About Thailand: Katsjourney Around the World: 23 April, 2003

Subject: About Thailand…
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2003 08:15:49 -0500
Greetings! Islands internet cafe

I hope everyone had a nice Easter.  And if you don’t celebrate it, I hope

you are having a nice Spring/Autumn (depending on your side of the equator).

I have been a bit out of commmunicado, but wanted to let everyone know I am

alive and well and trying to make the most of my time before immersing

myself back into the reality of the proverbial “rat race”.

Just in case you don’t know much about the Thai culture, here are a few

interesting notes…

HAPPY NEW YEAR (Sawadee phi mai)

The Thai New Year or Songkran Festival happens every year in mid-April.  I

was fortunate to find myself in the middle of Bangkok during the

festivities.  During this time the locals and the farangs (foreigners)

alike, are sprinkled with water as a blessing.  First, of course, Buddha

statues and elders are sprinkled, but then it moves into the streets.  The

“sprinkling” has turned into a dousing over the years, as folks use buckets

of water, hoses and those commando super-soaker water guns.  They also mix a

type of powder with water to make a paste that they rub on your face. At one

time I had three little boys eagerly covering my face, ears and hair with

the dreadful mixture.  It is all in good fun and a great way to cool off

during the hottest month of the year.  Did you know that Bangkok is listed

as the hottest city in the world?

Ban Songkarn Festival water

Khao San Road, a Bangkok’s backpackers enclave, transforms itself during the Songkran Festival (Thai New Year) into a massive water fights zone with thousands of Thais and foreigners armed with water guns (loaded with ice water) and cans of beer, battling both the heat and each other. Many Thais would also perform one of of the oldest Songkran traditions – applying the white powder to various parts of the face, neck and torso of the others, for protection and promises to ward off evil. Children with huge water guns roam the streets or sit in the back of their parents’ pick-up trucks, which are loaded with buckets of water that is dispensed on anyone who happens to be within reach. “Splash water! Splash happiness!” as the Thais say.

Or at least that is what the guidebooks

tell you so you don’t get too upset when you and all of your belongings

return to the hotel dripping wet!

KEEPING FACE

They call Thailand “The land of smiles” because the locals are amazingly

friendly.  Those of you who have been there know what I am talking about.  I

did talk to a bartender who told me that it is not all that it appears toThai face

be.  Like in many Asian cultures, Thais have a happy “public face”, but can

be quite different in the privacy of their own home. They also expect

foreigners to put on a face.  It is a huge embarrassment for anyone to argue

in public in Thailand.

FOOD & EATING

The food is Thailand is some of the best in the world.  They make great use

of their natural resources from the ocean and rice from the land and have

borrowed their version of curries from India and noodles and sauces from

China to make a unique fusion food.  Thais do not eat with chopsticks.

Instead, they use a fork in the left hand and a spoon as a shovel in the

right hand to eat. You see Thai people on the street and at work eating allstreet food

the time.  Lots of small portioned snacks out of little plastic bags from

street vendors.  I have yet to see any natives overweight.  I learned in my

cooking class in Ko Lanta that everything is very balanced in the

diet…

Meat vs. rice, sweet & sour vs. curry, chilies vs. coconut milk, and

lots of fruits instead of fattening desserts. They must be doing something

right with a nation full of healthy bodies.

TOILETS/BATHING

(Don’t worry, this is not about MY personal habits!)

Most Thais to not have flush toilets, nor do many restaurants or public

places.

The toilets are usually porcelain squatters with a hole in the

floor.  There is not typically toilet paper, unless you are at a place

catering to westerners.  There is usually a large container of water next to

the squatter.  With a cup floating in the barrel of water, you rinse off

your private body part/s and then pour the water down the hole to “flush”.

