Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

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CaminoDeb
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Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:30 am

I will be posting a series of memories about Foolsprogress.

In Cambodia, there is a ceremony of 100 days. In that many days after someone's death, people come together and eat chicken rice soup.

As a variation on that theme, I propose to write a series of short essays recounting some of our travels. I will post a few here, if anyone is interested.

Let me know if this is okay, or all too much. Here is the first.

Koh Lipe 1994

Our rough travel began in Bangkok, Thailand in 1994. When we arrived—in January—it was incredibly hot and humid. We landed on Khao San Road, the traveller’s road. We went through souvenir shops, ate pineapple and chicken on sticks, and stayed at backpacker hotels. We ate rice with stirfry chicken and vegetables, and drank orange and pineapple juice. Often in the mornings, we would eat banana pancakes—which are very popular in backpacking venues. Within little time, we had planned a trip to Koh Lipe, a little island in the Andaman Sea. We took buses, taxis, tuk tuks to the dock, and took a long ride to that little tropical island. I will never forget arriving at Koh Lipe. The water was so crystal-blue that it appeared very shallow. We jumped in—it was up to about our thighs, and it felt like paradise, so warm.

We got to the hot sand of the island, and found a hut for the night. During sleeping hours, a big party was going on and we couldn’t sleep, so we took our sleeping bags to the beach. In the morning—early—we woke up to a beautiful sunrise. Tiny crabs scuttled around us. Then, a while surfaced, blowing water straight up. Just afterward, a school of dolphins leaped through the sea. It was so amazingly beautiful. The sun got higher, and the temperature began to rise. We left our hut, and walked through a jungled area to the northern part of the island, called Sunset Beach. We ended up meeting a German couple, Kati and Ralph, and rented a big bungalow that we shared with them and their two very young children. During the days, we would snorkel, seeing the most amazing tropical fish. In all the snorkeling I’ve done around SE Asia and Hawaii, Koh Lipe was the best. The variety of fish was remarkable.

Then, we would go to the beachside restaurant, eating “no name” much of the time. “No name” was kind of a fried vegetable breaded morsel, served with a dipping sauce. We also ate plenty of stir fry and banana pancakes, and for me—iced coffee. One time, a large sailing vessel drifted into view, and we saw a small rubber raft careening in to shore. A Dutch couple sitting nearby suddenly realized that the fellow who owned the sailboat was from their hometown! He had been a criminal, incarcerated for some rather silly youthful indiscretion. While in prison, he had made plans to use his freedom well, so he began studying languages. While visiting with him, we observed him use German, French, Dutch, Thai, and English quite well. He had a witty sense of humor, and I remember that he made a joke about culture—one of those yogurt jokes—to a French man, who was irritated and moved to a table farther away. Koh Lipe was interesting during the day, but nights could be hard. The island was overrun by large rats.

Our first night, we were sleeping on a mattress on the floor, with mosquito netting tucked in underneath. We heard the rats, and began shining our flashlights. We were surrounded. We watched them silhouetted against the light from the open windows, and they came in looking for food, soap, whatever they could find. The days were paradise; the nights were difficult. We slept on the outside veranda the second night, surrounding ourselves with seashells so we could hear the rats if they got too close. On our final night on Koh Lipe, we were quite enchanted by the arrival of a fellow from Mexico City. He pulled a pack of rat poison out of his suitcase and gave us a wink and a smile. He did not intend to spend much time worrying about the rats. We always wondered how things went when we left! The boat trip back to Hat Yai—from Koh Lipe—was a hard one. The monsoons had come, and the sea was exceptionally rough. In fact, one of the boat hands came to tell us that there was one life jacket on the boat, and it belonged to him. The Thais onboard were terrified, and we tried to stay calm. When we finally arrived at the dock—with another fishing boat in tow (we had seen them out at sea with a broken down motor, and leaving them would have meant certain death), we had to disembark during the “sweet spot” when the sea lifted us up to the height of the dock, but not much higher. The boat was either depressed in swells or held high aloft. Many people had to be dragged off the boat, as they were afraid to make the jump.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Stan In Maryland » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:07 pm

Great story, thanks.
"As a child I wanted to be a grown-up. I wanted to know everything - not that I like to talk about it. I hate intellectual conversation with intellectuals because I only care about my opinion."

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by polardude1 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:28 pm

Great story, thanks!
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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:49 pm

The Thai Kickboxing Bar in Bangkok

On one evening, Ken and I were in Bangkok, out at a Thai bar watching kickboxing and drinking the evening away. Between kickboxing acts, a guy went on stage with a bag of snakes. He took them out one by one, on occasion pulling a volunteer up on the stage to pose with the snake.

In one circumstance, a cute young western girl in kind of a flippy short top got on stage. The snake went down the front of her shirt, and then lifted its head up, exposing her breasts, to her extreme embarrassment!

Then later, the snake handler pulled a green snake out. Ken, who was always fascinated by all things related to science, was very interested in the entire show, and finally could not hold back. He threw back his drink and stood up, making a beeline for the stage, to my dismay. Right up on stage he strolled. He had been drinking quite a bit and was definitely pretty lit up. The handler looked at him and shook his head, “No…no. Not this snake.”

Ken persisted. He held the snake expertly, kind of doing a little dance with it, showing it off, while also keeping it calm. Then, he handed it back to the handler, and got off the stage, laughing and very entertained with himself having held the green snake--perhaps one of those two-step snakes we later heard about in Cambodia (after a person is bitten by one, after two steps they die).

I remember to this day feeling very worried seeing him with the green snake.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by birdlite » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:44 pm

The green snake!

