Page 3 of Jake and Leslie Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Ko Lanta January 7th 2009

We're back in Koh Lanta after a brief trip to Krabi town to pick up Lauren, our honored guest (and Leslie's sister). It's been fun having another traveler to hang out with-- we were getting pretty tired of hearing our same stories over and over again! ;) We've been having some silly experiences since the three of us got together... must be something in the Koch genes that makes crazy things happen! Or it could just be that we're in Thailand, always good for some laughs... After a laid-back New Year's spent drinking Singhas and watching fireworks on Khlong Dao beach, we (Jake and Leslie) tore ourselves away from Koh Lanta and took a 2-hour minivan to Krabi. We booked the van through our hotel, the Lanta Sweet Mansion, for the surprisingly cheap price of 200 ... read more
Doggie style = getting stuck together after sex!
Lovely Railay beach
New Years on Khlong Dao beach, in Koh Lanta

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Ko Lanta December 29th 2008

When we arrived in Bangkok after our flight from Hanoi, we were excited and relieved to be back in Thailand, where everything is just a little bit easier than the rest of SE Asia. There are at least three bright and shiny 7-11 stores on every Bangkok street, and even the smallest of Thai towns has its very own 7-11. It's great being able to buy water, deodorant, snacks and other important stuff at set prices and not leave a store with the distinct feeling you are getting ripped off. Our love for 7-11 is on par with Harold and Kumar's obsession with White Castle ;) But anyway... Bangkok For our return trip to Bangkok, we chose a hotel a bit further from the touristy areas of Sukhumvit and Banglamphu, our former haunts. We booked the ... read more
Victory Monument, Bangkok
Christmas in Koh Lanta
Fire show at Bomp bar, on Khlong Dao beach

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi December 17th 2008

Looking for a change of pace, we booked an overnight train from Hue to Hanoi instead of taking the (easier and cheaper) tourist bus. We've been burned by transportation in SE Asia before, so we were a bit skeptical of the train and feared we might end up sleeping on a hay sack in a car full of chickens. However, since Vietnam isn't Laos, this was not the case! The beds were a good size, the sheets were clean and the train was pretty quiet. We did get slightly screwed, but by other Western backpackers, not the system... a group of cheesy, dread-wearing backpackers decided to bunk together in our 4-bed cabin by taking over our 2 bottom-berth beds, and were already partying like crazy when we got on board. We were pissed and bitchy, but ... read more
Cute kitty at Ngoc Son Temple
Comfy beds in Hanoi Municipal Hotel

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Khanh Hoa » Nha Trang December 6th 2008

We've been enjoying a very comfortable and easy stay in Vietnam. The hotels are super cheap ($10-15 for nice rooms with satellite TV) and the food is also much cheaper than in Laos or Cambodia (though not necessarily tastier). We've been taking the touristy "open tour" buses that leave from the center of one town and drop you off in the heart of the next. Almost door to door service for a couple of dollars, and relatively reliable too (they actually arrive on time and don't circle the town for an hour, looking for extra fares). Vietnam is seriously easy to travel around, though admittedly we are staying on the backpacker trail. With only a 14 day visa, it's hard to do much exploring off the beaten track. We're a bit behind on the blog, so ... read more
The sea looked very choppy... plus it was raining.  Not perfect beach weather!
Leslie in her rarely-seen orange shirt
Jake in the tepid mud bath

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City December 6th 2008

Our 10 hour bus ride from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City went by quickly and relatively comfortably (we were assigned the dreaded back row seats but fortunately were able to move, since the bus wasn't full). The Sapaco bus dropped us off right in the center of the backpacker area (Pham Ngu Lao neighborhood) and there were hundreds of budget hotels within walking distance. We checked out several and settled on a generic $15 room with AC and satellite TV, mostly because we were too exhausted to look around any more. We've become obsessed with hotel-shopping; it's our new hobby. Kind of like NYC apartment hunting, but with no stress since there is only a 1 night commitment ;) Once we dropped off our bags at the first guesthouse, we checked out about 10 ... read more
Museum of Hi Chi Minh City
Christmas decorations at Museum of HCMC
Leslie's "Hanoi Jane" moment

