After a month in Nepal, I had returned to Kathmandu with an illness known to foreigners as the Khumbu Valley Cough. I was mostly afflicted with a wretched cough that would leave me doubled over gasping for breath at inconvenient times, such as when trying to talk, laugh, or inhale deeply. So, I decided that the best way to get healthy was to double up on antibiotics and hit the beaches of southern Thailand. Ben, my faithful traveling companion, and I headed down to Bangkok where we met two lovely gentlemen from Denmark. The four of us spent a few days in the big city, and then headed south by train to Krabi where we hoped to soak up the sun.
We had a few very nice days, but we also had a lot of rain. If you have never experience Thai rain, then you would be forgiven for thinking that it is just a passing matter. Rain in Thailand tends to come on unexpectedly, usually preceded briefly by a strong wind. The rain will then begin. The experience is similar to standing on a warm and sunny beach, and then suddenly having someone pour buckets of lukewarm water on you without pause. Then, the wind will usually kick up and the rain that was previously coming from above now comes from the side. It is penetrating, relentless, and impossible to avoid without a permanent shelter of some kind. So, we spent a lot of time being wet, and then slightly less wet when the sun finally came back out.
However, we had a good time as a group (did some mopeding!), and I got over my illness, which was the important part. I also was happily reunited with Pad Thai Lady on my old street in Bangkok – a real treat for me!
So ten days after arriving in Thailand, it was time for the next stop on my journey: India. I must admit that I was pretty anxious about visiting India at this point, as many of the travelers I had met didn’t have very nice things to say about it. I was cautioned repeatedly to never be alone, to avoid panhandlers, to keep a close eye on all my things, and to essentially never trust anyone I was to meet there.
My experience was both fantastic, and exhausting. I was fortunate to not having anything stolen, and met many very fine and helpful people. The poverty and rampant pollution were hard for me to handle, but overall I had a good experience. After all, most things look better in rear view mirror, right? I won’t say much else, but here are some photos of some of my outings.
At the beginning of December I returned to Alaska, and spent Christmas with Matthew and his family. In January, I moved back up to Fairbanks to begin work at a suicide and crisis intervention hotline. Over the spring semester I took an EMT class, and I am now an EMT 1 and volunteering for Chena Goldstream Fire and Rescue, a local fire station. I’ve been on one call so far, and it’s pretty exciting to have the skills to help someone in distress. I left my social work job a week ago, and after a very nice visit home to Homer to see my folks, I’m now working for the Alaska Center for Energy and Production. I write Wikis (similar to blogs and wikipedia) about renewable energy sources and projects in Alaska. Cool job, and I’m already learning a lot. Here’s some pictures of this winter’s activities. More to come about being an EMT, Alaska FFA (of which I am now the alumni coordinator), and my graduate research. Oh yeah, did I mention that I’m officially a grad student at UAF? Master of Science in Environmental Ethnography!