Saturday, December 28, 2013

wander with melissa

that is the working title for my website for book promotion.  you can find it at

there's not much there yet so be patient.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

My other blog...

If you're wondering about keeping your house on Kauai dry or mold free, this is my other blog...

Rescue Services Blog

or check out the Rescue Services website.

More on my book later!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book update...

My next travels aren't planned until my first book is finished.  Although the book is a little late I plan on a nice, long trip in about 6 months, possibly planning my second book.  Starting to think about where I'd like to go...

Just to show you that I am actually working and not just lazing at the beach, here's a pic of me writing.  Or, thinking about writing.  Or, looking for whales.  Actually, all of those.

I look like I'm working, and that's the important bit.

And check out my writing facebook page and like it if you haven't.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Travel book

The book is in progress!  So excited!  Kinda slow but I've decided that that just means it'll be better...

The link to my RocketHub account:

Now that I'm back in wifi I'll have more book updates...

Friday, February 22, 2013

airport thieves

this is total bullshit.  i really was expecting to check my bags in thailand and wake up on kauai.  maybe walk a few feet here and there to find another plane.  not even close.

i'm now in japan for an hour, i'm getting back on the same plane that i landed here on but i wasn't allowed to stay onboard.  its 'rude' to have passengers already on the plane while others start boarding.  huh?  so we had to go through security to walk a giant loop back down to the boarding gate that we just came from.  and they took my fucking water again.  i've now bought 3 waters today that have been confiscated.  or stolen, that's what i'm calling it now.  there was no need for them to cause me to lose my bottles of water.

i've been through security 6 times since i left last nite.  and when i get to honolulu i have to get my bag from baggage claim and start from scratch at the check in counter.

to make it worse, i was seriously craving bacon and eggs this morning.  so bad.  in a chinese airport, ha.  the closest i found was steamed pork buns with edamame and tea.  12 more hours.  i can make it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

baanchang elephant park

for the final adventure of my trip we went to the baanchang elephant park.  i must take a moment here to sincerely thank shanti for setting up our activities and schedules for the past 3 weeks.  i'm so burnt out i couldn't have cared less if i had done nothing but ride tuk tuks and eat.  but shanti researched, organized, motivated and made it all happen.  i am very thankful for that.  love you shanti.

our van pulled into the park and the first thing we saw was a field of elephants of all sizes and ages, each chained by the leg so they didn't touch one another.  they seemed pretty happy and healthy.  sol was in heaven.  after a short briefing our first task was to feed them bananas and sugar cane.  and we were told which elephants we couldn't touch, the blind one, the angry one, the people hater.  each of the elephants had come from a working environment where they were mistreated and are here to recover and give rides to tourists like us.  

we grabbed bunches of bananas and as much sugar cane as we could carry and walked to the different elephants to feed them.  their trunks were so cute!  as we approached they'd sniff us out and if there was food the trunk would snuffle and grab and it was really like some sort of alien being.  truly weird.

after going through several bushels of food it was time to learn how to sit on an elephant.  we were going to ride them bareback so learning to climb on and off was important.  many of the elephants at the park were recovering from being tourist transit with the giant wooden platform seats on their backs, which are not healthy for them.  we learned the command to sit (but no matter how much we screamed it the elephants only listened to their personal trainers), the elephant would kneel down, you step on the front leg, throw yourself on top and the elephant would start getting up.  i can't equate that feeling with anything else i've ever done, it was definitely unique.  like climbing a small mountain and then being in an earthquake?  

we sat way high up on the neck with our knees tucked in behind the ears.  the tigers were much comfier.

after practicing sitting we learned how to steer an elephant and did a practice loop, turning in both directions.  the command to go is 'pai pai' while kicking your elephant repeatedly in both ears (not hard kicking, more like flapping their ears for them).  to turn we yelled 'kwek' and kicked the ear on the opposite side of the way we wanted to go, like a giant turn signal.  stop was 'how' and we squeezed the neck with our knees.  the elephants just humored us by making us think they were listening but really they've done this loop probably about a million times in their lives.

sol's first elephant ride was a success.  pablo got up, i passed sol to him, they did a loop.  he loved it.

after lunch was the real fun, a jungle walk.  we got on our elephants (shanti pablo and sol had one and i had my own) and were each led by the animal's personal handler.  some people's elephants were a little rowdy and had to be led by a rope, some handlers used their spiky axe thing for reminders of manners, but my elephant, tong toom, was excellent.  all she did was follow her guy and never did anything naughty.  

riding an elephant bareback is something that everyone should try once.  it was incredible.  i locked myself in with my knees (sort of), my hands were on her giant head for balance, and we lumbered around for about an hour and a half.  the skin and prickly hairs were so fun to touch.  her eyes were beautiful and old and sad, with 2 inch long eyelashes.  she did have some scars from her past life but was super healthy looking otherwise.  occasionally she'd wander to the side of the trail and scrounge a snack and chomp as we walked.

