Mr. 56 is a big poopy. He tried to kill us!
I’ll get to him in a little bit after I tell you the story.
Me and the bossman were headed up to see the family. I love cycle trips because I get to see the countryside for real instead of hanging from the back of a car, or, gross! Seeing nothing from inside the trunk. We were going to take it leisurely from Calgary up to Castor Alberta, which was about 300k. That’s nothing to me even though bossman huffs and puffs like a chubby baby.
We didn’t bother to look up what route to take we just checked the maps and decided to choose the yellow roads instead of the black ones. Easy right?
Our first leg took us on The Man From Country Hills’ road. He was not very nice. There was no room for my two wheels and the big oily grease trucks looked at us like we were flies. We panicked for a second and then turned onto Mr. RR8165 (I think that was his name). That was better. He was old but not well travelled and old-man-doesn’t-know-the-world-grew-up hospitable. We stayed on him until Mr. 567. He was gentle and even cleared most of the rocks away.
At the end of the first day we were headed north on Mr. #9. He was our friend immediately. He had lots of room for us and offered water and shelter. He even invited us to stay the night! I hugged him with each rubber rotation.
On day two we left the human photo town of Beiseker where I was chained to a tree for the night like a dog. The town looks like one of those postcard towns from a Stephen King movie and the people seemed a bit too normal. We left early but 60k along Mr. #9, the sky started crackling and spitting so we hunkered down in a dinosaur town.
Day three was our nightmare. We woke up; I greased and cleaned because I knew the wind would be slapping us all day, then took off towards Mr. 56. On the map it looked like the logical choice. We were wrong.
Mr. 56 was trying to kill us. He put deep rumbly strips on the side of the road and only left us 2 inches to maneuver in. The drop to the right was 6 inches straight into the moat and oily trucks sped passed as though they would die if they didn’t break the sound barrier.
Then it got worse.
Sure, there were no rumbly strips on the next section but that was because there was no room for them! The rigs increased their speed and numbers and we had to pull over a couple of times when there were two at once. I sweated lube and bossman pooped a bit. We stopped and had a chat.
“Should we go on and risk death? Or should we turn around and make the trip longer?”
Just then an oversized money rig blasted passed us and shook our pedals. If we were rolling at that moment we would have been clipped.
We turned around.
Soon after we turned toward Mr. #9 a people ambulance drove by us from behind. Maybe there is someone looking out for us in case we decided on doing the stupid thing!
Mr. #9 welcomed us back with open arms. “You stay with me young men. I’ll take care of you.”
We laughed and drank gatorade and biodegradable lube. Yum Yum.
Jake the Snake (2007)
There is a shirt in Bangkok that you can buy that says “Good men go to Heaven. Bad men go to Bangkok.”
That might be true.
Here is a list of Bangkok:
1. Don’t leave your drink unattended. You don’t know what the f someone could put in it.
2. Don’t let someone buy you a bucket. You don’t know what they could put in it.
3. Don’t pass out on the street. The local cops would love to take you in.
4. Don’t breathe. The pollution could kill you.
5. Remember where you’re staying.
6. I asked a guy in 7-11 how he was. He said “It’s Bangkok”. I learned what he meant two days later.
7. There are a lot of suits for sale.
8. Read one of the many “Bangkok Hilton” incarceration books written by the wrongly accused.
9. Don’t insult the guys selling suits. They remember.
10. People want to touch you. You don’t have to touch back.
11. Don’t say yes to anyone.
12. Wrap it up. (this was the only tip a dude who lived there shared with me in Laos.)
13. When you leave, things get better.
There is a lot to ponder in Bangkok but you may have to leave and ponder them later because the city will take you. There is no time for ponderance (new word?)/reflection during your time in Hellkok.
**Just realized I don’t have any photos of the ‘Kok. Just videos. And they need considerable editing. Sorry about that.
I witnessed a horrific moped-bike crash today in Pakse, Laos. It involved two bikes about 15 feet away from me on the main hostel strip in town. I heard a screech and turned towards the sound to see two bikes begin flipping and throwing their drivers. One drivers’ wipeout ended quickly while the other drivers’ continued about 50 yards down the road.
The image I can’t get out of my head is the motorbike vertical and the driver parallel to it with his helmet-less head about a foot from the pavement. There was one flip flop still on his left foot, his eyes were closed and his hands by his side.
I had been talking to a nursing student from France a few days before this and she had recently volunteered for a month at the hospital in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. She had said that it was good to experience how a medical system SHOULDN’T operate and suggested that if someone were to get hurt in Laos they should just ask to be treated in Thailand. Pretty harsh indictment and I can only take her word for it.
