Saturday, January 31, 2015

Abcde is a Girls Name

 Update 1/12 – 1/18

Due to the psychedelic infused Malaria medicine combined with jetlag, my week consisted of forcing myself to stay up until 7PM every night, walking up every 2-3 hours and having the most vivid dreams that I was so completely my awkward self that I was convinced that they had happened.  With that in mind this might be a more brief that the previous updates.

My first night back, I went to the grocery store in attempt to start my new, post Cambodia life-style where I only eat from around the outside of the grocery store.  On my way to my car, I turned around to see Becky and Jared and I screamed in fright.

Me: We should walk, my car is a little cramped with the baby seat in the back.
Christy: Why do you have a baby seat in your car?
Me: Well, you know everyone is either pregnant or have a baby around me and I was just feeling so jealous of not being inconvenienced that I decided that I should spend money on someone other than myself, and feel what my life would be like…
This went on for quite some time until finally, Christy was like, no seriously, why?

Dawne’s Aunt Elizabeth is in town to keep Diana company while she’s dealing with a lot of medical stuff. I offered up my car, and Dawne had bought a baby seat so we put it in my car in case we needed to drive Diana and Harper in a pinch.  Which would totally work if my car wasn’t a Fiat and can only hold a passenger or a baby seat, but not so much both.  In other news, Daphne started walking!!

One night I was guilt-ed into I stayed up past 7PM to play Guillotine for the first time.  As Zach was explaining the rules, only Elizabeth had a question: “Piss Boy” is considered a noble?

Nater: I’m taking your controller… unless you were going to have friends over?
Me: Kelly has her own controller.  Hey, it's happened.
Nater: I know, that's why I asked.

I went for a lovely walk with Dr. Rach on Saturday around (or at least partially around) greenlake followed some breakfast.  As we were crossing the street.
Dr. Rach: Don't go now.
Me: How about now.
Dr. Rach: No! Now is worse.

We had a flood up in the yellow house and realized it when the carpenter came to fix the woodwork damaged from the heroin addict break in.  Later that day, Jordan picked up his phone, to say, “Hi Paco! …. No, I didn’t go up there. I was afraid to.”

My favorite part of this week was a text convo (with names removed for privacy.)

E: Soooooo, I just found out…… I’m having a boy!
Me: yayayayayay! (Family emoji)
A: Wahoo! Congratulations! And good thing I still have boy baby shower items to decorate with! Is ----- still the dad?
E: J It’s so exciting! Good thinking, A.  Yep, ---- is most def the father. Phew!
Me: I’ve already bought him two drum sets.
A: One for upstairs and one for down – excellent thinking, Tiff! (clapping emoji)
E: Wow, gee, thanks? (worried emoji)
O: Yay!! Congrats.  Can’t wait to meet lil Espn Cash ----.
Me: Yup you can take that off the registry.
A: I thought his name was going to be Huntin?
E: We kinda had our hearts set on Abcde.
O: Don’t be foolish, that’s a girl’s name.
A: Lol
Me: Or… Hijk with a Spanish accent.
O: Do you ever want that baby to get on a plane!?!? Especially if he’s a famous drummer.
E: Oh wow, I didn’t realize it was only for girls.  But isn’t cool right now to mix gender norms.
Me: So fetch.
O: I think Espn is more masculine.  You don’t want to give the little dude a complex.
Me: Hmmmmm I’ve also bought him all the princess movies.
E: Yeah, that’s definitely more masculine.  Or what about Cinemax? He can go by Max.  Am I doing this modern baby name thing right? 
E: Tiff, That’s perfect. He’ll be well rounded.
O: Climax would be better.  It marries your love of climbing and the cute nickname Max!!
O: Tiff gives the best gifts!
E: Oh it’s perfect.
Me: Just go with “Doctor.”
O: Doctor Climax ---- does have a nice ring to it.
A: Cinemax/Max is Perfect! Now, do you get the feeling he’ll end up marrying Lily or June?  Keep in mind Lily would want to tie him to a tree.
E: And then when he gets his doctorate, he’ll be Dr. Doctor Climax ----.
O: This is coming together perfectly!
Me: Monogramming the drum sticks now.
E: Lol
O: Damn Tiff, you’re good.
E: A, if he’s a climber, he may be tying himself to a tree.  Maybe he’d be into it.
O: We’ll have to see if Lily has the same tastes in younger men like Auntie A.
E: Her mind is still impressionable.  We can influence her to satisfy our schemes.
Me: Having kids is fun!
O: We’re the best.
A: We ARE the best.  Doctor Climax is lucky! As is Lily.  I’ll let her have my older women, younger men book.  Maybe as an elementary school graduation present.
O: This is all coming together so wonderfully!
A: And O, to answer your question – Reno is proving to be filled with LOTS of Texans in glitzy outfits.  Not sure if the drunk girl in stilettos who was lurking on our hotel floor was a hooker or just someone doing an early walk of shame at 10PM.  Looking forward to seeing what Friday night holds!
Me: I didn’t know you were in Reno! How many times have you gotten married without me!?
A: Funny that you should say that! There is a wedding chapel in our hotel and I want to renew our vows and --- thinks that idea is ridiculous.  I said we haven’t gotten married in 2015 yet so why not? He said it’s only been 4 months since the last one.  I don’t think that’s a good enough reason.
Me: Why doesn’t he love you anymore?

