San Gil

Headed north on a bus to San Gil with Luke, Rae-Anne, Gesine and a new addition to our travel alliance, Ida, a blond Swedish girl who like Gesine had been in South America for the best part of a year. Luke is 6' 5'', good looking, built like an olympic swimmer and at the age of 20 is studying a degree in management with an emphasis on adventure tourism. He has worked sampling soil and firefighting in the wilderness of Canada which meant he got to be a proper adventurer, meeting lots of bears and taking countless helicopter rides. He really should be very easy to hate and yet he is immensely modest and likeable; I didn't meet anyone who didn't think so*. Rae is two years older and has also had an equally full and exciting life as well as being super fit and seemingly good at everything. With the independent travel experiences of Gesine and Ida not only was I not the alpha male in the group, I wasn't even the alpha female. Then again this isn't a tall ask and everyone was excellent company.

Comfy bus, uncomfortable roads but great scenery. Got to San Gil and all five of us with our luggage squished in to a taxi the size of a fiesta.

Evening spent playing Tejo. Tejo is a sort of national sport in Colombia, it's a bit like darts, except instead of darts you use kilo weights and instead of a darts board there is a wet clay square twenty metres away and instead of a bulls eye there are triangular paper packages filled with gunpowder. So not really a whole lot like darts but a whole lot of fun. Especially when you hit the gunpowder which I managed once but only from the girls line while we were warming up.

San Gil is a popular centre for adventure sports so the next day we went canyoning and caving. All sorts of hairy experiences, squeezing through tight passages, shuffling along ledges above scary drops in to the darkness of the caves. Then to the outside world to jump, abseil and repel our way through the canyon. It was a good day to be alive.

Our guide Miguel was excellent and I enjoyed a conversation with him about Jhon Viafara which is not a sentence I've said before. He later told us about a local medicine (drug), Ayahuasca, from what I know about it it has similar active ingredients to LSD. Miguel spoke about it with religious fervor as it is only prepared by local Shamans who see it as their mission from God to enlighten the world through the healing powers of the Ayahuasca and it is only taken in special ceremonies. Since first taking the 'medicine' Miguel has given up cigarettes, alcohol, meat and is trying to give up cheese. What Miguel didn't talk about very much was that the first effects of taking Ayahuasca are vomiting and quite possibly soiling yourself. Everyone has the right to make their own mind up I suppose, you just have to ask yourself: Is spiritual enlightenment really worth a dirty pair of knickers?

*We did meet one guy who didn't seem to like Luke but he was a complete tool, a Kiwi called Tony. Having started a conversation with me about the 'awesome workout' he'd just done Tony then cut me off from whatever polite filler I was responding with by saying 'Your conversation is boring me, I'm going now'.

Salem,Oregon and lots of floks to see

Next stop Salem ,Oregon--- We lived there for 2 1/2 years Me and Ciejay before we moved to Thailand sooo we have lots of friends there and I lived there before Ciejay for 6 years and worked at Sizzler's and All That Glitters sooo we have lots of friend me and her together .


Phil Smith my best Buddy meet us at the train station and we went to He and his wife Dawn's new house "what a lovely place..." and moved us into our very own bed room , and I took a long nap before we started visiting everyone we knew , . The next day was lunch with Lorena and Hector and my grand-kids , we had a great time and the kids are now almost grown and Robert is as tall as me now , and Daisy is going to have a baby soon , really enjoyed Josh too, Hector made lunch the next day and brought it to Sizzlers where we got to visit with Pete and Dottie from All that Glitters , what a wonderful time it was , got to see Steve (my ole boss ) too . That night I meet all the ole gang of managers from Sizzler's ,my Buddies forever and we meet at the new Buffalo Wings Sports Bar for a evening of fun and sharing stories new and old we laughed a lot .

We meet Florance at the China Wall for a all you can eat buffet and a great time at her home where Ciejay found lots of figs on her trees and ate her fill, , great time with a dear friend , we also meet Jim our Buddy from the Gas station where we used the bathroom everyday when we sold produce the summer of 2004 before going to Thailand , Jim and Cal still call us all the time in Thailand and they are also dear friends .

The state fair was in full swing sooo off to the fair ,me Ciejay and Phil and dawn and we had a great time , best foot long dog I've ever ate and fun riding a few rides sad I did not win a big prize for Ciejay .

While we were there in their home, Phil and Dawn feed us and took such good care of us , THANK YOU and they even let us use the SUV so we didn't have to rent a car , what a good van.All in all it was a great time and I got to see and visit with some of my most favorite people in the whole world .


















Pictures of almost everyone we saw and things we did hope you enjoy.

