Wednesday, January 30, 2008

the slow boat on to another home

we are traveling again...
what a great few days! cruising away from pai (it was hard to yank ourselves out of there, we had lunch with chino and rata and hugged them both several times before we left, and nuk gave me a seed/bead necklace from burma, put it around my neck and said when i miss her i can wear the necklace and think of her...brought me to tears!) we rode to chiang mai with tim, the new zealand man who owns our cottage, and learned all about his life and his traveling days all over the world. on monday we drove in a minivan through northern thailand and the chiang rai province, past red dirt towns and a huge golden buddha on top of a temple, green rice fields, and humongous rock formations rising out of the green earth....we spoke too soon to tim the day before, saying we hadn't seen rain yet in thailand...of course it rained that day, but it was refreshing and everything looked greener and more alive. we stayed in chiang khong, the thai town on the mekong river, and met a great guy from quebec named aziz. we accompanied him in the morning to the border, to get our thai exit stamps and to go in a little boat across the river to laos. everything was a little slower there, being in lines and clusters of people, getting the forms we needed to fill out, handing in our passports, handing them $35 US dollars for our visa (it was fun to get the US dollars from the currency exchange place, we haven't seen them in so long, crisp ten dollar bills, smells just like US money, distinctive)...we were guided along by a man to the longboat, where they kept letting people get on, i think we had 130 or so! we got a seat by the front which was actually better than the little wooden benches, as we had a little room to stretch out. there were the two cutest little laos girls on the boat, looking at us with big eyes and holding onto their moms. we stopped at different villages along the way to pick up/drop off lao people, and at one all these little kids came on saying "pringle chips oleos (oreos)" with big baskets full of junk food and beerlao to sell. pringles seem to be popular.

the boat ride was stunning, down the brown water sand bar surrounded mekong river, through remote unknown, high green hills and cliffs, rocky shores, bamboo fishing poles bending over the water, bamboo in the valleys, little kids playing naked by the shore, little boys doing synchronized backflips in the sand for our applause, photo-shots, and smiles. we stayed in pak beng last night and had the most amazing indian food cooked by a man from bangledesh...naan, dal, parantha, rice with GHEE (yum!), aloo palak, aloo gobi....i know, eating indian food our first night in laos... :) it was great though, such a sweet man. we also met a lao man outside his restaurant who was so kind to us, we went back this morning for breakfast and he told us about his life and watched him play with his two year old son. everyone we met has been so nice, and the kids are so beautiful. we took the boat for another 8 hours today, through rain and a rainbow upon our near arrival, and cliffs and green green green and the brown muddy river. gorgeous. luang prabang is great. we found a buffet vegetarian street food stand with several dishes, all you can pile on a plate, and they heat it up for you, for .50! laos used to be occupied by the french, and the impact on the food here means there is lots of amazing bread and baked goods to enjoy, including a little loaf of the best banana bread we've ever had :) streets are lined with night market goods, beautiful pillow and duvet covers hand stitched, fisherman pants in rich prints and colors, old tusks and horns, bottles of snake wine with snakes preserved inside, silver jewelry, hand made slippers with spirals and elephants, carved wooden pieces, original buddha art painted in gold....beautiful beautiful. we met some people on our boat and are going to travel to a waterfall tomorrow and also walk up to the wat (temple) up on the hill that overlooks everything. i can already tell that our time here won't be long enough. it's amazing how much you can explore in a could travel all around the world in a year, or you can stay in one country and immerse immerse immerse. even though it was hard to leave our little pai haven, i'm so glad that we did. it feels great to be 'on the road again,' as willie would say.

khap jai lai lai everyone!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

new news

hello everyone!

