BootsnAll Travel Network

Welcome to our Travel Blog!

My fiance Christy and I have decided that there's no time like the present to take an "extended honeymoon," so we have quit our jobs to travel around the world. We'll be taking a month to travel Baja California (where we will get married), a month camping in the Pacific Northwest and Colorado, followed by 7 months of extended traveling to Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Fiji. Thanks for taking the time to check out our blog and catch up on our whereabouts. Feel free to leave us some comments/feedback on our entries. TO SEE AN ALBUM OF ALL OUR TRAVEL PICTURES INCLUDING THE WEDDING GO TO

Going Home

March 19th, 2008

After 9 months of traveling and 20 countries visited, its finally time to head on home to the good ole U.S.A. Christy and I have mixed emotions about the end of our travels. We are both extremely excited to go home and see family and friends and our two dogs, but we are sad that our trip is over. Its been an amazing time and weve learned so much about  the world, ourselves, people, politics and religons. Weve seen how amazing strangers can be and how everyone in the world is really not that different. Its amazing what you learn when you turn off CNN and go out and see what the world is really like.

For anyone with even the remotest interest in doing a world trip, all I can say is “GO.” Dont wait for the most ideal time, dont wait for retirement or to win the lottery, just do it. Weve met kids 19 years old on budgets of almost nothing traveling and loving it. Weve also met people in there 30s, 40, 50 and 60s doing it. We even met a couple in there 60’s riding there bikes around New Zealand.

When we tell people how long weve been traveling its seems like there first question is “what country did you like best?” I couldnt even begin to answer it nor could Christy. Africa was definitly our most challenging by far, but it also held some of the most amazing scenery we saw and some of our best stories. I’ll never forget riding along that dirt road in Tanzania packed in like sardines in the most beat up minivan you could ever imagine. Or watching the sunset over the Serengheti as the heard of Elephants goes traipsing by. South East Asia had some of the best food and friendliest people. Europe, they just dont make cities like that anymore. Iceland, like your on another planet. New Zealand, the outdoor playground of the world. I could go on and on.

Now we will begin a new adventure when we get home, One that we are both looking forward to with excitement and a little bit of fear. Its going to be great sleeping in your own bed night after night but it will also be weird that we wont be exploring new horizons every day, meeting new people from different countries and eating exotic foods. But for now, I can say that doing the daily grind sounds fun and different. Knowing where I will be sleeping come sundown and what I will be doing for an entire week sounds really cool. Im sure it will wear thin really quick though. After we get home and get all settled we will update the blog with a lot of stories that we just didn’t have time to put into the blog.


New Zealand

March 3rd, 2008

Once again we have fallen way behind on our blog. We got here to New Zealand a week ago and have been going non-stop since then. We have less than 3 weeks left in our travels and were trying to fit every minute that we can into seeing this incredible country. We have been spending everyday either hiking to some incredible areas or mountain biking, lets just say this place fits Christy and I rather well. We have also been hit with much higher prices compared to S.E. Asia so we are adapting to that as well.I rented a little car and got a cooler so we can cook our own food at the hostels we stay at. Yep, back to hostels and sleeping in dorm beds.  No more nice dinners for 10 bucks and private bungalows on the beach. Now its peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and frozen pizza. The locals tell us it isnt there prices that have gone up, but our dollar has taken a huge beating here just like everywhere else. Oh well, thats life. We will update the blog with some pics and some good stories once we get a chance. The clock is ticking and we need to enjoy our couple weeks of freedom before we head home and face that thing that people call “THE REAL WORLD”


Don’t Listen to Anyone Who Says “Stay Away From Cambodia”

February 20th, 2008


We debated and debated during our travels through Laos whether or not we should go to Cambodia. Before leaving the U.S. way back in Aug., we were dead set on going, but once we arrived in southeast Asia, many other travels told us to skip the country-such a shame. We have only been in Cambodia for five days, but we have loved every minute of it. I’m so glad we decided not to listen to other travelers and go with our gut feeling. Cambodians are some of the nicest people we have met during our travels. Yes, there is a lot of poverty. Yes, there are a lot of beggers, but you can’t really blame them. This country has only been on the mend since the year 2000. They are working hard to get tourism back on track and it’s a shame when anyone discourages people from coming here.