Geburtstagsüberraschung einer lieben Kundin

heute möchte ich euch eine supersüße Geburtstagsüberraschung in zweierlei Hinsicht einer lieben Kundin zeigen.

Einmal diese wunderschöne Karte und ...

diese große Tüte mit Leckereien. Und das wobei ich soooo gerne nasche. Arme Hüften.

Frau J. noch mal vielen herzlichen Dank. Ich habe mich riesig gefreut.

Für den Moment
liebe Grüße
Conny


ein Geburtstagsgeschenk

Nun habe ich die Fotos von meinen Geburtstagskarten und Tauschkarten gemacht. Ich muss nun "nur" noch beschriften, sortieren und dann nach und nach bearbeiten. Die nächsten Tage zeige ich euch dann die Bilder.

Heute möchte ich euch das Geschenk meiner Tochter zeigen. Sie weiß, dass ich Tagebücher, Fotoalben, Minialben usw. mag. Daher hat sie mir ein Tagebuch in der Größe A4 gewerkelt.

 
 
Dazu bekam ich ein wunderschönes Kästchen mit den Worten "darin kannst Du Dir Deine Erinnerungsstücke, Schätze sammeln"

Ich fand und finde die Idee super und freu mich schon darauf das Buch und die Kiste mit Erinnerungen zu füllen.

Euch einen schönen Dienstag
Für den Moment
liebe Grüße
Conny



Karte für zwischen durch, Freundschaft

Na, wie war euer Wochenende? Habt ihr euch erholt oder ward ihr aktiv, unterwegs? Ich habe meine Swaps fertig. Ja, fertig und ich so gehe ich der Convention in Mainz doch entspannter entgegen.

Heute möchte ich euch wieder eine Karte zeigen. Wieder eine Karte für einfach so, für Freundschaft, für einen Gruß zwischen durch.

Mittlerweile hat sie Ihren Empfänger schon erreicht, so dass ich sie euch heute zeigen kann.

Ich liebe solche Schriftstempel. Wer meine Handschrift kennt, weiß, dass ich sehr auf sie angwiesen bin. grins

Euch nun einen tollen Start in die neue Woche.
Für den Moment
liebe Grüße
Conny


Alaska --- Fishing on the Famous Kenai River


I am going to post a few stories about our trip this fall to the USA , will try to include lots of pictures hope you enjoy them .
 It was not only a vacation but it was a trip of a lifetime seeing and visiting with a lot of Family and Friends around the country and I do mean around  we traveled from the west coast to the east coast and lots of stops in-between

 A Alaska Adventure !!! There is nothing that sounds so good and excites a fisherman or fisher woman than the cry of FISH ON !!!!!!. and the day on the River Kenai was no exception, Pastor and Master Guide Wayne and side kick and right arm Marveen to us for a trip of a lifetime, fishing in their boat on the Famous Kenai River . It started out as a rainy day , but as soon as we got on the water...r the sky cleared and we had a most beautiful and warm day , was perfect day for fish and they were ready to put up a great fight for us . Ciejay caught her first ever salmon (a Silver ) and it put up a good fight , but she hung in there amid all the screams of excitement and joy she landed him and then proceeded to catch her limit, while I caught a few she out did me and was awarded a hat with the words Fish On for being the best fish woman for the day from Pastor Wayne, she will treasure it forever.The Key Word for that lovely day was !!!!FISH ON !!!.

Here's a few pictures hope you enjoy.              " FISH ON"













 

A Tale Of Two Golden Corrals - Virginia PART II

In Part I I wrote about our not so great experience at the Williamsburg, Virginia Golden Corral. That night we got on the computer and looked for Golden Corrals in that area. The next nearest Golden Corral is in Newport News, Virginia. After that the next one was in Hampton Roads. We had been to the Golden Corral in Hampton Roads many years ago. It was nice, but Newport News was closer and

Karte Freundschaft

Schon wieder eine Woche um. Wie die Zeit rast. Mit meinen 200 Swaps bin ich ein Stück weiter, aber leider noch nicht fertig.

200 fragt ihr euch vielleicht jetzt. Nun, ich hätte bei meiner jetzigen Zeitplanung auch keine 200 gemacht. Aber ich habe mir von meiner Schwester aus einem Werksverkauf kleine, einzeln verpackte Schokostückchen mitbringen lassen. Wie sagte das Sams in dem Film so schön? "Du musst genauer wünschen..." Aber es ist gut so wie es ist und wenn ich am Samstag in Mainz meine Taschen zusammen packe und alle eingetauscht habe, freue ich mich ja auch riesig über die anderen vielen kreativen Ideen. Also, kurz Augen zu und durch. Außerdem haben wir ja Wochenende, mieses Wetter ist angesagt. Was passt da besser als basteln????