It can be a bit of a challenge being a girl and wearing pants (or shorts)

and holding on to a beach bag since the floor is soaking wet.  You get the

picture!  Most Thais do not have hot water either.  Of course, the weather

is so hot that it is not completely necessary.  Many people still bathe in

rivers and canals.Bathing in canal

PROSTITUTION

No, I a not considering a new career.  But I am currently reading a book

titled “Sex Slaves: The Trafficking of Women in Asia”.  So much for looking

for a little “light” reading on the trip.  Prostitution and sex

entertainment is BIG business in Thailand.  You often hear of western men

coming to Bangkok or Phuket to buy “escorts”.  These types of Go-Go Clubs

are very obvious and out in the open.

Interestingly, there are also very private or secret clubs that cater to

Asian men, particularly Japanese.  The Asian sector has the most demand for

prostitution.  In many Asian cultures, the girls are expected to be virgins

when they marry or not only do they shame the family they may never be able

to marry as they are labeled as “damaged goods”.  With the lack of free sex

partners for Asian men, many turn to prostitutes for sex.  It is quite

acceptable for married men as well.  As you might expect, some of the true

life accounts in the book I am reading are pretty horrifying.  Many young

girls are sold into brothels by their own families.

SHOES

It is customary to remove your shoes before entering any palace, temple,

home, or even business.  Most Thai people eat sitting on the floor.

Therefore, they find it disgusting when foreigners wear shoes through the

threshold. islands shoes at door

I have been respecting the culture, but have found the practice

rather time consuming since I have been wearing Tevas(a sports sandal with

velcro straps).  I finally broke down and bought some flip-flops!

I could go on and on about this wonderful and strange new world, but I

imagine this is a long enough newsletter!  It is an amazing country and a

place I would suggest as an exotic and VERY affordable holiday destination.

Take care of yourselves.

Love,

Kathleen

Advertisements

Backpaker Underworld, Katsjourney Around the World: 8 April, 2003

Backpacker Underworld
Date: Tue, 08 Apr 2003 02:22:42 -0500
I am sitting on one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand while

composing this newsletter.  I am at Rai Leh Beach in the Krabi Province of

southern Thailand.  The beach is about a half kilometer long made of powdery

cream colored sand.  Islands Railay Beach 4  There are towering limestone outcroppings framing

either side of the crescent shaped land.  A small monkey just came over to

say hello.  I am eating a traditional Thai breakfast of rice soup with

chicken.

I have been doing quite a bit of thinking about life (and my life) on this

earth.  I believe that everyone and everything has a place in this world or

we wouldn’t be here.  For me, that place is not Thailand.  Oddly, this

fabulously beautiful “Land of Smiles” has been my most challenging stop on

the journey.

Perhaps it is the timing.  Had this been my first stop, I think I would have

had a different attitude. Not yet weary of living out of a suitcase. Perhaps

it’s the language barrier and the frustration of not understanding and not

being completely understood.  Perhaps after traveling for so long alone, a

social being such as myself just longs for more companionship.

That brings me to the backpacker underworld.  Some of you have had little

contact with them.  Others have BEEN or ARE them.  There hundreds of

thousands of these mostly twenty-somethings around the globe.  Most of them

are from Australia, New Zealand, UK, and several parts of Europe.  They

travel for months, sometimes years, on end and find a few odd jobs along the

way when it suits them or they need to eat.  Typically they travel where it

is cheap (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Nepal, etc.).  Occasionally

you will even see an American backpacker, but usually just on summer break

through Europe.  American society is not very accepting of taking off a year

or two. I keep asking myself if that attitude will ever change.

Anyway, the island of Ko Phi-Phi (where “The Beach” was filmed) is a perfect

example of the backpacking scene.

These are mostly the people who stay in

basic huts without air con, hot water, and sometimes a shared “Asian style”

bathroom (they don’t flush).  Now this is a very cheap way to travel, but

there is often a particular lifestyle that accompanies it.  Every night is a

party.  I mean, throw down, drink and drugs all night, puking at sunrise,

“who did you bring home?”, partying.  This is the reckless abandon of the

dreadlocked, tatooed, body pierced, coming of age, Generation Y’s.  It can

be annoying. Was I ever that bad???

Needless to say, for someone looking for introspection, some intellectual

conversation and an occasional Sing-ha (Thai beer), this is not my scene.

