Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

India Releases World’s Cheapest Car

March 23, 2009

Tata_Nano_14 In most of south India, where the cost of owning a car is out of reach for the average resident, two-wheeled transportation is the way of it—as in most of traditional SE Asia, too. When I was in Thailand and Cambodia this past winter, I was thrown pretty off-kilter by the demolition-derby like driving situation—bicycles fighting for the same road space as motor bikes, rickshaws (or tuk-tuks), rice trucks and the very rare Honda or Toyota. To say the least, it was dangerous, and on my way into town during my last night in Siem Reap, I saw a biker sprawled unconscious in the street. My tour guide barely flinched—sighting it unfortunate though a fairly regular occurrence.

That said, implementing a safer way to commute has been a priority for India—each year, road accidents in the hundreds of thousands. And with the release of the Tato Nano, the world’s cheapest car (100,000 ruppees; $1, 979; £1,366), India may be on their way to a solution. That said, the Tato is small and cheap for a few reasons—which include a lack of air conditioning and air bag, wind-down windows, manual steering, a 43mph engine, plastic welding and bodywork made of sheet-metal and plastic (which, mind you, is better than not having any doors at all).

Nano-interior-photo-1 BBC.com reports that India has high hopes for the growth potential of the Tato Nano, sighting 700 million bike sales last year. The biggest concern is keeping up with demand, as each plant is currently restricted to building 50 thousand models. Looking forward, a slightly bigger European version, the Nano Europa, is due to follow in 2011, and is expected to cost nearer to £4,000. —Brynn Mannino

Image credit: Google Images

Chiang Mai Trek & More

January 3, 2009
Hi.

Hi.

Here are some pics from the journey through the jungle.

Our guides were great, and I totally lucked out in terms of company. I can’t believe it’s already over!

Lots of love and luck to my group…

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the guides on the back of the truck

our guide, Charlie

our guide, Charlie, getting ready to blow fire in my face

the guys braving the waterfall

the guys braving the waterfall

the Kiwis, Mon and Jeremy

the Kiwis, Mon and Jeremy

breakfast at the camp

breakfast at the camp

elephant riding (sorry to those who this offends!)

me and raj reacting to something (sorry to those who this offends!)

up the Wat

up the Wat

the Colombian and the Aussie, Luisa and George

the Colombian and the Aussie, Luisa and George

i like this pic of Vu, the Australian Vietnamese

i like this pic of Vu, the Australian Vietnamese

There are tons more that I’ll upload on Facebook when I get back. K?

Tonight is my last night in Chiang Mai, and I’m off to Cambodia tomorrow. I’ll be en route for quite some time, though, without email. If any other bombs go off, check the itin that I posted earlier on in the month for my location.

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Yeah, Giraffes

Everything is great. Did Chiang Mai city today after a really fun dinner/trek cap with the group last night. Glad I made time for the zoo and all that other stuff that I kind of felt obligated to do (cutting the mountain hopping short was a good decision). Anyway, trying to fight what seems like a cough or something that I’m sure I caught from sleeping in the same mosquito net as some of my sick trek mates, but other than that, everything is wonderful.

Enjoy your weekend! I’ll do the same.

Bomb in Bangkok

January 2, 2009

Sorry to not have responded sooner and keep some of you worrying. I’m alive and well and am nowhere near Bangkok right now.

Just got back from the trek, which was amazing. Have dinner plans in 30 min so can’t upload pics now, but will fill in tomorrow.

Hope everyone had a sweet New Year celebration. It was pretty lovely here–lots of lanterns in the sky.  I was thinking of you all at midnight (your time), though,  and secretly wishing for some hugs and kisses. I hope you guys have some good stories for me next week. My midnight celebration was interesting and I haven’t completely wrapped my head around it yet, but will share soon.

I bought myself an extra day in Chiang Mai by cutting my trek down to 2 days, 1 night instead of 3 days, 2 nights, so I’ll just be hanging around the city  tomorrow, poss visiting the fmaous zoo/elephant hospital, and I hope to get around to the many art galleries. (I think Chad had a photography exhibit somewhere around here, so that’s on the agenda, too. Chad, what’s the name of the gallery?)

Anyway, I’m off. Toodles.

