Sunday, June 14, 2009


We left Bali with Lilly for a stop in singapore before she headed home to NYC.

Thanks here to Nimesh, Asha, and Amol. Also thanks to Yash, Mamata, and Parag kaka. These guys put us up and took care of us while in Singapore. We couldnt have had a niceer time.

Singapore is fascinating. A Big Brother city with amazing, amazing food and food markets. Hawker stalls abound and singapores reputation as having the best street food in the world is well deserved.

Singapore is very very safe. There are cameras everywhere and people obey the rules. But let me share something that totally weirded me out. We are standing at 4 way intersection. There are a couple cars waiting but no cars going through the green light. Traffic is light where we were but there are some other pedestrians waiting to go. The lights change, but they have a noticeable delay. No one moves. Not one person or car. No one even eases off the break, the motorcycle waiting to turn doesnt even shift into first gear. Ever one is stopped and the sun is ounding down in the 97 degree weather.

Eventually the walk sign flicks on and we go across the street. That was the most polite and ordered intersection ive ever been in. Ever. It was weird. Really weird.

I eventually discovered that people do occasionally jaywalk. But I rarely saw people walk when the sign said not to, even with no cars. And I never saw a car bend the traffic laws. Not even a cab. Not even once. Weird.


So we've been here for a while. And it is awesome.

This place deserves a number of posts, and I will write at least two. But let me say that it is awesome. It is everything people say, both good and bad. It really is super touristy, and filled with aussies. It really is shockingly beautiful, and amazingly cheap. The ocean is warm, the beaches are pretty, except when they are dirty. Some beaches are incredibly secluded and completely empty, some are packed with people. Some have huge waves and some are completely flat, with the smallest ripple to indicate that the tide is going in or out.

Inland is also amazing. Ubud is fantastic and I am looking forward to going to the volcano and looking in.

A note here: thank you to Lilly lavner for coming to visit. We had an excellent time when she was here. Her fantastic camera was great to play with, even if she did have an australian dude come up to her and say "picture picture" over and over again like she didnt speak english.

Monday, June 8, 2009

catching up

So it has been a very long time since I have posted. And I apologize.

Over the next few days I will begin to post more regularly just to catch people up with what has been going on and t share a couple of anecdotes about Bali and Singapore.

But right now I have to go catch some waves.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

about to leave

we are about to leave for Bali and I found myself with some extra time. so here is a short post before we go to meet my friend Lilly on the beach.

Mini Indonesia, or Taman Mini, is a huge park. It cost 250 Million USD to build and has houses built in the traditional style of ever Indonesia island. These are remarkably different. It also has a small water park, several stages, a fair ground, and a man made lake that contains small fake islands in the shape of indonesia. Crazy. Not so many western tourists there, but a lot of Indonesian people chilling and having picnics. Good people watching.

There are some enormous and Dubai worthy malls here. But the thing I want to note is that the Food Section in the Gran Indonesia Mall has a New York City theme. A famous diner is copied and pasted there and a false rockefeller center. Bizarre.

ok, bye,


Saturday, May 16, 2009


Well I have to thank my uncle Satish and his friend binay for hooking us up with a sweet loft in Jakarta. Its large and wonderful and I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed having my own space. Its pretty awesome.

Jakarta, an enormous city, is pretty sweet as well. There are a surprsing number of things to do here, and I will share with you our trip to the zoo.

yes we went to the zoo. it cost 4000 Rp to go. that is .40$ It is enormous. The zoo was fascinating and I took some pictures of pythos for my friend Pete, they had some realy big ones. But of course the primate habitat was depressing. In the states there would be daily protests over the treatment of those animals, although some of the sumatran oraguatangs had impressive spaces, as did the komodo dragons. but as we wondered through this enormous place we found ourselves in front of another strange building.

For a dollar we could enter the new gorilla habitat. It is enormous, beautiful, green and filled with open spaces. It contains many other primates all in equal luxury. I dont know why the sad spaces in the older part of the zoo remain, but I hoping they will be moved. The new space, was awesome, with tunnels through some of the habitats where you could see but not be seen, and canopy walks for humans as well as mokeys. very nice.

