Siewch's Guestbook

21st November 2017

Jars and spoons
I'm impressed that this is your first souvenir - but what an amazing and meaningful souvenir it is. It was hard to read of the indiscriminate bombing of Laos, how is that not a crime? I like the biblical quote, one I haven't come across before... Sigh. If only. :(
22nd November 2017

Indeed, it was difficult to visit those centers
First I felt horror, then a deep sense of shame. The spoons are going to be such meaningful souvenirs. I don’t buy souvenirs because I hate clutter and I live with a pack rat. And I have kitties, so the house Is chaotic enough as it is
18th November 2017

Vang Vieng
Glad to hear the government has cracked down on the tubing. I remember my stay in Vang Vieng very well. I avoided the tubing then as it had a notorious reputation, but I do remember one of the seldom times in my life I've felt ashamed at being a Westerner, walking through town amongst drunk and loud British people and the very embarrassed and bewildered looks on the local townspeople. Glad to hear the place seems to have been cleaned up somewhat.
22nd November 2017

I can’t imagine what is was like when you were there...
Even now, there was some public drunkenness on the streets, and illegal substances could be found easily.
18th November 2017

Ah, the Memories!
A lovely blog to read, not only as it is written in your usual honest, informative and very interesting style, but also as it harks back to memories of my own trip to Luang Prabang five years ago. I remember the Kuang Si Falls well, including a very fun rope swing into the pool. Sorry to read about the massage experience, I'm glad you got a better masseuse towards the end.
22nd November 2017

I looked up your Luang Prabang blog...
We certainly had somewhat different experiences. I guess after serving in the military in Singapore, I don’t go out of my way to look for a jungle experience :-)
18th November 2017

No Going on the Roof!
Haha, very funny! It took me a while to get it too...! I love the Heart of Darkness analogy too. I hope Luang Prabang turned out better than Mr Kurtz's jungle dwelling :)
22nd November 2017

Here’s how I tried to decipher it phonetically...
Since I speak a little Thai, I tried to decipher it phonetically like that.... “nor gawng ong tha...” ah dammit it’s English!!!
18th November 2017

Your inner twenty-something
With your opening warning of irresponsible behaviour, when I read of the two naked guys I thought your entry would end something along the lines of your group following the trend. Ok fess up… by the fourth bar, you got your kit off and flashed the neighbourhood didn’t you? Thus putting the ‘flash’ in your ‘flashpacking’ trip? ;) I never thought I’d ever consider tubing, but as Per-Olof said, you’ve made it sound quite fun :)
20th November 2017

You Can’t Prove I Did It!
No photos = plausible deniability!
17th November 2017

Effects of tourism
Tourism brings with it both positives, such as injecting capital into a local economy, and negatives, such as turning formerly dignified and spiritual affairs such as this alms giving into what you accurately describe as a human zoo. I wish that more people would be travellers rather than tourists. Going there to experience the genuine experience and not just to take posing pictures without ever even trying to get to know the real meaning behind what happens. I had a wonderful experience in Thailand a few years back when I stumbled into a wat and ended up participating in a ceremonial blessing by the monks performed before the abbot of the wat. I was the only non-local present and for a long time I just sat quietly in the corner observing it all until the locals themselves invited me to take part. It's a memory I will cherish my whole life.
17th November 2017

Meaningful Interactions
Amen. I got invited to quite a few such ceremonies during the (inexplicably popular) Western New Year when I worked in Bangkok. Travel is so enhanced so much when one has meaningful interactions with locals or even with one another when the focus is on experiencing rather than seeing. I’ve had this conversation with several people who only go on package tours and they don’t seem to get it,
17th November 2017

Ears still ringing
I know the feeling, my ears are still ringing from the Chinese tourists in Nara the year before last. Good thing that the impact of the tubing has been softened, I've read about it before and concluded that it's not for me, but from what you describe now I might go for it with a good friend or two at my side. Pity that the tour you did ended up involving a lot of dead time and busy tourism hot spots.
22nd November 2017

I struggle with the idea of mass tourism
Laos seems to be plunging headlong into mass tourism. I have such mixed feelings about this given the many instances of disrespectful behavior I witnessed, especially in Luang Prabang. Fortunately, it will be a while before Laos becomes like Thailand.
15th November 2017

Mass tourism
I read something a few years ago, where the monks had asked tourists not to take part in the alms ceremonies as the cheap food (bought the night before) was making the monks sick...I suppose that's why they chuck the food out. I find it sad that the monks still have to go through the pretense of receiving alms :(
15th November 2017

Alms Giving
I heard at one time the monks threatened to boycott the whole show. It is suggested that any tourist wanting to participate should arrange with their hotels to prepare food and to collect them in the morning. There are also vendors selling food on site.
13th November 2017
Pak Beng

I can't tell you how happy this photo made me... seeing elephants doing their elephanty things in peace. The slow boat on the Mekong trip is on our shortlist for our next trip to Asia, thanks for the tip to bring plenty of entertainment :)
15th November 2017
Pak Beng

It’s Not A Comfortable Ride...
Bewarned! But, with the right company, it can be a lot of fun. I am so glad there were so many Americans on board!
11th November 2017

Very touching
A lovely blog on Thailand and Chiang Rai, and very touching words here on life. What a wonderful feeling for you to know you are in the right place at the right time, a spiritual moment it seems. I'm sorry to hear about your friend Mike, I do believe our loved ones who are passed on are still present with us in some way.
15th November 2017

A spiritual moment...
What a great way to describe it! Thanks!
9th November 2017

Mike would be proud
I'm convinced that Mike would be proud that you're living your life to the fullest. Thank you for a well written and interesting blog post.
10th November 2017

It’s uncanny how I always seem to be traveling on Mike’s birthday since he passed. In 2014 I was up the slope of Mauna Loa planting trees, in 2016 I was in Florida and now I am in Laos.
8th November 2017

The black and white of life
Sorry to hear about your friend Mike, life can indeed be unfair and unpredictable. That feeling of contentment you speak of, comes through in your blogs...and I love that you listed the kitties third on your list! I wonder if that orange cat may have smelt your cats on your backpack? It certainly doesn't seem impressed with the human :) Looking forward to reading about your trip into Laos
10th November 2017

How could any kitty not be impressed with me?

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