Food Market

December 31, 2008
Kalae Food Market

I wanted to upload some photos from today before all these memories get trumped by the next three days in the jungle.

picture-0021I’m gonna ignore everything that happened last night on the train (turns out I only got a seat on the way here, and 12 hours later, I was hurtin’ pretty badly…) and just jump right to Chiang Mai. Blah, blah, blah…walked the streets all morning after a lame workout on my guest house floor, ate some Tom Yum Mai and dropped about $15 on a full-body oil massage (hard core, BTW–they don’t mess around). Weird thing about Chiang Mai: lots of Irish/English pubs, some German, Mexican and Italian restaurants, McDonalds and Burger King, and sadly, Starbucks. I just don’t understand how they can install a Starbucks on a street directly next to another on which people are literally working and living out of sheds/on toilet water. Do you? Ect, ect…walked around a little more, snacked on some kind of Thai ice cream shake and then decided to start heading to the other side of picture-0071town. On the way, I strolled into a few temples and took some pics/looked around, but as I was leaving one particular Wat, a young monk (novice, if you will)  named Udon  stopped me to ask me what “frustration” and “exaggerate” mean, and we ended up talking for three hours about all kinds of good stuff–Buddhism, his life, his secret girlfriend (which I obviously had a lot to say about) and all that stuff that I dig, etc. I’ll fill in those of you care in private–don’t feel like getting all deep via blog. Either way, it was kind of awesome, and he invited me back to the temple to ring in the New Year “peacefully” tonight. I’m like, I like peace…

picture-0041ANYWAY–the best part is yet to come. So, I leave the temple and have an hour to kill before I have to meet with my tour guide for How Not to Die In the Jungle 101, and I’m strolling along literally praying for some magical food carnival to appear in front of me, and like out of a freakin’ TV show, or Thailand, it totally does. I swear–it was so unbelievable that as I was walking away I kept looking back to make sure it all really happened.

BLAM.

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Sister, Mom–note Dumpling Heaven. All over it…

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A traditional dessert: noodles, crushed ice, coconut milk. Don’t knock it ’til ya try it is really all I can say about that.

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Alright–I’m out. Heading back to the guest house to clean up and then hitting the streets again.

Happy New Year everyone. Eight means make out!

Pattaya

December 30, 2008
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Lots of vendors on the beach...

Just got in from the beach. Can’t say I recommend Pattaya–and it might have been my first mistake this trip–but the experience wasn’t completely bent.

Lady boy on the left, Kholoud on the right... Holla.

Lady boy on the left, Kholoud on the right... Holla.

Pattaya is the hub of Thailand’s sex industry and is swarming with Lady Boys. Seriously. Not only are they everywhere, but so are the old men who go to Pattaya specifically for them. Apparently, they’re preferred over Thai women (even though Thai women are their direct motivation) because Lady Boys are taller and have more attractive facial features (said the creepy Austrian at the pool this morning). Anyway, it’s all very amusing and interesting, to be honest–and most of my night with a few friends from Cambridge who I met on the tour to Coral Island was spent dodging their come-ons. I’m still undecided whether or not the nightlife alone, though, was worth the experience. We had a great time.

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I wore that headband for you, Cal...

Anyway, I got there around 10:30 a.m. yesterday morning, and from that point on, I felt like I was part of this big evacuation experiment. The tour guides rushed us off the bus, into the EBS office, onto the MOST violent speed boat ride of my life through the Gulf of Thailand, to Coral Island, which was I think Thailand’s version of Smith Point aside from the crystal-clear water, and so on and so on.  We made a few stops along the way at a parasailing and water walking station in the middle of the gulf, led by Thai men wearing snow hats over their faces to protect their skin from getting any darker (which made them look like bandits and the whole scene just a little bit more unpleasant). I think Pattaya, though, is one of the most profitable tourist destinations in the world–and everything I mentioned above is why. However, I did manage to catch some sun, played some beach sports and met some really great people (who all felt as roped into that tour as I did).

Blah blah blah–I’m thrilled to back in Bangkok. I love this city. I’m leaving again, though, in a few hours on a 2nd-class sleeper to Chiang Mai. Basically, I get on a train around 7:30 p.m., party the night away with whoever I meet, and wake up in the morning and I’m there. YES. I have plans to poss meet up with Chad’s family there (they have a house not too far from where I’m staying), though I might just hang out at the hotel/on the Street Bazaar tomorrow night for the New Year’s celebration, which is supposed to be bonkers. Then the next morning, I leave for my trek through the jungle! Woo.

OH–I don’t know if I mentioned this, but some of you will find it amusing:  I got my hair highlighted for B800 (about $25) and it looks HORRIBLE. I deserve it, though.  C’mon, Brynn.

Linnie, It was a typo–LOL. Meant to write “foot massage.” But I will massage you with noodles ANY TIME.

Lea, so good to hear from you! I miss you, too. What is your shoe size?

I’m gonna try to upload a few more pics throughout this blog and previous blogs, so check back if you’d like. Oh, and, money pouch…CHECK.

