A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about travel

Bucketbath films presents...

Laos, Cambodia, India and Nepal

sunny 88 °F

We haven't had the most reliable internet for the last month and a half. These videos are long overdue: starting with our most recent trek in Nepal and working through India, Cambodia and Laos.

Micah and I arrive back in NYC at the end of this week. We're currently in Delhi again and fly back to NYC, via Milan, Italy in 2 days. We're both experiencing bittersweet feelings about returning home. While we can't wait to see friends and family, returning to "normal" life is going to take quite a bit of adjusting after 7.5 months of a nomadic, backpacker lifestyle. I'm having anxiety about having to wear something other than my Chacos and hiking boots on my feet and having a full wardrobe again!

I'm sure a wrap up post is on it's way from each of us. Until then, enjoy the movie previews!

See you all soon!

Joanie

Our most recent trek through the Himalayas in Nepal

"Incredible" India is their national slogan. They sure don't disappoint.

Our Angkor Wat experience

This one goes waaaay back to Laos!

Posted by bucketbath 18:04 Archived in India Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises mountains beaches trees animals snow boats hiking temple travel india vacation mountain trekking elephant cambodia friends holiday angkor life safari himalayas funny relaxation trip asia eating photography tourism relax pictures movies rupees hindu stupa spiritual videos relief vang vieng sandcastle incredible vientiene micah amristar slapstick dharmsala pilgramage rubin bucketbath Comments (3)

You've missed us?

This bucket is back and filled to the brim!

sunny 50 °F

Hiking in Himachal Pradesh

Hiking in Himachal Pradesh


Bucketbath is back! Micah and I hope you are as happy as we are to have this water pail-o-fun back together. We're spending the next month traveling through north India and have already checked New Delhi and Dharamsala off the list.

Tomorrow, we'll endure another never ending bus ride to the city of Amritsar to visit the Golden Sikh Temple and also see what is supposed to be a very entertaining changing of the guard at the border of India and Pakistan.

Enjoy our dorky antics. You've had 6 weeks to recover from the last one, it's overdue.

And don't forget to click on Micah's newest blog post from his website with some portraits from Myanmar! They are incredible as usual.

http://blog.micahbrubin.com/?p=380

Posted by bucketbath 12:15 Archived in India Tagged hiking travel india mountain flag gross tibet trash lama wind cold silly cows prayer dharamsala political slapstick himalyas prisoner refuges dalhi strut noogie Comments (0)

Life outside the bucket

Going to school 6 hrs/day while I "vacation" in Chang Mai

sunny 75 °F

I've been practicing and studying hard these last 3 weeks. The Thai Massage School of Chang Mai is teaching me how to master using my hands, fingers, heels, elbows, arms, knees and feet to work on the energy, or Sen Sib, lines of the body. It's a full body workout for the masseur and the recipient!

WIth all that daily physical exertion, living life in Chang Mai has been a welcome change of pace. I have enjoyed waking up to an alarm and having a set schedule everyday. I even unpacked my trusty backpack and stored it out of sight under my bed. I'm not forced to wear dirty clothing that has been rolled up into a ball and jammed into the bottom of my bag. I've had the luxury of a cup of coffee and a hot shower every day. I've even snuck the afternoon power nap back into my life. Slowing down has made me a little homesick and anxious (in a good way) to return to NYC. I'm ready to jump back into over scheduled business mode! It's going to be difficult to prep myself mentally to hit the road with my overzealous, I don't need to eat or sleep, run around for 10hrs a day, sidekick, Micah. I'm going to have to put myself through a mini boot camp to get my brain and body back into shape so I can rejoin the whirlpool we call our Bucketbath. I'm also feeling a little anxiety over trekking through India and Nepal now that my big toenail has officially fallen off (remember that trek at Kawah Ijen, Indonesia?). Stay tuned for another Joanie breakdown video. It's an emotional masterpiece waiting to happen.

