Monday, April 26, 2010

Off to see the Elephants!

Our last couple days have been great, we spent all of Saturday climbing at the Crazy Horse Cliffs outside of Chiang Mai. They were beautiful limestone formations and we had a blast!

Sunday we lazed around during the day, checking email, doing laundry, watching a bit too much TV.... but we were saving our energy for the Sunday Walking Market that afternoon/evening. The street was closed off and the walking market went for at least a mile. Both sides and the middle of the street were lined with tables selling everything from soap carvings to thai pants to chicken satay. We had a fantastic time wandering the market for hours and bargaining with the vendors.

Yesterday we spent all afternoon exploring the Chiang Mai Zoo. It is a huge and well-kept zoo, on par with other great zoos in the States. We saw their three Pandas, some Malaysian Sun Bears, Penguins, and much more. We also spent some time watching the Asian Elephants in preparation for our next adventure...

Today we are taking a bus to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center near a town called Lampang. We are spending three days there learning about their elephants, how they are trained, bathing them, playing with them, visiting their elephant hospital, etc. It is a highly recommended activity in every book we've read and we're really excited for it! If you want to check out their website, it's There are a bunch of great pictures on it that will give you a better idea about what we're doing.

We'll do an update and lots of elephant pictures when we get back on Friday....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

jumping off karsts and flying to Chiang Mai

Our last day in Railay was set aside for Deep Water Soloing (DWS). We took a longtail boat out with a group of about 10 other people and spent the day climbing up big rock formations (karsts) and jumping off them into the water. Travis was a bit more ambitious than Sarah and didn't hesitate to climb hard and jump from high spots. Sarah had a hard time commiting to the first jump, but then it all worked out.

Unfortunately, Sarah was also wrong about there not being any jelly fish. There were some huge pink ones floating around the DWS area and it made us very nervous.

After a couple hours of climbing, jumping, and swimming, we had some lunch and did some snorkeling - beautiful, colorful fish everywhere! Then some more DWS and headed home when the waves got too big.

We had a great time climbing and jumping, but we both decided we prefer to climb with ropes. Although it seems like you would be more free climbing on rock without a harness or rope and jumping into the water when you needed too, it was actually more stressful for us. You don't have the option of taking a break and sitting back in your harness to rest. You also have to constantly watch how far and where you're climbing, so you have a safe place to jump/fall into the water.

The next day we took a longtail boat, a van/taxi, and two flights - arriving in Chiang Mai around 5pm. We found our most recent traveling expedition through Thailand to be just as easy when we arrived, so nice! We've settled into a nice guesthouse in the old city area of Chiang Mai and plan to stay here for the week.

After a day of exploring the city and visiting the night market, we spent today in spot - around a stove. We enrolled in a day-long Thai cooking class and had a great time. We started by going to the local market to learn about the different ingredients and buy what we needed, then took them back to the cooking area to make some delicious food. We each signed up to make different dishes, so Travis and I know 12 Thai dishes between the two of us - not bad for one day. So everyone get ready for some authentic pad thai and spring rolls when we get back!

That's the update for now, we're doing a walking tour of the city and its beautiful wats (buddhitst temples) tomorrow, then Sarah is going back to the Thai cooking place to take a course on carving fruits and vegetables, while Travis goes to the local climbing shop to boulder around their wall for a bit. We head down to Lampang to spend three days at an elephant conservation center next week, so we are packing it all in while we can.

love and hugs to everyone!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our time in Railay comes to a close

We have had a wonderful time on Railay Beach here in Southern Thailand. We have one more day here and fly out to Chiang Mai (northern Thailand) on Tuesday the 20th. Tomorrow we are spending the day Deep Water Soloing. We go with a guide in a longtail boat out to some different rock formations in the ocean (these formations are called karsts) and climb up them. We do this without any gear (ropes, harnesses, etc.) and when we get high enough or too tired, you just jump off backwards and into the water. Don't worry everyone, tourists with much less climbing experience than us do this each day, we will be safe... If you want to see a demo, Travis says you can look it up on youtube.

We've taken a break from climbing ourselves over the last two days and have been busy watching the Krabi Rock and Fire International Competition. Each day from 10-3 was the lead climbing marathon where teams of two climbed as many routes as they could over the five hours. Then there was speed climbing (with many of the same competitors) who tried to outdo each other and get up the route in the least amount of time. It was incredible to see them scrambling up the cliffs! Last night we watched the finals of the fire competition - stick and poi. Also amazing!

