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Catching Up

Hey All,

Got about a months worth of updating to do, so before I start, this one will probably be a long one.

Jason came to visit me in Cambodia about a month ago. Him and I had a ton of fun, and most of it was pretty absurd. I will mostly let his opinion of his experience do the talking, but also let you guys see the pictures from his trip. We hit up Battambang for a few days, went down to where I live in Takeo for a few more, and then rounded everything off with a few days in the capital city, Phnom Penh. Here is a link to the pictures.

Shortly thereafter, I had to take my girls basketball to Svay Rieng Province. To begin with, I was thinking that we would leave a few days earlier than we did. We are talking Tuesday and we wound up leaving early Friday morning. I was OK with that. I have had a lot of experience with basketball tournaments in my life, but I cannot say that I was all that prepared to deal with a tournament in Cambodia. Lets throw some facts out, its gets really hot in Cambodia towards the end of March and the beginning of April, for some reason, this is also a prime time for a national sports tournament? anyways, that’s when it was to go down. That was really one of the biggest problems. So in order to work around the heat, the teams only play four times a day, and we are talking both boys and girls, with teams from around the country. Thats a lot of teams, and no so much time a day. So I wound up spending like 6 days out in that province, after thinking the whole thing would take only a day or two. Wrong was I. I was supposed to help Peace Corps out to develop this thing during that time, and I also wound up having to leave my girls early because I had tickets to Sumatra that I had no chance at exchanging. So I apologized to my girls, bought them a snack, and told my assistant coach what was going on, then coached them one last time and left.

So, off to Sumatra. Our flight went through Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and it was great because I got to have McDonalds, Starbucks, and Dunkin Donuts, for the first time in a long time. Almost 9 months! I dont even eat at those places in the states, but did it matter? no. Anyway, we arrived at the capital of Sumatra, Medan, very late in the night and moved along to our hotel. The place wasn’t bad, neither was the capital city, but we were ready to head out the next morning. First stop on the trip was Bukit Lawang, home to a National Forest, Palm Oil farms, and the destruction of the natural habitat of Orangutans in the wild. Jungle trekked for most of a day, hung out for another in the sweet little town, and then moved on yet again. Here is the link to the pictures.

Next stop was Berastagi, home of two active volcanoes. Being lazy, we decided to only climb one. And it was the smaller of the two, because apparently people have gotten lost and died trying to climb the tougher one. Not really my thing. Anyway, starting out, the hike all the way up and back is about, 12km, which isnt too far, until you consider thats going uphill and down, on a path that may or may not be there… easy right? sure, lets do it. It was nice and easy, there was actually a paved road, until a certain point… then there is nothing. So looking around, we decided to go back. Wrong move. We went the right way, but all of a sudden, the path goes completely natural and you have to climb a limestone formation to get to the top from then on. How was this eventually figured out? Made friends with some students and a teacher who were also climbing the volcano. Nothing like getting to the top and smelling the expulsion of sulfur… Yummy. So we got to the top, figure out the right path back down, and wound up getting absolutely destroyed in the process because the “stairway” down, had actually turned into a slippery mess and became a manmade path for water to run down the mountain. Thankfully, at the end of that journey, there are some hot springs to bathe all the mud I had accumulated off. Here are the pics from this part of the trip.

Before we set off the next morning, the earthquake happened. The bed shook for almost a minute, and we made it out of the room in some sort of time, but eventually it never really slowed our trip down. Later we found out that it occurred near the northern part of the island, and we were mostly messing around close to the middle of it. The type of place Sumatra is, perched perilously where two tectonic plates, makes it possible to have crazy alterations to the island frequently, and has been an active place for quite some time. Anyway, we headed off to the worlds largest crater lake, Danua Toba, to kayak it, with our guide Georg aka Halim.

We started off fairly well, got the kayaks into the water after taking a stop at the waterfalls of Sipiso-Piso. Our journey began at Tongingg, just a small little town at the northern-most point of the lake. The lake was formed a long time ago by a giant eruption, an eruption that displaced ten times more rock than Mount Saint Helens. We got into the water maybe at one, and then followed that up with 4 hours of paddling, and roughly 20km of it, to the next town on our trip, Haranggoal. Stayed there for the night, got started early the next morning and paddle roughly another 4 hours and again close to 20km to the island in the middle of the crater, to a town called Simanindo. Here, we had a delicious dinner of Mi Gomak, which I have no clue what it is, but its basically Indo-Spaghetti, and really spicy, right up my alley. Next day, we paddled all the way to our final stop, TukTuk, which again was about 4 hours of paddling and the same distance. Once we arrived, it was time to slow down and actually get some rest and relaxation in. Sometime that was not done much on the trip, but it was still good. Here are the pics from that part of the trip, probably the most beautiful ones.

Lastly, went back to the capital of Sumatra, Medan, did some shopping in what was very close to an American mall, and then flew back the next day. Got back to Angtasom, my home, and proceeded to celebrate Khmer New Year. Got very drunk, had a lot of fun, did some Khmer dancing, mango-eating contest, and wound up exhausted. All in all, everything

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