Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

After a few months of work, I have finally sent my first photograph project to Blurb to be published. I'm excited to see the photos in a more formal format than on my screen. I ordered one copy before I purchase additional copies (as Christmas gifts to my immediate family).

While I'm waiting for my book to arrive, my sunglasses should be arriving soon.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An organic vegetarian restaurant in the beer & brat capital of the midwest? Yes - it's true! I was expecting a restaurant more along the lines of what I'd find in Bayview or Riverwest, but this was in an upscale outdoor shopping mall in Brookfield. The owners & staff were extremely attentitive & polite.


I had the Peace Bowl with Curried Cashew Crunch - light, aromatic, and very flavorful. I'd eat it again. In after meal discussions, I think that our next visit needs to involve a handful of appetizers & some dessert, as we were too full to eat any more food.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I found a blog that blows my mind - I found a link from Melanie Flood's blog. The author is having an abortion, and has decided to share the extremely personal experience with the world. This isn't for everyone; especially god-fearing religious cultist people. However, it's been a raw glimpse into a world that I will never know & cannot fathom.


Today's post was a good reminder that regardless of what your views are on any subject, you should keep your mouth shut unless asked for your opinion.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm a winner!!!!!

I signed up for a writing contest with Spy Optic in July. The entrants with the best travel stories would win an assortment of prizes. While I didn't capture 1st, I'm the male runner-up!


Here's what I submitted:
I was backpacking in Southeast Asia last year with my friend James. We had just finished a 7 day trek through the northern mountains. I was enjoying the comforts of Luang Prabang – mainly the hot water & daily $6, one hour massages. In an effort to disrupt the daily cadence of eating, lounging, and massages, we signed up for a kayak trip. After a morning of paddling, everyone devoured the cold lunch comprised of sticky rice, vegetables, beef, chicken, and fish. We ended the trip mid-afternoon with a long tuktuk ride back to Luang Prabang.

By late afternoon, lunch wasn’t cooperating with James’ stomach. While we were walking to the market, he made a few emergency stops to spill his stomach along the roadside. As James languidly trudged back to the guesthouse, I was keenly aware of the time. I couldn’t miss my nightly massage! Leaving him with a bottle of water, I dashed to my massage. After an hour of bliss, I wandered to the night market for dinner. I didn’t return to the guesthouse - I assumed that James would not eat. I frequented my favorite food stall for spring rolls, fried vegetable noodles, and a Beer Lao. While I was eating, I struck up a conversation with an American from San Diego. The next thing I know, I’m at one of the local tourist bars with a group of people I just met. I finally stumbled into the guesthouse around 12am. As soon as I opened the door, I realized something was amiss. The room was trashed. Water bottles were strewn around the room, and it looked like animals had attacked James' backpack. Where was James? While I was taking in the scene, I noticed a note on my bed.

I sat down and tried to formulate a plan. I needed to go to the hospital, but it was midnight – the town was shut down. I found a town map inside my Lonely Planet book. I noted the location of the Luang Prabang hospital, and headed out. I asked the clerk at the guesthouse if he had seen my friend and he confirmed that James was at the hospital. I mentioned to the clerk that I was going to walk to the hospital, as no motorbike taxis ran after 11pm. He bolted upright and tried to convince me that walking was not possible. My clouded judgement made it hard to concentrate on what he was saying - something about it being far and having no lights... The Lonely Planet map that I was referencing showed the hospital to be a 10 minute walk from the guesthouse. Having visited Luang Prabang several years earlier, I was confident that I could find the hospital.

When he understood that I was intent on leaving, he offered to give me a ride. His selfishness was a reminder of what I had experienced throughout Laos – locals were always willing to help without any expectation of repayment.

I realized the clerk was right - it took us 15 minutes of speeding along dark, dirt roads to reach the hospital. The Lonely Planet map was outdated - the hospital had moved since the book was published! Thanking the driver, I wandered inside to try to find James.

I found him writhing in pain with an IV in his arm. James recounted his story of crawling to the guesthouse clerk to ask them to take him to a doctor. The doctor looked at him & immediately sent James onward to the hospital. He was dehydrated from 7 hours of being unable to hold anything in his stomach. The doctor had given James some pills, said something in a mixture of Lao & English, and then walked out of the room.After 30 minutes of watching James writh with stomach pain, I drifted off to sleep. I woke up shivering in the middle of the night & realized I was sleeping on a steel table that was meant to be a bed. The cold air was spilling into the room through the glassless windows. I had one blood-stained sheet to keep me warm – I couldn’t ask for a blanket because the on-duty nurse spoke Lao. As I laid there yearning for morning to come, I realized this was a small punishment for abandoning James at the guesthouse in favor of a beautiful massuese.

One week later, I was fortunate enough to pick up the same malady from a bag of sticky rice & chili paste…

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I fasted today in the spirit of Ramadan. Although I don't share the same religious beliefs as my Muslim friends, the lack of food & water during the day was a great reminder of what I take for granted each day. There are thousands of places around the world (I've seen some of them) where clean drinking water is not the norm. Clean water is something that is sought after.