Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Babies and Baglady Buddha

Reentry is hard. Extended travel changes the mind. In fact, I don't think you really ever quite change back or want to. I haven't, don't. I didn't leave the country this time but, being gone even a month, I felt pretty detached when I got home and now Mr. Lee is going through it. And he really went feral, I will say that. Reentry takes time. Easy for me to say. I get to go to San Antonio tomorrow for a few days. It's a drag that I am leaving so soon after his return but that's the way it is. And besides, a couple of days alone to sweat it out may do him good. And I will be home Sunday. BTW, he has promised me one last post, a follow-up and recap of his travels, so stay tuned. And yes, I am still waiting for some damn photos.

Anyway, the big news is that we have our first two families of quail babies, just hatched, still rumpled and fuzzy, just....just out of the egg. They are out running around as I write this and too cute for words so here are some blurry photos instead. More to come, unless (and until) the neighborhood cats eat them. These little guys are like popcorn to those bastards. If you have a cat, for god's sake, put bells on 'em. They kill everything in the vicinity, just because they can. By the way, those are not weeds you see in the photos. It's a wildlife corridor/cat baffle for the quail. And besides the quail, there are a couple of very noisy magpie babies and some young 'un crows in the neighborhood, all somewhere in their terrible twos (months) that squawk all day long. But I love it. It a bit of jungle here in the desert.

It just occurred to me I am very in the rears with photos myself. I haven't even posted anything from the Reno Spoken Word event I read at a couple of weeks ago. So here's one and a promise for more, redeemable at your local Language Barrier outpost trading company store sometime in the future. I call her the Baglady Buddha. Is that disrespectful? Would the Buddha mind? No mind.

WTF? What the hell back hand, left hand mudra is that, Baglady Buddha?

Saturday, June 26, 2010


As I write this, Mr. Lee is winging his way home from Thailand, via Hong Kong. Winging, that sounds kind of nice, as though he's a huge, transoceanic bird doing what birds have always done, dipping and diving, floating, gliding and shooting wind currents the way a raft shoots the river's rapids. Unfortunately, this is not the case. He is stuffed into a too small airline seat that does not recline and, other than occasional stretches at the back of the plane, is stuck there for some 20 or 30 hours, including time spent waiting in airline terminals for connecting flights, iow... hell. He is flying backwards into our Saturday and, at this point, though it is morning here, he is somewhere in our last night, cramped, sweaty, maybe watching a second or third movie though one eye on a Saturday that just won't end.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Remember an Elephant Day

June 24th is Remember an Elephant Day so be sure and kiss an elephant today, oh and give her an extra wheelbarrow full of watermelons, apples, peanuts and other tasty treats. But, even if you can't do that, always always always boycott circuses that keep animals captive. Remember, an elephant likes a 100 mile stroll before breakfast, something she can't do chained to a wall.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mr. Bun

July 21 - Mr. Lee, our Barrier guest blogger, discusses the finer points of international cuisine from the ancient city of Ayutthaya, Thailand's second capital.

Mexico has Chedraui, Thailand has the Big C. I love Big C for its a/c and its food court. I love Chedraui for its flan. In fact, I could never completely love a country that is flan-less, but in fairness I haven't yet sampled every Thai desert. There's a lot of cold sweet jellied stuff here that is sort of flan-esque and I could maybe make an adjustment.

Plus, Thailand has Mister Bun. Mr. Bun makes a humble little bun which resembles the Mexican bun but is oh so very much more delicious. Mr. Bun buns are crunchy, chewy, aromatic and scrumptious. I have had two flavors, coconut and coffee. I know the coffee flavor probably sounds weird but trust me. It is fantastic. It makes me very happy.

And Thailand is also the home of the extremely delicious, made-while-you-wait, deep fried banana/egg donut. A Bangladeshi banana woman sold me some in the market place one night. Unfortunately, I am beginning to think she must have been a hallucination. I have driven by what I thought was her corner about a dozen times. I swear she told me she was there every night, but I'll bet she was just there because it was the weekend, maybe? Maybe she told me she was at the Night Market every night? I don't know anymore. So, class, remember that you must savor what you can when you can because the opportunity may never come again.

