annnnd July is here July 1st, 2014
Well, due date passed yesterday, and still no signs of the arrival of baby burrito. Just playing the waiting game for now. Here’s what we’ve been doing to pass the time:
Well, due date passed yesterday, and still no signs of the arrival of baby burrito. Just playing the waiting game for now. Here’s what we’ve been doing to pass the time:
Some misc. pics from the weekend —
hear ye, hear ye! I FINALLY completed a WaPo crossword puzzle last night. It has taken me about a million tries to accomplish this feat, but I did it, so now I must gloat about it!! I only had to look up one letter to confirm the answer (L is 50 in roman numerals). wooooooooooooooo hooooo.
So you’ve seen the video, but I’d be an idiot if I didn’t upload some of the trip pics and recall some of the stories too. It’s a month later, but in my book that’s right on time. Here goes:
When we first arrived in Bangkok, we took a ride on the Saen Saep Express Boat, which basically goes down the back alley canals of Bangkok. We were standing on the platform on the narrow bank, waiting to board, sweat rolling down our faces, when some Thai kids came up to us and began to interview us with their video camera. “Is this the dirtiest place you’ve ever been?” they asked. It WAS, in fact, THE dirtiest, smelliest place I’d ever been, but I didn’t want to offend them, so I said no. I think they were actually making a video about trying to clean up polluted waterways, but I only realized that later, and that they probably could have used some good footage of Westerners comfirming the grossness of the water. Instead, I think all they got was some video of me sweating profusely while trying not to be rude to foreigners.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around the city in the on-again off-again rain. We explored the temples of Wat Pho, the offerings of the Chatuchak market, took the BTS Skytrain, and tasted some Chang beer. We also stopped in for some cocktails at the famous Bamboo Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
On Day 2, we took an epic tour to see The Floating Markets, the Bridge over the River Kwai, and to ride elephants in the river. It was incredible, all of it. My favorite, besides the elephant An-Chung that we rode, were the two tiny baby elephants that we got to pet and feed. Their skin is so tough and rough and prickly, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I want to play with the elephants forever.
Our bike tour began on Day 3 of the trip, near a Thai beach just an hour or so outside of Bangkok. We met our soon-to-be-friends Neil and Di from Dubai, Jane from London, and Spencer from Toronto and got all set up with our bikes, water bottles, and helmets. The six of us, plus our two tour guides, had a delicious meal before departing on our first 17 miles…
We biked through some rolling hills, past some Thai shrimp farms, along a beautiful blue irrigation canal, and stopped for a water break and snacks by some rubber tree groves. We ended the biking segment near the beautiful shore and had some time to check out the fishies at the local aquarium. That night, we stayed at the Soi Dao Golf Club and Resort — it was off-season, so we had the place to ourselves — with lizards everywhere (which we named Stu for the rest of the trip) and beautiful views of the fog rolling in over the mountains.
On Day 4, we rode through the countryside in the morning until we got to the Cambodian border and went through the crossings. It was pretty painless, and we easily met up with our two new guides, new bikes, and new shuttle van on the other side. Cambodia somehow felt different than Thailand – a little slower and a little friendlier. As we rolled onward, the terrain got hillier as we passed by the Cardamom foothills. We saw lots of rural roadside homes, livestock, bikes and motorcycles, and friendly children waving and yelling ‘HALLO!!!” at us. Di was riding her own recumbent bike the entire trip, and this was just the beginning of the stares and smiles she got the entire way.
That afternoon, after 26 miles on the bikes, we arrived in Pailin, to stay at the Memoria Palace Hotel. It was one of my favorite places of the trip — very remote, lush and green, with beautiful stone artwork, colorful walls, and amazing Thai food. And Angkor beers, which were so well earned after biking. Later that evening, before dinner, we went into town with our guide to climb the steps of the Buddhist Temple Wat Phnom Yat. We enjoyed watching the young monks beating a drum, and of course taking pictures of all the ornate and colorful parts of the temple.
