23 September, 2009

Something got me in the jungle:

We arrived safely in Laos 2 days ago I think. Things move really slowly here. Everything is this strange natural peacefulness and laid back feel. I'm sure it can wear off, but for now - it's really peaceful and restful. The first day we just kinda hung out - went to the sauna - played cards - ate - and smoked our pipes at night while it was raining. The Lao sauna is so great. You go in the dark sauna and on careful inspection you realize there is steam drifting into the room from a pipe near the floor - at the back of the room. The steam is an experience mixed with herbs and a definite lemon grass quality. Once you're ready for a break, you head out into a room where you can sit down with a cup of good, hot tea - or take it outside to watch the Laotian sunset. At last, you're ready to head back into the sauna - at least I am - and you step back in, breathing the healing steam deep into your lungs. Showers are available to cool down and the saunas are separated by gender. It's really great.

So, the next day. We got an opportunity to take a little tour at a great price with 2 other friends we met the night before from Spain. They are from the south of Spain. We decided to jump on the bandwagon and take the day tour to see waterfalls, coffee, tea, and an ethnic village in a Tuk Tuk for 10 bucks. The tea and coffee were uninspiring. The first waterfall was huge, but we could only see it from very far away - - of course, we decided to try getting a better view by hiking down. After passing a sign that said "dangerous", which we obviously ignored, we realized it was a really slippery route. We hiked down a ways - grabbing on to vines and branches to keep us from sliding. No view - just trees and jungle. Back up we go, hopefully not having been bit by something carrying malaria. We made it up. I found that once we got up and were heading back to the Tuk Tuk I was really itchy.

I thought that since we lathered on the mosquito repellent it was reacting poorly with my sweating body. Itchy, Itchy! But, we started to the next waterfall in the Tuk Tuk. I was rubbing my arms and neck a bit, not scratching, to take away a bit of the itch and the wind helped - drying me off a bit. I soon noticed that my arms were kinda red, maybe a small rash forming. Right after that I started seeing small bumps on my left arm - they were very light, or white, compared to my red skin. More bumps were popping up. Apparently my neck was looking really bad - bumps all over it. Crap! I'm allergic to something, or got something on my skin!

We arrived at the next place. I was desperately trying not to itch myself. I took off my shirt and was washing myself with some water, and tried to wash off a bit at a near by bathroom. When I took my shoulder off I could see that my right shoulder was very affected. There was a huge red spot with small bumps all over - pretty much covering the whole shoulder! Ok, I was getting a little anxious now. We talked with our driver and walked over to the local food stalls. Apparently they know what it is? Bongo, or something. Maybe a caterpillar, maybe a leaf I touched - not sure. We rubbed down the infected areas with lime, that helped a bit, and it helped to have my body cool down a bit. It was all over, left arm, right arm, tops of both my hands, really bad on my shoulder and neck, a bit on my right cheek! They doused me with baby powder. I was feeling a little better - the driver thought it was funny and "no problem". I tossed my shirt and got a new one. I decided I would check out this waterfall - it was amazing - hard to describe the beauty. Maybe we will go back. I didn't feel like taking any pictures, like moving much at all. I didn't know what had the oil on it - and if it might spread worse on my body.

I told the driver I would like to head back by myself if possible. We found a taxi and I got back ok. I'm glad we moved to a room for the second night. The better room was basically the same price and it had ac, better beds, our own bathroom, and a tv with vcr. I took a shower, washing VERY well with soap and dried off in the ac. Things were looking and feeling a lot better. As far as I know it isn't spreading, or looking like it's spreading. Today it has itched more - I took a hot shower to see how it would affect the areas - it wasn't as good as a cold shower. I think the areas are contained, but they aren't really going away yet, hopefully soon. There is video footage of me with limes, rashes, and baby powder - so you will be able to see that when we get back! I'm just taking it easy now - trying to figure out what type of progression the rash will take and what affects it positively and negatively. Kinda crazy huh.

19 September, 2009

Heading to Laos

We are headed to Laos today - Sunday evening.

It's a 10 hour bus ride to the border town called Ubon Ratchathani. From Ubon we will take a bus over the border and into the city of Pakse in Laos. Laos is incredibly laid back - much of our time will be spent reading and sipping coffee. We will rent bikes and motorbikes to do some exploring of the many waterfalls and agricultural bounty. This area of Laos is known to produce some good coffee - of which 90% of that coffee is exported to France.

I hope to have time and access to post some updates - I will be taking lots of photos and will upload them as I get a chance.

More to come soon....


17 September, 2009

Experimenting with HDR Photography

High Dynamic Range Imaging. What happens in this process? I take 3 photos - one normally exposed, one over exposed, one underexposed. This works best where there are starkly contrasting lighting conditions. Within the three images one can capture the low, middle, and high light tones. These images are merged - allowing you to see detail in the sky at the same time you have detail on the ground - one photo could only capture detail in either one of the lighting conditions.

The last of the three images is the most natural looking one.

More to come.

Posted by Picasa

The finished project:

Tom Yum, Yellow Curry, Frog Dish. This was a really good meal - maybe the best tom yum soup I've had before.

Posted by Picasa


Posted by Picasa

Cooking Thai Style

There is a video on its way from this event. We cooked Tom Yum soup and Yellow curry - along with a spicy frog dish.

Posted by Picasa

Thai dessert!

This first photo is of a dessert crepe. The soft crepe is rolled up like an ice cream cone. One has many options to fill this delightful dessert - I chose chocolate cake and banana. Mind you, chocolate cake - is not our kind of chocolate cake - it's very difficult to find baked goods here that get close to the home. The last three pictures show a very common dessert made with coconut milk - the yellow stuff is some kind of egg yolk and sugar concoction.

Posted by Picasa


Posted by Picasa

Noodle bowl soup

This is a common breakfast in S.E. Asia - we eat it for breakfast almost every other day. With the soup, you get the option to choose your meat and the type of noodle you would like, ranging from fat to skinny rice noodles. I often get pork in this wonderful bowl. These bowls can be found everywhere, served with different variations. Back home the most common relative to this food is the Vietnamese Pho'.

Posted by Picasa

14 September, 2009

09 September, 2009

08 September, 2009

Vegetables & Fruit

I'm sure some of you are glad to be done with the meat section. Well, here are some vegetables & fruit. To be honest I don't remember the names of most these things. The third picture is of Durian, the famous, foul smelling fruit. Sometimes it smells really bad, other times it isn't so bad - I didn't notice it when walking by this stall. They don't let you travel with this stinky fruit and there are seperate ships designated to only carry this soft flesh within a thorny body.

Posted by Picasa

Please don't be wasteful

Case in point - pig hoof. Pork, Pork, Pig head. I remember our dog used to love to eat dried pig ears!?

Posted by Picasa

More meat, chicken & fish

The chicken table! Most of us like, we just don't like where it comes from - chickens! Below there is another place selling fish. Many of the vendors sit up on the table towards the back, as you can see in the 3rd photo.

Posted by Picasa

Fish & meat

Fish. Hanging pig parts - notice the pig head please. Haha.

Posted by Picasa