Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Years 2012 - ZANZIBAR!!

Isn't that mentioned in a Tenacious D song? Where the hell is Zanzibar?!? Well I found out! Zanzibar is an island off the coast of Tanzania known for their exotic spices, interesting history and beautiful beaches. College Roommate I cross paths yet again in Stone Town in Zanzibar City. With four pairs of footwear and two backpacks between the two of us we started to wander around Stone Town. The seafood market was our first stop. Lobster, shrimp, fish, octopus, vegetables all grilled and on a stick. Any food on a stick is always a favorite of mine. College Roommate had lobster for the first time. After some more wandering we found a terrace bar right on the coast and enjoyed a few cold beverages.

The next day I saw the condition of his gym shoes...ratty, dirty, stinky. Except for the full beard and pony tail, the shoes were in the exact same condition as he (heh heh heh). I brought my old pair of running shoes which I bought two years prior. His gym shoes were also bought two years ago, but at a second hand store. Since I had a new pair of shoes in my apartment in Saudi Arabia (Yes, I am living in Saudi Arabia right now) and a pair of flip flops in my back pack, I decided to give him my old running shoes and the stench acquired from traveling and wearing them for the past 24 hours. The old second hand shoes were thrown out and his new second hand shoes were aired out for the day. I had my flip flops which seemed to be more than enough for 5 days on the beach and my return trip...

We went on with our first day in stone town, drinking coffee with the locals on the corner, eating potato soup (THIS SOUP WAS FREAKING DELICIOUS), and cold beers, before we made our way to the bus station. The trip to Bwejuu was very amusing for us. We decided to tap people on the shoulder until they turned around and pointed at local lady as if she were the culprit. WE ARE HILARIOUS!!! It didn't seem to get old either...we continued to do this for the entire hour and a half bus ride. Exiting the bus, we walked down a gravel road to our new home for the next five days. Me and the US Peace Corps Uganda. Small bungalows right on the whitest sand beach I've ever seen. It was beautiful. They were overbooked and six of us were put in one large bungalow and our price per person dropped from $30 to $9 per day. No one seemed to mind.

New Years we found a small bar with loud music and lots of people dancing. Since the bar was right on the beach and the floor was made of sand, the 15 of us piled all of our sandals in one spot with the intention to pick them up at the end of the night. As the number of people grew, the dance floor engulfed our sandal pile and sprayed them all over the place like a shotgun blast. Some people found one of their sandals, but most of us were unable to find any of ours. Barefoot in 2012...

2012 continued and we continued along with it, playing Zanzibol on the beach and also taking a late night voyage in the Indian Ocean. The seas were calmer than expected which allowed my paddling to be rewarded with increased speed. College Roommate at one point said, "Whooaaa! Slow down!".

Unfortunately all good things need to come to an end. After an amazing five days with PC Uganda, I made my way back to Stone Town to catch my ferry back to the mainland. Also unfortunate was the footwear count between College Roommate and myself. We had started with four and were down to one...the running shoes I gave to him. My feet were pretty tough after walking barefoot for the past few days on the sand, so I made my way to the van with some Germans and one other American I had met on the beach. We looked for sandal vendors along the way and in Stone Town, but could not find any. Since the ferry was leaving soon I did not have a chance to venture through town to find a pair. Waiting in line barefoot, the locals pointed at my feet and spoke to one another in Swahili. "Yeah yeah, I don't have shoes on". The ferry ride was about 2 hours long and I found myself back in Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. The pavement was hot and I was able to find a shady patch on the sidewalk to cool my feet. What to do now...

BOOYAH! Guy with pack of sandals on his head across the street! Finding a gap in traffic I was able to catch up with the sandal guy. I asked him for sandals and he said 20,000 schillings (about $15). I had 7000 schillings in my pocket and a boat load of foreign currency (Saudi Rials and US dollars). I showed him the schillings and he turned and kept walking. A good samaritan seeing the battered condition of my feet started yelling at the sandal guy and told me to give him 5000 for the sandals. The sandal guy was hesitant (I think he was just a delivery guy) and the good samaritan grabbed the sandal bag, ripped it open and gave me a pair of bright blue sandals which were too small for my feet. I thanked him and continued on my return journey to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Great Falls, MT

Well, I've been stateside now for almost a full year. Spent 9 months in Southern Illinois hanging with Superman in Metropolis, IL and then about two months back in Chicago. It was great spending that time in Chicago since I spent well over a year in SE Asia prior to my assignment in So IL.