Best Day Ever

Update 1/5 – 1/11

When Tus brought us back from the market, he brought us in a tuk tuk, which is like a really unsafe ghetto version of a taxi.  This might be why, when the tuk tuk pulled up to our fancy hotel, the manager came out running and yelling at the driver for the audacity of entering the hotels driveway.  Tus told us to dress really warmly the next day because it would be cold on our “nature day.”  Naturally, Maggie wore a tank top. 

Me: I look forward to getting cold later and complaining about it. 
Kelly: This kid is wearing a t-shirt.
Zach: It was either this or the leather jacket! 

Oh! I forgot to tell you that even though we were packing light and for a super-hot climate, Zach forgot to leave his leather jacket in the car at Sea Tac.  Instead of telling Kelly that part of the story, I just told her that he packed his leather jacket so he could look more like Indiana Jones.

Zach after making us wait for him in the lobby for 15 min
“Hey, the guy is waiting for us, guys!”

While we were sleeping, I heard a bird get stuck and kept banging around and trying to get out of where he was stuck.  In my sleepy head, I thought he had flown into the bathroom, and spent quite a bit of the night/morning, dreading going in there to “free” him.  Lucky for me, but very unlucky for him, the bird was actually stuck in a vent so I just told the front desk about it.  They looked at me strangely, but at least I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. 

We drove about an hour to Doi Inthanon National Park, up the highest mountain in Thailand.  Our first very very mini hike took us to see a waterfall. 

Tus: Shh, there is a crazy man watching birds over there. 
Zach and I giggling
Kelly: What?
Zach: I’ll tell you when you’re older.

When we got to the top, there was a bathroom, without toilet paper, for the record.
Maggie: The view from the toilet isn't bad.

Then went to a military funded temple with really awesome views.  This is when I discovered that #fisheyeisthebesteye and from then, I totally abused the use of the iPhone lens my brother got me. 

Tus: Okay, now we go to the market and experience the culture of the mountain people, and then we’ll get some lunch. 
Zach: Can we just have lunch? 
Which is what we ended up doing, but we did go back for some culture afterwards, including trying some homemade liquor.

Zach: You know why I don’t like rings?  They are so big and bulky and then one of your fingers weighs more than the other.

I can’t provide context to that statement because there wasn’t any.

We went back to the hotel, and got a couple of beers by the pool while trying desperately to upload to Instagram and photo streams using a subpar wi-fi connection.  Which led to a “Hotel Wi-Fi rating system” discussion.

Kelly: I complained about the wi-fi.
Me: Did they tell you they’d get to that after the bird?

That evening, Tus took us to the more commercial night market.  I think Zach dashed some of his excitement when explained to Tus that lots of cities have markets just like the one in Chiang Mai.  Tus tried to take to a real place for dinner, but we just wanted to get ice cream – and we did and it was glorious.  If anyone has ever eaten a mint chocolate chip ice cream bar that looks like this, you let me know, because I don’t want it to be a one-time thing.

On this outing Kelly and Maggie got a fish manicure (were the fish eat you’re dead skin) while Zach went to a tailor to have two shirts made (You can see the tailor in the back of the picture.)

Zach was worried that he wasn’t going to like the shirts he made so we encouraged him to be optimistic.
Zach: I don't think I'm ever cautiously optimistic. 

