2009年7月9日 星期四

Malaysia: Borneo, Jungle

What's a trip to Borneo without a healthy chunk of time bushwacking through the jungle for Orang-utans.   

Orang-utans translated in malay is Jungle People.  100 years ago they were 250,000 strong on the Island.  Today they are endangered and numbers hover around 10-15 thousand.  

Their land is being consumed by the palm oil plantations which employ a large part of the Island (Palm oil is one of the primary exports of Borneo).  

We spent some time cruising the rivers of Ratabangan searching for these apes in the wild.  The sides of the river are lined with old growth rain forest, but clear cut behind to allow for the Palm Tree Plantations.  

A team was filming next to us on the River from National Geographic.  They were filming the Probiscus monkey, a wild creature that is unique to this part of the world.  They apparently thought it would be really successful to recreate a cheesy version of one of the monkey's face on the end of a pole to lure them down.  We couldn't stop laughing.  Who knew Natinoal Geographic operated with Halloween masks.

At night the bats fly barely overhead.  They are huge!  Maybe a three foot wing span.

Malaysia: Borneo, Mobul Island

Trent has fully recovered and we're back to filming.  It's really exciting to be back on scope.  We are currently in Borneo.  We are traveling around the Malaysian portion of Borneo.  The jungle here is absolutely gorgeous with many sections of the rainforest untouched by development.  This section of the world has a unique geographical position, allowing it to be nearly untouched by natural disasters.  The rainforest here dates back 100 million years and has not seen hurricanes, tsunamis, or wide spread fires.  

Sipidan is a small Island off the coast and contains some of the best diving in the world.  It ranks as one of the top three dive locations.  Miaken and I did our first dives in this area off the coast of Mabul Island (neighbor to Sipidan) and saw some of the most amazing sealife!  

The resort where we stayed was so set just off shore from Mabul Island, surrounded by coral and all kinds of sea creatures.  

There was this great dock at the diving shop so we started going for some backflip frisbee fest and the locals thought it was so funny.  They joined in, it was hilarious.  The frisbee was definantly new to the Islanders.   Here's Jabal sending for the frisbee.

Some photos of children in the local island village.

2009年6月28日 星期日

Thailand: Phuket

Good news to one and all...Trent is back in action!   He was released from the hospital in Bangkok about a week ago.  Trent and Miaken's parents (Max and Jill) were amazingly charitable and let us all use their time-share in Phuket to allow Trent some time to regain his strength and re-coop.  We stayed at this super amazing 5 star Marriot resort on the Northern End of the Phuket penninsula in Southern Thailand.  Many thanks to Max and Jill for this.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  I wish I would have taken some more photos, but here are a couple from the resort.  

Feeding some crazy Monkeys on Monkey Island (Near Kho Pi Pi)

Soiling myself near Maya Bay
Rogue Pirate digging for treasure on beaches near the Resort

Cruising through the Pi Pi Island Chain

We rented a scooter and three-donged around the coast lines visiting all the sleepy beach towns.  It was so funny and scary.  I kept forgetting to drive on the left hand side of the road, luckily Miaken was quick on the draw to remind me.  The scooter riding is a medly of breaking all traffic laws, white-lining, and smoothly drifting from lane to lane without blinkers.  It's so fun.  Entire families continuously travel together on one scooter, no helmets, no problems.  In fact, when I finally dropped the scooter off at the scooter rental place, I was about an hour from our resort.  I took a scooter taxi home and the guy lectured me for about 5 minutes about how in Thailand I don't need a helmet.  Reluctantly he finally borrowed one from his buddy for me to wear.  

2009年6月24日 星期三


So Trent is now totally stable and in kidney recovery stage.  He is doing really well.  Miaken and I had been kicking it around Bangkok for almost two weeks and went for a little sabbatical to Laos for a few days while Trent re-cooped in the hospital.  Laos totally has a bad wrap.  It's amazing.  The scenery there is unlike anything I've ever seen.  These towering spires of Limestone blast out of  flat rice field low lands.  

The people we met were really interesting too.  The people of the mountains are nearly all Hmong, speaking primarily Hmong but Laotian as well.  One gentlemen we met on the bus was the son of a Hmong Vietnamese soldier.  The Americans came to the highlands of Laos to recruite troops.  If the war was won, the americans would give them their land outside the communist rule, if the war was lost they would gain American citizenship.  This particular gentleman's father was killed fighting with American Soldiers in Southern Vietnam.  He, his mother, and siblings were all given american citizenship and now live in Sacramento.  He was returning for a couple of months to visit with the family.  

And how would a trip to Laos be complete without bathing and swimming with elephants...ZOW!

2009年6月13日 星期六

Thailand: Bangkok-ery

With Trent's recent medical issues, we've been tied to Bangkok until he is better. We are going on our 10th day here, and Trent's progress is slow but somewhat steady. All in all, we're just glad he's alive and on the road to recovery.  He's just waiting now for his Kidney numbers to come down and doing Dialysis every other day.  Other than that he is doing quite well, walking, and moving around on his own power.  His liver numbers are back to normal.

That said, we've had a LOT of time to kill here. Conor hopped a plain to Taipei to visit some friends, leaving Jentry and I to explore the city and find ways to entertain ourselves.