Thanks for the stories.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by DCComic » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:29 am

Great tales.
Perhaps the mods could put a sticky link on othe branches so people don't miss them?
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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Stan In Maryland » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:24 pm

DCComic wrote:Great tales.
Perhaps the mods could put a sticky link on othe branches so people don't miss them?

Good idea, these are great and I really appreciate them being shared.
"As a child I wanted to be a grown-up. I wanted to know everything - not that I like to talk about it. I hate intellectual conversation with intellectuals because I only care about my opinion."

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:03 pm

Thanks so much. I'm writing every day, but it's a push because the grief is such a weight. I think it helps my mind to recall all of the stories. Also, I have a bit of anxiety because I'm the only "memory keeper" left. Ken and I had so much history together. Now, I can't just say, "hey, remember when we...."

Recently we had a conversation about our trip down the Mekong and through Laos. I'm glad, as I had forgotten a few of the place names. Today is an easier day--so far. Only 6:03 AM. Day before yesterday was hard, and yesterday was better because it snowed quite a lot and was very pretty.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Stan In Maryland » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:51 pm

CaminoDeb wrote:Thanks so much. I'm writing every day, but it's a push because the grief is such a weight. I think it helps my mind to recall all of the stories. Also, I have a bit of anxiety because I'm the only "memory keeper" left. Ken and I had so much history together. Now, I can't just say, "hey, remember when we...."

Recently we had a conversation about our trip down the Mekong and through Laos. I'm glad, as I had forgotten a few of the place names. Today is an easier day--so far. Only 6:03 AM. Day before yesterday was hard, and yesterday was better because it snowed quite a lot and was very pretty.


Deb,

I really enjoy these but only do it if it helps you, if it is a burden or you find it makes life more difficult, then don't do it.
"As a child I wanted to be a grown-up. I wanted to know everything - not that I like to talk about it. I hate intellectual conversation with intellectuals because I only care about my opinion."

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:38 pm

I think it's good. I think it is very helpful, or I would not do it.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:58 pm

Image

Hiking in the Three Sisters Wilderness area or perhaps the Wallowa Mountains, Oregon, USA.

Ken and I did a lot of hiking and camping together. We were very happy to be in the wilderness, and often went so far out that we would see no one.

In this photo, I noticed that Ken is wearing a pair of shorts we bought while we were on the Baja Peninsula.

These were happy times.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:06 pm

On this day in 2008, we were at Silver Falls in Oregon. You are very happy, because you have Diem and the kids with you, and me. We have been hiking. It is a beautiful, warm day. We are seeing waterfalls, and you have just taken your hat off for a photo. You look relaxed and happy. I can see the brim mark from your hat.

Oh, this was a special day.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Stan In Maryland » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:01 pm

Deb,

Sharing these memories is bittersweet, even from my side. Your love for FP and the love for adventure that the two of you shared comes through so strongly.
"As a child I wanted to be a grown-up. I wanted to know everything - not that I like to talk about it. I hate intellectual conversation with intellectuals because I only care about my opinion."

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:21 pm

14. Looking back, it is an absolute mystery to me why I so naively accepted that Ken’s decisions regarding our travel were perfectly safe. Of course, they were not. In fact, some of the travels that we did were some of the most stunning adventures, with views unparalleled by most things I have seen on the more sedate adventures. In Northern Thailand, we were staying in Chiang Saen. Chiang Saen is a small town just south of the Golden Triangle, which aside from some big fancy signs, was not that remarkable. I remember that while we stayed way up north, we did take one day trip into Myanmar, but I was not very enamored with it. I remember being at an interesting market, and also seeing very dark-skinned and thin people on motorcycles, and the border patrol was singularly unfriendly. I’m sure that the border people saw us as “ones bearing money which must be parted with,” and I don’t blame
them much.
Anyway, in Chiang Saen, we were staying at a guesthouse (this is what simple hotels for travellers were called) run by an American fellow named Jim Chance, a blond-haired, blue-eyed fellow with a rye laugh. He looked exhausted most of the time, as he was supporting his girlfriend and their baby, under a year old. He really enjoyed chatting with Ken, and Ken was interested in hearing all about Jim’s lifestyle too. Ken remarked to me just last August 2016 that he could now understand why Jim looked exhausted most of the time; he was becoming very weary of the everyday work in Cambodia, and thinking more about family and leisure.

Ken was happy, while we were in Chiang Saen, to take day trips. I remember at one point going to a temple nearby, up on a hill, using a rented motorbike. At that point, I was terrified to ride one on my own, and despite Ken’s constant imploring—and he could be both direct and persuasive—I was just afraid. I was okay with sitting on the bike, with Ken driving, however. He was not very experienced at that point with motorcycles, so riding with me on the back was difficult, I’m sure. He would not go without me though, so he got good at it fast.

I remember that he decided, one day, that I was going to try to drive the motorcycle. “Just sit on it,” he said.
“I don’t want to,” I said.
“Stop it. Just come here. Sit down. You’re not going to die. ”
“Okay.”
“Look, nothing bad is happening. You’re fine.”
“I know.”
“You’re usually not one to have irrational fear. This is like your mouse fear, isn’t it?”
“Yep”
“Alright. Now you’re going to turn it on…”
While Ken was unable to persuade me to get better on a motorcycle at that time,
by the time I had lived in Cambodia for about a year—which would be another year down the road—I owned my own motorcycle and drove it much too fast, without a helmet I will add. At that time in Chiang Saen, I was very much my parents’ child. They were alive and well in Canby, Oregon and had already lost their only son. I was not going to add to the misery by riding a 100cc motorcycle around The Golden Triangle area of Northern Thailand.