The following day we went to Patara Elephant Farm.  I was extremely nervous about this day.  Not because I’m afraid of elephants, I adore elephants.  I was actually worried about being able to climb onto an elephant, because you know, elephants are huge and my upper body strength is small.  I remember seeing elephants in south Africa and thinking how amazing it was just to be ten feet from them, while in the protective “security” of being in a jeep.  That experience just made this day all the more incredible. 

We arrived and were immediately allowed to pet and take pictures with the elephants.  Then, we got a little speech from the owner about how we were going to be put to work that day, and that this wasn’t a tourist trap as much as it was an elephant sanctuary where everyone on the property, including us, where there for the sole purpose of keeping those elephants healthy.

We then walked down to get another lesson in how check the emotional (ears flapping, tail wagging) and physical (dirt on all sides, sweating, even checking the dung) wellbeing off the elephants.   They sleep 4 hours a day and every 45 min they flip – so if they aren’t dirty on all sides, then they aren’t flipping which means that they aren’t feeling well.  Also, they only sweat from one place, which is in between their “toes” so we had to feel to make sure it was wet and sweaty.  We then fed them by holding up our hand near their eye, saying a command, waiting for them to lift their trunks and then putting the banana or sugar cane deep into their mouth. 

Each of us had our own elephant, mine was Wan Dee and the trainer’s name was Mighty.  She was nothing short of marvelous.  I told her to lie down (with a command I can’t remember which she ignored, and waited for Mighty to tell her to lie down.) I brushed her off, then took her down to the stream where we used buckets to wet them down and then scrubbed with a brush.  This is where it got a little gross b/c elephants have no problems using the stream as a potty.  After that we changed back into our dry clothes and the special trainer clothing and then it was time to ride the elephants bare back.  You could either have them lift their leg and climb up, or climb up their trunk (which is what Kelly had to do b/c her elephant was pregnant), or you could have them lie down and climb up that way.  I was the last to get on mine, and when it was my turn I said, “What is the absolute easiest way to get on this elephant?” And that’s when I climbed onto a tree stump and just walked onto the elephant.   (Later, when we stopped for lunch, there wasn’t a tree stump so I had to get on just like everyone else, and I did, and I was so so proud of myself!)

The elephants climbed up this really steep mountain, but it definitely felt safer than when I’ve done similar climbs on horses, b/c the elephants are very deliberate in their steps, only lifting one foot up at a time.  Except for the baby elephants that kind of just barrel through the forest without a care in the world.  On the top we had lunch, actually the best lunch of the trip in my opinion.  It was a smorgasbord of food laid out on banana leaves.  There were three types of rice wrapped in little banana leave packets, and fruit and fried chicken and various other delights. 

We had a one eyed cat friend at lunch.
Chick: Get him away from me.
Chick 2: Yeah, I don’t know what it is but I don’t want him around.
Chick: Maybe if he had two eyes.
Meanwhile Zach ended up with the cat curled up next to him as he rubbed its belly. 
Me: I have Benadryl in my bag if you need it.

Kelly: When do we take naps? 

When we were finishing up, a baby elephant came over to “clean up” after us like it was his job.  And we were all, “Baby elephant, I don’t know if you’re supposed to eat that!”  I grabbed a bunch of oranges for Wan Dee, and she was so pleased with my offerings, she let me ride her again.  When we were all done we said good bye to our new friends and then spent some time with the mama and baby-baby elephants.  The baby elephants were very into head butting and chewing on our shirts, and it was very difficult to tell them not to.  Actually, very easy to tell them not, but impossible to get them to listen. 

Kelly: The yellow house could fit an elephant right? 

I’m not sure what the context was for this but…
Who is the most responsible?
Anyone but Zach.

That evening, Zach and Tus went for a fitting for his shirts, while Kelly, Maggie and I sat on the balcony, ordered room service, and had some beer while we basked in how awesome the day was. 

Me: I’m #bestdayever to all of these photos, because this really was the best day ever. I wonder what other people have #bestdayever.
Maggie: Whatever it is, it is not as great as our day.
Kelly: Probably their weddings. Psha. 

Then we took another tuk tuk to a place for dinner, which was seriously, just okay.  Maggie told us a story about her mom, when she was working at a hospital, was working with a patient who had twins and named them Gonorrhea and Chlamydia because the doctor had said those two words to her and she thought they sounded like beautiful name for her twin girls.  I’m not entirely sure this is true, but it made me giggle.   Then we headed back to the hotel to watch some more Elementary before bed. 