I am so close to the Nat. Park that I am going to tough it out and go. Nature is one of my grounds, a true source of strength and insight, and I will regret it if I don't go and if I spend so many hot shitty days in the shit hole that is Bangkok. I'll be on a 2-day tour. I wonder if anyone else will be on the tour?

--M. Lee

Ugly American

June 21 - Happy happy... more from the Language Barrier guest blogger, what's left of him as it all melts down in Ayutthaya during south east Asia's record heat wave.

Two Guys and a Trip

Is the term Ugly American still used? Because if it is, I am the ugliest I've ever been. I rented a motorbike from a woman bartender today. I mention the gender because the bike was her personal machine and it was pinkish and the keychain was long, I mean really big, and furry and fuschia. Maybe a whole rabbit's leg de-boned? The Ugly: I don't know the speed limit here, I don't know any traffic laws, I can't read any of the signs, I can't even speak the language, I drive like a maniac, I am completely and blithely unaware of local or national customs (although I do know not to disrespect the King because that will send you right to jail in a hurry and for years)...when I do my laundry, which is often because I'm continually soaked in sweat, I go out in public in old surf trunks and a ratty shirt that looks and smells like cats clawed it and then peed all over it. These are my wash and wear items, the stuff that I rinse in the sink, that dries in minutes even here. It's an imperfect system.

More Ugly: It's too hot for my brain to give a shit. Sure, there's a decent part that yearns to, but I just can't be bothered to learn any Thai. After so much travel in Latin America, where criminals are crafty and mean and sometimes dangerous, the scams here are a relief. Stuff is cheap and I overpay and overtip and just don't care. You want to what? Overcharge me by 50 cents? Oh, you're a sly one ahahahahaha, please, go right ahead. Let me round it up for you to a buck, ok?

This is not me. My brains have been cooked into something else. On the plus side, I'm friendly to dogs and children and grannies and criminals alike and always smile and never raise my voice. Big happy goofy guy. Here, have a dollar.

--M. Lee

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Michigan J. Frog does Thailand

Or is it the other way around?

June 20 - another contribution from the Language Barrier's vagabond guest blogger Michigan J. Frog in his gallant attempt to pad my blog...

Now that I am self-consciously a "guest blogger" I'm finding it hard to write. You know the feeling and now I do too. I'm not really inspired to travel-rant which is really the only time I enjoy writing at all. And now that I'm trying to craft them, the words just won't come. In this one sense at least, this trip has brought us closer together: I finally appreciate some of your artistic pain. Writing is hard and slow if you have to wait for inspiration to do it (but fuck that shit, 'cause I ain't gonna do it every day, not ever, 'cause I have NOT been chosen to write.). Photography, even as primitively as we do it, is hard. It's impossible to shoot people well. I have failed and failed. Even with objects, it is almost impossible to capture what you are seeing. You will get something and sometimes it will be nice, but you can't ever shoot what you see (it reminds me of what Dad once told me in a rare candid moment about playing jazz when he said he was always trying and always failing to play the music as he heard it in his head). And the battery ran out of juice while I was at Sukhothai. Woe.

So today I'm going to continue my exploration of Thai historical sites. Ayutthaya, close as it is to Bangkok (about 50 miles), gets much more tourism than other places I have visited. I prefer to avoid tourist places - they can get ugly and warped like trash-eating street macaques (I tell you, the first time one of those little bastards bares his toothy fangs and stares you down while hissing at you, you will have monkey-phobia too because I don't care how badass you are on the internet, in real life you will be outnumbered by a thousand to one and those little fuckers can bite through a coconut). On the other hand, tourist infrastructure means English menus and free wifi, so it's not all bad.

It's 8 AM and I'm sitting in the shade in front of a fan and already sweating. Where's my motorbike?

