Thursday, December 08, 2005

Northern Thailand - Pai

Picked up Lucia, Cipri and just by pure intuition managed to grab Roberto who was chasing the Thai airport staff for his luggage. All good. Problem solved.

Set up for the weekend market to buy the bare necessities and topped the evening with a Thai traditional massage. Found out that not everyone is built for it, when we heard Ake saying "Cipriiiii, relaaax!" and Roberto giggling when he saw the frustrated masseuse walking away from the victim.

4 hours of sleep that night and early morning we were heading up north. On the way, the nicest place on earth without any real food, wich was very strange for Thailand, cause I always felt you can parachute yourself over Thai and land most likely close to a good restaurant.

Inspiration saves us! We managed to book a pretty cool rafting trip down river Kong and Pai. Some easy rapids at the begging but nicer ones in the end and a really cool feeling of being in the middle of nowhere for 45 km. The peek of the trip came to the end when we all jumped in and were floating bellies up looking at the sky.

A trip to the Bats Cave the next day which was supposed to be 12 km according to some sites I've checked...not really...but hey, there must have been thousands of bats hanging on the tall ceiling and surely the same amount of fish swimming underneath us.
I miss sometimes exploring things like this on my own, but then I know I would be scared shit in a huge cave with old coffins and bats, so luckily one can only visit this with a guide.

Gloomy weather after this. Barely, barely made it home the night before cause there was a rain and cars got hammered up the mountain. Thais are quite mellow and for a moment I thought we're gonna get stuck up there. Action taken and within an hour we were on our way down. Funny evening that one...later we were sort of melancolic...or was it the beer...:)...hammock time...

Some of the nicest characters in Pai...this sculptor on the side of the street..

Anyhow, back to Bangkok...preping for the Sunny South.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Done! Done! Done! Well, I dreamt about it, I wrote about's finally here...Our longest holiday in Thailand so far. We’ll be covering the country from North to South, that’s about 2200 km, but hey, Ake’s driving. :)

Lucia, my dearest friend is coming in 2 hours and we’ll be having some girl time, doing our nails, putting on mascara…nah, I haven’t seen Lucia for 2 years now. Let the download begin, if you know what I mean!

The following day, the rest of the gang arrives and I’ll be dragging them in the biggest human conglomerate, The JJ Market in Bangkok, their first survival test. On Monday, we’re heading up north to see the Coffin Caves (there really are coffins in there), the Bats Cave (10.000 thousand bats swirling around your head) and the Thai Hill tribes.

After that, look for us on Railay Beach (Krabi, see below) – It’s in the TOP TEN most beautiful places to climb in the world. I’m a fan! Best sea kayaking ever, calm turquoise water, clear skies…ahhh, what a life…

Till tomorrow…

Monday, November 28, 2005

In Thai, we call beer ... Singha

As a result of my "bragging" at last week's party on Romanians fondness to Palinca(Eastern European life and death source) one of my friends researched, where exactly Romania IS on an alcohol consumption scale. If you're Romanian, you won't believe it: WE'RE not even in the top 50!!(quick, bribe these guys with some liquor). Thailand's way ahead somewhere on the 20th place, with (guess what) Luxembourg heading the ranking, followed by Hungary (this hurts!:) just kiddin..) and Ireland (no surprise here).

To make it more intresting, I've researched on the tea consumption...and guess what, THERE'S NOT EVEN ONE Asian country in the top 18 (according to Japan Today Forum). No China? No Japan? Better keep this one away from my in-laws.

Photo by Ake

Friday, November 25, 2005


That's granny! I'm a huge fan of hers! 90 years old and a tough cookie!

Today is Ake's dad's birthday. We call him THE EMPEROR cause he's the coolest guy I've ever seen, always on top of things, always in control. So, we had to get up at 5 am to do the good deed and offer food to the monks. Great! I always wanted to do it, but not knowing the customs and yes, most of the times being too lazy, I've never done it. The sunrise was great, and the monks soo humble and had this strange quietness about them that's really touchy.

