Follow my Existential Exile. . .

Friday, May 20, 2011

a quick shout out. . .

Today is the 2011 Raffles Ho Chi Minh City Graduation ceremony with the theme MOMENTUM.
I had the pleasure of art directing this years theme and with the help of my very talented illustrator / student volunteer, Artist Seagoat, we created a mystical futuristic brave new world. Below are the creations of our dynamic collaboration. Have a look inside the graduation book. . .

3, 2, 1 Blast Off! 
As you read, the Coi Carrier is floating in outer space.
Welcome to Planet Lotus.
Inspiration: Voltron and his teacher
Inspiration: Video games and Avatar
Inspiration: Graffiti
Inspiration: Architecture training, his hometown, and his girl
Inspiration: Janelle Monae

Monday, May 16, 2011

2011 Asian Adventures - Thailand

We spent one night in Bangkok. Definitely not enough time for Kia to really experience the city, but she got her taste of the rude cab drivers. My biggest regret is not remembering to take her to Sirocco Sky Bar for a breath taking view of the skyline. Well, we got our view in Singapore, but more on that later.

After filling our bellies with Indian food, viewing the debauchery of Khao San and a good sleep at the swank hotel of Citrus Sukhumvit we had another early morning ride by taxi to the BKK airport to continue our journey to the southern Thai city of Krabi. Their airport has got to be the smallest airport in the world. Of course the day would not be complete without arguing, I mean bargaining, with the travel companies on a decent price for transportation to the island of Koh Lanta. Here we go with another joy ride. A small van cramped and packed with people. This time a woman just gave birth to a baby and apparently has car service. We had to go back to the hospital to pick up the rest of her stuff. Then we stop in front of a bus stop, mind you we're NOT in a bus, this is a van, and pick up a hefty girl carrying two full bags of food. I only comment on her size because it is not too common to see a large Asian woman, and as much as I've been picked on in the 1 year I have lived in this region, I don't see how this girl could have survived growing up. Once we got to the second dock and onto the 2nd car ferry (yes, we took 2 car ferries), the driver decided to board, with HALF, yes half (well the back end at least) of the van hanging off the back of the ferry. This is when hefty girl made me nervous, all I could think was don't move, don't breath.

Lesson Learned: If you want to ride in peace and in a timely manner, take a cab from the Krabi airport to Koh Lanta Island. It will cost you, but you save time.

We arrived to our resort early evening on Wednesday May 4th. The Crown Lanta, sits on its own private peninsula which is connected to Koh Lanta island. If you're traveling to this area, Koh Lanta is much larger than Koh Phi Phi, but a warning, don't expect a lush large beach. The beaches are quite narrow in this part of Thailand, and filled with rocky limestone cliffs. Great scenery for a photo shoot though. The resort was lovely. Absolutely peaceful. On my birthday I chilled pool side, ate seafood, then had a free mini cake and bottle of wine delivered to our room. Kia also got me a gift, a stuffed teddy :-) We enjoyed the scenery of Koh Lanta and of the resort. They provided a free golf cart service to take you from your hotel room to the dinning room. Since the terrain is a bit mountainous the resort is full of steep hills. Riding the carts was like driving through a theme park. Our time in Koh Lanta was cool, but ended sour when our snorkeling trip was canceled due to rain. We planned to travel to 5 different islands and the emerald cave, booo hisss boooo. Saturday was the last day in Koh Lanta, and for our transport back to the airport we took the hotel shuttle bus. It set us back 1,000 baht each, but we road in style and comfort listening to the penguins in Happy Feet.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

2011 Asian Adventures - Cambodia

Well. Today was quite the adventure. Let me back up. My friend Kia and I are traveling through Asia, so she can get a taste of each city, and accompany me on my birthday. Our travel route takes up through Cambodia, Thailand, down to Krabi, then Malaysia, Singapore, Bali and back to Vietnam.

The cheapest way to venture to Phnom Penh is by bus so we did that, but we also decided to bus it to Bangkok. I did not know at the time of booking that the drive from PP to BKK would be over 12 hours. Being misinformed and not doing my research, we settled on the bus ride regardless. Hey, we get to see the country side right? So the first leg of our race against time was okay. We got to PP in about 6 hours, went to the Russian Market and found our tuk-tuk to take care of us for the whole day in Phnom Penh. Though he was stalking us, found us in the market, (the only bougie black girls bargaining on leggings). I guess he thought we wouldn't pay. I found my Cambodian weaved scarves that I love, and more silk for the women in my family. Also introduced Kia to the Cambodian delicacy of friend rice pancakes with spring onion. I'll have to research the real name for it. We also ventured to the Killing Fields just outside of Phnom Penh. Quite sad and dramatic to know with real evidence that human beings could be so cruel, especially to people of their own culture. We prayed for those people whose lives were taken from them and for the families who were affected. Our day was quite full and we did not make it out to eat or party because of the heavy rain storm. However, jet lag and exhaustion allowed us to sleep through the night.

So now we're at this morning, Tuesday morning, 6:30 AM. After taking breakfast to go from Hotel Cara, we get to the bus station hoping we don't have to settle for a greyhound-like bus for the treacherous 12+ hour drive. . . we are sadly disappointed that not only is the bus greyhound quality, it's packed with people. Great. The ride through Cambodia was filled with frequent random stops to pick up "Slatum" and his crew or drop people off in front of their home.  . . I'm sorry, is this the community city bus or a personal tour bus??? Other highlights from the ride: a spider creeping up on me, and bus stops at the creepiest pit stop places with crappy food. The climax was arriving to the Thai border and to our chagrin having to switch vehicles. Now the 9 men and 4 women left going to BKK, are to squeeze into this white cargo van, like an ex-pat circus act, ughhhh. The driver seemed to get a kick out of driving so fast our bodies were thrown about like loose marbles. When we finally get to BKK, to Khao Son Road, the driver would not stop. It took me yelling at him to finally stop because he passed the backpackers "district".

Lesson Learned: do not take a bus from Phnom Penh to Bangkok, just fly, Air Asia is more comfortable