Chopsticks and kung fu kicks!

Leaving on a jet plane …

Don Det April 5, 2010

Filed under: Laos — esacc @ 2:12 PM

After 16 hours if travel time we arrived to the island of Don Det. It was so hot and we were exhausted. We hiked around the island to find a place to stay. Things were far pricier than what lonely planet had told us but we found a nice bungalow and worked out a deal with the owner.

We took the day to rest and relax and later met up with our friend Bryan who is also on this island and watched the sunset and had some dinner by the river. We met some guys from Australia and ended up chilling riverside with a large group of people singing songs and listening to the one ozzy guy play his guitar. It was a pretty hilarious night. It’s funny how so many people from all over the world can come together over music. Despite the island shutting down shops and bars by 1030 we let the music and serenity of the island take over and it ended up being a pretty late night.

Tomorrow our plan is to rent bikes and head to the nearby waterfall (yes this one is actually in biking distance) so hopefully we can get an early start to the day to beat the insane heat.

We rented bikes and made the trek through the heat to the waterfall. It was pretty sweet and we even went for a dip in one of the side pools. At night we went to bed early after the sunset. We decided to spend another night relaxing on the island so we booked our bus ticket for Cambodia for the 8 th.

Our last day we had big plans to rent bikes and head over to the nearby island to see some dolphins but the heat got the best of us so instead we spent the day reading and relaxing and preparing for our trip to Cambodia.

 

Luang Probang – Vang Vieng March 31, 2010

Filed under: Laos — esacc @ 2:17 AM

We booked our van to vang vieng for a 10 am pick up from our guest house. After sitting there waiting for an hour we were informed that the bus was broken down and that we had to take the 130 bus. So we killed time around the city and returned to the guest house at 1 pm. We then waited over another hour. We were finally picked up by a tuk tuk driver and taken to the bus station and now at 220 we are finally on the road to Vang Vieng!

We are in our aircon mini bus… Curling and swirling around the mountains of Laos… When our driver informs us that in order to make it up the hil we must turn off the air con and open the windows in order to conserve power to make the ascend. Hahahaha oh Laos.

We are into the third hour of the journey and it is absolutely remarkable. I am sitting in my window seat, iPod in, just taking in all the sights. The endless mountain tops and snaking roads are phenominal. And the local villages we are driving through really explains the literal sense of the saying “go play on traffic” as these villages are literally built along the side of the road with little more than the road to play on.

In the last hour of the trip Maria and I both startig fighting off feelings of what we think must have been some sort of bug. It was an uncomfortable ride for the last part but we made it through.

Once we arrived we met up with four girls from England that we had met on the slow boat and we all decided to find a place together. We were taken to a really nice cheap place and decided to put three in each room and since we all started off in pairs we decided to split the pairs up to make up the rooms. So Maria and I spent three nights with our new friends. Our first day onyhe river we swam from river side bar to bar and played some mud volleyball and watched all the brave souls do the zip line. after all the horror stories we heard about people getting hurt we decided against ziplinning but opted just to watch. We had a blast tho!

Ou second day we went to the blue lagoon and climbed up to the cave that was there. After the hike we took a refreshing dip in the lagoon then headed back to the tube river and did some more swimming along the river.

Now we are headed to the capital of Laos – vientienne.

Sunday April 4th

Vientiane was waaaaay too hot and a bit too pricey so we decided only to spend a night there. Today we went to the Buddha park which was pretty strange but neat at the same time. This mornig we booked our ticket for the sleeper bus down to the Four Thousand Islands so we had to say farewell to our British chippies whom are heading north to Vietnam and Maria and I are gettig cozy on the 13 hour overnight bus. We are sharing a tiny bunk for the first ten hours then once we arrive in Pakse we will change buses to a sitting up bus for the last 3 hours.

I am still fighting off a bit of a cold so I feel bad for coughing and waking up the rest of the bus. Oops! I’m excited to get back near some water but I thnk we are a bit crazy for heading south in se Asia at the hottest time of year. March and April are so hot that even the locals have a hard time dealing with the heat.