We pass the food and they pray for us while and after receiving it. The strange thing is, it's all done in Balinese sanscrit, so no one but them really understands anything. It like the beginning of Christianity when it was all done in Latin. The Thais don't seem bothered by it, just go along with it. They say " It's the right thing, offering and being thankful, that's all you need to know".

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Party
Another week packed with work...Every evening or so I got my small dose of the holiday drug, checking out cool places to go around Thailand.
The weather was vile from a swimming coach point of view...20-25 C is BAAAD news, people! We only get to have fun when all others are drowning their missery in beer, at 35 C.
It all got better and today we went out to a Thanksgiving party. Great group! Weird customs around the world was the ongoing theme of the evening. The romanian poison - Palinca was a hit, again, and that only from the stories of a few brave men who've tried some with my dad earlier in the year. The evening felt like being aroud the fire with a bunch of good souls on a cold night. Very soothing...Batteries fully charged for the last stretch before December!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Living Loy Kratong
As I was saying, the candle festival. I played the carry boy part today as I was only in charge of providing the food and carrying the tripod. Rats! Ake was fully enjoying his new toy, so I humbly accepted my novice part. If you expect any candle photos, stop right now, cause we couldn't take any. The closest we got got was some blurry lights; the river bank was too high.

Super cool night! We hit towards the Golden Mountain, passing the food venders. I swear, if it moves, the Thais can cooked it!!!;)) Missed making it to the top cause it started raining and Ake was too protective of his baby...:-)

Headed to Kao San, the foreginer's hang out, where we got the most fantastic drumming show - some Thai and foreign backpackers where jamming their hearts out (beer bottle, spoons, a kind of long pipe, drums and shakers). Nearby, two drunk Thai teenagers where trying their best to make a buck or two agonizing their way into an old Thai rock dice.

A quick stop at Starbucks for an iced chocolate...There was this couple next to us, probably at an early stage in the relationship cause the guy was pretty nervous. However, within 15 min he was scoring big points.

The last stop was the river. A cool guy was playing the saxophone, so we didn't spend much time looking for candles, but instead hanged out next to him while Ake was taking photos of the fort behind, the saxophone and the crowd.

I love the old Bangkok...nighty night!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Loy Kratong

That’s the candle festival starting tomorrow…Again, I love festivals and stuff, and this one is spectacular…the whole river looks fantastic over night, candles and flowers floating. By morning all the glamour is gone, and we’re back to cleaning our own mess. Most of it gets cleaned up, but there’re still all the leaves and plants that are decomposing in the river. The rest of the scientific story is: CO 2 goes up and all the critters in the river have to suffer…
I guess I really am part of the crowd, for loving it, even though I don’t launch a Kratong, but this festival sort of makes me sad. We really are like that, we can only offer, we can only love OUR WAY…. There must be a lesson for the receiver though too…what can you accept in the name of love?

Back in time for a second there, when I used to buy teddy bears for my mom’s birthdays … R u giggling there? Well, she used to constantly buy me socks, shirts or underwear. Then again, what else was there? … empty coffee shops. Now, don’t get the idea I’m craving coffee now...:))…Quit 2 months ago. Scouts honor!

Anyhow, we’ll be there with bells on…:)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mouth to mouth :)

This morning Ake woke me up at 6 am (and this is the only morning we both get to sleep in) complaining of chest pains and nausea…I backtracked in my mind all the things he’d eaten at the Granpa’s 94 th BDday Party and then it clicked: CHEST PAIN and straight away: Here’s my chance for mouth to mouth! Missed it though cause my catch was running off to throw up.

