Monday, September 7, 2009

Prettiest Place in the World Entrant- Krabi/ Ao Nang/ Railey Beach Thailand

People often ask me, "Rich, out of everywhere you have gone, what place would you say is the most beautiful?" The answer: the Krabi Thailand area.
The place has a really laid back feel to it, there aren't girls at every corner throwing themselves at you like in Bangkok or Phuket. Take boat over to Railey beach or Phi Phi Island. This place is absolutely stunning. I don't know whether the pictures here fully capture it, but if you can't be content here, you won't be content anywhere.

Peace and enjoy!














Thursday, September 3, 2009

Angkor Wat and Cambodia

Siem Reap and the Temples

Early the next morning I took a speed boat down the river to the city of Siem Reap. It took 5 hours to get there, and I was saddened by the number of plastic bottles floating on the water.
a view of the Cambodian river from the boat
Arriving at the port, I was picked up by a tuuk-tuuk driver, basically a motorbike pulling a covered wheelbarrow behind it, Cambodia’s version of a rickshaw.
For what was probably by Cambodian prices an excellent price of $5, they drove to the Siem Reap Riverfront Hotel, a clean place for $25 a night. You really can’t ask for too much more around here. I took a nap and woke up to find the Wi-Fi out.
“The Wi-Fi’s out,” I remarked to the front desk.
“Yes, it goes out when it’s cloudy or rainy.”
“Or sunny,” I noting the beams of sunshine warming us from the blue sky above.
Siem Reap's main drag with bars for tourists
“Yes,” he replied.

It apparently was too late to go visit the Temples, so instead, with the Wi-Fi (sadly) back-up, I embarked on one the worst poker sessions of my life.
The next morning, $1700 poorer, I awoke at 4 AM and was picked up by my Tuuk-Tuuk driver who drove 6 kilometers to the Angkor Watt Temples so I could see the temples at Sunset as recommended to me by a couple from Seattle I met in Thailand.
Angkor Watt at dawn
While the other patsies awaited sunrise to venture in, preferring to see if the massive temple would reflect in a pool of water as light broke the horizon, I decided to Indiana Jones’ it and break into the pitch dark structure with the dual intention of stealing the Khmer’s ancient treasures as well a vain attempt at breaking my ankle. Tripping over an unseen crevice can put a real dent in one’s aspirations for treasure (aka- greed.) Indy, my hat is off to you.
Constructed in the 12th Century, Angkor Watt is considered up there with the 7 wonders of the world, as in- “I wonder how they built that.” Especially me, who couldn’t construct a two story building out of a Tinker Toys.
I guess some of the original color remains of this war scene
I race around the temple, climbing, dropping, viewing. I note the artwork carved into the walls consists largely of warriors and scenes of battle. No matter where you go, ancient civilizations all over the world show us that war is part of human evolution, and a state that we have not yet grown out of. Perhaps one day we will gain consciousness.

ancient images carved into the sandstone



Surrounding Angkor Watt are a series of smaller temples, the last one which I saw was used to film the movie Tomb Raider, and let me tell you, it’s pretty neat to look at, especially the way nature has adapted to the buildings.
The tree you see in the picture below actually grows better in and around stone rather than in ground. Note the roots encircling the structure.


treezilla









The temples were cool, and the people of Cambodia basically nice people, striving desperately to make a living. It ranks with Bali as the cheapest place I have been to. One night I purchased dinner from a street vendor consisting of rice with prawnsand a mango shake for $2.25. It’s hard to beat.
On the whole, I would say that Cambodia is an alright place. If you want to see and experience what the human race is capable of at its worst, it’s a lot cheaper of a trip than Auschwitz. The temples are worth seeing as well, but outside of that, there really isn’t much. I’m certainly not sorry I went, but I have zero desire to go back.

