Monday, December 19, 2005

Glad to be back?

Yeah right.

I’m a little jet-lagged and sore from a ridiculously long flight. I felt like I was in steerage for the first time on a United flight. I came to a real interesting realization; I think it was the same as last time I got back, or maybe it’s a little reverse culture shock, but I’m not glad to be back.

The same problems that I had before I left are still here. I’m not happy to be back, I’m honestly depressed. As I sat in sub-zero temperatures once again waiting for an ‘El’ train to take its time to pull in the station, I finally came to a realization that I may never be happy here in Chicago. I’m not saying that Thailand is the answer. I’m saying that change may be in order for me to have a little slice of happiness.

As for reverse culture shock, I don’t mind being a foreigner in a completely different culture. What did I miss when I was gone? I think the only thing that I craved was a good burrito. Now that I’m back, I’m craving a good bowl of Tom yam gung (hot and spicy soup with shrimp).

I’ll be back updating the blog, so keep an eye for my other observations and photos.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pink Eye

Fucking pink eye. Sorry for the lax posting here, but haven't really felt up to it and the eyesight in my left eye was real cloudy. Actually, still is a bit at times. I got back to BKK and a couple of my friends here were a bit concerned by the fact that my eye was almost completely red. I said that if it was worse on the next morning that I would go to Bumrungrad Hospital and have it checked out.

Well, I think that all of you know how it worked out the next day. Looked like I wend 2 rounds with Mike Tyson circa 1988. I showered and headed to the hospital. The eye doctor after about 30 seconds of looking at my eyes said that I have an eye infection. Conjunctivitis, I inquired? You got it.

Since then, I've been to the hopsital 3 other times for follow up visits. My eyes are completely cleared up, but I have drops that I need to take every four hours. I guess my doctor appointment on January 9th will be well worth it.

Due to the appointment schedule that I was on, I was Bangkok bound. I played a lot of pool (sometimes with one eye), shopped a little, caught Little Louie Vega and Deep Dish out at the clubs on RCA road. Both of those nights were completely crazy.

I really wanted to get up to Chaing Mai, but it will have to wait until my next trip when ever that will be. I think I'm heading to Germany for the World Cup next summer (Argentina and Netherlands play in Frankfurt in June).

I went shooting yesterday (Thursday the 14th) at a range hosted by the Thai military. I was able to shoot a .38, .45, and a 9mm. It was really fun and completely safe and supervised (ear protection, showing how to load the weapon, etc.)

I can't say that this trip has been completely dissapointing, because the purpose of this trip was to see if I would entertain living in BKK and to relax. Jury is still out, but I am looking forward to coming back home to Chicago (just not 21 degree temps. Its "cold" here by Thai standards about 70-73 degrees) As for relaxation, I think I got my fill with bouts of the runs and pink eye. Boy, I can't wait for work on Monday. I think I'll tell people that I caught pink eye from a chicken.

I'll have more updated next week, I think I owe it to all readers. Later.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Vietnam - Day 3

Saturday, December 1st, HCMC Socialist Republic of Vietnam

I'll have more to report tomorrow or Monday. I arrived in Saigon on Thursday and really am not having a choice time, so I've decided to change my flight and return to BKK.

I got something in my eye a couple days ago and would rather trust the medical staff in BKK. Suffice to say, my left eye is a little puffy and really red. Quite annoying actually.

I did go to the Cu Chi tunnels during the day. After an 1 1/2 hour bone jarring ride in a taxi, I was there. Got to see the tunnels, decided not to cram myself in there. Big plus was the shooting range. $1 per bullet was a great deal to fire off a pistol (which misfired several times) and an M-16. Needed a little ear protection as I forgot how loud guns can actually be.

I'm out of here tomorrow around 3:30 PM, so more to report later...

Friday, December 02, 2005

HCMC Day 2 - And the hits keep on coming...

Well after a suprisingly good night of sleep, I decide to go out on my own and see HCMC. I just don't feel like meeting Gib today. I'll phone her when I get back and see if she can take me back to Ba Ba for a bowl of Pho and a couple beers.

There weren't a lot of items on my schedule to see in Saigon. I wanted to see the reunification palace and the war remnants museum and just see the buzz on the streets. Well, the buzz was constant because of all the motorcycles and scooters, I hailed a taxi to take me to the reunification palace. I had plenty of offers from people to take me on their motorcycle, but after wiping out on a scooter in college (and having to pick rocks out of my back side) and fear of having my back pack pulled away, the taxi was the best and quite a quick option.