We arrived in Phnom Penh in the early afternoon (we took a flight from Laos) and suffered a bit of culture shock with the fast pace way of life here. Much different from Laos-there were cars and mopeds and tuk-tuks everywhere. Traffic was unbelievable. In theory, they should be following the same driving rules as the U.S.-drive on the right, yield to on-coming traffic, etc. Not the case. Besides overloading the scooters…five, sometimes six people per scooter (amazing to see), most of the time they were driving into on coming traffic, down the wrong side of the street. No one abides by stop signs, it’s only a “suggestion” to stop. Mostly, they just slow and swerve. Surprisingly, the way they drive just seems to work. We never saw one accident.

There are many sites to see in Phnom Penh and it’s a great way to learn Cambodia’s history. Especially the recent events with the Khmer Rouge-mass genocide that started in the mid-seventies, where Khmer Rouge (a.k.a. Cambodians) were killing Cambodians for no rhyme or reason, resulting in over 2 million people (that’s 25% of the population) being murdered. There definitely is a noticeable age gap. There are many young people and many old people, but not as many middle aged. Very sad. One particular tourist site to visit is the S21 prison, where the Khmer Rouge detained prisoners (not just Cambodians, but even a few Australians and Americans, Japanese, Thais, etc.). These people were usually accused of being spies. They were tortured by various methods-electric shocks, beatings, etc. to get the prisoners to “confess.” The Khmer Rouge killed anyone-men, women, babies, their own mothers and fathers. They killed people simply because they wore glasses or spoke another language, all in an attempt to wipe out the intelligent and breed the subservient. At the killing fields a few miles away, they would beat their prisoners, slice their throats and toss their bodies into open graves. Once separated from their mothers, babies were held by the ankles and bashed against trees. Their dead bodies were tossed into the pile like the rest.

For the history alone, I would encourage anyone to come to Cambodia. These people are trying so hard to rebuild their society and we are so glad we got to visit Phnom Penh before the word gets out on how amazing it is.

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This is the capital of Laos???

February 20th, 2008


Vientiane isn’t like most capitals of a country.  First off, only 250,000 people live here and it feels more like a town than a capital. No high-rise buildings, very little traffic and I only remember one stop light.  Normally, it’s not too exciting to write about food, but the one thing this cozy little city does have is good, cheap restaurants and we found the mother load our first night.  We hooked up with Mark and Jerre, our new travel buds from Connecticut for a glass of wine before going to an Italian/French restaurant (French being the most popular tourist food because Laos used to be a French colony).  The food was some of the best we have eaten since leaving on our trip, probably some of the best food I have ever eaten, period.  We had steaks with fancy French sauces and fresh vegetables and homemade chocolate cake.  I would go back to Vientiane just to eat at this restaurant!  And the kicker was that for the four of us to eat, including wine and appetizers, the bill was around 30 dollars- for 4 people!!!  The next night we were all trying to decide where to eat and we figured, why mess with perfection, let’s go back to the same place.  It’s a little embarrassing since there are so many restaurants in the city, but once again we had another great meal.  This time of lasagna and spaghetti. We finished the night off at a bar that was full of local Laos and a local band that were singing their hearts out to American cover songs.  Who knew “Zombie” by the Cranberries was so popular half way around the world?

Laos is a communist country but you would hardly ever know it.  One of the few times that you do realize it, is when you  take a look at your watch and realize you’re going to be locked out of your hotel room because you’re out after curfew!  In Vientiane we had to be back at our hotel before 11:30 pm or else they lock the front doors and close up the gates and we would be out on the street.  Some hotels are not so strict on this rule but our place was, so on our last night, we had to run home to make our curfew.  We made it with about three minutes to spare, pretty funny stuff.

