Tuesday, July 31, 2007

We're Goin' Down to Austin

...gonna have ourselves a time.

Clicky the picture: for a full view

Well, in case you haven't heard, Justine and I are moving to Austin, TX in a few weeks. And we're planning a good old-fashioned American Road Trip! The trip will take us about 10 or 11 days, with stops in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Grand Canyon National Park, a petrified forest, Albuquerque, White Sands National Monument, and Big Bend National Park.

Stay tuned for updates!

Monday, July 30, 2007

A True Road Warrior

American Airlines' in-flight magazine, American Way, is holding their yearly Road Warrior contest. The winner wins two million Hilton points and one million AA flier points. Pretty good, huh? Anyway, besides a bunch of questions about my "demographic" and some questions about articles written in the mag (answers are easily discovered via Google and Wikipedia), they want you to present three photos with captions that prove you're a road warrior and to write a haiku about being on the road. Here's my application, and when Justine submits hers, I'll post it here, too.

Picture 1: One is often faced with adversity, but only true Road Warriors can overcome even the most nefarious hazards and live to tell about it [China].

Picture 2: Sometimes planes, trains, and automobiles are delayed, but true Road Warriors find a way -- even navigating the dangerous streets alone [Laos].

Picture 3: Cold weather, rain delays, early morning commutes... a true Road Warrior pushes on and is rewarded for his or her struggles [Nepal].

The haiku I wrote is as follows:

In Asia, beware!
Potable water is scarce
Prepare for the runs


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Monday, July 09, 2007

Mozzies at Night

Bring your malarone (r) to India!

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Funny Story

Sorry... it's been a million years since I last posted. Things have been busy and I'd like to get back to posting more about our 8-months abroad, but even more so, I'd like to start posting about trips and things we've done since we returned. In the mean time, here's a little story from our days in Thailand, late January 2007.

Thailand has a 30-day visa that you get when you arrive. It's free. And you can renew that visa three times, meaning that you can stay in Thailand for up to 3 months straight and pay nothing. The catch, though, is that to renew the visa, you have to leave the country and then return. Several tourist outfits have this figured out and they make "visa runs" to various borders (Malaysia and Burma/Myanmar, for example) for a few bucks. It's all very much a part of the backpacker's M.O.

Needless to say, Justine and I needed to make such a visa run when we were in Southern Thailand near Krabi. We booked a visa run through our guest house (about 25 bucks for both of us, if I remember correctly), which would take us to Malaysia and back. We paid in advance, and carried our receipt. Off we went, at 6am, to take a 6-hr. ride in a minivan full of other backpackers to the Malaysian border.

We arrived just after noon (we had brought sandwiches for lunch, as well as chips, fruit and drinks and the trusty iPod for entertainment), behind a few other vans and buses filled with tourists. We all walked out of Thailand, getting our passports stamped, and into Malaysia, getting stamped here, as well. We then walked around the building to the other side in order to get stamps for leaving Malaysia. Ten minutes after arriving in the minivan, we were getting our passports stamped for arrival in Thailand, ready to go! Here's the best part... I already mentioned that the visa is free. Malaysia, who havn't realized that this operation could be a cash cow for them, doesn't charge anything, either. As we were getting back into the van, the driver goes "you have to pay them 20 dollars each for the stamp! Don't forget to pay for the stamp!" Justine and I looked at each other and laughed in disgust. "We already have the stamps." Some of the other tourists started to look confused and began reaching for their wallets. "NO!" We shouted. "It's a scam. This driver is running a scam... the guy in the window will give him half the cash if you pay. Don't listen to him." The driver insisted that you simply MUST pay. Nuts to that. We got back in the car and demanded that he drive us back to the guest house in Ao Neng. He finally relented, but what the hell did he expect to happen? Everybody already had their passports stamped, so even if you didn't know it was free, why would you hand over any money?

Getting scammed is just another regular day when you're traveling, though. Good thing we're not idiots or we'd have had to come home much earlier!