Saturday, April 28, 2012

Thailand Travel Madness

Let me preface this by saying that Justin and I are safe and sound in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in our hotel. But about ten hours ago it did not look like this would be the case.

First, we were about three stops along on the subway when we realized we forgot the camera. So Justin had to go back to the apartment while I continued on to take care of converting money and we were running late.

Then we get to the front of the check in line and the lady says "Can I see the credit card you used for the booking?" But we had our card number stolen between booking and now so it's the same account but different number. But no, this is not acceptable We have to identify the number on the card which somebody stole a few weeks ago and we no longer have. OH CRAP.

So Justin calls Capital One on Skype to ask for the old number and they say NOPE DON'T HAVE IT EITHER. Clock is ticking. 15 min until flight check in closes.

And the sick thing is the old cards WERE IN MY LUGGAGE but I threw them out last night while packing. Plus Justin cut them up. I try calling our neighbors to ask if they can go look in the trash outside the apartment but nobody is picking up. (Maybe they could detect why I was calling). 10 minutes until flight closes.

I am searching my email frantically for an e-receipt or something and checking online shopping accounts but everything only has the last 4 digits "for security" and we need the last 8. The person who stole our account had an easier time getting our number than we are having. My hands are shaking so hard I can barely type on the iPhone.

AND THEN the heavens part and the angels burst into song. JUSTIN HAS FOUND THE NUMBER! In his madness, he had created a scanned copy of our credit cards and uploaded it to Google Docs. WHO DOES THIS? "They suggest that you do that before major trips," he says modestly. They also suggest you not forget that you did it, but at this point he is such a hero I don't even care.

Moral of the story: Don't get your identity stolen. Also, get an iPhone.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday Weirdness: J-Pop at the Canal City Mall

They only look like toddlers in mismatched neon frilly frocks. And yes, the fans are mostly twenty-something men.
Just when I think I've started to figure this place out.

(PS: Shut up, it's still Wednesday in the US.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Heading to Thailand!

Nana and I are heading to the "northern capital" of Chiang Mai, Thailand for Golden Week this Saturday. Right now, we're smack in the middle of the typical pre-break crunch.

However, we have a couple finished posts in the pipeline scheduled to publish late this week and early next, so hopefully there's no interruption in your regularly scheduled programming. Just don't take this as a sign that we've started blogging on vacation!

Siem Reap: Apsara Dancers

One evening in Siem Reap we did the tourist thing and went out for dinner and a show. Giant dinner theater, huge buffet, teeming masses - you know the drill. Though we were understandably exhausted after a long day of touring, I'm glad we went: the dancing was fascinating, not least for the stark contrast between the glacial formality of the apsara dance and the up-tempo humor of the peasant dances.

The apsara dance, Cambodia's classical dance style, is based on the poses of the apsara carvings found in the ancient Khmer temples. As a formal dance discipline, it's actually pretty recent, codified by a Cambodian princess in the mid-20th century, though it's based on traditions that are much older than that.

Some of the dances tell stories from Hindu mythology. This one seems to involve some kind of monkey-demon falling in love with an apsara.

The apsara dances were interesting, but on the whole I preferred the peasant dances. Like many peasant dances from around the world, these numbers were all about thinly-veiled flirtation, spun around the stylized motions of everyday life. 

In one dance, for example, a mixed group of young men and young women are at work catching fish and crabs in a rice paddy. A central pair seem to take a particular fancy to one another, and spend the rest of the dance trying to get some time alone. They eventually succeed, and a universally identifiable marriage proposal ensues. All done with tons of energy and superb comic timing. Funny stuff - but a little too quick to catch on camera in such low light. 

The shots below are from a different dance - a percussive number involving coconuts.

After the show, guests were invited onto the stage to take a photo with the dancers. After the initial bull rush of Chinese and Korean tour groups subsided, Nana made her way to the stage with a second wave of Aussies and Japanese.