20 December 2010

A 2010 recap video

Back home for Christmas, and hoping to post soon on a new computer. In the meantime, a good review in honor of the season:

17 October 2010

Traditional Stick Dancing

where have i been?

working on this project:

check it out!

i'll be back on here soon, though, with more frequent and less hiking-centric stories from the pacific.

13 September 2010

hiking: nett ridge

nett ridge is a great hike that starts just outside of kolonia. its a great workout - very strenuous. it climbs to the top of the ridge behind us in the first photo, and offers a nice view of the river on one side, and of the reef on the other. this is one of my favorite hikes, and we had great guides this time - a group of young teens who husked coconuts for us to drink and fetched cacao for us to try out. the ridge has several japanese tanks and guns - given how much effort it is to walk myself up to the top, i'm at a loss to imagine the labor required to get such equipment so high up.
relatedly, we just celebrated liberation day this long weekend. it's a state holiday commemorating the end of japanese occupation during WWII. i just learned that pohnpei's holiday is three days after kosrae's because of the delay in passing the message of liberation from one island to the next. whether you've just celebrated liberation day or labor day, i hope you had a great long weekend!

hiking: pahn tikai

pahn tikai is a beautiful hike in u. it's mostly a steep climb up a paved road, but ends with a short jungle scramble. the waterfall is in front of a bat cave - you can climb up to it, but i passed on the 'guano scramble' as i've done it before. i'd meant to take a photo of the reef on our way back, but we got drenched to the bone by rain instead.

11 August 2010

angkor wat

our last stop was cambodia. we flew to siem reap, the town just outside of the ancient temples of angkor wat. i can't say that we got a true taste of cambodia - siem reap is quite the tourist town - but angkor wat was well worth the stop. below are a handful of photos from the hundreds i took on our single day visit.

after angkor wat, we made our way back to bangkok by bus (if you try this route, schedule yourself a full day of miserable travel, by the way. you'll get to take exceedingly long and completely unnecessary travel breaks to your heart's content). after a night on khosan road (yowzas) and an afternoon at the movies, we caught our flight back to d.c. wonderful trip, though fast-paced and too too short. if you have any questions about anywhere we went or my experiences travelling the connections i mentioned, leave a comment and i'd be happy to answer any questions.

as for now, i'm back in micronesia getting started on another year teaching public health at the college of micronesia. look for some posts from the pacific in the near future.

ps - on all these travel posts, you can click on each photo to see a larger size!

09 August 2010


crunched for time, we flew into hanoi and spent a few days exploring the north of vietnam. many people take advantage of the 'open bus' and travel the whole country more leisurely. if we'd had the time, it sounded like a great way to explore many towns and experience the regional differences of north and south. maybe next time!

hanoi itself is wild! swarming with motorbikes and very FAST - more so than any other city we visited. here's some sidewalk parking:

we explored as much of hanoi as the 114F heat index would allow. specifically, we visited the prison museum at the 'hanoi hilton' and the temple of literature, a millenium-old center of learning.

outside of hanoi, we visited two tourist hot spots of northern vietnam: halong bay (a would-be natural wonder of the world) and sapa (a region on the chinese border known for its terraced rice paddies).

halong bay is gorgeous. there are thousands of islands throughout the bay, and what feels like millions of boats carting tourists around. i enjoyed the highly international flavor of our boat - the 18 of us represented the nations of the US, new zealand, switzerland, france, germany, russia, south korea, the netherlands, denmark, england, and spain.

in halong, we swam and kayaked, dined and karaoked. most unexpectedly, we also visited caves.

my favorite view? sunset.

after halong we took a night train up to sapa. no way to describe it except to say that it was absolutely stunning and post some shots.

our guides were these lovely, friendly women.

the mountains are a natural boundary with china to the north, and brought thoughts of switzerland and colorado to my mind.

yowzas, the length of these posts is exploding!

thankfully, only one country is left to report - cambodia.