the East gate of Angkor Wat guarded by stone warriors




Next up_---> The most beautiful place on earth

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Killing Fields of Cambodia

The Killing Fields

I hop in a taxi, agreeing to the driver's delight to I hire him out for the day for more than double the local rate. I note that I have become a lot looser with money lately.
Puttering down the road, we soon arrive an ancient Chinese cemetery which the murderous genocidal Pol P regime chose as one of their “killing fields.”
What is a killing field? Literally, what it sounds like. The Khmer Rouge rounded up just about anybody they thought might be a “subversive,” brought them to the killing field, (the choice of the cemetery made it easier to hide the evidence) and executed them.
Pol Pot believed in equality. As he believed intellectuals, be they doctors, engineers, lawyers to be superior because of their education, they were executed. A good way in his mind to level the playing field.
Anybody with possible anti- Pol Pot thoughts-- executed. Family members of the suspect, goodbye. Part of his army, and don’t want to kill your countryman? Off with your head as a warning to others. Singers, movie stars, former police, politicians- sianora.
Skulls of Khmer Rouge
The regime eliminated the banking system and all forms of money, destroyed the arts, cratered the education system, and enslaved the population. Grow rice or die. About the only thing that Cambodia produced during the Khmer Rouge was rice, which was promptly shipped off to good old Chairman Mao and their main ally- Red China, in exchange for the only thing the regime wanted-- guns.
Funny that despite giving up the country’s natural resources for guns, they would be so unwilling to use them. Nope, bullets were too precious. Allow me to explain.
You see, once they got you in cuffs you were as good as Jew at Auschwitz. You and your family were detained at a local jail, where you were beaten and tortured while you awaited your turn at freedom, the one way out of this mess, your execution.

On “your day” you were shackled along with a bunch of other prisoners to a long metal bar, blindfolded, and promised you would be taken to your “brand new house.” (Note: there is no evidence anyone believed this) You were then quickly escorted to the killing field, in this case the Chinese cemetery, where, in a humane effort to preserve bullets, you were beaten to death with hammers, axes, and hoes while happy music blared from loud speakers to drown out your cries.
Have a baby, watch their heads get smashed against a tree and thrown into a mass grave. Don’t worry, you’d be joining them in the afterlife shortly.
I walked to the pagoda, a structure housing 17 stories of skulls and bones unearthed from the field I was in. You could reach out and touch a skull if you really wanted to, though you are asked not to. Walk around the pagoda, clear glass, skulls piled to the sky, all taken from right underneath your feet.

Pagoda of skulls
And I mean that literally, walk anywhere in the locale reach down, and you’ll be able to pick-up bone and clothing from the victims, unearthed by rains. Want to see a mass grave? A bunch of them are right around you. 450 people in this hole, 378 in the next, and so on.

Listening to my guide describe the events, looking up at the large glass structure holding the skulls, literally picking bones off the ground, I felt tears rolling down my face, dropping to the ground as I'm sure so many before me. When I arrived at the tree which they used to smash in the skulls of children, I just about lost it.

For four years, this brutal homicidal regime operated, killing over 2 million people. This is just one the many killing fields in the country. For four years, they were able to keep this a genocide a secret from the outside world. Know anything, want to speak out, it’s your turn to have your skull axed.
I leave the fields weeping. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tiger Temple Kittens Play

Tiger at rest
Tiger Temple

Situated near the border of Mynamar, the Tiger Temple is three hours outside Bangkok, at the doorstep to one of the few remaining wild places in Asia. It began in 1994 when the abbot of the local Buddhist Monastery began rehabilitating injured animals that found his monastery from the forest. A peacock, a sambar, a boar. Then a poacher shot a tigress, and found her cub. Selling the cub on the black market, a collector ordered the cub stuffed. The local taxidermist began the procedure, injecting the cub with formaldehyde, but did not complete the procedure. Having heard of the monk’s efforts in healing wild creatures, the cub found its way to them. Sadly, the cub who was very sick following the injection, died.
The local villagers, not wanting any other cub to fall to such a fate, brought the monks two cubs who lost their mother (again to poachers)several weeks later … then two more. Never having taken care of big cats, it was learning on the job for the monks. Soon the tigers began reproducing, and today the temple houses 46 stunningly beautiful cats, cows, horses, water buffalo, sambars, and a leopard.
Paying my 500 baht admission fee and signing the waiver stating that neither I nor my ancestors would hold the Temple responsible if I ended up as cat food (a good way to cut expenses?) I began a long walk up a dry path, looking side to side for tigers. I figured at any moment I might get pounced, and I wanted to be prepared in case it was “death by tiger.”
Here kitty kitty kitty
Buddhist monks and tiggers
And then, entering a clearing, I saw them. Lying on the ground (tigers cannot fly) being taken care of by the monks, I was awed by their size and beauty. The visitors formed a single file line following the monks as they led the tigers one by one into a small canyon. Once secured to the ground by a metal chain, we got to go to each tiger, stroking its beautifully crafted striped coat while our pictures were taken. These cats up-close are ginormous. The biggest weighed 450 pounds, and was simply awe inspiring.
With 1:30 rapidly approaching, I raced back up the hill to go play with the 6 week old cubs. On the way, I came across a couple 5 month old cubs who I played with under the watchful eyes of the temples volunteers. It’s A LOT of fun, though when you get bit it smarts a lot more than Tabby.
Tiger cub, so cute! 5 months old