As we were falling asleep:
Zach: I'm looking forward to a different hotel with a different light situation. 
Me: I don’t remember what the Siem Reap Hotel is like.  I gotta look it up now.
Zach: You know there is a slower way of finding out. 

When I told Kelly and Maggie about this the next morning, they asked, “What is the wi-fi rating?” Good question!  Later I would find it was good enough to download “Tomb Raider” and watch it outside of Angkor Thom. :P

The next morning, Tus took us to hang out with tigers.  I wanted to hang out with the Big, Small and Smallest tigers.  The “Small” tigers were still pretty big.  The rules were very loose.  I had read before we got there that you had to pet them firmly because you didn’t want to tickle the tigers.  You also had to approach them from behind and avoid going near their heads.  We walked into the cages (cages that on the outside had signs saying not to put anything into them including fingers), while the trainer people called us, “American Meat” and then walked around with 5-6 tigers walking or lying around.  It was wild.  When I got too close to a really big one, the trainer said, “Careful, he will bite your neck.” Allllrighty then! At one point, one of the tigers next to me stood up on his hind legs to stretch himself on a tree that was 6 inches from me. The smallest tigers were adorable, but also the feistiest.  Even though they were the most likely to playfully hurt you, Kelly thought that they were the safest because if they mauled me, at least she would survive.  She had a point there. 

In the car on the way back:

Me: How did you do with the tigers? Were you allergic? Do you need Benadryl?
Zach: Of course I'm not allergic to tigers!
Me: How would I, or YOU for that matter, know that?

We went back and got our stuff at the hotel, swung by the tailor to get Zach’s shirts. (Later, at the airport we made him do a fashion show for us during our layover in Bangkok.) When we got to the airport, Karma haunted me for leaving Kristy and Diana in South Africa that one time.  The agency spelled my name wrong on the ticket, and they weren’t going to let me on the plane.  I told Tus that if it came down to it, I would just buy another ticket, but mostly let him deal with the airline to get me on the plane, which he did, eventually.  As we were going through customs in Thailand, they asked for the exit papers, which Zach and I had already filled out.
Zach: I like when past me did things for present me. 

When we got to Siem Reap, I got some Cambodian money, only to find out that Cambodia uses American dollars – even their prices were in dollars and you could get American and Cambodian money out of the ATM’s.  Only crisp bills were accepted though, just like in Myanmar, and if you bought something for say, $1.80, you would get like 1600 Cambodian money back. It was cray cray.  So, Sam, our guide and our driver that I once again never spoke to, picks us up from the airport, and I immediately ask them if they would be willing to wake up hella early and take us to Angkor Wat before sunrise… and he DID!  We even were able to get the hotel to back us breakfasts for the trip.  After around 5 hours of sleep, we were up again! Zach was so excited – it was like his birthday, Christmas and Disney world all at the same time.  We arrived at Angkor Wat when it was totally dark, and waited on line to get our tickets (much like Disney World.) Then we walked across a moat, with only flashlights to light our way.  Then around 200 of us stood around the lake to await the sun rising.  It was pretty magical. 

On our way into Angkor Wat, we saw a monkey with a baby monkey on its back run across my path.  Angkor Wat was pretty cool – built without cement or mortar and then carved after all the stone was it was all built (talk about pressure not to mess up!)  We were all basking in the joy that was Zach’s day, which is also why we kept saying things like, “Zach, you get in the picture. It's your day!” and “Zach’s best day ever!” Then we walked around the palace area and Angkor Thom and Bayan and you know a bunch of other cool “Tomb Raider” like experiences.  And the fish eye lens was in full effect!  I’m sorry I don’t have funnier things to say about this part of the trip, but it was just cool, awe inspiring and awesome.  And then I got real sad because when I went from the hot hot hot to the cool of the air conditioning, I got this crazy headache and thought I was going to be sick so I had to go back to the hotel.  I felt really bad but then I realized I had put an 8 hour day in, so I wasn’t a complete quitter.  Kelly and Maggie went back with me (and we might have gotten a Thai massage!) Zach, meanwhile, went with the tour guide, Sam and saw 5 or 6 more temples. 

Kelly: Did you bond with Sam? 
Zach: Who is Sam? 