--M. Lee

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Buddha on the road

Old Sukhothai

I thank Whirling Phoenix for posting this lovely photo of old Sukhoithai. Other than one charming picture of his rented motorbike, I am still waiting for photos from Mr. Lee but he did email another post to share so back to Thailand, this time in the lovely old and new city of Sukhothai again on an old motorbike...

June 18

I'm staying at the TR Guesthouse in New Sukhothai. Yesterday, I set off for Old Sukhothai. The history is not clear, at least not to me, but many will tell you that Sukhothai is something like the origin of the Thai monarchy or possibly the cradle of Thai culture or even civilization and that its origins date to the 13th Century. Let's just say that it's an important historic site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's full of old buildings and old Buddhas, all in a park-like setting.

Every single piece of literature you can find on visiting Sukhothai, no exception, will tell you to rent a bike near the front gate, and this is good advice. A bike is a lovely way to visit the park. But I was born to ride and you know it was way way way too hot to pedal. I got my motorbike, the oldest and the crappiest one yet, and I hit the road. Seven miles later I was at the entrance.

There were one thousand children there already, mostly on bicycles, mostly dressed in pink school uniforms. Most of them wanted to practice their one English word on the only foreign visitor there. They were polite and good-natured and I said "hello" back 500 times throughout the day. It was hotter than hell, probably 100 degrees. I talked to Buddhas, listened to monks, sat in the shade, ate lotus moon cake, drank water, said hello to children. All good things come to an end, and I made my way back to my room before dark.

Another day, another site. Si Satchanalai is like a sister city to Sukhothai except it gets few visitors and is less restored. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was too far for the little crappy motorbike, so I took a bus. This was stressful. I know I am a visitor here but Thailand has been part of the gringo trail for decades and yet it is shocking how little English there is. I didn't really plan this trip and I didn't learn any Thai but it would seriously help. I asked six different people to help me get off the bus (getting on the bus if fairly straightforward as New Sukhothai has a nice bilingual bus station) but this concern of mine was completely incomprehensible. Turns out, someone did help me get off at the wide spot in the road that is the entrance for Si Satchanalai. Without help, I would have missed it completely. On the bus ride back, I saw two Thais miss their stop by about 10 miles because no stops are announced ever. Probably happens all the time.

Wat Traphang Ngoen -Sukhothai, Thailand - photo by Taiger808

I rented a bike (sigh) for one dollar and had the park to myself. For me the place was 20 times better than Sukhothai. It was right on the river, it was covered in trees and wildlife, it had better buildings, though fewer Buddhas, and a temple with the remains of 36 life-size elephant statues. It was one of the most photogenic places I've visited in Thailand. I entered the site on a wood-planked pedestrian suspension bridge over a broad muddy river fringed with dense vegetation and palm trees and so damn picture perfect. Too bad I forgot my camera battery. I took it as a message from the Buddha to let go of my attachments and live in the moment and with only a few pangs that is what I did.

--M. Lee

Ps. In all fairness I can't really hold it against Mr. Lee for failing to supply me with tons of photos. Even I once fell into an irrational stupor while traveling in another country and was completely unable to download my photos until I got home. It was very strange but faced with a crappy, beat up hotel computer and connection, I froze. I like to think I'm past that now but who knows what lies up the dusty road?

Ayutthaya, Thailand - photo by aheu

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reno, Spoken Views

I am staying in Reno tonight after reading at Spoken Views monthly open mic. I heard some really good work. It was better than Berkeley and more energetic. I'm glad I finally went.