Heute habe ich wieder eine einfache Karte für euch. Freundschaft einfach mal so. Ich liebe es, immer mal wieder jemanden einfach so mit einem Gruß zu überraschen.

Nun wünsche ich euch ein supertolles, erholsames Wochenende
Für den Moment
liebe Grüße
Conny

SMOKED SALMON ---- the Alaska way (one way)

Ever since the beginning of time , preserving the food or meat from the days hunt was very important. Salting, drying in the sun, was the norm before frigs and freezers and canning  can to be . I love to can and freeze the things I hunt and catch and the fish I catch .










While we were in Alaska we went fishing on the Famous Kenai River , during the silver salmon run and we caught our limit and had a great time in doing so  , there's nothing like the sound of Fish On and I'll share that part of the trip in my next post, But I wanted to share in pictures  the art of smoking salmon . My friend Mark did all the work we just provided the fish , hope you enjoy the pictures . 

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2012

Well, it's all over for another year. The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is probably my favourite event in Phuket, my favourite time of year and the most bizarre festival I have ever seen. Nothing else like it. The festival in 2012 ran from 14th - 24th October starting on the 14th with the raising of the Go Teng poles at all the Chinese shrines around the island, down which the gods are invited to descend. Last year I attended the ceremony for the pole raising and also a midnight ceremony - see here. This year, work got in the way - last year I was on holiday throughout the festival.

For the 2012 festival my wife and I decided to stick to the vegetarian (เจ) diet for 9 days. The festival started back in the early to mid 19th century (date unclear) when visiting Chinese used diet and ceremonies honouring the emperor gods to cure themselves of sickness. The locals in the Kathu area of Phuket were impressed and so the festival began. The food is actually vegan - no meat, no dairy, no eggs .. also no alcohol. A diet like that is not so easy for me! But we stuck to the diet, well done us!

I suppose over the years the festival with its somewhat gruesome piercing ceremonies and big street processions has lost some of its impact for me, it's much more familiar and I admit when this year's festival started and I was working every day, I wasn't quite feeling as enthusiastic as previous years. Last year, being on holiday I could pick and choose what days to attend ceremonies or processions and had lots of time to sort out photos, plus my parents were here and eager to see the festival too. I wrote 5 separate blog pages about the 2011 vegetarian festival! Which I admit was maybe too much. Fascinating for me, but maybe endless pierced cheeks and firecrackers is not everyone's cup of tea. Well this year the first ceremony I checked out was on the 17th, heading to Sapam shrine early in the morning (about 6am) to meet a photographer friend called Adriano, get some pics and discuss photo techniques. We actually got there a bit early - Sapam is a small shrine and nothing much happened until 7am. I was determined to get some different pictures, not just pierced faces!

17th October 2012 Phuket Vegetarian Festival

17th October 2012 Phuket Vegetarian Festival

17th October 2012 Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) Scenes at Sapam Shrine, 17th October. More here.

Adriano teaches photography courses here in Phuket which include a walk in Phuket Town taking pictures and then an editing session where you can learn some tricks of the trade. A few days later Adriano gave me a Photoshop lesson at home - thanks!

On the evening of the 17th there was a street procession in Kathu village and just like last year I almost missed it. I drove to the village just before 7pm and almost drove into the front of the procession. Sitting in the car which I'd thrown to the side of the road while they ran past! A small gap appeared so I could nip into a side street, park and dash out with camera. This procession is for the birth and death gods, groups of young men carry statues through the streets and there are lots and lots of firecrackers...

Evening street procession for the birth and death gods

Phuket Vegetarian Procession in the night

OK, starting to feel the festival now.... And the very next morning, another 6am start at Sam Kong shrine on the north edge of Phuket Town. As I arrived I saw a group of about 20 Russians obviously on some kind of festival tour, all wearing brand new white clothes... wearing white is another aspect of the festival. The white colour represents cleanliness. I do try to wear a white shirt at the shrines, but I don't have white trousers. It's not vital but they do say you should not wear black. Sam Kong was quite busy. The first guy to get pierced had a scrum of people around him, lots of people trying to get a photo, holding cameras over heads, necks straining ... don't worry there'll be plenty more. Within 15 minutes there are Ma Song getting pierced all over the grounds of the shrine. I could not resist. Took lots of piercing photos that morning :)

Sam Kong Shrine 18th October 2012 Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Sam Kong Shrine 18th October 2012 Phuket Vegetarian Festival

The full set from Sam Kong Shrine is here. But I also got some very nice alternative photos. Not a drop of blood in sight.

Sam Kong Shrine 18th October 2012 Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Sam Kong Shrine 18th October 2012 Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Moving on and certainly in festival mood now, and already 5 days into "the diet", there was a big street procession on 20th October in Phuket Town, one of the biggest ones, starting at Bang Neow shrine. I did not go to the shrine, just stayed around the old town as the procession went by. Thalang Road is a good place to be, though I wandered around several streets following the smell of firecrackers.