However, I am hardly traveling with a 5-star hotel budget either.  Remember,

I have been unemployed and homeless for almost 8 months.  Where does that

leave a 40 year-old woman traveling alone in Thailand?  Smack dab in the

middle of the German-French-Swedish families and couples looking for

reasonably priced package tours out of the European winter.

I must say that experiences like these are better shared with a friend, a

lover or a family member.  But if I could do this journey again, I would.  I

have very little regrets. And I am thankful for the amazing, new, life-long

friends (mostly in South Africa and Australia) that I have met along the

way.  You know who you are!  😉

I am planning to be home within a month.  I want to use my new inner peace

and understanding (and patience?…sometimes) to make my world and your

world, a better place in time. Schmaltzy, huh?  Well that’s because I love

you guys!

Peace,

Kathleen

Paradise. Katsjourney Around the World: 31 March, 2003

: Paradise
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 03:48:00 -0600
After an hour flight south of Bangkok and a two hour boat ride further

south, I arrived to monsoon rains on the remote island of Ko Lanta (not too

far north of Malaysia).  Islands Ko Lanta port

My first two days were the loneliest of my journey

thus far.  The kind of sad days in paradise where tears fall in rhythm with

the raindrops.  Time to reach within myself and slay dragons.  Time to admit

who I am, to like myself and to vow a change in that which I don’t.  Time to

read about the Dalai Lama and the teachings of Buddha.

Time moves painfully slowly when you are in the rain, alone without a TV, a

phone and often, electricity.  Funny, always so caught up in our “western

ways”, I used to long for time to stand still for a while.  Here it does.

But day three gave way to brilliant sunshine and I realized it is an island

paradise.

There are several Thai style (A-frame, thatched roof, bamboo

siding) bungalows along the west coast of the island facing the Andaman Sea

and Phuket.  Makes for fantastic sunsets.  But there are also signs of

progress and new development.  I am not sure that this fragile environment

can handle the continuous onslaught of added tourism.

For now though…Paradise!  The surrounding islands have these amazing

limestone outcroppings with coral reefs all around them.  The stunning

undersea world of groovy fish and coral is only a couple of meters below the

surface.  Perfect for snorkeling or diving.  Islands pipi landscape

The eastern part of Ko Lanta is mountainous and has escaped the detriment of

the logging industry.  The forests and mangroves are relatively pristine.

There are a number of caves to explore, also.  But I had to pass  on the

part where you slither on your belly across slime.  No way!  That is where I

take the “adventure” out of the adventure tour!

I had a one hour Thai oil massage right on the beach under an umbrella for

250 baht (about US $6).  My friend Connie, the massage therapist, is

probably cringing at those kind of prices!  I plan on having several

massages.  I think it is helping my shoulder injury.  Remember the Kamikaze

off road bike ride from hell down Mt. Wellington in Tasmania?  That injury!

I went elephant trekking earlier today.  The Asian elephants here were

mostly brought in from the north where they lived very difficult lives as

logging animals.  Since logging is now outlawed (although somewhat ignored

like other environmental sanctions), these elephants have new careers in the

tourist industry.  They appear to be very well taken care of.

I went with a guide (name sounded like “Ming”)for a 20 minute walk aboard a

gentle giant deep into the forest.  There were crystal clear streams that we

crossed.  Each time he was in the water, the elephant would reach down with

his mighty trunk and give us both a bath.  It was great fun!

After the elephant ride, Ming took me upstream on foot to a beautiful

waterfall.  Ming is a caveman. Islands tour guide cave I kid you not…he showed me the cave in

which he lives.  Complete with bats and an occasional tiger or cobra!  He

was a Buddhist monk for five years and now he gives elephant trekking tours

to the waterfall.  He doesn’t like money or Americans much and just lives

this unusual, peaceful existence in the forest.  He struck me as the kind of

guy who never had a warm bath (certainly not with soap), never watched TV,

never drove a car or ate fast food or went to a shopping mall.  Yet he

seemed more at peace with himself than anyone I have ever met.  I wish I had

a video camera taping the day. It was one of those “out of this world”

experiences.