The reunification palace:
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I guess I was expecting more when I decided to tour the reunification palace. The building was the home of President Ngo Dinh Diem during the war and was breached in April of 1975 by Northern Vietnamese tanks. Replicas of the tanks are on the grounds of the palace.

During my tour, the large front lawn of the palace was being set up for some type of concert and plenty of musicians and technicians were around doing sound and light checks.

The palace itself was certainly frozen in time. The building was completed in 1966 and reminded me of some of the 60's era buildings on the UW-Madison campus. Access was only granted to certain areas of the building, but you were able to go on all floors, the roof, and the basement where they housed a small museum. The museum was interesting because it did house the flag that flew as the North Vietnamese were storming the palace and the flag that replaced it.

As a history buff, it was interesting to see the perspective of the Vietnamese in this museum. In the museum, you saw the perspective of a country struggling to unify in the wake of French and later American occupation. Among photos taken of significant events during the war, were quotes of Ho Chi Minh and other leaders of the Vietnamese Workers Party. After touring the entire building, I was a bit tired and with the eye issues, needed a rest. I walked out the gates of the palace and decided on my next destination.

Cyclo Fun:

A cyclo is a three wheeled taxi where the passenger sits in the front and the driver is behind. The cyclo can either be motorized through the cannabilazation of a motorcycle or person powered by using a bicycle. I was walking down the street trying to get my bearings and find the war remnants museum when I was approached by a motorcycle driver who offered to take me all around. I wasn't getting on a motorcycle. Not safe enough for me.

As I walked a cyclo driver approached and said he's take me on a tour of the city. I agreed and hopped in the seat making sure to secure my backpack around my leg to prevent theft. The tour was fine, but I screwed up. I forgot to negotiate where we were going to go, how long the tour would be, and most importantly, the cost. I was pissed at my self that I would let this happen and should have stopped and negotiated before going any further. I knew better having traveled in Southeast Asia (Thailand and Cambodia) and my own stupidity would be my undoing here.

No Cyclo fun:

After the tour, the cyclo driver took me to the central market, about a block away from the hotel. Here's where my own stupidity could have avoided the situation. Normally, no that's not right, always when you use these types of services (same as taking a tuk tuk in Thailand), you pre-negotiate cost and destinations. I negotiated destinations and figured that cost would be negligible. Imagine my complete and utter shock when the driver asked for $120 USD. No that's no missprint $120 f'n US dollars. Not being a stranger to negotiating in Asia I decided to see if I could get this down as there was no was in hell I would pay that. I countered with $50, a reasonable fare for his time and effort. He said that he had to work hard as I was very big; I couldn't disagree with that fact and I knew that he did work his ass off taking me around. I cursed at myself endlessly for being so stupid. I could have easily avoided this.

I countered again that $120 was a lot of money and that I would settle for $100 even. $105 was finally agreed upon with me cursing at myself the entire time. The driver was just doing what he had to do. I couldn't begrudge his greed. I should have negotiated the total cost before we started, but being tired and just wanting to cool down stopped me from thinking. I lost another round to the scam artist and was really annoyed with myself.


After getting gouged (I have another word that I'd like to use, but will keep this moderately clean) by the cyclo driver, all I wanted to do was get away from the driver and walk around the market. According to the guidebook I had, if you walk a measured pace across the street, motorcycles and scooters will go around you. Bullshit! I had a motorcycle run right into me. The guy was pissed off and I didn't have much to say except a muted 'sorry' as I go out of the way. Thankfully, no one was injured (well, my pride was) and I was able to laugh it off soon enough.

On to the market:

There was one item that I really wanted to find in Vietnam: snake wine. Snake wine is rice wine with yes you guessed it, a snake in the bottle. There are a bunch of other herbs in the bottle as well and apparently the wine is used for medicinal purposes. I just wanted the bottle for conversation purposes. I walked around the market for about five minutes and came up to a stand that had exactly what I was looking for. Bottle upon bottle were there of all sizes, some with a cobra in it, others with scorpions and if I recall, spiders too. I was after the bottle with the cobra though. Thoughts went through my head on what customs would say when they saw the bottle. I didn't care. I had to have it just to say, "I've got a bottle of rice wine with a dead cobra in it." I know. Completely childish, but still I made a mental note of the stand's location and decided to make my big purchase the next day.

