In Beachhouse.com’s Backyard: Dolphin soars; wipeouts galore at the wild Wedge

It was another wild day at the Wedge, with more surfers and bodyboarders in the water getting worked on Friday morning, as waves in the 15-foot range and bigger slammed the shore.

More spectators lined the shoreline today, with news crews out and the echos of “ohhhhh” ringing loud when one of the insane riders was pummeled by a huge wall of water. There were big-time wipeouts, as well as some amazing rides. If you were stuck in your office and couldn’t make it to the sand, be sure to check out our slideshow HERE.

Wild Wedge thrills and spills on Friday as swell stays strong

Wild Wedge thrills and spills on Friday as swell stays strong

It was a big day for thrills and spills as the guys out in the water tried to take on the big bad Wedge before the swell starts to drop over the weekend. It was day 2 of the swell, a bit cleaner today but more crowded.Check out images from Thursday if you missed them (with newly added evening shots after it cleaned up.)

After you check out the photos, below is a can’t-miss video that hit Facebook last night by photographer and Wedge local John Minar.

A few of us were on the sand Thursday morning when the swell started to hit hard, and all of a sudden a huge dolphin came flying out of the top of a wave, propelling itself way up in the air.

I pulled up my camera and hit the button, but it happened so fast the dolphin was gone in a split second. Another photographer and I looked at each other, mouths dropped “DID YOU GET THAT?!” Neither of us did.

Fortunately, John Minar had the camera rolling, and said he didn’t even see it until he was looking through his footage later that day. It goes to show that the dolphins are the original locals out there, and none of us can compete. Definitely take a few minutes to watch; it’s guaranteed to make your Friday:

*article from orangecounty.com

Photo Journey through SE Asia

Beachhouse.com Guest Bloggers, Stacy & Jeff, traveled across 6 countries in Southeast Asia and were nice enough to check in with us all along the way.  This is their journey by the numbers:

  • 21different airplanes they took
  • 6bus rides (varying from 7 hours to 27 hour trips)
  • 2train trips (overnight)
  • 11boat/ferry rides
  • 46different hotels (not including Cynthia and Fernando’s homes)
  • 12the # of languages they came across (at least!) throughout their trip
  • 0sicknesses
  • 0injuries
  • 1root canal
  • 0danger/trouble they encountered
  • 22# of books they read – each!
  • and we both want more!
  • This is their journey in photos (each photo links to the corresponding blog entry):

    We hope you enjoyed this as much as we did!

    Guest Blog – Loggerhead Turtles of North Captiva Island

    On my most recent trip to North Captiva Island, I had the opportunity to go on a turtle walk with a conservationist volunteer who is responsible for reporting on sea turtle nests. It was a fascinating fact finding experience. We started before sunrise and walked for approximately 3 hours investigating turtle nests and crawls. This is what I learned.

    Each summer from May through August, something wondrous happens along our beaches: An ancient mariner, the loggerhead sea turtle, leaves the water during the night and crawls ashore in North Captiva Island to lay her eggs in a sandy nest.

    The task of excavating a nest may take her over an hour to accomplish. The turtle – weighing several hundred pounds – laboriously digs a nest cavity with her rear flippers.

    turtle1

    Turtle nest

    She then deposits approximately 100 pliable ping-pong ball sized eggs into the chamber, covers them with sand and returns to the sea.

    After roughly a two-month incubation period, a cluster of tiny hatchlings emerges from the sand and scrambles to the Gulf. Unfortunately, their sea-finding ability can be disrupted by lights from buildings and streets. Confused, the hatchlings wander inland and are crushed by vehicles or die from heat exhaustion in the sunlight.

     

     

     

     

    Loggerhead Turtle Facts:

    • Loggerheads are air-breathing reptiles, scientific name Caretta caretta
    • The common name refers to the turtle?s large head
    • Loggerheads are the most common sea turtles in Florida.
    • Weighing 250 – 400 pounds, adults can grow to more than three feet in length.
    • Hatchlings are two inches long.
    • Nesting occurs from May through August. Hatching may extend through October.
    • The nest cavity is 18 – 22 inches in depth.
    • Incubation period of the eggs in their sandy nest is 55 – 65 days.