One of my coworkers flew in from Sicily and needed to fly directly to Great Falls, MT with a short stop in Chicago. Her drivers licence had just expired and had received an extension in the mail at our office. I had volunteered to drop the extension sticker off at O Hare. When I arrived, instead of handing her the sticker through the window of my car and wishing her a safe trip to Montana, she climbed into the car and explained to me that all of her luggage was lost and she needs to be to the customer site by tomorrow morning AND catch the flight in three hours. And so I became her chauffeur for the afternoon...

We went back to work to gather safety equipment, stopped at her storage locker and also made a quick stop at Target. While back in the office, my managers decided that it would be a good idea for me to travel to Montana as well, as long as the customer approved. I got an e-mail from my coworker with the lost luggage the next day saying I should fly out that night. I packed my bags and was on a plane to Denver 6 hours after recieving the e-mail.

Great Falls, MT was visited by Lewis and Clark in 1805 and was one of their more challenging ordeals of their westerly expedition. Great Falls is split right down the middle by the Missouri River and today has several hydroelectric damns as shown by the picture below. There are five in total.

Great Falls is also known for a fantastic lounge called the "Sip 'n Dip" named for mermaid viewing while having a cold one at the bar. The customer suggested this place and me and coworker with the lost luggage decided that we had to make some time in our busy schedule to visit. Friday night after completion of a 20 hour day at the plant suited us well.

The Sip 'n Dip is a small lounge and casino in a small local Motel called the O' Haire Motor Inn. We arrived around 8:30, grabbed a beverage and waited for the mermaids to arrive at 9. One mermaid swam into view followed by another one about 15 minutes later. It was very bizarre, but really cool at the same time. Around 10, Piano Pat started playing lounge songs on her organ. With the old lady on the keys and mermaids swimming around in the pool behind the bar, this perfected the Sip 'n Dip experience.

The mermaids collected tips through out the night, and i decided to give em a 5 so I could get a picture with em.

GQ voted Sip 'n Dip the best Cocktail Lounge on earth and I can see why. Where else can you hear old timey songs played by Piano Pat AND watch Mermaids swim around the back of the bar. What an experience...what a night!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Oh man...where did the last 6 months go?

I'm sorry. I really am. I knew I was due for a new blog post, but am quite past my deadline. Not cut out for "on time" type work (hopefully my manager doesn't read this post). Or maybe I've been too busy with work to slack off and write a blog (now he can read it).

Well, as you have kept on living the last 6 months, I too have kept on keepin' on. For starters, I am back in Thailand. AH! I never told you I was here in the first place! I came to Thailand for about 3 weeks in February and then returned to Malaysia for the next 4 months. Now, I have joined the team here and should be here for awhile.

Awhile = more than 1 month, less than 1 year

My assignment in Malaysia was to be 3-4 months and turned out to be around 9 months. Both the planned duration and actual time fit into this definition of "awhile" so I will stick to this assumption on the length of my future assignments. Hopefully it won't be too long since I have not returned to the USA since my 25th birthday (just over 9 months ago). Awhile isn't all bad...especially when you have balcony views like this:

My wonderful girlfriend visited for a few weeks in January and it turned out to be the highlight of my time abroad. We visited Cambodia, ate ants, saw floating and stilted houses, climbed on temples about a thousand years old (Angkor near Siem Riep), taught English to Cambodian kids (after we ate ants with them) and just had a grand ol' time. She's beautiful inside and out so our time together is very much cherished...especially while I'm working abroad.

Oh, and I bought a camera. My previous camera was really high tech...for the 90s. That means I can post my pictures to this blog as well. Here are some more good shots from the last couple of months:
  • A view from the beach near the Hyatt in Kuantan, Malaysia
  • Dusk from the Regency Club lounge at the Hyatt (my favorite picture I have taken thus far)
  • A small island off of Tioman Island. We went snorkeling here.
  • Sepia
  • The Petronas Twin Towers at dusk from Traders hotel in Kuala Lumpur
Ok, I promise to write more. Once a week? Oooo don't know bout that. Maybe one every two weeks? I'll try my best. I haven't taken many pictures of Thailand yet, so once I get a nice collection going I'll be sure to post them. A friendly reminder here and there would be good to keep me on task. Until then, keep on keepin' on.