Last thing to mention... its really hot, so if youre coming to visit be ready for humidity and heat.

next post from Bali/Lombok

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Last piece of Turkey

Well its been a while since ive posted anything, long enough that Ive actually gotten complaints so let me tell you my excuse. My parents were here... and they move fast.

They move a lot faster than me anyway, when they got here we went to greece, we came back and rented a car and the drove around north turkey, and it was awesome, but really tiring. Mixed into this was shopping with my sister, ferry rides, and eating really late at night. This didnt leave much room for blogging. plus im not that committed to it.

After that our friend Amy came to visit, and that was also excellent. But im still recovering and think my next post will be from indonesia. We leave tomorrow, so you'll hear from me soon.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Weve been here for a few days, longer tahn ıntended, and tomorrow we wıll overnıght bus to ıstanbul. Its been nıce beıng here and ıve caght up no a bunch of emaıls, maınly because the rooftop terrace has a computer. I can look out over the med, the sea ıs almost always flat and calm. In the mornıng ıt ıs turquoıse, and as the lıght fades ın the evenıng ıt becomes a deep dark blue. The sun lıghts the ısland ın front of me, and at twılıght the few clouds ın the sky shıne, backlıt, agaınst the pale sky.

Thats about as descrıptıve as I can get... but there ıs no hyperbole there. The place ıs almost scarıly pretty. Of course ıt helps that the other tourısts arent here yet.


Antalya was really nıce. a fascınatıng change of pace after beıng ın the countrysıde ın Anamur and the comforts of cıtıes were very welcome. The cıty ıs beautıful ıf defınetley prettıed up for the tourısts. We walked a lot and looked at the ocean and had one fabulous and unexpected meal.
We went to the bookstore. Now, I love bookstores, adn thıs one was exceptıonally good as bookstores ın foeıgn countrıes go, chock full of excellent paperback. But what made ıt awesome was the wonderful man who owned the palce. He was the best read man I have ever met. Bar none.
And he ınvıted us to dınner.
Ingrıd talked to hım about books, and I droppe the occasıonal tıtle and suddenly we were back ın the bookstore the next day choppıng fresh from the ground garlıc and lıstenıng to jazz on the radıo whıle sıppıng lebanese wıne.
Dınner was exceptıonal. Chıncken ın saffron rıce and a fısh stew thıng that had lobster and clams and calamarı and somethıng else ı couldnt ıdentıfy but was awesome. And a salad topped wıth oıl and blackberry sauce. Whew.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Enter Turkey

Turkey ıs gorgeous.

The sun ıs shınıng, the sky ıs blue, the ocean ıs turquoıse, and the towns super clean and kıd frıendly.

Kıd frıendly leads me to my anecdote for turkey. We have been here two days and we have gone to two parks. The mıddle east does parks really well, but the ones here ın turkey are superıor. Green and clean and fılled wıth playgrounds. If you havent been down a really good slıde ın an whıle ı recommend that you do so ımmedıately.

In both parks, however, we came across an ıngenıous type of playground. the tradıtıonal swıngs and slıde and jungle gym combo exısts of course. But so does the exercıse machıne playground. Thıs sectıon, used by adults and chıldren alıke, was fılled wıth brıghtly colored exercıse machınes. Tey dıdnt have weıghts or anythıng, but there were standıng bıkes and dıfferent machınes that used your body weıght to work oour abs and legs and etc., and they had several sıtuated next to eachother or connected ın such a way that chıldren could race or play together whıle basıcally... excersısıng.

More fun was the smurf vıllage.

Pıano Bar

We dont often have the opportunıty to go to bars, so I wıll mentıon one that we went to ın Damascus before I wrıte a post on Turkey, where we are now.

The buıldıngs ın Syrıa were beautıful, bıg open coartyards, amazıng wood carvıngs ın the doorways and wındows and... well the whole they were all just startılıngly bıg and beautıful. Pıano bar was not lıke that. It was more lıke someones lıvıngroom, but wıth te lıghts turned way down.