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Fee fie Pho

I called Gib and after apologising for blowing her off told her that I wanted to go back to the bar and have a good meal and a couple beers. All I wanted wass a bowl of Pho. Pho is a soup consisting of noodles, vegetables, and meat. It could be really anything (beef, pork, chicken, seafood), but I decided on beef and was not dissapointed.
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When I was in HCMC the Southeast Asian games were taking place in the Phillipines. That night the city was all abuzz because Vietnam and Malaysia were playing a soccer match. I've seen a country shutdown before due to a soccer match. In 2001, I was in Dublin when they played a world cup qualifying match. The bars were packed and the country lost an entire afternoon's productivity.

The football match was at night so, not much productivity would be lost. Vietnam won the match and everyone went wild. Driving up and down the street on scooters with Vietnamese flags flapping behind; yelling, cheering, just celebrating a win and a finals matchup with Thailand.

After hanging out for a couple hours I decided to take a taxi back to the hotel. I was going to the Cu Chi tunnels and wanted to get an early start. Problem was, everyone in HCMC was celebrating the football win and traffic was not moving. Imagine hundreds, no, thousdands of people on scooters and motorcycles beeping their horns in celebration. Absolutely insane. I got to about a block from the hotel and walked from there.

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My eye was still feeling pretty bad and I resorted to putting ice on it for relief. I was too stubborn to admit it, but I needed to see a doctor. I was going to have to cut my trip short and go back to Bangkok and see how the medical facilities were. I needed to get out of Vietnam.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

HCMC - Saigon Day 1 - Ripped off (Part Two)

Ok, so after being ripped off (my fault completely), moving quickly to another place, and grabbing a beer, I was able to relax and actually enjoy the place I was at.

It was just an alley with a few tables and chairs set up. There was a restaurant attached, but it was busy and hot in both places.

At the tables, there were a bunch of older Americans (I later found out). Yes, they were vets enjoying a beer. I asked one of the guys sitting next to me how Saigon had changed since he was last there. The only difference he said was that we would have been drinking on the roof of the place (to avoid mortar fire), but other than that, no difference in 30 years.

I met a local girl named Gib who asked me if I wanted to go dancing. I decided I didn't have much to lose since the place I was at was closing up. We went to Apocalypse Now bar, one of the more famous nightlife places among tourists and locals. It was just as I expected, hot, sweaty, full of Westerners and locals. I think I was able to stand the place for about two drinks. I told Gib that I wanted a local place where it was a little quieter. She knew of another place, so we went off in a taxi again.

The new place was much better. Real quiet, real local. It was a bia hoi place. A bia hoi place is where the locals drink beer on ice and grab a little bit to eat. I think the name of the place was Ba Ba, but I'm not sure. It was really quiet though and after the loudness of Apocalypse Now, this was a welcome change.

Ba Ba, would be the place where I would be introduced to Vietnamese food. My first was marinated beef and onions. I know, it sounds simple, but served with a little fish sauce and hot peppers, it made the beer go down fast; especially, with the hot peppers. I stayed out way late into the evening and eventually made it back to the hotel waking up the security guards to get me my room key. Gib was going to meet me in the afternoon to show me around HCMC. I was a little wary, but said that I'd phone her in the afternoon when I was ready to go site see.

HCMC - Saigon Day 1 - Ripped off

Thursday, December 1st, 2005 - Saigon, Socialist Republic of Vietnam

My flight out to Saigon was out in the afternoon, so I secided to get to the airport about 3 hours prior just to get everything I needed. I took a taki out in front of the hotel. I hate doing this because the guys that sit here ask for ridiculous sums of money and refuse to use the meter. Knowing the cost to the airport and taking the tollway to Don Muang (about 250-300 B), we negotiated 350B including the tolls (I know I'm bitching about $9 USD, but if you let someone walk over you, they'll continue to do so all the time)

We get to the airport without incident and pull up to departures. I only have 500B and 1,000B notes. Shit. I'm not about to give this guy more than negotiated. A litle fortune smiled on me as the taxi driver behind us had change.

Second bit of good fortune, I didn't make any reservations prior to leaving for HCMC. The guidebook, stated that there would be plenty of places available for good prices. As I was trying to get change I struck up a conversation with a guy that had just returned from Vietnam and gave me the card to a hotel which was around $20 perr night. I decided to use the card and go to the Thanh Long T@n Hotel. (

All this time, my eye has been really bothering me. June and my friend Pae were really concerned and thought that I should go to the hospital. I figured that I just got something in my eye and it would eventually wash out and I would be ok, but it was really red and hurt a bit too.