pillow anyone?
I then proceeded to play with the 6 week old kittens, wrestling them, picking them up, feeding them milk. It was fricking awesome. One of the best experiences I have had. Fourth time I have gotten to be around tigers, and definitely the best! I think the pictures speak for themselves.



Below are two videos of playing with tigers ---

wrestling with tigers!


getting Bit in this one!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Thai Propoganda Machine- extolling the King

I had been to Thailand twice already, and on the plane there I remember feeling somewhat remorseful.
“Why am I going back here, instead of somewhere new?”
Then I start walking around Bangkok and I remember why I came. The city is vibrant, alive, interesting, with the ability to grant almost any wish desired.
Want a cheap tasty dinner of Thai food. Bam. Tailor made clothing. Bam. Too see the latest Hollywood hit in a state of the art theater. Super expensive status labels or cheap knock-off clothes on the street, available as well.
Great dance clubs/bars YES. Girls, food, adventure, seriously, Bangkok has it.

Running into Propaganda
At the Siam Paragon, which is frankly a mall that even I appreciated, (you could fricking live there- great food court, gym, yoga, movie theater, a bunch of shops you women would love that I didn’t dare venture into …) I hadn’t seen a movie in over a month, and like everything else at the Paragon, it’s state of the art.
Thailand's King
However, a warning: Thai theaters have the longest pre-show ever. Sure you have the required previews, but what they devote even more time to is the Thai propaganda machine (like two minutes)- extolling the Thai King.
People stand the entire time, their hands over their hearts, as images of the King flash while people perform acts of kindness and friendship.
No wonder the King is so beloved by his countrymen; look at the unconscious association that is being drilled home over and over again.
I too stood, but was chuckling to myself when I sat back in my seat. I can’t help but imagine what type of propaganda might exist in a North Korean movie theater (if they had any) with their 4’ 11” “Dear Leader” depicted standing nose to nose with Yao Ming, rays of light emanating from his heart as he kindly pats an orphan on the head. One thing for sure, I guarantee you everyone stands in the North Korean theater. If you don’t they probably throw you in the gulag.

(Note: saying anything even slightly against the monarchy can land you in jail in Thailand. The culture takes his highness very seriously, and one day of the week is reserved for honoring the king by wearing the color yellow. Please note: I do love the Thai King! Okay, no handcuffs please.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Surfing Bali- Kuta Beach Wipeout!

Surfing
Ever surfed before? Want to try? Ever try to actually stand up while riding the wave in? You fell right?

surfing wipe out
You got frustrated, and after only one more fall, you kicked your board, and decided to head for shore before the shark, which you could have sworn you saw circling you, decided it was lunch time.
Look, just because you aren’t a natural athlete (cough cough- like me) is no reason to give up. When did giving up get you anywhere? Did it ever benefit you? Come on! Let me give you a little inspiration!

Ride that wave Rich! OOOHHH
I’m going to share with you a simple, but utterly profound wisdom, that is not only applicable to surfing but, when ever you are proverbially trying to stand-up in your life. The simple key to standing-up is …. “Don’t fall down.”

surfing is cool


I actually really enjoyed surfing. Next year- Pipeline.




Funny web sitcom

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Horrifying Legend Of Monkey Forest

monkey on my shoulder
The Horrifying Legend of Monkey Forest

The truth is that there are no real forests left on the island, they have all been cleared and the land turned into plantations or rice patties. Even so, Bali’s lush tropical fauna is a pleasure to look at, a stark contrast to the brown, fire scorched hills of Los Angeles.