The best part, accordıng to ıngrıd, NO sıngle men allowed. thıs could be bad ın some sıtuatıons, but here, a group of guys and gırls, couples, or a group of just gırls... leads to no sketchy men sıttıng around gettıng trashed an obnoxıous. Although ıf youre male and ınto drınkıng by yourself I suppose you are outta luck.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Border Crossing

So we are in Syria now. A word on crossing the border.

It is clearly possible to cross without a visa. But to do this you have to wait a very long time. If there is more than one of you the time expends on. We arrived at the border at 10:25 Am. We left at 10:30 PM. That was not fun.

Apparently they fax a copy of a form and our passports over to damascus where they then make sure you dont work for the US government. The very kind guards at the border, who fed us and got us a space heater, initially said it would take 3 or 4 hours. But then informed us that it really just takes as long as the guy at the other side feels like, because he doesnt really want to do this for us, and so we just had to wait it out. In retrospect it wasnt so bad... and thus far Damascus is really awesome.

Party all night Long

Interestingly our hostel in beirut had moved to a new building recently. IT was still underconstruction, but our floor was pretty clean and therewas hot water... so nocomplaints. BUt then around 2:00 AM we heard this awesome thumping noise. I quickly realized it was the bass from a set of very loud speakers and went back to sleep. When I woke up at 7:00 in themorning the sound was still going. That was on a friday inght. We discovered that on friday and saturday a club operated out of the basement beneath the hostel.

This club opened at 2 and closed when the last patrons left. On Friday that was about 8 AM. On Saturday morning that was about 10:00 AM.

We were allowed free entry and free drinks. Unfortunately we could not take advantage of this generosity.. unlike other people staying in the hotel, sleeping until 6 PM was just not an option. Although according to our host if youre lebanese you just dont need sleep at all.

The Band in Beirut

So we grabbed a bit to eat at Le Chef, a tiny cafe / diner near our hotel. The waiter / owner? served us our food (very good) and then proceeded to wander around the room periodically shouting WELCOME out the window when people passed by.

We then meandered to a small bar, that someone would later label parisian. It was painted mustard yellow and the lights were dimmed and we quickly heard Jhonny Cash, Dylan, and the Band in succesion. The drinks were pretty cheap and it was fun to go to a bar... its been a while.

Its been awhile

Unfortunately once we got to Jordan, the opportunities for us to hit the intent cafes dropped. Mainly because we are lazy and suddenly we had to pay for the internet again, and... meh.

So I will write a few posts right now and hopefully catch up on some emails that Ive been putting off.

First a word on Jordan. Although it was surprisingly expensive I really enjoyed it. getting there was a trip, we took a ferry across the red sea, and although it was the 2 o'clock boat, it left at 6:30 and since customs was on the boat the non-tourists were still in line when we reached Aqaba.

Petra was seriously unbelievable. Honestly amazing. We stayed at the cleopetra hotel, and they were exceptionally nice... but I will point out thato our host, Mosef,m was so hyper he put me, at my most caffeine high, to shame. I seriously thought he might be on speed, he was just so crazy. But very nice.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Ahhh freee internet, how i adore thee. well, your'e convenient anyway.

so i wanted to mention the awesome if slightly ghetto childrens playground we say in oth cairo and alexandria. They werent the same but contained the same toys. They were simple mechanical rides, made of tin, for small children. But the colors were awesome. You forget how important color can be, and for me the most interesting and awesome part of those rides were how colorful they were. Cairo is... not so colorful. For ingrid the cool part was the fact that they were all man-powered, none of them used electricity. Which means they were cheap and all the poor children who lived near there were scrambling around on these bright but dirty play structures.

now we are at the colin sullivan recommended Dahab Dorms. I have to say he was ight about how awesome staying here would be. But i will aslo say that my expectations of dahab and the sinai coast were very different than the reality. Id go on, but really thats long enough for one of my blog posts. later,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


So we are spending our last night in luxor. then we will go to the sinai coast to be on the beach again.

Luxor, famous for the Valley of the Kings and the Karnak Temple and of course a lot of people trying to sell you things.