No sense in worrying over that now. I'm too busy geeking out over my studies at the moment. In addition to learning how to give relaxing 2 hr massages, I'm also learning how to treat chronic ailments, aches and pains such as: constipation, headaches, neck stiffness, menstrual cramps, anxiety and a long list of others. I had no idea Thai Massage had such healing properties. My roommate, and fellow NY'er, is also studying here with a master in Chang Mai. It's been fun to work on one another, exchange information, and swap "guess what I did at school today?" stories. We're also working on a new business venture once we get back to NYC. Sparkes Wellness meets Motivated Nutrition!

I can't wait to get home and share all of this new knowledge and test out my skills on each and every one of you! Chronic constipation anyone? I got this! Book your massage now!

$30/ 30min, $50/1hr, $75/1.5hrs

btn_donate_LG.gif

I'm going to continue to enjoy my clean clothes, hot showers and afternoon naps as Micah sprints his way through Bangladesh over the next two weeks. (He's scheduled to fly out of Myanmar tomorrow.) I'm cheering him on. Perhaps he'll wear himself out and I'll be able to talk him into afternoon naps by the time we reunite!

Here are a few photos from my "vacation".

Sporting my Thai Massage scrubs

Sporting my Thai Massage scrubs

Wat in the old city of Chang Mai

Wat in the old city of Chang Mai

Thai Cooking class

Thai Cooking class

Elephant trek

Elephant trek

Sparkes Wellness and Motivated Nutrition

Sparkes Wellness and Motivated Nutrition

Posted by bucketbath 08:05 Archived in Thailand Tagged food indonesia travel india trekking thailand backpack new york bed house fun life school mai packing nyc neck bath relaxation hot dirt power chang thai nepal clean pictures energy breakdown showers bangladesh business massage rescue bucket exercise running clothing prep masterpiece wellness ijen nap study sen workout masseur healing whirlpool anxiety bootcamp mental jogging sprinting cheering geek heartaches stiffness cramps roommate sib masterthai Comments (6)

Burmese Sweat

Staying out of trouble while jogging in Yangon, Myanmar

Crumbling buildings, stained with ages of soot and mold, sag under the weight of their colonial past and the present’s dictatorial rule.

The Burmese walk the streets with deathly-pallid faces, painted with a powdered sun block to fend off the scorching sun. Their teeth and lips often stained blood red from chewing betel nut, a mild stimulant.

I arrived in Myanmar’s capital Yangon on Saturday to explore this misunderstood and demonized country, expecting to feel like I’m in the North Korea of SE Asia. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find the people warm, inquisitive and friendly. I cannot walk down a street without receiving a “hi” or smile.

At times it feels like life here is freer than in China since the Burmese government has less resources to truly constrict its people. With that said though, the government continues to subjugate the minority populations and enslave people in forced labor camps.

Everything I read said photography taking photos is risky – you can’t photograph government or military buildings (I wish I could have photographed the baby-faced soldier guarding a hotel armed with a bazooka), any infrastructure (train stations, bridges, etc.) and who knows what else.

Huge swaths of the country remain off limits to foreigners and even parts Yangon (Rangoon of old), the reason I was afraid I’d run into trouble during yesterday’s morning jog.

I stepped onto the betel-spit stained street, busses and taxis belching fumes into the morning’s chilly air. No motorbikes ply Yangon’s bumpy roads since a government ban went into effect a few years ago.

I headed south, then onto Strand Road, full of forlorn buildings, which parallels the murky Yangon River and hidden from view by the port’s towering, chalky white perimeter wall.

Past the bustling ferry jetty with vendors hawking fruit, razors, and vegetables. Crowds of loiterers crouched, drinking tea or eating breakfasts of noodles or rice.

Further down, men and women stood in lines, awaiting admission to the port and begin their workday.

I ran until the port ended and low-slung government buildings crouched behind barbed wire fences.

Nearby a line of parked gasoline tankers, some vehicles from the 60s or 70s with chunky front grills, waited outside a fuel depot.

People crooked their necks, scowled, smiled, laughed, pointed as I ran by. But fear curdled my gut: would I end up where I shouldn’t be?