He’s all good now, but we might have to put on hold rich Chinese feasts, TEN course meals altogether …

The BDay Party was great...basically a huge family reunion, and all I need to tell is that Ake has 100 cousins, only cousins (we still don't know all their names :)))... add moms and dads and you have the whole picture.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Paddles away

I’ve been counting: 10 straight days we’ve been flooded. Bangkok has a BAAAAAD sewage system, so the slightest rain and we’ve got the canoes out. I really don’t care anymore, I live on the 3rd floor…I’m safe…just kiddin'..:)

I’ve spent my entire week either working or reading about Thailand…I’m buzzing with excitement now… One thing I’d really love, is see a turtle … snorkel next to a turtle, that would do it for me! ...and apparently Surin and Similan are packed with sea life, and we'll be there for Christmas! I also can’t wait to see Lucia, Cipri or Roberto’s reaction when they'll see a sea cucumber or their first papaya salad (extra hot). Ahhh, the advantages of knowing it all…he he he he…

Talking news...I'm really wondering if there's ever gonna be a Gandhi for the muslims, a Dalai Lama...we all need it.

Ending on a happy tone: Had another laugh seeing the gods sipping Fanta…

Sunday, November 06, 2005

<'Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for". I believe the second part." '...Morgan Freeman, Seven.
Saw a great movie last night. Expected something in a line of a gun gang movie, but in returned I got this strong SEVEN feeling. For me, it's in the top 3. If you're a SEVEN fan, I guess you'll love this one.
The ratings keep pushing the violence and the sexuality as an overall tone, but actually I think it's quite subtle regarding the topic. It's like you see just above the surface. I'm not one to go wild for Nicholas Cage, but he is the man for this part. That face expression that he has in most of his movies was the THING for this one, being really mental rational like, overcontrolled, rather than emotional or physical.
That's it from, you actually gotta see it before reading endless reviews!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Learning Thai

I’ve gotten into the habit of reading a bit from my Thai language crash course book every night. An interesting chapter yesterday: LOVE. I totally lost it after learning how to say:
Are you here alone?
Is it your first time?
Don’t be shy! and Don't be afraid!
You have beautiful eyes!
Please, be tender!

and funnily
You are sooo quiet! (That’s probably thrown in there for foreigners that are dating transvestites and don’t know it, cause the only way of guessing sometimes who's playing for who is THE VOICE!) If you know me, you can probably guess I don’t hear this one very often.
However, one definitely useful phrase: TELL ME THE TRUTH!

Oh, and, Friday is D Day…incoming Canon!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Nikon or Canon
Ok, so we can’t get out of Bangkok (YET)!
The only thing left to do is make the present bearable. It’s time to toss the old pocket digital camera and buy something we can actually take decent photos with, apart from Ake’s archaic, but exceptionally well kept manual Nikon.
We've actually decided to make December the longest holiday ever (now, you know how tired we are!) and we might as well have good photos of it.

So, it’s between Canon 350D or
Nikon D70
We’re kind of leaning towards Canon, although we ARE Nikon fans, but that 8 mega pixel deal sounds too good.
Any suggestions? It’s gotta be today, cause tomorrow we’re getting it! Shoot! :)

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The grass on the either side
If you’d tell me now…”I’ve looked in the future, you’ll never make to Tibet or New Zealand” I could live with it. The top 3 on the must go back list are Estes Park(Colorado), Krabi (Thailand) and my beloved Transylvania. 'You’ll never see Estes again!' - that would be rough.
Back to Colorado - I’ve spent a good hunk of my life there, on and off about 3 years and when I left I made a solid promise to myself, that I’ll be back.
Huge memory waves came my way when several of my great friends wrote they’re either there, in Estes, or on their way. NOOOOOO! Write me about it when I’m down in southern Thailand, not when I’m boiling in Bangkok!:))

It was probably THE BEST JOB I've ever had – tramping the trails everyday and looking for critters. To bad you couldn't make a living out of it in the long run. The sad part was that people were coming and going all the time and I felt torn apart many times.

Estes was it's own world. Far too much to describe here, but the feeling of waking up everyday and looking at this(Long's Peak) haunts me to this day.