At one point Zach climbed where he wasn’t supposed to.
Tour Guide: Where is Zach? Oh! Whoa!
Us: He's fine. He's a climber monkey - let's keep going. 

Zach: So many little kids asking for money.
Kelly: Well you are the rich guy wearing the fancy shirt.
(Did I tell you the only reason we went to Cambodia was to get a good profile pick for Zach?)

Me: When I leave, I can give you guys some of my extra battery packs. Oh man, I can’t believe we only have one more day!
Kelly: And then your power trip will end. It's funny because we're on a trip.
Me: And mine is ending. 

We took a tuk tuk for some dinner in one of the markets.  We went this BBQ place where we met a couple of people from Israel. 

Me: Hey! What was your best day ever?
Chick: The day I got out of the army.
Guy: The day I got off that fishing boat (where they didn’t feed him some days, and abused him.)
Me: Oh.  Those are good best days ever. (Maybe I shouldn’t share our week of best days!)

The next morning, Zach woke up with some much knee pain, that he needed crutches.  Explaining crutches to the front desk was a challenge, but they did understand “walking sticks.”  You know the pain had to be bad for him to decide to use crutches.  His excitement got him through around 8 miles of crutches, which is most impressive.  On our last day, we went to a floating village, Kompong Phluk which had 2000 residents, and was around 2 miles big, and was on one of the biggest lakes I’ve ever seen.  It was dry season though, so instead of a floating village it was more like a village on stilts.  And we had some of the youngest captains steering our boat.

I asked Sam to show me what rice looks like when it’s taken out of the ground, and that’s when I found out that Cambodia has been rated best rice for two years straight.  I tried taking some epic “rice” shots.  We stopped for some lunch that had free wi-fi, and I totally used it like it was my very last opportunity.  After that, we saw three pigs on their backs, alive, and tied to the back of a motor bike.  Which was crazier than the dog that was in a sling and being held by a purse, or the family of six all riding one motor bike. We finished up the day with the Pink Temple and one or two more temples (at one of which Kelly got a bunch of luck from some random guy.)  Zach wanted to go back to Bayan because he read about an explorer guy who got lost in the tunnels.  I went back with him, and his elation made me feel the wonderment. 

When Zach and his “walking sticks” went to the last temple, he reached for his pocket and asked the guard, “Temple Pass?” He took one look at his disabled condition and said, “Don’t even worry about it.”  It was like the Cambodia was Zach’s Make-A-Wish.

We went back to the same market for dinner, where I tried another curry and I liked it.  Then Kelly, Maggie and I walked around the markets a little, and Kelly bought around 50 (j/k) pashminas. 

Kelly, to us as we were leaving Breakfast: I really liked it here in Cambodia. 
Waiter: Really? 
Us: Yeah 
Waiter: I really like it in the U.S. 
Maggie: Grass is always greener I guess. 

We finished up the trip with a flight to Bangkok where we bid farewell to Kelly and Maggie as they continued on to Krabi, and Zach and I spent the next 16 hours in planes and watching Elementary. You know, because it felt like a 4 countries, 2 continents kind of day. On our way back, I was going to pick up some green tea kit kats for friends – but Zach made fun of me.  So instead, I bought Oreos at the airport, because it’s the thought that counts! Dawne and Jordan picked us up from the airport.  When we got home we made them watch a slide show of pictures so we could stay up long enough for it to be appropriate to go to sleep.  A sleep that not great.  The great part of that was when I woke up at 5 am, I totally could wake up Percy to play with me. 

Flashback, here is me and the lucky lotus flower from Bankgok, thanks Kelly!

Thanks for letting me share!

Friday, January 30, 2015


(Update 12/29 - 1/4)

After much deliberation, I finally finished packing with 3 1/2 outfits, 3 pairs of shoes, and enough first aid/supplies/meds for every eventuality.  When we arrived to the airport we found out that Zach's visa had the wrong birthdate.  One of us panicked for the rest of the trip, and one of us thought that that was a problem for future us. (I'll let you guess who was who.)  While we were on the plane Zacharoni was very excited about the blankets. 

Me: Did you just put that blanket in your backpack?
Zach: Yes.
Me: Why would you take it on the first flight and not the last flight on the way back?
Zach: Oh, I'm going to take that one too. 

After the first leg of the flight, we're walking though the airport (with this lady we met at Sea Tac and she was super-duper friendly and chatty and I got to hang out with her while Zach looked for water.) I saw some computers and told Zach he could try to look into evisa while I "checked in" to make it facebook official. 

