Thursday, November 27, 2008

Elephant Mahouts? Yes we are! Mahout training in Luang Prabang!


Destination: Tiger Trails - XL Elephant Experience


Number of Days there: 2

One thing unexpected: Seeing the local village kids on our hike after the elephant training.

Times we took the: Boat: 6; Bus/Minivan: 0; Train/Subway: 0 Taxi/Car: 1; Tuktuk: 1

Where we stayed: XL Elephant camp

Favorite Restaurant: All food was included in our tour, nothing really spectacular but still good!

Best of: Bathing the elephants was fantastic!

Worst of: Pouring rain on the first day of our trip put a damper (literally) on our first elephant ride.

Special Moments: The first few moments riding on the elephant behind its was both scary and exhilarating!

Tracy was bound and determined to get up close and personal with elephants in Laos so we decided to book an elephant mahout training trip from Luang Prabang. We booked our two day trip through Tiger Trails, an ecologically conscious group that gives back to the local community, for a price of $110 per person including all transport, meals & training with the elephants. Another expensive splurge but we think it was definitely worthwhile! Our trip started out rather bleakly with pouring rain so our first elephant ride of the day was really a wash but luckily the sun came out and by the afternoon we were back in business! During the second ride of the day we were able to ride behind the ears of the elephant effectively acting as the "mahout" or "elephant trainer". Riding behind the ears of these magnificent animals was a fantastic experience that we'll never forget! I don't think we stopped smiling from the time we hopped on up (and it was a long hop) til the time we jumped down! After our elephant walk we took a boat to Tad Sae waterfalls which were very nice! Afterwards we settled down for dinner and relaxation while counting down the hours until our next elephant encounter! Not to worry, it came soon enough...the next morning we got up bright and early and picked up our elephants and steered them towards the river for a bath! How cool is that? We bathed elephants! Tracy's elephant got a bit out of hand and decided to go after the villager's sugar cane but we really can't blame her, it was sitting out by the river and tempting her so why not! In the end her elephant brought the contraband sugar cane into the river with her and happily munched away on it while getting a bath.

After our elephant encounter we took a trek through the country side visiting three local villages. Despite the muddy terrain we loved seeing the local kids and beautiful scenery. In all, it was an excellent trip! We both would have loved to have spent more time with the elephants but we were thrilled with the time we had, it was truly an unforgettable experience!

To see more pictures of our mahout training please click here!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Backpacker's Playground: Vang Vieng


Destination: Vang Vieng

Number of Days there: 4

One thing unexpected: Get away from the tubing scene and the countryside around here is amazing; in moderation, tubing was a lot of fun!

Times we took the: Boat: 0; Bus/Minivan: 2; Train/Subway: 0 Taxi/Car: 2; Motorbike: 1

Where we stayed: Khamphone Hotel (70,000kip/$8) Nothing special, but decent enough for the price

Favorite Restaurant: The Organic Cafe with its awesome Mulberry Pancakes, shakes, fried leaves and just about any other way you can make from mulberries. It was refreshingly different from the other restaurants in town that serve up poorly done western food and "Friends" reruns.

Best of: Kayaking down the river, touring around the countryside visiting the little villages

Worst of: How stupid a few travelers act when you mix a lot of cheap booze, water, and some dangerous slides/swings

Special Moments: Meeting Fetze and Marije, laughing at all the travelers watching "Friends" and "The Family Guy" until it was time to jump in a tube and float from bar to bar only to do it all over again the next day

We almost decided not to go here, but at the last minute decided that the limestone hills around the area were worth the stop at least for a day so off we went to the tubing capital of Laos (really South East Asia), Vang Vieng. For those not oriented with this practice it looks something like this:

  1. Rent one tractor tube for the crazy inflated price of 55,000kip
  2. Ride in a Tuk Tuk 3km's north of town
  3. Jump in careful not to hit the stem (you are not drunk yet so are paying attention to which way the stem points)
  4. Float down a river until you reach a bar
  5. Get out and drink
  6. Do some crazy slide/swing/zip line into the water (Note: if that's not scary enough just jump off the platform or try and do flips, land in your tube, etc.)
  7. Drink some more
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 till A) 6pm (night and when you should have the tube back to the rental place) or B) too drunk or don't care about the late fee, you decide to take a tuk tuk back to town later and drink till the bar kicks you out around 8pm

Repeating steps 4-7 too many times results in varying degrees of injury, mostly cuts and scrapes from the stems; but we saw lots of sprains, broken bones (just wrap the cast in plastic and keep going!), and people hobbling around. With 9 bars stretching down about 1 km the tube serves more as a vehicle to more bars than actually tubing.

