First to catch up. When last we left off Janice and I had just finished diving on the Great Barrier Reef off of Cairns, Australia. Really fantastic if a bit tiring. Then an overnight bus to Airlie Beach and onto a sailboat to cruise around the Whitsunday Islands for a couple days. We sailed around on a former America's Cup Challenger - Brittish Defender. No the Brittish never won the Cup, actually I don't think they ever even came very close. You'd think for a country surrounded by the ocean and with thier naval history they would have put up a better show really. But I digress, the boat was an 83 foot yahct captained by a long haired guy named Dave
. Dave has definately been around though, he originally sailed the boat down from Mallorca, Spain. He avoided pirates, a near mutiny and nearly getting swallowed by a whale, he did exagerate a bit I guess. We had to help crew the boat - hoist the sail, raise the jib that kind of thing, but actually not too bad. We sailed around gorgeous turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and small green islands - really beautiful. Every day we got to go snorkelling and saw amazing coral, ate wonderful food, and then star gazed until going to bed. Of note it wasn't all fun happy times, though I must admit this was my fault. You see, during one of the slower times on the boat I decided to try to do a backflip off the side into the water below. For those of you who know me - I am upside down challenged. I have never even been able to do a forward somersault on the carpet, let alone a flip. But part of this trip has been trying new things so I figured hey why not. The first attempt went well, I threw my arms back, jumped far away from the side of the boat and managed to not flip at all but do a back dive - I'm told I looked pretty good actually. So I figured, one more go. For this Jan got the camera. I got ready, threw my arms back and jumped backwards... when my body betrayed me. Refusing to flip over - I think I lack some spinal reflex- I managed to not exactly belly flop but more, kind of, like nut flop. Not sure anyone has ever only landed with this part of their body, but when a grown man lands with the full force of his weight on one area it can be a bit painful. Needless to say I was in no hurry to get out of the cold water, and I think it is obvious that no, I didn't try a third time, and yes, Janice got a picture.
After leaving our wonderful sailing trip, a bus back up to Cairns, then a flight to Bangkok, Thailand. I had first been to Bangkok four years ago and it was pretty much just as I had remembered it
. The streets are very congested with cars, motorbikes, tuk tuks (little motorized rickshaw type things), people, buses, everything you can imagine spewing exhaust into the hot and humid air. This is mixed with the amazing smell of Thai food being cooked on the very same streets. We found a great guest house to stay in and hung out for a week taking it easy. This entailed waking up late, reading, eating good food and getting a daily massage. No not that kind of massage, a traditional Thai massage - we began referring to it as the best hour of the day, and all for just three dollars. Although we spent most of our non-massage time planning for our time here in S.E. Asia, we managed to do a little sightseeing. We spent one day walking around to the differnent Wats in the city. Wats are Thai temples, all very beautiful and ornate. Each one with a differnent history, and enclosing a monster sized Buddha. We also took one day to head out to Ayuthaya, the former Thai capital before the Burmese crashed thier party back in the 1700s. Lots of old ruins there, and more big Buddhas.
Then onto Chaing Mai, where we are now. We took an overnight train ride north from Bangkok, a quick tuk tuk ride and again found a nice little guest house to stay at. We've been taking it easy, I've been getting over a stomache bug - probably the Bangkok street food - how can something that tastes so good, be so bad. Jan has had a bit of a cold, but she also is feeling much better now. So the past two days we have been taking Thai cooking classes. They have been great - we are first shown how to prepare a dish, then we do it ourselves, each with our own wok. It's been really fun, and we have three more days to go. Maybe if I can make my own food, I won't feel the need to eat on the street anymore, probably not though. Now you can all look forward to Thai night dinner parties, just not sure where to find corriander root, and elephant ear mushrooms in the US. After the cooking classes we should be off for some trekking up in the hills then onto Laos. Oh and in case any kind souls are wondering - yes I have recovered fully from my attempted flip - strong like bull.
We are in South East Asia now and things have definately changed a bit. The weather is more hot and humid, the food is spicier, and I can understand the English being spoken a lot better than in Australia and New Zealand.