Finally kickin' off my travels!
I'm leaving beautiful Vancouver, B.C. for the craziness that is Bangkok on April 4th, 2006 via London, England.
There will be no group e-mails so I'll try my best to keep this up to date for all those interested.
August 3rd 2006
Wow, was it ever nice to breathe the fresh ocean air again. The journey was long, but incredibly smooth. The bus system in Thailand is amazing. I think I am damn lucky as well though. I am pretty sure my journey to the south could have been a lot longer had I not had a couple of friendly thais help me out. Once in Bangkok from Phi Mai I landed myself on a city bus that was heading to the southern bus terminal... or so I thought. Turns out it just passes near the terminal. Luckily a thai man who spoke a little english was heading there as well so he got me off the bus and walked me to the terminal. Oops. Who knows where I would have ended up. Yes, I'm a lucky girl. ... read more
July 30th 2006
So I decided to make a couple stops in eastern Thailand in South Isaan before heading south to the islands, and I'm so glad I did. I really have loved this area. There are very few tourists and the people are incredibly friendly as usual. During the bus ride from the islands to Pakse (near the border to Thailand) I met three Canadians. Two of which were heading to Vietnam and the other (Deep) to Thailand. Deep and I headed over the border and got a lift to Nang Rong. This is a pretty unexciting town in itself, but just out of town there are a couple of angkor era temples. I was pretty hesitant because I hadn't been impressed by any sort of temple since Angkor in Siem Reap, but I thought I'd give it ... read more
July 23rd 2006
Wow. I really don't think life could get any slower than this. This has to be the most relaxed place on earth. Don Det is one of "thousands" of islands on the mekong in the south of Laos(although right now with the water being so high I'm sure there are only hundreds). Although the Lao are busy transplanting the rice seedlings right now, apparently in high season business is purely in bungalows, with them working as soon as the first guest is up til the last guest goes to bed. $1 - $2 for a basic bungalow and a hammock, and really that is all you need here. So this entry will be brief because all I did was go for a couple of bike rides down to another island, Don Khon, and chill out in ... read more
July 20th 2006
After a fairly smooth overnighter from Vientiane I arrived in Pakse and headed for the southern bus station to catch a ride to the Bolaven Plateau. In hind sight I really wished I had just rented a motorbike because relying on the public buses to get around in there isn't the greatest. I got dropped on the road with no waterfalls in sight or no idea where to go, but you can always rely on the friendly Lao to offer help before you even have an opportunity to ask. A pickup took me to the falls and I found a nice guesthouse with a nice view of the thundering falls. Again, aside from the rain (which hasn't been too bad - knock on wood), it's nice to be here in rainy season for many reasons, and ... read more
July 16th 2006
Vang Vieng is pretty bizarre. It's a small fairly unattractive town but with the most beautiful backdrop scenery. It's not really a las vegas it's just a strange phenomenon here in Laos where everthing is super chilled out and really relatively undevelopped tourism wise (well except Louang Prabang). Here in Vang Vieng you walk along dusty streets and all you can hear is the tv series friends (and occasionally simpsons) blaring out of bars. And it plays over and over again. You daren't enter one of those bars and get comfortable because it's surprisingly hard to leave. Especially when you had one too many tubing the day before. I was only victim to the friends thing once but I ashamed to admit I must have watched like 6 episodes in a row. On top of all ... read more
July 11th 2006
After our crazy ride from Nong Kiaw we arrived in Luang Prabang. The downtown area is very pretty and clean but completely touristy. Being a UNESCO world heritage city they have to preserve the architecture and keep it nice and clean, which is great because it's definitely beautiful but I can just imagine that during high season it's like you are in a small french town and not in Laos at all - all westerners, french food, french architecture... oh but I guess I forgot about the wats. There are dozens of wats in the city only one of which I looked at. Hisham is a great travelling buddy but he is just as lazy as me and as a matter fact he makes me look like a go getter in comparison. So as a result ... read more
July 6th 2006
In Chiang Mai I met up with my friend Hisham who I met in Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The plan was to head to HouayXai In Laos to do the gibbon experience. I really have a hard time talking about this still... arghh. The Gibbon experience is a 3 Day trip where you basically live in treehouses and zipline through the jungle canopy all day... gibbons are small apes who were once thought to be extinct and the I think the program helps to protect them and their habitat. Apparently they sing in the mornings. And all of this makes up the gibbon experience - which I continually hear is just an unbelievable experience. I was really excited to do this so when we learned that they hadn't received Hisham's email stating when we'd arrive and ... read more
July 1st 2006
So I'm back in Thailand... I got into Bangkok and onto Kao San Road at 2am after our flight from Hanoi and as soon as I stepped onto that road and walked past dozens of wasted backpackers I knew I had to get out of there ASAP. Unfortunately I woke up the next morning with a raging flu so I had to spend a couple of days there before i had the energy for a bus ride. The bus ride was another overnighter and it wasn't pleasant as always... I thought I'd rough it by not taking gravol. Bad idea. I probably sound like a junkie, but I really need it to sleep. It's too bumpy and jerky to try and do it the natural way. Anyways I arrived in Chiang Mai and liked it more ... read more
June 18th 2006
I suppose with any city you need to spend at least 3 or 4 days to really experience it for what it is. Hanoi is a good example of this. I finally semi-mastered crossing the streets and started finally getting oriented to the old quarter and soon found myself growing somewhat fond of it. It always helps (for me) to find good food. I love finding those great little cafes or street stalls where you can rely on great food and nice people. So we really didn't do too much in Hanoi in the grand scheme of things. We skipped seeing Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum... seemed a little too morbid for me. We did make it to the Museum of Ethnology which was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. The motorbike drive ... read more
June 17th 2006
So the hard sleeper wasn't SO bad. We shared it with Sophie's friend Magnus and 3 other vietnamese men. They were very friendly and it always makes for a more interesting experience when you do as the romans do. One of the men rocked out to Magnus' discman most of the evening... pretty funny stuff. I woke up to find two young boys who had clearly just been watching me sleep through the barred window. They were excited now that this strange white creature was up and moving and so continued to watch and stare as I get up, pack... it would have been really creepy if they weren't only 8 or 9 years old. They didn't leave until their parents called them off the train. We followed and it was only 15 minutes into the ... read more