With all that being said, you don't come to Vang Vieng and NOT go tubing! So off we went our first day floating down the river with our new friends Fetze and Marije from the Netherlands. We actually had a blast, floating a ways, doing a few swings, drinking a "little" liquid courage, and chatting it up.

The next day we did something a little more wholesome and rented a motorbike to tour around the countryside. Passing through the villages, you once again got to see just how rural Laos really is. Buffalo herding and tending rice fields is a way of life around here and most people still live life as sustenance farmers. The sight is truly breathtaking with the limestone hills serving as a backdrop to rich green rice fields.

On our last day in Vang Vieng, we let Fetze and Marije talk us into Kayaking. For 20,000kip more than the tubing, you can kayak about 20 km's AND pass by the same bars you do on the tube. If you are looking to just have a beer or two, go off a few swings sober, and enjoy the scenery more than the bars, then we recommend doing this instead of tubing. It was a pleasant way to end our time in Vang Vieng, the stop that we really enjoyed but originally had no real plans of coming here. I guess you never know till you go!

Next stop, the cultural capital of Laos and former capital: Luang Prabang.

To see more photos of Vang Vieng please click here!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Odd sculptures and glimmering Wats: Vientiane


Destination: Vientiane

Number of Days there: 2

One thing unexpected: Buddha Park was out of the way but definitely worth the trip

Times we took the: Boat: 0; Bus/Minivan: 2; Train/Subway: 0 Taxi/Car: 0; Motorbike: 0

Where we stayed: RD Guesthouse - 120,000 kip (roughly $15) A decent pick and centrally located. We still can't figure out why they went with the saloon style swinging doors for the bathroom instead of a standard door but hey, it was an interesting conversation piece none the less.

Favorite Restaurant: Makphet - Please go here! This restaurant takes disadvantaged street kids and trains them for work in the hospitality industry. Not only do you get to support an excellent cause, the Lao food is delicious and the service is excellent! It's a little expensive for Laos (most dishes in the $6-7 range) but still an excellent value for what you get! The Scandinavian Bakery also serves a good breakfast and sandwiches.

Best of: Buddha Park

Special Moments: Strapping in for an endless spin around the Bumper Car Rink near That Luang

After arriving on the night bus from Pakse, we checked into our hotel and took the morning off relaxing over a cup of coffee at the bakery. Vientiane is the capital of Laos and has a healthy supply of ex-pats generally working for NGO's. We decided that the first afternoon we would spend checking out a few of the numerous Wats (Temples) in town. Wat Sisaket (oldest wat in Vientiane) & Wat Haw Phra Kaew, named for the Emerald Buddha which was "stolen" by the Thais in the 18th century and now resides in Bangkok. After the temples, we went up to the market, strolled around for a bit, and called it an early night. No matter how nice the buses are, you can't really get a good night's sleep on one!

The next day we caught the local bus out to Buddha Park, about 30km's outside of town. After an hour crammed into the back of an incredibly hot van, we arrived and were pleasantly surprised. Built in the 50's by a somewhat eccentric artist, the park is more of a collection of his statues than anything else. Blending Buddhism and Hindu, the statues are spread out over a lovely stretch of land along the river bordering Thailand. The main attractions are a huge reclining Buddha and a unique "pot of life" with different levels from heaven (nirvana) to hell. Climbing to the top of the pot gave you a great view of the park. We highly recommend visiting the park as it was worth the effort to get there in our opinion. After getting back into town, we climbed up the Laos version of the Arch De Triumph (Laos was a French territory at one point) which was never actually finished so it's not as high or as impressive as the real deal, but nice all the same. We finished the day off with a walk up to That Luang for sunset. That Luang is the pride of the nation in terms of temples and it certainly does not disappoint with it golden stupa glimmering in the evening light. There was also a little festival going on so we could not resist getting out some aggression with a round of bumper cars. Who knew that you paid one fee to ride as long as you wanted! After banging till our heads hurt we figured that one out :-). After smashing into one another we went back and got ready to head to our next stop...Vang Vieng.

