Monday, January 14, 2013

Anyone know where/how to buy leech socks?

LEECH SOCKS. I need them.

Amazon and Ebay are both failing me. (By which I mean, 0 search returns. Is there another name for them or something?)

I’ve come across a couple of websites, but… anyone have a recommendation?

(I already have a pair that I bought the last time I was in Borneo - but I’m not entirely sure that I can find them - and I kind of like the idea of having two pairs…)

[ EDIT: ALSO - anyone have a certain brand of universal adapter that they swear by?

I usually just buy the cheap-ass low tech things that make-the-metal-prongs fit the local sockets once I’m on the ground (and let my laptop/camera charger/external hard-drive deal with voltage conversion)… But it looks like this time I’m not going to have much time on the ground in between landing in Jakarta and hustling myself off to the middle of the jungle - and the internet tells me that there isn’t even a standard plug-type in Indonesia, anyway, there’s like three of them that vary - so…

I’m considering one of those fancy universal ones - but not one with loads of little removable-detachable tips (that I can, and will, lose) - but one that behaves like a kid’s robot toy and different parts swing out when you hit different buttons - but I’m not convinced the latter type aren’t a waste of money….

Anybody? ]

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On reading my travel-guide-journal from my backpacking trip to Asia…

I can’t figure out exactly when I was in Indonesia.

But, I have found (listed in approximately the same order in which they appear in the book - which is, it should be noted, nowhere near an approximation of the order in which I experienced them):

  • Blank postcards. (Not even pretty ones. Of course, I may have sent the pretty ones.)
  • Lots and lots and lots and lots (and lots!) of email addresses.
  • Phone numbers, only slightly less in quantity than the email addresses, and no better labelled.
  • A lot of Thai phrases and words. In a lot of different peoples’ handwriting.
  • In my own hand-writing, with no explanation, this url: (Looking at it now - for what I’m fairly certain is the first time, I love my taste: artist who sculpts from found and recycled materials..!)
  • List of things to do in/around Chiang Mai: Wat Pra Doi Suthep, The Lake, Pasang, Wat Phra That Lampang Luang
  • Info on Akha Hill House (with a note that I could volunteer or teach English…)
  • Mailing addresses for people I probably would have kept in touch with, were I a better person. (Not to mention, mailing addresses for people with whom I’m very happy to have not kept in touch.
  • Names of temples. Lots of them. (On three pages, in different ink, at different angles: Huan Bot Temple, Wat Suan Dok, 
  • Reminders to check the cost of flights. Including places I never made it to, such as Hanoi and Singapore.
  • An idealistic schedule that I did not keep to. Including places like Jakarta.
  • Many torn pages with half missing. (Presumably I gave my contact info to someone?)
  • Names of guest houses/hostels. (A good two-thirds of the book is this. Early on, I’m willing to bet most are in Chiang Mai. Most considerably more expensive than the 100 baht ($4 or £3) a night that, months later, I would know I could find.
  • Notes on natural parks in Borneo: Danum, Batang Ai, Kutai, Gunung Palung, Betung Kerihun, and Tanjung Putung. (Nearby cities, cost, companies that take you in - and how to get there by bus and boat.)
  • Namo Yoga Studio (in Chiang Mai) appears multiple times, in my own handwriting as well as other peoples. (I’m guessing it’s the yoga studio of choice!)
  • The Curriculum Project - an incredible program working with educating Burmese refugees in Thailand. Really, really great program. With a couple of email addresses of people who worked for it (whom I have got to get in back touch with - one of them is already a FaceBook friend, the other one I haven’t spoken to since he gav me a lift on his motorbike and I burned my leg badly enough that I still have a scar…)
  • The State of Africa - I’m still meaning to read this…
  • Tiny note in a corner about getting a tribal tattoo in Sarawak from the Orang Ulu tribes: “INFECTION INEVITABLE" written below.
  • Lots of math. Me trying to work out how much money I still had. Or didn’t have.
  • Notes on Tachilek, Burma. At first instance it simply says “2 wks travel permit. Need passport photos for border. Take charcoal pills & dictionary.” 
  • And then - not my handwriting - there is a list of food to eat in Burma: "Pickled tea leaf salad (la pet toe). Tamarind salad. Califlower Salad. Mohinga (Morang noodle soup). Spiced Milk Tea." (I did not manage to find any of these in Tachilek or Kengtung. Frankly, I was happy when I found biscuits and tea and every now and then some noodle soup. Eating good Burmese food is still on my list of life goals. I do remember the guy who wrote it - we were on a bus, headed back to Chiang Mai after the reggae festival in Pai and he convinced me to go to Burma. He was lovely, and I keep just barely not managing to meet up with him in San Francisco…)
  • Reggae festival in Pai. (Not in the book, but so worth a mention. It was amazing. It’s going to be the Burning Man after whatever happens after Burning Man - so go before that. But book a room ahead of time, because you can’t get one - although you might not need one, anyway. I hitch-hiked there and back and into a room at a cooking school. And, somehow, in some sort of Douglas Adams hitchiking mis-hap, my towel disappeared from my bag.)
  • Koh Chang: 5 hrs from Bangkok, near Cambodia, Long Beach Tree House, 200 baht per night. (Didn’t go. Wishing I had. Tree house!)
  • "Sunday 9th @ 1:00pm (or earlier)" - on an otherwise blank page, across from a blank page. (I am mysterious.)
  • Lots of fun medical notes and doctors phone numbers and oh, this was the first time that I got food poisoning (we can call it dysentery when you lose 10 lbs in a week, right?). And insurance information.
  • Another planned calendar/intinerary. Apparently I planned to go to Bali. Or was considering it… Also - and since this is the second calendar it appears on - a flight from Jakarta to Bangkok!
  • Directions to somewhere that was near a moat.
  • Contact info on how to go trekking with a river cruise and see burial caves. (Why didn’t I do that?) For 200 RM p/night ($65 or £40) - that’s probably why - although it sounds like a deal, now…
  • Buses.
  • Hand drawn maps.
  • "Sunday. 9am. Batik workshop." (The map says it is near a Railway Station….  )
  • "Parafin + wax = 1 + 1. Silicate + water = 1 +1."
  • More guesthouse info.
  • Info on Bali. (One day!)
  • I think forgiveness is to accept that creation is thoroughly tangled, with every possible quality given some outlet for expression. Deepak Chopra
  • The one reality includes everything in its tangle of experiences, and what we are trying to find is the experiencer who is present no matter what experience you are having. Deepak Chopra
  • Guesthouses in Champasak. (On river. Or not. Clean. Or not…)
  • Guesthouse in KL that, on a hunch, I think I stayed in…
  • Sandakan: Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. (Why didn’t I go?!). Gomantong Cave. (?!) Several homestays in the area. (Pro/con lists comparing them. Prices, duration, classes and trekking offered. List of gifts to buy for children. Lots of budget math.)
  • Guesthouses in Jakarta. Some starred. Some double-starred.
  • Other people’s handwriting with comments on various Thai islands. (Everyone had a favourite…)
  • Love and Death in Kathmandu - book on political situation”. (Still need to read that!)
  • Trips out of Kathmandu: Bandaipur, Gorhka, Pokhora
  • Several pages of Nepali phrases and words.
  • Several blank pages (in the middle of the book). Now, we reach the other side. Which I’d also been using, the other direction, starting from the back.
  • Notes about the Umbrella Foundation - the houses they ran, headcounts of how many kids in each, school hours, office hours, meal times - and things to fix on the website. (At least a sixth of the book, near the end.)
  • The list of "Brizzle shiz!" Clubs and pubs - which to go to, which to avoid, which to get a job at. From the Irish guy.
  • Who also drew me a map of Koh Phangan, labelled only with “This is where you MUST stay” and “this is Hadrin”. (He also drew a picture of himself - with whiskers, wearing a leprechaun hat. He did not leave his name or contact info…)
  • Siem Reap: note to go to Artisan’s Angkor for workshops. Reminder to stay near the river! Note that there is a cello concert Fri/Sat 7p to fundraiser for a hospital. Angkor What? = bar. Butterfly garden: dance and music @ 7:30p.
  • "No sugar = stew tik tik". (Unless you have a serious sweet tooth - and I don’t - this is a phrase as important as “Where is the bathroom?”. Seriously.)
  • More frantic budget math.
  • Several sketches of what became my tattoo.
  • Malay phrases.
  • Directions to the US embassy in Laos.
  • list of music I wanted my brother to send me: "Tom Waits, Tori Amos, Lila Downs, Rolling Stones, Saul Williams, Paul Simon, & Nick Drake". (Not sure what I did have, but that’s a good example of my take-to-a-desert-island list…)
  • More Thai. (Mainly in my writing, polite and useful phrases. In someone elses: "gig = casual/short-term boyfriend".)
  • Jerome Lejeune”. (In very large, somewhat shakey writing.) Below it, another name - it’s not google-able, so it must have been his - the man I was talking to - in a cafe - a very sweet, very smart, and very old man. We talked for hours, about human nature and evolution. I bought him coffee. I can’t remember the details of the conversation - but at the time, it was profound. I wrote a poem about him later; said that I’d had coffee with Socrates.)
Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nothing green could look less like the natural forest

Sinar Mas Palm Oil Plantations

There is something about the relentlessly orderly, geometric pattern of corporate palm oil plantations that emphasizes their vast size and alien nature.  The snowflake-shaped crowns of the young palms, pointed skyward in perfect rows, appeared like velcro waiting to snag the cottony clouds above.

Nothing green could look less like the natural forest it had replaced.  Forest canopy, with trees of different colors, sizes, shapes, have winding streams instead of straight canals and irregular gaps and spaces instead of rows.  And, beneath the canopy they host a world-class diversity of plants and wildlife instead of a strict, unnatural monoculture


Palm oil is delicious. It’s used in crackers and candy. It’s a plant that’s grown in tropical areas, mostly Indonesia. Rainforests are burned down to make room to plant the crop. Tens of thousands of animals are killed by the burning. This short video shows the impacts of palm oil production on orangutans. It’s one of three tough-to-stomach documentaries on rainforest destruction.

WARNING: This video is brutal and raw. Guys, I am not messing around here. Parts are extremely graphic.

Her name is GREEN, she is alone in a world that doesn’t belong to her. She is a female orangutan, victim of deforestation and resource exploitation. This film is an emotional journey with GREEN’s final days. With no narration, it is a visual ride presenting the devastating impacts of logging and land clearing for palm oil plantations, the choking haze created by rainforest fires and the tragic end of rainforest biodiversity. We watch the effects of consumerism and are faced with our personal accountability in the loss of the world’s rainforest treasures.

More from Green Planet Films.

Friday, April 6, 2012