Monday, February 26, 2007

The Odysseus Team hit the U.K and San Francisco

15th February - 1st March

Bangkok was the very last stop for the Odysseus Travel Team
before they split up. Tom went to the U.K. to see his family and is looking as adorable as ever...

...and has even managed to pursuade his mom to buy him a pair of posh Victorian shoes.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Zhenia arrived for a 2 week stop-over in San Francisco to visit a few close friends and family before heading to Brazil to see Sasha for a month. The city truly provides the best transition from a long trip abroad back to America but the February chill took a bit longer to get adjusted to. The red hat is signature and compliments of Dan's mom.

Dan and I attended a fundraiser which provided pure karaoke entertainment plus cheap booze. Here, Dan and Mark sing Natalie Imbrulia's Torn with much charisma and spunk.
The true posers of the night: Dan and Sam, a dear friend and one of the organizers of the event.
On a pleasantly clear afternoon, we decided to walk through much of the city. One of the first stops: the de Young museum had a fantastic (and free) scultpure garden.

I also got a chance to see my uncle and aunt who had recently moved from Toledo (Ohio) to San Jose, another great reason to visit the West Coast more often. We started the day with a cosy lunch in Dan's apartment which overlooks Baker Beach. ...and then headed out to enjoy a bit of sightseeing.
With a short break from San Francisco on a Greyhound to Los Angeles, I paid a sweet visit to my old high school buddies, Rona and Dennis. With Rona's sass and Dennis' culinary genius, little entertainment was needed and we passed the time laughing and drinking delicious wine (hey i'm in wine country). A toast to the best chicken parm this side of the Mason-Dixie; a toast to old and new reunions.
These two weeks included many wonderful meetings and conversations. Thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy the silliness. Here are other pictures of interest...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Malacca returns

30th January - February 10th

Malacca is like an awaiting breeze on a hot, spicy day
-another reason why we found ourselves back in her presence and charm.

There is an old Chinese man that sits in his house at nights and watches his TV screen while on the other side there are football goals and the crowd is roaring. He sees me peeking into his window and smiles and yells out for me, "Newcastle 2, WestHam 0". An elderly Malay woman sits every morning across Sama-Sama guesthouse where we stay and waves us a hello. Her eyes glow with youth.

Our morning ritual begins at a local Chinese coffee shop where the customers don't say much but their orders haven't changed for at least 20 years. We were sure that the (frighteningly) serious woman, who serves us "Kopi-O and Kopi Ice" in these last few weeks, isn't a human but a zombie. She never smiles but in the last 3 days something strange has been happening. We caught her laughing out loud to another customer and couldn't help but laugh along.

The weekly night market fills Jonker Walk with lights and cooking smells and chatting noise while the antique boutiques fill with eager shoppers on spending holidays. Doggo, Sama-Sama's adopted street dog, follows us, wagging her happy moods. We know where we're going: toward a Nyonyan couple who know our order well: "fresh popiahs with chilli and no meat, yes?" We like watching the wife while she generously adds cucumber, corriander and the sauteed cabbage that glistens in its boiling pot to the thin crepe and then rolls it all into a bomb-shell of a meal.

We walk back to Sama-Sama, to the familiar faces of the slow travellers that stay in Malacca for weeks. Like us. We share stories and teach each other card games and dice games that will be taught in other parts of the world. Gabby and Soon, the guesthouse owners, sit and chat and smoke and laugh along while the night moves and the market passes to another weekend.

Nothing much changes when nothing much happens and the days blend into each other. Malacca is a lovely place to stumble upon and wait for a dentist appointment.