Zach: So this is Singapore.
Me: Nope. We are in Taiwan.
Zach: Good to know.

Then we walked around for a bit longer, down one hall and then I thought we'd better turn around.
Zach: Are you worried about time or do you just not want to enter the boys side?

We were told in Seattle to make sure that we check on the Visa situation and then double check that our luggage would make it to our destination.   After we went to the counter and looked in on these things, the women there looked a bit but essentially dismissed our concerns, again, a problem for future us.  Second flight was just as great as the first, and the meals were actually quite good.  In fact Zach at one point said, "I've eaten more balanced meals on this flight than I ever have."  When we were in Ho Chi Min airport I grabbed a coffee and some free wifi so I could check in again because I'm a loser, or at least that's what I read from Zach's look so I maturely answered, "It's the only way I can prove I've been here!"

The gate was pretty empty.

Zach: Not a lot of people wanting to go to a place with military dictatorship.

We arrived to Yangon, Myanmar at around 1:30, where we were greeted by our tour guide, Pew Pew and she brought us immediately to a gigantic reclining Buddha (and we were totally the only ones there.)

She then brought to our hotel where a watermelon smoothie was handed to us while our guide checked us in (after we put our stuff through a metal detector as we walked through the metal detector setting it off.)  Now, we thought we were going to have to be on our own after that, but instead, the guide had a full day's worth of fun for us!  It was really really amazing, and not just because I was expecting very little of the day.  The coolest part of the day was the Shwedagon Pagoda which is 325 feet tall, covered in gold and is surrounded by even more amazing temples all around the Pagoda.

Tour Guide: Sometimes when people come to Yangon for three days I run out of places to take them. 

The next morning, we got up and the hotel had an amazing breakfast. Zach: I could stay here all day!   Did I mention that after dinner with Pat's parent at Christmas, I became really worried about where we were staying and what the bathroom situations might be and texting Zach and Kelly about bringing toilet paper with us.  I was mocked pretty hard when we arrived at the 5 star hotel.  Zach: Still worried about toilet paper?

Then we flew to Bagan.  A picture of Bagan from the air that makes it look like our propeller was too cool to be functional.

We were taken straight from the airport to the Buledi Pagoda, where I had my first terrifying moment of the day.  I didn't know I had any real phobias, but it turns out that I am afraid of old stairs.  Now we both know.  Especially very steep, high, no railings, falling apart stairs.  By the time I got to the top I was shaking a bit.  That's when Zach said, "I'm going to run down and go up that other pagoda over there so you can take my picture."  At least it gave me time to recover before I had to go back down the stairs which is even scarier.  When I asked the guide if anyone else had been afraid going up, he helpfully said, "nope!"

Then we went to Alo-daw Pyi Pagoda, and then the Ananda Temple and the Shwezigon Pagoda - please don't ask me which was which.  So from what I can tell, in Myanmar, the difference between a pagoda and a temple is that you can go inside a temple.  We were not allowed to wear our shoes at any of the religious sites.  I had been wearing shoes and being really careful for 3 months because of the plantar fasciitis, so walking all day barefoot was... different.  At one point, Zach asked about a building we passed by, and we were told that it was a monastery that was in use between the 11th and 13th century.  Then to driver proceeded to stop on the highway and reverse.   We tried to tell him that it was really okay, but they made it happen for us anyway.  You tell me if it was worth it. 

I believe it was the Manuha Temple that was built by this king who was basically on house arrest during his time of rule, so he expressed his feeling of confinement by building these huge Buddha statues with no extra space around them.  We had to squeeze to get around the legs of the one Buddha to even get into the "room." 

Htilo Minlo Temple was the second biggest and we heard a story about a king with a diseased finger, and then a queen magically sucked the disease from his finger and so the king made her son a prince.  This story took much longer to tell, and I am still not convinced it was true. 

Another fun tid-bit is that people hang out in the temples when it's hot because the stone makes it cool.  Ananda Temple is known as the most beautiful temple.  They are currently working on taking off the white wash, but when we were there all the people were taking a break for lunch.  It also took me around ten minutes to understand that the guide was using the word conjure.  Things I'll remember forever.

