Published: July 20th 2009July 20th 2009
So yes I realize that the last time I wrote was about a month and a half ago and I was in Nepal but I have been moving and shaking and have since ended up In Laos. I left Pokara in Nepal and headed to Kathmandu, which turned out to be an incredible place but truly crazy and a lot like India with the pollution and the garbage. But I enjoyed it a lot, ran into a group of friends I met at the forest I was working on in India and hung out with them for a few days before making the decision to fly to Bangkok straight from Nepal instead of trying to go back in through India to get there.
So I took one of the nicest flights I have ever taken into Thailand (Asian airlines really know how to treat their customers right). We landed in Bangkok, this fellow Utahn and I whom I met on the plane jumped into a cab and I stared out at the city as we raced down the streets. Everything looked so incredible. The clean streets, the paved roads, the massive white buildings that sat on the skyline glistening
in the sun like drops of water on the city. I felt like I had landed back in the States and all the signs had been translated in Thai while I was gone. I spent the night on Khao San Road, which was a little overwhelming since there were more foreigners on one street than i had seen in the last five months put together. Many were British, most had on matching Beer Chang tank tops, and all of them were drunk.
The next day I got on an early bus to meet a friend from India at Koa Samet. A quaint little island a few hours east of Bangkok. It was a wonderful reunion and involved some much needed beach time. We laid around for a good five days soakin up the sun, and jump in the water when it got too hot.
We headed back to Bangkok and met up with some people we met on the island and had a fun last few days in the big city. The monsoon season was on everyone's mind but I had failed to see what the big deal was since I had only seen rain for about 20
minutes of light sprinkling each day. But one day I took a bus out to a park about an hour away and as it started to sprinkle I decided that I would hop on a quick motorcycle taxi and head back home before i got to wet. About 5 minutes into the ride the rain started falling a little harder and the streets began to fill up with water around the traffic-jammed cars we were darting in between. And then I understood what a monsoon was. The water poured down on us in sheets. I couldn't open my eyes and struggled to shield my face from the pellets bombarding my flesh. The driver pulled over- I thought to wait out the rain- but instead he handed me a pink rain poncho and made me get back on. The next 20 minutes were both exhilarating and terrifying, but I figured if anything happened... what a way to go out.
After Bangkok I went up to Chiang Mai, and spent a couple days completely alone. It had been the first time in months that I didn't have a conversation with a single other person. I rented a bike and road around
the city, found a bouldering wall and did some much needed climbing, and watched some live jazz performances in a park. Who knew you could have so much fun by yourself.
Then came Pai, the best city I have ever been to. It was small, artistic, and mellow. Filled with both tourists and really incredible locals. I stayed two days in the city and then went 6 km outside to work on an organic farm called Tacomepai. I spent the next 2 weeks on the farm dividing my time between hauling manuer, planting and dehusking rice, moving small boulders to build a bathroom, making soy milk, harvesting vegetables, and doing online PR for the farm. I got to make a newsletter for them, design and post flyers around town, and update their mailing list. And I still found time to lay in my hammock behind my private tree top bungalow, to swim in our pond/luxury swimming pool, and help cook food over an open fire. It was a truly incredible experience and it was wonderful getting to live near Pai for a couple weeks. The volunteers living there created a little family, and along with them and Sandot, the
Thai man that ran the farm, it became increasingly hard to leave. But I felt it was time to move on and explore the rest of Southeast asia while I still had money left.
So I hoped on a bus to the border of Laos and then took a 2 day slow boat ride down the Mekong River to a UNESCO world heritage site Luang Prabang. The boat ride was such a great experience. I met a Phillapino guy and a Belgian couple and we had a great couple days sitting on hard benches talking and enjoying the breathtaking scenery and small local villages we stopped to drop off rice to. Absolutely amazing! Then spent a couple of days in LP, checkin out temples and taking a trip to a waterfall so beautiful it looked like one of those Chinese holographic pictures that moves when you look at it from different angles. The way the light hit it and the mist rising off from the massive drop, it seemed like a dream.
After a few incredible days there I venture off on my own to Vang Vien, a horrible little city south a LP but a place where
you can float the river in inter tubes and then recover in one of the restaurants that plays friends back to back from open till close. I fatefully ran into some American girls I met on the slow boat at the guest house I stayed in and we floated the river together and then the next day headed to the capital to sort out visas. I was planning on going to China but once I got to the embassy something just didn't feel right about going this time so I decided against it and chose to go to Vietnam instead. I wanted to spent a last couple days in Laos somewhere special and more off the beaten track than the Spring Break Laos style that I had seen so far. So I went to the very South of Laos to a tiny island called Don Det.
It was absolutely beautiful and rural and calm and peaceful and there were many less tourists than anywhere I had seen in the last month and a half. The island is so small they only have electricity for 4 hours each night. There is one internet shop that charges your first born to
use it, and about 5 restaurants. There is nothing to do there except ride bikes around in the non stop rains, lay in hammocks and read. I finished two books in the 3 days I was there.
So now I am in a little local Laos town called Savannakhet waiting for my Vietnamese visa to come through and enjoying the local flavor of the city. The food here is cheap and delicious, the tourists are few and far between, and the internet is finally faster than the dial up speed in the early 90's. So while it has been quite a while since my last entry I had to wait till I had enough stuff to tell. Southeast asia is beautiful and the food is great and its lots of fun, but it is lacking in the daily adventure that was so natural in the Indian subcontinent leg of my trip.
But in a few days I will be arriving in Vietnam alone... without a guide book or a map, and only a vague idea of a few places I want to see. Just a bag full of stuff and a world full of adventure. So until next
time.. Thanks for followin me around.