Thursday, February 22, 2007

Time flyes when you're in Loas

First of all I must send out a Happy 11th Birthday to my eldest Niece Kennadee. I'm so sorry I am a few days late :(

These kisses are for you

Covered In Kisses

I've spent the last 10 days travelling through Laos and am now in Hanoi, Vietnam. There is the craziest intersection here, I'm trying to find if it has a web cam on it cause you have to see the chaos. I think the cross streets are Le Thai To and Hang Dao, but I'll have to do some more research on that one.

My last 2 days in Thailand were spent on a 'Trekking' tour hiking to a mountain village in northern Chang Mai.
On the way to the village we stopped for a 2 hour elephant ride. It was a lot like the horse rides at home, except the elephants did not follow each other as well. Our elephant kept wondering off to eat trees, and I mean trees, he'd start pulling the whole thing over until someone ran up to stop him. This is the German guy I was paired up with. I've learnt my lesson to always ask how old the people who've already signed up are. During my trek I was the youngest person by about 20 years :) It was annoying because they complained about everything, but they made me laugh too, like when this guy turned to me after the photo and said "its like our honeymoon photo!"... I wonder if I can crop him out?'...

After the elephant ride we hiked for about 2 hours. The temp was 35 degrees so I wasn't about to complain about the temperature of the waterfall we stopped at. It was freezing by the way :P

The thing the other travellers complained the most about was our accommodations. Fortunately for me I've been sleeping on rock-hard $3/night hostel beds so I was prepared for 'Hotel California'.

Once we were settled in our guide took us for a short walk to tell us about the history of the village ( I don't know how to write the name of it cause I only have it in Thai) during the walk he gathered some grub, which he later gave to a family we passed and they ate it. I was hoping he'd bring it back for us to try, that'd been a good story.

There was no electricity so we started a campfire. I impressed all the German travellers with my fire-building skills but quickly used up all the wood we'd gathered; the guide solved this problem by showing me a house that was being demolished and told me to use the wood off of it.

The trek ended on Feb 13, and with my visa expiring in less than 24 hours I headed for Laos.

I left Thailand on Feb 14 and travelled by slow boat (appropriately named, maybe the most boring/cramped experience thus far) for 2 days and arrived in Luang Prabang. I met so many people who are going the exact same route as I am and am now travelling with Katy from London. We stayed in Luang Prabang for 3 days, hit the night market and went to an amazing waterfall.

The money in Laos is Kip, the exchange is 7,700 Kip/$1 Can. This is me holding 1,000,000 Kip.

I didn't know this before, but because monks do not work they rely on the public to provide them with food. Every morning at sunrise they walk the street and people put rice in there pots. This is called Oms (I think)

After a few days I headed south for Vangviang, the tourist attraction there is a river that has innertubes you can rent and multiple bars lining the banks of the river. Each bar is in competition to have the largest rope swing, at first I was too nervous and too aware of the dangers to try, but after a little liquid courage I was swinging off the highest one. Didn't bring the camera with me for that one, planned to do it again the next day but for some strange reason I was very ill during the night and slept most of the following 2 days. Luckily I was sick in a town that is obsessed with movies and 'Friends' reruns; every restaurant you enter is a giant living room with all the tables and chairs pointing at various TVs. I hadn't watched TV since I left, so I watched 3 movies in a row.
Sunset in Vangviang

I left Vangviang and bused to Vientiane. I've been travelling everywhere by either bus or boat and after the trip to Vientiane I was tired of the nail-biting trips and decided to just fly to Hanoi.
This is the plain Fokker 70

I was planning on calling Hanoi home for a week, but the lady at the hostel I'm staying in says that I need only 3 days and then I will be bored, so it looks like I'm gone again to 3 days :)

I can't believe how quickly time is going, I'll be back in less than 4 months!!!

Kennadee, I love you and I hope you had an amazing birthday!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Big "V"

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Monkeys Galore

In Phuket Town I met the most amazing couple. They were French and although neither of us spoke each other's language (apart from my sad/rusty French skills) we chatted for over 2hours and discovered that we both had our bellies pierced!

I forgot to mention that I went diving while in Phuket. The turtles were loving our table scraps.

This is the view from the dorm in Koh Phi Phi, 'The Rock', not bad for 200 Baht/night :)

This is Koh Phi Phi the morning we boarded Juno.

This is us sailing to 'Monkey Island'. Appropriately named...

Look how cute they are playing like humans in the hammock...

Until they get tired of all the pictures and start to chase you.
I felt like the Paparazzi... No pictures PLEASE !!!

And this is us leaving Monkey Beach; can't wait to go back one day.

Sailing 'The Juno'

This is me in the Kitchen cleaning up after dinner. I thought all the guys would get a kick out of this one, I'm strapped into the kitchen by a harness.

It was so sad to leave Juno. I was miserable the entire 14 hour trip to the opposite cost to Koh Phangan. I got over it quickly though once I sat in the hammock on the porch of my very own bungalow and drank in the view... Can't tell from this shot, but I thats the ocean just beyond those trees.

Devin rented a motorbike and we took off around the Island.
One of the beaches we found was called 'Malibu Beach'.
The sand was so soft; it was amazingly beautiful :)

So we decided to stay awhile. Ain't life rough?