     

    turtle tracks

    turtle tracks

    Danger of Extingtion
    Most adult loggerhead turtles nest every other year or every third year, laying several clutches of eggs during a nesting season. Only a small percentage of hatchlings survive to maturity! Loggerhead turtles have existed on Earth for millions of years with little serious threat to their survival – until recently. Pollution, lighted beaches, loss of nesting habitat, drowning in shrimp nets and other fishing gear have contributed to the drastic decline of these and other sea turtles.

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (31 of 40)

    even ronald knows the local customs

    even ronald knows the local customs

    more on KL and on to bali
    “KL, what a crazy unique city. at least to our eyes. the people, so many different people. we stayed in china town, in an indian owned place, ran by one of the manliest lady boys we’ve seen (indian) and these two other guys that had more going on than amy winehouse. piercings, rainbow nail polish chipping, gold teardrops on their foreheads, you name it, quite colorful human beings. but all very nice and entertaining.

    we went to one of their many malls and witnessed the largest indoor themepark in SE asia amongst this 10 story gigantic mall. we ate a craving lunch of mcdonalds. it’s funny how good a big mac tastes over here when you don’t even think about it at home. we were surrounded by young chinese girls all dressed up to one side, young indian boys in skater clothes on the other, a group of indian ladies with their colorful head dresses, and then two families where the women are completely in black, only revealing those mysterious eyes through a small slit, while the guys are dressed as any other everyday man. and we see she doesn’t take her veil off even to eat, she must slide her grease dripping french fries under her cloak. like we said, a vast variety of people here in KL.

    indoor themepark - too expensive for us

    indoor themepark - too expensive for us

    we finally found our peanut sauce though. at home we like to order that scrumtous thai dish called panag: spinach and chicken smothered in peanut sauce, yummy! we have yet to find anything close anywhere! not one peanut sauce in thailand. here, completely different story. everything comes with peanut sauce. the best is with a pack of satay (less than two bucks for 12 sticks of chicken and beef) served with a mouth watering spicey crunchy peanut sauce. worth it all.

    after two nights in our strange indian palace (dirty tiles greated by fake flowers, fake grass hanging from the ceiling, plastic chinese lanterns, way too many fish tanks to not be an aquarium, and pop music like it’s rick dee’s weekly top 40), we were off to bali.

    dinner and beers - rooftop in KL

    dinner and beers - rooftop in KL

    heaven. yes it’s a bit more crowded then in january, but great weather and the smell of waves. we went straight to ayu guna where we left the boards at and guess what, they were still there, locked in the bag, never touched! love the karma here. we stayed a few nights in the same bungalow as last time, swam at padang, then moved to juni’s warung (recommended by fernando) at bingins. it’s great. our room has a large window opening up to the waves below, and we’re literally steps from the water. now jeff can walk out to the waves at any time, impossibles, bingin, dreamland, and even paddle up to padang… while i’ve got a beach, snorkeling, and a great place to just chill.

    flying over java or sumatra?

    flying over java or sumatra?

    we just booked mentawi’s wavepark for the end of the month, so for now, chill here in bali, then head over to lakey’s point sumbawa, then back to bali and off to mentawi’s which will put us in june when we’re done. then work our way back to bali through mainland sumatra and maybe java. surf’s up the whole way….bagus (pronounced bagoose = good!)

    sidenote – thanks to everyone who’s been checking us out. it’s such a great surprise to see everyone’s comments on the board. can’t wait (well we can cause we’re here!) to catch up with everyone once we get back!

    peace love and surf!”

    indo fire mouth

    indo fire mouth

    lookin out over impossibles from the cliff

    lookin out over impossibles from the cliff

    lookin out at bingin from cliff

    lookin out at bingin from cliff

    jeff and fernando

    jeff and fernando

    impossibles, view from above our warung/hotel

    impossibles, view from above our warung/hotel

    padang padang sunset

    padang padang sunset

    padang padang fisherman - my favorite!

    padang padang fisherman - my favorite!

    treckin down the road

    treckin down the road

    real backpacking now!

    real backpacking now!

