My Old Kentucky Home

April 3, 2011  |  by jess m  |  Uncategorized  |  3 comments

I just want to take a moment to say BLUUUUUUUUUUUE!!!. I mean, this team in the Final Four? Are you kidding me? I know we lost today, but the one thing this trip has shown me over and over is how much joy comes into your life from the little moments. And this team has brought a bunch of great little moments into my life over the years, and certainly a few awesome moments over the last few weeks. So thanks guys, way to crush it. Can’t wait to see you next year.

Run for the Border

April 2, 2011  |  by jess c  |  Koh Lipe, Malaysia, Stuff For Wanderers, Thailand, Visas  |  No Comments

If you do much backpacking in Southeast Asia, you’ll often hear–sometimes in hushed tones–people talk about making border runs. No, it’s not a reference to a certain Mexican fast-food advertising campaign (though, Jess M wouldn’t let me call this post “Make a Run for the Border”). Rather, we’re talking about taking a trip to renew one’s tourist visa.

Doing a “border run” has always sounded to us like doing something sneaky; like somehow cheating the normal immigration rules. An intrepid loophole. In reality, it’s a process that, while a bit tiring, is otherwise pretty mundane. Our trip the other day to get a new 15 day tourist visa in Thailand went like this:

9:00 am — board the slightly overcrowded speed boat on Sunrise Beach (Koh Lipe), and travel on pretty choppy waters for an hour and a half; play “I’m thinking of a word that starts with the letter ___” to distract Jess M from having to pee for the last half hour.

10:30 am — wander around the pier area of Pak Bara looking for the travel agency with which our Lipe agent has made arrangements for a taxi.

11:00 am — find travel agency, and taxi driver, and hit the road. Spend one hour driving through lovely jungle areas, with mist-covered mountains.

12:00 noon — arrive at the Wang Kalien border crossing with Malaysia. Walk to the Thailand “Departure” window and have your passport stamped as leaving Thailand. Walk 30 feet across the border, have your passport stamped at the Malaysia “Arrival” window. Then walk 10 feet around to the other side of the same booth, and have your passport stamped at the Malaysia “Departure” window. Walk 30 feet back across the border, and have your passport stamped at the “Arrival” window in Thailand, and waaaalllaaaa! New 15 day visa.

Look back and stare at the border, marveling at the lack of ceremony or intrigue or anything even remotely sneaky.

12:20 pm — get back in the taxi and drive back to Pak Bara.

2:30 pm — board the speedboat back to Koh Lipe, get completely soaked from the rain all the way back, remark that Jess M is a genius for suggesting we bring our rain jackets, and play more “I’m thinking of a word…” to pass the time.

4:00pm — arrive back on Koh Lipe, wetter, but with license to spend two more weeks at the beach on this lovely island.

Ok. We hate this bathroom.

March 30, 2011  |  by jess m  |  Accommodations, Koh Lipe, Thailand  |  9 comments

Last night I snuck outside during a break in the rain to go to the bathroom, only to find this guy on the wall next to the toilet. A full 8 inches of pure disgusting between me and dropping my pants. It’s a strange instinct of human survival that screams at you that this this was no good. After Jess C bravely tried to kill it with a rake (it wouldn’t die) we did manage to flick it on to the top of the wall. One of the ladies who works here was out walking her dog and informed us that he was “very bad” and the we should not touch him.

No shit.

Meet our Poisonous Thai Centipede

She took over the killing job, and did manage to spear him with the rake, before knocking him to the ground where he ran off into the bushes. No doubt spending the rest of the evening plotting our demise.

Check out how big he is compared to the toilet seat. Ew.

We want concrete walls. And a hermetically sealed bungalow. And room service.

When the dream bathroom isn’t so dreamy.

March 29, 2011  |  by jess m  |  Accommodations, Koh Lipe, Thailand  |  2 comments

The thing about the perfect open air bathroom is that when it rains Wrath of God Rain for four days, the experience becomes slightly less about the romantic moonlit shower, and a lot more like sitting outside peeing in the pouring rain.

We feel like a lack of roof over the toilet may have been a bit of a design flaw.

Force of Nature

March 28, 2011  |  by jess c  |  Koh Lipe, Thailand  |  6 comments

We’re really not religious people. But, we’ve had to admit that the amazing, awe inspiring natural beauty we’ve encountered so far on this trip creates more than a little suspicion about the existence of the divine. And the wrath. Here are some of the storms we’ve seen roll in since we’ve arrived on Koh Lipe.

If only there were puppies

March 27, 2011  |  by jess c  |  Koh Lipe, Places we love, Thailand  |  3 comments

It begins with waking up in your bamboo beach bungalow and stepping out onto the porch to a view of the powder-fine white sand sloping gently to the jade and blue crystal clear water.

B4 Bungalow, Lipe Beach Resort. Our current home.

Our view looking left.

Our view looking right.

You then stroll down the beach for a few minutes, until you stop at the lovely little Spanish restaurant on the beach, where you lounge about on the built-in platform cabanas and eat amazing food, while watching the comings and goings of the fishermen.

View looking out from Kaixo-Lipe Restaurant.

After a leisurely lunch, you take a longtail boat taxi to Pattaya Beach on the other side of the island. You swim. You lay about in the sun. You sip watermelon fruit shakes and put your feet up.

Relaxing on Pattaya Beach, Koh Lipe. (If you're a regular reader of this blog, you might be noticing the foot-to-view perspective theme. It's because Jess M likes to take pictures of her feet in awesome places. She figures if her feet are somewhere great, so is the rest of her)

And at that point, it’s inevitable that you ask yourself: Could this day could possibly get any better? You turn to your friend and jokingly say “If only there were puppies, this day would be perfect.”

