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By this Author: chrisvasil

Luang Prabang - More temples and another colonial town

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The food in Laos generally is sticky rice along with a vegetable mush that is mildly bitter, and either salty grilled fish or unknown parts from pork or beef.

Luang Prebang is supposed to be this incredibly charming old French town, but we simply didn't feel it. The main market is nice but extremely tourist-oriented with foreigner-priced souvenirs, and the town seems not too much different from most small cities. It is a bit special that the town is situated at the junction of the Mekong and another river, but with it being dry season at the time we were there the rivers had very little water or current in them.

We saw monks slowly making buddha statues by hand out of cement at one of the temples.

Posted by chrisvasil 07:13 Archived in Laos Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Luang Nam Tha - Lao countryside and kayaking

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From Thailand and through Northern Laos was some of the best countryside we've seen. The mountainous landscapes were breathtaking, comparable to Cape Breton, while the road passed by many villages of thatch houses built on stilts. After 2 months in Asia this was the first large area we were in that hadn't really been touched by modern technology.

Our original plan was to go to the northern end of Laos, known for having more authentic hill tribes and being less touristed than parts of Thailand (the tribes part of the Chiang Mai trek seemed more like a zoo than like a village). Unexpectedly (because working out basic itineraries from a map has worked out well so far), it would have been something like 10 hours each way to get to Muang Sing, which has the best trekking. We settled on only going halfway, to Luang Nam Tha, from where Muang Sing would have been 6 hours each way for 60km of distance on a map. Transport in Laos is generally very bad - takes a long time to cross short distances, and overnight transport is generally not available so instead of getting free lodging on a bus we waste a day each time we have to go from place to place. We checked in to a pretty fancy hotel room for $3.50/night, though we changed place the next day because the plumbing and electrical were both extremely wonky (for example, the bathroom sink tap does nothing: the water is controlled by a knob on the wall, which when turned makes water come out from both a faucet on the wall and the sink).

Northern Laos in December is pretty cold, about 20C during the day and 5-10C at night. We therefore decided to not do an overnight trek, and instead did a 7-hour river kayaking excursion. It was very hard to keep the kayak straight, and it seemed we paddled faster and went slower than anyone else on the trip. But it was an exciting experience at times, and a chance to get some exercise beyond walking. We also made a couple stops in villages, and a stop where the guides cooked some fish and buffalo they had bought in the morniing.

Posted by chrisvasil 13:27 Archived in Laos Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

UPDATE Nov 6 - Dec 4 - South India, Malaysia, Thailand

Posted Dec 18

Nov 6 - Dec 4 - South India, Malaysia, Thailand (again)

I've posted these blog entries. Sorry I'm still not up to date. Went to Laos and Cambodia after Thailand, both incredible places though nothing will compare to Thailand.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia today, going to Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam tomorrow. Will have Christmas in Vietnam, not sure where for New Years -- we'll cross into China sometime around the beginning of January. Only about 2 more months til I come home. Time flies out here.

Posted by chrisvasil 21:27 Comments (0)

Chiang Khong - Isolated border town, great tribal markets

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One of the more interesting stops on our trip, unexpectedly, was the border stop on the way to Northern Laos. It's just a regular town, not foreigner-oriented at all, and seems to be a meeting place for trade and sales between different tribes.

From there we took a speedboat across the Mekong, arriving in Laos.

Posted by chrisvasil 21:26 Archived in Thailand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Phuket - Tropical Beach Paradise

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We spent longer than we had planned to in Phuket, staying in town and going to a different beach from there. Our hotel, Pengman, was real cheap (120 Baht, under $4 per night) and conveniently located near the wonderful Day Market (lots of fruit and cooked food vendors, which we mostly went to at night).

The first day we spent at Kata Beach, and hung around on a near-isolated spot on rocks. There was a small pool with schools of fish, mostly shielded from the sea by a wall of rocks, and on the rocks in the sea were also lots of green crabs.

Walking on water

We made a sand castle before going home, but with the rising tide it didn't last very long

It turns watermelon seeds are a food in this part of the world. Potato chips are available in either French Salad Flavor or with Seaweed.

Phuket town is full of colonial houses and has a few temples, and a sign saying the Buddha's instructions: Not to do evil, To do good, and To purify the mind. I can probably do that.
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Praise to the king - I don't fully understand, but the images of the youngish king are everywhere and the country is run by a democratically elected government (except when there's a coup).

A clock tower roundabout on the way home

We went to Patong beach, which was crowded but an excellent beach. A day was also spent at Surin beach, which had amazing waves where we spent the entire day playing and getting dragged, and it was definitely the most fun we've had at a beach ever. It was a cloudy day, so it was less busy and not too hot, but I didn't wear sunscreen and got burned. Still though, it was a good time. Unfortunately we have no pics from Patong or Surin, we didn't want the camera getting wet.

Posted by chrisvasil 21:25 Archived in Thailand Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

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