Everyone we spoke to before coming to Luxor warned us about how we would be hassled and that there would be non-stop irritation. Honestly... it wasnt that bad. Or i didnt think so until I spoke to a man we met in Aswan and ran into in Luxor.

Apparently he had been hassled a lot. I say this because when he was provoked by a guy on the ferry in luxor he totally flipped his shit. It was amazing. He kept calling for the police, he threw stuff; he was so enraged that he fell and badly injured himself. To be fair he really was provoked. To be honest, there wasnt anything he had experienced prior to that one incident that was that bad. Anyone who had traveled in India, Ghana, South Africa, parts of South America, China... would find Luxor pretty tame.

This wasnt what startled me. What bothered me was that people got so upset about being hassled without noticing that all the tourist money was clearly being sucked into some void and that the people around us are really truly dirt poor. They are persistent perhaps, but rarely rude, and really really need the cash. i imagined that the government would provide more infrastructure for the tourist towns or that some how there would be more of a trickle out effect. instead the tourist disembark froim the cruise ships, enter the tombs, leave, and the people of luxor still live hard poor lives.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Hello hello. First hing I have to do is thank Liz Huntely for being icredibly kind and including us in her travels with her friend Heather.

Then I have to say that Cairo is big, Alexandria was cold, Aswan is beautiful, and the US really really needs more sleeper cars on trains. I mean, why take amtrak from Philly to Vermont and lose a day, when you could spend just a little more and sleep pretty well, and not really have to deal with the 10 hour train ride.

A bomb did go off in cairo, but we werent there, and there hasnt been much on the news about it. Ok, we are off to Luxor to see the valley of the kings and queens.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thank You

For my final Dubai post I have to take a moment to thank Raj and Dolly kriplani.

They very kindly hosted us for 12 days in Dubai. They were wonderful; feeding us, taking care of us, and just being extraordinarily generous.


Global Village

My second to last post about Dubai.

the global village was fascinating and filled with buildings in which the goods of a specific country were purportedly sold. This is not intersting. What was interesting was the show we saw on the stage.

We paused to get some food. We heard some music. It seemed soooo familiar, i couldnt quite put my finger on it... and then, up on the stage, introduced by an incredibley distorted, indian accented, enthusiastic DJ, came four dancers. Two men and two women. they proceeded to perform a very professionally well done version of the final dance from...

Dirty Dancing.

Where am I?

Monday, February 16, 2009


malls in the US... for me they are often soul killing life destroyers, bent on taking my money and energy, waiting for a moment of weakness to spring some deadly trap that will leave me in debt; penniless, alone, and incredibly tired.

malls in Dubai are both similar and different. I think the reasons behind the differences are many, although at first I just thought they were larger and more incredible versions of the same thing. instead my uncle pointed out that in Dubai it get hot. i mean HOT. I mean that you literally cannot survive outside without becoming a Bedouin. So people go to malls. i also noted that people werent really buying anything. I mean, occasionally people took advantage of the sales, but really people just bought food in the insanely amazing food courts. food courts filled with magical delights created in god's kitchen. (particularly crepes.) No, people just go there to hang out.

And well they should. not only the mall containing the insane aquarium with 1400 sharks, not only the fancy pants mall inspired by pyramids (and built with a whole bunch of them), that has an outdoor rooftop garden showing free movies every sunday night, and not only the enormous freaking mall with its own lake, skiing, and ice skating rink, but the fact that the taxi ride to most of these malls was really pretty reasonable, make them places worth going to. Of course... I only bought movie tickets, food, and 1 t-shirt. if youre here to shop, you'll probably end up a soulless monster feeding on the dreams of the young.

unless you're female. in which case you'll be fine.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dune Bashing

Sorry for not posting recently. Ingrid and I have been having some computer troubles. We are actually about to head out for egypt, but I want to share some things about Dubai so the next few posts will have an anecdote or description of something I found fun or ridiculous.

