We have a snake!


Look at our snake! He's so cute! Aaron got him before Chinese New Year and he hasn't quite figured out how to eat yet, until now. If you don't know Aaron, he loves snakes and spent a few hours looking at snake pictures last night. We're having a name contest for our snake, so if you have a name idea, send it over!

Vegetarianism Vs. Carnivorism-The RESULTS!!!


I don't think carnivorism is actually a word, but whatever. It's the moment you all have been waiting for! The results of the poll on whether I, Rika Gemmell-Meyer should start eating meat again. (for a re-cap on what this is all about, see the original post here).

This vote was a doozie folks, I'll tell you what. Vegetarians lagged behind in the voting from the get-go. Passionate people, most excited by flesh came to the polls and declared that all men and women were created equal and designed to eat the animals that walk the earth. Even Aaron, my loving husband, assured me that if God didn't want people to eat animals, He wouldn've have made them out of meat.

As I tallied up the votes, my heart started racing. I began to sweat as I nervously thought about that first dripping steak. Would I be able to finish it all in one sitting? Would I hear the dead cow softly mooing in my ear?

The votes were in, and very clear. The carnivores had dominated the vegetarians, a whopping 49-30.

Now, I didn't give it a second look, until I found something very suspicious reading the votes. Turns out that many of the carnivore posts were cast by the same computer, over and over again, only a few seconds apart. Now unless someone was having a party and letting each guest take a hit at sealing my ingestive fate, I suspect that there was a bit of cheatin goin on.

So I went through each vote, and after meticulously casting a recount, here are the new and clean results:

Vegetarians: 30
Meat Eaters: 25
Cases of cheating: 5 (all meat eaters)

What does this tell me, and the public wrestling with their own dilemma in eating? Meat eaters are a bunch of lying, cheating, murderous cheaters (just watch Food Inc., and see what the meat industry has done in America!). And I'm so glad that I don't have to become one of them. You all should be ashamed of yourselves!

I'm going to go eat a brick of tofu now. And read In Defense of Food.

Back to the Rain-covered Island


We have arrived back to our formerly messy home in Taiwan (now it's sparkling clean after a full day of scrubbing floors and rearranging furniture).

As wonderful as it is to be in our home sweet home, it's been raining nonstop since we've arrived. It's that cold, wet, miserable rain that is bone-chilling and makes you not want to step outside at all-especially to make a scooter trek to town. It's Chinese New Year holiday, and we keep seeing flares of firecrackers from our windows, and no stores are open, except 7-11. I ran to get some groceries the other day and cleaned out the store of the last package of carrots and a single lonely onion. Hopefully these people will get back to work and get us some veggies soon!

Until then, here's the music video I promised, but forgot to throw up onto our blog. Not barf, you know what I mean:

Thailand Post #4: riding on elephants


One of our number one goals of our holiday in Thailand was to see and ride elephants. In our trusty guide book, we read of one elephant camp 2 hours north of Chiang Mai where people could not only ride elephants, but they could do it without a saddle and then finish the ride in a river with the elephants. We had to see if this was really true or not, so we hightailed it through the northern Thailand mountains in search of elephants, to a little town called Pai.

Pai is a hippie's dream land. It's warm in the day, cool at night with plenty of shops to enable anyone to become the poster child of the hippie movement. There's one store full of colorful tie-dyed dresses and Bob Marley t-shirts, next to a jewelry shop of wooden and silver necklaces, next to a hair place that specializes in dreadlocks. It's a little bit eerie seeing crowds of dreadlocked, dirty, baggy pants, barefoot people from all over the world. I'm not sure what people do here other than pursue yoga, pot, and crystal meditation. Maybe the elephants? I wonder if they ever do find what they're looking for, or if they realize that Pai is just another tourist town, eager to make a buck.

Anyway, we were happy just to be out of a city and into cooler weather, and oh so excited to finally see elephants! The day was everything the book promised and more. We got an early morning hike on the elephant. Ours' was a 50-year-old grandma elephant named "Pomba", and the trainer told us she was pretty skittish but she handled the hike really well. After the hike, we walked into the river and Pomba threw us off and blew water at us out of her trunk. It was so incredible, even if she was prodded to do it by her trainer.

I keep trying to add pictures and videos, but these cyber cafe places just can't keep up with all my internet needs, so it'll have to wait til we get home. We have a 15-hour trainride to Bangkok tomorrow, and then a weekend in the city. We're just about ready to go home, but Thailand is definitely worth the trip!

Blog Thailand 3: On the road again


Blog Thailand 2

We are now on the plane from southern Thailand to the north, where the air is cooler and the prices are even cheaper! We took a ferry yesterday from koh lanta and while it started out as a nice and relaxed boatride on cool a/c lower deck, we had to switch boats halfway through our journey and were forced to the top deck with all the hippies and sun worshippers, and tried our best not to get heat stroke and prayed for a swift 90 minute journey. 

