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Round and Around

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

Hard to believe that it has been since Luang Prabang that I wrote last. I kept telling everyone I was going to write when I got back to Italy.  As soon as I got back I got a job working at a friend’s custom motorcycle shop.  When I wasn’t working I was either battling Italian bureaurocracy or preparing for our next motorcycle trip (which we have just returned from).

I have decided that the best way to catch up is just to post a ton of pictures with long captions.  I am going to start before we arrived in Southeast Asia with some pictures of Japan


In Tokyo we Stayed in Asakusa, one of the older parts of the City.


Down Tokyo 

Tokyo really exemplifies the Japanese ability to integrate the traditional withthe modern.



We had a Japan Rail pass which we used to take the Shinkansen (known to the west as the Bullet Train) up to Hokaido.  We slept and ate in this awesome little ski lodge in Niseko.  Every night they organized a trip to a different Onsen (hotspring). It snowed like crazy while we were there but was considered and overall light snow year. 


Nagano Luci

We also spent a couple of days in a traditional Ryokan near Nagano and went skiing on the Olympic Ski slopes…


DSC00443 (Large) (Custom).JPG 

And went to see the monkeys that live near a hotspring near Utuoshi. But, after four months in the Antarctic winter in Japan got old quickly…



And we welcomed the heat and chaos of Southeast Asia. We flew into Bangkok but only spent enough time there to organize our train tickets and visa for Laos. In a couple of days we were in the capitol of Vientianne.   


Baja Luke 

Though I failed to mention this to most of my family for fear of worrying them, we travelled by motorcycle.  We rented a Honda XR 250 Baja; a super bike for the terrain.  A buit uncomfortable on the cheeks but we never felt a lack of power.  Since lodging and food is so cheap, there is never a need to carry camping gear which, in addition to the wife, can make a small bike like the Baja a bit hard to manage.


Offroad Luci 

There are many nice roads being build by the Chinese in Laos at the moment but the majority of the roads are still in pretty rough shape. 


Udom Xai 

Even some of the larger towns have only dirt roads in them.


The Open Road Laos

Traffic is a relative rarity but the traffic that there is tends to be either very small (motorcycle) or very large (truck).  What I found to be more dangerous than other motor traffic was livestock and people in the roads.  The main thoroughfares are lined for miles and miles by little villages and there are always dogs, chickens, pigs, cows, and water buffalo crossing the roadway in apparent oblivion to motorists.  Even the villagers don’t seem to consider motor traffic too much of a threat and are often seen lounging in the middle of the road or laying out stuff to dry on the asphalt.   


Hot Springs 

Having the motorcycle gave us a level of freedom that backpackers simply cannot obtain on public forms of transportation.  We were able to get to places where there was no public transport like this hot spring.  Having the bike really allowed us to see a great deal of the wilder parts of Laos in a short amount of time with a minimum of logistical nightmares.


Stupa Luangnamtha   

But like many parts of SE Asia, it lived for the most part of the last century under the bomb. This stupa in Luang Numtha was toppled during the Indochin wars. Laos became the most bombed country in the history of the world during the Vietman Era when the US waged the “secret war” against the Pathet Lao.  There still remains tons of unexploded ordinance all over the countryside which makes exploration of places off established paths unadvisable. So for the most part we stuck to the main roads.



It was the hot, dry, smokey season in Laos while we were there as you can see from this picture of the Mekong River in Luang Prabang. 


Nam Tha 

And this one of the Nam La. 


Vang Vieng  

Desipte a nightmareish modern history, the Lao (like the Thai) are some of the nicest people I have ever met.  Unfortunately, I usually take mostly land scape shots (like this one in Vang Vieng) and don’t have many pictures of the village life in Laos. 


Baja Luke and Luci

The rainy season finally arrived during the last two days of our trip. We had to scurry around the markets looking for rain gear. We had a couple of days of very cold and wet riding but we made it back to Vientianne and finally Bangkok in time for the annual water festival Song Kran where people throw water at each other in the streets. 

But the middle of April we were back in Italy…But I’ll save that story for another chapter.

Luang Prabang

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Wat Maha That

We are approaching the end of our stay here at this World Heritage Site.  We have been relaxing from some long days on the road from the Laos capital of Vientiane.  This is a beautiful place with more temples per square meter than any place I have ever been to.  I guess there are a lot at Palenque in Mexico but they are not active ones.  This place is really alive despite the lingering still and smoky air of the dry season which threatens to block out the sun at times. 

I should have more pictures up of this place once I get back to Italy in a couple of weeks.  I have been having some camera problems but I should be able to salvage some pictures for the blog.     

Same Same (only different)

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007
We have traveled many miles since I last wrote. I tried writing from Japan but luci got impatient with me as usual. I got some pictures edited but I didn't manage to get them posted. I'll get ... [Continue reading this entry]

Up, Up and Away.

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

Wow! Free airport internet.  This is a first for me.  These Aussies sure are an advanced society.

Well, I now have a full blown cold.  Medicine here is extremely expensive.  I guess what I am saving on internet I already spent ... [Continue reading this entry]


Tuesday, March 6th, 2007
Sydney Sunrise

Just a quick update to let everyone who follows my blog know that we made it safely to Sydney.  We had to catch a super-early shuttle to the airport for our 0645 departure.  Their computers ... [Continue reading this entry]

Back on Land

Friday, March 2nd, 2007
Te Pukatea Beach  Here are a few pictures from Our Kayaking trip with my two brothers. It was a good time overall.  We had a variety of conditions to conntend with (but no rain) which kept ... [Continue reading this entry]

Out of the Bush

Saturday, February 24th, 2007
 Wangapeka track1 We made it out of the bush yesterday.  We had a charmed trip through the Kiwi Bush.  We got lucky from the very beginning. We took the bus from Christchurch to Westport and arrived ... [Continue reading this entry]

Christchurch and Beyond

Saturday, February 17th, 2007


We finally made it off the Ice.  It felt better than usual this year. We had far too much time at McMurdo.  It was too long to stay busy but too short to ... [Continue reading this entry]