We went to at least 4 more temples, and then went on a horse and buggy type ride around a village in the old bagan walls.  I took a bunch of pictures, all stalker like, to capture how people live right in between these ancient structures.  After that ride we headed over to one last temple for the sunset.  Before we left, we walk to this building that was right there, but no one else seemed to be taking notice of. 

Zach: Let's check it out - I mean what are we going to do after this hang out in the hotel?
Me: And go to an epic New Year's Party!  Okay yeah, let's go.

It was completely dark, without any windows, with a huge laying Buddha.  It was amazing, and mystical and I'm so glad we checked it out.

The hotel was amazing, even if the wi-fi was not up to par. 
Me: This doesn't feel like New Year's Eve.
Zach: Why?
Me: Well, we were site seeing all day, it's warm and now we're in a hotel. 
Zach: I'm used to being in a hotel and going to hotel parties on New Year's.
Me: Of course you are. 

Apparently, these parties are rated by the food, and the food was excellent.  I had this Myanmar curry that I've never had before, and it was really yummy.  I continued to have this same curry for the next 5 days.  6 am we were getting up - another day another flight!

Zach: You know when we think of Burma...
Me: I've never thought of Burma in my life.
Zach: Really?
Me: Really, really.
Zach: South East Asia, then.
Me: I thought of Bangkok once.
Zach (ignoring me completely): You'd think it was more like India but I always think of the Japanese influence.
Actually, he probably said something else that made more sense but I was laughing too hard at myself.

We flew Air Bagan to Mandalay. Let's talk about the airports for a second.  First, I was very excited that our tour guide helped us check in because otherwise I would have been freaked out when someone just came and grabbed our bags when we hadn't even gotten our tickets yet.  Speaking of which, they handed us our tickets and these stickers to wear because the speaker system didn't really work.  (Later you would find people congregating by sticker, hoping not to miss their flights, and on one flight, I totally lost my sticker and panicked.)  Before security, they checked and stamped our tickets without looking at ID - probably because our names were not on our tickets.  Then we went through a "metal detector" made of wood and waited for a bus to take half a block to our plane.  You know those carts that airports put your luggage on? Well outside the bus we saw someone pushing one of those carts to our plane making me feel even more guilty for being on the bus to begin with. 

In Mandalay we went to the  Maha Gandayon Monastery to witness the monks lunch ritual.  They eat two times a day, at 5 am and 10:30 am and then they just drink after noon.  They also have their meals donated and cooked for them.  We saw the whole procession and then took a walk around to see the kitchens and what not.  Part of this was really cool, but part of me was uncomfortable with the people hanging out taking pictures and what not (myself included.) 

Then we went to the longest wooden bridge which was terrifying.  It was wobbly and falling apart (made of teak wood, which lasts 200 years, and it was creeping up in age) and the only railing was a very small section that had to be reinforced with cement railings. 

Then we went to a place that they make lacquer, and a silk factory, and a gold leaf place where I was more fascinated by how long it takes to make the bamboo paper that goes in between the golf leafs and they just throw away.  And then we went to the Shwenandaw Monastery that that was made with wood from the palace of the last Burmese King.  It took 700 carpenters, 2 years to create. 

One of the temples we went to we saw some of the young ladies during this cool ceremony that I will probably mess up when explaining.  So all the boys in the country become a monk when they are younger and again after they are 20.  And sometimes the girls go into the nunnery when they are young too.  You can actually go more than that, but the kids that are really young might only go for a couple of days.  Before the go, though, they get all dressed up and sometimes ride horses of elephants through the street like a prince or princess for the day. 

While we were there we also saw these brass sculptures from Angkor Wat, which we thought was there like a touring museum. But what they really meant was that they stole them during one of the wars, and we would find later in Cambodia that Angkor Wat doesn't have any of these sculptures.  Sad for them, but cool that we got to see them. 

We also went to the Kuthodaw Pagoda to see the biggest book because it is written on 729 (9 is a lucky number) slates, each housed in their own stone houses, oh an there was a Starfish tree. And then we finished up on Mandalay hill for a view of the city.

At breakfast in Mandalay:
Zach: The empires today weren't as old as the were yesterday in Bagan.
Me: You know today is a different day than yesterday?
Zach: Days equal cities now, Tiffany.

Fair enough. Another day, another flight. Thanks Myanmar. You were great!   This was our first flight on Air Asia, which was not the incredible service we had become accustomed to.  We arrived in Bangkok to find that we were apparently on our honeymoon.  Don't worry, we put the swans to good use.