I was, however, willing to embark on a scheme that Ken put together. I don’t even exactly remember how he hatched this egg, but we were both fascinated by the Mekong River, which ran through Chiang Saen. There were giant steps that led down to the water, and we would often sit and watch sunset. The water was a muddy chocolate brown, which we found unusual, as we had lived in Eugene, Oregon and of course, I had grown up in Canby, Oregon where river waters tend to be dark blue, blackish appearing, or even dark green. The chocolate brown water was unusual.

Ken’s plan was to get to Laos. Why? So that we could then find a way to take a journey in a southern fashion down the length of the Mekong River, exploring the river, the banks, and Laos. We wouldn't be able to go all the way through Laos in this fashion, but we would get to Luang Prabang (if memory serves). Then, we would take buses et cetera all the way southerly, and then to the east. Eventually, we would cross into Vietnam right at the DMZ! (it could be done, and we would therefore do it).

That’s exactly what we did. It was hard travel, it was raining and cold, it was elephants working along the banks—moving logs for mahuts who would encourage them—and it was scrambling up a muddy wet bank past a long line of excitedly screaming Laotian children, who had not seen many—if any—western faces. It was also staying in a guesthouse /hotel that was most likely built for the many traders that came up and down the river, so we were the novelty in town that night (Ken just told me the name of that place; Pak Bang? Must look it up).

When we initially crossed from Thailand into Laos, I remember that we were in a longboat-type vessel, something not really large, with an outboard motor. Once in Laos, we found a guesthouse and settled in. We were both backpackers at the time, and typically carried about six pounds each of personal effects. I always carried a full change of clothing, three pair of socks and underwear, medications, a sleeping bag, my Canon AE1 camera (which got beat to shit over the six months of hard travel) and a rain jacket. Ken carried all of the above and his large swiss army knife, with the initials KNC on it. He had received it from his parents, and it has always been one of his most prized possessions. He also carried an additional pair of prescription glasses, as his eyesight was not good, and of course some snacks and water.

The first night in Laos, Ken ordered from the menu at a local restaurant. The waiter shook his head, is if to say, "Don't order that one.Bad idea”.

Ken pushed and insistently ordered what he had pointed at—as I remember it had something to do with fish. When the order arrived, Ken and I laughed quite a lot—it was a bowl of fish eyes. The waiter had known more about western sensibilities than Ken had given him credit for! I had ordered something with chicken and rice, so we got one more order of that. We were now in Laos, and moving right along. We were also most definitely off of the “traveller’s route” that other backpackers were following, however, and that made Ken very, very happy.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:25 pm

Stan In Maryland wrote:Deb,

Sharing these memories is bittersweet, even from my side. Your love for FP and the love for adventure that the two of you shared comes through so strongly.


Yep. This loss just sucks the marrow out of my bones. This is how I'm dealing with it. I will probably transfer most of my writing into my blog, and then later I will publish it into a book, using Amazon CreateSpace.

Don't worry--it's all okay. It's just the nature of change, of life itself. I think the Buddhists call it the concept of "Annika," although I will have to look that up. If Ken and I had had a daughter together, we would have named her that. Maybe my book will be named Annika :)

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Total Reject » Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:15 pm

These are nice stories, thanks for posting. I happened to wake up this morning thinking of a hike around Silver Falls State Park and was surprised to see this here.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Stan In Maryland » Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:48 pm

Deb,

I was thinking you should put all of this into a book.
"As a child I wanted to be a grown-up. I wanted to know everything - not that I like to talk about it. I hate intellectual conversation with intellectuals because I only care about my opinion."

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:52 pm

Total Reject wrote:These are nice stories, thanks for posting. I happened to wake up this morning thinking of a hike around Silver Falls State Park and was surprised to see this here.



Wonderful! I love Silver Creek Falls State Park, and train there four or five days a week during the summer. When I walk the Camino de Santiago, I typically walk 10-22 miles per day for days on end. I find that the up and down of the Falls hike, particularly the Ten Waterfalls Hike, really helps me to build endurance.

Are you in Oregon? I love it here. I'm in Canby. Here's a photo of the South Falls--I believe--at Silver Falls in Silverton, Oregon. Ken too.

Image
Last edited by CaminoDeb on Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:53 pm

Stan In Maryland wrote:Deb,

I was thinking you should put all of this into a book.



Perhaps my tales would be interesting to some. I think it's sometimes hard to know if they are interesting to me and friends because people know me, or knew Ken.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Total Reject » Sat Jan 14, 2017 1:55 am

Yes Deb, I live in southern Oregon. But I have been to Silver Falls SP a few times. Beautiful place, I try to imagine it before it was developed.

Keep posting your stories. I'm sure Foolsprogress and I could appreciate many of the same things.
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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by muthafunky » Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:03 am

Love the stories, please keep posting!

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:46 pm

Road Trip: The Odd Yoopers

I loved travelling through the USA with Ken back in 1996. We were flush with money made in SE Asia, and got back to the USA for a prolonged summer visit, buying a Subaru to travel in. That car ran great, as I’m told most of them do. Ken swore by Subarus, and to buy one for $1200.00 just for our USA roadtrip was a pretty fun thing to do, although we had a few minor issues with it along the way. Nothing unfixable; just a minor ticking sound, like a kid running a stick along a fence. That odd sound was quickly fixed by two beer-drinking Kentucky guys for $30.00—they just decided they liked us when we pulled into their mechanical shop after hours. Ken was kind of singing that little “Deliverance” guitar lick, as anything deep south was kind of frightening to me, and he was at the time wearing four earrings on one ear! That happened much later in the trip, of course.