carson here, i have two important things to say in this latest edition. one, and the biggest piece of information, is that melissa and i have bought a plane ticket home! we are both very excited, after days of searching, to have found the perfect plane tickets for the end of our trip. we will be heading back to los angeles on april the eighth, for our own culture shock to the extreme, and to see our great friend Rocket, who it has been almost a year since we have seen! we will spend 5 days there (also seeing a couple other friends from bellingham.) then we will be flying up to seattle on april the thirteenth. ...and then off to hawaii! we'll be home for a little over 2 weeks and then we head to the big island to see our friend abram who we met here in pai. we come back from that trip around may that's the plan! in the meantime we are heading to laos today, and then down to the islands more in the south where we will (hopefully) get to spend time with a few of our favorite people that we've met on our trip, and maybe some newcomers traveling from portland! a brother sister combo, jeremy and jennea are coming to thailand and it will be great to see them as well. then down to bali, which is where we fly out of back to the states.

the other piece of news. after debate, i am putting it out there to our communities to help us in the last couple months of our travels. if you are feeling financially secure and you would like to help support us on our journey, i have a paypal account for if you don't have paypal, you just go to and sign up, click send money and then type in my email to send it to. please do not put any financial strain on yourself to do this! 1 US dollar equals 9345 Indonesian rupiahs...20 US dollars = 186,930 rupiahs!

we love you all and i can't tell you how much we appreciate you all. our communities are what make life so special and help create aliveness in me.

'then you spread your wings and you take fly, feel that morning and there is nothing on you.' a quote from billie holiday. :)

pictures from pai (more can be found in the new "pai" picasa album...follow the link to the right of the page :)

1. adventure to soppong with kate, jim, rachael, mike, abram, two girls from germany...posing at the top of the pass
2. melissa and nuk at the good life
3. carson in our home
4. carson, rata and chino
5. kat and melissa

Friday, January 25, 2008

a tribute to pai

getting ready to leave... more day, one more day in the pai-radise. we've met some awesome people lately and every moment with them is an absolute joy, so present and happy all the time just being with them! kat from toronto, sharing meals and humor and lazy pai days and our market/cooking night where we made food for 12 people....the argentinian couple, chino and rata, two of the most beautiful people i've ever seen with their huge smiles and emanating love, chino's great laughter makes us feel like natural comedians, we all adore na's kitchen and have shared meals there the last couple of nights....

today i sat at the pool between chino and rata, feet dangling in, looking at the blue and cloudy sky, those big towering cumulous clouds and rays of sunlight pouring out from all sides of them as they pass over the sun....three perfect songs came on, 'don't worry be happy' which seemed like an ideal anthem for my experience the past few days, then 'stand by me' which is really a sweet classic song, and then 'my girl' which my sister and i used to sing together in the living room when we were little and we even made up a little routine for the whole song in pantomime to the words....rata and i were both softly singing each song as we sat there by the water...oh, what a moment! i felt pretty much ecstatically happy all day :)

we've been deep in flight research internet land the last couple of days, trying to find good prices for our next round of flights and such. we are both listening to a CD we burned from the great music venue in town,'s called billie holiday, remixed and reimagined....taking billie holiday songs and adding beats and breaks and other instruments, weaving it together...SO GOOD! enjoyed our last meal at na's have we eaten there a lot of times, and it's so good every time! thick noodles with oyster mushrooms, egg, kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, burned chili paste, green beans....panang curry with pumpkin, carrot, fresh baby corn, green beans, lime leaves, coconut milk....brown rice....the beloved som tam salad....coconut banana shakes...all for $

i am really just rambling...i wanted to convey how amazing it is to meet people from other places, to sit by a pool in a place that none of you live in and sing the words to a song smile and smile and hug people you met three days ago and say i love you to them because you really do, truly and travel as long as we have together and to be more in love than we ever were at the beginning of our trip...(did you know...ten years ago yesterday -the 24th- was the first day that carson and i ever laid eyes on each other at the paramount theatre in seattle at the indigo girls concert, after chatting on AOL for over four months prior!??) ride back to our place every night, ascending the hill, lanterns aglow in the sky, pai down below, bungalows by the river, unlocking our door, stepping on those teak floors, reading before bed...breakfast at the good life, always a pleasure, scooping wheatgrass foam off the huge green shot, drinking pu-er tea, saying hello...what a pleasure it's been to spend so much time in this place and really integrate! tonight we're going out to phu pai again to see a great band called the tonic rays (the people we had christmas dinner with) to everyone at home and everywhere!!