the commands we learned were just to make us feel important, the elephants didn't listen to a word we said.  tong toom's trainer walked right in front of us and every time he stopped, elephant stopped, whichever path he took, elephant followed.  i still pretended to steer.  

i looked back a few times but shanti was too far behind to see them much.  i did see the 3 of them happily riding.  turning around to look at things while riding an elephant is not easy.  i relaxed as much as possible but the balance thing was far from anything i've tried before and maybe another hour of practice and i would have it no problem.

elephants have a pretty clever/gross air conditioning system.  as they walk they stick their trunks in their mouths and suck water, spit, slime, food bits out of their throats and spray themselves down.  they keep a lot of water on hand, just in case.  the sound was maybe like a 2000 lb man hocking a giant spitwad.  through a 4 foot long nose.  ok i'm not sure how to describe  it.  trunk in throat, sucking accomplished, then tong toom would alternate sides and bottom, spraying whichever part was hot.  which included me.  after our ride i was soaked with elephant phlegm.  truthfully, though, it wasn't bad because it kept me pretty cool too.  stinky but cool.

after our jungle tour it was time to wash our elephants and let them rest.  we ended the walk at a pond of brown water and floating elephant poop and walked our elephants in.  we got buckets and scrub brushes, although i don't see how we could accomplish any cleaning in poop water.  the elephants laid down and we got to scrubbing.  i enjoyed this part immensely because my trainer let me lay on my elephant and strike calendar poses, and i got to stand on her too.  but i scrubbed and washed and loved.  shanti pablo and sol were having a blast washing their elephant (moon, i think), she kept snorkeling water and spraying them the whole time.  

when the trainers started getting their elephants to lead them in for the nite my trainer let me ride tong toom one last time.  this was an unforgettable, amazing experience.

i said my goodbyes to shanti pablo and sol and went to pack for home.  surprisingly everything  i bought fit in my bags.  i think i kinda like this shopping thing, i'll have to try some more. 

i know i'm sorta jet lagged and travel weary but its 1pm now.  my flight leaves china at 2:30pm.  i have 17 hours of travel left and i'll still get home at 1pm today.  which is right now.  i'm going to think about this again after a good week of sleep. 

one lucky little boy.  and big boy.  and girl.

why am i in china

i'm so confused.  is taiwan china or not?  i think it is now, but the dutch had it, then japan.  and for some reason i keep thinking that england had her fingers in it too?  which island around here did england keep until 1999?  i did a report about that in high school and now i can't remember.

so as you can tell i'm in taiwan for a few hours.  nothing like going somewhere and realizing you don't remember a thing from high school history.  i'm sitting in a big comfy chair (the one i slept in last nite) looking outside and its cold here.  coats and scarves cold, so why would they have the air conditioning cranked so high inside?  i woke up a few times shivering.  i bought an extra bag to carry on and crammed it with presents and clothes and i had to keep rummaging through it for blanket material.  when i woke up for good i was wearing my regular clothes, jacket, tshirt and yoga pants, plus 4 tshirts i bought stuffed in my jacket hood and 2 dresses wrapped around my legs.  i have become an airport bag lady.

this is a super confusing airport.  in chiang mai they would only check me in through here and i had to find a desk for my next flights.  but they said my bag would make it to lihue?  doubtful.  none of the desks were open when i arrived at 3am so i was wandering around looking for a place to sleep and people kept shooing me to places i didn't want to go, namely away from the desk i needed.  there were big comfy chairs nearby but all the doors were locked and i ended up getting escorted through security to the next floor.  nap and worry about it later, i guess.

the desk was open this morning and i had to talk my way back downstairs.  i ended up walking backwards through security with all my bags and setting off every alarm they had.  but they let me do it.  the women at the desk could only check me in through honolulu, then i'm going to have to go to baggage claim and start check in all over again.  i was really hoping for one check in and done, now i have to do it at 3 airports, this really sucks.  i showed them my baggage claim ticket for lihue and the women just giggled and said they're 'searching for it now'.  thanks, thailand.

another problem with that is the booze that is on my shopping list, there are miles of duty free shops.  if i go to check in in honolulu they will confiscate my booze at security.  and that really pisses me off.

i've been wondering why every single chinese person i've seen at airports repacks all of their bags while waiting to check in.  it was really starting to bother me.  last nite in chiang mai i was the only white person in the entire airport (seriously), there were loads of tour buses and me.  every single person opened their checked luggage and rummaged around and repacked.  and i'm watching people do it here.  and i've seen it before.  but just asian travelers.

is it the last minute duty free packing because they know their airports all suck and they have to keep checking in every where?  i think that might be the answer.

there's not much left in my backpack that's legal for carryon but i think i can find space enough for a couple bottles of booze if i wear more clothes.  or tie my sneakers onto my carry ons.

we had the most amazing day yesterday riding elephants and here i am blogging about my airport problems.  i'll get to the elephants, i promise.