Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!

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Re: Wanderfood Wednesday: Epicurean despot (by mark at 5/09 2:16 PM)
Re: Photo Friday: the kids are all right (by sonia at 1/03 11:20 AM)
Re: Photo Friday: the kids are all right (by krakestraw at 12/21 2:30 PM)
Re: Africa Always Wins (by lacyemartini at 11/05 3:01 PM)
Re: Africa Always Wins (by mark at 11/05 12:01 PM)
Re: WanderFood Wednesday: foxy overindulgence in Middleburg (by sonia at 7/18 11:27 AM)
Re: WanderFood Wednesday: foxy overindulgence in Middleburg (by cbheller at 7/18 11:23 AM)
Re: Top of the Loaf, Ma! (by sonia at 5/11 8:30 AM)
Re: Top of the Loaf, Ma! (by mark at 5/10 11:40 AM)
Re: Sugarloaf smooches (by wanderinglaura at 4/25 11:24 AM)
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26 December 2008
Still time to support two great causes

scenes from an American Christmas

Passports With Purpose
Passports With PurposeDidn't get that great travel gadget you were hoping for? Looking for a way to spend some of that Christmas or Hanukkah dough? Need to find a charitable cause to assuage some of that year-end Western Guilt?
Whatever the reason, there's still a week left to support Passports With Purpose, the brainchild of travel writers Beth Whitman of Wanderlust and Lipstick, Pam Mandel of Nerd’s Eye View, Debbie Dubrow of DeliciousBaby, and Michelle Duffy of WanderMom. Surf on over and check out the fantastic prizes, then buy as many raffle tickets as your heart desires. The funds raised will support Heifer International, an organization dedicated to eradicating world hunger. The raffle runs till December 29.

Celebrate Joan
get out and walk to help us Celebrate JoanOn Saturday, December 27, my family will be organizing our third annual Celebrate Joan 4K-ish Walk in Allentown, PA. Proceeds will benefit the Joan Zamborsky Memorial Trust Fund, which supports educational programs for the disadvantaged kids at the high school where my mom taught. I realize that very few of you will be anywhere near Allentown on Saturday. What I'm asking is that everyone get out and take a walk, wherever you happen to be that day, and send me a few pics. We love doing this event every year, and one of our favorite parts is getting photos and stories from around the world. And regardless of which holidays you celebrate this time of year, we could all use a nice brisk walk to work off some of those delicious treats!

Happy Holidays everyone, and thanks for helping to make the world a better place! Here's to a fabulous 2009.

Posted by sonia at 11:15 AM | Link | 0 comments

11 December 2008
Word of the day: discombobulated
Use it three times in a sentence today!
photo courtesy Nick J Webb via a Creative Commons license

dis*com*bob*u*lat*ed [dis-kuhm-bob-yuh-leyt-ed]
1. confused or disconcerted; upset; frustrated
2. thrown into a state of confusion; having self-possession upset
3. how you feel after coming home from a monthlong trip on the other side of the planet

So, we've been back for about a week now. On the surface, everything is back to normal (whatever that means). But as all seasoned globetrotters know, the longer you're away and the farther you go, the more your world gets thrown off-kilter once you come home. How am I discombobulated? Let me count the ways:

Sleeping patterns. OK, this one I expected. I've been to Asia before. It takes a while to get over jetlag. But this whole routine of not being able to fall asleep before about 2am, and then waking up at 4am, wide awake with no hope of getting back to sleep before the alarm goes off in a few short hours... I'm about over it. I am not a morning person, so being fully awake before the sun comes up is a disconcerting situation, to be sure.

Christmas holidays. You'd think that having been bombarded by "holiday" decorations and music the entire time we were in Southeast Asia -- which was itself pretty discombobulating... Christmas in a predominantly Buddhist or Muslim country, in the tropical heat? huh? -- would have prepared us to launch into the Christmas season upon returning home. But somehow missing Thanksgiving really threw off the rhythm for me this year. It doesn't help that all of our holiday decorations are packed up in storage in my dad's basement, so the house is devoid of all visual cues. I'm just not ready to face Christmas in two weeks!

Stuff. Everywhere. We couldn't fit a Christmas tree in the living room even if we wanted to, as we're still dealing with piles of mail, half-unpacked bags, rows of souvenir gifts en route to friends and family, and bits of trip doggerel to be stuck into journals. Oy vey. Fortunately we have folks coming over on Sunday for a dinner party, which will force us to whip the place into presentability! (Yes, Virginia, that's what closets are for.)

Big changes in 2009. 'Tis the season for New Year's resolutions, and while I have some of the usual suspects -- get more exercise, eat more veggies, do more volunteer work, etc -- I've also decided it's time to shelve the extended travel idea for a while. Even though it's something I've wanted very badly for at least the past two years, when I closely examine the facts, all signs point to Now Is Not The Time. So what does that mean? Well, an end to living life on hold, for starters. We'll reclaim our house as a home, take it completely off the market, and bring back some of the personality that was stripped away when we vanillafied it (per our realtors' advice) for the Soccer Mom demographic. I'm going to work on finding a new job that incorporates travel, so I can hit the road on a regular basis and still hang onto a steady paycheck. (More on that to come, and I will definitely be hitting some of you up for brainstorming and other support!) And a few other attitude changes that basically sum up to enjoying life in the present tense.