Still, there are isolated groves of trees, mainly acting as tourist attractions, and that definitely includes Monkey Forest.

Origin

Monkey Forest derives its name as its trees, in effort to reforest some of their lost lands, were systematically planted by monkeys. The Balinese, believing it cute to see monkeys working in far greater unison and technical proficiency than most human beings, dirtying their little paws as they dug small holes to plant their favorite seeds (banana) decided it would be good to let the trees stand, mainly because who wouldn’t pay big money to see monkeys performing such work.

“These monkeys would make a great tourist attraction,” observed one Balinese man, as he handed a small shovel to a monkey, who, apparently more finicky than the rest, wanted to keep his paws out of the mud. (this particular monkey got manicures too)

Having completed the job, for five minutes the monkeys happily frolicked in their trees. Then the tourists started showing up.
“What do these people think we are?” screamed the monkey chief, “A tourist attraction?!!”

Realizing they had been duped, today the monkeys have a far different attitude. The simians no longer happily leap from branch to branch, groom their cousins, toss their feces at each other, the joy filled life monkeys are known for.
No, today the monkeys have formed gangs of murderous bandits and the moment you enter their forest you are on their "turf."

The Set-up

A friendly Balinese woman sits right outside the woods, selling bananas.
“You are hungry?” she asks, “I have tastiest bananas in the world, just for you,” she smiles at you, winking devilishly, knowing that you won’t live long enough to ever taste the sweet fruits.
Being na├»ve, you purchase a large bunch of bananas, licking your lips as she evilly waves you into the hell that is “Money Forest.”

I heard many legends of the dark fate that befalls visitors of Monkey Forest, some so awful I have tried to block them from memory. While no one has ever made it out of the forest alive, the Balinese for centuries have told the following fairytale to their young children who ask about this dark place. It might give all but the bravest of you nightmares, but I am only the reporter.

The Balinese Fairy Tale of Monkey Forest

The traveler stepped into Monkey Forest, the sound of his foot against rock echoing amongst the unmoving trees, the warm sun drowned by the canopy of cloud scraping trees, a shadow of darkness falling over him. The only light in the hushed forest was the glow of fearsome eyes plotting his demise. Three unsure steps forward and suddenly the apes silently leapt down from the branches, surrounding him. He gazed at their crude unsophisticated weapons, a sharpened stick, a rock, a loaded Uzi they recovered from the body of a visiting Israeli Commando.

“Give us the bananas and no one gets hurt,” the monkey chief grunted, knowing his true intentions were far darker.
“No,” thought the brave traveler. He bought these bananas for himself.
Fight or flight? Noting the Uzi, he chose to run. But there was nowhere to go! More apes fell from the trees, some landing on his shoulders, jumping on his leg, picking his prized bananas off him one by one, cackling evilly, until the travelers bananas had been “redistributed.”

Having got what they came for, now it was time for the bandits to tear him to pieces.
“But you said if you got the bananas no one would get hurt,” screamed the frightened traveler.
“I lied,” replied the monkey chief, baring his teeth ominously.

The traveler ran as fast as he could, monkeys chasing after him, grasping at his heels, the spray of the Uzi’s bullets missing him by millimeters. He ran through the dark jungle, jumping, barely clearing the crocodile filled moat marking the forests edge. Confused, frightened, gasping for precious breath he stops. A banana peel hits him in the back of the head. He turned around, but there was no one to be found.


The Awesome Hero of Awesomeness

Despite desperate pleas from the locals, I was not about to leave the island without exploring the infamous forest. Climbing the mountain, the hot sun and humidity trying to beat me into submission, I refused to turn back.

Arriving at the forests edge, I purchased several bunches of bananas from the impish she-devil keeping watch for the bandits, at least one of which I intended on using as a bargaining chip to negotiate the release of one of their hostages.

I step foot into Monkey Forest. It is as exactly as the legends describe. The path, visible only by the glow of evil monkey eyes is rough and dangerous. The monkeys soon appear, demanding my precious fruit.
I refuse, gravely insulting the chief monkey by showing him the sole of my shoe. (like most of Indonesia, the monkeys are Islamic.)
Militant Islamic actually. Instantly the spray of AK-47 and Uzi bullets fills the air. I can feel them whizz by me. Regretting my decision, I sprint, the wrong direction. The simians laugh at my mistake. They don’t even rush after me. They’re going to enjoy this.

