Thursday, December 24, 2009

We've made it all the way up to Wisconsin, 18 hours of driving total from Denver, although we did spend a delightful weekend in Iowa City along the way. Our finale in Colorado was quite fun as well - we met up with some friends and spent a night at the Ameristar Casino in Blackhawk, gambling and meandering until the early morning hours.
Good thing we got to Wisconsin when we did though, since the snow started last night and is reputed not to be finished until Saturday. Definitely going to be a white Christmas, and we'll probably be seeing the same snow until we leave here in late January!
Iowa City was great fun, saw some good friends and a fun show at the Blue Moose Taphouse - our friend Collin rocked it out solo and with his band Lick It Ticket - and ate an abundance of tasty food. Thanks for coming out to IC with us Kate, and thanks for driving over late Sasha, it was really wonderful to see both of you ladies! Special thanks for hosting us Joe & Hannah, perhaps someday we can actually return the favor!
Being home still feels a bit strange and blurry, like we are slightly disconnected from "normal American life" - which is certainly correct. It's hard to re-adjust to a new way of life (anywhere) in only a few weeks. For sure we were born here, speak the language, and have lived primarily in the US during our lives, but the short-term happenings, culture, music, movies, etc. we simply cannot relate to just yet. We're working hard, but we're still more adept at sign-language ordering food, haggling over prices, and riding a bicycle all day then we are at driving a car, buying goods at Western prices (with Western taxes), and understanding every one's conversations that you overhear. Really, we're so used to NOT understanding what people are saying that it feels truly bizarre to be at a restaurant and be able to eavesdrop on the surrounding tables!
Besides the snow, we've seen both Liz's brother and sister, as well as all of their children. Our baby nephew Jaksen is doing well, at 6 months he is already preparing to conquer the world with his cuteness! Our older, but no less cute, niece and nephews spent the night here yesterday, and we'll obviously be spending much more time together over the coming weeks.
We're just working hard on a seemingly endless list of "chores"... Liz is getting ready to start an Advanced Personal Fitness Trainer Certificate, an online course, which is not only a return-to-school test, but more importantly something she's very interested in that has short-term job potential. Part of the program is an internship in Denver once the online studies have been completed, so she's got some time pressure to finish in order to take advantage of the internship while we're still in the States!
Anderson is busy sorting/uploading/organizing photos to assemble a DVD of our trip, while also finishing his TravelFish articles and about a million other projects... plenty of work even when we're unemployed!

Hope everyone out there has a fantastic holiday season, whether your X-Mas is white or downright hot - after two weeks of cold we'd really prefer the latter :-)


Here's a five-eyed moment of zen cuteness from Denver:

Friday, December 18, 2009

There's a new Travelfish article called The Road Less Traveled. It covers our six day ride from Hanoi, Vietnam to Sam Neua, Laos in extensive detail, so check it out when you've got a bit of spare time!

Otherwise we are wrapping things up here in Colorado, were supposed to leave for Iowa today but that's been postponed until tomorrow so that we can give Luke a ride as well. Yesterday was Anderson's parents' 43rd wedding anniversary, so we went out for a nice dinner at a place called The Perfect Landing. Located next to the Centennial Airport, it had a nice view of the incoming planes, as well as totally delicious (and from Tues - Thurs affordable) food. Where else can you dine fancily and enjoy a $10 steak dinner or a $10 bottle of wine?

Our time here has been too short, so our sincere apologies to those friends we haven't gotten a hold of - we'll be back in early February with much more time on our hands! But it's been great being back (despite the cold weather) and we're very glad that we'll be spending a decent amount of time in America in the upcoming future.

Tomorrow then we'll be doing the long-haul drive from Denver to Iowa City, about 12 hours assuming the weather holds up. Tonight we're going to a casino in Blackhawk, our friend Dan has a free room (!), so we'll be starting our journey to the Mid-West early in the morning from the mountains... should be fun!

