Meet Jen. I took the photo from our bungalow balcony on Ko Tao.
So, I have some big news to report. Jen (previously mentioned in the Vang Vieng and Vientiane entries) and I are now together. We really hit it off on our return to Vientiane and we decided to be more than just travel partners. It's been six weeks now, and things are going great.
I'm way behind on my blog entries (can you guess why?) so I'm going to condense a few weeks into one entry.
Our first destination after leaving Vientiane was Bangkok, although we stopped for a night in the lovely border town of Nong Khai. We stayed in the only guest house near the train station and almost managed to get ourselves locked in the building. The building had several metal roll-down doors on the ground level, and around 8 we heard the sound of them going down so I went to investigate. I discovered that most of them were already down and they were in the process of being locked from the outside! I pounded on one of the doors and got them to open it back up. Through lots of gesturing and funny faces I managed to convey that we were hungry, and
that we did not appreciate being locked inside their guest house. We managed to get them to leave one of the doors open and we headed to a nearby food stall for some delicious pad thai. The next morning we caught the early train and ended up leaving $10 US on the bedside table to cover the cost of the room.
The train ride to Bangkok was long, but surprisingly comfortable (at least compared to hard-seat in both China and Vietnam). However, I broke out in a weird rash on my arms when we were about two hours from Bangkok. It got better as soon as I got a cool shower in Bangkok, but took a couple days to fully disappear. I never did figure out what caused it, but it was probably some sort of heat rash.
We spent a really lazy week in Bangkok. We saw a few sights, and went on our first "date" to a decent steak restaurant on Khao San Rd. We eventually got our act together and bought plane tickets to fly to China. After a week in Bangkok we headed to the train station on a rainy evening to go down
south to Ko Tao. We got to the station more than an hour before the departure, but discovered that the entire train was sold out and that we wouldn't be able to get a ticket until the following evening because of some holiday. We ended up buying that ticket and we headed back to the guest house near the train station where we spent our first night in Bangkok.
The train ride down south wasn't too bad, although I didn't sleep much. We arrived rather bleary-eyed and found the bus to the pier was waiting for us. Woohoo, something worked right since the train was late. The boat ride over to Ko Tao was on one of the really cool high-speed catamarans, unlike my trip to and from Ko Pha Ngan. The ride was smooth, and the dreary weather at the port turned into sunny skies by the time we reached Ko Tao. We were famished, so we found a place to eat in the main village and we checked out a map of the island. After some deliberation we ended up getting a taxi to Freedom bungalows on the SW corner of the island. They were recommended by
the Lonely Planet, and for once the accommodation lived up to its glowing review.
We splurged a bit on the bungalow ($10 each per night), but it was so worth it. The bungalow was brand-new with an amazing ocean view from its hillside perch, and a wonderfully breezy porch to enjoy the view from. We spent a really relaxing few days on Ko Tao. I got a bit sick with some sort of travelers diarrhea, but it didn't spoil our good time. The restaurant was a bit bland after a couple meals, and I suspect it was the source of my discomfort, but oh well. The beach was gorgeous, but unfortunately the swimming was awful due to a bunch of coral about 10 feet from the low tide mark. There were tons of black worm-like things (about the size of a bratwurst) moving around and apparently they sting, so we stayed well clear of them. This is what made the swimming impossible, though. Regardless, it was still a beautiful location and we had nearly perfect weather the entire time we were there.
We were a bit sad to leave on the 13th, but we caught a day bus
to Bangkok and arrived in time to check in to a guest house and make calls home for Mother's Day. I also had a foot-long steak and cheese at Subway in an attempt to finally fix my gut. As it turns out, my gut was all better in a couple of days. Whether that was due to Subway, or the Immodium I took the day before, it's hard to say, but I like to think a nice dose of western food did the trick.
We flew from Bangkok to Kunming (China), and we were a little worried about not having onward tickets after the gate agent had warned us about it. As it turns out, the customs officials were really friendly and we had no trouble whatsoever. We headed back to the Cloudland Hostel where I stayed the last time I was in Kunming 45 days earlier.
We ended up spending a couple of days in Kunming recuperating and getting used to being in China again. I even felt my wonderful hacking cough returning! We hung out with Maya (see the second Vang Vieng entry) a bit since she was also in Kunming before catching a bus to
I guess it's time for an update to the profile here -- it's been a while since I've updated this!
I'm in Canada currently living with my fiancee Jen, and working as a Computer Systems Analyst. The travel bug certainly hasn't died, but it's good to have some stability. Jen and I are certainly planning to travel more in the future -- the question is just when.
Remember, I have lots more photos on flickr.
I'm also working on creating an audio guide to Angkor. Once complete, it should cover all of t... full info
For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. A...more history