Monday, January 21, 2008


i think the best days evolve from no planning whatsoever. yesterday we had breakfast again at the good life (it's hard to not eat at this great place every morning) and sat at the table with the swing chairs with people from mexico, japan, england, canada, and the US. how fun! it's endlessly exciting to meet people from all over the world and to make new friends with all of them. we spent the day with howard from london and kat from toronto visiting a waterfall, drinking smoothies at a beautiful little lisu hill tribe cafe up on a platform that overlooks the pai valley, eating lunch, and meeting up later for a walk around the town and music at phu pai. this afternoon we are all meeting for a journey to the daily fruit/vegetable market to buy items to cook dinner with at howard's house! kat did a cooking course in chiang mai and she's going to share her skills with us. i can't wait....carson and i have been to the market so many times, but have to admire all those beautiful vegetables and herbs from afar, as we have no way to cook them ourselves. i will take some pictures of them and post them later!

we also had fun this week with chloe, our new friend from california. we shared every single meal together for two and a half days, and enjoyed the atmosphere at fluid one afternoon (fluid is a huge pool a little bit out of town with umbrellas and places to lounge around, full of westerners). chloe is going to cambodia, and then over to bali, and she got us interested in going there. we had a day of ideas and indecision, what should we possibly do? i brought up the fact that we still have quite a bit of our trip yet, and we can be free at any time to powerfully choose where we want to many ideas....laos, cambodia, vietnam, south of thailand, india, mexico, new zealand, now bali....we are still in the choosing process, but as of now we are thinking of finishing out most of our lease in pai (another week or so) and then heading to laos for a week or two, and then going to south of thailand to explore ko chang and maybe a couple of other islands, and then flying from phuket to bali, indonesia, to be there for a month or so. how does that sound? we haven't visited a beach once, so i am excited to be near the ocean! we both want to go to new zealand too, but i don't know if there will be enough money for that journey (new zealand is full of helpx opportunities, so once we got there we could be taken care of by helpx, but still....plane fares are a bit more :) so for now, that is our evolving plan :)

my highlights of pai are seeing the employees of the good life every morning, sitting at kay's wheatgrass bar as he extracts a shot for us and pours pu-er tea, and talking with nook, a sweet woman who works there too, she always has such a big smile for everyone she meets, a constant inspiration to me....going for dinner at na's kitchen and being greeted by her..when we were gone for a few days to chiang mai and returned, she grabbed my hand and said how good it was to see me again...oh! how special!...and we always look forward to going in there for her smile and her food (oh, the som tam salad, my favorite, cucumber/carrot/tomato/long green bean/fresh garlic/chili and citrus, with fresh roasted peanuts on top...)....going to the hotsprings our various nights with mike/rachael/abram/julia, or dan/chloe and looking at the stars, hearing stories of their lives, chloe's poem....last night when we drove into town and saw 14 paper lanterns and their fire floating up into the sky, wishes/prayers/letting go.....hearing stories of other peoples' travels, where they've been, where they are going, their favorite parts.....all the 500,000 swifts flying back into their lod cave home at dusk every night, thinking about all the caves in the world that the bats fly out of at night.....coconuts, coconuts, coconuts, fresh water, in smoothies, in curries, i can't get enough!...carson and i are doing so well together too, we had a huge breakthrough and basically a "re-engagement" last week, really getting through some fears and blocks that had been coming up throughout our trip and creating a whole new basis for our's been stellar! almost feels like we are starting to date all over again, that magic you know, but with our whole foundation too. it's so fun to tell people about how we met, our little internet romance and how long it took for us to finally get together, almost everyone can hardly believe we actually met on the internet :)

Friday, January 18, 2008

a picture from the start of our trip...