They’re closing in on me. Frantically I try to find some sort of escape. A teleport machine would do, but they’re never around when you need them. Beam me up Scotty.
Looking around I see an ancient Hindu Temple. Two monkeys guard the entrance. I race for it, bracing myself for the onslaught. I stiff arm one, and kick the other, and somehow make it through the doors.
“Sanctuary!” I cry out. “Sanctuary!!”
Having seen many movies, the monkeys know better than to violate the santictity of a temple. I’m safe here, however temporarily.

The Hindu Temple

Inside the temple, the evil monkey powers are muted.
Yes, the monkeys here are still banana thieves, but they don’t stop there. Exhausted, I put down my water bottle. Elsewhere on the island, several monkeys tried to grab bottles and run off with them, but they were invariably too big and they all fumbled it, so I didn’t really concern myself.

Like clockwork, a monkey came sprinting full speed towards me, scooped up the bottle like a linebacker does a fumble, and ran towards the end zone, somehow holding onto the “ball.”
Now this was my only source of water, and I was thirsty, and sweating in the humidity; so I took after him. Bounding onto a rock, the monkey turned and grinned at me, but that quickly turned into a full teeth bared warning as I got close. He clearly wasn’t going to give up his treasure.
He actually bit into my water bottle, puncturing it, and its precious fluid began to leak away.
I really didn’t want to fight him for it, and risk going to the doctor.
Doctor: “So what is this gash mark here?”
Me: “Monkey bite.”
Doc (bewildered): “How did that happen?”
Me: “We were fighting.”
Doc: “Over what? Did he say something bad about your Mom?”
Me: “He stole my water bottle, dude.”
Doc calls out to his nurse: “Make sure to give this guy the “idiot surcharge.”
Nurse: “The moment he opened his mouth.”

So what did our hero do? Quick thinking, I pulled out a banana and showed it to the monkey, who immediately became envious of Rich’s possession.
“You want banana?” Rich asks.
Monkey squawks affirmatively. Rich places the banana beside him, theorizing, scientifically speaking, the monkey’s paws are too small to carry both.
The monkey looks at Rich disdainfully, thinking to himself how he will be able to claim ownership over both treasures. Meanwhile life sustaining fluid continues to rapidly seep away.
The lure of the banana is too great. He drops the water bottle and sprints towards the fruit, while Rich leaps towards the bottle. Arriving at the same at each other’s possession, they turn and glare at each other, and take on threatening postures, each baring their fangs at the other.
Suddenly realizing the few drops of precious liquid left, and “il mono” that his banana wasn’t getting any younger, they quickly consumed the contents of their possessions, and walked away with their heads held high, each silently daring the other to make a move.

So, um, I’m still at the temple. Luckily somehow there’s a wireless signal that reaches here. The monkeys outside are cackling, and hooting, surrounding me. Though I know my demise imminent, there’s no way I’m going back out there. As I told you, I traded my last banana for the now empty water bottle. If it rains I should last for a month here. Please tell my parents I love them.




cute monkey, easy easy






Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Egypt- Final Thoughts; like should I go

Final Thoughts On Egypt

Is Egypt worth visiting? Yes, definitely, though for me the pyramids are the primary attraction and what I will remember most vividly. They are quite breathtaking and once in your life, it's worth the pilgrimage to see them.
Getting to know the culture of Islam I personally found quite interesting as well. While Egypt practices a much more tolerant brand of Islam than Iran, the Saudis, or God forbid (please) the Taliban. I still have my doubts whether or not women are seen as equals as I was told, though assuredly they are far better off than some places.

Without tourism Egypt would be exceedingly poor, think Yemen. It is easy to understand that in the Middle East, where six children + per family is the norm (or at least was) in other lands whose greatest resource is vast quantities of sand, and the corrupt governments do little to provide opportunity for the youth, that there would be an air of discontentment, and make them easier targets of recruitment for militant groups.

