no farther than the tri-state area (if that). Now when I come back to the US, I realize that most people go through their entire life with those kind of horizons. For me, that’s just not enough.

After seven years abroad, I’m starting to feel more comfortable outside than inside of the US. To be honest, for me there’s a level of slight un-comfort about being in the US, where everyone is just so complacent about living in their own tiny universe. For the most part, I don’t understand them and they don’t understand me. “Why would I want to live anywhere but here?” they think. While I’m thinking “how could you live in the same place your entire life?” There must be some other quote about travel broadening your horizons that would fit well here (I’ll have to add it to my favorites list once Alex hunts it down for me).

There is something about living in an entirely different culture that excites and engages me. I find myself constantly learning and experiencing new things and I love it. I guess you could say I’m hooked on travel. The world is full of such interesting places – why settle for just one?

Why do you travel?

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Photo Hunt: Tiny

One of my favorite things to do with my fancy new camera is taking close-up shots of tiny things. Living things, inanimate things, growing things, basically anything as long as it’s tiny. I’m not sure I’ve mastered the art yet, but here are a few of my favorites:

strawberry or raspberry?

A plant with teeny-tiny fresh raspberries (or strawberries – my mom and I were arguing about which kind of plant it is) growing in my parents driveway.

funky fungus

Some crazy mold or fungus on the wooden fence in our neighborhood. It makes tiny little branches like a miniature plant.

meadow bloom

A pretty, tiny purple meadow flower growing amongst it’s miniature peers within the meadow in our neighborhood.

Cucumber

A tiny, spiky wild (and poisonous) cucumber along the tide pool trails on the coast in Oregon.

Pink Bells

A large plant with tiny pink bell-shaped flowers we saw all over Oregon.

Guppies

Tiny baby guppies swimming around a tide pool on the coast in Oregon.

Have you seen anything tiny lately?

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No soup for you!

In an effort to continue my seemingly endless spending spree here in Connecticut, I decided to buy a new pair of glasses yesterday. I’ve had the same pair for just over two years and I still love them, but I thought I’d mix things up a bit and throw in a new look – which would be the first time in my life that I have owned more than one pair of glasses at a time.

homemade-glasses-maratani-refugee-camp-moz-2001.jpgSo my mom and I went to Lenscrafters in the good old Danbury Fair Mall. We spent about an hour picking out a pair of glasses (which of course turned out to be the first pair I tried on). My mom even picked up a new pair and I was looking at prescription sunglasses as well.

After a while, one of the ladies came over to give us some advice (read: secure her commission) and asked me about my prescription (my eyes are so bad I actually can’t get certain types of glasses because the lenses would be too thick). She took one look and told me that they can’t sell me any glasses because my prescription is 2 years and 4 months old – 4 months older than they accept.

Now I am the type of person that always goes for the usual checkups. For some reason I kind of like going to the doctor. It’s a whole hour of the day when I just get to talk about myself (the same reason I like job interviews). But this year, given that I’m in the middle of a move from Malaysia to Thailand, I figured I would just go to the eye doctor this fall so that I have a doctor in the country where I actually live. I understand that it’s more than the recommended two years between appointments, but aren’t they my eyes? Can’t I decide when I get my eyes checked?

I guess not. And I guess I’m not getting new glasses either.

Image from: http://www.thefrasergallery.com/artwork/kessi-williams/
Homemade%20Glasses%20Maratani%20Refugee%20Camp,%20Moz%202001.jpg

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Night Swimming

Night Swimming I always used to think the best thing about summer was swimming at night (and of course the fireflies).

But this weekend, at our annual family and friends BBQ and pool party, we topped it: night swimming in the rain! After a sunny and warm day, it started pouring just as day was turning to dusk (not exactly night swimming, but towards the end it was pretty dark. Close enough to night time for me). It was that perfect kind of rain with no thunder and lighting (an odd experience for me after two years of tropical storms in KL).

After the rainAs soon as the rain started coming down a bunch of us jumped in the pool, which, ironically, was much warmer than the air outside. The sound of the rain while underwater was amazing. Almost like rain on a tin roof, but different (same same but different for those of you that have lived in southeast Asia). Either way, I highly recommend it (as long as there is no lightning – don’t go telling people that I recommend swimming during a lighting storm. I bear no responsibility for your actions).

As we were swimming, a beautiful mist was rising from the pool and the ground which just made the whole experience that much more surreal. Of course I spent my “drying off” time snapping picture after picture – if it weren’t for the devilishly active mosquitoes I would have had a lot more to show for myself…

What’s your favorite summer activity?

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Photo Hunt: Shadow(s)

Those of you with granite counter tops (or those of you with friends and family that installed granite counter tops), will know the saga of choosing the right granite. There are so many to choose from that when my mother did her counters over it took months, perhaps close to a year, to choose exactly the right granite. Ever since that endless span of time when I would get a daily update about granite colors (that I had never seen, given that I was living in Germany at the time), I have had an “eye” for granite.

So, a few weeks ago, while we were staying with Alex’s parents in Oregon, I noticed the absolutely stunning granite that his mom had put in their kitchen. Kind of a gold and silver flecked with slightly blue overtones. Just beautiful. Of course I had to show my mom, who has a darker, mahogany and terracotta based granite to go with her natural brick flooring.

While I was taking my photos of the granite, I noticed the shadow of a drinking glass on the counter and thought it would make an interesting shot:

Shadow

What kind of shadows have you seen lately?

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