I checked in with Vietnam airlines with no incident and paid the international departure tax of 500B, got my departure stamp from the Kingdom of Thailand and was off to Vietnam.


Nothing really exciting here to report. Quick flight of about an hour. The food was decent and flight attendants of Vietnam Airlines were very nice and professional. Actually a pretty pleasant flight experience (like Bangkok Airlines).


Tan Son Nhat Airport (a.k.a Saigon Airport) is about 5 miles away from central HCMC and probably hasn't changed much since 4/15/75 (more on this later)


Looking back now, I'm suprised that I was even let into the country. My left eye was so red and wattery the immigration official did give me a look before stamping my passport and letting my into the country. I grabbed my one checked bag, got a taxi to the hotel (165,000 Dong about $10USD).

My first impressions of Vietnam and probably the first thing that anyone would notice were the vast amounts of motorcycles and scooters. Most people can afford either of these, but autos are real expensive. Traffic is everywhere and honking horns is standard when driving.

I checked into the hotel and took the $20 per night room with A/C and satellite tv (which had mostly Thai television along with HBO and Star Movies channel) and headed out for a drink.

I must have walked around for a good half hour before I even found somewhere to drink. I wound up getting into a taxi and went to one of the main streets where tourists are. For the past two weeks, I've been hanging out with mainly Thais and not too many Westerners, so walking into Allez Boo was a bit strange seeing mainly Westerners. It was pretty hot out even though it was 9:30 or so at night, so I ordered a large Tiger Beer, a glass of ice and a large bottle of water (about a liter and a halfe bottle).

I was enjoying my beer on ice when one of the local kids (could have been anywhere from 16-22) asked me if I wanted to play pool. I should have said no, but had been playing pretty well in BKK and decided to give it a shot. Now pay attention, because here's where the story gets good. The kid says how about 20,000 Dong a game (a little over a $1)? I say fine to that, in fact I know he said 20,000 Dong. After losing to first, going double or nothing on the second and getting run off the table (long tables, not bar tables, so I was missing everything on the table), I grab 40,000 Dong and decide to head out.

The kid with all seriousness, says, "No that's 400,000 you owe me." Alright, I know better than to bet in pool against a local (just like I know to not play cards with someone named after a city), but I'm being taken. I calmly, well as calmly as I can, state that we were playing for 20,000 per game and if we were playing for anything higher, I would have not played in the first place.

Now, here's where it gets interesting. I know the whole 'Face' thing in Asia is in play. This guy has lost face, because I've called him out. I'm not so sure why I haven't lost face though. I grab 200,000 Dong, hand it to him and tel him that's all he's getting from me. I then grab my big ass bottle of water, and head out a different exit quickly and duck down an alley where there's a few Westerners.

I'm not afraid of one person who was considerably smaler than me. I'm afraid of six to ten guys jumping me and beating the crap out of me for $12.50. Life is still cheap there. A story was later told to me about a guy that managed a bar that had people selling drugs there. The manager had kicked out a dealer there and some hours later had a cleaver burried in his skull.

I decided to take a seat at this table outside and try to have a relaxing adult beverage. As I approached, a guy asked me if I wanted a table. I asked if they had a pool table. After he said no, I took a seat with my back on the wall facing the street.

Friday, November 25, 2005

No news to report

Friday, November 25th, 2005 - Bangkok, Thailand (still)

Well, no news to report yet. I've been severely jetlagged all week and only went to Wat Arun a couple days ago. I'm really hating gettting up in the early afternoon. Tomorrow, I book for Vietnam. I'll need to get out of BKK for a week or so and give my impressions of HCMC and the South.

If I don't hit Vietnam early next week, it will be on the weekend with the beginning of the week spent in Chaing Mai. I know there's cold and snow back home and maybe I'm just used to the warm weather, but 70's at night feels a little cold at times. Good problem to have I know.