A few stories for you—
The Burka Incident

I was at a local Egyptian restaurant and came within millimeters of bumping into a woman clad in a Burka so black I couldn’t see the slits for her eyes. I have no clue how they eat in that thing, maybe they’re only allowed to eat at home, I dunno.
But coming literally face to face with Darth Vader, I couldn’t help but stare for a few moments. I really don’t know what was under the mask, but nevertheless, I sat there for a few awkward beats gazing at what for me was a novelty seen up-close for the first time.
Bad move! My guide Hend had told me earlier that the most dangerous thing in Egypt-- to stare at another man’s woman. (although in fairness, I had no way of knowing for sure that Vader was female) Egyptian men are notoriously jealous, and her bearded husband was with her, and I immediately felt his dagger stare. I quickly turned around and started speaking to Hend.
“Please be careful, Mr. Richard,” Hend warned me.
Well, as it was on my mind, I began asking Hend questions about the burka, specifically how a man could be jealous in this circumstance. Imagine going to the museum and having all the exhibits covered by a dark cloth so you can only see their approximate shape, and then being asked to describe the details of what you saw. You clad your woman up like that for a reason dude. Maybe she’s what I call “low break” (ugly) and you’re embarrassed to be seen in public with her. I realize this is not PC, but I don’t like dagger stares at me either.
I just don’t get it. I believe in allowing a woman to shine, to radiate. No matter how it is explained to me, I disagree with the burka. I wanted to tell the woman, “Girl, you don’t have to dress up like no beekeeper!! Take it off!”
Of course, unbeknownst to me, the man overheard and worse, understood at least part of my conversation, and announced quite loudly in Arabic that he spoke four languages, including English, and he was looking forward to me looking at his wife again. Testy testy.
Well, tempted as I was to see what would happen after Hend related to me what he stated, I did my best to keep my vision averted from their direction.

The Accident

Egyptian traffic is like a video game where you earn points, at a max speed of two miles an hour, every time you get another driver to cow to your will. Also, if you take your eyes off the road for even a split second, someone else will surely jump in front of you, and you’ll hit them (losing points.) This actually happened the last day I was in Egypt, and when my driver, despite my scream of “Whhhhooooaaa!” from the backseat as I saw what was about to happen, rear ended a cabbie at max speed (two miles per hour.)
The drivers got out of their respective automobiles, and in classic human tradition, began to yell at one another.
Now, I have rear ended two people in my life. Both at one mile an hour. The first time I was 16 years old and the other guy just laughed it off, cause it was obvious there was nothing wrong with his car. The second time was like five years ago in West Hollywood, when a BMW inexplicably stopped in front of me while we were both making a right hand turn onto an absolutely empty street.
The guy was an interior designer, and even for a gay guy was prissy, and in all honesty, there was NOTHING wrong with his car, but nevertheless he managed to get $750 from my insurance company for “possible interior structural damage to his fender.”
Now, in the case of my Egyptian driver, it was clear to me even from the back seat, that there was definitely damage done to the rear end of the taxi. They argued for a few minutes, and agreed that my driver would meet the cabbie at a location nearby to site I was supposed to see- Coptic Cairo.
I found out later that the accident, which in the U.S. would have been a minimum of $1,500 to fix, was settled for fifty Egyptian pounds. (About $9.50 US) which is actually a substantial amount for my driver.
I immediately pulled out $10 to pay for the accident. For a second I felt like Bill Gates. I guess the dollar still goes far in some countries.

The Intersection

There are is no such thing as a four way intersection in Egypt. Even on major streets you just keep driving til you find a place where you can “attempt” a U-Turn, and then drive the other way until you come to your street where you make a right hand turn. The last successful left hand turn was completed in the time of the Pharaohs.
However, on the smaller side streets, we came to a three way intersection, a T in the road if you will. Three cars arrived at exactly the same time, and because of an illegally parked vehicle, only one car at a time could squeeze through.
the scene of the crime which I had the foresight to take a picture of from inside our car
So, what did our Egyptians drivers do? Immediately all three of us backed up to let the other one through. Realizing that we were all giving each other the right of way, my driver smiled at the other cars, and sailed through the intersection, as they tipped their caps to him, and then made it through themselves.
Haha! And if you believe that could ever possibly occur in Egypt than I also have a rather large pyramid to sell you. Great location too!
No, what happened was all three cars slowly advanced, daring the other to show weakness and back down, but no one did because they all knew they’d lose three points in the manhood depart, not to mention their license if it was reported to the Egyptian DMV.
So now all three cars are inches away from each other, blaring their horns while traffic piles up behind them, further exacerbating the damage to my ear drums by honking their horns as loudly as possible, while the three main drivers got out, and calmly explained to each other why the other was an idiot.
It took damn near twenty minutes before everyone backed up and traffic began to move again. And even when we got through the intersection, a cabbie, who must not have been happy about his wasted time, was occupying the middle of the road, a protest to stupidity while at the same time contributing to it, as we could not get by. It took six cars piled up behind us, blaring their horns simultaneously to get him to finally move out of the way. Egypt is a crazy country.