Pictures

December 28, 2008
Tuk-Tuks

Tuk-Tuks

I took another tuk-tuk tour yesterday morning, and it was quite nice. The driver, Challi, spoke English well, and we spoke frankly about the exchange of service after he asked me if I wanted to go to the Thai market, which I understood was his way of saying “I need gas.” But, he took me to two temples, too, so I was appreciative. Turns out, it’s a promotion going on between the drivers and the jewelery/fashion market during the weeks surrounding New Year’s, which is a big holiday/tourist season for them. Whateva, whateva.

He left me at Wat Saket, or the Golden Mount, where I met up with two BEAUTIFUL Brazilians–a couple–and we walked to a few more temples together. Calita told me the best places to visit Brazil and a little bit about her travels in Southern Thailand and Indonesia, we exchanged Facebook info, and then parted ways.

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Wat Po, the reclining buddha's head

I was glad for the opp to get in some last-minute tourist stuff, but it was also nice to meet up with Jun and Bass again at the market for some shopping! I ended up having to skip the soccer game (there seems to be some confusion amongst the Thai with the words football, futbol and soccer), so I opted for a foot massage, some street-vendor Pad Thai, and called it a night.

It’s 6:30AM now and I’m off to the beach, but I’ll be back in Bangkok for a few hours tomorrow, so I’ll try to update.

Hope everyone is well!

Last day, Bangkok

December 28, 2008

Hi guys! Thanks for all the comments–makes me feel special.

Toni, Rae, Mom–glad you enjoyed Christmas and apple cider w/ cinn sticks out of big glass mugs, as per usual. Miss you!

All my single ladies–I’m cool with you having a high school reunion without me, but I’m not cool with you spelling Thailand “Tialand.” J/K. Kind of. But, yes, Calli is amazing–pillows/no pillows. Missed you all this Christmas.

Jess–not totally sure I’m smarter than a Thai 5th grader. :-/

Well, I only have 2B to write this:

Things are amazing, to be honest. Loving every second of my mornings, afternoons and nights. Noodles every meal, lots of people-watching, made some cool friends in my guest house who have lived everywhere and who BTW live HERE for $300 bucks a month (free internet), and I’ve also been spending a lot of time with Chad’s friend Jun, who has been so nice to me that it kind of makes me want to cry a little. Learning a lot from her about the language, culture, etc, just by being around her. She took me out with a few friends the other night to a bar in “midtown” and a club in Sukhumvit near Chad’s condo, and it was HIGH-larious. Thai cover bands are awesome. Also awesome, looking around this enormous club and realizing everyone was holding the same EXACT drink–Red Label and Crystal (club soda). We went out to a sidewalk noodle shop afterwards and it really wasn’t any different than a bunch of rowdy drunk kids at a pizza place in NY, except for the little Thai children trying to sell me roses for 2oB.

Sunday Market

Sunday Market

Chad’s cousin Bass flew in yesterday morning, and we all (me, Jun, Bass) met at this huge Sunday market for some shopping/noodles, and it was really nice to see him. He loved browsing the boutiques with me! Totally into women’s fashion. Also, I’m joining his pickup soccer game tonight! Should be interesting… I’m glad for the chance to exercise, though. I FEEL HUGE.

Mmm–that’s all. Will try to write more later, though I may not be able to.

Leaving tomorrow morning for the beach, and then going almost directly to Chiang Mai. Coming back to Bangkok for a few hours on the 4th of Jan, but leaving for Cambodia same day. Cambodia until the 8th, flight back to Bangkok, flight home.

Really looking forward to Chiang Mai (Northern Thailand) and the trek. Linnie, you would LOVE this. Elephants, bamboo rafting, hiking, “willages,” etc.

Hope everyone is well.

<3,
Brynn

Bangkok: Day 1

December 26, 2008

So, I found my guest house last night, and it pretty much looks like I thought it would: sort of scary, but somehow appropriate for the B345  I’m paying ($11). When I checked in, though, the receptionist was nice enough to let me see the room first, which was cool because when I came down from checking it out and said “I only need one bed…and do you have any with the shower in the room?” she said “OK; same price.” I’m like, Heh? All I had to do was ask? Curious.

Anyway, I was pretty rattled from the long flight, so I ended up laying in my bed studying a map of Bangkok for about two hours. When I finally did end up drifting off, I woke up about 5 min later to a group of drunk, rowdy Thai guys singing a medley of 80s showtunes–but I didn’t really care; it was kind of amusing. In the AM, I walked over to 7/11, picked up some water and toiletries, and came back and cleaned up. (Wasn’t really sure what to do with the shower head sticking out of the bathroom wall, but eventually I just realized that the floor was the tub, which is kind of brilliant, if you ask me.)