Biking is one of the best ways to experience a place. You can cover lots of distance quickly, but still get the close-up picture. The smiles on the faces of the people you pass by, the smells of chicken cooking on the roadside, the sounds of the road rushing by, and the feel of the humidity that comes with the hot, wet rain drops.
The next day, I set a new personal biking record with a distance of 61.5 miles. It was hot, it was long, but it was awesome!! There were plenty of sights to take in along the way, and well placed pit stops to refill the Camel Packs with water. At one point, I started riding with my arms flipped upside down to help alleviate the sunburn I was getting no matter how much sunscreen I put on. We had lunch at a legit roadside open-air restaurant. There is nothing quite like eating crazy spicy Cambodian food with questionable meats when you know you have 30 miles left to go on your bike. Now that’s living!!
When we finally rolled into Battambang, it was suddenly chaos. For Cambodia, it was a “crowded” city, and there were no traffic rules. The best you could do was just go and try not to crash into anyone else while crossing the intersections. Or, if you were Di on the recumbent bike, just keep pedaling and yelling “I’M GOING, I’M GOING!” and hoping everyone understood that you couldn’t stop easily. We stayed that evening at the Khemara I Hotel. While it lacked the remote charm of our other stays, it made up for it with the availability of cheap massages. Matt and I had some little Cambodian ladies walk all over our backs for an hour for the grand total of $8. It was AHHMAZING after a long day of riding. After that, the power went out in our hotel. This was a seemingly common occurance… so went we out to explore the streets. We stopped into someone’s house, or rather their living room, to enjoy two Angkor beers… as you do in Cambodia.
We travelled from Battambang to Siem Reap by boat. The Tonle Sap, or “Great Lake,” is actually a river and lake that is constantly changing, even reversing direction twice a year depending on the rainy season. For me, it was the highlight of the trip. There was something really sad but beautiful about the Cambodian people living on the river. Sad for the amount of poverty we witnessed, but beautiful for the simplicity of living, the natural wonder of the setting, and the perceived romance of having a home or boat on the water.
Siem Reap felt like a return to civilzation, of sorts. It’s a cute little tourist town, with tons of bars and shops and markets and cheap stuff for sale. We got bombarded, as did all the tourists, with “you need a tuk tuk ride?” and “lady, buy this!” and “massage for you?” It got a little old by the third night there. But we did enjoy being able to settle into our hotel for three consecutive nights and not have to pack up smelly bike gear each morning as we had done before.
It rained most nights and turned Pub Street into a shiny, glowing wonder. We had dinner and cocktails one evening while sitting on the floor in this “reggae loft.” That’s really the best description I could give it. We all shared travel stories, family stories, thoughts, dreams, ideas. There was a lot of booze.
While staying in Siem Reap, we had three full days to explore the temples of Angkor. It’s hard to write about the massive scale and also the minute detail contained within the nearly 1,000 year old ruins and feel as though I’ve done it justice. To say it’s impressive is an understatement; the entire time we were there, I felt like a tiny ant exploring the most grandiose palaces, some perfectly reconstructed, some undergoing reconstruction, and some left completely untouched. Ta Phrom was one of the untouched sites, and also my favorite of them all. Enormous and intrictate tree roots twisted their way around the stones like serpents tentacles, while the branches went skyward for what seemed like forever. It felt like a magical forest that you’d find within the pages of Dr. Seuss, like it shouldn’t exist anywhere on this earth. Absolutely amazing. I was also in awe of the amount of detail that went into the Hindu, then Buddhist, carvings. Not ever more than an inch of stone was un-designed, and we attempted to take photographs of it all.
One monsoon-y morning, we postponed biking and went for a rainy hike at Kbal Spean, the River of 1,000 Lingas. At the top of the climb was a magnificent waterfall and several riverbed carvings, right there in the gushing currents. It was a memorable walk because of the terrain — I am used to forest floors covered in leaves and debris, but this path was nearly all bare stone and twisting tree roots. The starkness of the stone below our feet, combined with the rain and the mud, made the pathway almost look like a brown, flowing river, but it was surprisingly not very slippery. I enjoyed putting my hood up, my head down, and getting lost in my thoughts.
