February 14, 2015

Facing the Leech!

Mel: Part of our Southeast Asia adventure in 2013 was a three day jungle zip-line trek in Laos. The man who organized the trek, Thor, wrote us this email beforehand:

Dear Kate,
Regarding the tree top explorer, it would be good for you to get the leech socks as on the way we trek approximately 1,5 km you will face the leech. However, beginning of May is still in dry season so there will be fewer leech.

Kate: Thor! I'm still a little sad that he wasn't our actual guide after all our emails. I pictured him leading us through the jungle with his giant hammer. Though our actual guide Mr. Bahn made up for it with his pocket-sized hotness.

hot Mr. Bahn helping Kate
Kate: I love how panic-stricken we were about those leeches and in the end, you got one leech on your neck and didn't even notice until it had already fallen off.

Mel: Umm, hold up.

I was so panic-stricken that I ordered leech socks from a company in Malaysia, Endemic Guides, before the trip.  So I had socks sent to me in California from Malaysia, only to turn around and bring them with me to Southeast Asia - I must have been super freaked for that to make sense at the time. And if Thor's warning was not enough, the images on the Endemic Guides website was enough to give me nightmares.

As for your level of leech anxiety before the trip, you wrote in one of many emails about leech socks to me:

the countdown has officially begun! here are the things i have left to do. let me know if you can think of anything else...

still need leech socks (might be able to borrow from a friend)

do we need hiking boots or will sneakers suffice? 

want to print everything out and send itinerary to some folks in case i die in a leech attack

I think you were staying pretty calm though until you started watching leech YouTube videos the night before we left for the trek. That was enough to convince you to go to the local shopping mall in Pakse Laos to buy long tube socks and salt for us to slather on our legs.

Kate: I also think all those Chang beers we consumed while watching the YouTube videos added to my paranoia.

Mel: I kind of feel like looking up leech attack videos on YouTube is like trying to self-diagnose on WebMD; you just can't help yourself but it's really NEVER a good idea.

Kate: OMG do you remember the one that burrowed through that man's hiking boot?!? Just thinking about it makes me want to check my shoes. 

Mel: Exactly! Thor wasn't playing around when he warned us.

Kate's "leech socks" and Mel's legit leech socks
Mel: I'm glad we got that photo if only because you wrote in an email before the trip:
just emailed thor to ask if we need leech socks. i'm secretly hoping we have to get them, if only for the amazing photos!

Mel inspecting her legs for leeches (and hot Mr. Bahn on the right)
Mel: This photo was taken about an hour into the hike. I wasn't tired enough yet at this point to stop caring about the leeches.

As it turns out, I only ended up facing one leech on the trek. One leech on my neck. Luckily, one of our guides removed it with his thumb before I even knew it was there. The blood was gross, but I was mostly just curious as to how I got a leech on my neck?!

leech removal from Mel's neck was a success!
Mel: So I got one leech on the neck and you were leech-free the whole time. I guess the leech socks and all the salt might have been a little overkill?

Kate: Maybe, but I think the prostitute on our trip got bit a couple times. Those short-shorts probably weren't a great idea.

February 10, 2015

Nom Nom Nom Nom: The Inca Trail Edition

Mel: Snacks, snacks, snacks! They really are one of the most important things to think about when planning a trip. This photo shows what we brought for our Inca Trail hike: peanut butter sandwich crackers, chocolate chip granola bars, Tropical Fruit and Berry trail mix, Monster Mix (trail mix with M&M's, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips).

Kate: But of course the healthier of the two trail mixes we never ate. We were exhausted and starving but trail mix without PB chips and M&M's is just a bad idea and something you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. Not sure why we ever bought it in the first place.

Mel: Yeah, I just noticed that the healthier trail mix says "Low-Fat" on it. We should have known better. The last thing I was worried about on the Inca Trail was a few extra calories. Nope, I was more worried about things like falling off a cliff, getting caught in a rain storm after my poncho blew away, or shitting my pants since there never was a bathroom when I really needed one.

And I will say that our "healthy" option was still more appealing than the boring snacks that most of the people on the Inca Trail were eating, like Cliff Bars and bananas.  They were probably so jealous when they saw us eating our Monster Mix.

Kate: OMG do we have any other photos of us with snacks? I look like I have bells palsy.

Mel: Well, you had just hiked 26 miles at 13,000 ft with a beast of a backpack.

I wish we had a photo of the yogurt pretzels. Did we eat all of them before we even left for the hike?

Kate: I bet we ate all the pretzels before the plane took off.

Mel: Too bad - because I really did love the story we made up before we left about how when we are at our lowest moment on the Inca Trail and on the brink of ruining our friendship, the only saving grace was going to be finding one lone yogurt pretzel in our bag and splitting it. Although in reality, that one yogurt pretzel probably would have been crushed into a million pieces at the bottom of our backpack but I guess we could have split the crumbs.

Kate: We can reenact the scene in Morocco... maybe a gif of us being mad and then smiling while sharing the last yogurt pretzel.

February 4, 2015

Morocco Planning: Homemade Selfie Sticks!

Kate: Have you seen those selfie sticks? In public, I make fun of them but secretly I think it would be awesome for travel photos.

Mel: Can you imagine us on camels with a selfie stick?

Kate: Knowing us, we'd make a cheap one ourselves out of a stick and tape, like when you taped your camera back together.

Mel: Well, in that case, our selfie stick will be held together with bandaids.

Of course I noticed my camera was busted as soon as I got to the airport to leave for our last trip. So I was the fool carrying a camera held together with bandaids all around Southeast Asia.

Kate: You're basically MacGyver.