 

Wednesday March 31st March 30, 2010

Filed under: Laos,Thailand — esacc @ 11:37 PM

I have finished transcribing my pre-written entries … so from here on out, it will be more of a timely update (provided I can get a good wifi connection!)

It’s been just over a week since my last entry … after Chiang Mai we made the 3-4 hour van ride South West to a small hippie village of Pai. There wasn’t a lot goingon here … the town itself seemed to operate on it’s own terms … and it wasn’t uncommon for shops and restaurants to open from 5 – 8 PM. We would wake up early and walk around the town, but it honestly felt like a ghost town with little going on and few people strolling about. At night people started coming out of the woodwork to open their shops along the night market – and to take part in the endless amounts of live music – but after a couple hours, they’d pack it in for the night.

On our last day in Pai we rented a scooter and decided to check out a local waterfall outside of town. It was a fun little ride … we nominated Maria has driver after I nearly drove into oncoming traffic and a parked vehicle – hahaha so with Maria driving, it was my duty to provide the entertainment. So we scootered around while I sang songs from every Disney movie I knew.  Our last day we went and checked out the local swimming pool as well which was pretty refreshing, but aside from that, there wasn’t a whole lot to do, so we only spent 2 nights there. But I really liked the small town feel of the place and it made for some great rest and relaxation!

From there we booked our ticket to Luang Probang in Laos. – not an easy trip. From Pai we had to take a night van through the windy, mountainous roads … by van for about 6 hours, arriving at the guest house at around 2 or 3 in the morning. We “slept” for about 4 hours before we were awoken by the owner singing us Happy Birthday. We had breakfast then headed to the Laos-Thailand “border” which was nothing more than a fence with a sign … paid our fees for the Laos visa, then headed across the river to Laos immigration. From there we were granted our visas and boarded the slow boat. We spent the next 8 hours on the boat before arriving in a small town for the night. We located our guest house, had some dinner and then did some mingling with our new buddies from the boat. (After 24 hours in small areas with people, it’s amazing how well you get to know each other!) The next day, it was early to rise again and back on the slow boat for another 9 hours to Luang Probang. We arrived in the early evening and found a guest house with our new group of travel “mates” (a majority of them being British and Australian) then it was dinner time and bed time shortly after.

The next day Maria and I rented bicycles for the day at about $2 dollars a day … and we decided around lunch time – at the peak of the sun – that we were going to ride our bikes to the infamous waterfall nearby. And well, Lonely Planet said we could make the treak, so we were bound and determined to go. To our dismay, after about 10 KMs into the 35 KM journey on our cruising, gearless, basket bikes, we turned around and headed back to Luang Probang. We cruised around the small French town and decided we put forth a great effort. We rewarded ourselves with a nap then it was off to bowling for a girl’s birthday. The shops, restaurants and bars all close here around 11 PM so the thing to do is to go bowling as it’s the only place that stays open. So we did just that. We can now say we came to Luang Probang and bowled. Two games.

The next day we slept in and decided to do like the majority, and hired a driver to take us to the waterfall. Thank goodness we did! After hitting the 10 KM point in which we turned around on our bikes, the terrain got rather challenging – and without well equipped mountain bikes, we never would have made it there – let alone there and back – before dark. haha

We spent the afternoon climbing to the top of the waterfall and swimming in the swimming holes at the base of the waterfall. Then it was back to Luang Probang where we ate dinner at the night market – we shared a large buffet plate for 10,000 kip which is about $1.25 USD – and we were stuffed. We walked around the market then made it home and passed out by 7 where we basically slept for the entire night.

We booked our bus ticket from Luang Probang to Vang Vieng … the 6 hour bus ride … we arranged to be picked up at 10 AM from our guest house. At 10:45 when no one showed up, we inquired about the location of our bus and we were informed that – in true Laos transportation style – it had broken down and the next bus wouldn’t be available about 1:30. So, we are now killing time until our bus leaves at 1:30.

Vang Vieng is the main tourist attraction popular for it’s tubing. We won’t be getting in until late tonight now, so tomorrow we will make a day of tubing down the river and exploring the ruins outside the city.