Asia » Cambodia » South » Sihanoukville November 27th 2008

After taking in the sobering Khmer Rouge sites in Phnom Penh, we were in need of some R&R and headed for Sihanoukville, a popular beach town on Cambodia's southern coast. The Lonely Planet paints Sihanoukville as an untouched paradise that is on the verge of being developed. We soon discovered that in the year or two since the guidebook went to print, Sihanoukville has embarked on intense development and is getting further and further from its image as a small, laid back beach town... it is already a major resort destination and its public beaches are dwindling by the day. While Sihanoukville wasn't totally what we expected, we had a great (and relaxing) time there and ended up staying for a full week. After spending a day or two in town, we started to notice that ... read more
$3 seafood BBQ platter
Otres Beach
Otres Beach

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh November 27th 2008

We left Siem Reap feeling like all the reports about aggressive touts and street kids were totally over-exaggerated; we were barely bothered by any touts, just the usual (ignorable) shout-outs by tuk tuk drivers. But when we got to Phnom Penh, we realized the true scope of the problem. Beggars and vendors alike, of all ages and (dis)abilities, hang out in the tourist areas and make their rounds through the outdoor cafes, stopping at each table. They have a more aggressive sales pitch here than we've seen before; if you say "no thanks", they ask "why not?", try to extract a promise from you to buy something later (one even initiated a pinky-finger oath), or just stand there staring at you until you say "no" 10 times and ignore them. If you don't say anything and ... read more
Tuk tuk driver navigating through Phnom Penh traffic
Lunatic rantings left by Western guy
Detainees at S-21 Prison

Asia » Cambodia » North » Angkor November 27th 2008

We booked a flight from southern Laos to Siem Reap, Cambodia since we just couldn't deal with the prospect of a long, winding overland journey across the border. We had a great experience in Laos, but we invested so much energy into every day activities (e.g. finding food, lodging and transport) that we were totally exhausted after 17 days! The airport in Pakse, Laos, was tiny, with just 2 flights leaving that day and minimal security (you have to check your firearms, but that seems to be the only security restriction). Our Bangkok Airways flight was a quick 50 minutes on a new plane, and when we got to the Siem Reap airport, we didn't even have to bribe the officials $1 each (standard for the overland crossing). However, they somehow managed to misplace Leslie's luggage-- ... read more
A temple at Angkor
Hanging out at Angkor
Dead horse at Angkor Wat

Asia » Cambodia November 19th 2008

We've finally found a fast internet connection in Siem Reap, and it turns out it's at our hotel. Woop woop! So we've uploaded the rest of our Laos photos, including some shots of the Elephant Tower experience in Ban Na. Just to fill you in on the rest of our Lao trip: We planned on picking up a bus or sawngthaew from Ban Na to Na Hin, which is the gateway to the limestone caves at Tham Kong Lo. (Confused by the Lao names yet?). A sawngthaew, which is basically a pick up truck with a bench in the back, stopped for us after a few minutes. It had no passengers in the back, just 3 Lao people in the front cab. It turned out two of them were a married couple living in Kansas, who ... read more
PIZZA! Yay!!!!
Tourist in booty shorts, Laos
The closest we came to an elephant sighting

Asia » Laos » West » Vientiane November 11th 2008

When we arrived in Vientiane (the capital and largest city in Laos, still only 300,000 people) in the early evening we found that every hotel and guesthouse around was booked solid. As it got dark we got a little nervous because the only place we had found was a windowless cell of a room that stank of urine and was absolutely filthy. Finally, we stumbled upon a very nice guesthouse for about $24 a night that had a room free (and HBO. Bonus!). We became very comfortable and ended up staying for 4 nights. There were a bunch of European-style restaurants so we managed to find tasty pizza and gorged ourselves! We are down to our junior high weights... the backpacker chic look. We got to Vientiane during the annual "That Luang Festival," which consisted of ... read more
Shady minivan in Vang Vieng
Living the Good Life in Vientiane
Yes, we do eat! ;)

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