We took a cab out to explore because Kelly and Maggie were still out on their tour.  We saw the main government like place, and then walked over to check out a temple, and then Zach and I kept walking around.  I said I would be okay with that until it got dark, only it did get dark and then a police officer like guy told us to hold still while the king drove by.  We walked a little bit further, and then I got uncomfortable and made Zach and I go back. 

Zach: Didn't you grow up in NY?
Me: Yes, and that is why I know we should go back to the hotel.

The next morning we met up with Kelly and Maggie for breakfast.   They thought the hotel was top-notch, but Zach and I were so spoiled by then we were like, "meh, it's okay. It's not 5 stars, but it's alright."

We met our tour guide Nancy in the lobby who took us on public transit, for a Chaopraya Express boat taxi ride to the market. I had fallen in love with dragon fruit earlier in the trip and at the market, I saw it in its natural state.  Nancy bought us some fruit to try.  I didn't listen to directions very well, though.

Me: I just ate the seed.
Then Kelly spit her seed on the pavement and Nancy smacked her for it. 

Nancy also yelled at me a lot for how many pictures my friends were taking.  I refused to pass the message on though, so the dawdling continued.  So many tourists in Bangkok that Zach and I were seriously missing the military dictatorship. Wat Pho, known also as The Temple of the Reclining Buddha was a good example of this.  Going through this temple, we were packed tight, meanwhile back in Yangon we were at a much larger reclining Buddha and it was just me and Zach. I did get some extra luck using some lotus flowers and blessed water.  (We'll have to ask Kelly for those shots.)  And we saw the royal area and Wat Phra Kaew the temple of the Emerald Buddha and the grand palace.

Nancy wanted to drop us off at the end of the day, but Zach wanted to see more cool, old, religious stuff, so we climbed a bunch of stairs and saw cool, old, religious stuff... with a view!

Backing up, when I was in Newark airport, I exchanged dollars for Thailand money.  Then when I got to Thailand, I got another 100 just in case.  When I tried to buy a water, they wouldn't take some of my money, but they did take the other money. I just thought that maybe the money was older, because that had happened with US dollars a couple of times. Not so much. Turns out, in Newark, I got TAIWAN money.  Whoopsie-Daisy. 

I only brought a three outfits, with every intention of washing clothes in a sink.  But then I remembered I'm in a fancy hotel and I could pay someone to do my laundry.  Our clothes were returned all wrapped up and perfect, but we took a picture and told Dawne to be proud of her son finally doing laundry. 

Kelly stopped by while Maggie took a little nap.  That's when Kelly saw my two extension cords, one with 5 USB ports and one with 3 outlets and two additional USB's.  I used these to power a phone, iPad, Kindle, camera battery, and 4 extra battery packs. Me to Kelly: Do you like how much power I have?

And then we were off to Chiang Mai! At the airport, we invited Kelly and Maggie to watch Elementary with us because we had 5 available jacks for audio, but they just looked at us like weirdos.  Or maybe that was because Zach got dairy queen.   We were met at the airport by Tus, our guide.  He took us back to the hotel where we checked in and grabbed some lunch.  Before the guide left though, he reviewed our itinerary with us. 

Tus: And on Wednesday I'll take you to the airport.
Me: Is there anything that we could do before the airport, maybe a temple?
Tus: Tigers? Yeah we could go see tigers.
Me and Maggie: TIGERS!! YES!!
Zach and Kelly: Tigers? O - kay.

Someone asked me how I knew Maggie, and despite only meeting her once or twice prior to the trip, I told them that we were best friends from when we were little because it felt like it told a better story.  We had lunch and as there was a lot of tasting and trying things happening, I decided (and later felt bad about embarrassing him) to tell Kelly and Maggie that Zach wasn't into sharing drinks.  They immediately made jokes about cooties and then observed that when Kelly took a bite of Zach's meal, "only Kelly got cooties in this exchange."  Sorry, Zach.  I'll try to shut up next time.   That evening, Tus took us to see the old walled city, some temples in the historical part of town and the Sunday market.  This is also where he took us to eat from the outside food court/cart area.  Kelly and I did a through perusal before we landed on "safe" food for dinner.  Oh, and we saw these Monks messing with the New Year's decorations.  When we went to take pictures Tus told us to be careful because the monks don't wear underwear.

More soon!