I will be leaving Ko Lanta in a couple of days to Ko Phi Phi (proIslands mapnounced

Pee-Pee).  This set is islands was host to a couple of movies, a James Bond

one and Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Beach”.  I hear it is a bit more civilized,

and perhaps overcrowded.

I read and hear bits about the war every day…both sides since this area is

95% Muslim.  I am not sure who to believe anymore.  But I do believe the

Ban war warningsPope is right about it creating a huge hatred between Christians and

Muslims.  A hatred powered by death and destruction.  I pray for the safety

of all involved and each of you, wherever you are in the world.

Love from paradise,

Kathleen

P.S. Editor’s  note…Not sure why did not include this in my e-newsletter. I went to a little Thai  cooking school called “Time for Lime” run by a cool Norwegian chef named Junie Kovacs. I enjoyed making many authentic local dishes from scratch with 2 chefs from Sydney and London.

One Night in Bangkok, Katsjourney Around the World: 24 March, 2003

Subject: One Night in Bangkok
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2003 17:37:27 -0600
There was a song that came out in the late 1970’s that some of you may

remember.  It was a one hit wonder and the chorus went something like this:

“One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble…”  Well, I am here to tell

you it’s true.  My girlfriend Kathie, in Austin, told me that the city is a

real ball buster, whether your balls are real or imaginary.  That’s true

too.

I am staying at a hotel on probably the most hectic street in the city.  I

heard from a friend in Cape Town that it is owned by a group of Nigerian

drug lords.  AND they used to have two floors booked out for “Mr Smith”.

That would be the western gentleman sponsoring a lovely Thai girl for an

evening of entertainment.  The place is tattered, but clean and only costs

1200 Baht, about US$ 29 per night.

A Thai gentleman that I met in Cape Town collected me at the airport.  He

was a dignitary professor at a conference that I worked with my friend Ilse,

back in December.  Not 1 kilometer out of the airport and his very nice

Holden car (looks like a VW Jetta) was rear ended by a delivery truck. Ban hit car It

was a bit of a jolt and now I have a mild case of whiplash.  Funny, we had

just been talking about the insane traffic in Bangkok.  We managed to pry

the boot open and get out my luggage so I could jump in a taxi whilst he

messed with the police and insurance people.  Welcome to Bangkok!

After a short arrival nap I set out with my Bangkok city map to explore the

city.  The humid heat is overwhelming.  With the humidity index it is about

42 degrees (107 F).  The pollution is choking.  I was completely jostled

around in the small streets of the markets with food vendors and cars trying

to make their way through the narrow lanes.  And talk about noise.  Noise,

Noise, noise everywhere.  Hawkers, horns, cell phones, music blaring, loud

tuk tuk engines.  You could lose 30 years of your life living in this

sprawling city of 10 million.

But there is also a certain beauty here. The people are warm and polite.  If

you show just a bit of respect, they will bend over backwards to accommodate

you.  The food is some of the best in the world.  And the lush Royal gardens

and palaces are like no place else I have ever seen.  I have never seen such

pure gold as in the temples and Buddha images.  Every place I wander I

mutter under my breath, “Oh my God”.  It is amazing.

I am leaving tomorrow for a remote island called Ko Lanta.  It is an hour

flight south of Bangkok and then a two hour boat ride south east of Krabi.

I heard that they just got phone service to the island in 2001.  Amazing.

It will be a real contrast to Bangkok.  It is there that I plan on studying

the teachings of Buddha, learning to meditate and do a bit of writing.  If

there is an internet place, I will send an update.

The war rages on and I am able to keep up with it through CNN and the

English Bangkok newspaper. I pray for the safety of the world and our allied

troops.  There is a large Muslim population in the south near the Malaysian

border.  I am officially Canadian whilst I am here, just for safety. candian flag

Love to all,

Kathleen

The Great Ocean Road, Katsjourney Around the World: 17 March, 2003

The Great Ocean Road
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 14:21:35 -0600
Greetings from the Journey Down Under,

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Mel St Paddys day

I am still in Melbourne, Australia and enjoying

the last vestiges of Indian Summer here.  Today and tomorrow will be a high

33-35 degrees Celsius (in the 90’s) and then it will be cooling off to 18-20

(in the 60’s) and rain…a much more proper Melbourne type day in the

autumn.  Since I am following the summer on this journey, that means it is

time to head north.  I will be leaving for Bangkok, Thailand this Friday

night.