From my perspective, I uncovered a new dimension to myself, of people, nature, of balance. I felt, well, FREE.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Carmen, Mom and Puiu

Mom(in Romanian): Hey? Where’s Puiu (aka Ake)?
Carmen(in Romanian): Right here.
Mom(in Romanian): Good. I’m done talking to you. Pass him on.

Puiu: Servus. Ce faci, mami? (Hi! What’s up?)
Mom: Puiu, is bine. Tu? (I’m good. You?)
Puiu: Bine bine….Tati? (Good…Good. Dad?)
Mom: Tati is Oki. Carmen? (He’s good. Carmen?)
Puiu: Well…Carmen HAPA HAPA…Can’t get her to “Ciocu mic”! (Carmen keeps yapping. Can’t get her to shut up…:()
Mom: No “ciocu mic”?…We told you…you gotta ..ZAP ZAP!
Puiu: K mom, will do! (turning to me … muahahaha …)

Do I really wanna pack my bags and move to Romania in the next few years?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Few months ago Ake told me that Orchestra conductors live the longest and die so blissfully in their sleep. Then on the either side of things are sports instructors who die the youngest, the stress, the nerves, the pressurrrrre. -:)

I've been a bit careful since then, you know, taking it easy…whatever we do today it's done! If not, there’s always tomorrow. No sense in aggravating things.

I'm in this weird situation though, when I have to tell the parents they need to have coffee on the terrace and live us alone. The glass filled up today and really really felt like yelling: Stop whipping the kids face every 5 seconds! And stop convincing the kid that EVERYTHING IS OK! Even an adult hearing this for 10 times starts to really think something is utterly wrong even though, there isn’t!

Then I just loved this 3 year old girl turning her head to mom and saying “Mom, com'on, let go!” Mom, looked puzzled at me and I raised my shoulders 'You heard her! And guess what, she’s not kidding!' -:)

Friday, October 14, 2005

One thing I really like about people is their care for detail, that little extra that makes everything perfect. By the book, Thais are Buddhists, but really everything is a mixture of all that is Asia, Buddhists temples covering Hindu Gods are guarded by Chinese Lions.
So, back to the detail, every morning the Thais offer food to the house spirits. These houses are usually placed outside and elevated to about 1 metre high. The food is offered in the morning and placed in the spirit house together with the burning incense.
It’s quite candid when you see that the spirit gets a four course meal, dessert included and a Pepsi, and the Pepsi bottle ALWAYS has a straw.
Just had a meal at a veggie restaurant in downtown Bangkok and was peaking at the Hindu gods sipping Fanta on the shelf.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Vegan Festival Reloaded
Told you I'll be back!
You might think these are fruit..nope..thai sweets!..there's definitely a chilli obsession here! :)

Curries are a pretty good intro to asian food.You can't go wrong with a veggie curry...

Now, that's the fruit!...I don't suppose I'm gonna start any brazilian waves, but anyhow, I must have seen about 50 different kinds of fruit the past weekend...

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Vegan Festival

Looking on the brighter side of things, IT'S THE VEGAN FESTIVAL, folks!…Wow, take it from an old vegetarian, the Thais know their stuff. Over the course of a year I mainly wait for 2 things, December cause it’s just the best time to travel in South Asia and the vegan festival…even Bangkok empties up if you feel like chillin’ at home (that’s December, now we’re basically on top of each other – just a figure of speech!)

More about the festival…I never really know when it starts cause it follows the lunar calendar. Chinese locals strictly observe a 10-day vegetarian or vegan diet for the purposes of spiritual cleansing and merit-making. Most of the Thais join in the fun.  What that boils down to for me: I get break from my in laws who are constantly on my tail about having fish and stuff and we can finally sit down and eat without them eyeing my every bite. Love them though!