I always carry a passport photocopy when running just in case of injury – but here in Myanmar it was my insurance card Uncle Sam’s got my back should something bad happen.

I kept running along the river, patches of shadows cooled the blazing sun until a man waved his hand in warning to turn around – up ahead was a barbed wire gate with soldiers patrolling.

I backtracked, ran down a dusty street, past a few police posts, ignoring them (and they ignored me) and found the bridge I’d earlier missed.

You’ve seen Boston or Tampa’s iconic suspension bridges, the ones that look like tipped modernist harps. Yangon has it’s own, the Pazundaung Mahabandoola Bridge, except it’s squatter and painted camouflage green. I bolted across, past 2 military garrisons surrounded by sand bags and barbed wire, over the Pazundaung Canal’s churning current into Dawbon, a suburb of Yangon.

Saffron robed monks walked down the street collecting alms and offering blessings.

I continued on the busy road with pickup trucks full of passengers crammed onto their beds and hanging off the back, to the Thaketa Bridge and back into Yangon. As I ran, I hopped around on the sidewalk, as if playing four square, to avoid the cracks and gaping holes.

The streets were dusty, red earth blew through the air. At times I pulled my shirt over my nose to avoid the grit and scrum of Yangon life. Past the police station, a red-bricked colonial-era building with dark windows and surrounded by two barbed and electrified fences.

Past Sule Paya, a 2000 year golden temple in the middle of a clogged traffic circle whose name means “the stupa where a Sacred Hair Relic is enshrined” and that might house one of Buddha’s hairs.

Past streets buzzing with vendors selling watches, tools. sweets. Past men wearing plaid lungees (a male dress), women in colorful hijabs.

Overhead the colonnaded buildings stood stoically, a silent witness to the travails that have befallen this country: war, oppression, dictatorship, poverty.

Maybe after Hillary Clinton’s visit here last month, things will change and life will improve. Maybe the fear I felt exploring the city’s streets, that the Burmese must feel and at times roils in protest (that the government violently suppresses) will ebb, leaving behind a people, a country, a nation ready for a better future.

Check out the map of the run below (and don’t forget to click satellite view).

Click here!

YangonRun.jpg

And don't forget to pre-book your authentic Thai massage for April!

$30/ 30min, $50/1hr, $75/1.5hrs

btn_donate_LG.gif

Posted by bucketbath 07:03 Archived in Myanmar Tagged street travel square burma dirt smile asia myanmar running four betel jogging lungeel Comments (6)

Cambodian Hoedown

A video from Angkor Wat

And don't forget to pre-book your authentic Thai massage for April!

$30/ 30min, $50/1hr, $75/1.5hrs

btn_donate_LG.gif

Posted by bucketbath 06:43 Archived in Cambodia Tagged people trees temple travel ruins cambodia thailand indian new map fun burma angkor ta wat funny roots trip thai myanmar reap pictures siem silly massage bucket moving brochure prong lara croft jones rambo slapstick Comments (4)

The Mysterious Adventures of Vietnam

Coming to a theater near you

I FINALLY pulled together our footage from Vietnam. It includes everything from kayaking in Halong Bay to motorbiking past rice fields, sledding down sand dunes and hanging out with reclining Buddhas.

Movies from Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia are on the top priority list before Micah carts the computer (my sturdy imovie making machine) off to Myanmar with him while I take my Thai massage course in Chang Mai.

Enjoy our travels through Vietnam!

Posted by bucketbath 05:49 Archived in Vietnam Tagged travel vietnam rice laos house kayaking na sand buddha bay stream thai halong photography ferry dunes pictures reclining massage crazy imovie trangh paddies Comments (3)

A Breath of Fresh Air

Sun rays broke over the jagged volcanic peaks scattering honey dew light onto the tropical waters and coral beaches.

Joanie and I are on the tiny island Gili Air, a 1.5 km wide island (and 3.1 mile circumference – this I know for a fact – I went for my first run in 6 weeks around the island) situated in the turquoise, coral filled waters between Bali and Lombok.