The spot where I used to be able to go for internet access was bulldozed for condos back in Feb., so finding a reliable place with little hassle has been a bit of a challenge. There's a place halfway down the soi (street), but I only trust the computer to enter a blog submission and nothing else. Well, gotta get going. Meeting a couple friends out here for dinner. I think I almost ate Western food the other day and decided against it. Just easier to eat Thai food.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Back Again

Saturday, November 19th 2005 - Bangkok, Thailand 19:35

Its said that you can't go back home again. I think that the same applies to Thailand. This is my 4th trip here and I'm no longer disillusioned by the hustle and bustle of this fascinating SE Asian city. Bangkok is a city that has grown up too fast with far too many trappings of the Western world.

Are the people as nice and accomodating? Yes and no. No in that I made a decent deal to get to the hotel on my first night. My bargaining skills are once again in top form and only 10 minutes after clearing customs. My lacking Thai language skills have left me the inability to tactfully let the taxi driver know that I saw him scam me for 20 baht and take local streets instead of the toll road and being scammed out of another 25 for fradulent minibar charges (c'mon people, I may look dumb, but I know what was taken from the minibar). Yes in that my friends at the bar were more than happy to see me, The cell phone airways were abuzz of my arrival and I was happy to be able to see people that I genuinely call friends again.

The thing that I now realize that wears one down is being looked at like a walking ATM machine. The common thought is that if you can afford foreign travel, you must be rich. Wrong!! I saved my ass off the past 9 months and gave up several trip opportunities to have the cash to make it here. Even with Thai speaking friends it takes its toll. A dollar here, fifty cents there, well you get the point.

Friday I checked into the Grand President service apartments. Smaller than a hotel room, but at least I have a fridge and a small, but nonfunctional kitchen. Yeah, I'm a little bitter. The bloom is off the rose. Vietnam airlines rt to Saigon $287. I'll be leaving Wednesday and searching for the 1st McDonalds in Ho Chi Minh City.

More to follow...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


7:57 AM - Chicago, IL

Plane leaves in four hours (hopefully). I've slept exactly two hours since yesterday, good times. Outside, its about 31 degrees. Much warmer in Thailand. Get me the crap out of here.

Time to get a taxi and deal with big fun at the port.

Coming up - Thailand and Vietnam Trip #4

Monday, November 14, 2005


Not sure that I've ever felt this before, but just have a general feeling of panic. I've checked that my accommodation is all set in Bangkok and will check to see that I'm alright with my flight tonight, but I'm starting to panic a bit.

I think if I can get my bag packed tonight, I'll be a little better off, but the whole going to Vietnam with no general plan has me a bit flustered right now. I think once I get to a travel agent in Bangkok and check flight prices, I'll settle down. I've never really gone by the seat of my pants on a trip and everyone that does it has usually no issues. I guess its just a big combination of nerves, anxiety, and anxiousness.

Its got to be since I was up at 4AM this morning.

1 more day of work, just need to keep my head.


Friday, November 11, 2005

This is how I feel today...

I've got 5 days to go before I leave. I've thrown clothes that I plan to take on my opened suitcase (my version of packing), bought all the toiletries that I suspect I can't get in Thailand, and will be making a call to get a malarone prescription (anti malarial drug) this afternoon. I have no issues with the Travel and Immunization Center at Northwestern Hospital, they're fantastic and do a great job. I think that my medical insurer is a bit faulty, but I'll give them a chance before I start to condemn them.

This should be a good weekend in the city, my last for a month. The weather will be fairly warm with chances of rain and there's a lot of good football to watch. Next week Friday I'll be in 90 degree temps having an adult beverage and lounging by the pool, can't wait.

Work is work. Slow and well, I'll just leave it at that. I've got a few things working before I leave on Wed., and a few more when I get back. Might be time for change all around in 2006.

I might have an update before I leave if I have time. If not, I'll try to have an update on Friday November 18th from Bangkok.

Time to cross the wild meridian.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The World Series is Over

Thankfully. The Sox won with a sweep. Congrats. I have no feelings about a Sox championship. I root for the Cubs and as a Cub fan, I'm pissed. They were 5 outs away from getting there in 2003 and lost. They blew a chance to make the playoffs in '04 and never had a chance in '05.

2006? Who knows? I'm too embittered right now to think they have a shot, but fortunes can change year to year. I have to think happy thoughts. Wisconsin is 7-1 with 4 games to play and the Redskins are 4-2 and are starting to look like they could make a run.

I'd love to see the Redskins make the playoffs. They haven't been there since 1991 when they went to the Superbowl. I can't believe that they have been this bad for so long. Does every team that I root for stink this badly?