Last week was a fantastic week of touring and introspection.  My friend,

Ron, from Austin, is here teaching part of his facilitator course with Mike

(whom I am staying with in Melbourne) from RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute

of Technology).  Anyway, they teach the first module in the lovely seaside Mel grt ocn rd rainforest gully

town of Lorne…about two hours south west of Melbourne.  We hired (rented)

a car and I was able to explore for the week on my own while they taught.

I can’t tell you what a freedom it was to have an automobile.  Something I

have taken for granted since age 20.  I had no problems driving on the left

side.  In fact, since November, everywhere I have been has been left hand

road driving.  so, even as a passenger you do get used to it quickly.  My

difficulty came with turning on the windscreen (shield) wipers every time I

attempted ot turn.  You see, the wipers and the blinkers are opposite of

ours.  Thank god the brake and the accelerator are not reversed!

I traveled west, down the Great Ocean Road for the week and stayed at

delightful little towns along the coast.  This rugged coastline is one of

the most beautiful in the entire world.  On one side are the Otway Ranges

complete with fern tree rainforests and on the other side are sheer cliffs

into the ocean with beautiful, pristine beaches tucked inbetween rocky

outcroppings.

The 12 Apostles in Port campbell National Park is the most famous seascape

rock formation in the country.   These rock outcroppings, light gold in

colour, are magnificent along the beach as the Great Southern Ocean waves

constantly pound them.  As the sun changes positions throughout the, so

changes the colour and the “feel” of the apostles.  To stand in the viewing

platform near them is a party for your senses as you smell and taste the

clean, pure salt water below and feel the power of the place.  It is the

kind of place you can imagine your God talking to you.

All along the coast are several stunning stops…The Loch Ard Gorge, The

London Bridge, the Arch, the Grotto and the Blowhole.  A few times, I almost

didn’t stop, but the raw beauty of each naturally carved rock was worth a

walk to view it.  It was also so nice to see no development.  Untouched by

human hands, as it were.

As an added bonus, I was able to capture photos of several koalas in the

wild.  They are such beautiful creatures and sadly,  near the point of

extinction.

They feed only on certain types of eucalypt and are very

sensitive to changes in their habitat.  They are losing their habitat

quickly here.

I was alone all week and chose to eat  take-away meals quietly on beaches or

at picnic areas in national parks Mel Grt Ocn rd Pt Fairy lighthouse and rainforests (there has not been much

rain, as Australia has been in a terrible drought).  I had lots of time to

find peaceful places and think about the world and my life.  It is a luxury

few of us get, since we are usually caught up in day to day madness of the

world.  I wish I could solve some of the world’s problems.  Hell, I wish I

could solve some of my own problems!  But it was interesting because time

seemed to move very slowly.  A sensation I would say most of the western

world is not used to.

In my introspection, I know I am passionate about this earth and the

horrible way that humans are treating it.  The mines we are stripping, the

forests we are destroying, the oceans we are polluting, the ozone we are

depleting, and the sensitive plants and animals that we are killing to

extinction.  All of those that were created on this earth for the perfect

circle of life.  Alas, it is not so perfect anymore.  And then there is war.

Are the Americans helping to save the world from weapons of mass

destruction, a mad dictator and terrorism or is the true axis of evil oil,

greed and money?  Something to ponder, if you can find the time.

I have changed the course of the journey a bit, since Nepal is quite

dangerous at the present time.  Of course, there is this crazy Asian virus

that is killing people and plenty of political unrest in North Korea and the

Malaysian Muslim extremists.  Where is safe anymore?

I will send more updates from the wild, unusual and amazing city of Bangkok

next week.  Love to all.