That afternoon, the rain cleared up enough to bike, and a crazy ride it was. Red dirt roads, bumpy as all hell, flooded in places, constant swerving in and out of potholes and puddles. Very sore wrists. Hanging on for dear life. Or at least hanging on in hopes that I wouldn’t go over the handlebars. It felt like some sort of X-games competition. We were mud-covered and laughing at the end though, in that sort of Ican’tbelieveImadeitthroughthat sort of way.
The next day, and final day of the bike trip, was spent doing an easy ride to the remaining temples, with a stop at the small village of Kro Bey Real. The market here felt like the most legitimate view of Cambodia that we’d seen. We were the only Westerners there, everyone else was there shopping for their groceries and just going about daily life. There were incredible fresh veggies in baskets all over the ground, eggs so fresh they will still covered in dirt, chickens, fish… everything. The only turn-off for me was that the muddy, dirty ground upon which everything sat, including all the people, seemed to seep it’s way into everything with a bad smell. It was unlike any market I’ve ever seen or will see again.
ONWARD! We said our goodbyes to our bike gang and guides, and took a quick flight to Phnom Penh in the evening. We stayed with the Holben family and it was nice to spend a day relaxing in the company of friends from DC home. We took our first tuk-tuk rides, did a bit of wandering around the city, and stopped in at the National Museum of Cambodia. There were a bunch of protests and riots going on, with police and razor wire everywhere, so we didn’t do a whole lot of adventuring. Instead, Matt and Lorenzo had a great lightsaber battle, while Poppy tried to restore their injuries with her magical potions. We went out to an amazing sushi dinner that night. It was good fun.
The following morning I shall call the Morning of The Great Tuk-Tuk Incident/Misadventure. We had an 8:30am bus to catch to Ho Chi Minh City. We got in a tuk-tuk to the market/bus station around 7:20. It should have been about 15 minutes away. We BARELY made the bus. The tuk-tuk driver took us all over the city, partially due to language miscommunication, partially due to I think he was drunk, and partially due to us being viwed as typical lost tourists. Somewhere midway through the bumpy ride, I threw up. I couldn’t take it anymore. We went down some crazy street and I saw some fish heads lying by the side of the road and up came the one bite of papaya I had for breakfast. It was not pretty. All I could see as I leaned out of the tuk-tuk was some Cambodian guy’s foot like 3 inches away from my mouth, as his motorcycle was zooming by.
In Ho Chi Minh City we completed our adventure. We were thrilled to be staying at the Hotel Continental, which was right in the mix of everything. We saw the AO Show at the Opera House, wandered into Notre Dame and the Saigon Central Post Office, ate an amazing French dinner complete with moules, visited the Reunification Palace, saw the Emporer Jade Pagoda or as I call it the turtle temple, had more massages and more massages, shopped at the markets, tried some authentic pho, took skyline photos of the city from the overlook at the Bitexco Tower, took a cooking class, and Matt had a custom-tailored suit made.
By the last day, the non-stop traffic and whizzing of motorcycles, the endless markets, the harsh sounds of Vietnamese, and the throngs of people selling things kind of got to me, and I was ready to return home… With so many great memories.
total miles biked — 180 !!
sawatdee – goodbye in Thai
leah seun hai – goobye in Khmer
Xin chào – goodbye in Vietnam
We’re back! We spent the first two weeks of this month on a crazy fun adventure in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It was a whirlwind of a trip, and we’re just getting back into the swing of things here at home — I finally finished going through the video clips to put together this little narrative of the trip. It surely doesn’t capture ALL the moments (it’s not easy biking and filming with an iPhone), but it does give a pretty good flavor of the sights and sounds we experienced. Up next, tackling the 1000s (yes, 1000s) of photos that we took!
A 7-day bike trip through Southeast Asia with Spice Roads bike tour company. From Bangkok, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia including the temples of Angkor Wat.