We took off from Canby, Oregon on a warm day in June and just started drifting on the wind, first driving up through the state of California. We had perfected car camping by that time, and had a tent, a cooler, pillows, flashlights, everything necessary for a good road trip. Our plan was to go to Tassajara, a special retreat that is part of the Zen Center in San Francisco to see Ken’s brother Tracy. Tracy was in practice at the Buddhist lifestyle, and seemed to be loving it. We wanted to check in and spend time with him. Then, we would head east to visit his brother Dale, in Michigan, and last, his parents in Orlando, Florida. Of course, we were spending time with my parents as well, Dad and stepmom in Canby, Oregon, and Mom and my grandmother—her mother—in Wapato, Washington. We had a lot to do, as we had been away from the USA for more than three years, and pretty sick of teaching English and living in desolate--but at that time beautiful--Sihanoukville (on the coast of S. Cambodia).

That said, though, we were planning to return to Cambodia afterward. Ken was beginning to talk about publishing travel guides, and getting serious about it.
Because of that, we wanted to get in some really good time with family. Very few of them really understood why we would want to live in Cambodia, and to be honest, my reason was primarily because I was married to Ken. I was not as pleased with setting up shop in the Kingdom as he was. More on that later!

Driving the Oregon coast highway always reminds me of trips to San Francisco with my dad, who was born and raised there. The trip to California meant the long boring pull southward on interstate 5, then suddenly Ken and I were across the border. The whole state of California was our Disneyland (only a metaphor; Ken hated Disneyland with its attitude police), with a drive through the California Redwoods, past Richardson Grove (where we stopped for a break), and the giant redwood that we could drive through. This tree, in fact, just came down in the storm that ravaged the west coast (January 2017).

We drove through the Big Sur area, through the area that Sharon Doubiago –one of my favorite writers—brought alive for me. We drove past the Hearst Castle, although we did some camping along the coastline nearby. At one particular campground on the California coastline, Ken was having a smoke when a crow landed at our picnic table. I've always loved birds and was excited, feeding it a bit of a cracker.

"I hate crows and pigeons. They're rats with wings!," Ken muttered, eying the crow harshly. He had on his wool shirt jacket and had his blue-brimmed hat pulled low over his forehead. He set his smoke down into his Dirty Dick's ashtray that he had dug out of storage.

The crow hopped quickly over, took his smoke and flew off.

"Bastard. I hate crows and pigeons. Rats with wings..." Ken laughed, and so did I. It had all happened so fast.

Then, we continued on toward San Francisco, where we would meander around the Haight Ashbury area, and also eat sushi somewhere near downtown.

That big USA road trip included hiking at camping at many State and National Parks in the USA, including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Bryce, Zion, Grand Tetons, 29 Palms, and Cedar Breaks (not in that order), stopping at the Corn Palace, and in Ken's home state of Michigan, going to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Visiting Frankenmuth, Michigan—where we went to a wonderful homey restaurant after visiting their Christmas Store—and spending time in the Upper Peninsula, where I had a rather frightening experience with a camping site owner. That is where our narrative will now pause as I tell the tell of the scary Yooper.

In brief, Ken and I pulled into a camping site, and happened upon a Yooper (that’s what folks from the UP are called) standing in his garden and chewing on peas, which "Dirk" was taking right off the vine. He welcomed us to a campsite, then invited both of us to take a look at some nearby waterfalls. He waxed enthusiastically about the great hike, the pretty falls, and how nearby it was. In hindsight, I think he was terribly lonely. I should have politely declined, but I am a sucker for the enthusiastic local. Especially one who has bits of fresh green peas clinging to his teeth.

Long story short, Ken wanted to take a nap, but I agreed to see the falls, so I accompanied Dirk the informative gentleman, who was probably sixty years old at that time, in his truck to the trailhead. What ensued was about thirty minutes of hiking, with lots of “after you’s” and my protestations, “No, please go first so I can follow.” There was something odd about him, and I wondered if I was going to make it back to camp alive and unharmed. I wasn’t about to hike in front of him and get bonked in the head or pushed into the water. Or worse.

When we returned, the fellow’s wife came outside and gave us both the Volcan death stare, before then turning on her heel and slamming the door of her home. Apparently the missus was jealous, perhaps justifiably, as he had made some rather strange remarks, such as “My wife sometimes thinks I might like to have an affair with a younger woman,” and “Are you happily married?” It was not the best short hike I had ever been on.

When I rejoined Ken at the tent and told him about the very awkward hike, he was concerned and mentioned that he had thought that the fellow seemed safe enough, but that now he was worried that it might not be the best place to spend the night. We decided to pull a proactive neighborly maneuver and take the unusual married couple some chocolate that we had acquired on the trip. When in doubt, give fruit or chocolate.

When we knocked on the door, the husband opened it and invited us in. The wife was acting quite passive aggressive, slamming things around the kitchen as she cooked, but I mentioned the chocolate, and also noted that we would be seeing my “husband’s” parents in the next few days. She brightened to learn that we were married, and cordially accepted the chocolate. Her husband and Ken went into the living room to see some photographs of the falls that we had hiked to that day, and she admitted to me in a low voice that she was concerned about her husband. In brief, she mentioned that she just did not trust him around “pretty young girls.” At that, I nodded my head, but also mentioned that I was in my late thirties, which I did not think qualified me as a pretty, young girl. It was all a very strange situation. We spent the night in our little tent, but were up and out of there early in the morning.