Be seeing all you Iowa folks real soon, and then by the 22nd or 23rd of December we'll be up in Wisconsin for the holiday season (and several weeks afterward),

Saturday, December 12, 2009

We've made it back to America, and are now in the midst of adjusting to "life as normal!" Our three flights, all standby thanks to Anderson's aunt, went well enough, the best part being that we actually got seats on them in the first place. Our Bangkok -> Tokyo flight was super full, so we actually got some of the very last seats, but that was certainly better than missing the flight and having to try again the next morning.
Our last days and night in Bangkok were quite fun, first we got our money back from Fausto for our bicycles just fine, and then we immediately began shopping away! We needed some decent clothing for the airplane ride home, so we took care of that in the somewhat upscale Amarin Plaza, where the bike shop is. We somewhat reversed the typical Saturday and Sunday night agendas, as we chilled out at our hotel on Saturday, but partied it up on Khao San Road on Sunday.
Sunday was a full day, as we spent numerous hours shopping at the massive Chattuchak Market, and against all odds and amongst thousands of people, we somehow managed to meet up with both Blaise (& Eunjin) and Christine. We were all loaded down with shopping bags from our own afternoon of wandering, but we all met up in front of the market, and then had a good (enough) final dinner at some random restaurant. It was nice to catch up on everyone's last week in SE Asia, we all got to spend some time with Eunjin who we've heard so much about, and then we ended our trip in style drinking buckets while sitting on plastic chairs in the street!
Around 2am we headed back to our hotel, loaded up, and then caught a taxi to the airport to begin our 20 hour journey back home. Anderson's mom picked us up at the Denver airport, where it was freezing cold - quite the unfortunate change in weather for us, especially since we've managed to avoid the past three American winters...
Our first few days here in Colorado have been busy but very fun. Some highlights include an afternoon at the Science & History Museum for their Genghis Khan exhibit, seeing our good friend Scott perform at an open mic, and catching up on some videogaming by playing the Wii for an evening.

Yesterday we went up to Fort Collins with Scott & Joni to do a massive brewery tour. We fit in three breweries (New Belgium, Odell's, & Fort Collins), as well as one brewpub (CooperSmith's), in a long afternoon, and in doing so got to sample over twenty-five different beers!

Tonight we're going to check out former Iowans Euforquestra, who are opening up for Kyle Hollingsworth from String Cheese Incident - should be a fun night of good songs and jams (we hope :-)

We'll try not to let the blog nod off as it has before when we're not actually traversing the globe, so please keep checking back for updates (there should be a lot - more TravelFish articles, a DVD of our SE Asian trip, a new mix CD by Dj Anderson, trip photos finally available online, etc.)


Friday, December 04, 2009

The FULL MOON PARTY was definitely a ridiculous over-the-top massive event...
We'll spare you the details :-), but there were thousands of people partying until dawn, pounding club/techno/electronica music until the rain came pouring down the next morning, and more buckets than is really believable. The crowd was a bit too young for its own good, but perhaps that just means we're getting more mature or something equally frightening...

Before the party itself we spent several days enjoying the beach (though there was hardly any sun over all), and each night there was a pre-party of ever increasing intensity. Our bungalow was fantastic, set in a garden setting for only 600 Baht per night. We feel like we really lucked out, other than the mosquitoes that plagued us at night, since many of the places were either over-priced due to the party or just rather dumpy. And we got perhaps the best massage in all of SE Asia from our hotel, for the low low price of only $6!

The beach itself was nice, not too big but not too small, especially when it wasn't littered with last night's bucket straws and glowstick-bracelets. The waves were perfect for body-surfing throughout the afternoon, there was ample room to play frisbee, so it really felt like a slice of paradise despite the rampant over-development that is all around Haad Rin Beach. The island, Ko Pha Ngan, has numerous beaches, but we stuck with the one we were staying at since it met our needs just fine. Plus with the cloudy weather it didn't seem like a good use of time to travel around the island by over-priced truck-taxi... or perhaps we were just delightfully lazy?

Right now we're back in Bangkok, having endured the 19-hour journey of: taxi, boat, bus, bus to get back here... laying low today, hopefully we'll make it to see Fausto and get the money from selling our bikes back to him, but exhaustion is definitely at the forefront for today...

We fly out early Monday morning, so this might be our last post from SE Asia :-(. If so, it's been a fantastic ride (literally, much of the time), thank you so much for reading all about our cycling adventure, and there will be more news posted soon!

Peace, and much love
Anderson & Liz

Here's you moment of Full Moon Party zen:

And here's the Full Moon itself, just to verify that it was all real:

It might have even looked that blurry at certain moments... :-)