Today marks the two-month anniversary of our trip – eight weeks of perpetual motion via bus, train, car, shuttle and the occasional moped.

You could say we’re on a break from traveling. Getting some much needed down time before we pick up the pace in Vietnam and mainland South East Asia, where we’re heading on November 10 after – hard to believe – a month in Indonesia.

We’ve experienced the amazing and not so amazing: volcanoes, delicious foods
(snake-skin fruit, Gado Gado), disgusting foods (anything that showed up with meat or shrimp paste), poverty, sand fleas (that left a trail of bites on Joanie), breathtaking sunrises and sunsets (Mount Bromo), indefatigable hustlers and touts (Beijing and everywhere in Indonesia), to name a few.

We’ve watched each other react to our surroundings and the challenges they present. Putting aside spending 24-hours a day with your partner (at times a blessing in disguise), one of the greatest we’ve faced is pollution.

Putting aside spending 24-hours a day with your partner (at times a blessing in disguise), one of the greatest we’ve faced is pollution.

And I am afraid.

L1001750.jpgL1004461.jpg
Beijing's Olympic Village and Jakarta, Indonesia

As the cities in the developing world expand and populations become increasingly wealthy, ownership of motorized, pollution spewing vehicles (cars, mopeds, motorcycles) is skyrocketing. In one sense, this is a huge step forward for these countries development. But progress comes at a cost.

The epitome of the pollution (so far) has been Beijing and Jakarta, both sprawling metropolises with unchecked growth and little to no pollution control. At the end of a day of exploring we would return to our guest house covered in grime, light headed and coughing from their polluted air. There is no sky in these cities, only a brown haze hovering overhead like storm clouds on a gloomy day.

I’ve been disconnected from most of the campaign rhetoric flying around in the US right now, but I know for a 15 minute new cycle, the “job killing” EPA was the topic of derision.

Do these presidential candidates want to do what’s best for our country and the American people really think we would be better off without environmental protection? Is the EPA really a job-killing monster as decried?

During America’s balmy summers, who hasn’t experienced an Eco-Action day? I know from living in Bushwick, near cement factories, on a hot day after a run, I’d return home gasping for air – a mixture of pollution and a touch of asthma it likely triggered. And this is with EPA protection.

In other places like West Virginia, with it’s depressed economy and denuded landscape, mountains flatted and water poisoned with the slurry need to process the coal, could it be worse?

An alternative as proposed where anyone can do as they please in the pursuit of profit? Dump chemicals into rivers, spit sulfur into the air or doing nothing to reduce the agricultural and sewage running into the Gulf of Mexico that’s significantly contributing to Red Tide?

I don’t claim to have a panacea, but I do know that our problems need to be addressed through a careful balance of strengthening the EPA and their enforcement abilities and promoting sustainable growth. One could argue that costs will increase (ex. carbon tax) and that business (or the American people) could not afford or stomach any additional price hike.

In the developing world, increasing vehicle efficiency and especially devising a way to make mopeds and scooters less polluting would do wonders to cut back on the noxious haze. No doubt scientists are researching (at least I hope) ways to do this and reproduce the technology cheaply at scale.

One catch phrase often heard is corporate responsibility. If the companies that manufacture these vehicles: Honda and Yamaha, the most common in this part of the world, took full responsibility for the consequences of their product would they remain solvent?

Doubtfully. So it’s a balance that must be sought.

If the candidates with ambition to lead our country and arguably the world (although not in environmental protection even under the status quo) had their way with the EPA, pitting profits against American’s environment and health, who would win?

Actuaries put a value on human life and it seems the candidates have as well.

So much for sunny days.

