Tag Archives: travel

Craving Spice

People frequently ask me what the best food I ate in Thailand was. I cop out by answering–truthfully–that all food in Thailand is incredibly spicy and that my Anglo-German ancestors gifted me with a very low spice tolerance. 

It takes less explaining than ‘Milk Seafood Ramen.’

But despite my low spice tolerance, I have discovered recently that I miss spicy food. And further, I have no idea where to get it here in Madison. Wal Mart discontinued the closest thing I ate to spicy food pre-Thailand: canned Amy’s Own Spicy Chili. 

I’ve grown eclectic in my attempts to find spicy food. I order sandwiches with jalapenos at the local sandwich cart. Go with sharp cheddar instead of mild when grocery shopping. And sometimes, impulsively buy food clearly targeting the teenage male population, such as “Extra Hot Chili & Lime Pringles.” (You know they are aimed at teenage boys because the packaging comes in neon purple.) 

Alas, none of these things do the trick but they do give me the delightful feeling that I can “handle” spice. 


I’ll Appreciate It When I’m Older…

On Sunday my friends and I toured the U.S.S. Wisconsin, an Iowa class battleship. As we stood in line to buy a ticket, an employee walked up to us to ask what tickets we needed. And she specifically asked me:

“Two adult tickets and…are you under 13?” 

Me: “No.”

(I won’t lie, I thought about just saying yes but then I figured I might have to back up my claim and that’d be embarrassing. At least, almost as embarrassing as being asked if I’m half my age.) 

We then go to buy the tickets. The lady behind the desk quotes a number. My friend looks confused and points out that he is paying for all three of us. She nods. We get the receipt. 

I got the kid’s ticket. (For 12 and under.)

My friends teased me about it until it dawned on them that at 26 and 32 they were taken for my parents. Then it was hilarious.


“Normal” travel

International travel and a class this semester on immigration law have really skewered my perceptions.

Take this conversation:

Friend: “We could just drive up to Delaware!”

Me: “No can do, we don’t have a visa.”

We don’t have a visa. To travel from Virginia. Help, apparently I forgot how to road trip.


The Bunkhouse

This past week, my sister and I drove to Idaho to pick up our other sister and cousin from the camp where they worked this summer. We intentionally made the entire trip flexible. However, we still needed a place to stay at night so once we decided on Mount Rushmore as a good stopping area, I got on my phone and found us a place to crash. We’re a bunch of students. Cheap = good. So I found us a bunkhouse where they provide little cabins with bunk beds and a shared shower house. Bring your own bedding. 

For the record, I did ask the others for their input. The bunkhouse looked fine online. I booked it and received an e-mail reminding me to bring my own bedding. 

Check-in supposedly ended at 9 pm. We planned to arrive by 8:30. I got a call at 7:30 from the manager informing me she was going home and that she’d text me the code to get into our cabin. Also, did I get the message that they did not provide bedding? (I did.)

We arrived in the dark. And by arrived I mean exited the freeway, drove for fifteen minutes on abandoned back country roads, and turned too early on the dimly lit road to the cabins. If you can call it a road. No obvious parking lot existed so even after finding the correct turn we drove on the grass to reach our cabin. 

The place was abandoned. Not another car to be seen. 

Then we entered the cabin. To quote my sister, “I did not need to check for bed bugs because I could already see the dead bugs all over the mattress.” 

Instead of a four bed bunkhouse like we expected, we got a bunk with two queen size mattresses. We did not mind sharing, but the website definitely promised four. And it wasn’t just sharing with one another. We apparently were supposed to share with an entire graveyard of moths, beetles, and spiders. 

So many spiders. I’m not afraid to kill an arachnid but even I found the spider guarding our cabin intimidating. He was easily the size of a quarter. 

Some (I won’t name names) vowed to sleep in the van. I protested that we paid for the cabin so by golly we should use it! Anyway, we were leaving early the next morning. A few hours wouldn’t hurt us. 

We then went to the shower house. At first glance, it at least appeared clean. Second glance revealed even more bugs than the cabin. Live crickets and dead beetles hung out in the sink. Spiders clung to the rafters. But what finally broke me were the moths. 