01 August 2010


we entered laos from the thailand border at chiang rai. it's a really common point of entry for people hopping on the mekong. we took the slow boat trip to luang prabang, a two day trip that i really recommend. despite warnings that our stopping point would be run down and without power, our overnight was pleasant and well-lit. the river itself was absolutely gorgeous.

luang prabang as a town is a UNESCO world heritage site, and so enjoys plenty of funding and protection from over-commercialization. it felt at times like a small french village, and was one of my favorite places to stay. i definitely hope to return one day! while there are excursions similar to those we did in thailand (cheaper, too), we stayed in town for our two days. we escaped the sun at the royal museum and by climbing to the shady temple at the top of town. walking around town was a lot of fun, and there are many wonderful cafes to pass the time. also, lots of shopping and art galleries.... plenty to do!

from luang prabang, we took an overnight bus south to the capital, vientiane. we skipped over vang vieng, which is a town very popular among tourists for its tubing in the river. almost everyone and their mom seemed to have a 'tubing in vang vieng' t-shirt, so perhaps we missed out. sadly, three weeks isn't enough time for everything, and so we passed by vang vieng in the still of the night. (well, perhaps not the still of the night. overnight busing isn't really meant for quality sleep.)

vientiane wasn't nearly as quaint as luang prabang - rather, it fit the bill as a capital of a developing country (though still small and navigable.) we took out bikes for the day, and enjoyed exploring the city - especially a beautiful sunset on the mekong.

in all, laos was my favorite country to visit. i will definitely return - it's a beautiful, friendly, fun place. next up? we fly to hanoi and explore northern vietnam.

28 July 2010


in thailand, we spent our first day in bangkok. i enjoyed the water taxi, and exploring the royal palace.

the next evening, we caught the night train up north to chiang mai. it's a nice smaller city, and we took several tourist-y expeditions while we were there.

seeing (and riding) elephants:

and zip-lining in the rain forest!

chiang mai itself was also really nice.

next post: we head east to the laos border.

03 July 2010

hello again

hi friends.

i'm in laos. i was in thailand. sooon i'll be in vietnam and cambodia! then i'll be in the united states. and then possibly micronesia.

i've been a terrible blogger, but pictures are coming as soon as i'm stateside (or in a permanent spot). promise!


07 May 2010

land of the free, home of reasonable traffic norms

i've been reflecting on my time here a lot recently. one thing i've noticed is that the things that make me most frustrated on a day to day basis almost all have to with driving. i'm looking forward to some time in the states, where the following practices are not common and socially acceptable:

-driving right-hand drive cars on the right side of the road
-allowing your children to stand on your lap while you drive
-using brights as the only lights you have
-sleeping in the middle of the road, sprawling across both lanes
-leaving your car running and unattended for 15 minutes while you put the laundry in
-driving in reverse for extended distances along the main road
-letting your children hang out of car windows as you speed along
-driving so recklessly that the people sitting in the back of your truck fall out and into the road
-passing people with complete disregard to the blind curve directly ahead of you
-parking on the side of the road and leaving your brights on
-decorating the back of your taxi with 151-proof rum labels
-opening your car door while driving to spit betel nut on the side of the road... without checking for pedestrians that may very well be hit with your car door or showered in betel nut spit
-driving (without exaggeration) 5-10 miles an hour between 4 and 8pm because its sakau time and you're just that mellow
-using a car that lacks doors, a roof, a windshield, or any semblance of emissions control
-doing ANYTHING you want to do behind the wheel, because there is zero police presence for traffic-related things. (excepting the traffic guys who direct traffic at lunch hour by blowing their whistle at every single car that passes.)

i'll stop there. there are certainly deeper frustrations and more important issues facing pohnpei. but today, i'm looking forward to interstates, seatbelts, traffic laws, and police to actually enforce them.

see you stateside, suckas! i'm in hawaii may 12, and in northern va may 20.

