Bangkok Getaways – Yippee Khao Yai!

One of the hardest things about living in Bangkok is the dearth of green space. While we live within 20 minutes of some great and interesting city parks, they aren’t as wooded or spacious as the parks we grew up with, and you can’t ever really get away from the sound of cars. Enter our … Continue reading »

Bangkok Getaways – Ayutthaya

This post is the first in a series we’ll call “Bangkok Getaways.” We will be doing our best to see as much of the region as possible while we’re here, focusing on places that can be reasonably visited in 1-3 days; ideally, a weekend out of town. Last Sunday we took a bus tour to … Continue reading »

Oh, Ko Lipe

For Thanksgiving this year, we decided to ditch Chiang Mai for an island. We figured if we couldn’t be at home with our loved ones, we might as well be swimming in the ocean somewhere. We didn’t want a drunken party destination like Phuket, but something less busy and out of the way, where we … Continue reading »

Awed by Angkor Wat

I’ll be the first to admit that we did not carefully plan our visit to Siem Reap, the small town that serves as the tourist hub for Angkor Wat in Cambodia. In fact, the three days we’ve been here have been pretty manic between work, handling the administrative details of life with spotty internet, “recovering” … Continue reading »

Tokyo Robot Exhibition

This is the big biennial robot exhibition in Tokyo on the Odaibo man-made island. It took me back to childhood memories growing up in robotics laboratories with checkers and chess playing arms. Most of the robots were dominated by the auto industry, which really, is kind of sad when I think about it. That said, there was a decent number of robots on show for helping elderly people do things and a few different sets of exo-skeleton type devices to allow people to pick up heavy objects without using their muscles.

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Ogawa’s Global Party

The Ogawa’s invited us to visit again for their wonderful Globally minded party. We made many friends, ate way too much, tipped back some of Tadaki’s Tequila, and left exhausted. Always a wonderful time.

Harajuku Haunting

A few photos from our first night in Tokyo, which happened to be my favorite holiday Halloween. Halloween in America is a big, big deal, and the Japanese did not disappoint me in their observance. Tokyo-ites are by far the best dressed people I have seen anywhere in the world (technically though, I’ve never been … Continue reading »

Owl’s in Tokyo

Duke here. During our visit to Tokyo we got to visit with a young English teacher from America and a new friend from Tokyo. The teacher told us about a cafe where you can see live owls. Growing up in Tennessee I sometimes heard owls, but never saw one, so, this was a great opportunity. … Continue reading »

The Lizards of Lumpini Park, Bangkok, Thailand

On a previous trip, Loree had told me a wild story about giant lizards roaming freely in the central park of Bangkok. Usually, I’m the one with wild stories, so I decided to follow up on that story with the big camera. Sure enough, there really are big (5-6 feet long) monitor lizards roaming freely … Continue reading »

Leveled Up to a Motorcycle

Duke here. I’m the financial programmer who left my safe, risk averse, nesting grounds of Cincinnati, Ohio, for a destination about as far away from that as possible. One of many pro-risk decisions was learning to drive a motor scooter. That was 1.5 years ago. Out here in Southeast Asia, the citizens are practically born with a scooter attached to their butts and the notion of “walking” somewhere is only for romantic evenings or a strange activity foreigners engage in. Cars are still a sign of the upper class here, so, scooters are how the masses get around.

After driving the scooter for 18 months, frankly, it gets a bit boring, and I found myself yearning for more. Whenever I’d see a motorcycle cruise by I’d find myself daydreaming.  I’m not much for daydreaming, so I went and got a used Honda Phantom (no I didn’t know how to drive a manual motorcycle, and its maiden voyage back to the apartment was a 20 minute trip in 1st gear; live and learn). It’s a bit of a clunker, but, that’s what I want in my first bike: old, cheap, reliable. No fancy bells and whistles that I might cry about if I toss it down on the road a couple times.

We’ve been thinking about nicknaming her Bertha.

Duke on a Honda Phantom

Duke on his Honda Phantom

Some guys like crotch rockets or dirt bikes, but for me these “cruiser” bikes are the only thing I can imagine. They’re sort of like what my older brothers had in pictures I saw of them, or what “The Fonze” might have ridden around. It took me a while to figure out the whole manual thing.  Turns out, not so hard. A few embarrassing stalls in the middle of traffic, but here in Chiang Mai, drivers are very forgiving when they’re not texting or taking “selfies” (when someone takes pictures of themselves with a cell phone).  I had no idea what I was missing. Even when we took an 1.5 hour ride in pouring down rain and I was sucking rainwater down and soaked to the bone, it somehow felt pretty fun compared to a boring, dry, safe, car ride.

So, a month into it, I prefer riding a substantial vehicle over the light weight scooter. What I lost in maneuverability I gained in durability, power, and style.  Anything that makes me drive a bit slower and safer is a good thing. Predictably, I’m already looking forward to my next bike with some of those bells and whistles; like a gas gauge, a gear indicator, and a smoother gear shifting experience.

 

 

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