Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Through the burning lands

After spending a few days in Bangkok we drove up to Ubon to see the family and sign some paperwork on the sale of a house that my mom owned up there. 7 hour drive to Ubon, 2 hours of that spent in the dark on a 2 lane highway, some of the vehicles with lights, some not, faster cars passing the slower, sometimes with 3 cars abreast going different directions at highway speeds. Spooky! I’ve discovered why I like reading when I’m a passenger, it’s much easier to face death when you don’t know it’s coming. Worked in Iraq with flying too.

My grand father passed away last year and we went by his grave to pass respects and bring an offering to the monks at the local temple. The head monk gave me a blessing for my upcoming trip to Iraq and our current journey (I still think I’m going to die in a fiery car crash, likely out here). He said my wife looked like a beautiful flower (damn, even the monks think she’s a hottie!)

Afterwards, we went out to lunch on a floating dock made of bamboo that had these little floating single room huts that branched out from it, everyone would sit around this mat and eat, waitress would bring by the food. One of the venders who sold food had a 5 o’clock shadow and breasts! I bought some fried bananas from him/her anyway, turned down the large fried grasshoppers. Interesting lunch, the main dish was a large fried catfish and sides of some incredibly spicy soup, a couple of different kinds of laab (pronounced laap), spicy dish made with chili, garlic, lemon, cilantro, mint and some sort of shredded vegetable and/or meat.
I ate my first live food, meaning food that’s still kicking and trying to get away. One of the laab dishes was made with these small live freshwater shrimp. Breaking one of my long standing rules about eating anything that was still moving. Alas, it was good, nice little crunch, my wife wouldn’t kiss me for a couple of hours afterwards. Very hot.

It took one night to teach my wife how to swim, she’s a natural. She’s had water fear since a couple of the family cars (and her and her dog) were washed away in a flood in the nineties. I know she wakes me up in the middle of the night with drowning dreams. Last night couldn’t have been more beautiful, we were in a pool on the fifth floor of our hotel, the sun was setting and the sky was on fire, she was floating on her back wearing a pink bikini, with reflections of the sky dancing across her body. It was such a perfect moment that if the rest of the trip is horrible (which it won’t be!) would have made this trip worth it.

So now we’re driving throughout the countryside, the airs smoky because they’re burning the dried out rice paddies, fires dot the countryside. This part of the drive reminds me of parts of California, between Julian and Poway the roads wind around the mountains and the hillsides are developed for crops with ranches dotting the valley floors. Roads are about the same too, bumpy with road construction signs. Every time I come back, there’s more being built, will I recognize this in 10 years?

Interesting country, the local version of Wal-Mart called Tasco Lotus, you can buy a months worth birth control pills for 15 baht, about 35 cents. We’ve had a couple of close calls with almost accidents when people see my wife walking down the street, but everyone is very nice. Not every day you see a pink haired girl out here. The battery is about to die so I’ll leave tales of our journey on that note.

Take care everyone.

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