To see more photos of Vientiane please click here!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Flat Tires & Mud - The Bolaven Plateau & Pakse


Destination: Bolaven Plateau

Number of Days there: 2 in Bolaven Plateau & 2 in Pakse

One thing unexpected: Two flat tires (5000 kip each, about $.60) & muddy roads with lots of cows

Times we took the: Boat: 0; Bus/Minivan: 0; Train/Subway: 0 Taxi/Car: 0; Motorbike: 1

Where we stayed: Sypaseuth Guesthouse in Tad Lo (Bolaven Plateau) 50,000 kip/$6, Saibaidee Guesthouse in Pakse (60,000 kip/$7) and Royal Pakse Hotel (100,000 kip/$12)

Favorite Restaurant: Nazim Resaurant in Pakse - fresh naan, chicken tikka masala & veggie curries

Best of: Being stared at by the local kids, helping a local woman write a cover letter for a new job & guest starring in a group photo with a bunch of Thais

Worst of: Two flat tires & muddy dirt roads

We thought about taking a day tour of the Bolaven Plateau but decided it would be more fun to do it ourselves so we rented a motorbike at a cost of 70,000 kip per day and headed East! We decided to plan our trip around the major waterfalls in the area. Our first stop was Tad Pasuam which was inviting and gorgeous, albeit a little fake. A Thai businessman bought the land and changed the landscape to make the falls more impressive. Not satisfied with just changing the landscape, up went a luxury hotel, restaurant and mock village representing the different tribes of Laos rolled all into one stop. It's a major stop for many Thai tour groups and while we were there one of them spotted us and decided that they had to have the token white/blonde girl in their photo. Naturally Tracy had to be front and center :-) The falls at Tad Pasuam were well worth the stop but skip the fake village that is attached. We literally walked in and as soon as they saw us the music started playing, the kids dancing and the ladies hawking their was like watching monkeys at a zoo and they were putting on a show for us and only us. Please don't buy into this, it's so sad to see a fake village that is totally dependent on tourism. We turned straight around, jumped back on our motorbike and hit the road!

After another hour passing by gorgeous scenery we passed by a large town and needing a break from the rain and sore bottoms, we decided to stop to see the local monastery. The kids in the area came out to meet us as if they rarely, if ever, see foreigners. We gingerly walked around the monastery all the while being followed by the kids just staring and without saying much. Back on the motorbike, we started to notice the back wheel wobbling. Pulling into a gas station we realized we had a flat tire! At this point in the day it was getting dark, we didn't know how much farther it would be, and now we have this flat tire to which we have no idea it will cost to fix let alone how long. Fortunately for us, this sort of thing must happen all the time as it cost a mere 5000kip, or about .75 cents and took about 20 minutes from start to finish! Back on the bike, we pulled into Tad Lo just as the sun was setting. We settled in and ordered a few beers to congratulate ourselves on a successful trip!

The next morning we started off to Tad Lo only to realize that we had ANOTHER flat tire... Thankfully we were with two other people so Jason took off down the road while Tracy waited for him to return with the bike. Due to this delay we ended up missing the largest of the Tad Lo waterfalls but we were still able to see the smaller one. Deciding not to risk the tire on a bumpy dirt (which would be pure mud from all the rain the day before) road we headed back the way we came and then back tracked toward Pak Song to Tad Fan, Tad Nguing and the coffee plantations. We attempted to stop at Tad Nguing but after 30 minutes of slipping and sliding (our fellow cyclers even landed in the mud) we turn back and head instead to a local coffee plantation for a well deserved break. After our coffee break we drove back towards Tad Fan and with a gravel road dry enough to make it down, we made it to our final waterfall for the trip - Tad Fan.

As it turned out, the best part of the trip around the Bolaven Plateau ended up not being the waterfalls and scenery (although they were indeed nice!) but just getting to see more of the rural side of Laos. Passing by places that rarely see many visitors outside of the organized tour variety, one is greeted with warm smiles and friendly greetings. The Laos are an extremely friendly lot and we got just as much pleasure out of watching the life go on around us than we did the beautiful scenery.

We spent our final day in Pakse getting caught up on our email, updating this blog, eating lots of Indian food and browsing around the local market. While Jason worked on the blog, Tracy bought a woven silk scarf and two belts. After talking with the shop owner she disclosed that she needed help writing an English cover letter for a new job at a local bank. She wanted to close her shop and have more time with her family (she had two young children and she worked in her shop from 7am until 9pm 7 days a week). And we thought our former employers were slave drivers (just kidding)! In any case, Tracy jumped at the chance to help her out with the letter. At the end of the day we jumped on a bus to Vientiane...but it wasn't just any bus, it was the King of Buses, the ultimate in night bus comfort!

To see more photos of the Bolaven Plateau please click here!

