Sunday, January 10, 2010

Indubitably, old chap

'Ello, Guvnah! A brief recap of my trip to England:

I was in England to visit friends, and I was there just before Christmas, so I got to do a lot of Christmas-y things, like watch a parade.But most of the Christmas stuff was helping cook a lot of things, like gingerbread men, mince pie (which is made out of mincemeat, which isn't meat), Christmas cake (which you get to "feed" with alcohol), and Christmas pudding (which doesn't remotely resemble anything we here in the US-of-A would call pudding).

Fun times, since I like to cook. I also convinced my friends to celebrate Thanksgiving with me (I received some emails asking if they celebrate Turkey Day in the UK; no they do not). Most of them had never had a pumpkin pie before, so I had to enlighten them.

I also got to do a little travelling. Despite it being winter, we went to the beach and made some sand art. Winter in England isn't quite as harsh as Alaska or Wisconsin.I also made it to London.
The city is very expensive, so I ended up seeing the outside of many famous city landmarks because I didn't want to pay to go inside. (The picture above is Big Ben, if you couldn't guess.)

Also, no trip to England would be complete without a visit to a castle.
This is Windsor Castle, located in Windsor. I was too cheap to go in there, as well. (Windsor is also the home of LEGOLAND, which I did not get a chance to visit.)

As I travelled, people would ask me about the big differences between the US and the UK, aside from the people's accents and personalities. The main difference is the age of the country. Even such mainstream daily destinations as Starbucks and Pizza Hut are housed in buildings that are over a hundred years old.
The other main difference is probably the size of the countries; England is much smaller, and you can get to places using some strange means of transportation, such as trains.

I enjoyed my time in England, and I hope to go back some day. (Hopefully sooner rather than later. If you're an English businessman and would like to hire me, please send an email. Thanks!)

But for now, I am enjoying the enviable situation of hunting for a job. Fortunately, we're not in a global economic recession or anything! That would make things difficult.

Other plans include a two-month trip to Thailand, beginning mid-March. I'll be teaching at a summer camp. I'll keep you posted as plans change or stay the same.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Last days in the tropics

Back in the American southwest desert, biding my time. Here's a quick recap of Malaysia and Thailand.

We spent some time in the Cameron Highlands, hiking and avoiding the rain.We also did some touristy stuff, like going to butterfly farms, tea plantations, strawberry farms, and other such things.After the highlands, we made our way to the island of Penang. We spent several days in the city, viewing some tourist attractions of dubious quality, and then headed to a national park for three days.

We had a great time, except for Sinead getting stung by a jellyfish. A local ranger applied some local remedy.We believed the mixture was just water and a local plant ground into a paste. However, a known "remedy" for jellyfish stings is urine, so we are not sure what liquid the ranger used.

After the park, we had to head back to Kuala Lumpur to catch our flights: Sinead to England, me to Thailand. But we did have time to catch a look at the Petronas Towers, one of the world's tallest buildings. ***

I was in Thailand to visit friends, not to be a tourist, but I did manage to get up to Ayutthaya for a couple of days. The city is the old capital, and ruins are scattered around the city.I took a sunset tour of the city, which involved a boat ride around the perimeter--the city is surrounded by a protective river/moat, and is sort of an island.The rest of my trip was spent in Bangkok, where I managed to commit very few acts of debauchery. Then my year of fun in the sun was over, as I got on a plane to England.


One more photo for you. Yes, that is a monk on a cell phone.
More photos can be found here, including some shots from our last days in Indonesia.