Note to self

I've been home for a few days and the birds are just now beginning to return to the Bird Park, one or two here and there, although the ever faithful 7 o'clock magpie was right on it, gobbled up the kibble the minute I returned. She doesn't miss a beat. But it's lonely here without them all, even the quail have disappeared, and it's especially lonely since we cut down the big cottonwood tree that stood majestically over it, giving shelter to all, predator and prey. The park feels really exposed and vulnerable without it. We didn't want to cut it down but Dick's widow wanted to do it and, after all, it was just over the property line on her side so it was her call. It shocked us all. It was a great tree, really defined our little enclave but she wanted it gone and anything to keep the widow happy I guess. The rest of us neighbors thought of it as Dick's tree and were amazed she wanted to cut it down. Old Dick is barely cold in the ground. Anyway, the birds are slow to return, the weeds are high and Ratfink is still cavorting around Thailand which leaves me simultaneously jealous, lonely, insecure and grateful. The jealous part is self-explanatory I suppose, as is the lonely part. I am grateful because, in his absence, I finally made it to the Bay Area and connected with the poetry scene there. I was always waiting for him to go with me. Lame. I have to go back. Must not forget that. It is so easy to get lulled by our everyday life when he's home. Note to self: Must remember. Must go back, with or without him.

New Sukhothai

Quick note this morning from New Sukhothai. Looks like a really lovely place but are there tiny little motorbikes?

June 16 - Language Barrier guest blogger

I'm here. The room is small and a little smelly despite all the glowing reviews. The train arrived an hour late and then I had to hunt for a driver to drive me an hour to New Sukhothai.

Anyway, I'm crashing after 14+ hours of travel. I'll see about calling you in the morning...the bandwidth here is scant, but I'll give it a shot.

monkey dragon love,

Outraged yet?

Oh and how do you like this? Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell and BP) all have "Safety Response Plans" that are virtually identical... in other words.... total bullshit! More here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ratfink does Thailand

June 15 - another email from the Language Barrier's vagabond guest blogger M. Lee

I just returned the motorbike I have had for the last two days. It is (cannot find the apostrophe key on this Thai keyboard) one of two at the Rabieng guest house in Phetchaburi. I enjoyed the hell out of it probably a little too enthusiastically. Imagine if you will a tall pale giant hunched over a tiny little motorbike, death-gripped to the handlebars, dark wrap shades obscuring wild eyes, a loose fitting old bike helmet over a greasy stained cap (it is the law for farang but the moto helmets were too small), a big shit eating grin across the bug and dirt smeared face, weaving in and out of traffic like life is too short to care (if you are older, Ratfink will provide a frame of reference). Live free or die, baby.

I have a few minutes left on my card back at the Sun Hotel but I do not trust that card so I will tell you now that I leave at 5 AM tomorrow morning heading for Bangkok by train, 4.5 hours, and from Bangkok to Sukhothai by train, 9 hours. Long day. Will probably have internet at the end of it.

I will not be able to phone you in the morning but I will email you if I can when I arrive.

I am finally settling into Thailand. I think you would like it very much. It is possible to get off the tourist trail and have some fun. Phetchaburi is proof. Fun town.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Monkeys & motorbikes

June 14 - More from the Language Barrier's roving reporter

I rented the motorbike for another day and have been exploring Phetchaburi. I already have my familiar stops. This is not unlike Antigua in size and feel. Except it has a lot of motorbikes and the monkeys are all over the place (macaques?).

Okay, now I need to use my precious remaining internet minutes figuring out to get the hell out of here.



Back on the Thai mainland now, this latest post of Mr. Lee's is from Phetchaburi. I am learning a little bit about the country as he makes his way north. There are wild monkeys living in abandoned buildings and (literally) hanging out in town. And elephants still live free in Thailand. How cool is that!?

And now for the RANT PORTION of this post:
Unscrupulous people are poaching what's left of the world's incredible, irreplaceable exotic wildlife population and superstitious, self-indulgent Asians are their biggest customers. Together these assholes are responsible for endangering these fragile diminishing populations. Whether it's because of a taste for shark fin soup or an ignorant, misguided effort to increase sexuality (which doesn't work but that's not the point), I'm calling you guys out. Think I'm racist? Too bad. As long as you're killing and eating my friends, fuck off.

Don't support exploitation. If you are traveling in this (or any) part of the world please know that travelers are discouraged from buying food from handlers to feed animals or even having their pictures taken with them. The whole system is corrupt and illegal. In Thailand, Wildlife1.org provides a way to anonymously report handlers. I am including the link in case I'm ever in Thailand and want to report somebody. You can use it too.