One way we do that is by finding Chenglish phraseology on items sold throughout the city. Chenglish is a word Conor uses to describe the broken-English phrases placed on t-shirts and other products by Asian marketing gurus. The goal, I presume, is to connect with Americans and those fascinated by American culture. The beauty of Chenglish (or in this case I guess it would be Thailish) is that the words are often random and make absolutely no sense whatsoever, causing copious amounts of laughter from the likes of me and Jentry.

For example. The other day I was at the market and found this little gem. 

I rain cloud UK. Um...what? I don't think anyone really knows what this means, but apparently it sounded good when they went to print. 

Today at the Grand Palace (one of Bangkok's biggest tourist attractions) Jentry noticed another diamond in the rough--the Mickey Mouse umbrella. Only, the locals seem to have come up with their own words to describe the American icon.

Somehow I don't think 'Lovely Rat' would have gone over as well with American kids. I can see it now: "Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me...L-O-V-E-L-Y R-A-T!"

But the real find, in my opinion, was a beauty product I spotted at a street vendor stall. At first glance, it looks like any other product.

I was baffled as to what a horniness-eliminating cream actually did, and I wasn't sure why it also mentioned whitening. Did it simultaneously eliminate sex drive and plaque? So i asked the vendor lady. She sampled it on my hand and I realized it was an exfoliating body scrub. I guess the best word they could come up with to describe rough skin was horny, hence the anti-horniness messaging. 

I'm guessing Asians find it equally humorous when they see Americans walking around with those Chinese symbol tattoos which they think say 'faith' or 'serenity' but in reality say something like, 'I is happy making' or 'smiling I do'. 

Anyway, in addition to Thailish novelties, we've managed to take in some of the cool local attractions as well. Bangkok is actually a really cool city. And even though we are here indefinitely and it's hard at times because everything is so up in the air, we've managed to find some new area of the city to explore each day. Here are a few photos from our exploration... 

Emerald Buddha

Ornate decor on exterior of temples

Jentry in front of a temple that is completely gold.

Beautiful white Temple of Grounds of the Grand Palace.

Street vendors line the sidewalks of Bangkok.

Enjoying the best chicken schwarma sandwich ever. When we asked for the menu, an Egyptian guy looked at us, then pointed at the two skewers and said, "I have beef. I have Chicken. I am Muhammad." I opted for Chicken.

2009年6月11日 星期四

Thailand: Trent Update II

So Trent is really starting to come around.  He is looking a lot better, has lost a lot of fluid from his system, is still doing Dialysis daily, and the nurses have given him a clean shave.  He's been having a hard time eating this whole time, so last night we snuck a Jr. Whopper into the ICU.  He totally pounded it no problem.  Must be some kind of satisfaction with comfort foods or something.  I think he's been having a hard time eating fruit and stuff, but Jr.  Whoppers----no problem.  We've been trying to spend a lot of time with Trent, but he is chronically fatigued. In the rare occasions when he is awake, we've been catching up on Planet Earth. 

Conor took a little sabbatical to Taiwan (photo of the departure).  He's kicking it there while Trent is on the mend.  The last I heard he was eating snake and going to some Buddhist monasteries.  He's kind of waiting there to see how what direction Trent's recovery will take.   
Miaken and I have run aground with stuff to do in Bangkok.  We saw all the big tourist spots the first few days.  Now we're on Day 8.  To fill the time I've been growing a mustache.  It's totally disgusting and westerners have a hard time looking me in the eye when they talk to me.  It matches most Thai mens' facial hair though.

Miaken's been making faces like this to kill the time.  She's also been singing an unreasonable amount of Guns and Roses, getting mad massages, street pad thai, and getting hit on by various weird men from around the world.   

Bangkok is an amazingly diverse city.  It has small neighborhoods representing cultures around the globe.  Last night we were in the Egyptian district for some bizarre shopping and food.  There are English, American, Indian, French, African, and all other types of mini neighborhoods filtered throughout the city.  

The saddest thing by far here is the prostitution.  They are everywhere.  They stroll the malls and all the street markets.  They roll through food districts and open restaurants, and pilfer backpacker communities.  If Miaken and I are walking down the street they won't approach me.  If she starts looking at something though, through a shop window, the prostitutes will try and make eye contact with me and solicit me even if Miaken is standing right next to me.  It's so sad.  

2009年6月8日 星期一

Thailand: Trent Update

So Trent is starting to do better. He's been on Dialysis now for a several days and that has really helped out on his kidney numbers. He is still very high, ie he has about 5 times the toxins in his system than he should. His liver has returned to nearly normal. One of the complications of all this illness is he has contracted the pneumonia. His lungs have been filling with fluid and the doctors have removed about 11 liters of fluid from his lungs over the past four days. They are giving him anti-biotics for any infections to the system that he may be experiencing. The hospital care is amazing here. That facilities are comparable to what is standard in the U.S., but the personal care is over the top. Trent has 3 nurses taking care of just him. The price of care here is about 20% of that in the states. I think we should start importing mass amounts of Thai nurses. Today was his best day for sure. He was sitting up, talking normally, and even joking around a bit. Trent is truly a remarkable person. The day before this incident happened was the day he spent several hundred dollars on food, toys, school supplies, and a trip to the zoo for 17 orphaned children living with HIV/AIDS in Cambodia. Hopefully that karma will swing back around for a quick full recovery. The doctors and nurses are very confident about his recovery and his health has followed their predictions thus far very closely. He really appreciates all of you that have prayed, sent some Karma, an email, or whatever to show you care. Thanks for all your concern, Trent sends his best.