One thing that we've gained since the trip is a little different perspective about our "stuff" - the things that build up on shelves, in drawers, hard drives, closets and corners that you forgot. Before we left we may have been likely to let things linger. Now, for a change, we've rounded the corner to purging. It has nearly been a full time job to get all the crap that we've collected over the years out of our sight.
It's all about needs really - and our perspective has changed from valuing the things we need vs. the stuff that might be nice to have once or twice a year. I don't think we need 7 different types of jellies and jams, that sweater from 1989 or the computer that died a year ago. So it's all going. We're both hoping to start 2007 leaner and meaner that we have any year before - when it comes to stuff. Unfortunately, we still have some work to do on the ole body mass index.
I do love my wife – but she is such a huge nerd. Did you know she has a degree in microbiology? You’d think with such knowledge, she would be more in tune with her own health. Before we left, Sachi saw an allergist and learned that she has allergies to trees and grasses – it affects her every year at home and her allergy medicine, which helps immensely, is in her backpack now. Sometimes Sachi needs a reminder about this fact.
For nearly the entire time that we’ve been in
I do not know why Sachi can’t recognize her own allergies, but I am now on allergy alert on her behalf. Never again will I watch her suffer through weeks of a “cold” only to find that we’ve been sharing the room with the cure the whole time. So much for microbiology.
After India, even places known for unsanitary conditions seem all the more worry-free. This may have been the case with Laos, which was much nicer than I expected, but lacks infrastructure nonetheless. We jettisoned the hand sanitizing lotion in Thailand/Japan and did not look back. Perhaps we should have as we've both been laid low by minor ailments lately. Just a little head cold and some digestive troubles to welcome us to Cambodia.
I'm hoping Sachi will have some words for you about Laos soon, but in the mean time, I'd like to talk about currency. First of all, I didn't realize until we were already there that Laos (or the People's Democratic Republic of Laos) is a communist country with an almost free-market enconomy (a bit like China). Anyway, much like Cambodia, multiple currencies can be used. The Lao "kip" is joined with the US Dollar and the Thai Baht. There are 10,000 kip for each American dollar, making for wallet-bulging stacks of change.
Officially, the Lao government says that the Kip is the only and required currency. However, Lao Airlines, the government-owned carrier will only accept payment in US dollars. Such is the state of affairs in Laos.
Here in Cambodia, the defacto currency is the US Dollar ($1 to about 4000r). The Cambodian Riel is often given for change to the dollar, but at a grocery store today I noticed a cash register that looked just as it would at home- stocked with US money. I used 10 minutes (US$.20) of Internet time today, payed with a one dollar bill and received 8 bills of change back in the Cambodian Riel. Wallet bulging.
I fulfilled a couple of my trip-long goals today by visiting the Killing Fields and the Tuol Seng Prinson here in Phnom Penh, both big parts of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in 1975-1979. I'll have a lot to say about that soon.
After dealing with so many issues in India, we need a break. We're headed home to Seattle in the morning to recharge for a while. Mark, don't tell Amos- we want it to be a surprise. :)
I am feeling better! Finally. It's been too many days - though not unexpected here. On our way up to this mountaintop town of Darjeeling, I had some time to recover a little from the rattling jeep ride (Lee mentioned the strike). The word was out that at 6:00 the road would be opened, so we waited it out below the road block on the side of the road with hundreds of others.
I'm getting used to all the stares and Indian men trying to bump into me all the time (bumpers up - I say). But yesterday one man who looked intent and unfriendly walked by our sitting Jeep a few times after Lee had gotten out to stretch his legs. The man stared the entire time. I had sunglasses on and ignored him. He walked to the front of the jeep obviously looking for the driver, then into a storefront door to find him, all the while making sure I was still there. Then he began talking to the timid teenager in the front seat that spoke almost no English. He was obviously asking about me - the kid kept saying I don't know - I don't know. I made sure my door was locked and then Lee leaned in on his door. "He's asking about me." I said. Lee looked over at him across the Jeep and scowled and shook his head saying NO. The man shook his head back and walked away from the vehicle. Yay Lee! I was in no shape to deal with that situation. If the driver had been around, I'm sure he would have told me to get out of the jeep and at least take a picture with the guy - and he would have tried to receive a pretty rupee from it. Not that I would do it.
I was never in any danger or felt unsafe at any time. It was just the ridiculousness of the situation and my low tolerance of it feeling so ill. We laughed about it for a while afterwards. When you feel healthy you have so much more confidence to be assertive and handle any situation that may arise. I think I might just climb a small mountain today!
Yesterday, we had one big goal - to take our sick butts back to Delhi, where we have a hotel room for two nights where we planned to recharge before heading north. We took some Immodium and hoped for the best for the 4 hour journey from Jaipur.