    jeff comin in from bingin

    jeff comin in from bingin

    window view daytime

    window view daytime

    sunset panorama

    sunset panorama

    bingin sunset

    bingin sunset

    surf

    surf

    moon

    moon

    sky

    sky

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (26 of 40)

    killing fields memorial

    killing fields memorial

    exploring cambodia…
    “phnom penh roads are filled with cars. and not the little skinny asian cars that we’ve seen thus far, but big sudans, trucks, landrovers, 4-runners, escalades, and…wait for it…. brand new hummers cruising around (we’ve seen 3 so far). crazy. there’s a lot of money in this town, but with it seems to be more curruption and the worst poverty we’ve seen yet.

    we went out to the killing fields with some friends, got depressed, came back and got some good lunch at happy phnom penh pizza with an early happy hour and got un-depressed. we skipped the genocide museum but probably will hit it up when my mom joins us later today.

    incense offering at the memorial

    incense offering at the memorial

    everything’s in dollars here, even the ATM so it’s a bit of an odd feeling at first, and everything things more expensive even though its really not. we hit up some street bars by night and got attacked by a giant rat. luckily it only hit jeff and dans feet. jeff had a river of rat spit/juice left over on the top of his foot after it scurried away….yummy. we’ve made a small routine of having some delish pizza at lunch and then doing nothing in the afternoon, it’s been quite relaxing…even got some pool time in. all the fancy hotels let you pay a small fee or just buy something and you get to treat yourself for the day poolside.

    looking forward to mom coming today! then we’re back to the touristy sites and onward to the beaches. it’s one of the biggest cambodian holidays this week, khmer new years, so it should be some fun excitement… involving lots of food, dancing, music, the throwing of water and talcum powder to top it off! we shall see…..

    chillin for now

    xo”

    killing fields

    killing fields

    prayer flags on grave

    prayer flags on grave

    96 degrees in the shade - real hot

    96 degrees in the shade - real hot

    america likes happy pizza

    america likes happy pizza

    monks preparing for cambodian new year

    monks preparing for cambodian new year

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (9 of 40)

    stacy and her stick in the bamboo

    stacy and her stick in the bamboo

    and we’re offpart 1
    “before we knew it, mong (our local guide) charged down the hill with his basket on his back full of tons of food, water, a pot, and who knows what else…. we were told to follow with our little daypacks on our back, toil (our pai guide) following behind.

    we started through farmlands, then down to a creek through banana and bamboo groves.  first order of business was walking sticks.  the men stopped got out there machetes and cut each of us a sturdy bamboo walking stick.  we were off….

    jungle lunch

    we hiked up, down and around, and it was hot hot hot!  but we had our water, and every once in awhile it would get a little cooler.  we ventured through major teak groves and bamboo groves…we trumped over dry clay, through creeks, over bamboo fences, and through masses of dried huge leaves…it felt like trumping through snow, only a little crunchier sounding.  and of course, going through my mind was wondering what was underneath all these leaves, perhaps a poisonous snake? a giant spider? even a big lizard would give me a jump… but no such luck thank god.

    villiage street

    after a few hours we stopped for lunch in a dry creek bed.  the two guides pulled down some banana leaves and created some seats for us, then they swiftly created a fire with twigs, cut down some bamboo and made a mortar and pestle to crush chili and two bamboo cups for his homemade ‘moonshine whiskey’ – so resourceful! we sat in amazement as we watched the two of them create this tremendous lunch:  ramen noodles with tons of fresh veggies, salted fish, pork belly, and a fresh chili sauce using some ‘wild olives’ they found in the forest.  it was great, and super delish!

    karen villiage

    karen village

    as we were sitting, we glanced above at the banana leaves and realized they were moving… there were thousands, if not millions, of daddy long leg spiders with the longest legs you’ve ever seen! and when the fire started, the smoke must of spooked them cause it started raining daddy long legs…. you could hear it even as they made a run for the ground, and crawling on us! it was crazy, but okay, none of us freaked too much, rather observed in amazement!

    curious karen girl

    curious karen girl

    we tried some moonshine, and it literally evaporated on your tongue – strong stuff! and the two, toil and mong downed this stuff.  it must keep them running.  after lunch we ventured on to a waterfall, took a little dip, then we were on to the village.  all in all we probably hiked around 16 km (miles??) up down and around, we were totally pooped!

