Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Thailand is for lovers... Guangzhou is for adventurers!

How is life on your side of the world? Mine is busy with school ending in 2 weeks and squeezing as much travel as I can into the short time that I have left. Since I last wrote, I have taken a wonderful vacation to Pattaya in Thailand (just 1 1/2 hours outside of Bangkok) and a short weekend excursion to Guangzhou (a city 1 hour outside of Hong Kong in Mainland). Life is good, besides this pesky thing called school :-)

So Thailand... Although Mike and I hardly "roughed it - backpacker style" in our resort hotel with 12 restaurants, we did manage to see a future Wonder of the World called The Sanctuary of Truth (made completely of hand-carved wood from all over Asia) and pet baby tigers. That's right, if you couldn't believe that I kissed a pink dolphin, I think you're going to have an even harder time imagining me feeding a baby tiger out of a bottle in my lap. It was so hot and sticky in Thailand that we spent a whole day at the beautiful Coral Island where we shared a boat with a wealthy Western business man and his teenage Thai escort. That rather disturbing detail about the sex industry in Pattaya followed us on every outing, as Pattaya we later learned is the Red Light district of Thailand. It seemed strange how the girls laughed at all the foreigner's bad jokes and held their hands. It made me wonder how a young girl comes into such a job. Sometimes, the Thai girls even brought their daughters along on the tours too. I'm sure on any other of my adventures, I would have sat down for a chat with one to ask about it, but our organized tour in the open air taxi seemed hardly appropriate.

The food in Thailand was some of the best that I've had in Asia. Pineapple fried rice is a famous dish that I'm determined to cook regularly when I return to USC. In fact, officially Thailand has the best oreo milkshake that I have ever had. Amazing! Something that would surely make my little brother proud ;) Overall, it was difficult to experience the truly authentic Thai culture that you might find traveling to villages out of tourist areas. But, nonetheless, the company (Mike, that's you!) more than made up for it!

On to Guangzhou... I literally just unpacked from this two day excursion to Mainland China. Guangzhou, on the surface, seems like any ordinary city - a little dirty, grey, and concrete. But, it was because of my school mate's and my determination to have a cultural experience, that it was surprisingly fun. Aside from the notoriously cheap shopping that yielded a $4 pair of suede turquoise boots, the gardens and parks were amazing. Milena and I climbed a nine story pagoda that was one of the most beautifully artistic that I have seen. (Naturally, we have pictures of the whole climbing process). We took a day trip to the neighboring city of Foshan where we got hopelessly lost because well-meaning locals kept pointing us in the wrong direction, and we wound up in beautiful zen-like park (also thoroughly documented). It really was one of those times where you realize that the right attitude and the good company can make any city fun!

Well, kids, sorry to be a bit abrupt, but I really must get back to work. All of my classes have 10+ page papers due now :-( Quite sad, really. The next time I write I will tell you of my adventures with my favorite Uncle Dave to Beijing and Tokyo! WOOHOO to cool family members who visit me :-D