The 4,000 Islands - Don Det & Don Khon


Destination: 4,000 Islands - Don Det & Don Khon

Number of Days there: 5 (3 days Don Det, 2 days Don Khon)

One thing unexpected:

Times we took the: Boat: 3; Bus/Minivan: 2; Train/Subway: 0 Taxi/Car: 0; Bike: 1

Estimated KM walked: 3-4 km

Where we stayed: Souksan - 50,000 kip/$6 on Don Det & Somphamith on Don Khon for 40,000 kip/$5

Favorite Restaurant: Mrs. Noi's on Don Det - beautiful sunset view, tasty lao lao with fresh orange juice & amazing banana fritters; Salaphae on Don Khon - yummy green curry lunches for 10,000 kip each ($1.20)!

Best of: Swinging the day away in a hammock just catching up on our reading.

Worst of: SUPER slow Internet (powered by car batteries)!

The hotel manager at Anouxa in Champasak hooked us up with a transfer to the 4,000 islands. It started with a ferry across the river with what can only be described as a couple of boards laid across two wooden fishing boats (which by the way were made of 5 boards's amazing what a little bit of ingenuity will come up with). The "ferry" took us across the river where we picked up a van to Nakasang and then took a boat to our ultimate destination, Don Det. After tramping through all of the hotels on the sunset side we finally settled on the Souksan as it was the nicest and cleanest of the bunch (Mrs. Noi's was full but it is also to be recommended). We settled in and spent the next few days doing absolutely nothing but reading, swinging away in our hammocks and gearing up for the nightly sunsets which were stunning to say the least and always accompanied by lao lau and BeerLao!

After a few days of hammock swinging we decided to check out Don Khon so we woke up early and gathered up our backpacks (which seem to be growing heavier by the week) and started the one hour hike across the island to the bridge to the other island. At the entry to Don Khon we were met by what we referred to as the "bridge nazis," apparently you must pay a fee to enter the town which is also good for the waterfall. After working so hard to get across the island we felt we needed a break so we spent the rest of the day relaxing and reading in our riverside hammocks. On our second day we decided that it was time to do something touristy so we rented bicycles and after being stopped once again by the "bridge nazis," we biked out to the edge of the island to hire a boat to take us to see the Irrawaddy dolphins (90,000 kip). We were warned that it's difficult to see the dolphins from the Laos side of the river but when we arrived the boat man told us that we could go into Cambodia to see them. We thought this was a little bit strange but being a SEA nation, a little bit of corruption is really expected so after some debate we were off to Cambodia where we paid $1 for the privilege of watching the dolphins on Cambodian soil. We were lucky and saw several of them but there were too quick for pictures :-( I did however get a nice one of our fancy boat, complete with a bamboo mat for seats. Nice... After returning safely to Laos we continued on our bike journey to the Somphamit Waterfall. The next day we headed back north to Pakse and the Bolaven Plateau.

To see more pictures of Don Det & Don Khon please click here!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Champasak & Wat Phu


Destination: Champasak

Number of Days there: 2

Times we took the: Bus: 1, Tuk-Tuk: 1; Ferry: 2; Bicycle: 1

Estimated KM walked: 3km; biked: 16 km

Where we stayed: Anouxa Guesthouse (40,000 kip/$5 US) - Simple and basic with Lao sized hammocks (Tracy got a good laugh when Jason barely fit and needed a little help getting in!)

Favorite Restaurant: The Lao version of BBQ at Dok Champa 2. They bring a pot of hot coals to a hole in your table and give you sliced meat and a TON of veggies to cook in a broth around the bottom to make soup. Interesting and cheap - 30,000 kip (less than $4 US) for one that could feed about 4 people!

Best of: Quiet and peaceful serenity after the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, The Angkor style ruins of Wat Phu

Special Moment: Getting caught in "rush hour" when the children were let out from school and poured onto the streets biking home for lunch

Worst of: getting "ripped off" by a pair of sly tuk-tuks (but only for about $3 so not that bad)