So, yeah, I'm pretty discombobulated this week. But somehow I've also been enjoying it, for the most part anyway. I think it has something to do with not falling completely back into the old routine. Travel, after all, is about breaking your routine and pushing beyond your comfort zone. If I can hang onto some of that while traveling through each day, and still enjoy the ride, I'd be ahead of the curve.

C'mon, I can't be the only one discombobulated during this hectic season. Misery loves company! What's got you out of sorts?

Posted by sonia at 11:30 AM | Link | 0 comments

04 December 2008
I Heart Japanese Toilets

We're en route back home today, via Singapore, with a brief stop in Tokyo's Narita Airport. After a month on the road, with the occasional questionable toilet facilities, I have to admit a certain jubilance at the high-tech Japanese commodes at the airport. For the uninitiated, toilets in Japan are not only spotlessly clean but also feature state-of-the-art features such as heated seats, bidet spigots, and even a faux flushing sound to cover any undue bodily noises. They're not terribly exciting in and of themselves, but again, after a month of Asian squat toilets (with mandatory swarms of mosquitoes) and other sketchy plumbing adventures, it was a welcome change.

There will be lots of catch-up over the next month or so as we process the four DVDs full of pics and videos, and convert journal entries into engaging blog entries. So be sure to watch this space in the weeks to come!

But first, a glass of red wine and a visit to our nice soft bed. 

Posted by sonia at 3:15 AM | Link | 0 comments

03 December 2008
Hello Sarawak, are you ready to RAWK?

We opted to spend our time in Kuching (on the Sarawak side of Malaysian Borneo) visiting slightly touristy spots: Sarawak cultural village, two caves, and orangutans. After a few stressful travel days getting here from Sabah, we were kinda worn out and needed a few days of mellowness. Fortunately our CouchSurfing host, Barry, provided a comfy place for us to crash. And we enjoyed meeting Bruno, a fellow CSer from Paris who happened to be surfing with Barry at the same time we were there. Barry, another chef, took us to some awesome off-the-beaten path Chinese restaurants in Kuching that were definitely not listed in Lonely Planet. So despite the organized tours, we felt vindicated that our Kuching stay was sufficiently authentic.

Bidayuh men display feats of strengthtraditional Bornean saron (xylophone)Day One was spent at Sarawak Cultural Village, which reminded me of Colonial Willamsburg. Composed of several different tribal longhouses clustered at the foothills of Mount Santubong, SCV is a great way to get a sampling of Sarawak's ethnic diversity. There's a cultural performance in the welcome center -- yes, it ranks pretty high on the cheese-o-meter, but it's also a handy way to check out the beautiful fabrics and distinct dances of each of the tribes represented in the village. And then you can wander through half a dozen different longhouses to see how each tribe lives. My favorites were the Penan longhouse, where Mark practiced shooting a blowpipe, and the Orang-ulu longhouse, which featured a little dude playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" in a fornlorn minor key on both a sape and a saron.

Fairy CaveDay Two took us to the nearby Wind and Fairy Caves, which may not be as extraordinary as World Heritage-ranking Gunung Mulu, but have the benefit of being easily-reachable via daytrip from Kuching. Wind Cave, the smaller of the two, hosts lots of bats and swiftlets. Swiftlet nests, made from bird spit and random detritus, are used to make the infamous Chinese soup (and other dubious delicacies). Fairy cave features an enormous cavern, views across the border into Indonesian Borneo, and some mildly strenuous climbs into some limestone nooks and crannies.

welcome to Kuching, cat city!We also spent some time exploring Kuching, the Cat City. (Ten points if you can read the name Kuching and not automatically shout out "Ka-CHING!" which is what most people have done when we've told them about this part of the trip.) Nobody seems entirely sure why Kuching is called the Cat City, but the result is that there are myriad kitschy cat statues all over town. Fantastic Chinese restaurants as well, whether of the sit-down or street stall variety.

orangutans on second viewing platformRanger SmithWe couldn't leave Borneo without seeing some orangutans, aka the "Wild Man of Borneo." There are two major orangutan rehab centers in Borneo... and no, neither of them remotely resemble the Betty Ford Clinic. We missed seeing Sepilok, which is near Sandakan in Sabah. So we wanted to make sure we visited Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, just outside Kuching. There are two main viewing platforms where orangutans gather to be fed by the Malaysian equivalent of Ranger Smith. Personally I found the ranger's splendid mullet almost as fascinating as the antics of the orangutans he was feeding. Even though it was a sanitized environment, it was still pretty cool to see these fascinating creatures at close range.

Sarawak Cultural Village
Pantai Damai, Santubong
Sarawak, Malaysia

Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments