Montserrat

Jun. 20th, 2009 01:02 pm
qatarperegrine: (Default)
Every city we've been to in Spain feels like a new country, but the difference between Andalucia and Catalunia is vast. The crowd is very different, too. In Andalucia the other tourists were mostly Spanish, some French, some East Asian, and overwhelmingly young. Here in Montserrat there are tons of Americans, particularly older Americans on bus tours. It's funny how that happens. Once Justin and I passed a resort town in Turkey that was ALL Russian tourists.

Montserrat is a monastery set among a range of weird, Dali-looking rock pillars near Barcelona. (Though of course it's Dali that resembles Montserrat.) Montserrat is known for its black madonna, La Moreneta, who is the patron of Catalunia. We are gradually learning a little Catalan, which seems closer to French than Castillian Spanish; for example, "please" is "si us plau." Today we finally figured out (meaning that Ryan corralled our amused funicular driver into teaching us some Catalan) that x is sh (thus "coche" in Catalan is written "cotxe") but we still haven't totally worked out the dot between l's, as in our hotel, Cel.les Abat Marcel. I think it's to show it's not a double l pronounced y, but then why not write it Celes?

Oh, Montserrat is also known for its choir; it has, apparently, the oldest boys choir school in Europe. Last night we went to vespers, where the boys' choir sang Salwe Regina (the one I remember from Justin and Amanda's music history class, no less). Oh, and there's also a rather stunning museum.

We intended to do some hiking up here -- it was our consolation for not making it to the Picos de Europa as planned -- but since my ankles were alarmingly swollen we've just been taking it easy. Turns out that's also a good choice. We're all rested and ready to hit Barcelona tomorrow! Modernisme, here we come!
qatarperegrine: (travel)
Thailand pictures are posted! Click for the whole album.

qatarperegrine: (Default)
Final count: 10 Che images and 10 Bob Marley images. Bob was pulling ahead in Ko Tao, if you recall, but Ao Nang went 7-4 for Che. I'm willing to call it for Bob Marley, though, since one of the Che T-shirts had a pot leaf superimposed on his image, which I feel makes it count a tiny bit in the Bob Marley column.

I don't understand Thailand and Che/Bob Marley. I guess that's what you sell when all your tourists are backpacker types. But really, who buys a Che T-shirt to commemorate their trip to Thailand?

The second part of our trip was a little jungle safari thing we arranged through a well-rated ecotourism company. It turned out to be a bit of mismatch to our expectations, though... I thought "canoe down the Sok River" meant we'd be intrepidly canoeing ourselves, for example, not sitting on an inflatable yellow boat while some Thai guy paddled us around. Ah well.

We were going to hang out in Krabi the last day before catching our flight back home, but Krabi was sort of meh so we went to Ao Nang instead. It was a good call.

Pictures will be posted soon... for now just this one:
qatarperegrine: (travel)
Yeah, you heard me! We're going to Thailand AGAIN! Because Thailand is just that awesome.

We'll be spending our spring break learning how to scuba dive. And then wandering through a jungle on a canoe and then an elephant. I'm way excited.

See you in a week!
+= :-)
qatarperegrine: (camera)
Our pictures (and a couple videos) from our Eid trip to Thailand are now online here.

There are four folders for each of our four destinations: Phang Nga, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok. It is also worth noting that graphic pictures of self-mutilation at the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket are in a separate folder within Phuket, so you don't have to look at those if you don't want to.

If you don't feel like looking at all the pictures, here are a dozen of my favorites: Cut for bandwidth )
qatarperegrine: (travel)
If I could do this vacation in Thailand over again, the one thing I'd change is this: I would keep a running count of all the pictures I've seen here (on T-shirts, in restaurants, for sale in markets) of Che and Bob Marley.

I think so far Bob Marley is winning, but I could be wrong. Either way, Thai people really seem to like their Central American rebels.
qatarperegrine: (travel)
1. If I'd been among the first Europeans to visit Southeast Asia, I probably would have called it Indochina, too. Every moment I was walking around Phuket Town I was alternating between going "This is so like India" and "Wow, how Chinese." One moment you're passing a house shrine where people have offered marigolds and sweets to the local spirits -- um, are you guys sure you're not Hindu? -- and the next you're walking past a red and gold Chinese temple complete with dragons statues.

We spent the last couple days at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, which I suppose epitomizes both of those influences. It's a Taoist festival, which was very much evident from the offerings we saw going on at the temples -- incense, firecrackers, burning pretend money -- but it is most known for the acts of self-mutilation that occur as men walk across coals, bathe in hot oil, pierce themselves with gruesome objects, or self-flagellate, all in order to allow themselves to become conduits for the emperor-gods of the festival. The books say the self-mutilation aspect of the festival is borrowed from a Hindu festival in Malaysia. So yes, southern Thailand really is a fascinating cultural crossroads.

Now we're in Chiang Mai, though, which seems culturally very different. We've been here for two hours, though, so I'll have to report more on that later. (Hooray for guesthouses with free internet!)

2. Other than the internet cafe in Phuket, I think that every building I have entered in Thailand has offered Thai massages, haircuts, and/or cooking classes. This is leading me to suspect that if you walked into any building in Thailand, public or private, and asked for one of those three services, you would likely find it.
qatarperegrine: (travel)
IN PHUKET STOP
KAYAKING AWESOME STOP
CHIANG MAI TUESDAY TG1206 & TG1116 FULL STOP
qatarperegrine: (travel)
I've been terrible about updating lately; it's because my life has gotten amazingly hectic. That's a good thing, though. I'm happiest when there are students in and out of my office all day, and that has certainly been the case the last couple weeks.

Tomorrow morning Justin and I are leaving for a week in Thailand! I may post briefly from there, but otherwise I will be sure to tell you all about it a week from Sunday.

Lao jer gun ka!

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