We are excited to head to Chiang Mai and take cooking lessons and explore all the markets. We'll keep you posted as our adventure continues....

p.s. we just posted some new pictures!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Shaving and Bangkok

Firstly, if you have been following international news, you may have heard of the protests against the government happening in Bangkok. We wanted to let everyone know that we are keeping an eye on the situation and our current plan does not involve going into the city of Bangkok - so don't worry everyone! We will be flying out of Bangkok to come home, but the airport is well out of the downtown city area where the protests are happening.

On a much lighter note, we wanted to share the story of Travis trying to shave last night. It began with a fantastic climbing session on the nearby Diamond Cave cliffs. We were scaling the cliff face as the sun was setting a brilliant pink and it could not have been prettier. But it was still very hot, despite being about 7pm. So Travis decided it was finally time to break out the beard trimmer and shorten his facial hair. We knew the trimmer would not work when it was plugged in because it requires a 150 volt current and the one here runs between 200 and 250. But Travis hoped the battery that charges as you use it still had some juice from the last shave in CT (although that was about 5 weeks ago). He knew he had to go fast, so he turned on the trimmer and ran it all over his face as quickly as possible...but it died part way through. So he was left with patches of longer beard all around and the rest of his face was smooth. Basically it looked like he had been attacked by a frantic child with a razor.

After a minute of despair, I suggested he let me shave him with my disposable razor and soap. He panicked and said, "no way!" Very afraid that I would cut open his face. Travis pleaded with me to go around to the different rooms or restaurants and ask people for either a beard trimmer or shaving cream. I finally convinced him to just let me try with the razor and soap and that if it hurt I would go look for something else. So I got out razor and soap, turned on the faucet to wet his face and.... there was no water, just air bubbles and a loud gurgling sound.

So we got out the bottled water and pack towel, wet and lathered his face, and started shaving. Surprisingly to Travis, he had to concede that my method worked ok. The shaving done, and still no water to rinse off with, he went to the front desk to find out what was going on - face still covered in soap and hair. They said, "no water right now, maybe soon." So he jumped in the pool still covered in beard hair and soap!

Ah, the adventures you never guess you'll have!

This morning we rented a sea kayak and snorkel masks and spent 2 1/2 hours paddling around. It is just so beautiful! Besides the phenomenal cliffs and sparkling turquoise waters, we saw some really cool multicolored crabs, an incredible bright blue bird (Leslie we tried to take a picture, but it didn't work too well), and schools of shiny fish that jump out of the water in groups, it's like a Planet Earth documentary here. We tried to snorkel, but nothing too great right around here...we're going to try another spot in about a week.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Law School

Ok, everyone, it's official. Travis and I are headed to Boston in the fall! I have chosen to attend Northeastern's School of Law and we could not be more excited!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

hot hot hot

Well we are having a great time in Thailand. It is very hot here so our activities are dictated by the weather. We are getting up early to climb in the shade, then spend the afternoon on the beach and exploring the area jumping from shady spot to shady spot. We are making sure to drink plenty of water though. We have found a place selling 6 liter bottles of water for relatively cheap so we keep getting those and filling our smaller bottles. We've decided to line up all the big jugs and keep track of how much we drink in a week....

We've been eating lots of pad thai and thankfully Sarah's stomach is slowly recovering from whatever plagued it the other day.

We just put up some new pictures, a final installment from India and some ones from Thailand. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Beaches and Climbing

We made it! We had an easy flight down to Krabi, bus to Ao Nang, then a longtail boat ride to Railay Beach. We have found a nice little bungalow (for 500 baht a night, about 18 US dollars) and rented it for the week. Yesterday we climbed a bit but had to stop in the afternoon because of a torrential rainshower. Today was beautiful, but hot, and Sarah wasn't feeling great, so we relaxed and took it easy - laying on the beautiful beach and napping in bed. We are both eager to get climbing, so hopefully Sarah will feel better tomorrow.

The beach is a gorgeous tan color and the water is picture perfect aquamarine. There aren't any major creatures in this area, so swimming is even better (no sharks, jelly fish, or other crazy animals in the water). Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the land. There are gigantic, red and orange centipedes that are about 6 inches long and as wide as your thumb, with tons of creepy crawly legs - yuck! They also happen to be poisonous... We saw three after the rainstorm yesterday and were majorly freaked out! Hopefully that was a rare siting, but probably not....

We are loving the awesome thai food - curries and pad thai galore - and are planning on taking a cooking class on one of our climbing rest days.

That's the update for now, we seem to have found a pretty speedy internet connection and will try to post some Thailand pictures soon.

lots of love to everyone!
S and T