I am travelling for 4 months through parts of China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
I'm travelling in China for the next month. In addition to visiting several historic sites, I'll be hiking in Sichuan and Yunnan parks.
I travel where my whims take me - I have only a general idea of where I want to go and what I want to do.
January 22nd 2011
I travelled from Chiang Mai directly to the island of Koh Chang, an island in the southwest of Thailand. Rather a long tiring journey! I arrived rather late, so ended up in a dirty, old bungalow on White Sands Beach. White Sands Beach is incredibly touristy and ugly - they have built hotels right down to the water, very narrow beach available. I searched for reasonably affordable accomodation that was at least clean, but everything was overpriced. I opted to leave after the first day, travelling further down the southwest coast of the island to Lonely Beach. I stayed for 7 days at Nature Bungalows in a private fan cooled bungalow for 600 baht a night. I could probably have negotiated the rate, but I thought I was only going to stay for two nights and ... read more
January 14th 2011
I took a 3rd class train (fan cooled, stops frequently), 2nd class sleeper car from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on Jan 13. I was very concerned when I got on the train - it was stuffy hot and there were large rust holes on both the exterior and interior of the train car! But as we traveled, the car got cooler and then cold - it became difficult to sleep under the thin blanket provided and they wouldn't shut the fans or lights off! I arrived in Chiang Mai wearing my hoody and groggy from lack of sleep. (I did get a pic of a rather scary looking monkey statue at one of the stops - my lower bunk mate sort of matched it). I found a guesthouse charging 250 Baht per night with bath - ... read more
January 11th 2011
I took an overnight bus from Ranong to Bangkok, arriving at 5 am in the south bus station. I took a taxi to Khao San Road - tourist trap area. Metered taxis in Bangkok are cheap, their starting meter is at about $1US, and ticks over every km. What bothered me was that I took a taxi from Khaosan Rd to the south bus station the week prior at around 2 pm, a high traffic time. That driver got me to the station at a cost of 87 Baht. But at 5 am with no traffic, it cost 121 Baht to return to Khaosan road! I tried to argue with the driver, but he claimed to have no english. Its embarrassing to say, but I was getting angry about a $1.50 US additional charge! Got to ... read more
January 3rd 2011
I am now recovering from Bangkok and bedbugs on a southwest Thailand island, Ko Phayam. I originally only planned to be on the island for 3 or 4 days but that stretched to a week. It was hard to leave! I had a bungalow to myself at Goldkey Bungalows, not on the beach, but maybe 100 meters. I added a couple of pics of my favorite day spots to relax in the shade while watching the waves. They used a generator for electricity and only provided lights and power (for the fan) between 6 pm and 11 pm. Unfortunately, I wasn't often in my bungalow at this time to enjoy it. Out enjoying dinner or relaxing in a bar or at a party. Ocean swimming was wonderful and helped heal my sores. The salt water bit ... read more
December 31st 2010
I left Laos on December 29 - my visa was up on the 30th. I took a bus across to Mukhadan on the opposite bank of the Mekong and then waited all day for a night bus to Bangkok. The bus trip was uneventful - I managed to sleep on the reclining seat. I spent my first night in Bangkok at a guesthouse called Baan Hua Lamphong, near the subway station of the same name. Unfortunately, my bed was full of bedbugs! I got bit more than 30 times on night of the 31st - great new years gift. It turns out that I am allergic, very allergic, to the spit used by bedbugs to freeze their bite point. The bite points become itchy and red at first, then form a pus blister. I felt extremely ... read more
December 27th 2010
I left Thakhet on the 27th to travel to Savannakhet. Savannakhet is a sleepy city, a transit city for travelers crossing to Thailand or to Vietnam. I checked out the Catholic Church just off the decrepit town square, in the centre of town - the church is still in use. It is a holdover from the French occupation of Laos. I also enjoyed a marguerita at a bar floating on the Mekong at sunset! The table was made from water rotted lumber from sunken boats. Makes for an interesting pic with the sunset in the background. ... read more
December 26th 2010
I spent x-mas day in Thakhet - using the internet, shopping for clothes (found some great shorts) and generally hanging out at cafes and the guest house. The evening was spent around a pit fire at the guest house, chatting with other travelers. An enjoyable day all around! On the 26th, I decided to rent a motorbike and try to travel to the Konglor cave, a distance of more than 160 km one way. Although they call them motorbikes they are more scooters - no clutch and 4 gears. Although the speedometer maxs out at 160 km/hr, I only managed to wind it up to 90 km - maybe my own fear stopped me? Anyway, it was a cute red bike with green spokes! It had rained the evening before and there was a strong cool ... read more
December 23rd 2010
Merry xmas to you! It's the 25th and I am in a Thakhet restaurant, a little sunburned, but otherwise healthy. I left Vientiane on the 22nd to go to Thakhet in south central Laos. I arrived in the early evening and focused on renting a hotel room and getting some dinner. I am at the Travel Lodge - a decent guest house that is not linked to the american chain of hotels. On the morning of the 23rd, I joined a fellow traveler, Garret, from the Netherlands, for breakfast. He was preparing to leave on a 2 day trek to visit several limestone caves and to spend the night at a small village in the jungle. I called the tour company and managed to join the trek on short notice. Then some fast packing (stuff to ... read more
December 21st 2010
I spent 5 days in Vientiane, but never wandered far from my hotel and the surrounding cafes. My hotel was surrounded by wats (temples) and I heard the pre-dawn call to prayer everyday. Nice to wake up to a sonorous drum beat, feel a momentary pity for the novice monks, and just roll over and go back to sleep. You can see some freshly washed monks sarongs drying behind the temple in one of the pics. I enjoy the ceramic or stone guards at the temple gates - I know they are meant to be scary, but they simply look comical to me. I also took some pics of the Mekong as it flows through Vientiane. The water level is so low and the river flow so distant that the work being done to make a ... read more
December 18th 2010
I left Vang Vieng yesterday to travel to Vientianne. I had planned to stay for one more day in Vang Vieng to witness the crazyness of the 20 somethings tubing the river in a drunken state, but it rained so much and was so cold (by Laos standards) that no-one was go out. I didn't see the point of hanging around the town. Anyway I was trying on hats before catching my 1.30 pm bus. I must have got bit by a mosquito, spider or something hiding in a hat. It bit me right on the eyelid! So it started to inflame and I thought it was just a mosquito bite. Just where I didn't put any repellant. My skin gets quite irritated by mosquito bites here. I arrived at the bus station outside Vientianne around ... read more