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Katmandu: Cat Mandu!

Post by CaminoDeb » Mon Jan 16, 2017 8:44 pm

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Meet Mandu...

When I showed her photo to my ex, he asked, "Is that Mandu?" wondering if she was the cat that we had while in Cambodia.

"Nope! This is American Mandu!" I proudly exclaimed.

When Ken and I first moved to Phnom Penh from Sihanoukville, Cambodia, our Cambodia daughter, Srey Mum was probably about ten years old. A very bright young girl, she was a natural at her studies, and learned English rapidly. It was with great excitement that she brought home a cat to live with us--Ch'mah Pua Bi! A cat of three colors! A cat of three colors is, in Cambodia, extremely lucky.

We were somewhat hesitant to take the cat in. Pets didn't seem to fare that well in Cambodia; we had seen that with cats and dogs in Sihanoukville, with one young four-year-old in our gated compound just drowning every kitten and cat he could lay his hands on, despite our constant conversations with his mother. We would look out our apartment window to see him plodding toward the cistern with an unsuspecting feline. We could often beat him to the well, but there were times when we could not. This was very upsetting to me.

Yet, Mandu quickly emerged as a delightful, smart, loving animal. She actually looked remarkably similar to American Mandu above, and she would sit on our desks and beds with her white paws tucked under her body. When Srey Mum's mother, Polly, met with a new neighbor, she would walk down the street with our cat of three colors, so that Mandu could properly bless the home with her luck.

Of course, all good things must end. After six years of remarkably good fortune living in Cambodia, Mandu died at the hands of a bad vet. He did a mucked up neutering job on her, and when I called him back to our home after enduring painful and upsetting hours of watching her pass over the rainbow bridge--which is where good cats and dogs in the USA go, or at least dogs--I queried him closely, with an angry voice. In fact, I insisted that he immediately give me back the $40.00 that Polly had given him to neuter Mandu. When he said I'd have to talk to his boss, I got his boss on the phone and got the money back, ripping it into shreds in front of him, and escorting him to the door. I was not inappropriate; he had butchered our lucky cat Mandu.

And this is how we ended up going to the cat pagoda. Yes, the Cat Pagoda. Just a few days earlier, Polly had taken Cinnamon, Coffee and Tea (Mandu's older kittens) to the cat pagoda. Now that Mandu was gone, we needed more cats! In fact, we decided that we needed Mandu's children, as at least we could enjoy her through her offspring. Polly had explained that we would need to return to the Cat Pagoda to get back the kittens, so Ken and I got on the motorcycle, following Polly who was riding with our security guard. Yes, we had a maid and a security guard. We essentially had a houseful of good Khmer people who we overpaid to help us out, and we grew to love them. We took care of them, and they took care of us.

When we pulled into the pagoda, the first thing I thought was, "I have never seen this many cats in my life." It was like a Humane Society without the spay and neuter component. There were tabbies, black cats, white cats, gray cats, small cats, tall cats, fat cats, thin cats. It was a Doctor Seuss moment for me just now recounting how it looked. They lounged, reclined on the cool cement of the structures, scratched dirt to relieve themselves, and ate from old dishes and bowls. Nuns--very old women with shaved heads wearing white draped monk-like attire--approached us.

It was around that moment that I realized that it could be an expensive endeavor to reclaim the kittens. There were mouths to be fed here! The kittens needed to be shampooed! The nuns required serious compensation for this cunning cat community, and clearly, we were white people with money.

Saik, mao veng..the nuns told us. "Tomorrow, come back!". The agreed upon sum was $10 per cat, and we threw in some extra money for the good of the order.

The next day, I had Polly go pick up the kittens, and she came home with three. While they looked somewhat similar to Mandu's kittens, I quickly realized that at least two of them probably carried no DNA from our cat. It was like one of those odd tv programs where a lost kid shows up, and the parent is so overjoyed at the slim possibility that the 48-year-old with gray hair could be theirs that they take them in, no questions asked.

So we took them in and loved them. Coffee, the largest of the group, grew to be a fifteen-pound behemoth, and the neighbors two doors down decided they couldn't live without him. He would occasionally wander back to see what we were having for dinner, but he was happy at the neighbor's house, and we couldn't really make him stay. Tea ended up getting ill and recovery did not go well. Cinnamon, however, grew to be a huge orange tabby.

When I left Cambodia in 2001, he did well for awhile, but as cats often do in Cambodia, he eventually disappeared. Cinnamon was a good cat, though, and he will go down in history as filling our hearts, although he was genetically not really Mandu's offspring at all.

A side note: Ken always loved animals. In the photo below, from 1990, he is holding Thumbelina, an ancient cat--probably fifteen to twenty years old--that kind of wandered into our lives. Ken used to tease me about bringing home a geriatric cat, but Thumb loved being held, and we cared for her for about six months before she had to go to the happy pet store in the sky.

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Birthday on Koh Lipe

Post by CaminoDeb » Tue Jan 17, 2017 5:28 pm

Koh Lipe, off the southwest coast of Thailand, was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and I am NOT a beach person. In fact, both Ken and I were more "mountain" people--preferring hiking the Cascades in Oregon.

Nevertheless, Ken's Koh Lipe birthday was pretty amazing. The year was 1994, and his birthday was--is--February 25th. He turned 37 that year.

I knew that resources were limited on the island, but Kati--our German friend who were were sharing a rat-infested bungalow with, along with her husband Ralf and their two very young kids--and I went shopping on the south end of the island.