The 90 minutes were not fast but we did find a nice little hostel, the Thalang Guest House in Old Town Phuket, with a rooftop room and free breakfast. Phuket town was not that awesome. It was just blistering hot with no chance of a beach. 

Needless to say, we were pretty over searching for popcicle stands and iced teas and were ready to leave the hot south.

From here, we'll spend a few days in Chiangmai, a couple days in nearby Pai, and finish the trip with Bangkok before headin home to Taipei next Monday. 

A special hello to friends and family that were snowed in his weekend. You guys made international news! Although I think the press made it out to be worse than it is, right? A snowstorm of epic proportions, really?  

Blog Thailand 2: the beach


Blog Thailand

Spending a day in dry, 98 degree heat is not worth it; unless you have a glass of sweet Thai ice tea and a crystal clear ocean at your feet.  Aaron and I just got to re-do our ghetto fabulous, sketchy carnival honeymoon cruise to Mexico. We reclaimed our white sandy beaches and coconut smoothies. No more hefty burnt alabamans, instead we were surrounded by crispy Europeans who were as happy as we were to escape their frozen homelands, on the beautiful island of Koh Lanta.

We spent the first couple of days out to sea with a diving company. Aaron took an advanced diving padi course and I got my open water cert. The sealife was so incredible, with abundant coral, thousands of tiny yellow striped fish, and surprises like pufferfish, sea snakes, barracuda, and streamlined schools of trumpetfish. The diving company fed us breakfast and curry for lunch both days and although this was our big splurge of the trip, we saved money on lodging by staying in a hut for around US $11 per night. 

After our diving days, we rented a motorbike for about $7/day and cruised the island. We made it all the way to a quirky resort in the south then stopped in Old Town Lanta, before searching for a hike to the island's waterfall. We met a really cool Australian family with two small children and hiked with them to the trickle of a waterfall. Their son (Harry) loved Aaron and danger and the two explored a bat cave right before the bats flew out to catch their dinner. 

On the way back to our shack of a bungalow, we stopped to get some meds for our stuffed ears. I had a terrible case of the hiccups and was pretty sure the concerned shoppkeeper assumed I had been drinking too much like the rest of he backpackers on the island. She suggested I drink some water, but we had some at our place and I didn't want to make an uneccessary purchase. The hiccups came faster and more furious each time. 

As Aaron was getting money out to pay, the woman said, "what dat in your bag?" I was confused and turned around.

"you stole from my shop!!! I saw you do it!"

I was even more confused and denied it emphatically, offering her my backpack to search. I felt so bad that she had probably been robbed many times from travelers and had no choice but to be paranoid.  I pleaded with her to believe me.

The woman threw her head back laughing as she asked through broken English,"where are your hiccups now?"

Again I was confused, and then I got it. This crazy woman scared away my hiccups! Once my heart started beating again, I thanked her and left laughing at her boldness.

Thailand trip entry #1


Blog Thailand

This is my first attempt at blogging with our ultimate travel tool, our iPod touch. We arrived in Bangkok late last night and after a much too flight this morning, are now on our way to our island bungelow on koh lanta.

As travel ofen goes, we arrives at the international airport in  new county shock, and tried to get our bearings of where to go from there. We needed to get to the area of the other airport, which is about an hour away, and found a really nice guy who spoke enough English to help us find our bus. During the most terrifying bus ride i've experienced, we asked our new friend if he had any suggestions on where to stay near the airport. After much deliberation, he said, "miracle grand hotel. It's not a 5 star hotel, but it's okay."  we assured him that we are not 5 star types of people and that we just neded a place to drop. After racing through the freeways around Bangkok, our indie 500 driver pulled over and dumped us off near some railway tracks.

Quick thing that you should know about Thailand and why we wanted to come here in the first place; we are simple, frugal people in search of a delightful adventurous vacation tha will not drain our bank accounts. Thailand is known for being a backpackwr's paradise. Cheap food and accommadations ($10/per night to stay, $1 per meal) surrounded by clear blue waters and white sandy beaches, we knew we just had to check it out.

So we walk across these tracks and see this flashy "miracle grand hotel", glowing above us. It looked expensive and sure enough, after asking the desk worker, we were given a price of $110usd per night. Um, no thanks. Not when we've heard tales of living for weeks on that much money. 

It was nearing midnight, and we began to walk down the street in search of something less obsene. We walked with our backpacks, and the packs of rats scurrying across the sidewalk, past the doped up guy on the street corner holding a syringe, until we just decided to try a taxi. 

We did eventually find another hotel, although I'm still to ashamed to say the price, and we did get free breakfast at 5:30 am, made it to our plane with plenty of time to spare, and are only hours away from our budget-friendly dream vacation. 

Now we are hopelessly trying to exchange our Taiwan dollars into the Thai baht and they give horrendous rates here. Wish taiwan was a little more internationally recognized.

More travel journals and pictures to come!