Kathleen

Tea with a Stranger, Katsjourney Around the World: 9 March, 2003

Tea With a Stranger
Date: Sun, 09 Mar 2003 18:11:58 -0600
I  met an elderly woman on my flight from Melbourne to Tasmania a few weeks

ago. I would guess her age was around 85 years old.  But it often hard for

me to tell after the age of 70 because your looks start to reflect the

amount of sun damage, smoke damage, alcohol damage and just general diet

that you have endured.  This lady was delightful.  She was wearing a little blue

dress with a little matching hat, shoes and handbag.  She had several gray

hairs growing out of her chin and her lipstick was a bit askew. Other than

that, she was very “put together”.

She had been in Melbourne to go to as friend’s 95th birthday party. taz quantas link We were

on a short hop Qantas Link service and those planes do not have a first

class.  We were in the
very front row.  When we were ready to deplane, she

told the businessman behind us that she was “quick going down the

stairs”…she refused to get old.  I found that inspirational.

During the flight we chatted about her garden and the upcoming Launceston

Cup horse race coming up in Tasmania.  She invited me to her house for tea

later that week.  I thought, why not?  She told me her name was “Lewis”.

Sure enough, on a rainy, dreary Friday she phoned my flat and said she

would collect  me in an hour.  She still drove; although not really that

well.  Come to find out, she litaz mansionved alone in a national registered mansion

(built in the 1800’s) just on the edge of Hobart in an area called Sandy Bay.
The inside of her house was like a museum.  Evidently, she came from one of the wealthiest families in Tasmania as did her deceased husband.

There were old fashioned fireplaces in every room with beautiful wood carved

mantles.

taz mansion 2

I found this photo on the home listing page.

There were priceless antiques from England and all kinds of china

and collectibles displayed.  The parlor, where we had tea, had a beautiful

chandelier. We sipped on Earl Grey tea and sampled some of her home made

biscuits and cookies. We chatted about her children and life in the port

town of Hobart, Tasmania.  She seemed to have a busy agenda for someone 85

years old.  But I could also see how loneliness would engulf her in that

giant home with only the sounds of the 18th century clock collection to keep

her company.

She took me for a stroll in her acre garden.  She has lived there for over

50 years and has planted everything in that garden.  It was obviously still

her favourite pastime as she picked fresh fruit for me to eat off the trees

and the snipped a few of the most beautiful scented roses I have ever

smelled.  The garden won Australia’s Better Homes & Gardens “Garden of the

Year” in 1996.

taz mansion garden

Even after her death the roses still bloom.

It was a nice diversion after spending several days alone exploring the city

on my own. You see, the older woman AND the younger woman were both a bit

lonely.

***2016 Note: I did not have my camera with me that day.  However, I did a bit of research and found the home listing and grabbed a few photos from it. I was thrilled to find it after all these years. She has passed away, but her sweet memory lives on with me. Even though we were only together for a brief moment in time.

http://www.propertyobserver.com.au/forward-planning/advice-and-hot-topics/trophy-homes/27340-hobart-historical-trophy-home-landmarks-for-sale.html

Tassie! Katsjourney Around the World: 27 February, 2003

: Tassie
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 19:34:56 -0600
Greetings to all my friends and family from the Australian state of

Tasmania.  The Australians call it “Tassie”.  It is a small island state

south of the actual mainland of Australia.  From Melbourne to Hobart

(Tassie’s capitol) is about a 50 minute flight.  The island is rich in

National Heritages and has lots of wonderful outdoor activities, like

mountain climbing, bushwalks, watersports, etc. The weather can be pretty

rough, even in summer.  The higher elevations could have snow tomorrow!  But

the day I arrived it was 32 degrees Celsius (in the mid-80’s for those of

you not who don’t do the conversions).  This harsh weather was perfect for

the original jails (they spell is “gaol” here) that were set up for the

British convicts.

Today is a rainy and cool day.  Actually it is only the third day of rain I

have seen since since leaving the US last fall. And the first day that I am

out in the rain.  I had to dig around in the gigantic suitcase to find my

umbrella!