And then, there are puppies. No, really. Puppies.

Seven of them. Cute little squirmy, cuddly puppies who after running around on the beach all day, are all too happy to cuddle up with you (en masse) under your beach umbrella.

This one we called Runty. He sat on Jess M's lap for about two hours, in exactly this position.

This one we called Chewy.

Best day ever… (so far).

Malaysia: A Snack Retrospective

March 26, 2011  |  by jess m  |  Malaysia, Snack Retrospectives, Tastes  |  3 comments

Finding snacks for the Malaysian installment of “That’s Disgusting, Eat It” was not a challenge. It’s no surprise that in a country that considers Frog Porridge a national delicacy we would find the most repugnant snack to date.

Cuttlefish Chips.

Just opening the bag filled our room with the foulest odor, like ten thousand fish washed ashore on the beach and spent three days rotting in the sun. They tasted exactly like that too. We had to open the windows. And brush our teeth.


The cuttlefish Chip. Oh the smell...

A man in Little India told us we had to try his homemade Coconut Moonshine.

It tasted exactly like fermented ass.

Baby Flavored Chips!! Turns out they were actually Fish Sauce and Yellow Dahl flavored chips. Hard to say which would have been more delicious.

Coconut water. Poured straight from the freshly machete'd coconut into this handy to go cup.

Peanuts. Covered in some kind of mysterious yellow "crunch."

Mmmmmmmmmm. Street food samosa.

Corn Bun. Look how happy the bun is on the package. Apparently he didn't realize that he was a hot dog bun filled with the sweetest creamy CORN FILLING on earth. Nothing to smile about there.

Fish Donuts. From KFC no less. Colonel Sanders is rolling over in his grave right now.

Pink wine! In a can!!!! How's that for classy?

Chicken flavored Corntoz. Toes DO taste just like chicken...

Assorted sweets from an Indian bakery. They were all so beautiful. One looked just like a perfect apple. And SO DELICIOUS. Couldn't tell you what any of them were.

Fudgeez. Apparently shoving disgusting cream filling into an even more disgusting hot dog bun is the Malaysian national past time.

Pickled Sour Peaches. Pickled fruit. In a bag.

Grass Jelly Soda. I assure you that you have all of the same questions that we do about this one.

Kaya. More stuff shoved into more buns. We think Kaya is some sort of fruit. We think.

Tiger cookies. They tasted exactly like a Nutter Butter, if you added plastic "chocolate" and put them on chalk instead of cookies.

Sugar Crackers. I kid you not, these are Salteen Crackers with granulated sugar on top. Unexpectedly delicious. Or our standards have sunk. Hard to say for sure.


“Sak” means “Tattoo” in Thai

March 25, 2011  |  by jess c  |  Koh Lipe, Thailand, Things to do  |  9 comments

It all started seventeen years ago in a little place called Montgomery, Alabama. I was there doing my Div III (undergrad thesis for you non-Hampshire folks) field research, and my friend Amber had graciously come down from Chicago to save me from the boredom of my Deep South existence. As will happen when you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, we decided to get tattoos. From a guy named Rat.

As will also happen with the passage of time, the tattoo had gotten a little, shall we say, less pretty over the years.


Was that supposed to be a... vine? Leaves maybe?

So, a couple days ago, Jess and I found ourselves with a rainy day on Koh LIpe. Fortuitously, our bungalow resort (called Lipe Beach Resort) is also home to the talented Mr. Hund, tattoo artist extraordinaire! You can probably guess what happened next. If you’re stumped, though, fear not. Jess M fully documented the whole thing in photos.

Mr. Hund, the master at work.

It's worth noting that while I was comfortably seated on a cushion on the floor, Mr. Hund was perched on top of one of those Thai triangle bolsters the entire time.

In fact, I think this may well be the most thoroughly documented tattoo ever.

Not gonna lie. It hurts.

Joe, one of Lipe Beach Resort's owners, stops by for a consultation.

I should mention at this point, for the benefit of our parental-types, that both the needles and the ink were brand new, and that the equipment was all fully sterilized.

Sterile, clean and very professional.

The whole process took about four hours, start to finish, and provided a good amount of entertainment for others who were also whiling away the rainy day.

At one point, a group of local high school kids stopped by to watch the action.

In addition to making my old tattoo look new again, Mr. Hund also added new lovely detail and color. Including some cute new blue flowers.

Taa-DAAAA! From Alabama to Thailand, now suai maak maak again!

No, he didn't sign the work, but I think he kinda wanted to!

How easy you are to indulge in this heavenly flavour!

March 24, 2011  |  by jess m  |  Tastes  |  3 comments

Hands down some of the cheapest entertainment we’ve had has been the mutated English we’ve seen on signs, menus, and packaging. Here are two winners.

Tissues. Made from the pulp of real virgins!!!

Hey! Who you callin' easy??

I’m never bathing indoors again.

March 23, 2011  |  by jess m  |  Koh Lipe, Places we love, Thailand  |  4 comments

Our bathroom here on Koh Lipe is outdoors and completely open to the sky. The other night in the shower, standing under the gentle flow of the sun warmed water, drenched by the silvery moonlight light, listening to the surf, and looking at the stars, was far and away one of the best moments of my life.

In the end it really is the little things that matter.

Update: Yesterday we were chatting with a bartender at a tiny beach bar on an even tinier beach on the other side of the island. Turns out he built my dream bathroom! Small world.

This is Man. Entertainingly bitter bartender. Awesome bathroom designer.

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