Also on our motorbike tour we found an Elephant Safari. It cost 15 Baht to feed the elephants bananas. This elephant is only 2 years old. It was good because they appeared well looked after, which is the only reason I would support them and give them the 15 Baht.

We also found a random hiking trail to a lookout. The lookout was a bit of a disappointment because of a few clouds; but I found things to amuse me along the way...

Like GIANT spiders

And Monkeys that clear coconuts from trees :)

This one did not chase me and instead smiled for the camera.

I was inspired to try one of the coconuts the next day.
Coconut milk does not taste sweet like I expected;
the locals had a good laugh though :)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Feb 8th already!?!


I didn't realise so much time had passed since my last up date.

Ohhhh so much to talk about:)

I stayed at the OnOn hotel for 4 nights. I struggled to get my but in gear to get out of Phuket when suddenly, as I was writing in my journal, the biggest bed bug I've ever seen (not that i've actually seen one before) ran across my bed!!! I looked everywhere but couldn't find it, I slapped on the bug spray, put on long pants and socks in 32 degree weather and tried to sleep. I couldn't so I started to journal again. This time 2 bugs ran up from beneath my bed. I caught both of them; one was full of blood but the other wasn't, how much you wanna bet that the blood was O-, I also found 2 more under the mattress. Anyways that was all the motivation I needed and the next night I was sleeping on the Island Phi Phi.
Koh Phi Phi is a beautiful island, it was one of the worst hit in the tsunami and there is construction everywhere, I'm afraid to think of what it will look like in 2 years, it is also the most expensive of the islands. As soon as I stepped off the boat I was surrounded by locals trying to get me to their hotel. I turned to one lady and asked what the cheapest place went for, she told me 1000 baht! I was paying 170 at OnOn!!! I asked for something 500Baht or less and her answer was "500 Baht! There's the boat, but a ticket 300 baht and go back to Phuket!" I was so shocked! I started wandering down the road trying to look like I knew where I was going so locals would stop asking me "you have accommodations?" when a guy came out of a dive shop, equipped me with a map and headed me in a better direction. Later down the road another diveshop guy came out to direct me. 25m after that a local stopped me to ask if I had accommodations. I didn't and it was crazy hot so I asked him what he was offering, he had a place that was 700 baht/night. I told him I could not afford it and turned to walk away, as I did he called me back and hesitantly told me of a secret place called 'The Rock' that was only 200baht/night. 1000 Baht my but!!! I headed to the hostel (it was a dorm) and thankfully changed into my swim suit:) back to the beach I went!!!
I was tanning with one of my dorm mattes when he started chatting with a guy who'd just arrived on his dingy from his yacht. Next thing I know we've been invited to spend 3 days cruising around southern Thailand for only 500 Baht/day. We agreed to meet him the next morning.
That night I met up with 4 Canadians from Calgary and Toronto. We hit the bar, I never seem to be in the mood to go out here (probably because it feels like a giant high school house party on all these islands) so I headed back to the dorm; totally excited about the yacht trip.

This is turning into a really long entry... sorry:P

At 6:30am I boarded the ship 'Juno' with 2 other random travelers and the owner. Tom is a retired American navy officer and the other 2 people were Abbie from England and Luke from Australia. Tom took us to 2 Island, Koh Moc and Koh Lanta; we swam in caves to hidden beaches, sailed to various beaches (at one I was chased by 2 monkeys) and slept on the 20m yacht. It was the best thing to happen as of yet and it was fun cause Tom expected us to help out, cooking, raising the sail, other things that I can't remember the names to...

I sadly left Juno to get to Koh Phangan on the Eastern side in time for the 'Full Moon' party. I can't say I've ever been so embarrassed to be a foreigner, i can't believe the locals put up with that month after month. It was disgusting people were too drunk, I found one girl wondering in nothing but her underwear who had no idea where her hostel was or how to find her friends!!! I left after only a couple hours, went back to my side of the Island. I was renting a bungalow for only 100baht a night, I stayed there for 5 days, it was so nice to be able to go grocery shopping and actually plan meals for myself:) I met up with one of the Americans I met in Bangkok. Devin had a motorbike so one day we took off and trekked through the mountains. One of the risks here is getting hit by falling coconuts, one bungalow down the beach had one go through it's roof! As we were touring around we found a guy who had a monkey on a leash. The monkey was trained to climb the tree and pull off all the coconuts. The guy goes around the island and people hire him to clear the trees, beats raking leaves :)

I finally figured that my tan was not going to get much darker; so I left the south and headed north. It took me 28 hours of busing but I made it. I'm staying at the Banana hostel. It's only costing me 80baht/night so I think I'll stay here for a bit, at least a week anyways. Internet is cheaper here so you can expect to hear from me alot over the next few days... I'll try to get the monkey pics up for you (yes, I got a picture just before the monkey started to chase me)

Today was the first day I felt horribly homesick. I stopped taking the 'tourist' buses and grabbed the bus here that's similar to Greyhound. It's cheaper, they supply the food, only bad thing is you are completely isolated cause not many people speak to you. Nothing like 28 hours of isolation to make you miss the people you love:)