So now, on to our guest blogger.

June 14 - Phetchaburi Thailand Photos here

After we got off the phone, I strolled around the town to try and get oriented. It had just rained, so it wasn't so hot and I had a window of opportunity to get out and explore. I was the ONLY westerner downtown. I finally shook off the grubby Euro backpack set. Obviously, there are enough stray visitors that I didn't attract too much attention (or the people were really sneaky about it). Folks actually smiled at me, but no one stared.

I found the food market. Pretty much like any market anywhere. I sniffed out some sweets. They make a distinctive egg-based sweet here, sort of like a custard ball, and that's what I thought I found cooking over a charcoal grill. But what I got was something different though probably no less delicious. The sweet was about the size of a ping pong ball and I would guess it consisted of roasted mashed banana or plantain, fresh coconut, maybe a little egg as a binder and maybe a little sugar for a sweetener. I got 10 for 50 cents.

As I munched my snack, I slowly made my way over to the Rabieng Guesthouse, reputedly the only place in town to rent motorbikes. They had two venerable Suzukis. I took the one with two mirrors So far as I know, there are only two motorbikes for rent in the entire town of Phetchaburi (contrast that with the hundreds available on the tiny island of Koh Tao). That's how slight tourism is here.

After learning that it was way too far to travel to Kaeng Krachen National Park (really, one of my main goals in my visit here), and after assuring the girl that I wasn't going to KK Park, I set off for KK Park. I had no map. I had a compass and a vague idea of where the park might be. It's large, the largest in the country, so I figured if I kept driving in one direction, I'd probably run into it. 50 miles later, that's exactly what happened. Although the roads are generally good, the ride there was perilous and hot and dusty and easily one thousand times more dangerous than my aborted plan to visit Khao Sok National Park on a tour.

At the KK Visitor Center, signs were in Thai and English, but nobody spoke any English. The girl at the desk told me I couldn't continue on "motorcycle". When I asked just how, then, I was supposed to get to a trailhead, I was met with incomprehension. It just didn't make sense to me, but she was adamant. I watched a couple motorbikes whiz by and decided to cross the street to Park Headquarters, maybe find a forester who spoke English. I talked to three fellows but they really didn't understand me and continued to gesture toward the Visitor Center despite my protestations, despite my pantomiming riding a motorbike, etc.

I set my jaw and resolved to drive up the damn road, and the heck with the Visitor Center girl. I hopped on my little Suzuki and, like a renegade outlaw biker, I gunned it straight to the center of the park. Nobody pursued me. Nobody cared.

After some time, I came to a luxury resort. I reckoned that a luxury resort would have someone at the desk who was fluent in many languages. I rode through the extensive grounds, covered in sweat and road grime, my filthy day pack on my back, and eventually I got to the front desk. Open air and quite beautiful. There, a nice woman eating a green coconut welcomed me in English. I asked her where exactly I was. My question was impossible, I know, but I had to start somewhere. A half hour and one coconut shake later and finally we came to an understanding. I was just outside the park proper.

The resort was hurting for business. Normally, rooms were $100 or more per night (nice big bed, TV, wifi in the room, biggest pool I'd seen in Asia, great staff, perfect grounds, I could go on). Without negotiating, she offered me a room with breakfast for half price. Great rate, but $50/nt is still too dear for my backpacker budget.

Back in Phetchaburi, I stumbled across the Monday Night Market by accident. Seems half the city was there. Interesting goods including a lot of manufactured goods that were made in Thailand rather than made in China and that just seems so odd and rare these days. In addition to every kind of clothing and consumer good, there was a vast array of food. I'd already eaten at the Night Market - fish and veggies and a fried egg over rice for a buck - so I just had a milky iced tea with grass jelly and two other kind of jellied things.

I'm at the hotel now. My body is still vibrating from more than a hundred miles of hard riding on a small motorbike. I will sleep now.