There were people on the scene immediately but nobody did anything. I was about the third person there to see the guy laying unconscious on his back with only the wheel of the motorbike touching his leg. At first it seemed like he wasn’t breathing so I moved closer until I saw his stomach rising and falling. I literally had no idea what to do and felt very useless. No blood was visible and I knew he shouldn’t be moved because he may have a broken neck.
Finally someone made a call so I waited just staring at the guy with about 30 other people until a tuk tuk driver showed up in just over 5 minutes. What did they do? Chucked him in the tuk and drove off towards the hospital.
Have you experienced any medical difficulties in Laos? Or seen anything like this?
Normally I can sit for hours in one position and not feel a bit perturbed but today was a different story.
I was travelling from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap in Cambodia by bus and I knew that some of the companies were to be avoided if possible. So I made my choice, checked the times and booked a tuk tuk. I thought I was set to go.
Then things went wrong. I’m going to number these things because I like looking at lists with numbers.
1. The tuk tuk driver drove past the bus station that I thought I was going to and stopped at another one down the road. I said “Is this the Capitol bus company?” He said “Yes”. I bought a ticket. Then the bus showed up and it wasn’t Capitol. I asked for a refund and the guy said no refunds, you will be transferred to Capitol in Phnom Penh. I was pretty mad but got on the bus because it was too late to get the other one.
2. I had heard to avoid the Paramount Angkor Express at all costs. In Phnom Penh they put me on a bus to take me to another bus
station. I brought my ticket to the window and the new one said “Paramount Angkor Express”. Poop. These guys are known for driving recklessly (while slower than other bus companies), stopping for no reason, overselling, no air conditioning, breaking down and plain old sucking. I thought “Well, maybe it won’t be that bad?”
3. I was sitting in no air conditioning beside the seat buddy from hell. He spread out like a crane, dripping sweat all over me. He got off once and got left behind so we had to circle back for 20 mins to get him. He brought the foulest smelling substance with him to dip his apples into with his little stick. I dry heaved twice then put my hat over my nose. It suspect that the reason he took so long at the stop was because he had gone looking for cat feces, sugar and vinegar to make a dipping paste.
4. We stopped for no reason.
5. We got a flat tire.
6. The driver yelled a lot into his cell phone.
7. They had more people than seats so they sat on the floor and it smelled like melting humans.
8. The 6 hour trip took 9 hours.
The bright side is that I learned to just wait for the next bus if I’m not certain. Where have I to go??? Plus I made it. There were a few moments I thought I wouldn’t.
Otres Beach on the west coast of Cambodia is a pearl. It has a peaceful flow and a friendly vibe with English speaking bartenders who know the difference between a Coke, the soda, and the other whiter kind.
I asked to be taken to this beach when I first got off the bus from Kampong Speu but either the motorcycle driver misunderstood me or he just really wanted to take me to his buddy’s guesthouse on Serendipity beach. I wasn’t sure because I was going blindly with just a name. I booked three nights and the next day realized the error. Turns out Otres is a 45 minute beach walk away and a world away from the dirtier and more frantic pace of the beaches closer to Sihanoukville, Cambodia. A tuk tuk driver will take you to Otres for $3-4 because they have to drive the long way around or you can walk south on the beach until you reach a hill with a guesthouse perched at the top. Once you crest the hill you will see the shacks in the distance.
You’ll feel like you just walked into an Australian/British/German/American commune, complete with pot brownies and cookies on display in the beachfront restaurants. There are still a few sleazy looking pasty-white dudes walking around with underage Cambodian girls but markedly less. There are also fewer Cambodian women and girls with baskets looking to rub your feet or tie you a bracelet. It’s refreshing coming from just up the beach where everyone is trying to rub you.
You have the option of sleeping on a bunch of other people for $5 for 3 nights or spend some serious cash and pay $20 for a beachfront bamboo hut complete with glass doors. Although you could probably barter your way down to $16 or $17 (USD) if you want to save enough to buy your daily big bottles of water. I paid $7 a night for a shack that smells of pee. Dehydrated pee (which is the best kind). Lots of options so shop around.
The time is coming when Otres, like other gems before it in Southeast Asia will be filled with tourists, which brings locals, Tuk Tuks and bracelets. This place is good respite. It’s hot and a great place to feel free and lay where you want with a book covering your face. All for around $10 a day.