I've got 20 days to go. I should start packing at least most shorts can go in my bag already. I don't think that I'll be seeing warm weather any time soon around here.

Till tomorrow. Maybe I'll post a photo or something.

Friday, October 21, 2005

No World Series Tickets

Chicago, IL

And no chance of me going either. I'm not paying a minimum of $900 (for one seat) to sit in the nose bleed seats at US Comiscular. I have a strange feeling that I would pay that to see a Cub World Series game. Fat chance of that happening though.

Its Friday and I can't type for anything today. 26 days left until I get out of here for a month. A month, I can't even believe that I could pull it off. I'm excited to get out of here since the weather is starting to turn and there is talk of snow making an appearance during Game 1 of the WS tomorrow. Yup, I'm ready for temps in the 90's again.

I think I might have my Vietnam trip planned a little more now. Talked with a friend that has previously visited and was told that Hoi An is a must see. Hoi An is in the middle of Vietnam on the South China Sea near Hue (pronounced Whey) and Da Nang. I'm only worried about how long to go for. My thinking is to fly from BKK to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) or Saigon as its still called. Stay a couple days and see the sights and then take the train to Hue and work my way back to Hoi An and then Saigon and a flight back to BKK.

I really want to see Hanoi and Halong Bay also, but I'm not sure how to work it all in even with a month. Flying can get real expensive and the train in going to be slow, real slow.

Thankfully, for this trip I don't have a lot of additional purchases to make. I have my camera, memory cards, rechargeable batteries and charger. I need to look into extended battery life for my iPod so I have something to listen to on the plane, but will probably do that just before I go. All I really have to do this time out is pack and write out checks for bills before I leave. If I forget something, I'll get it there, or go without.

I'm still amazed at how fast the time is going. When will it ever slow down?

Monday, October 17, 2005

After Such a Great Weekend...

Chicago, IL

30 days to go.

The Badgers beat the golden goofers of Minnesota with 35 seconds to go in the game and USC beats Notre Dame. Just a great weekend of college football. The ALCS ended last night with the Southside American League ballclub going to the World Series and the NLCS should end this evening with a Houston win (hopefully).

A great weekend of sports all around, but Monday has reared its ugly head again. I'm not going to rag on my job, everyone hates their jobs to some degree. I just really need to do some severe soul searching to see if I want to come back to it.

I once again sent out the resume to a couple job prospects in the hope of getting an interview when I get to Thailand. I just hope to hear something.

Congratulations to the White Sox and their fans. Its nice to see a team actually take advantage of a 3-1 lead in a championship series and close it out. Am I jealous as a Cub fan? Somewhat. I'm more pissed at the ineptness of the Chicago Cubs management and the Tribune Company for taking the fan's money for 25 years and not producing anything. If I'm lucky enough, I'm going to try to get World Series tickets tomorrow. Its the World Series, need to go to one when its in the city.

Friday, October 14, 2005

33 days, time to get to it

Chicago, IL

33 Days to go. I've been walking in the dream state for the past 126 days. Not sure where to go, what to do, just trying to figure it all out before I leave.

I've been asked if I'm coming back after a month in Southeast Asia. Answer is, I don't know. I suspect I will be going back to the States after this trip, but there's too much unknown right now.

I've made my savings goal, well, I'll be off by $60 dollars, but will deposit that at the end of the month.

I'll have a few more thoughts later this weekend and probably a slight semblance of where I'm going to go in Southeast Asia for 30 days while avoiding kissing chickens and ducks. Shouldn't be that difficult.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The return trip

Friday June 10th, 2005 Chicago, IL

Well, I'm going back. In 159 days (November 16th), I'll be back on a plane to Southeast Asia.

I got my visa for Vietnam a couple weeks ago, but still have no idea where I will go yet. I'm planning on getting my tickets there when I get to Thailand.

Geting airfare this time around was a royal pain in the ass. I usually go direct to United to book, but couldn't find a flight for under $1,400. The price jumped $300 after Memorial Day and I was gettting tired of waiting. I got the flight I wanted for $1,136 through of all resources, a travel agent.

I honestly couldn't believe it myself, but it worked. My only issue is that I wasn't able to choose my seats. That could be a bit of an issue, but hopefully, it will work out. I think I'll put in a call to United and see if there's a way to get the window before I leave.

Nothing new to report on everything else. Hate my job, getting sick of Chicago, but at least its warm outside finally.