Mr. Lee

Read about Wildlife Friends of Thailand's latest rescue and news here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ps from Thailand

Travel in paradise, news from the Language Barrier guest blogger Mr. Lee
June 11 - Ps

I'll call you in my morning after my coffee and with a full charge on the computer. It takes days notice to make arrangement to get off and go somewhere and I haven't been sure where I'll be going and that takes many hours of research and this tiny computer is too tiny and sometimes the internet goes down for hours and I still have to book a 7-hour overnight ferry ride to somewhere I've never been, a ferry ride in which I'll be crammed like a sardine below deck onto a potentially bed bug infested thin mat 3 inches away from my fellow Thai travelers, no a/c, diesel fumes, body fumes, finally arriving at a port I've never seen in a place I've never been. To suffer like this takes copious research.


Adventures of the Thai-Dragon

"Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why." -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Circumnavigus Interuptus

June 11

I paddled as hard as I could, almost, but the sun and heat won. And the kayak, not much of a boat, tracked poorly and wallowed like a pig. But the water was lovely and the sea was calm. I did not come close to a proper circumnavigation; even in a real sea kayak, it would have been a serious challenge.

But I own that boat for 24 hours. Cost? 5 American bucks. Gonna paddle south when the sun gets a little lower.

You know that feeling when you are so coated with grime - the sweat and the sunscreen and the salt and the peeling skin - and it seems like nothing you do will ever make you clean, and everything you have is coated with salt and dirt. I feel profoundly dirty. I love the sea but it coats everything and then slowly eats it alive.

Wait, as I sit in my room overlooking the water, I see that another patron is paddling off with my boat! The outrage! I better go investigate.

--M. Lee

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thailand express


The last time something from Mr. Lee appeared here at this outpost border crossing we were exploring Mayan ruins together in the Yucatan. Now he's in Thailand and I am not. It sucks. I miss him like crazy but it's clear the Universe wants me in the jungles of Berkeley exploring the poetry scene and I have found, after repeated attempts, that it's best to not argue with the Universe. Anyway, but and so for your reading pleasure I give you Mr. Lee our Language Barrier Guest Blogger du jour writing from the sunrise side of a Gulf of Thailand island paradise.

June 4

Do you like shadenfreude? I know you do. I'm racing against time here with only 22 minutes remaining on this satellite internet connection from bumfuck thailand (yes I found it). Power is supplied by generators and is only on 6 to 12. Internet was not working for me yesterday. Today is ok but like I said, time limit.

I am on the island of Koh Phangan. I flew to Samui and took a ferry. I am on the remote (where else) east side, a little place called Than Sadet. Thai kings used to come here so it is good enough for me.

I was the only patron at Plaas (do not be deceived by the web site, should you go there). Other than four drunk Germans smoking cigarettes around a table, I am the only person here tonight. Tourism is way off in general and it is also the start of the rainy season. I have a great bed, probably the best bed I have had in weeks. It is soaked in my sweat since the fan goes off at midnight. It is so hot here it is hallucinogenic. I can't be sure I am actually at a computer writing an email to you. I am nearly out of time now.

I had hoped to hang out with other travelers at least occasionally. I will move tomorrow to a little more populous place. Will it have internet? I do not know. Please do not be alarmed if you do not hear from me for a couple days by which time I will surely be off this island and on to other parts (the enduring irony here is that I went to this island for a little peace and quiet from the city, a place to gather my thoughts do a little research maybe even skype with you. a bitter irony indeed)

Please feel free to enjoy my plight. Savor the schadenfreude.

June 5 - Here's my "blog post":

I caught the "ferry" from Than Sadet this afternoon, destination Thong Nai Pan Noi, still on the island of Phangan. As lovely and budgetarian as Than Sadet was, it was really too hot and too isolated. The isolation alone would have been ok, but the heat was crippling without electricity to power a fan. Plus, no internet, and I need internet to make plans on the fly.