The Rough Guides Cambodian guide book mentions that driving in Phnom Penh is gnarly. What I pictured from reading the description was nothing like the real thing.
Today was the first day in my life that I wasn’t afraid of passing a car that was passing a truck passing a moped on a two-lane highway with oncoming traffic. By the first time this happened I had given myself to the driver of our yellow van so I just smiled. What else was I going to do? I was already sweating from the heat and I hadn’t drank anything so I couldn’t pee my pants. My jokes about the traffic had already been met with a blank stare as if the driver expected me to finish my thought.
I noticed one rule; motorbikes have to move. It’s either that or die. The vehicles exploit this like lunch money bullies do skinny kids. Also, it’s rude NOT to honk when creeping up on a bike. That’s how they know you’re there.
I respect anyone who can navigate these roads the way this guy did. In one hour here I witnessed more near accidents than in 33 years in Canada. No traffic lights makes it tough to cross the road on foot. Especially a semi-broken foot. But I did learn that drivers are extremely aware and will move out of my way as I hobble across. They have to be since they are still all alive.
Everybody knows that Canadians say “Eh”. We say eh after saying something that we feel needs affirmation from another person,eh?
Americans say Real in front of any adjective they feel needs a boost. Real Good. Real Fast. Real Tall. Who’s needs the -ly???? Not them because they be on Roller Coasters!
And that’s precisely where I noticed this word usage. It was Fright Fest Magic Mountain Roller Coaster time for Tim and Marcy this weekend in Santa Clarita CA! The adjectives used to describe some of the crazy rides seemed to need a bit more.
How else are you going to describe how great something is if you ain’t got school?
We bought tickets online for $62 each which I think is a good deal since they are also season passes that are good for every Six Flags in North America, for the rest of this year and all of 2012.
The inkling tickling my brain was that the “frights” from Fright Fest would be coming from the rides and not so much the mazes, scare zones and shows. Any time someone warns a person that they are going to scare them, it inevitably becomes less scary.
If nobody had told me that a punch-faced Hillbilly would jump out of the bushes barking, I would’ve turded a bit. But when he did I turned to Mar and said ”This is soooo neat!”
Scary? No. Enjoyable? YES!
Ghouls, Vamps, Werewolves, Zombies, Butchers, the Undead, Witches and guys dressed in Ed Hardy were everywhere! The make-up was tight and the costumes perfect. The massive amount of work they went through every night to get prepared for this was evident on every blood streaked face.
There were 8 mazes and we got to 7 of them. The Aftermath (pictured below) was the most well done and dramatic and the rest followed closely. After just 1 “maze” we figured out the scare tactic; jump out at the people and yell. It seemed to work over and over again for 17 year-old girls for some reason. I’m sure they were real scared, not just faking it for attention.
Some of the coasters had the lights off so it was a thrill in the dark. This was real cool. Riding the all-wood “Apocalypse” at night in the front row was as creepy as it gets. What if one of the sticks broke!! AAAAAHHHHH!!
We were (I was) real freaked out going over the first hump of “Goliath” in the front cart in the dark. The former worlds-largest drop of 255 feet at a speed of 85mph just about ripped the contacts out of my eyes. I threw my arms up for a split second just before it tipped over thinking that I was a man by now but I quickly yelped in fear and grabbed the lap belt.
I have now ridden every good Roller Coaster at Magic Mountain at least once. I never in life thought that sentence would ever be written by me.
Here are some made-up “best-of” categories with names of roller coasters underneath:
Gonna Make You Poop
X2, Deja Vu, and Tatsu.
Lines So Short You’ll Think Everyone Died
The Apocalypse, Scream, Colossus and Goliath.
A Ride Too Short For The Massive Lines (but real fun)
Smooth Ride That Makes You Want To Hug An Old Lady
Gonna Catch Fire And Burn To The Ground Killing Everyone Someday
Hope Your Kidneys And Shoulders Like Getting Hurt
Green Lantern and The Viper.
Here are some pics.
This weekend is another trip to Magic Mountain! It’s Fright Fest and I am going to puke my pants.
Roller coasters now scare me less than seeing a wild boar in public. It used to be the opposite. Maybe because before I would’ve just eaten the boar before it would tusk me but now I would want to pet it.
One thing to add to this short post; I wonder which sketchy place Mar and I will end up at this time? We always get to the places a Canadian should not be. Unless that Canadian is armed with a pelt to trade.