    we arrived at the karen village at dusk and were escorted to a house where tea awaited us.  the ‘hill tribe’ was very much a village, with one satellite in sight, but still very rustic. we were greeted by what seemed like one very large family.  the village itself consists of around 25 families. the house was two rooms, only separated by a half size wall and an open doorway and a step.  the front room was the ‘kitchen’ and hangout area with some storage, the back room the sleeping area.  large mats were thrown down with a small table and from there we were waited on all night long with tea, way too much food, snacks, fruit, etc….

    karen generations

    karen generations

    the dinner was rice, dandelion soup with pork, morning glory greens with cat ear mushrooms, noodles with veggies…. all very good!  and then we were given large samplings of a karen dinner… similar to ours but more spice and thrown in some dried fish and chili and tuna sauce that an eggplant like veggie was dipped into.  soo much food though, but all good.  the stars were amazing.  the most we’ve seen yet by far.  everybody was very nice, lots of staring from the curious kids too.

    after we set up our beds, we all fell asleep pretty swiftly.  but then… shortly after a lil sleep, jeff was awakened by a small sensation – after a little more focus on it, he felt something crawl up his beardand then all giant 8 legs hit his face, just over his eye!  aaahhhhh!”   we had previously seen this suckers outside in their bathroom:  the size of your palm, dirt brown, skinny long legs and big eyes…… jeff swiftly and quickly grabbed it and threw it against the wall beside him creating quite a pound and a thump to follow, just to show you how big this guy was.  after debating whether or not to wake me and tell me, he chose to wait til morning and then mummified himself in his blankets and tried to get more shut eye.  so glad it wasn’t me, i think i would have screamed bloody murder!

    more on our trek to come….

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (8 of 40)

    lahu men

    lahu men

    the trek
    “on our 3rd day here in pai we ventured out on a trek.  after seeing all the places in chiang mai we were getting kinda picky.  we didn’t want to just take a truck and get dropped off at the village and then turn around and get back on the truck.  thats’ what most of tours looked like.  we found a local guide named toil that seemed pretty cool – he caught our attention right away.

    so we signed up for a 3 day 2 night trek, 1 night in a karen village the other camping in the jungle.  we lucked out with just 1 other couple with us, vs the other treks who would go with around 15 people.

    so we hopped in the back of toils truck and ventured off.  our first stop, the tourist police.  toil gave them photo copies of our passports and informed them where we were off to.  then the head police guy comes out to us in the truck and gives us almost a farewell speech, it was crazy.  he pretty much said be safe its dangerous out there, our lives are in toils hands so respect him, and then finished it off with saying he hopes we return.

    our guide

    our guide

    wow, you should have seen all of our faces.  what had we gotten ourselves into ?!?!  (later, at the end of course, toil tells us he’s never had the guy say that before and it even gave him the shivers! but here we are, safe and sound… )

    so, we drove 45 minutes northwest and then off the main road up a fairly bumpy dirt road – pretty much reminded me of the indiana jones ride at disneyland…grasping on the handlebars as ventured up.  we arrived at a lahu village.

    all these ‘hill tribe’ villages are migrants from burma and china from hundreds of years past.  each has their own language dialect and culture.  we were greeted by two guys, as well as puppies, pigs, cows, and chickens, all roaming around.  we were also greeted by a local guy, named mong, who was to serve as our guide.

    stay tuned and we’ll tell you all about the trek….”

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (5 of 40)

    rasta tuk tuk

    rasta tuk tuk

    maggot soup
    “we’re in bangkok!  our flights in and out of malaysia were a piece of cake – still a pain in the arse – but it went smoothly.  once at the brand new airport in bangkok, we received our 30 day visa and are good to go!  the airport is only 2 years old so it’s shiny, sparkling, and huge (not to mention state of the art)

    making sure to really use all our connections, we were met by brian, my friend’s brother-in-law at the airport.  brian is finishing up his third year (maybe more) living here in thailand.  his first two years were spent volunteering for the peace corps in a village north of bangkok.  now he’s working with the education department per se through the gov’t in town.  needless to say, he’s fluent and know his stuff.

    so, we were privileged to have him meet us at the airport and get us a taxi into town.  the day we flew in, monday, was a local buddhist holiday so nobody had to work.  we headed over to an area near koh san (the backpackers district), found a cozy little guest house ,and then started cruising.  brian took us around to all the cool places and showed us some great local dishes, all in thai of course!  and we tried our fair share of the different beers they offer here.