my cousin brooke just sent this picture to me...taken in september at her wedding in nashville :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


greetings everyone,

this is carson here! i thought that i would write a post since it's been nearly a month. when we lived on maui a couple years ago, we would often go around to places and ask for a kamaina (kama-Inah) discount. this would be something they gave to people that lived there as a discount instead of the usual higher prices that tourists would receive. today, we were at the good life for breakfast and i was taking at a seat at the wheatgrass bar to have my daily dose, and we were talking to some people, and kay, one of the owners told as that we had to be on a waiting list to get a shot! their production could not keep up with the demand...(see notes:microeconomics below) so we walked away dejectedly and sat in a swing and began to order breakfast. kay came over, and he handed us a wheatgrass shot to share just because we go there all the time and they know us. thusly, we received a nice little kamaina treat! do not fear, for we are on the list now and will be having wheatgrass often now that we are aware of the rules of the game. some call this tasty little drink the elixir of life, the fountain of youth (if indeed there ever was a fountain springing forth wheatgrass from it's heavenly depths),others call it liquid gold, still others call it disgusting and very green. but this foamy little treat tastes like candy to me, and the owner kay who makes it brings forth a passion to rival the movies and (i think) he has the clearest blue eyes because he indulges in 1-3 shots every day! i myself also declared that i will have a shot of wheatgrass every day from now on, though melissa added a nice amendment of that being when it's remotely possible to have them. for in cambodia we might be in a place that does not regularly supply wheat grass to the residents of their city/town. when i get home though, i plan on growing my own wheatgrass, an experiment that i plan on being highly successful...unlike my kombucha growing which failed in a very smelly and not attractive sort of way. i have also been cooking up in my little brain a couple other business ideas that i'm very excited about! both of them are creative projects that i will be able to do when i get home! one involves photography, and the other involves refurbishing of a little something that everyone likes! however, i will not let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, until i am home and the process is in place. but i do know that it will bring joy and spendor to all that would like to partake!
lately it seems that little things like "when i get home" keep popping into my brain more and more. we talk about them, and then excuse them as being something not part of our reality right now, and so as scarlett o'hara would say "i won't think about that right now, i'll think about that tomorrow" and so on and so on. one thing i will let out of the bag though, is this little kitty cat of inspiration i have found... recently i discovered that my brain can indeed occupy and memorize new information every day! and as i mentioned a while back, i plan on learning a language (spanish or italian)..and also, i am going to start memorizing poems and stories. i have long since wanted to have a story, around 5-10 minutes that would be a "signature" story of sorts...and now i realize that i just want to have all different types of words in a methodical order that i can share which i enjoy. i shared this with our friends dan and chloe two nights ago at some hot springs, as we soaked under the stars, and she shared a poem that she loves. her voice changed, as i found poetry often does when memorized and spoken aloud, and word for word she spoke with strength and beauty and my mind filled with the imagery that she shared. she finished, and i yelled "YES!" in ecstatic delight that she fulfilled exactly what i was talking about, and found the space to do that through my sharing of an idea that i had. it was a really special night.
yesterday continued a rollercoaster that melissa and i have been on of traveling with a companion all the time! sometimes it is easy, sometimes very difficult... sometimes it is really hard to see the other person with clear eyes that are not clouded. yesterday my eyes were clouded with my past and a fear of commitment, and a way that i would be giving up a part of myself by not having in my life a time when i wasn't in a relationship (as we've been together since i was 21..5 years!). as we talked (for hours) the clouds lifted and i was able to give up all the fears and ways that i had been holding back as a partner to her and of not giving fully..and letting myself experience life fully. phew! luckily she was very patient with me and we hugged for a long time afterwards. i got peace and freedom within the new bounds of our relationship to be powerful and open...something that i hadn't had in a little while since i had started feeling that way..what a life! and here we are in pai, thailand. no matter where you go, there you are.
(shouldn't that be an expression??)
well, that's all for now, hope everyone back home is doing amazing and enjoying life!
much love,