Busy weekend ahead. Cubs and Red Sox all weekend; Belmont Stakes on Saturday (I really need to get out to Arlington sometime this summer ). Till I get off my ass and write again...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Something Different - The Ibizan Sunset

In 2001, I made my first trips overseas. That summer, I went to Ibiza, a small island off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean which is world renown for clubbing, partying and getting baked in the Summer sun. This was my first exposure to Europe and I fell in love with the sunsets and the mix of several different European cultures.

These photos were taken two years later in 2003. I decided to make a return trip to Ibiza and see if I still could hack partying all night and sleeping in the sun all day. Truth be told, I couldn't. I loved the nightlife, but as a 31 year old, its best left for the young kids. I do love the sunsets there and people all over the island make the trip to the San Antonio side of the island to see the sun come down. These were take on one of those evenings. You kind of have to hike a bit to find a spot that doesn't have too many other vacationers since there are bars that are built on the beach just for the sunset. One of the most famous is Cafe Del Mar.

It was kind of a sad realization that I probably would never go back to Ibiza as there were other places on the earth to see and the sun sets there also. Anyway, enjoy...

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Whoo Hoo

Tuesday April 19th, 2005 Chicago, IL

Well, its in the 70's. I haven't seen warm weather like this in 49 days. I couldn't be happier.

Work stinks, I hate my job.

I'm on the verge of a complete breakdown, so I need to work my ass off on our little project, so I can get out. Pro-forma income statements tonight. Should be a blast.

The dream of gettting a job in Thailand is dead. I wil now work for myself and take vacation when I please then. Done. Finished.

The next three weeks will be hectic, so maybe no updates for a while.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

So what's new?

Thursday April 7th, 2005 Chicago, IL

No too much to report travelwise. I'm making a domestic trip next month to D.C. for the Cubs and Nationals at RFK Stadium. I need to get my airline ticket for the trip and will probably buy next week. I fully expect due to the price of oil and in turn jet fuel prices to be paying upwards of $200 for the flight.

Job opportunities in Thailand:

On the job front in Thailand, I had a response from our affiliate company in Thailand and they are not hiring. I received contacts that headhunt in insurance in Thailand and haven't heard anything yet. I'll start to bother them next week when I have time.

My return trip to Thailand

Tentatively scheduled to start on the 16th of November during my jobs "slower" season, I'm going to have to take time off unpaid (rpobably 10 days or so). I don't think that it will be much of a factor since I want to be able to go to Vietnam and Laos, and I'm saving like crazy to make of for the lost income during those two weeks. Well, at least Vietnam. I think that I'll have the time to look for permanent employment there, but I have a couple other irons in the fire that may make this a lot easier for me. is a new internet venture that two partners and I have started. It has evolved from the site and will be offering a lot of cool stuff for Cub fans as we get into the season.

Currently, we are offering a ticket give away for the month of April. If you submit a comment on the blog and include your e-mail address with the comment, you'll be entered into a drawing for two tickets for the 7/3 Cubs vs Nationals game at beautiful Wrigley Field.

We've got a lot of work ahead, but we have a good feeling that this site will take off. Now we just have to get all of the behind the scenes work done before the site goes live (hopefully at the end of this month).

Check out the site if your a fan and put down a post. If you're not, check out the site and tell your friends that are Cub fans about it.

That's all for today. I probably will have a few photos from the weekend at the Friendly Confines and hopefully, will be able to post video from the ballpark. I've got an early day tomorrow as I have to wait in the cold for tickets. Its never Opening Day unless you're freezing your ass off.

Friday, April 01, 2005

I just quit my job...

Friday April 1st, 2005

No not really. It's April Fool's Day. Stupid day, but that felt really good to write. I guess that something is good about that, I'll have to see where that thought goes as the year progresses.

Nothing to report. Just bored with everything; I guess I should do my taxes this weekend. Opening Day is next week Friday. I can't wait.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I'm officially a convert

Wednesday March 30th, 2005 1:48PM - Chicago, IL

I've been loading this ipod now since the 15th of March. I'm probably a good week away from finally completing the task and now have 3,333 songs loaded. That's about 9+ days of music. I'm not sure how that's calculated; I'm assuming its if you listened to the ipod 24 hours a day, but I'm really looking forward to when this is completed. I'll have my entire cd library with me now whenever I travel and won't have to bother with deciding which cds to take, because I'll have them all with me.