    buddha feet with incense offerings

    buddha feet with incense offerings

    bangkok’s crazy and everyone seems a little jaded…not the same hospitality we’ve experienced so far.  not everyone of course, but a lot of the people at the street restaurant/carts, hotels, tours, and the vendors just really seem to be irritated and fed up.  granted, we understand, this place is swarming with ‘farongs’ (equivalent to gringo), but they are making a lot of money from it.  just different.

    also, so far, thailand’s a little more expensive then planned – we are in a major tourist area so we’ll see how it is outside of town.  but as of now, jeff may have to sell his liver…a very quick and easy procedure here in thailand   :)    kidding!

    we saw some buddhas and rode a tuk tuk (local taxi/golf cart type thing) around yesterday, pretty darn cool.  huge buddhas too.  today we’ll ride the boat taxi around just to do it.  it’s very hot here – i got my first pair of fisherman pants last night, so we’re slowly working into the thai way of doing things.  food’s still great, though we ate maggot soup yesterday.  yuk.

    reggae bar

    reggae bar

    i was trying to be cool like the locals and ordered what our tuk tuk driver got – it looked like a regular ol soup.  at first taste, okay, something was different - but we pushed through it because everyone in the restaurant was looking at us and slightly giggling…hmmm.  at the bottom, of course, we looked closely and realized there were little maggots or potato bugs or something in it…. hence the ‘different’ flavor.  we stopped dead in our tracks.  we said it was too spicy and that we couldn’t finish it and went on our way… after chewing our super minty gum we survived.  just part of doing the thai thing i guess…!

    tomorrow we head up to chang mai on an overnight bus…

    cheers!”

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (4 of 40)

    the big buddah

    the big buddah

    getting out
    “well we have been in phuket for a while now. stacy dental work was a success and she is feeling better! we’ve been spending our days on the motor bike cruising around the island.

    one day we went to the biggest buddah in thailand, then we also went to see a movie at the mall on the same day (inkheart). for $12 we got our own private couch (that reclines!) and for $3 we got 2 large cokes and a medium carmel popcorn…we just wanted to treat ourselves.

    then we cruz to patong beach where anything goes. its a pit of travelers, women that are men, girls of the night, souvenirs, anything you want. we walked around for a bit then headed back to nai han where we’re staying.

    we stopped at the small view reggae bar for a bite to eat and to see the local band covering some bob marley, peter tosh, jimmy cliff, and some thai reggae originals. we recorded it with our audio recorder. once we figure out how to put it on the web site you will be able to hear our music recordings.

    we went sailing on tuesday for the night with plans to sail for three days. we motored to an island for the first night where we anchored in the cove next to all the thai fishing boats. when we arrived, our new friend with the boat (chip, a family friend of stacy’s) brought his 3 new kittens along. we decided to take them to the beach. stacy and i went snorkeling while chip watched the kittens and they decided to go explore. they left for the whole night in the jungle. we all were very concerned motoring to shore in our zodiac every few hours.

    crazy

    crazy

    long story short, they were on the beach in the morning safe, but a little scared. so we decided to go back to phuket and get the kittens home.

    we’ll try the sailing when we return to thailand in a few months. stacy’s mom is coming to visit us soon so we’re excited to see some family and explore new places together.

    lots more to tell but i hate computers and its sunny outside. i also need to work on my tan in my banana sling, chicks are diggin it (and of course, stacy too).

    peace and love, jeff and stacy”

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (3 0f 40)

    elephant crossing

    elephant crossing

    planes, trains and automobiles….
    “seriously, 37 hours worth…. but we made it to phuket from bali in that short amount of time.

    it all started sunday morning at 8 o’clock we went into to kuta from padang, returned our car and hitched a ride to the airport. from there we took asia air (a great cheap airline that flies everywhere direct, their slogan ” now everyone can fly,” which was free seating – kinda a funny airplane all together, but big. we made it safe into kula lumpar, malaysia. from here we didn’t really know what our plan was, but at that point we decided to head straight into thailand and we’ll come back and do malaysia. we took an hour bus ride from the airport into town to the sentral train station. wow. niether of us really knew what to expect in malaysia. driving through what looked like thousands of day palm farms, out of nowhere a mini brand new suburb would pop up; classy shiny lookin houses! and the roads are immaculate. the whole infrastructure was amazing. something i’d expect to see in japan or something. and all the cars on this 4 lane freeway were big and newer than our car cars. getting closer into the city we could see larger buildings holding some major technology firms or something. and in town, the bridges look like that of melbourne with the lines going everywhich way to create a modern art piece.