2012 Phuket Vegetarian Festival 20th October

Phuket Town - Vegetarian Festival Procession 20th October 2012

2012 Phuket Vegetarian Festival 20th October

Phuket Town - Vegetarian Festival Procession 20th October 2012

The elderly couple above are Phuket natives, their family runs the old herb shop on Thalang Road and also the Kopitiam cafe where I stopped for breakfast as the procession passed right by the door! I finished in a hurry as the firecrackers started up, meaning the statues of the gods were passing. Many of the gangs carrying the statues stopped outside a house near the cafe to be pelted with firecrackers. I crouched down as close as I dared to try and get some photos of the Boom! I'm still waiting to get that perfect picture of exploding firecrackers, but the one below is pretty close.

Phuket Town - Vegetarian Festival Procession 20th October 2012

The noise and smoke is incredible. Next time I might just think about a facemask and some cotton wool for my ears - it's deafening and you have to be careful not to breathe in too much smoke, but I love getting in close!

More photos from October 20th : Bang Neow Shrine Vegetarian Procession

Watching the processions in town in great, and since they normally hit town around 7 - 8am, no need to get up too early (compared to my 5:30am wake up to visit shrines at 6am for piercing). I like the fact that it all happens early, so I can still get to work on time! Getting photos in a procession can be tricky, as they just keep walking, so you have a moving subject. In the shrines is easier in one way, as the pierced Ma Song normally sit for a while before the procession starts, but on the other hand, it's early morning and light levels are low. I try to get "different" photos every year. Not just bloody pierced cheeks.

Phuket Town - Vegetarian Festival Procession 20th October 2012

On Sunday 21st was the biggest procession, from Jui Tui shrine in town. I skipped this one. Later saw some video on TV while I was having lunch. Some of the nastiest piercing I have seen. After seeing so much of the festival .. this photo still shocked me! Don't look. And then on Monday 22nd, it was the turn of Kathu shrine - my local, just a 5 minute scooter ride from our house. They start early. I was there before 6am, sun not even up yet, but the shrine was packed and many piercings had already taken place. Have to get there 5:30am next year!

First thing I saw as I entered the shrine ...

Vegetarian Festival Phuket, 22nd October 2012 at Kathu Shrine

It was crowded and with Ma Song and their helpers all over the shrine, it was hard to know where to look and where to stand when not taking photos. Actually that morning I had a slight feeling of "why did I wake up so early". Stood chatting with other photographers and bloggers including Tim, who writes his own Phuket blog and Diane who takes very nice photos. I feel that next year I need to find a new angle for photos, and I will try to see more of the other festival activities such as firewalking and bladed ladder climbing.

Kathu shrine has something that most of the other shrines don't have. Female Ma Song getting pierced faces. I think only Kathu and Jui Tui allow female piercing. I've not seen a lady with anything gruesome through their face, only the more traditional skewers like in the photos below.

Vegetarian Festival Phuket, 22nd October 2012 at Kathu Shrine

Vegetarian Festival Phuket, 22nd October 2012 at Kathu Shrine

Can be tricky sometimes getting a photo without other people getting in the way, or other cameras getting in the shot! Whoever is holding the camera above is sticking it right in her face. I've never seen any objection to photos at the festival, but ... I think a certain level of respect should be shown. Meanwhile the male Ma Song were getting the usual assortment of guns, knives, metal sculptures, swords, electrical goods and plants stuck through their cheeks and through tongues too.

Vegetarian Festival Phuket, 22nd October 2012 at Kathu Shrine

Vegetarian Festival Phuket, 22nd October 2012 at Kathu Shrine

Little by little, a few at a time, the pierced Ma Song and followers headed out of the shrine on the walk to Phuket Town. From Kathu to Sapan Hin is about 10km. At the rear of the procession come the statues of the gods ...

22nd October Vegetarian Festival Procession in Kathu Phuket

22nd October Vegetarian Festival Procession in Kathu Phuket

And a few stragglers ....

22nd October Vegetarian Festival Procession in Kathu Phuket

With the procession past, the clean up crews quickly arrive. The streets are all clean just minutes after the procession and normal daily life continues. The festival continued another 2 days, but that was enough for me this year. Hope to have more time for it next year. The Phuket vegetarian festival has many stories to tell. I've never really mentioned that much about the food before, so will try and write about that next year. Dates for the Phuket vegetarian festival 2013. The festival will start on the evening of October 4th and end on the 14th. Looking forward to it already!

One last photo .. at Sam Kong Shrine. A protest against gasoline prices?

Petrol Head