Dune bashing is both fun AND ridiculous. I Loved it. We got in a 4x4 and drove into the desert. Once we were away from packed sand and into some serious dunes the driver went a little nuts. He began driving along the sides of the dunes, and over steep edges, and for the most part it felt like we were sliding everywhere. hmmm thats not a good description. If youve ever slid in the snow, just a short controlled skid as you took a turn... imagine that sliding feeling continuing for several minutes. Now add a slope, so the car is tilted at just under 45 degrees. Now pretend youre in a landrover, a vehicle that almost WANTS to flip over on its side. Now go at high speeds from one slope to another over and over. Now add a convoy of landrovers so you have the added danger of crashing into one-another...

I badly wanted to try it, but I probably would have killed us all. The guy driving was incredible.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Heading to Dubai

In just a few hours Ingrid and I will board a plane to dubai. I suspect that we will be little shocked returning to a modern metropolis, but im excited for the food. We are going at peak tourist time, but if some things are more expensive, other things are cheaper. Besides the Dubai Shopping festival will certainly be interesting.

Ghana was fun, and I definetely enjoyed our time here. I will miss the street food for sure, and also our very comfortable room in the church. But im excited as well.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Monkeys and Airplanes

Hey hey,

sorry I havent posted in a bit, its been hard to get on the internet since we got back from Burkina. We've been back for a few days and are just going through the list of things we havent done and things we want to do again before we leave Ghana.

Just two things aobut Burkina, which was lovely and filled with tasty french food. Burkina is a desert and was a french colony. It is very poor.

But we stayed with really rich people, which can be stifling but was fun. Mr Ron has a pet monkey. The monkey was kinda dumb but it was cute. A British Colonel Monkey i think. He chased me and I ran. seriously. this tiny monkey and i ran like a mouse being hunted by a cat. ha.

I also got to fly a plane. I know, who would let me do that? But it was wicked fun, and we didnt crash. sweet.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Goodbye Beach

Im not gonna lie... I love the beach. Its really pretty fantastic. The Green Turtle Lodge, haven of volunteers and expats, is really really well planned and organized. Besides being in a great, if remote, location; it is also exceptionally comfortable, well integrated with the locals, and ecologically friendly. All awesome things.

Now we are headed to Burkina Faso, and hopefully Mali. I am looking forward to the new country, both of us are very excited, if a little nervous since neither of us speak French. With some luck I'll be able to update from there. You'll notice the name change. If I dont get to update I'll change it again... Taking Names: Middle East.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Back again

So mole was sweet. Beautiful. And the elephants were awesome. We only saw five, a small bachelor group, but it was pretty sick, and I got a few pictures before the camera battery failed on me. Ha. so it goes.

Now we are back in Accra, it was a grueling 19 hour trip, but it is great to be back here. In a few days we are off to the beach and that will be wonderful as well. Hopefully another update before we head out there.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


So the final election was taking place... and one of the parties told their supporters not to vote. In the most brilliant strategy ever the NPP said that since they didnt think the EC had the right to declare the winner that weekend their people would not vote. And by and large they didnt.

That was on Friday. On Sat the NDC was declared the winner and the NPP candidate had given a very decent concession speech. Jubilation occurred. And now the streets are a lot less tense and things are spiraling back to normal.

Tomorrow we head out to go see elephants. Back in a while.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Election drama

My last post about the election painted a tense but probably peaceful picture. In this post I would like to emphsize the tension.

Both parties have protested, and the leaders on both sides have told the election commission that there has been ffraud in different areas. The NPP has filed an injunction with the court saying that the EC should not announce a winner tomorrow, instead there should be a re-vote in yet another area.

We bought a paper today and some of the articles were somewhat bleak. The parties have begun to divide into ethnic groups, with the NPP perceived as the Ashanti paty and the NDC as everyone else. Radio personalities are inciting violence and although protests have not turned into riots rocks have been thrown and people have shown up with machetes.

The tension is higher than I thought and the streets are far emptier than usual... but on the other hand the leaders of the parties are urgin people to remain calm and to wait for results. Violence has been minimal and is restricted to the fringes of the parties and, so far, people are simply waiting.

Ingrid and I may just go back to the beach to wait it all out.