Archive for September, 2011

Thailand in a box

Posted in Uncategorized on September 22, 2011 by Cristina

Finding myself in the most exotic place I’d ever experienced, I realized that I was more connected to modern, American city life than I’d thought. Thailand bombarded my senses with interesting little bombs that, ashamedly, I sometimes interpreted in terms of my far removed metropolitan existence. It’s embarrassing.
I actually made the following lame correlations.

1.

Because I live too far from the ocean.

2.

Because I’ve seen too many scary movies and have always had a sink.

3.

Because the closest I’d gotten to lotus leaves was stock computer images.

4.

Because it was my first time eating delicious, fresh lychee.
I thought of alcohol. Pathetic.

5.

Because he did, they all did! It’s sad that my only previous exposure to Thai-talk was playful [albeit spot-on] impressions of engrish accents.

The only non-bullshit correlation was this one:

Because my normal life is far from this.

We all interpret the world through our previous experiences, but I just wish my previous experiences weren’t so rooted in artificiality. I suppose each travel adventure is a baby step toward tasting, breathing and seeing everything for what it actually is. From now on, lychee martinis will remind me of the long-boat guy who sold us two cans of beer and threw in a handful of the spiky fruit for free. I bet he’s never seen The Ring.

Coke-bottle cock-blocker

Posted in Uncategorized on September 21, 2011 by Cristina

Imagine a sexy Thai rock-climbing instructor with Che’s neanderthalic face:

His name was Na, we chatted in engrish and made eyes at each other for days. We even had a date to go buy veggies and cook yum tua plu. Rough seas made the market boat trip impossible, so the date never happened and neither did the make-out session I’d dreamt of. Thai sigh.

Now, picture a more handsome, Thai version of Snoop Dogg with a guitar and long wavy hair. You’re swooning, too. I know!

I lusted for this guy for 3 days, watching him play soccer, nap topless, look for shellfish, the list of hot activities goes on and on. When he pulled up his Rolling Stones shirt to show me a scar from a fire-spinning accident, I nearly fainted. The man was so fine! Didn’t romance him either. F!

Whyyy? Partly because Thai guys are so shy, but mostly because I think too much. I actually took a walk on the beach to decide if I should put the moves on timid Thai Snoop. What I came up with is, in hindsight, a bit absurd. I concluded that he was just too perfect and happy and gorgeous in this paradisiacal island for some western bitch to make out with him and leave the next day. I didn’t want to stain his purity with the grossness of American tourism and [this is where I get crazy] likened the love session to tribal Xi finding that modern Coke bottle in The Gods Must Be Crazy.

Sure, it seems harmless and fun. Sweet, even. But in the long run, it’ll ruin your peaceful life and you’ll wish you never saw the thing. Yep, I stood on the beach that night, drunk and horny, deciding not to head back into the bar because he was too wholesome and I was a damn Coke bottle.
Aaaand this is why I’m single.
My lips wish my brain would give it a rest sometimes.

Street meat & shit

Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2011 by Cristina

Top 4 reasons I love buying street food.
1. The vendors are total characters.
At a fruit stand in Crown Heights, I only have a $20 to buy a single banana so the guy says, “Just pay me later.” When I return 2 weeks later with my $1 bill, he asks how my trip to the Dominican Republic was. Phenomenal memory on that man. Wonder what he did for work in his home country.

2. You don’t always know what you’re buying.
Driving to Lagoon Dudú in the DR, I get an urge to buy rum (what.). I pull up to a stand where a toothless woman guards rows of these bottles:

The price she quotes sounds too good to be true, so I inspect the bottle and ask why it’s so thick, “¿Por qué es tan espeso?” She raises an unkempt little eyebrow at me and says, “Porque es miel.” Aaaaaah, it’s hooooney, riiight. Sold! My Spanish skills aren’t as impressive, considering these idiotic Jessica Simpson moments. (In my defense, it’s hard to tell rum from honey when they’re in the same Brugal bottles). That honey freckled with ants was better than any rum I’ve ever had!

3. What you’re buying is always good.
With zero communication skills in Thailand, I would point at something that looked good and eat it. All of it. No matter what. Like this:

I point at 2 sticks: livers and hearts. But they’re all oh-so-close-together! So I accidentally get chicken butts. Ate them! All four fatty chicken butts. My travel companion was a little weary of some mysterious meat I’d bought us that looked a lot like this photo depicting rat on a stick:

Unable to identify the bones, she trashed hers but I kept eating. When I found a familiar claw, I exclaimed, “Yeey! At least we know it’s a bird!” It was likely duck and definitely delicious. For the record, I can’t think of a grilled meat that I wouldn’t eat. Not one.