I grabbed some breakfast downstairs (mmm–fresh papaya and pineapple) and tried to make conversation with some British lady who ended up being not the least bit interested in making conversation with me, which is why, I’m sure of it, she led me in the completely wrong direction when I asked her where the Grand Palace was. Rude.

So that’s kind of how my day started: I wandered into some desolate neighborhood praying a royal, architecturally-genius gated community would just appear, until I finally gave up and hopped in a metered taxi–the type that was recommended if I did take a taxi at all. In my opinion, though, that should be everyone’s last option.

My day totally turned around when I met Don. He spotted me wandering around aimlessly outside a cluster of museums, temples and the Palace after a B48 cab ride, parked his tuk-tuk, pulled his map out and told me how it was. I was appreciative but weary as I’ve been since the moment I stepped out of the plane, but I decided that Don seemed nice enough, especially after he offered me a tour of the city for B10, which is like…not even 50 cents. I knew there would be a catch, though, so I spent half of the ride trying to figure it out. And then I did: When we pulled  up to a random jewelry store and he told me to go in and walk around for a second so he could get a free gas card from the owner, I’m like “You’re using me?” He confirmed, which is when I promptly decided that I didn’t care, that I loved tuks-tuks and that I loved Don. Anyway, he tried to distract me by buying me a ridiculously delicious pancake on a stick off the street which totally worked and we became best friends.

So, I spent two hours with this dude, riding around Bangkok in his wagon; he showed me almost everything and pointed out the rest, and by the time he dropped me back off at the Palace, not only did I feel like a completely different person, I knew where I was, and I knew which direction I had to walk in to get back to my guest house. Point of reference in a new city = totally satisfying. BTW, Palace is sweeeeeet.

So I got a little taste of the way Thai people live and work–how they pass along their business to everyone else, especially when it comes to American tourists. I ran into so many people today that were just appreciative that we were here after the protests a few weeks ago, and even happier that we were using gov supported public transportation. I also met a lot of people who only wanted to talk about Obama and how much they liked him. I finally asked Don why and he said “Money,” and then raised the roof, which I found highly amusing.

On our journey, he also swung by the tourism agency for me so I could plan the rest of my time here (bus tickets, train tickets, treks, tours), which a nice lady helped me do–though I probably could have done it myself…for less…if I knew what I was doing. But, I decided to give her my business instead, er, Don decided to give her my business. Whatever–I’m honestly relieved either way.

I strolled the streets for a few more hours and was surprised to find out a few things: how many stray dogs are running around the streets of the Old City, how many homeless people have decided to take residence outside the Palace, how many monks I caught texting and how hard it is to cross the street. Anyway, I finally made it back to that street vendor I was eyeing across from The Green House, where I’m staying, and sat down to a long-awaited bowl of spicy basil pork with a side of, no joke, fire.

Tonight, I’m meeting up with Chad’s friend Jun, and I’m pretty pumped about it. She seems sweet, I have a lot of questions that she could probably answer and it’s time to party a little bit.

I’m about to be kicked off,
Brynn

I’ll try to write as much as I can in the next two days because after that I think my internet access is going to be limited. That said, whoever wants me to bring them home a cool bag, skirt, bottle of Thai whiskey or whatever, speak now. One.

Koh Sahn Road

December 25, 2008

HI all–just got in. It’s 2:18AM (2:18PM your time, Christmas Day). The flight actually wasn’t all that bad, but probably because Japanese flight attendants are the nicest people alive. Anyway, just walked Koh San Road and it’s pretty wild. Tons of partying going on, tons of stupid Americans, lots of Lady Men doing their thing (they’re kinda pretty–weird), some street vendors cooking up delicious-looking noodles, and I’m going to go explore. They say my guest house is around here somewhere, but I can’t seem to find it. I’m trying not to look like I’m looking too hard so I don’t look lost, though, so that could be why.  I’ll report back when I actually have more to say–that’s all for now. Merry Christmas to everyone, again, and thanks, Toni, for the sleeping pills. 😉

“I’m gonna miss you, troll.” -Kate

December 24, 2008

I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch with you guys–I see that some of you are feeling unsettled. In my defense, please know that my boss decided to get married at the same time that I decided to go to Thailand (just kidding–totally happened the exact opposite way; selfish <– me), thus my workload has been crazy and the work parties have been a little bit crazier. I may not be able to text you all before I go, but this is my little departure note:  Love you all, you’re extremely attractive and thanks for the support and help. 🙂