As I say, I caught the ferry but it wasn't a regular ferry as you might picture a ferry. It was a large boat and it beached, sort of, and I waded to the ladder and handed my backpack up and climbed aboard and then we sped off. There were three other passengers from somewhere else. I spoke to a taciturn Thai who seemed not to understand me at all and I was certain I would not reach my destination easily or quickly but somehow the boat dropped me off (in the water) right in front of my "hotel". It could not have gone easier.

I was the only person to disembark. My hope to meet other travelers is dimming for the moment, but we'll see who gathers around the water hole tonight.

June 6 (after finding lost passport)

sumbitch blended into my luggage, slipped behind a panel...I emptied out my luggage 3 times and the 3rd time was the charm...but first I hopped in a cab toward last night's lodging after trying and failing on each one of their phone numbers...they are really cut off and have no power until evening...was going to go there, find passport, catch the ferry back...stopped the taxi after quarter mile and decided to rent motorbike - cheaper and faster - eventually, I made it there on scary eroded dirt tracks ("you scratchee bike, dragon fucky fucky you long time!") and no passport. Had a great lunch and, dejected, I headed home. Decided to go through everything one more time before calling the US Consulate and BAM!, chinese dragon have pity on me.

June 7

Yes, I disembarked into bathtub-warm water up to my knees and waded about 20 feet onto the shore.

Had a Thai massage in Bangkok (G rated, with clothes on!). It was in a wonderful, relaxing old wooden house in the middle of the city and I was the only customer. I was prepared for lots of pain and a bit of coughing and phlegm from the masseuse, but it was really ok. More than ok, it was great.

I rented a small motorbike for a couple of days and have been exploring the island, cruising through dense jungle roads to get to distant beaches. The place is empty of tourists in general except for a few Germans.

For a variety of reasons (inertia, distance from anywhere else, tricky ferry schedule), I'm finding it hard to get off the island. Not a bad predicament, all in all.

June 10 - Your good night is my good morning

I'm renting a kayak tomorrow ($10 for the day to give you an idea of how cheap it is) and I will attempt to circumnavigate the island, something that is appropriate for a solo dude. I don't got to answer to no one, I just got to paddle. I'm crashing right now - I'll let you sleep and fill you in on the details as soon as I can.

--M. Lee

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Poetry express

I read at the Poetry Express open mic on Monday night. It's held at the Priya Restaurant on San Pablo Ave, a little hole in the wall with a friendly staff and really tasty, cheap Indian food. Poetry Express is another of Berkeley's many groups. They are not only good poets but nice people. I am so glad I finally made it to the Bay Area to check out the scene. (thanks universe et al) The facilitator also invited me to be a feature reader at some future event but we set no date. Whether or not either of these invitations actually pan out, it's great to meet people who are not only doing things themselves, but also like my work.

Berkeley graffiti

Monday, June 7, 2010

Woman in the Wall

So here I am on what I promised would be an Epic American Road Trip (implying, of course, that I would be sure to post the adventures here) and nary a word. Of course you understand that I was being ironic. I have no money so that severely limits my options along the way but the universe compensated. Thanks universe. I've got your back. Anyway here's a quick update for the record.

As the fates would have it, I hooked up with an old friend while I was in Ashland. She was on the loose and up for an adventure and, in a happy synchronicity, her dad called and offered the use of his garage apartment for first two weeks in June. So here we are. Richmond, CA. In the hood. Other than someone squeezing off several rapid fire rounds yesterday it's been really quiet. At night the stranded earth out the window becomes a streetlight lit savanna for the neighborhood cats; in the day it returns to a sad parcel of earth defined by opposing chain link fences. The cats don't mind. Neither does the earth who watches it all come and go.

I read poetry at an open mic in Berkeley the other day. The group's host said he'd like to invite me back to be a featured reader sometime next winter. Great, though from here winter seems a long way off. We went to a Thai place afterward for dinner. Terrific. My new friends. Tonight I am hoping to read at another open mic in Berkeley. This is, after all, the point.