Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Across the World Tour: Heather Zundel Meets Thailand

What Is All This?

To celebrate the launch of Across the Universe on 1-11-11, we're going Across the World with guest posts of adventures from all over the world! This is all a part of the Across the World Tour. First, read the world adventure below. Then, click through to the adventurer's blog to find a letter.

Why a letter? Because the letters--when unscrambled--form a password. And the password opens up the secret page (LOOK for it above). And on the secret page is lots of goodies--secret information about the origins of the book, hidden Easter eggs, and...a entry form to win a prize of a signed ARC of Across the Universe, star swag, and MORE.

Today's Adventurer

Psst. Heather's a super hero. Whoops, probably shouldn't have told you that! *hands Heather back her Clark Kent glasses*

Heather blogs over at The Secret Adeventures of WriterGirl, is a judge for the Cybils (and has the best opinion on books), and was the genius behind the phenomenal hit, the YA Fantasy Showdown (how about that last battle, huh?!). In addition to being an all around awesome writer, Heather's also a great friend, and a world adventurer herself. Recently, she went to Thailand. Here's her adventure!

Heather Meets Thailand
First of all, awesome adventures are scary to plan for. First there was the shots (which is one of my worst fears, by the way. I am a complete and utter wuss around long, pointy metal objects of hurtiness). My conversation in my head went thusly:

[Me]: No flipping way! I HAD to have had shots since then! Who wrote this?
[Me]: Calm down. You were just traumatized as a child. Do you remember that nurse who had to put the same shot in three times?
[Me]: I know! Wait, where's the tetanus shot? I stepped on a nail in eighth grade, right? Where's that shot!? *looking frantically*
[Me]: That would put it in 2002, like it says on the paper. Calm down.
[Other Me *hyperventilating*]: I can't calm down! I hate shots!
[Me]: Well, too bad. Here it comes.
It felt like there was peanut butter in my deltoid. Although I had to laugh when they said I could actually get dengue fever. I should have been terrified but all I could think about was George of the Jungle.

Then came clothes prep. I don't care how much I looked like a tropical flower, there was no way any mosquito was touching me. For this, I bought a special repellent (at the doctor's office shot place, interestingly enough). It was meant for clothes ONLY. They were very specific on this point. Three lines into the directions and I had rubber gloves on (did you know I was supposed to consult my solid waste management for instructions on how to dispose of the empty bottle?) Yikes. So I figured if a mosquito landed on me, he had serious issues.

Die malaria-infested mosquitoes DIE!

Then there was the 28 hour plane ride, the inability to sleep despite my pure and utter exhaustion, my nausea half-way through the flight for reasons I still don't know why (the food wasn't bad, I promise. And the flight attendants were amazing and I had my own personalized tv where I could watch at least a hundred movies, but still - longest flight of my life). I was shaky by the time we landed. But all of it was worth it - for this.

Here are some interesting tidbits I experienced along the way:

-We were lucky enough to have running water where we were staying, but even that came with a catch. The waste processing plants in Thailand are not able to deal with paper products of any kind. That includes toilet paper. So instead of the toilet, we had to put it in the waste basket. That took some getting used to. :) But at the orphanage, where I spent most of my time, they had no running water for the bathrooms, and you had to use a bucket filled with water next to the toilet to "flush." That was a humbling experience.

-I had a coconut about as fresh as you can possibly have it. A beautiful woman from the jungle invited us to her home. She had a coconut tree growing right next to her house (not a far stretch in the middle of the jungle, and we were, literally, in the middle of the jungle). She pulls out this twenty foot stick with a hook on it and pulled us down a coconut. A butcher knife and four strokes later (she was amazing) we were drinking the freshest coconut milk you can have. We also scraped out the inside and sprinkled it with a very rough sugar. It was slimy, but very good (and you so know, coconuts are ripe green, not brown like we get them).

-I saw a spindly black and neon green spider larger than my face. I almost died right then and there.

-Coconut milk soup is fantastic. Especially with chicken and wild herbs.

-Thai people do love their karaoke. And we grew to love it too. And some of us even became tolerable to listen to, considering the language barrier ;)

And my favorite, purely fun part? I got ride an elephant. On it's neck. It. Was. Awesome.

This is definitely one adventure I would do again, without hesitation. It's great to be WriterGirl, but every once in a while, it is even cooler to be a real hero in someone's life. That was the best part, by far.

Go Across the Blogosphere!
The adventure's not over yet! Go to Heather's site to find the first letter in the password to the secret page. Collect all the letters in the first two weeks of November for a chance to win a signed ARC, star-swag, and pin-buttons!

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