Monday, January 14, 2008

new pictures to view, caving, soppong, departing friends....

the common area at cave lodge

i just uploaded some more pictures!

click around on that site, all of the rest of our pictures can be found in other albums under our account.

we are back in pai after a three day adventure to soppong with our friends rachael and mike, to visit caves and stay at the fabluous cave lodge, owned by an australian man who has been living in thailand for the last 30 years and knows everything there is to know about caving in the area....our friends just left yesterday for chiang mai and the south, we feel a little wistful without them, the four of us like a little team, crusing the mountains on our yahama mio motorbikes (not recommended to rent for two people, sometimes it barely felt like the motor could haul us up those steep hills, and rachael and i had to hop off to let the guys ride up solo)....

both nights up there, we stood outside the cave openings and watched literally hundreds of thousands of swifts (swallow-like birds) flying into the cave to roost at night, coming in from everywhere and swooping down and up into the inner reaches of the the dusk proceeded, the bats began to come out in dozens, flying just over our heads to enter the dark for their hunting....frogs croaked and sang and made sounds like a digeridoo, echoing the huge cave, filling the caverns. we met a great traveling couple from portland and had fun talking of the neighborhoods and our favorite restaurants there...we saw our friends fantuzzi and shoshanna again....enjoyed homemade muesli with poppyseeds (living in the region of the golden triangle, lots of poppies, lots of opium up there, at least used to be) the australian man's memoirs of his times up in the area....entered hare cave with its dripping stalagtites and stalagmites, creepy and dark when you turn off the beloved flashlights, you could never find your way out without them! but beautiful too, out of this world formations, crystally and white, some like little white crystal hairs growing off their base, humid air, steamy and dark, so welcome to see those sun rays pouring through the entrance and to go back out into the green earth. we saw meditation caves where monks meditate and sleep, little doorways into the earth with a platform to sleep on and a yellow robe hung outside to dry. eating fresh food from a garden at our guesthouse, playing pingpong quadruples without rules, laughing, sleeping poorly on hard-matted bamboo hut floors with a visiting orange haired/blue eyed cat in the middle of the night to cuddle up in the warmth between us.

back in pai, we said good bye to our friends (how sad!) to enjoy an-every-other-table-is-full dinner with two californians at the curry shack (perhaps the best curry in the world, green coconut curry, served in the fresh coconut with pieces of coconut floating in the curry itself)....we talked of meditation, yoga, spiritual teachers, our experiences thus far, helpxing, and the like....and this morning at the good life, fresh wheatgrass shots (finally!) and conversations with a regular there, hello to our friend chloe we met last night, and breakfast with another's so fun the people you can meet, here, anywhere, if you are open to meeting them and have the time to share yourself!

now we are back to the we stay in pai through the end of january, as we have already secured our house till then. not sure....we spoke with the portlanders in soppong about laos, where they just came from, and of cambodia too....we are still thinking of going there next. chloe is going to bali next month and that is close and sounds fun too...who knows? we are going to take some time apart today and get in touch with what feels right for our next movement.

carson is reading the lord of the rings, fellowship of the ring....i'm reading a beautiful book that my friend nishkama recommended, the hummingbird's daughter, it takes place in mexico and every time i read it i want to go there, eat some tacos and salsa and guacomole, beans and rice, learn the language.

i love watching the city below and the sun setting as we drive up to our place every night...or the lights if it's dark, the little smiling moon on it's belly lighting up the sky a little...last night i saw one floating lantern, make a wish....orion's belt, other stars, the whole milky way out in dark soppong, all those other worlds, all those other places, so many places to explore, just on this earth!!

enjoy the pictures! we'll upload some soon of the pai experience, the friends we made here, some cave formations, and our little cottage with twelve windows, a wood floor, and the most comfortable and clean bed in thailand!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

your travelers on chiang mai radio

yesterday as we sat down to monk chat with a wonderful 24 year old monk named tony, he asked us, would you like to be on chiang mai radio for our conversation? well why not? so we walked into a little room with a microphone and three seats and introduced ourselves and asked him questions about buddhism, meditation, his practices, the daily life of a monk....we talked of the eightfold path, suffering, the end of suffering, and did a little introduction to meditation, all on the radio!

