As promised, I���m finally updating and doing it as top ten style again to save you hours of reading! (These are more in chronological order than in order of preference.)
10. Transportation��宇rains, planes, and pick up trucks!
If you���re going to travel overseas, you might as well get ready for an adventure. During our 18 days ���out of station,��� we traveled in multiple planes, cars, trains, rickshaws, sum taos (basically like riding in the back of a covered pick up truck), cycle rickshaws, a boat, and even a big fancy double decker bus. We didn���t ride any animals on this trip, but we are making plans to go on an elephant trek next time we visit Thailand.
[goofing off with a cycle rickshaw in Chiang Mai]

9. Food: Starbucks, Dairy Queen, and Hamburgers!!!
One of the first things we did upon arriving in Thailand was to head to the airport Burger King for a hamburger, even though it was about 5 a.m. This was the start of our good food extravaganza, where we enjoyed wonderful things like cheeseburgers, Dairy Queen blizzards, Starbuck���s caramel Frappachinos, Antie Anne���s pretzels, and Diet Coke. I even had a bagel sandwich one night for dinner! Not so appetizing: fried/steamed bugs, and strawberry Fanta

[eating a hamburger in the airport; snack time: bugs galore!]

8. Seeing old friends and making new ones
This was one of my favorite parts about our conference/vacation! I loved getting to reconnect with people that I���d met over the past year, as well as make a bunch of new friends. It was so fun to catch up and share good meals, great laughs, and new adventures. Yes, I am definitely an extrovert :)
[dinner with the gang at Mike's hamburger joint]

7. Shopping: Lotus and the night market in Chiang Mai
I���m not usually much of a serious shopper, not compared to some of my friends and family back home at least, but I LOVED shopping in Thailand! The night market in Chiang Mai was incredible, filled with knock-off Birkenstocks and DVDS, jewelry, t-shirts, lanterns and more. Another nearly overwhelming experience was Lotus, the Wal-mart/Sam���s Club of Thailand. It was huge and crazy and oh so beautiful��存igh��吏ther highlights: buying a guitar! (actually the exact same model as the one I left in the States).
[outside Lotus; craziness of the night market]

6. New Year���s Eve in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is an incredible city, and we finished up our time there by celebrating New Years 2006, Thai style. A bunch of us headed out to the Tae Pae gate (near the site of the newest Starbucks, which is very important!), where there was some sort of concert going on. We couldn���t really understand anything until they started the final countdown to 2006, but we had a great time watching people light traditional floating lanterns and send them out into the sky. Random facts: we ate at a German restaurant and got to wear really funny hats; we also watched as the lanterns nearly burned Starbucks down several times
[lantern floating into the sky; me at dinner with my crazy hat and orange Fanta]

5. The Beach in Pattaya
Ah, the beach. Some pretty crazy and amazing things can happen there! This part of our trip was really fun and relaxing. We had meetings in the morning and evening, and several hours of free time each afternoon. The place we stayed was right across the street from the beach, which was quite fun. We could also head into town for shopping and good food, as well as a movie theatre (we watched Chronicles of Narnia���excellent movie about an INCREDIBLE story���go see it!). We also had a fun day in the middle of the week where we took a boat ride to an island and had fun swimming, snorkeling, jet skiing and so on. Random fun: I saw a sea turtle; we built a bamboo raft on the island; I got an hour foot massage for $5!
[beautiful sunset, with parasailers; me and my crazy beach shirt...]

4. Freezing in Delhi!
Cold weather in Delhi was quite a shock to our systems, especially since we���d just come from the beach. However, it was a nice change from the extreme heat last time we visited, and we had a great time hanging out with friends here. Other highlights: shopping at the fun markets, eating at Bennigans (mmm��危onte Cristo!), and just getting to sleep in snuggled up under about 4 blankets and wearing a my UL sweatshirt!
[crammed in a rickshaw and FREEZING!--there's actually a 4th person on my lap, taking this pic]

3. Taj Mahal
Well, what trip to India would be complete without visiting the Taj Mahal? We���d heard that the winter is the best time to go because summer is entirely too hot, so we piled in a car and headed to Agra to see the structure India is most famous for. It really was incredible to see the Taj up close���it���s perfectly symmetrical and quite an amazing structure. We also learned that, despite the popular myth, the workers hands were NOT cut off after they completed the Taj (our tour guide said that was more of a metaphor that took on a life of its own). Other highlights: the Red Fort (another amazing structure); over a dozen random animals we throughout the trip (ie: camels, bears, monkeys that jumped on our car, peacocks, green parrots, and even bats) ; taking crazy pictures where we tried to jump over the Taj Mahal...
[me at the Taj--cool reflection picture; monkey clinging to our car window]

2. Trip up north!
Since our friend Kyle came down to visit for Christmas break, we decided that we���d end our trip by visiting his city in the north part of the country. We had a blast hanging out with him and 2 other girls that live there! And even though it was pretty chilly, I loved his city���it had no traffic compared to our city, a beautiful rose garden, cycle rickshaws, and even this crazy rock garden, made of junk and full of strange sculptures���
[crazy monkey sculptures at the rock garden; me and a friend in cycle rickshaw]

1. ���Home sweet home��� :) It really is funny how much this place has started to seem like home (don���t worry family, I still love Louisiana!). But after traveling for nearly 3 weeks, my roommate and I could not have been more happy to step off the plane and back into our city, especially since we were welcomed by our wonderful friends here. These past few weeks have been a bit of an adjustment, but I���m glad to be back where we belong.
[my roomie and I wearing our warm clothes one night when it actually got chilly at our flat]

Home sweet home...sort of...
well, after our 18 days of travel and adventures, I've finally made it back "home." What a wild ride...2 countries...8 cities...5 planes...2 trains...2 cars...1 shuttle and 1 double decker crazy bus...beaches, moutains, wonders of the world...all rolled into one crazy trip...I'll update more late when I've had time to process it all, but here's a fun pic for now...I'm out! :)