After taking the night train to Ubon, Thailand we took a taxi to the bus station, boarded a bus and crossed over the border into Laos at Chong Mek. After arriving at the border and getting your exit stamp on the Thai side, you walk down a rather long dirt road to the Laos side. There the border patrol equivalent of "Thing" from the Addam's Family waves you over and points using only one hand through a small slot pushing a piece of paper in your direction. We fill in the form and turn it in along with our passports and $30 each for our visa. Miracuously after about 10 minutes "Thing" came back and waves our passports through the slot and utters "40 baht"... We stare at each other uncomprehendingly until we realize that "Thing" wants a bribe in return for our passports and visas. We shrug our shoulders with the realization that it's the equivalent of a buck and fork over the cash. Passports & visas in hand we jump back onto the bus for the remainder of our trip to Pakse. As usual we were greeted at the bus terminal by tuk tuks offering their services for transport into town. After negotiating with one and getting nowhere we walk away only to be approached by a second who said he could take us for less than the last but still higher than we thought was fair. Thinking that this was the best we were going to get we agreed and settled in for the journey through town and to the southern bus terminal where we planned to catch a bus to Champasak. We realized a week later while lunching in Pakse that these two tuk tuks work together...very sly indeed! Here's how it goes: the female driver approaches the traveler and they discuss a price that is ridiculously high for Laos (about 3X the going rate but for Europeans and Americans it's still very low, the equivalent of a few dollars) and when she eventually refuses to discount it her male counterpart swoops in and seals the deal with a lower price that is still quite high. Most people assume that if one driver will let a customer walk away they have low balled the price so when they talk to the next driver they are willing to accept something higher. We saw these two working together in Pakse and realized what they were up to. Oh well, live and learn as they say. At least it was only a few dollars! Anyways, we arrived at the southern bus terminal only to find out that there was no bus so we got together with three other travelers and hired a tuk tuk to take us directly to Champasak for 150,000 kip for the whole vehicle. The trip was quick and uneventful. Our long journey was completed with a car ferry constructed with boards across the river. From the boat landing, it's a long and hot kilometer into town. Anouxa Guesthouse happened to be the first one we came across which might have influenced our decision to stay there.

The next morning we hired bicycles started our 8 km ride through the countryside to Wat Phu which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the largest Khmer site in Laos (though it can't compare with the size of Angkor Wat in Cambodia). After Bangkok the solitude of Laos felt great and we saw more cows, geese & water buffaloes than cars or motorbikes on the road! We arrived at Wat Phu after about 2 hours on the bike and thankfully before the daytrippers from Pakse. We had the site nearly to ourselves for the early part of our tour so we took our time looking around at the temple and surrounding rock carvings. On our way back we hit rush hour...close to 100 kids going screaming "Sabadee" (hello in Laos) at us while on their way home for lunch on their bikes! What a start to Laos...we knew then that it was going to be a very special country to travel in and it lived up to that early expectation for the duration of our stay there!

To see more photos of Champasak and Wat Phu please click here!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Vote: It's Patriotic

We would like to interrupt our usual posts for a moment to reflect on something of far greater importance to not only us, but America and the world as a whole. Yes we endorse Barack Obama for President. There are a multitude of reasons why we feel that he is the, to us, obvious choice. Here's my Top 10:

