Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Beijing Cream

Anthony "Toni" Tao recently started a blog called Beijing Cream.  Check it out, it's pretty damn good.

I gave him my first contribution this weekend, in the form of a restaurant review.  Tao likes swearing, so i added a few in my review.

I went to two tournaments in the last three weekends, and Shanghai won both of them.  Both tournaments did nothing to help our rivalry with Shanghai, and if anything, it greatly intensified it.  At Ningbo, we only had 8 players in the finals against them, since three of our player left early to catch a train.  Shanghai would not let us pick up even one player to try to compensate a little for the players we lost, so we played with 6 guys and 2 girls, and one of our girls was injured.  They won easily.

Then this weekend at Nanjing, Shanghai was the team short-handed.  This time however, they picked up two of the best players at the tournament halfway through day one.  When we played them on day 2, they even had more players than us... 12 to our 11.  We lost 8-7 on universe point.

Does this seem fair to anyone?  Shanghai likes to bend the rules to their favor whenever they can, and we were not pleased at all.

In other news, Esther and I are now in Xiao Shan, making the final preparations for our wedding on April 30th.  Wish us luck!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Koh Kood

We met up with Aiyesha and Reid at the bus station, and caught a bus to Trat, a gateway city for travelers preparing to cross into Cambodia. We had to spend the night there. There's not much to the city, but it's pleasant enough, fine for one evening. We still hadn't decided between Koh Chang or Koh Kood, two islands (koh, in Thai) nearby. On the one hand, Koh Chang is Thailand's second largest island, a very popular destination for travelers with plenty of things to do and all night raging parties on the beach. On the other hand, Koh Kood is the escape from the party life, where you go to have a beach all to yourself, be lazy and relax in your own quiet paradise. The next morning we took a boat to Koh Kood.

Koh Kood turned out to be the perfect spot for us. Esther and i had just gotten engaged, and the other two had just been on a three-week whirlwind trip of asia with their professors and classmates. We all craved someplace easy. We found some simple and cheap ($22/night) bungalows on the beach, no neighbors, and little huts with hammocks for our private use. It was pretty ideal. Esther and i stayed in the little green bungalow below.

With 5 days of relaxing, the days all run together. I know we rented mopeds, kayaked, went scuba diving, played frisbee and farkle, read books, ate, laughed, drank, relaxed, and slept. I would have no idea when we did what without the pictures on my camera keeping a record, but the chronology of it all isn't so important anyway.

I do know the first full day esther and i rented a moped and checked out the southern end of the island. Our first stop was the quaint fishing village of Ban Ao Yai, population 100 or so, all the houses floating on stilts. There wasn't much to see, but we took our time anyway, walking every path we found.

This pictorial menu was pretty great, as is the poster hanging to the right. Both raise some important questions to consider.

  • Are those people drowning?
  • Why are some people high-fiving?
  • Why is there a monk standing in the middle?
  • Why is the only guy that's not being saved also the happiest?
  • Is it really that hard to draw a chicken?

Another day the four of us rented two mopeds and we explored north. Most notable was another quiet little town, a Buddhist temple where young boys were doing manual labor, and the Klong Chao Waterfall. Technically, there was water falling at the waterfall, but the cliff jumping turned out to be the best part anyway.

Should you ever find yourself with a moped on Koh Kood, i highly recommend taking the off-road trek to the 500-year-old Makka tree. The road into the dense forest is gorgeous and worth the journey by itself.

Most days we just went on little adventures and found cool beaches or restaurants to hang out at.

My favorite evening spot was at the end of a pier jutting out into the bay, far from the reaches of mosquitos. Out there, even at night, the water was still warm because it was only 5 feet deep. The overhead lights penetrated straight to the sea floor and you could clearly see the night creatures swimming around. I saw a few pufferfish, an eel, and some cuttlefish. I could have sat there for hours.

That was our serious pose. Happy poses come out blurry.