    not knowing anything, what we learned is that malaysia is quite the melody between chinese and indian; between muslim, buddhist, and christian. in one area you see ladies adorned in beautiful scarves covering all of their body and then you turn around and see a group of young chinese girls in little heels with their mini skirts on. it was crazy. and in the bathroom, much to be said, but for one, all the ladies washed thier feet as well as their hands.

    after waiting for three hours in the train station, we took an overnighter up to a town called butterworth outside of georgetown (can you guess that malaysia used to be under the british empire…?). this was the farthest north we could get by train on that day. the train was horrible. from all that we had seen so far we were really looking forward to it. but no such luck. the seats were okay, pretty spacious (no sleepers were available), but man, they had that a/c blasting all night with the flourescent lights on the whole time too…. we couldn’t believe it. we would have needed our thickest wool blanket to be comfortable on this sucker. after a miserable 8 hours we arrived at our destination at 6am and then started our bussin’ adventures at 9am.

    mango salad

    mango salad

    these ‘gypsy vans’ (toyota vans converted to hold 12 people) were suprisingly pretty darn cool. with the funky curtains in the window, a/c above each person like on an airplane, and some decent local tunes, we cruised over the border accompanied by two local old men, looking to be the 70 year old version of bert and ernie but malaysian, a muslim girl, another girl dressed for a good time, a caucasian monk who kept to himself and a young boy looking like an abercrombie and fitch model. and us of course. a unique combination. four hours later and getting on and off this ‘bus’ three time to take care of stamping, paying, more stamping, etc…. we made it to hat yoi, thailand. then another bus to krabi, and then another bus to phuket. by 8pm monday night we arrived at our destination.

    phuket. many people told us to not really hang here too long cause it’s just another expat area now, not too much culture. well this is somewhat true but we’ve lucked out meeting some great people and fell into an awesome situation. first night we stayed in old phuket town in the little china town part. we found a great little restaurant with the nicest owners who talked us through our first language lesson and told us about our whereabouts. we liked it so much we returned for breakfast the next day and tried their lemon grass juice.

    sundown

    sundown

    all along this we communicated with my moms best friend who has a vacation house in phuket near the beach – it turns out she’s letting us crash there while they’re in south africa! this place is amazing. talk about the indoor/outdoor living with beautiful hand carved furniture, lovely bathrooms, and a pool to match it all. we are way spoiled! we rented our first scooter and we’ve been cruising up and down the coast. lots of little coves with the perfect turquoise water and white sand. lots of expats for sure. but hey, it’s beautiful here.

    so today we venture on our scooter with snorkling gear in hand (hold the speedo) to go find the perfect beach. tomorrow we get down to business and find me a dentist. the healthcare is supposed to be great here, something people travel here specifically for, so we’re in luck!

    p.s. pictures are takin way too long to upload so only a few for now….

    peace and love….”

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (2 of 40)

    view from our front porch

    view from our front porch

    surfs up in padang padang
    “not really, well sorta.

    after an amazing time in ubud we’re back down in padang. the beach is still beautiful. ubud was a great little place, definitely the hub for displaying their culture, foods, music, and mysticism. we had a great little place looking over some rice paddies, beautiful pool, delicious green banana pancakes with a buddalicous host, all for a mere $10. couldn’t ask for more.

    ubud has the charm of a little community, everyone excited to see you there. great markets with awesome crafts. the foods are everything you want, be it turkish flat bread and hummus, hamburger that actually tasted really good, polish sausages – yes, polish sausages – and the fab local cuisine. we listened to some great jazz, all mostly covers, but still great.

    after leaving slightly frantically yesterday morning due to a painful tooth ache (stacy) we made it down to the clinic in legian/kuta area. great little experience, a little more expensive than expected but whatever. they gave me some antibiotics and pain killers and said ‘if tooth no better in five days, we take out’…. good thing we’ll be gone by then, so now i’m on painkillers and antibiotics and off to find a thai dentist…that’s another story.

    first major rain storm this morning while we lay in our bamboo huts raised on stilts in our mosquito net. thunder like we’ve never heard before, not too much lightning, but buckets of rain. after the clapping stopped we sailed down to ulu and checked the surf. small but people out having fun.

    suns startin to poke out so we’re back to the beach on padang. more pics to come, slow connection out here in the jungle though…

    tomorrow to kula lumpar, malaysia…. from there who knows!”