at the monk chat, out of all of thailand, was a girl who we went to the caves with near soppong last week! and also abram arrived, our pai friend from portland/hawaii/california, and we walked around with him for the rest of the night, eating black rice and panang curry at little tibet restaurant. he went out and got a big fat durian that cost 520 baht, a, has anyone ever tried a durian? there is nothing like it. it is an enormous spiky green fruit composed of different pods that you cut into to reveal the most odorous, intense, custard-like, flavorful, intoxicating, creamy fruit i've ever tasted. i guess it's an aphrodesiac. we sat in wonder at the thing, it was so strange but delicious too. abram said that two tigers are known to fight to death over a fallen durian in the jungle. the woman at the restaurant kept walking by our table after abram had walked to the market and back, raising her eyebrows, touching it, smelling it, saying she could be right back with a knife to cut it open and a sneaky smile on her face....

today was a trip....a 10 hour journey to myanmar/burma and back in a little minivan with 8 others. what a difference you can feel going over a border, a river, a line on a map. little kids with their arms together in prayer following us around with a little grunting noise that i think meant please, anything, any little baht for them please please please. women with babies in their arms walking right beside me, 'hello hello hello...please'... men trying to sell carson a carton of cigarettes for five minutes even though he repeatedly said he did not smoke. it just felt different. they can't leave their country, as i understand. all of us just going in and out so quick, to get our little stamps on our passports so we can stay in thailand longer, being in the country for all of 10 minutes to walk around and look at everything for sale and to be asked for money, what do you say to a three year old following you for 100 meters with his hands moving back in forth in prayer?

Monday, January 7, 2008

the life of pai

we have left our little haven of pai (but only for three days!) as we venture up to burma to do a "border run" so that we can stay in thailand for another month. we arrived to chiang mai yesterday after a car-sickness provoking ride on the little minivan through the windy mountain roads (tip: bring an orange on a potentially carsickness-provoking journey so that you can squeeze the rind to release fresh citrus scents in case the girl behind you happens to be throwing up repeatedly....thank goodness for those oranges!)

we have been having so much fun! mostly because we met some absolutely GREAT people in Pai and have been going on adventures with them every day. we drove about 60km up to soppong, and went to lot cave up there, one of the largest caves in thailand with a river running through it, thousands of bats, an enormous stalagtites and stalagmites....we didn't hire a guide, but traipsed our way through with headlamps and little flashlights and a beeswax candle, and turned them off when we were up in a humid little i've never been in such darkness before, complete. we drove through beautiful lush green rice paddies on a bumpy dirt road and then hiked for a couple of hours to a beautiful triple waterfall, swimming past the falls into a little cave behind them....we have gone to hotsprings a couple of nights for $1 a person, sitting out under the stars for hours....we did an herbal sauna at the good life, fresh with camphor and steam and tiger balm...we eat long yummy meals at the good life (great french toast!) and meet new travelers coming through. we are enjoying our light filled, wood floored, spectacular view-blessed cottage up in the's a wonderful life :)

we ran into our pai frend claire yesterday literally 30 seconds after we hopped off our little taxi truck, and had a fun evening with her at the chiang mai sunday market we hope to go to monk chat at one of the wats (temples)...they have it three times a week, and for two hours you can go in and have conversations witht the monks and ask them questions, and they will share with you and practice their english. it sounds amazing! tomorrow we are going on a long bus ride north to the burma border to basically walk over the border and then get a stamp and come back into thailand...and then head back to pai the next day for at least a couple more weeks :) luckily our new friends rachael and mike (an amazing couple from maine) have decided to stay in pai longer with us too, so we will continue the breakfasts at the good life, the cave exploring, the evening hotsprings, and whatever else we discover!

happy new year everyone!