Also, Steve Jobs.
|Silver Spring Lake|
I paused this morning to reflect-left hand on a coffee, right on a bag of vitamins-about this past weekends adventures in Fernie B.C. I realized that being frugal (cheap) has become second nature to Marcy and I. We love a deal and we get really pumped when we are with awesome people who love to save (skimp) too.
I sense, in a way, that I should feel bad about my tight-fistedness. Should I be guilty for keeping my money while others spend more for the same experience? Is it simply that I am poor? Or, is this trait an inherited one that I can’t avoid?
Nah. I rationalized to the point where I believe others are being stupid with their money and “The Man” charges too much. It’s a healthier mindset according to some lesser known Psych-Mags.
|Fernie Alpine Resort|
This whole trip was triggered by a ”Mountain Bike and Stay” Groupon we bought to the Fernie Alpine Resort. We like biking and mountains so we bought it and planned for it to be a short-notice trip. It had to be used by the end of August and after we dealt with deadline stress, we planned it.
We were lucky enough to be joined by two of the coolest dawgies in town, Steven and Levi, who are always down for some saving and silliness. I’m not going to talk about the bonding experiences, the hugging, tears and blood or the majestic views from the Rocky Mountains in this post.
Instead, here is a run-down in point-form of some cost-saving techniques we incorporated into the weekend that you may find useful someday.
- Crammed four of us into one hotel room (my wife is amazingly OK with doing this)
- Opted for a smoking room on the ground floor of the Wolf’s Den that was $65 a night (vs $80).
- Brought 8 bottles of wine obtained at low cost to share instead of buying drinks.
- Swapped bikes for the lift. Highly risky I know! (the Groupon included lift passes at $41/day for a family of four but the dude at the counter didn’t buy that Levi was my son).
- Took advantage of free activities such as hiking to the pristine Silver Spring Lake which was packed with cliff jumpers but refreshing nevertheless.
- Shared 2 for 1 pizza on the streets of Fernie. This was excellent! Who knew that GhostRider Fernie would look so good as a ghost-town on a warm summer evening?
- Bought food at Overwaitea.
- Played a lot of tennis at the free courts.
- Ate at Smitty’s once instead of getting real food.
- Played Tragically Hip songs on a two-string guitar wearing only a suit-jacket on 2nd Ave for coins (this ones not true) (except it is because Steven did it) (except he doesn’t know who the Tragically Hip are so he just played the Ke$ha song he likes)
This was a fabulous short trip punctuated by a meteor shower on Saturday night. We sat on massive logs and rocks while a wedding reception wrapped up nearby. As meteors streaked across the sky we overheard the classic and classy question “You girls got boyfriends?”. Let’s assume they were free as well.
For some, flying is a once-a-year, panic-laced time spent urging compliance among family and friends. For others, it’s a necessary means to move between offices and clients with the odd pleasure flight sprinkled in for flavour.
Regardless of the reason or frequency, anyone who flies has stood and waited in line without knowing why, had their seat kicked by THAT kid, and perhaps had the guy who smells like work drool on their shoulder while he bobs about in a state of semi-consciousness.
Here is a list of 5 important tips to follow when flying. They will save you from being one of these people and being secretly disliked by passengers and flight crews.
1. Be on time!
99% (ok maybe 98%) of people flying are prudent, timely and courteous. The other 2% are late.
This 2% causes the good 98% to wait and are the cause of many flight delays. Make an effort to be
2. Keep the aisle clear.
Some people seem surprised when they get on the plane that there are storage areas for their bags.
They get excited about their options and end up standing in the aisle, looking around with a silly
grin. Don’t do that. Just put your bag away and sit.
3. Bring a small enough bag to fit in the compartments.
Overhead compartments and beneath the seat storage aren’t very big. If you are uncertain if your bag
will fit, ask. It can be embarrassing for you if a flight attendant has to say “Your bag is too big”.
It can feel as if they said “Your baby is ugly”. The looks from fellow travelers will say,
“mmmmhmmm! I knew it!”
4. Keep your kids in line.
Most kids who fly are amazing. Some are not. Don’t let your kids eat a ton of sugar and punch each
other. If they start poking and kicking another passenger, stop them. Please!
5. If you are a nervous flyer or you are planning to down a few Grasshoppers, pick the aisle seat.
Stepping over people to use the bathroom is annoying for both parties involved. Having drinks passed
over you during flight isn’t fun either. Plus, alcohol affects a body more at 40,000 feet so if it hits you
liked a spurned lover’s smack to the face, it might be better to fall into the aisle than onto a small child.
|WestJet flight over New Orleans|