    Travel Deals – Thailand Etiquitte

    Your experience traveling through Thailand depends greatly on the amount of research you do before you venture overseas.  It is a very nuanced country whose culture is full of etiquette do’s and dont’s and tricks of the trade as far as avoiding getting caught up in local tourist traps and scams (both of these I’ll talk about in this entry).  There are also definite places to see vs. places to skip, but I’ll save that topic for a different day’s work.  Once you understand the basics, Thailand is a beautiful and picturesque backdrop to, quite possibly, the best vacation of your life!

    Perhaps the easiest and most fundamental key to traveling in Thailand is to avoid being around, possessing, talking about, asking about, or even alluding to anything drug-related.  While this rule may be a good one to abide by in any foreign land, it rings especially true in Thailand.  Over the years, the country has been getting increasingly overzealous in its anti-drug campaign – and because much of Thailand’s borders are burdened with drug smuggling this issue is exasperated.  Even though Thailand is generally a laid back place, the local police have begun to randomly drug test travelers in bars and arrest travelers for possession or positive tests.  This tid-bit of information is not meant to scare anyone away, nor should it be reason to avoid Thailand.  Just be smart…and maybe watch Brokedown Palace.

    The people of Thailand are some of the friendliest people you will encounter on your travels, which I guess is why the country is sometimes referred to as, “the land of smiles.”  Nevertheless, here are some social norms that, if followed, should keep em smiling:  keep the PDA’s to a minimum – you may see Westernized Thai teens holding hands, but generally, that is the extent; keep your shirt on – no topless sunbathing ladies;  Thailand is a deeply religious culture, so respect it – while it is OK to wear shoes around the grounds of Buddhist temples, once you enter a building men and women should remove their shoes and make sure their legs and shoulders are covered – also, don’t go strutting around sans shirt in the town’s streets, bars or restaurants; keeping with religious values, Thai’s consider the head as the highest part of the body, literally and figuratively and they don’t approve of touching anyone on the head, even as a friendly gesture; along the same line of thought, Buddhist monks are forbidden to touch (or be touched) by a woman, or to accept anything from the hand of one; don’t point the sole of your foot at anyone – it’s considered rude – so try to avoid doing this when sitting opposite someone and don’t use your foot to point at things.  Lastly, the Thailand culture has no tolerance for confrontation…if any misunderstanding does arrise, demur and settle it with a smile.

    In the Thai culture, they don’t shake hands, instead using the traditional greeting, the “Wai,” which is used instead of a handshake, but also as a means of saying sorry, thank you, or to pay respect.  A Thai person will often Wai as he approaches a temple, Buddha image, or other item of religious significance.  When you are introduced to someone who Wais you, it is polite to return the Wai.  As you are walking through towns and villiages, small children will often Wai as you pass by – they love it if you return the gesture with a big smile. (Note:  If you receive a “thank you” Wai from a hotel employee or after tipping a waitress it is inappropriate to return the Wai, but a smile is always welcome!)

    Most of Thailand is gracious and welcoming, but, as in any culture, there are some people out to make a buck any way that they can.  Taking a few precautions will save you money in the long fun.  If you get into a taxi and the driver refuses to turn on the meter, even if they use the language barrier as an excuse, simply thank them with a smile and get out to find another one.

    Local Thais, mostly teenagers and twenty-somethings, will offer to act as your local guide to show you the “local” sights that many tourists miss out on.  While many of these offers are genuine and allow you to see a side of Thailand that would otherwise be skipped over, some want to make off with your money and leave you high and dry.  Often times, the legitimate ones will photocopy your passport and leave it with someone.  It’s best to listen to your gut instinct or visit travel forums to get specific names of guides – although locating them once in Thailand can be tricky.

    Overall, Thailand has much to do, is accommodating to travelers, and is full of cultural, religious, and artistic sights.  Be prepared for hot and humid weather and venture out to see what Thailand has to offer you!