With that said, if you do choose to go to Egypt, I feel it my duty to recommend to you my guide Hend Harb! She is relatively inexpensive, very very honest, very knowledgeable, punctual, and interesting, and she speaks good English.

Hend Harb- great Egyptian tour guide for Egypt, Cairo, and Alexandria—
contact info
noda2555 AT yahoo.com … I don’t want her email getting spammed.
Cairo – Egypt
Cell phone: +20 10 618 47 26

Peace be upon you
As always
Rich

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pics Of Cute Animals in Bali!!

The plane trip to Bali from Egypt took over twenty hours. On a plane trip so long, it’s impossible to have any idea what the local time will be at your destination when you land. Sure, if you take a plane from LA to New York, you know you're going to land three hours in the future, and when you land in Korea, you know the exact local time will be “tomorrow,” but in the case of Australians travelling from Sydney to Cairo, which is an even longer trip “against the clock,” it’s not uncommon for planes to land in the 8th Century BC, which actually explains some Egyptian hieroglyphics that have translated as “G’d day mate,” which was considered odd by scholars the world over until now, seeing as Australia had not yet been invented.
Finally having arrived, and noting that the year was only 1950, I breathed a sigh of relief.
Seriously, it must be 1950, I mean the Balinese people are sooooo nice. The ride to my hotel was actually quite expensive by Balinese standards … $9 (in Russia it would have been like $2,800)
My hotel was advertised as a 5 star hotel for $100 a night. What a lie. It’s more like a 7 star hotel. Unbelievably beautiful, with the friendliest most courteous staff in history, an absolutely AMAZING breakfast buffet included in the price, gorgeous grounds and gardens, a great gym, should I go on? If you go to Bali, it is called the Melia Bali in Nasua Dua.
I have to tell you, the Balinese people are the sweetest people I have met, rivaling those on the outer islands of Fiji. There is a general simplicity and natural happiness to most Balinese, despite the fact that they live in poverty. What’s funny is that Bali, because of tourism, is the richest island in Indonesia. The average hotel worker makes a $100 a month. A better job is taxi driver, though there is a lot of competition for clients. I hired a guy to drive me around all day from morning to midnight for $40. All over the island, two hours away, back, and fro. What would that cost in America? Or worse, Russia. Cabbies have the added bonus of making commissions by bringing clients to restaurants, art shops, etc etc.
With that said, one of my first stops was the Bali Zoo, one of the best zoos I have been to cause it is so hands on, literally. Here are the pics.

Indonesian Bear Cat


python around my neck


So they brought out the young crocodile, and a man is carrying it towards the showing area, and another zoo employee, is walking towards him, looking back at us. What happens? He bumps into the guy, as the carrier falls, he releases the croc, who flies up intio the air waving it's little legs like "Heellllppp!"and lands in the water, where it lays at the top for a second, like "this is better, and then dissappears underneath. Meanwhile the zookeper falls down by the waters edge, and is glaring the stare of death at the other guy. If he wasn't so obviously angry, I assumed that it was one of the funniest set-ups I've ever seen.
The pic above are the zoo employees trying to get the croc out of the water.

want nothing to do with you when you get bigger

the wise owl

full grown orangutan
This fella was strutting his stuff. It was the first time I ever saw an adult orangutan, and it was pretty impressive. So the ape flexes, and I start applauding it, clapping. The orangutan looks at me, and you know what he does, he SPITS at me. Accross the moat, like he was the world olympic champion in spitting, and CONNECTS. I was very impressed.


bat man!

Mr. Lion


yum, I can;t wait til I;m old enough to eat people

Hobbes!

More pics later !