Ken's birthday gifts included Pringles potato chips, along with some other rather cool kind of Asian things I found, like a lice comb.

The thing he liked best, though, was a water color card that I made for him. It was, at the time, Makka Bukkha. I made a watercolor of a moon rising, layered with blue and purple clouds. It was something I may have found when I was cleaning out his personal office papers just under a month ago.

I remember now sitting in his office, in Phnom Penh. In front of his computer, just above, is the green jade buddha that is featured on his LTO blogspot. To the left, in front of his computer, is the Dirty Dick's ashtray. Along the wall were rows of bookshelves, with mostly Asian literature, history of Cambodia, and philosophy, lots and lots of it.

Also, he had everything that Edward Abbey ever wrote.

What was special to me were the small things--such as the little scrap of paper detailing one of Plato's comments on love. It was something to the effect that if we forgive, and allow love, we will be united with the person that we are meant to spend our days with. This was a concept in our relationship from the early days that he and I really enjoyed. We talked about a "love ball" of the two halves, struggling to find each other, and finally uniting.

On the highest shelf was the actual love ball that I gave him in 1991. It was one of those Russianesque things, where you open a ball and find another ball, and so on down the line. Now, this red-glazed ball, with images and words of love on it (I bought it somewhere artsy) had been broken, so the outer shell was missing a chip. I found that chip carefully placed inside.

When I gave that to him, I had taken out the innermost little ball, and replaced it with an antique gold ring. The etched design around the perimeter resembled tiny hearts, outlined in black. Kind of art deco.

It was that ring that he wore when he died. He wore it every year of his life after I gave it to him.

When I told his Vietnamese wife a little about the ring, she removed it from her thumb and insisted I take it. "Oh, no, my dear friend. It is now yours," I said to that lovely woman.

I realized, seeing her wear it, that she had been with him now for probably 17 years. She had given him two children, seen him through surgeries, and watched after him every single day. I am a happily married woman with an amazing life, and my grief over the ex does not blind me to priority! I have also become very entrenched in a philosophy that one must not take what would be more appropriate for another.

And a priority now is to look out for Diem, Ken's lady. Oddly, I did come to care very deeply for her over the years. I know that Ken would be so glad that I went and spent time with her, and their brilliant kids. She tried calling me last night, and tonight I will call her back.

Ken's birthday is now approaching again. I wear the beautiful, all-gold Buddha enclosed within a Buddha case that Diem had purchased for his 60th birthday. I am honored to wear it.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Homerj » Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:15 pm

Great posts Deb.

Have a question...what is a rye laugh?
Does that mean he laughed like a heavy drinker, I've heard of whiskey voiced but never a rye laugh.
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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:03 pm

Homerj wrote:Great posts Deb.

Have a question...what is a rye laugh?
Does that mean he laughed like a heavy drinker, I've heard of whiskey voiced but never a rye laugh.



That's just your basic error! It should be "wry"--which is a dry, perhaps slightly mocking humor. A little touch of sarcasm, cynicism.

A wry laugh! He could also laugh with a strong and hearty voice, and loved humor of all kinds.

He actually really liked that kind of humor that makes no logical sense--the silly logic used in "Green Acres" was hilarious to him.

Of the older sitcoms, he loved that show, and also "Cheers".

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Homerj » Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:05 pm

CaminoDeb wrote:
Homerj wrote:Great posts Deb.

Have a question...what is a rye laugh?
Does that mean he laughed like a heavy drinker, I've heard of whiskey voiced but never a rye laugh.



That's just your basic error! It should be "wry"--which is a dry, perhaps slightly mocking humor. A little touch of sarcasm, cynicism.

A wry laugh! He could also laugh with a strong and hearty voice, and loved humor of all kinds.

He actually really liked that kind of humor that makes no logical sense--the silly logic used in "Green Acres" was hilarious to him.

Of the older sitcoms, he loved that show, and also "Cheers".


I probably should have figured that out on my own :D
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1994: Phnom Penh from Vietnam

Post by CaminoDeb » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:47 pm

Our first day in Cambodia started kind of rough. We had crossed in from Vietnam, and were traveling with a female friend.

We caught a taxi on the Cambodia side. The taxi driver stopped about five miles east of Phnom Penh and said, "Okay. Here we are. Phnom Penh. You want me take you some place, extra five dollar each pax."

Our friend, who was pretty amazing with travel logic said, "You take us to city guesthouse, or we give you five dollar LESS each pax". We NO give you money if you NO take us to city. Up to you!"

He looked at her, with his brown eyes.

She looked back, without blinking. Green eyes, blonde hair. Master bargainer.

He said, "Okay. I take you."

The three of us in the backseat avoided making any obvious commentary that would be understood, but we had plenty to say about the incident once we were in Phnom Penh.

We spent one night at the ultra cheap, disgusting guesthouse that western travelers used to stay at, for next to nothing. I will look up the name of it later. Escapes me right now.

The next day, we all moved to a guesthouse that was just opposite P'sar Thmei, next to La Paillote.

P'sar Thmei translates "New Market," but it is referred to as Central Market.

It is extremely recognizable to many who have seen photos of it, or have been there. It is that old French colonial yellow color, and built like a huge dome, with spider-like tracts running out in four sections. Between each section are tarpelined markets.

Central Market used to be a huge draw for us, but we had a lot to learn about going there.

The first lesson was, do NOT give money when you first arrive. Give money--if you want to--on the way OUT. Otherwise, the beggars would follow and harass us nonstop. Also, it was best to not make eye contact with the beggars, although it was sometimes hard as the amputees used to try to rub their limbs on us and then do the begging routine. This was really hard to deal with.