Since the ride, I've been better, but Sachi, not so much. She isn't deathly ill, but goes to the bathroom every hour or so and sometimes runs a fever. She's been in bed since yesterday and I've spent a good portion of my time there too.
Fortunately, the hotel (Nirula's in Connaught Place) is nice and has cable TV, and a couple of English channels, including HBO (edited and with commercials). We've seen commercials for a car called a Xeta approximately 2000 times. Many commercials seem to speak Hinglish - Hindi and English. One, for "Anti-aging" motor oil has a catchy jingle at the end that, the best I can tell sings "Magic Anti-Aging...Jah Boo-jah Boo".
There are a few Indian music video channels that seem to play the same 4 songs over and over (much like home). Apparently synchronized dancing is a required element of any Indian video. That, and a duet with a hot female with an extremely high voice that may or may not be the actual singer.
The movies have been a mixed bag, but when there's no choice and inaction is a requirement, Problem Child 2 or Anaconda can pass the time quite nicely. We were excited to catch Shaun of the Dead last night, followed up by Ray and Men in Black. I fell asleep to Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses, which I wish I could have Tivo'd. Today we saw Indentity with John Cusack and the kid movie Matilda.
It's looking like we may hang out here for a couple of days to recover fully. Maybe we'll pick up a little Hindi or learn a few dance moves, to be practiced on the way to the bathroom.
We're in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India and I wish I was telling a different story; one about the Pink City, the Water Palace or the Tiger Fort.
Instead, what is much more front-of-mind is the condition of my digestive system (again). I very nearly left an unwelcomed mark on Jaipur today with what is often known as "Dehli Belly".
Right now I have a slight fever and trying to replace electrolytes while I hope that I recover before a long day of sightseeing tomorrow. We have both been really diligent about food, sanitation, but the little bugs have a way of getting in.
I figure that by the time I get home, I'll have the toughest immune system around.
Pictures and some positive news coming soon...
Yesterday I had one of the most bizarre, horrible and terrific health problems I've had. We were in Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka. Mervyn, our driver, had just dropped us off and we were walking through the markets of Colombo.
The first sign was cramping, starting high in the abdomen and moving lower. Two big waves of cramps made me groan out loud and start to think about the consequences.
We walked on for about 10 minutes and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I went from walking around like a normal person to being (literally) brought to my knees by dizziness and nausea in about 3 minutes. Sachi went into nurse mode and called Mervyn who came quickly.
In the meantime, we asked a policeman who told us a bathroom was a couple of blocks away – too far for me. I was barely conscious with the world swirling around me -walking wasn’t an option. The policeman gave me a chair where I fumbled to remove my shirt that had been soaked by sweat. I distinctly remember the concerned look of people around me. I was pouring sweat from every pore – every pore. I was very concerned about my own condition.
Mervyn came and said that he could get us to a hotel in two minutes. I gathered my senses and made it to the car. The A/C felt so good- but my body needed a bathroom very badly. We arrived at the Grand Oriental Hotel in no time and I couldn’t put my shirt back on myself I was so weak. Sweat was still pouring.
The bathroom door in the lobby said “hotel guests only”. Oh well. I’ll spare you the details of the bathroom, but let’s just say that my body has never been so emptied so efficiently. I pictured someone finding me passed out on that bathroom floor. Luckily, I walked out of the bathroom to more stares of concerned people. Sachi said I was see-through white with blue lips. I felt worse than that.
I sat in the hotel lobby for the next 30 minutes with waves of dizziness threatening a loss of consciousness. A/C, cold water, deep breathing and relaxation went a long way. The sweat finally stopped after every piece of clothing was soaked through. I’ve never sweated so hard.
Literally no more than 1 hour after the first cramps, it was over - I was back to normal for the most part. Just in case, we became customers of the Grand Oriental Hotel for the night where I relaxed and enjoyed a complete feeling of health. I still have no idea what happened, but the most likely culprit was a combination of food and the sweltering heat.
I don't remember ever feeling so badly so quickly. I think I packed a few days of sickness into a matter of minutes. If we were on a bus, or a hike or train, there would have been a very bad situation. But thanks to Mervyn, our trusty driver, we found a safe place for me to recover. Good guy that Mervyn.
It appears that things are looking up for us now. Last night we opened the laptop and found two free and unsecured wireless Internet connections. A good sign. We also found out that breakfast is included AND includes noodles, which is heaven for Sachi. Then, despite a harrowing and anxious experience, we got our Indian visa applications in process in time to make our flight out of
Sachi is still in the throes of that head cold, but she’s a trooper and it should start going away tomorrow. Soon, we’ll have replenished our lost and ruined items and have some kind of plans for our future travels. For now, we know we’re going to
We thought it was a coincidence, we thought it might be different in other countries. But no, she is universally attractive to all things that bite and sting. Today it even happened underwater via jellyfish. Twice even, when no one else got stung. I guess they don't make bug spray or lotion (as pictured above) for that.