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Archive for December, 2006

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Motorcycle Diaries: On the Road to Pai

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

NTmotorcycle.jpgSomehow I found myself in Chiang Mai, Thailand- it gets a lot of hype as one of the best places in this country, but it is just a Bangkok-north. Since it is the town I fly out of when I leave for home in less than a couple of weeks, it made sense to use it as a base for exploring north-western Thailand.

I decided to rent a real motorcycle for the remaining time I have – and to just cruise the country-side.

My first destination is the town of Pai – and it is from here that I am posting this blog. [read on]

Leaving Lao

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

ll.jpgThe trip out of Lao was an adventure – sort of the type that was fun in an uncomfortable way that makes great stories later.

I got up early to buy a ticket as I figured it might sell out – so far, so good. But when I returned to board a few hours later, all the seats were taken and the floor space was filled with cargo.

No problem, I just sat on the bags and crates stacked in the main aisle and had the best seat in the house – I was even able to stretch out completely! There were only a half-dozen falaang on the bus and we were all in the back. I chatted most of the way with a retired teacher from Oz and with this free-lance art-critic from Paris. The hours were absorbed by some good conversation.

The bus broke down 3 times, and we all had to get out and push 2 other times. Several other times we had to just get out and walk because of how steep the road was.

The Chinese and Thai governments have joined together to cut a road through this part of Lao as a direct link between the other two and it is still in the cutting in stage – mud and bulldozers and dust and such.

There seems to be no concern for the hill tribe people as it cuts through villages that were not on the road system. It’s the end of the world as they know it.

Christmas Cheer: Rice Wine in a Khmu Village

Sunday, December 31st, 2006
trek.jpgThe trek began Christmas eve from the northern Lao town of Luang Namtha. Almost immediately there was a steady climb, but it felt really good to be out on a single-track trail again. For my ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Vang Vieng Veg Part 2: Lao Women and Falaang Men

Saturday, December 16th, 2006
vv2.jpgAfter a day of kickin' back, hiking and caving I headed off to dinner and then on the walk back to the guest house came across a bar with a pool table. Well, it was ... [Continue reading this entry]

Vang Vieng, Lao:A Snatch Shot of the Vang Veg

Friday, December 15th, 2006
vv.jpgOk...more about the title of this section later. You're just going to have to read on. Vang Vieng is one of the weirdest-strange towns i have been in so far. As you can tell by clicking ... [Continue reading this entry]

Waiting for My (Wo)Man

Sunday, December 10th, 2006
vn.jpgWith 126,000 dong in my hand... (All apologies to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground) Most all of the towns I have visited so far cater to tourists of course. The average wage for most Vietnamese is about ... [Continue reading this entry]

Sapa by Motor Bike

Saturday, December 9th, 2006
sapa.jpgAdventure changed to trouble when I rounded the bend of a narrow road that had long ago turned to a sloppy single track of red mud. Down in the valley below and barely visible through the mist ... [Continue reading this entry]

Ha Long Bay/Ca Ba Island

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006
halong.jpgI've just returned from a 3 day visit to one of the more spectacular places I've seen so far - Ha Long Bay. On the first day, I boarded a boat (a junk-style house boat) and ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bia Ho’i

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006
bia.jpgMost street corners in Hanoi (and most other Vietnamese towns) have Bia Ho'i, or fresh beer stands. A glass costs about 2-3 thousand dong and it's 16 thousand dong to the dollar- a lot of ... [Continue reading this entry]