I am staying at a cool little efficiency apartment near the waterfront.  The

population in Hobart is about 200,000, so everTaz Hobart waterfrontything is in walking distance.

The population of the entire state is only a   bit over 400,000.  The people

remind me a bit of Texans.  Really proud of their unique state…and out in

the country a bit “back woods”!

I took a river cruise to the Moorilla boutique winery right on the shores of

the Derwent River.  Great Tassie wines.  They even brought out area cheeses

and grapes to have with the different samples.

Then we were picked up by minivans to take us to the Cadbury’s chocolate

factory.  It was built here back in the 1800’s because, at the time, Hobart

had the deepest docks for shipping.  We had a full tour (donning lovely hair

nets and ear protection) and got lots of samples along the way.  I kept

waiting to see Willy Wonka or an Oompa Loompa slither out of a big vat oftaz cadbury

bubbling chocolate.  Cadbury’s has something like 60 factories around the

world.  This one exports only 10% of its chocolate to other countries.  The

rest of the 90% stays here in Australia.
They say Aussies love their

chocolate.  And the interesting thing is that each factory’s formula is a

bit different to appeal to that particular country’s tastes.

I did a 20 kilometer bike tour descent down Wellington Mountain (adjacent to

the city) yesterday.  The views from up there are amazing.  Steve & I did

one of those descent tours in Maui a couple of years ago.  Cold, but really

a piece of cake.  This one was a bit more challenging. For several

kilometers, we were off road.  Our tour guide was a 20 something cycling

maniac.  He had us down some moderate and advanced rocky, gravel deep

descent paths.  I only wiped out once!  I was putting on the brakes too hard

to avoid the guy in front of me and I went right over the handlebars! Tore

up my leg and ankles a bit and messed up my shoulder…I think.  Yep, that’s

what adventure touring is all about!

This weekend I leave on an adventure tour to the west and northwest of the

Island encompassing Cradle Mountain and Mt. Field National Heritages with

(obviously) lots of mountains and lakes.  Horseback riding, cycling and

canoeing….I hope I can keep up with the 20-something backpackers with me!

Other notes I haven’t mentioned much about…..

Water conservation is big here.  All of the toilets have two flush buttons.

One is a half moon for liquids and one is a full moon for solids.  Why don’t

we have that in the States?  You know if you have one of those new fangled

“low flush” toilets you have to flush two or three times to get the big job

down.  So why not just have two options?  Ask your plumber!

Petrol (or gasoline) is at an all time high in decades.  They have inched

over A$1.00 for a liter and expect it to go above $1.25 this winter as the

war seems eminent.  A liter is approximately a quarter of a gallon.  $5.00 a

gallon?  Quit whining about US prices and quit buying gas guzzling vehicles.

I actually have a TV in my apartment right now, so I have been overdosing on

CNN and any local news perspectives.  Most of the CNN here comes out of Hong

Kong and London, so I feel I am getting both perspectives..not just the

pro-war, pro-Bush Admin. American news. Taz no war War seems inevitable, regardless of

allies.  It has been interesting hearing the perspectives of all of you.  Of

those who have replied to any of my political commentary, it seems that you

are equally split on the war issue.  Although most if you feel a bit

confused on conflicting messages from the media and the US government.

I caught a special here in Australia about the “Stolen Generation” of

Aborigines.  As most of you know, Australia has a history similar to many

countries that were “dicovered” by the old world or taken over.  The British

conquered the land here and drove the natives off it.  There was also a time

recently (1960’s, early 70’s) when the government took away Aborigine babies

from their parents and put them in orphanages. taz sorry day The reasons cited were for

abuse and neglect, mostly.  These children are now adults and are extremely

angry about the system, the loss of their normal lives and the loss of their

land.  They are extremely angry and are turning to the teachings of Islam

for solace.  It could be a problem in Australia’s future. Kind of

frightening!

Okay, enough rambling.  Love to all.  Still looking for a Tasmanian Devil!Taz devil

Love,

Kathleen