We got back to Val and Ty’s house to some “surprise” birthday visitors… And continued celebrating with dinner, cake, and presents with family. The best kind of birthday!
The wives of KA (as we actually never call ourselves) went to Charleston for a little trip this past weekend. Jessica realized several months ago that we were all through with bachelorette parties/weddings/etc that had become pretty regular over the past 5 years… So we needed a new excuse to go away together. Or maybe one was actually not needed at all. So we just went. Our fabulous taxi driver knowingly nodded as she drove us to our hotel saying, “ahh time away from the husband’s and kids” (even though there are no kids yet) and then proceeded to tell us this crazy story about the time she bought one of those little rubber grips for taking off stubborn lids for her ex-husbands new wife, who is sweet as can be by the way, and dropped it off to her at the end of the driveay, because there was no way she was going inside and having to see her ex-husband. All because he threw it away thinking it was a piece of rubber garbage, and what an idiot he was for doing that. So she brought a new one by and dropped it off one day. It seemed like her way of saying sorry to the new wife for the mistake the husband made, as only she would know and understand, though how she knew that he threw away the rubber grip thing wasn’t part of the story, but in retrospect I’d really like to know.
Anyways, we stayed at the Double Tree (for the chocolate chip cookies) and enjoyed dinner and drinks out, a sweaty bike ride across the bridge to Mount Pleasant, wandering around the city, and catching up on all the things we needed to catch up on.
*Dang! All these pictures uploaded in reverse order — I am too lazy to fix that — so enjoy our trip from end to start*
We did another lockhouse bike trip tour this past weekend, similar to our 2012 trip, but this time we stayed at different lockhouses, and also it was just the two of us. I have been spending the majority of my weekday hours (like 80+) in front of my computer, busy as ever, so getting out of the city by bike on a Friday afternoon, with a weekend of good weather ahead, was the best remedy I could have imagined for the past two days. Thankfully, bike-butt is a slightly different (and much more welcome) kind of pain than office-chair-butt.
I picked up a copy of The C&O Canal Companion the first night from the lockhouse bookshelf, and I started reading about the history of the canal construction, the Civil War, battles with the railroad lines, the floods, and the lockhouse life for the familes that lived and worked there. I don’t usually get into historical reads like that, but it was all so fascinating. Apparently in the 50s, many years after the canal went out of use, there were plans to turn it into a parkway for cars. We have Supreme Court Justice William O. Justice to thank for spearheading a movement to keep the canal system preserved as a park. He and 8 other people actually hiked the entire 184 miles of it to bring awareness to the situation. That is seriously awesome.
Anyways, the ol’ brain wheels are a-turning now about biking the whole thing all the way to Pittsburgh. I haven’t checked the elevation map for the trail after Cumberland, but I’m pretty sure that will help change my mind…
We spent the weekend in Rock Hall, MD with family — on Saturday we checked out the farmers market and shops in Chestertown, walked around by the water, listened to a concert in the park, and had a lovely dinner out. Sunday morning was our sprint triathlon. It had been awhile since we’d done one — but it felt pretty good and the course was awesome!!
I do believe I’ve finally sold Matt on the wonderfulness of a beach vacation. It only took 6 years of dating and a third wedding anniversary, but we’ve gotten there!! We spent our last 4 nights in the Bahamas on the Abaco islands on Guana Cay, staying at Oceanfrontier Hideaway in cottage #3 (serendipitously, one for each year of marriage). By night 1, he says, “I could get used to this.” And that is when victory was mine. Beach vacations for the win!
Getting there was no easy task — 2 flights, a taxi, a ferry, and a golf cart ride… But once we arrived it felt like time was put into slow motion, starting with our taxi driver insisting that we turn off our calendars for the next 4 days. It’s been a long time since that has happened — no where to be, no time schedule, no deadlines to meet.
We awaited our 5:30 ferry from Marsh Harbor to Guana at Curly Tails, on the second story outdoor porch, a palm tree for shade and some conch fritters and Kalik beer to pass the time and watch the lapping waves. Hello clearest, bluest waters I’ve ever seen, and that was without super vivid camera mode.