Posted by bucketbath 06:28 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali beach indonesia travel china air gili lombok pollution fresh epa Comments (2)

Gentlemen, Start Your Razors: Movember 2011

Fighting Prostate Cancer One 'Stache at a Time

So, if you're inclined to cultivate a mustache as a member of the Mitzvah Vontses or want to show your support for the fight against prostate cancer through a donation to the team, please click on the below link(s)

To join the team: https://www.movember.com/us/register/details/team_id/225506

To donate to the team:

http://us.movember.com/donate/your-details/team_id/225506/

To donate to the team VIA my Movember page:

http://us.movember.com/donate/your-details/member_id/1096236/

Posted by bucketbath 15:58 Archived in Indonesia Tagged jakarta indonesia singapore travel fun fundraising shave movember mustache cancer beard prostate shaving Comments (2)

Downsizing for a Bucket Bath (Joanie)

From a duplex loft to a 30 L backpack

sunny 81 °F

Packed and ready to go

Packed and ready to go

====News Alert!====
Micah and I have both quit our jobs (in my case MANY jobs), the lease on the loft is up, and we are backpacking across southeast Asia for 7 1/2 months. In 1 week, we are going to be boarding a plane to Beijing and in April 2012, we are planning to fly home from New Delhi, India!

We've been planning this trip for months and it's hard to believe that soon we'll be jet setting across the ocean to explore a new continent. It doesn't feel like reality yet. What are we thinking? We are busy New Yorkers! I have a business and 4 other part time gigs. We have friends and a social life and an amazing loft to come home to at night. The entire world is a subway ride away. But as most NY'ers know,(NY artists anyway) living here is a love/hate relationship. I, personally, have been experiencing a little bit of "struggling artist" burn out and am ready to experience life at a different pace for awhile. I'm even more excited that Micah and I can do this together!

The thought of picking up and moving has been a little stressful, but downsizing has been less complicated than I thought. Luckily, I went through the experience of ridding myself of about 70% of my personal belongings during my last move less than a year ago. Most of my life is still in boxes and I haven't missed a majority of it. I'm ready to shed completely and start with a fresh slate. The biggest challenge has been figuring out exactly what I'll need to pack into my 30 L backpack and not carry more than absolutely necessary.

The whole concept of living out of a bag on my back reminds me of a turtle shell. Yes, it's nearly 8 months, but do I really need a full wardrobe, accessories and an armory of sudoku books? I'm beginning to realize that this turtle is probably only going to be concerned about being able to maintain an acceptable level of personal hygiene every day. Thus the name of our blog: Bucket Bath. That's code for exciting, unpredictable adventure...much like trying to bathe in a bucket!

I have agonized and revised shopping lists for months on what to pack in my "shell", without having to compromise too much fashion sense. I know, I'm showing my true girl colors right now, but I refuse to be the American traveler in the T-shirt, cargo pants, Chacos sandals and a bucket hat. Wait! I now own cargo pants and Chacos...but I'm NOT wearing a bucket hat! (The day I made the Chacos purchase in EMS was a very humbling experience.)

I'm happy to say, my packing is finished, and my trusty, new "home" is sitting in the corner ready to go. :) It's actually been ready to go for 3 weeks now. Girl Alert!-I even started putting outfit options together and cataloging photos so I have options to choose from while on the road. I'm amazed at how many combinations you can make out of 2 pairs of pants, a pair of leggings, a t-shirt, 2 tanks, a tunic, 2 dresses, and a long sleeved shirt! I have 25 combinations so far. Lucky magazine, eat your heart out! (Micah is slapping his forehead right now) Micah hasn't even started packing. It's ok. I'll graciously help him strategically choose outfits when the time comes. (Again with the forehead slap)

We're excited to go, but sad to leave all of our friends and family for the next few months. We're hoping to keep you connected to our lives as we document our "Bucket Baths" across southeast Asia - fully clothed, of course. Please keep us updated on your home adventures. We've started this blog to keep in touch. Please leave us comments. Send us emails. Send us an address and you may even get a postcard! Stay tuned for what I'm sure will be humorous video posts as well.

-Joanie

Posted by bucketbath 20:50 Archived in USA Tagged travel packing nyc beijing bath asia southeast bucket moving clothing Comments (5)

(Entries 1 - 9 of 9) Page [1]