Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Blog Venture, 'Cause a Girl's Gotta Catch a Break

I realized I hadn't blogged for almost 6 months. Dang. My poor Yellow Brick Road is stuck under remodeling and is probably quite dusty. So here's a small update.

Aside from a hiatus to get hitched, starting a new gig, and traveling gorgeous Europe for a bit, I got into a new blog team venture over at Wordpress (I still sorta love you, Blogspot). It's a joint blog with two of my very good friends and writers Lao Minnesotans, Danny Khotsombath and of course, Guru Bryan Thao Worra. It's called Little Laos on the Prairie!

It features stories, news, and culture from all things Lao, Midwest, and just simple hilarity. So if you're wondering where the heck I went, well, just know I'm alive over at Little Laos on the Prairie. Check it, follow it, and show us some love.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nine. Eleven. Eleven

Pottery class
Intercom speaks
"Teachers, please turn on your TVs"
Watching, listening
17 years old
America's challenge
10 years later
America's remembrance
Obama in
Osama out
Arab Spring
Humanity yearns
Healing from yesterday
Hoping for tomorrow

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ready, Set,

The train blinked twice
Cracked pavement swaying
Hollow tracks don't speak
Hawk eyes rolling away
Today's movement stops
For those done searching
Believe in the present path
Trust in the sun tomorrow

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 2: First Taste of Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - September 15, 2010

Over 18 hours from deafening plane to another, it's still surreal that I even made it here. Ann was out by 4am to be a working woman in the city, so I was left with my substitute tour guide, Bo. She happens to be Ann's bestfriend, a quirky foodie who's not as bubbly but just as funny. She calls from my room quite early in the morning, as I'm lying there trying to figure out where I am. The early bird Asian lifestyle is something I learn that becomes extra important later on. Bo informs me she's showing me the tourist hot spots of downtown Bangkok. She tells me that it's almost 100 degrees outside, so I get the pre-warning that I pay for when we get there. By the time we start walking towards the Royal Palace, I realize everyone is walking around in umbrellas shielding their fair skin from the extra hot UV rays. It was really really friggin' scorching hot. The Palace was quite an architectural masterpiece of gated beauty. I could tell the Thais are very skilled and meticulous in their construction of what is great and graceful. I especially notice this too in the king and queen, who's mythical faces are plastered all over the city in their honor.

I snap my camera at literally every building, every living thing, and every alleyway of hidden silence. Bo thought my touristy tendency was silly, but on my first trip ever to Southeast Asia, I didn't care. I wanted to capture everything I saw. But then my battery died quicker and I found myself running into walls of people because I couldn't catch up with the chaos of Bangkok life. "Hold tight to your purse", Bo would tell me. After dying of sweat and heat in the noon hours, we made our way towards a noodle shop with air conditioning, woo hoo! We chow down on some generous amounts of yellow curry noodles and 'som tom' papaya salad.

By sun down, we make our first round to the night market of a gazillion clothing and gadget boutiques. I become amazed at all the things I drool for and what it would mean if I had all the money in the world. I see the East Asian influence, specifically K-Pop has made its impact on the typical Thai teenager. There's this phenomenon of the "Big Eyes" they call's contact lens that make your pupil appear bigger like a Barbie doll. Quite crazy, but they love how doll-like and extra cute it makes them look. I watch as a flow of uniformed school kids rush pass me to find their daily purchase of fun slowly people watch as we window shop. The giggles and slang I've never heard of makes me smile. I think about the life of a city they must be bombarded with constant materialism and pursuit of pure this could all feel normal to me. But I remember that I grew up in the U.S. and just thankful that I was given a choice to live the way I wanted.

Ann gets off and we make our way to a glamorous shopping mall, called The Siam Shopping something...can't really recall. Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabanna...high end brand name stores set up across a magnificent white marbled floor and high glass ceilings. But then I glance over to sweet smells of a dessert shop and make a full-on eating binge. We meet up with some of her friends for suki dinner...then get our great cookout eatfest in that I find in later weeks, all Thai and Lao have a passion for. Thai food tastes so much better in Thailand :). I listen to the new Thai chitchat. It's definitely not the simple language used in 'lakorn' aka Thai drama shows. It's more of a fast-acting slang language that is pretty funny and I become amused by it. Exhaustion takes over in time to get back to Ann's house and I look forward to our next two days in Chiang Mai.

>>>Check out the link for my Thailand photo album on Facebook: Taking in Thailand

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Southeast Asia on my Mind

It's been three months since Southeast Asia. My mom had made an array of childhood favorites ranging from 'sung ka ya' (coconut milk custard) to 'nung bah dook' (steamed herb stuffed fish). I couldn't resist but close my eyes during dinner and just pretend that I'm back in Laos again...among the coconut trees, bamboo huts. I miss it, I miss it so badly...then I started completely reminiscing about it against this backdrop of freezing isolation called Minnesota winter. I suppose I shouldn't be so harsh, it's an icebox of America, but it's also what I call home and where the best of Midwest 'nice' comes from.