The moths lived in the toilets. 

Imagine doing your business and all of a sudden a moth comes up from between your legs. Or reaching for toilet paper and a moth flutters out with the paper. I screamed. My sisters screamed. My cousin probably screamed. 

Lest you think us heartless to our fellow campers, remember, there were no other guests. And the staff all left way early. 

I am not going to lie. We ran back to our cabin, grabbed our stuff, dodged the giant watch-spider, and drove like a bat out of hell. No destination needed. Just out.

The next place we stayed at had a hot tub and continental breakfast.


Talking About Thailand (With My Prof)

For those of you who followed this blog over the last 7 months, you know Thailand was not everything I expected. It was hard. The school did not run a great program. I never got WiFi or library access. Classes ended in May but my last final was due July 25th.

I tried explaining all this to my professor who runs the program. In fact, I wrote a list before meeting with him so I would make sure he knew exactly what I experienced. 

It went something like this:

Me: “It was very challenging. They would change the classroom without warning, cancel class randomly, change the schedule often….”

Prof: “Sounds like a very challenging experience. But what a great opportunity to experience Thailand!”

Me: “Yes, traffic was terrible. Taxi drivers constantly cheated me. My friend also studying abroad would compare notes with me, but since she was originally from Thailand, she did not experience half of what I experienced.”

Prof: “But it sounds like you made friends!”

Me: “I made, like, three friends.”

Prof: “What an opportunity for growth! So glad you had a good time.”

Me: “I did not have a good time. It was very challenging.”

Prof: “But you got to see lots of Thailand, right?”

Me: “It was very hard to schedule times to travel because the school kept changing when classes were.”

Prof: “Isn’t that just like Thai culture? What an experience. So, what kind of student should we send next?”

Me: “One that can somehow deal with the constantly changing schedule and still be organized enough to keep track of when things come due because no one will them. I don’t think you’ll find that person in law school.”

Prof: “Great! I will be sure to put them in touch.”

…I tried.


25: A Year In Review

I am spending my last day as a 25-year-old working on a Law & Information Technology final for a class that ended in May. It feels oddly symbolic–and utterly depressing. 

I also work today. This too feels symbolic. I spent most of the first half of my year in this office crafting my law review note and trying to squeeze work hours in while juggling twenty other commitments. 

Neither memory leaves me feeling particularly joyful. 25 is not a year I would willingly repeat. 

Colorado, Madison, Thailand, Madison some more. The real takeaway I see from 25 is that the second year of law school is somehow more terrible than first year. And I didn’t even think that was possible. 

I suppose I grew as a writer and traveler this past year. I overcame a lot. I think I also failed a lot. Or at least I fell flat on my face more times than I care to count. 

I am not sure what hopes to have for 26. It will cover one more year of law school. It feels a bit like one more year to ‘get through,’ which I don’t want to be the case. I love birthdays because they mean a new start. But with 2L year still nipping at my heels and 3L year looming ahead, I feel more braced than expectant. 

But you know what? Here is to 26. As my favorite poet, Tanner Olson, says: hope doesn’t let the story end.

And another year of law school is not the end of the story. So, that is how I want to approach 26. Hopeful. Even if I am not really sure what to hope for. Because it represents a new year and a new chance to kick law school’s butt. Or at least try not to let it totally kick mine. 


Wisconsin’s Rainy Season

Theoretically, my last few months in Thailand overlapped with the rainy season in southeast Asia. In reality, it rained maybe twice that I was aware of. (Though I think I slept through some rain-showers at night.) 

Wisconsin weather apparently has taken it as a personal mission to give me allllll the rain I missed.

Sorry, fellow Wisconsinites.

Today while driving home I got caught in a rainstorm. It was one of those downpours where drivers (including myself) flip on the hazards and pull to the shoulder of the road to await better visibility. 

But it was worth it because at the same time, the most amazing double rainbow filled the sky. I am pretty sure it ended in the field next to the road we were all on. I wish I could have taken pictures, but, you know, I figured staying alive and keeping my eyes on the road sounded like a better plan. But truly, it was amazing.