Tag Archives: weather
February 14, 2012

Thoughts on Laos

I’ll admit that I knew hardly anything about Laos before entering the country.  Our friend, Wendy, did the initial planning for the trip – she was the one that picked the border crossing so we could take a two-day trip down the Mekong River (which was half awesome and half horrible and the latter was not her fault.)

Going into a country without knowing much about it is a lot like watching a movie without seeing the trailer first.  Knowing what you’re in for doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll enjoy it any more or less.  I’m happy to say I enjoyed our time in Laos and, even though we were only there eight days, I learned a lot more about the country that I thought I would.


Okay, first off, it’s “Lao” not “Laos.”  The French added the ‘s’ during their Indochina occupation and it’s silent besides.

The people are Lao, the country is Lao.  Technically, Laotians call their country “Muang Lao,” or “Pathet Lao,” both of which translate to “Lao Country.”  When the French came along, they united three separate Lao kingdoms and so it sort of made sense (in their language) to pluralize the name of the new territory.

Thanks, Wikipedia!

August 22, 2011

Thoughts on Botswana

The great thing about traveling around the world for a year without a plan is that you can make it us as you go.  On our first night in South Africa, I found myself flipping through a National Geographic that was left on a coffee table at our backpackers.  There was a feature on the Okavango Delta, with beautiful photos of elephants pushing through marshy waters at sunset.  That’s something I’d like to see, I thought.

The Okavango Delta is in Botswana, huh?  Oh, and hey, look at the map!  Botswana is right next door to South Africa!  That’s pretty much exactly how we decided to go.

For a country right next door to South Africa, Botswana is very much a different place.  Parts of it matched up exactly with my preconceptions of what an African country would be like (the bus system, the sounds of the spoken languages) and some of it surprised me (3G cellular service, safety.)

A few days before we were set to leave South Africa, we met a couple Canadian girls in Pretoria that were volunteering in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, for a few months (Hi, Brandy! Hi, Angela!)  They offered to let us stay with them at their volunteer house for a couple nights, which was awesome for a number of reasons, not least of which being that we had a couple unofficial guides that had already figured out many of the ins and outs of Botswana society.  Their initial help with things like the bus rank were invaluable.

The Bus Rank

When we saw the bus rank for the first time, I thought, now we’re in Africa!


December 11, 2007

Thoughts on Australia

The Sydney Opera House

We’ve been back from Down Under for about a week and a half now, but I’ve been consistently busy catching up with work and friends.  I plan to write a lot about our experiences in the Southern hemisphere once I sort through the 2500 photos and six-and-a-half hours of video we took.  I’ve got a month off from work beginning next week, and I suspect I’ll devote some my time to that (as well as belatedly writing down any thoughts on the unnoted items in my 2007 timeline above.)  In the meantime, I’ve jotted down a few observations on our experiences in Australia:

New Words
Australia has a great collection of new words for familiar things.  Dangerous jellyfish are ‘stingers;’ the Portuguese Man-o-War is a ‘Blue Bottle.’  Saltwater crocodiles are ‘Salties,’ which I think is a dangerously precocious name (like calling a grisly bear ‘Teddy.’)  I could probably sit down and think of a dozen more I picked up, but the only ones that come to mind right now are the decidedly British ‘rubbish bins,’ ‘fish and chips,’ and ‘lifts.’

How Ya Goin’, Mate?
“G’day, mate.  How ya goin’?”

He’s a mate, she’s a mate, everyone can be a mate!  I knew that Aussies said ‘mate’ a lot.  What I didn’t realize was that mate is gender agnostic. Which makes sense, really.  My mate is a girl.

I got used to mate, but “How ya goin’?” always sounded like someone couldn’t decide between “How ya doin’?” and “How’s it goin’?”


July 16, 2004

Wonderful Weather

A smoky haze in the distanceWhat’s up with me? The weather outside is stunning and I haven’t been aprovechandolo for my ‘blog writing. I’ve been respectfully busy since getting back from my vacation, but not that busy. I don’t know what it is. I really would rather be outside on days like this, but for some reason it just feels like it would be taxing…

Maybe it’s because of the smoky haze. Mike and I were talking about it the other day and he mentioned that even though it was sunny and warm, he was having a hard time thinking about it as such. Truthfully, at the height of the Yukon fires, it did seem rather overcast all day. Me? I kinda liked it. Funny that it took a firestorm to remind me how clear the air is up here, too. On a normal day in Southeast Alaska you can see all the way to the horizon (if you can find a view without a mountain in the way). Florida? Too humid/hazy. Los Angeles? Nice sunsets, but oh, so brown! During this brief week, the combination of sunny weather and ash-ridden air has shown us all how wonderfully depthful a mountain range can be when its distant peaks are desaturated into grey.

I heard on the news today that we could be in for another thunderstorm!