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Bangkok and Beyond

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster...

Well Bangkok is the center of the universe when it comes to SE Asia, but our senses were surely shocked even before hitting that crazy place. When Michelle and I left Sihanoukville heading west to Bangkok our thoughts and emotions centered around the sad fact that our trip was coming to an end. Reminiscing about our long journey thus far, our bus stopped for our final land crossing of the trip. We thought once we landed in Hawaii that our body and minds would be out of sorts after traveling through 3rd world countries, but walking into Thailand, one would think they were somewhat back in the States.

There are freshly paved roads, manicured shrubbery along the highway and after about an hour driving from the border, our bus broke down and stopped at a 7 Eleven. Shocking that our bus broke down, right? After another very, very long 14 hour bus ride, we were dropped off at Khao San Road, Bangkok.

For many of you who haven't been to Khao San I would safely say that it's the largest concentration of backpackers on the planet. At night, it looks like a mini Vegas strip all condensed in one city block. You can get everything from a fake college diploma, brass knuckles, tattoos and a double tall nonfat latte from Starbucks. When I was here 7 years ago, Khao San was a much different place. You couldn't go to a 24hr Burger King, get a foot-long sub from Subway or get a latte from Starbucks. It's now become a brand.

In Cambodia, Michelle and I decided we would actually stay in the center of Bangkok, away from Khao San. We soon realized this was a mistake. Our hotel was very nice, but the location and its surroundings were geared more to the chic tourists and not the mellow backpackers we've been used to. We really felt out of place. We already paid ahead of time for our three nights stay, but outside of sleeping at our hotel, we spent the majority of our time on Khao San.

Our time in Bangkok centered around drinking Chang beer, getting a Thai massage for Michelle and doing some last minute shopping for ourselves. Actually our last big purchase was a beautiful Thai pillow for our new apartment. We didn't realize at the time, this purchase would cause us problems.

Fast forward...Landing in Honolulu and going through customs, our pillow was confiscated due to the contents within. Customs cut the pillow open and showed us that the stuffing inside contains a particular straw that is dangerous to agriculture. Hawaiian agriculture and customs are sticklers for items coming onto the islands. 7 years ago, I brought one of these pillows home, although the customs agents in Los Angeles didn't bat an eye.

Other than this slight bump arriving to the States, our trip in Hawaii was a great place to decompress and reflect on the past 6 weeks of travel. We watched Justin graduate Magna Cum-laude in Information Systems from Hawaii Pacific University, hung out with my family and stared for countless hours from my dad's amazing view from his condo.

Michelle and I spent a week in Hawaii, although less than 24 hours from landing in LA, we got an emergency phone call from Sean, the person helping us find an apartment in San Francisco. He asked "how quickly can you be in SF?" But let me back up a few days...Imagine Hawaii, two days in, Sean calls about an AMAZING apartment in SF. The place allowed pets, totally remodeled, close to a dog park and in a neighborhood Michelle and I wanted to live in. Perfect...we want it. Unfortunately, the policy of the company that owns the building is that we must see the place first before we can sign the lease. Well this wasn't too convenient. For 5 days we went back and forth with phone calls, emails and faxes to see if we could get around this problem. This was way too much stress and anxiety for us to cope with having just landing in the states. Flying home was out of the question. So we left it to fate. When we get home, we would stick to the original plan of driving up to SF the following weekend and see the "fantabulous" apartment at that time, that is assuming, of course, that no one had snapped it up before then. Sadly, things don't necessarily work out the way you want them to.

Sean's phone call gave us less than 24 hours to get to SF, view the apartment and sign the lease, or else the apartment would be given to someone else. Michelle and I got into the car at 9:30p (we had been home for less than 24 hours) and drove north, 20 minutes outside of San Francisco, arriving at 3 am for a quick sleep at Motel 6. By this point the two of us were physically and emotionally exhausted. We saw the place early that morning, signed the lease and drove back home...

With the pressure of finding a place in San Francisco away, we are all geared up to start this next adventure in our lives.

Thank you all for taking the time to read our blog and following our journey.

Our home is always open in San Francisco to anyone that wants to visit. We have plenty of room:)

Posted by charley08 11:14 Archived in USA Comments (0)

We're on Our Way

Hello all. We leave for the next leg of our trip in less than 12 hours. Although we wrote in our blog yesterday of our adventure up to PDX, we wanted to write a final goodbye. Michelle and I had a wonderful time visiting friends and exploring the city. We want to thank Annie for opening up her home, hosting the get together with friends and watching The Lord (aka Oliver). It's off to SE Asia. Ciao...Michelle and Kevin

Posted by charley08 18:44 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Could a short flight to Portland be more stressful?

sunny

I think the first thought that ran through our heads when we finally landed in Portland on Thursday June 26th was "Thank God that is over" Yes, it is true, our flight to Portland can best be described as a 5 hour nightmare.

We arrived at the United terminal at LAX around 2 pm for our 3:47 flight so that we could get to our gate with little hassle. Apparently this was incredibly wishful thinking. Our first task was to check in our luggage...sounds simple enough. However, when we arrived at the United skycap it turned out that the one guy who knew how to charge us for our extra luggage was not working that day. (As a side note, it astounds me that United would impose a $25 fee per extra bag but would not teach their employees how to actually execute the announcement).

So after checking two free bags, we headed inside to check and pay for our second bag, easy enough. We got into line and walked up to a self serve kiosk only to discover that we could not self check our luggage; an agent was required. However, with all of the recent labor cuts, there were only three agents for approximately 100 people...so we waited and waited and waited.
Close to 25 minutes later our luggage was checked and we easliy passed through security...shockingly. After arriving at our gate, we decided to purchase a magazine for the 2 hour flight. (This might be a good time to mention that Oliver, Kevin's Golden Retriever was traveling with us as well). While waiting for me out side the "store", a women asked Kevin "What would your dog do if I stepped on his tail?" (Yes, someone actually asked this question). Kevin replied, "He would do nothing but my girlfriend might come after you"...Mikey, this might be a good target for Invisible man...

Finally, it was time to board, on time I might add. Another important side note. As a requirement for traveling with Oliver on the plane our seats need to be in bulkhead so that the dog has enough room to lay down. In order to make sure this is the case, we had to book our tickets over the phone to make sure.

Well, as I am sure you can guess, when we stepped on the plane, we were sitting in row 11, not the bulkhead. To make matters worse, it turns out the bulkhead seats are actually for Economy plus customer, who pay more for their tickets than the "lowly" regular fliers. So, for someone to switch seats with us they would actually be sitting in seats that were "worse" than what they had paid for. After waiting outside the plane for about 15 minutes, two men were found who agreed to switch seats with us...and finally we were off on our journey. Icing on the cake. When the stewardesses were serving drinks on the plane we were the only ones not served.

At 6:30pm we had landed and at least we knew that the rest of our time in Portland would be 1000 times better than our flight up here.

Posted by charley08 11:56 Archived in USA Tagged air_travel Comments (2)

14 Days and Counting

Preparing for our journey

sunny
View Los Angeles to Portland on charley08's travel map.

It is June 12th, 2 weeks before we begin the first leg of our trip in Portland Oregon. This is going to be a busy two weeks. Not only are we celebrating Michelle's graduation from UCLAAnderson business school and the launch of Kevin's incredible website, but we are also packing up Michelle's apartment, buying some last minute travel items and saying goodbye to family and friends.
Our first entry will be from Portland Oregon on June 27th. We hope you will enjoy reading this blog as much as we will enjoy sharing our experiences with all of you.
Kevin and Michelle

Posted by charley08 23:07 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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