My Khmer language skills are still quite good, and Ken's were too. Back then, they didn't exist.

We fairly quickly had to learn stop, no, go away. That sounds so callous, but again--give money on the way OUT. Otherwise, there would be no escape.

At Central Market were large groups of young kids who liked to choose an ignorant foreigner and pickpocket him or her. That was back then, in the early 90's. The kids are so cute, and some of the newbies to Cambodia were not intelligent about secreting their money. Again--best to share riel on the way out.

In the early 90's, the riel was fluctuating quite a bit, if I'm remembering correctly. It was 1800 riel to the dollar, then 1700. It bounced around quite a bit. Money changers were on nearly every corner, in little kiosk-type places. It was common to get short-changed, but we usually caught that and got kind of indignant, so they started treating us okay.

Again, we were in a guesthouse right next to La Paillote--the pilot. The guesthouse was owned by two people--a fellow from India, and a fellow from Singapore. Downstairs was an ice-cream parlor, very unique in that day. That delicious, cool and creamy ice-cream was available was really special, and we paid quite a lot for it! On my 35th birthday, which we were there for in September of 1994, Ken bought me a huge bowl of three scoops of different kinds of ice cream, including Rum Raisin. It was served with candles on it, and it was very special. The upstairs was very basic and plain, with thin walls. I remember a guy from Nigeria was staying in one, and he tried to lure me into his room. It was not pleasant. In fact, fairly soon thereafter we got our first apartment in Phnom Penh. Some of you may have seen a photo I took from that first apartment, of a small Cambodian boy wearing a rabbit mask. Have you seen that one?

Back to La Paillote. At that place, Charlie, a Belgian guy who was married to a thai woman,was the owner, and it was very popular in that just post-untac era. The Australians would often have events there. The food was excellent, and so was the service.

One of our favorite meals was Fish Florentine--a nice cut of cod or something similar on top of a bed of creamed spinach, with cheese on top. We often would get that, and hot homemade rolls were served with cold butter. After, we would get chocolate cake. We did not eat at La Paillote unless it was quite a special occasion, although after we both started working in Phnom Penh, we would treat ourselves perhaps once a week to a special meal. There weren't many western places then, so la Paillote was a real safe haven. The air-conditioning also meant instant relief from the muggy heat of the city.

By 1996, Ken had become very, very close friends with Charlie. Charlie, a very charming older Belgian fellow--perhaps early 60's at the time?--had lung problems owing to his constant smoking. Ken would spend hours with him, teaching him how to use a computer. They would meet at least twice a week, and Ken would help him figure out how to pull up different pages, use a mouse, et cetera. Interestingly, there was another fellow that Ken also took under his wing and helped, Chris from Sihanoukville. He was also an older western guy--a British fellow with a lot of money who was one of the four original owners of the Angkor Arms, the first really reputable western bar in Sihanoukville. Ken had a very tender heart for the old guys who went to him for computer help. I think he missed his dad.

When we returned from the USA in 1996 to write hard and fast to create the very first Canby Publications Visitors Guide to Sihanoukville, we holed up in a room in La Paillote and worked. We wrote and wrote, and edited and revised, and got things put together on a laptop that Ken had acquired. We stayed at La Paillote, in one of their upstairs hotel rooms, for about three weeks before moving into an apartment near The Independence Monument, in the Hun Sen Compound.

That was where we were living when the Coup occurred. The event. The three-day war. That is a story for another day.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Moethebartender » Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:00 pm

Hey Deb,

Thanks for sharing these stories!

We spent one night at the ultra cheap, disgusting guesthouse that western travelers used to stay at, for next to nothing. I will look up the name of it later. Escapes me right now.


It wasn't the Capitol Guest House by chance, was it?
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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:32 pm

Moethebartender wrote:Hey Deb,

Thanks for sharing these stories!

We spent one night at the ultra cheap, disgusting guesthouse that western travelers used to stay at, for next to nothing. I will look up the name of it later. Escapes me right now.


It wasn't the Capitol Guest House by chance, was it?


YES, it was. The most disgusting hell hole of a guesthouse in Cambodia. It was also a place where foreigners went at first. The food was actually decent, to be honest. The rooms were dusty, and I remember lovely stuff like used condoms under beds, et cetera.

We spent one night, if I remember correctly, and got out of their fast. Ken did not waste time moving on if he thought we could do better.

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Nearly dying...in Cambodia

Post by CaminoDeb » Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:31 am

http://valiantlady.blogspot.com/2017/01 ... ng-in.html

Here is the story of one of the times I nearly died in Cambodia.

I've linked to my blog about it.

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Laos Adventure with Ken

Post by CaminoDeb » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:51 am


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Come on Baby Drive South: Baja Peninsula

Post by CaminoDeb » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:16 pm


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Foolsprogress: His Words, an E mail Exchange

Post by CaminoDeb » Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:15 pm

Ken and I frequently e mailed and wrote back and forth, particularly when he had just a bit of free time.

In this exchange, from February of 2015, he had just gone through an eye surgery.

Enjoy his writing voice, and I also hope that you enjoy mine! Write me a note back (here) and let me know if you did.




http://valiantlady.blogspot.com/2017/03 ... ia-to.html

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Scrubb » Sun Mar 05, 2017 11:16 pm

Hey CaminoDeb - I check in here now and then and just looked for the first time since getting back from a trip. I'm supposed to be working at the moment, so don't have time to read the linked entries right now, but will get back to you after I do.
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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:45 am

Scrubb--glad you were on a trip! I hope you went someplace interesting.