  1. He's not a Republican... Let's face the obvious here first. The Republicans have held the White House for the past eight years. During that time, we have seen our once balanced budget turn into not only the worst deficit in the history of the U.S., but it stands to get only worse with the consistent quagmire that is Iraq and now the bailing out of mortgage companies (both of which I would love to expand on here, but for the sake of keeping your attention span, I will digress). Least we not forget that the Congress and House were controlled by the same party for 6 of those 8 years allowing them virtually free reign on policies and decisions of the country. Even in the past 2 years, while the House and Senate were barely a majority Democrat, there was always the threat of a veto by Mr. Bush which made the past two years a wash.
  2. Bali loves Obama... During our travels we have noticed a surprising interest in American politics (surprising to us anyway). In all people we have encountered the overwhelming response has been "We love Obama" (alternatively they also remark that Bush is no good, that he "makes war") as I am sure many of our fellow travelers can attest to as well. Some can chalk Obama's popularity up to his "superstar" status, but does that really make a difference? Is there shame in having a popular, for good reasons, president worldwide for once? Every poll published in civilized nations shows that the rest of the world hopes that Obama wins. He would give us instant credibility in the world.
  3. Hope... Not to steal one of his tag lines, but it really is what Obama means to not only the rest of the world but to us as Americans. It's a change of course. The world is hoping that we can change our stance of using force of a military to one of diplomatic relationship building. Civilized people don't use guns and threats of force to solve issues. Likewise, our why should behave in the same manner. Obama represents a more open minded approach to diplomatic solutions to world problems; McCain represents instilling fear and intimidation to get what we want. I don't feel that the latter has a bright future as it just drives a division between and creates an us vs. them mentality. With great power (yes, contrary to some, the US still has that) comes great responsibility - we need to use it more wisely.
  4. The social issues... With fear of alienating some of you, I will go down this road only slightly. Why is it that hot button issues like gay marriage and abortion only seem to arise around election time? Was this great nation not founded on the principle of separation of church and state? Do we really want the roughly 600 men and women that "represent" the 350,000,000 of us making those decisions? Should it not be the responsibility of society as a whole and, moreover, internal morality that dictates how we behave? If murder was not against the law, would that mean that more people would go out and kill one another? I certainly hope not but I don't think that any of us need to consult a law book to know that it's morally wrong to do such things. Likewise, I don't see that as a politicians place.
  5. The "Joe the Plumber" scenario... Joe from Ohio, dubbed "Joe the Plumber" had a five minute conversation with Obama about how if he were elected would Joe have to pay more taxes? The simple answer to that is "NO" given the fact that Joe does not make over $200,000 a year. Further more, Joe has evaded paying his taxes in the past to begin with so would it really matter if someone tried to raise his taxes??? The argument only strengthens the case of McCain being out of touch. Think for a moment about what McCain claims will happen if Obama is elected President. Are we supposed to believe that the average teacher and plumber makes over $200,000 per year? McCain sure thinks so. Do you?
  6. The economic crisis... First the facts: The deficit now stands over 10 TRILLION or around $90,000 per tax payer if you want to know your portion. Regardless of how you believe is the best way to make this up, we are going to have to start paying the bills (mainly to China of all countries). The main difference in plans (not by any means inclusive of either plan) is Obama's plan calls for a 2% increase in taxes to those making over $200,000 individual, $250,000 family and McCain's calls for extending the tax incentives and deregulations given to big businesses (Bush's plan set to expire in 2010) thereby, in theory, stimulating the economy by creating more jobs but at the same time increasing the overall taxes slightly across the board. It is for you to decide which is the better plan, but I can't help but to think what all those corporations did with the tax incentives and deregulations for the past two years and why the economy still sinks further if this is the best plan. I feel it's time for a change of direction on this front.
  7. Not an Arab or Islamic... Not that I should have to even mention these, but they seem to come up all too often. If his spending three months of his life in Indonesia (not even an Arabic country) makes him Arab, then I suppose we are now 1/3 Arab by spending a month there. He's a Christian, attended a Baptist church in Chicago, and even has a controversial preacher to prove it. Not that this will ever happen, but could we imagine for a moment what kind of message an Islamic president would send to the rest of the world? What better way to send the message that we are accepting of all, no matter their religion, creed, color, etc. Something to ponder at least.
  8. Nor a terrorist... This one comes from Palin and McCain directly. Obama happens to live in the same town as a man who was part of a radical organization during the 60's (when Obama was 7) which was responsible for killing one innocent security guard in anti-war demonstrations. The man now does philanthropy work in Chicago which is where Obama and he met. I hardly call that "palling" around with a terrorist, considering that he has never been charged with being a terrorist to begin with.
  9. Commander in Chief... Not since Ike has a president "served" in the military. No, I don't consider Mr. Bush's picture in front of a plane in Texas, where he was never stationed outside of the US for his three month tour of duty "serving". So why does the issue of being Commander in Chief play such a huge role in people's minds? Having a military background has not been a factor for the past 50 years, so why does it play so heavily now? During the Vietnam war, did we seek out a war hero to lead us during troubled times? Nope, JFK certainly didn't fit that bill. Generals lead the military. Generals make the decisions that effect our troops directly everyday. A President's place is to avoid having to put them in harms way to begin with through diplomacy. Not to take anything away from McCain and his honorable service to this nation, but his serving in the military 40 years ago doesn't make him an expert on the problems of today nor should it be a green light to be President.
  10. President Palin?... Even being abroad during this election campaign, I have heard enough stupidity and ignorance coming from Palin to make me cringe at the thought of her ever becoming president. It's so scary that I don't even want to write about it. So if worse comes to worse, and we re-elect Bush (McCain, contrary to popular belief votes 90% of the time with Bush policies), may McCain last the full 4 years!

How ever you choose to vote, all I ask is that you give it some thought. Take some time to do the research. Don't just take my word as fact, nor anyone else's. has a little fact checker that researches what the candidates say and how accurate they are. Look at the voting records of both Obama and McCain (when he decided to actually cast a vote). I tried to be as accurate as possible with my facts and figures, but if you see an error, let me know and I will fix it. Want to discuss any topics? Leave a comment and I will try and respond before election day.

Think: It's Patriotic.