I'll need to back-up the entire library sometime this weekend. I plan on buying a portable 80G hard drive to use for backup, but then could conceivably sell all of my cds. Even if I were to get $1 each, that would be around $300. Granted, I spent a hell of a lot more than $300 on them, I just don't want the clutter. Trying to streamline a bit I guess.

I'm completely screwed on finding a job with my company in Thailand. I received a letter from the Managing Director of the Bangkok office and they are not looking to hire and have even reduced a few staff members. He was kind enough to forward my resume (CV) to a couple people in Bangkok and I'll hopefully be able to get their e-mail addresses to contact them directly.

I'm a little disheartened by the whole process, but not discouraged. I know what I want and unfortunately will not stop until my goal is achieved. I don't know that I can continue doing the job I do any further. Its no knock to what I do, I just want to look toward other options at this time. Still though, what I thought was going to be a slam dunk has developed currently into an air ball. Sorry for the basketball analogy, too much basketball talk around these days.

I'm mildly toying with the idea of just chucking it all and making the move. Common sense I guess keeps me from doing it, but days like today in the office really make me consider it. I guess not having enough saved up and a credit card bill are enough to prevent it right now.

I think for now, I want to start on getting vacation set for the end of the year. I need to go for a month in order to make it worth while, but will need to take time off unpaid. That should be an interesting conversation. I guess its time to start with that dialogue now.

The weather has broke a bit and its brightened my spirits a bit, but its supposed to get cold this weekend. Typical.

Tonle Sap

The Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. During the dry season, the lake reduces in size due to evaporation. During the rainy season, the lake reaches its highest levels. These photos were taken at the beginning of the dry season (End of November 2004). After being templed out from the Angokr temples, I decided to go out to the Tonle Sap which is about a twenty minute ride from Siem Reap. It was nice and hot out the day I took these photos and the breeze coming from the lake was quite nice.

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This is the view from the boat as we pushed away from shore. There isn't any official boat dock. You just walk over the decks of the other boats until you get to the one you hired for the afternoon. I'm glad that I at least had my sea legs and didn't get soaked.

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Most of the residents of the floating village on the Tonle Sap are Vietnamese. Here is a woman with a boat full of wares to sell. I don't exactly know how I would have ordered a coke, but it was certainly possible.

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Outboard motor? Not a chance. 100% people powered here and with the wake from the speed boats, none too easy.

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One of my favorite photos from the trip. Just two women out on the boat.

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When the lake starts to dry out, the homes of the floating village are just moved further into the lake.

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Being that it was the middle of the day, most people were actually heading home and resting from the heat of the day or emptying their nets from fishing.

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Yes, that is a styrofoam cooler.

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Can the weather change any time soon?

Thursday March 17th, 2005 - Happy St. Patrick's Day

As I sat at my home computer checking to see if a cd had been properly ripped, I looked out the window and saw...yes, wait for it...snow. Again. F$^%ing snow. Its mid-March and I know that it can still snow in the Midwest, buy I'm tired of it.

It reminds me of a line from a Buffet song: "This morning, I shot six holes in my freezer, I think I've got cabin fever..."

I guess I'm lucky that I don't own a pistol or the refrigerator would be getting it.

I decided to let the cd player go the way of the dodo. I purchased an Ipod to try and streamline my cd collection and get them out of the 2' X 2' box in my bedroom.

I've only had a limited time ripping and putting cds on the thing (I had to upgrade my operating system to XP first, what a 2 hour pain in the ass!), but right now have 10 whole cds on there. I only have about 190+ cds to go through. I think tonight I'll go through the cds where I bought them for just one song (which I think is quite a few). I'm already embracing the technology. On my last trip, I went with my cd player and a book of 30 to 40 cds in a book (I double up the cds to fit more in the book). I like to listen to music on the plane and when I'm not doing anything, but it becomes a bit bulky. I now already have 10 cds in the Ipod and the thing is about the size of a deck of cards.

With 30G of storage (holds approximately 7,500 songs or 25,000 photos), I should be able to get my entire cd collection on the Ipod with room to spare. Now I have to get portable storage to hold the contents of the Ipod when I finish this upload. Should be fun.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Sunset in Cambodia

I don't know that I need to really describe these too much. I took these photos from the causeway of Angkor Wat. The clouds that rolled in made a phenomenal sunset on my first day in Cambodia.

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