Maria met us on the dock in Guana with a golf cart. She gave us a quick tour of the island on the way to our accommodations. That consisted of pointing out the location of 2 bars, 1 restaurant, the guy with the necklaces on the side of the road, the grocery, the liquor store, and then the tour was done. What a simple, perfect little piece of earth.
Our cottage was a few turns down some sandy pathways off the main road. Go past the giant Poisonwood tree with the “do not touch” sign, and the old bulldozer that was brightly painted and covered in surf stickers, pulled off the road behind some palm trees and obviously unused for years, past the sign for Nippers bar, which we could already hear the music from, past the Old Guana Cay cemetery, and there we were.
The place was perfect – dense, jungly foliage and palms and lush flowers everywhere, and wooden boardwalks. Our cute little cottage had 3 bedrooms (one a loft) with wood paneling and tropical colors throughout, and four big adirondack chairs under a trellis porch, just waiting to be napped in. And the beach, which seemed to be ours alone for most of the trip, save for the giant pig roast party on Sunday, just one set of steep beach stairs away.
On our first night there, we drank a bottle of appropriately named Barefoot wine on the beach. The sun had gone down, and the moon had come up (name that song), when all of a sudden a giant red, then white streak went across the sky. If you’re a Wasilewski, and you’re half of bottle of wine deep, the first thing you yell out, naturally, is “UFO!!!” It was right overhead of us by then, we started saying our goodbyes to each other, when it suddenly gave off some sort of burst with a white trail of gas coming off, I swear it was straight out of the Apollo 13 movie. Or actually, it was real life space stuff happening right in front of us. We later consulted the Twitterverse, when my searching for Bahamas UFO yielded nothing, I searched some more and it turns out what we saw was the Delta 4 rocket (military communications) being launched from Cape Canaveral. sooooo cooooool. Wish I got more than blurry iPhone pics. Maybe that was the fault of the wine though.
On our first full day, we went on a snorkel boat trip aboard the Isabella with our capitan Troy, Colin, a guy doing a scuba dive whose name I did not catch, and Dave and Kate from Florida. We snorkeled in 2 awesome spots for a few hours, and saw some grouper, a ginormous sting ray, HUGE sea turtles, lots of little crazy neon fish that I couldn’t begin to identify, hard and soft corals… but the highlight by far, and I mean BY FAR, was the Baracuda. Troy pointed him out for us, and we’re all watching this crazy big baracuda slowly swim by, he’s kinda looking at me and Matt, but not really all that interested. And then he SUDDENLY turned sharply towards Matt. It was so great. Then all I know is there was a lot of bubbles and back-paddling, and Matt was already far, far away in another universe. Wish I had sprung for the underwater camera, that would have been in the top 3 family videos ever. The rest of the time I spent looking for lost treasure chests, but unfortunately did not see any.
The rest of our days were spent lounging on the beach, exploring the coral and rock formations, walking along the sand, napping (Matt to me: “I never knew you took your napping so seriously” the things you learn after 3 years), reading (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society-weird title but best book I’ve read in a long time), laying in hammocks, drinking the red frozen drinks, eating ALL the conch fritters and fresh fish, exploring on bikes, taking millions of photos (film to be developed), picking out future beach houses we are going to buy (me), petting our friend Eddie cat, and just generally relaxing as much as humanly possible.
Though the Bahamian bugs may have gotten the best of us, and our backs are quite sunburned, and we had too much rum, WE WILL BE BACK SOON BAHAMAS!!
This morning we participated in the Vasa Ride (something we first did back in 2008). Our friends Alex and Lindsey rode with us this year — the boys did the 60 miler, the girls did the 15 miler. It was nice to have company along the way — friends to endure the chilly weather with and also to enjoy the blueberry soup at the end (always the highlight). Maybe next time I’ll try the middle distance race. oh yeah… and Happy St. Paddy’s Day!