18 April 2010


i'm not sure i can live without the king of delicious tropical fruits, soursop. anyone ever seen it for sale in the us?

11 April 2010

april 12

as of today, I have exactly one month left as a worldteach pohnpei volunteer. time flies!

i know that compared to the fall, my blogging has limped along this spring - in the normal way that travel blogs do, as adventure settles into the ordinary. i've been telling myself for weeks that i would blog as soon as i had news to report on my next step, but as nothing has solidified, i'll save that post for later.

instead, i present to you a synopsis of my typical week in pohnpei:
monday: morning run, teach from 8:30am-7:50pm, eat dinner and crash.
tuesday: hike sokeh's ridge, teach from 10:30-12:30, grade/lesson plan/run errands in the afternoon, play ultimate frisbee in the evening.
wednesday: morning run, teach from 8:30am-6:50pm, book (short story) club meeting.
thursday: hike sokeh's ridge, teach from 10:30-12:30, grade/lesson plan/run errands in the afternoon, go to aerobics class in the evening.
friday: morning run, teach from 8:30am-7:50pm, try to summon the energy for an evening with friends, tequila, and karaoke.
saturday: try and skype with the family, consider updating the blog, swim/snorkel/hike/laze about, go to church, sing some more karaoke or play some bridge.
sunday: hiking club and yoga in the evening, possibly head to the movies.

repeat x 15, and you've just experienced the last three months of my life. life is good, and comfortable, and quickly wrapping up. i'll be in hawaii with my parents from may 12-may 19, and back in the dc area may 20. most likely i'll be travelling in southeast asia in june, and will possibly be returning to pohnpei this summer. but, that's a big 'possibly', so i'll save the future for another post.

in the meantime, please mark your calendars - may 29th, my family is having a memorial day party in fairfax, and it would be wonderful to see as many of your lovely faces there as possible!

i've just added a few more pictures to 'pohnpei II' on facebook, and I'll direct you there for pictures. hope you enjoy!

04 March 2010

hiking sokeh's rock

i can't believe that it took me so long, but last weekend i finally hiked the 'rock' of sokeh's - one of the most famous landmarks of pohnpei, and one of it's most strenuous hikes. it was amazing! it was also incredibly dangerous, but i can't wait to go again. the side of the rock is a rather steep cliff, and you climb using a rope and an old pipe as a guide. i'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

16 February 2010

free diving in mokil

i came across a journal entry i wrote while on the field trip ship over christmas break. as i have no exciting adventures or pictures to share, i thought i'd post this reflection of free diving in mokil instead.

when the sea is clear, light sees to rise up from the depths in rays not unlike those from the sun. in mokil atoll, nature's finest - barracudas, sea turtles, white tip sharks - dance in the spotlight of these streams of light. when the sea is clear, vision extends as far as the light can penetrate. the spectrum reveals relative depths. at the surface, pinks and reds abound in coral and fish,. descending, they disappear, followed by yellow and green, until a deep indigo masks all detail but black. in an atoll as isolated as mokil, there are none of civilization's tarnishes. no beer cans, no rusting engine parts. no names scratched onto coral, no bleached coral, dead from pollutants. just life. beautiful, bountiful, thriving life in many forms of splendour. schools upon schools of fish dart around well-fed sharks. holes in coral reveal stories of life below. the sheer architectural grandeur brings to mind the ruins of an ancient civilization - only in a much more alive way. does life require isolation from global humanity to retain such purity? i am humbled and awed to have experienced such a place, and at the same time heartbroken by its frailty and ever-so-slight potential for survival.

05 February 2010

some images

1. puppy! (still in need of a name and soliciting suggestions).

2. pohnpei has world-famous pepper. what does pepper look like before its processed? like this.

3. why i like to sleep in hammocks on reef islands: the sunrises.

4. some mementos from my outer island trip.