In most Chinese Shrines sacred rituals are performed…don’t know lots about that but from what I hear after the religious ceremonies there are dances and trance displays, walking barefoot on hot coals…Wicked! This one definitely reminds me of these videos we saw in high school, ‘Shocking Asia”…
Also during the festival there’s lots of drumming as people believe it drives away evil spirits. I tell you, those spirits don’t stand a chance; even Ake’s granny who’s 90 has her own exorcizing tricks at hand. The last day of the festival there’s a merit making ceremony at all temples, a ritual known as “sadoh-kroh” (casting bad fortune), drumming, fireworks and stuff…
It really makes me feel kind of small…I’ll be there though with my cheap camera! :)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Miss Tibet
I was reading an article on BB written by some dodo, who was amusing himself on the fact the Tibetans can’t put together a Miss contest out of lack of participants. He concludes than, that not only there’s not much to choose from, but even the few specimens available are far too bashful for the event. Bad enough, I say and keep reading! He guy is unstoppable, not only the Tibetans have NOTHING to show to the world, but apparently their gods are just and plain and “unfertile” for his taste…Don’t know where’s he’s seen it, but apparently Tara, the Tibetan Earth Goddess has hers boobies hanging out…
What’s so darn smart about showing off your pon pons? Asians have their share of bimbos, I’ll say, but luckily for Tibetans, they’re not there!
What’s so wrong with just being who you are…?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Hay Stacks
Man, it’s rough going full speed…I chose working 24 / 7 so 2 months a year I can take off and travel. Great choice, but now that I‘m in between holidays, half way through it, it hits me, and the hay stacks seem a bit too far (I’m like a donkey marching from one haystack to another…I pull the longest days for the greates of rewards).
Romania was great, but a month behind us and there are 2 more months to go to crashing on a beach with a pineapple shake and kayaking between bits and pieces. So today I got bring that haystack a tiny bit closer. :)
We start with Phuket, Krabi and Samui….

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Same Same but Different
I finally managed to find a good title! Hurray! I was asked the other day what do I really like about Thailand. The COLORS. In fact all Asia is so full of it. I think secretly all the backpackers that make it here are looking for it. It's the only place where I've seen tourists transformed into locals in a flash, including myself. You come here and you start wearing fisherman pants, and Thai skirts and funky flip flops. We go back to Europe and everything is a bit too much in pale tones.
Here there is glamour!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Godparenting...It's fantastic. Having been through 2 weddings already, I'll tell you weddings are meant as a last test of your nerves as a couple. If you don't crack up on your wedding day, you'll last:)). And if you do, well, that's why there are godparents.
Some of the nicest wedding bunch ever was this August in Darlos, Romania, where our friends wed, starting with a really funky priest, the kind of sheperd you'd expect on top of a mountain 300 years ago. I'd told Ake that Romanian weddings last 3 days and 3 nights and got in returned this suspicious look "yeah, right", only to find that everyone had left the restaurant for the bride's and groom's house to continue the wedding party for the following 2 days.
Happy birthday, Marius! :)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Once upon a time bunch of people met in Colorado and got together everynight and played this dice game (Gabi, you'll go down in hystory for this one :)) called 6bash. Put together 10 people from all over sipping tea, coffee by the fireplace occasionally shouting out RATS! or equivalents in Spanish, Romanian, Thai, Korean, Czeck or Hungarian and you've got the picture. It was loads of laughs. But the game, wow, that was something. The greatest bluffing I've ever seen. And it wasn't me. :)
Mind reading, palms sweating (now, that was me!), begging (me, again!) for mercyyyy and eventualy the king's prize: the loosers duty. The idea of the "punishment" was generaly something that shocked the outsiders. Gabi, the initiator, lost the first round ever and had to dress up(hat, gloves, boots, snowboard - the whole thing) in the middle of the summer and go down at the main YMCA lodge and ask in a heavy Eastern European accent for slopes/snow info. Only in US people will candidly try to talk you out of it...she pulled a 30 minutes show...Happy trails, everyone!