So now of course...I'm backtracking my memories, my steps across the intensity of Thailand life and the laid back motherland, Laos. I know, I know, I waited too long to even try to recapture everything I tasted, saw, touched, smell, and heard. As the saying goes, it's now or never to claim it all. I guess I was too speechless, too overwhelmed, too out of my element to even begin to understand where I was at and what the hell I was doing at the time. Now it's all coming back to me...piece by piece.

Mom made this tantalizing droolfest called Thai-style papaya salad..sweet and sour type that is pretty much the staple past-time snack of Thai and Lao. Ahhh, Thailand...the ultimate land of senses overload. The dizzying aura of massive architectural space, the peering eyes behind steaming street stalls, the endless evergreen growth spanning the exotic North. Bangkok in one word is colorful. It is an epicenter of consumerist pleasures with high-end boutiques, sleepless nightlife, and any kind of movie character you can think of. Sure, I like the finer things in life sometimes, but not the attitude that comes with it. Then there's nature and culture galore, my favorite spot in Thailand, Chiang Mai. Developed in modern terms, yet still nostalgic to the lingering people and plants of the past which represented what once was a part of the Kingdom of Lan Xang. Thai...Lao...we were one in the same. As I was walking through a small village with textile shops lined up along a steep hillside, I glanced across the cotton suited dolls, the intricate hand-made silver jewelry, the desperate smiling faces...I saw the fabrics of my past and in that very moment, I said to myself, "one day, I will live in Chiang Mai...", I remember clearly that those were my exact words. It was a sudden difference inside of me. I felt I wasn't under a typical foreigner spell anymore... I became connected...familiar in a sense that I had and must had been here from another life or another point in time. Maybe as a child, maybe as my former reincarted self. It felt like the best feeling in the world to belong, but I was in a worrisome state, because I didn't even step into Laos yet to begin to understand the feeling of (maybe) belonging somewhere.

Day 1: Midnight Smog and Snack - Bangkok, Thailand - September 14th, 2010

Serious, serious jetlag. Am I really here? Suvarnabhumi Airport is a massive space island?? do I take these treadmill stairs. Then I see Ann! My lovely bubbly Thai friend from back in Sawatdee waitressing days. So happy to see her sweet face picking me up. We step outside and I'm instantly covered in a thick layer of muggy air. I start to immediately choke and cough because I must not know how to breath the normal way in smoggy Thailand. Ann reminds me it's the rainy season and then berates me for coming at a bad month to travel because nothing will look naturally beautiful. We set off through the empty hour before the streets start looking like they're closing in and late night food stalls are up and running. We make it into a tiny outskirt town called Pakkret(Nonthaburi district), Ann's home. I look in the darkness, but there's not much to see but random lights popping up to indicate that people aren't asleep. I meet the family, who welcome me with carmelized pork and egg soup and sour mangoes. Sleep seemed more important at the time, but I shoved the food down first.

>>>Check out the link for my Thailand photo album on Facebook: Taking in Thailand

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Secure the grounds, for the later parade

"The Greatest" -Cat Power

Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind or waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
Stars of night turned deep to dust

Melt me down
Into big black armor
Leave no trace of grace
Just in your honor
Lower me down
To culprit south
Make 'em wash a space in town
For the lead
And the dregs of my bed
I've been sleepin'
Lower me down
Pin me in
Secure the grounds
For the later parade

Once I wanted to be the greatest
Two fists of solid rock
With brains that could explain
Any feeling

Lower me down
Pin me in
Secure the grounds
For the lead
And the dregs of my bed
I've been sleepin'
For the later parade

Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind or waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
Stars of night turned deep to dust

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ticket to the 'Motherland'

Vast. Colorful. Lively. Through my own lens, that's what defines the cultures and the people I see when traveling across the other side of the ocean. I'm hoping to temporarily forget the busy lifestyle and time constraints back at home, and maybe realize that the clock will (someday) stop ticking and the simplicities of daily life subconsciously surfaces. I've watched children laugh while fishing along the port of Sete, France. And now I'm wondering about the phenomenal mysteriousness of the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khouang, Laos.

There is nothing more rewarding than to find myself living in the past, present, and future...simply time-traveling. If I can live through local strangers and majestic villages, I not only enjoy, but continuously question and learn as a world citizen. It's always a memorable moment, when traveling defines who I am and what I can become.

On my list this Fall, to Southeast Asia. And yes, for the first time. Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore....they're all on my mind. I hope to capture it all in snapshots, conversations, and film. My mom is excited for me to find myself in the 'mother land' and to upkeep with all the uncles and aunts that want to know how I'm doing and who my latest love is. All should be fun and well, right?

As they is to be continued.