4. Street food is cheaper than a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer!

Pad thai gai: $0.82. I don’t wanna know what chicken parts they’re using, but can’t be more offensive than the butt.

Old Schmold

Posted in Uncategorized on September 19, 2011 by Cristina

Over the last month, I’ve met many people who keep marveling that I’m 30, and exclaiming that 30 is OLD! Here’s how some of these chats played out in real life and in my brain. My increasingly atrophied brain.

• Talking to an obliterated 57-year-old Irishman at a cowboy bar in Chiang Mai; he’s convinced that we need to get married and procreate but I tell him he’s too old for me.

John: “You’re no spring chicken, you should start thinking about babies soon; can I make love to you? We could have little Johns, you know!”
What I said: No, thanks, I have more time and a lot of faith in medicine.
What I wanted to say: Ew, sir!

• Getting to know fellow American backpackers in Railay.

YoungGuy: Wow, that’s great that you’re backpacking. I hope that I’ll still be traveling at your age.
What I said: This is my first backpacking trip, but yeah, it’s really fun.
What I wanted to say: Well at my age, I guess I’m pretty badass to go jungle hiking with this artificial hip. It’s a wonder I haven’t lost the will to live after all these years.

• YoungGuy sees me singing along to Another One Bites the Dust.

YoungGuy: Oh, I guess you know this song ’cause they’re your generation. Who is this?
What I said: Queen.
What I wanted to say: My generation?!? Motherfucker, you’re only 6 years younger and neither of us were alive when this song came out. 

• Late-night as YoungGuy’s friend is slumped over & asleep at our table.
YoungGuy: Do you have any married friends or know anyone married?
What I said: I’m divorced.
YoungGuy: *Gulp*
What I wanted to say: I think it’s past your bedtime. 

The problem isn’t that I FEEL old, it’s that a lot of people are telling me I should. In my mind, I’m a combination of a 19 and a 65-year-old depending on the situation. A swim in the ocean at 3am to look for photo fluorescent plankton? Hell, yeah! Liver & onions for dinner? Heck, yes! I love old people and will be proud to join their ranks (or to have already joined their ranks, same same).

Extreme tourism

Posted in Uncategorized on September 18, 2011 by Cristina

Twelve hour layover in Korea on my way home from an epic trip and I decide to take the train into Seoul and spend the day at a traditional spa called a jimjilbang (찜질방). I used to hang at the Irish-Roman versions of these in Germany where I saw more flaccid white penis than I can shake a stick at and also a fabulous Korean one in deep Queens.

Having already learned the Princess Leia towel roll technique, I felt comfortable enough exploring a jimjilbang that the airport lady who recommended it described as “no western people there, only Korean, it not in very nice shopping zone.” Yesss, precisely what I want! With the help of a handwritten note in Korean and some charades, I finally get there and put on my pajama uniform, ready for hours of saunas, napping, eating, hot-tubbing and having as much fun as these guys:

As warned, all the signs were only in Korean so I was terrified that I’d accidentally open one of the many doors and walk nude into a forbidden area. Thankfully, my only gender faux pax was sleeping in the men’s nap room; I must’ve looked so tired, no one said anything. An old woman did yell and gesture at me as I was combing my fingers through my hair in a hot tub (’cause the jets tangled that shit up). Lesson learned, I got brave and negotiated a body-scrub-massage thingie. Back in Germany, I’d gotten a vigorous scrub from a mammoth lab-coat-wearing Estonian woman and when asked “Soft orrr Harrrd?” I mistakenly said hard, not knowing that she’d be using a porcupine-bristled brush. The Korean version was hilariously more gentle; my masseuse was a pudgy 60ish-year-old woman wearing (I kid you not) this little number except with the see-through lace panties grannie-sized.

She fed my skin cucumber face-paste, coconut oil massage and apple face scrub as she kept grabbing or tapping me to motion if I needed to flip over or something. At one point, I opened my eyes and realized I was lying naked in a pool of rice milk, little white beads of it all over my now oily skin. Zip-lining around rainforest canopies isn’t extreme tourism. Looking up to see a lace-clad Korean lady tugging repeatedly on your arms as your head bobs in and out of her gelatinous tummy… that’s extreme.