Thanks for your sweet note. It was considerate.

Take care,

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Scrubb » Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:51 am

The second link, the boat ride - reminded me of our trip to the Philippines a few years back. We found ourselves sitting at the front of a prahu,

Image

crossing the open ocean to an island. They gave us life jackets and a rain coat to hold over our laps, which was next to useless - we were soaked when we arrived.

On the way back we left pre-dawn, and they forgot to give us any life jackets. 45 minutes across the open water...
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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:23 am

That is amazing photo, and your story--wow! I have always felt amused when safety measures are in place that are nominal only!

Thank you. I needed that smile today. I missed LTO today, all day.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CatScanMan » Sat Dec 09, 2017 5:54 pm

Lovely

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Scott_Baio » Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:29 am

.
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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by section8 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:05 am

Lord help us, a Scootsy sighting.
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Excerpt: book coming soon!

Post by CaminoDeb » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:13 am

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

from Sea Fever, by John Masefield

Chapter I
Leaving It All Behind
I didn’t know that I was permanently closing the door on a good life in Eugene, Oregon and moving to the other side of the world. I thought it was just a long break for Ken and me. We had met at university in 1989. He was thirty-two, and I had just turned thirty. Eugene was our oyster. We rode our bikes everywhere, and graduated with our bachelor’s degrees in 1990.
In the Fall of 1993, Ken sat for his final exam for his master’s degree from University of Oregon. The exam, which was not much in comparison to his years of writing for the studies, shook him up. He was asked to rewrite part of it, which shifted his view of getting a doctorate. He wrote incredibly complex essays while watching Cheers on his small black and white television, a joint burning in his Dirty Dick’s ashtray piled high with ashes. As I recall, the topics for the graduate degree essays did not include the areas in which he had focused. Perhaps he was just acting out a pattern of not finishing. In any event, he felt upset for a few weeks about the end of his graduate studies, and then I think he decided, fuck it, I’m done. He had planned for months to travel, after getting done with graduate school. He had not finished, but he was done.
And so it was, in the early months of 1994, that we closed up our home in Glenwood, put the key under the doormat, and headed about a hundred miles north to Canby, Oregon. There, we got into my father and stepmother’s fifth wheel, and travelled south again down through California, to the Baja Peninsula. We went to our favorite place in Baja, Mulege, where we raked clams from the sand with our bare hands and bought little sacks of sugary dates from children. We’d been there before, and it was a happy place for us. After a few weeks, we were back in California, and my parents dropped us off at the San Francisco airport.
We were headed to Bangkok, Thailand. From Bangkok, we weren’t sure where we’d go. We had discussed every country in Southeast Asia except Cambodia. I told Ken, “I just don’t want to go there.” Over the years, I’ve grown convinced that Cambodia was our destination, as we had watched Spalding Gray’s Swimming to Cambodia and Ken loved it, but also, growing up with the Vietnam War on the local news and knowing about the US bombing of Cambodia interested us in both countries. My interest did not motivate me to live in Vietnam. and most especially not Cambodia.
Of course, Cambodia is where we ended up living for years. Our travels, however, began in Thailand, The Land of Smiles. People often wonder why Thailand is called The Land of Smiles. It might be because the Thais like to keep a calm face, and don’t like to “lose face” or appear angry or upset. It could be because they are truly gracious people, and often have beautiful and sincere smiles. In Bangkok, there is such a booming influx of travelers and western business people coming in and out that the smiles have gotten a bit forced.
When we arrived in January of 1994, the heat was stifling, although that is actually a slightly cooler month in Southeast Asia. The twenty-four-hour journey to get there had been hellish, especially given that Eva Air had messed up our tickets, double booking our seats. Stuck in the airport in San Francisco for the additional twelve hours had proved exhausting, although Eva Air had upgraded us to economy deluxe seats as consolation. We went to our small room with twin-size beds and fell asleep for perhaps six hours. The jet lag and excitement got to us, and we didn’t rest for long.
We stayed at Khao San Palace on Khao San Road, the traveller’s mecca, and with our white skin we stood out as newcomers. In the tropical sun, people became tan fast, so it was easy to see who had just arrived. People from all over the world were milling around looking at cheap cotton hippie clothes and eating pineapple on sticks, or sitting in one of many open-air restaurants and drinking fresh watermelon juice. We were hot and exhausted, but euphoric that we’d made it to Bangkok. We were on the verge of great adventure, and couldn’t anticipate where we might be in a week. That’s how we travelled, and that’s how we liked it.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Lincoln » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:08 pm

Great stuff Deb....we were there at the exact same time (although coming to the end of our trip) strange to think we could have passed you two in the street!

I'd love to read your book, let us know when its out and where to get it.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by DCComic » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:25 pm

Well readable. Thanks.
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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:21 pm

Hey, my friends---my book is currently under review by two publishers! I will keep you well updated.

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Moethebartender » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:22 pm

Outstanding!
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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by CaminoDeb » Sun Sep 02, 2018 3:18 am

https://thenasiona.com/2018/08/29/sihan ... y-the-sea/

The Nasiona, an online magazine, has published a chapter from my book! I hope that you enjoy it.

Of course, still waiting on a publisher.

It was accepted by one publishing house, but I was not happy with their distribution and etc., and decided to wait it out a while longer.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Deb

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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by northern_goddess » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:58 pm

Good luck!
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Re: Foolsprogress: 100 Travel Memories

Post by Scrubb » Fri Sep 07, 2018 3:59 am

That's exciting, CD!
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