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Mike's Around-The-World Trip Update #15 - 1.21.2005
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man, why do i do this to you? why do i do this to
myself?

how dare i explore buddhist temples in luang prabang,
laos, a unesco world heritage sight, without telling
you. how could i rent a motorcycle which i had no
idea how to operate, learn on the job while winding
through the streets past bamboo huts and farmers
tending their fields, and not even mention it?

how can i think about tubing down (photo #1) the nam
xong river in vang vieng, laos with a group of
international friends, getting off my tube only to
refresh my beerlao, explore caves, or jump off cliffs
and not take a moment to share it with you?

or what about meeting my sister debbie (dobja) in
bangkok, thailand, and setting off about town on high
speed canal boats, river boats, and tuk-tuks
(3-wheeled taxis), to wander through grand palaces
(photo #2) , worship emerald buddhas on christmas eve,
wear a flashing santa hat while walking down the wild
khao san road, return to the hotel to be serenaded by
25 thai girls who sing christmas carols with no idea
what they are singing, eat street meat, sit outside in
the baking sun sipping beer changs, so happy to be
with family over the holidays. how can i do all that
and not drop a simple e-mail?

maybe it’s because my days are so full i have no time
to write, or i’m lazy, or i don’t care.

it’s not the last one. might be the second. let’s
figure it out:

dobja and i ventured off into the thai jungle on
christmas (photo #3) and chased wild monekys and
macaques, heard animals and saw plants we had never
heard or seen before, and climbed the twisted strong
branches of haunting trees into the canopy of the
jungle. we saw waterfalls. we chased elephants. the
tragic tsunami engulfed the west coast of thailand but
we were deep in the jungle. we watched that horrible
event unfold just as many of you did: on a t.v. set.
all my love and prayers to those affected. and all my
thanks that my friends, family, and i were safe from
the devastation. thank YOU for all the e-mails asking
about my well-being; it made me feel great that people
are looking out for me.

if it wasn’t any of those things that kept me from
sliding into a computer chair, logging into yahoo
mail, and firing off a “hey dudes, i’m doing this and
that”, then maybe it was heading down to the island of
koh phangan in the gulf of thailand for new year’s
celebrations with my norwegian friends, camilla,
charlotte, and marie, american friend zac, and english
friend neil. not to mention the dozens of new folks
we met while there.

no one gets work done on koh phangan. they are busy
doing other things.

they drink, they party like tomorrow’s just a fantasy,
they bask in a soft sun under the shade of palm trees,
retiring at night to their bungalows on the beach that
cost only $3 a night, they attend bloody, exciting
thai boxing matches, explore the magical island on
long wooden thai boats, lay on secluded beaches, meet
exicting people from all over the world, and they
await the new year.

and then they really start partying. they stream down
to the beach at night where the music blares, the
buckets of red bull, coke, and rum are handed over
counters as $3 is handed back and then are consumed
voraciously and too often. the people swarm, idiots
let off professional size fireworks on the ground and
certain guys named mike from chicago find themselves
releasing their drunk, i-love-you hug from english
guys like steve just in time to avoid a firework blast
to the chest. mike and steve dub themselves the
chosen ones and then drain their buckets to test their
immortality. a wall of fire ignites at midnight,
bringing a flaming shark and the words “happy new year
2005” to life and the beach erupts into a frenzy as if
the new year was never really expected. the world
roars.

and then they spend 3 days recovering from their
hangovers and people like me, who was amongst them,
find another excuse not to inform the good people
interested in their trip about it.

so surely then, after the new year i could have
chilled out, slunk into an internet cafe and updated
you?

no. my life was about to change and i had to get to
koh tao to let it happen.

koh tao, thailand is where i learned to scuba dive
(photo #4), became certified, became once again too
occupied for writing. i strapped a tank to my back,
threw a mask on my face, and sank into the deep green
waters between the islands of thailand to float
weightlessly amongst the coral with the sea cucumbers,
stingrays, barracudas, schools of fish, giant sea
turtles, and trigger fish. i dove 9 times, including
once in the pitch-black night using only a flashlight
to lead the way, and i loved it.

and then you’d think i’d stop for a moment to tell you
about it, right? no. i had to celebrate with my new
english, south african, irish, french, and icelandic
friends.

and then i had to get off the island with my traveling
companion zac to go to malaysia, where my local friend
hood liang ee was waiting. i was moving for 28 hours
and couldn’t write. we stayed at his house in penang,
malaysia and explored buddhist temples, ate crazy
food, and hung out with his family. we fled to kuala
lumpur from there, stopping to crawl through
underwater rivers in a cave. zac and i went to the
skybridge of the petronas towers (photo #5) in KL,
which were, until recently, the tallest buildings in
the world. we came down and i came up to this
internet cafe and finally fulfilled my duty to
you.....

so what’s the conclusion you find in the confessional
above? you don’t think i don’t care, do you? no way.
am i lazy? well, i’m quite active for a lazy guy. no,
it’s none of those my beloved friends and family. it
is just that i am doing so much, meeting so many
people, and enjoying it all so thoroughly that i find
it hard to pull off the road, ramble into a shack, and
sit down at a keyboard. trust me: it hurts me as much
as it hurts you - i have to summarize all this stuff
in as few lines as possible so it's not too long to
read - and that is hard hard work.

i promise i'll never do it again, to you or to me.

keep on keepin' on,
mike

more photos on www.michaelkivisto.com.


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