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Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

February 20th, 2008


Try saying that a few times. Our one week in Luang Prabang was fantastic, we ate at great restaurants, hiked to waterfalls and did a great mountain bike ride to some of the remote villages in the area. Luang Prabang is small enough where you see the same people day in and day out. We have made some friends since we’ve been in Laos and they would keep popping up in different places during our stay here. One of them was, Mark and Gerre from Connecticut. We met them on the boat coming down the Mekong river. We shared some great food together at a really nice French restaurant one night. In Luang Prabang, you get 5 star eating at one star prices so we were loving it. During the evenings we would stroll the town, usually run into Mark and Gerre and then spend the rest of the evening drinking wine at some cool little wine bars. Luang Prabang also has a magical night market selling all kinds of handmade items in a very laid back atmosphere. The Lao are just plain nice people and don’t know how to be aggressive(lets hope that doesn’t change as more and more tourists come into Laos)

Our next stop would be Vang Vieng, the outdoor capital of Laos along with the reputation as the backpacker’s main party spot. We weren’t too interested in the party scene as it’s mainly a younger affair (I admit it, I am an old geezer compared to most of these backpackers) but we were interested in the outdoor opportunities. We lucked out and were able to rent a really nice bungalow right on the river and away from the party noise of town (think trance music and stoned backpackers). Our first day Vang Vieng we wore ourselves out with a 50km mountain bike ride to some amazing caves and villages.  At one particular cave, we were able to hike into it for 2 miles and then went for a swim in a lagoon that was inside the cave with just the light of our flashlights to see!  I said to Chrsity “Here we are, 2 miles inside a cave, in a lagoon in the middle of Laos, now we’re gettin’ somewhere.”  It’s easy to take it all for granted when you’ve been traveling for as long as we have.

Since we seemed to be traveling in the same direction, our friends Mark and Jerre arrived in Vang Vieng a couple days after us, so we all decided to do a hike/mountain trek the following day together.  We hiked to some small Laos villages and eventually to a beautiful waterfall.  No one was around.  It was so beautiful and peaceful.  Along the way, our guide (local Laos teen) pointed out different trees and plants, etc.  It’s very surreal when your hiking and the guide shows you a hole in the ground that was caused by a U.S. bomb.  It’s hard to believe that this was the most heavily bombed country in the world and it sucks that the U.S. was dropping those bombs-sometimes just to unload them.  But, that’s another story for another day.  We had a great day hiking with our friends and we got to see some of the more remote parts of Vang Vieng most backpackers don’t take the time to see.

The party scene in this town is a very weird one.  On the main street, there are several restaurants, all with big screen TVs that are showing episodes of either Friends or the Simpsons all day long, over and over and over.  Each place was packed with people just vegged out like they were in a coma watching for hours on end!!!  Not sure why you would come half way around the world to watch countless episodes of Friends, but hey, to each his own.

Our next and final stop in Laos would be Vientiane.  Rather than take the four hour boring bus ride, we hooked up with an adventure travel agency that offered a guided kayak trip  from Vang Vieng to Vientiane.  Neither Christy or I had really river kayaked, mostly only ocean, so this was going to be a real experience.  The kayaks were tandem and at the start the river was fairly calm.  However, we quickly came upon one section that had some pretty serious white water and the guide told us, “don’t go on right side.  Bad.   Don’t go on left side.  Bad.  Go in middle, not so bad.”  So we translated that to, paddle like hell down the middle and hope for the best.  It was an absolute thrill and we were one of the only kayaks in our group to make it without tipping over.  After our whitewater section we paddled over to a rock to have lunch and there was an opportunity to jump off a “cliff” into the water.  Of course, the cliff was huge and Christy said “Sweetie, go jump off it and I’ll take a picture.”  She loves to watch me do really stupid things.  There were about 14 people in our group and about 4 other people elected to hike over to jump off.  The guide said it was 30ft which is high enough to scare the daylights out of you.  After some psyching up, I jumped and boy was it scary.  I screamed some profanity on the way down which gave everyone a good laugh.

We finished our day in Vientiane, finally finding a guest house after having to go to about 10 that were booked, and took a well deserved hot shower.

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New Pictures of Laos

February 8th, 2008


I just spent about 3 hours getting all our pictures onto disk and then uploaded to the internet. Thank god these Lao kids know more about computers than I do or I would have been here for days. You can go to , to see them all.


Fried Bat, A Laos specialty

February 7th, 2008


The Gourmet eating continued today as I strolled through one of the local markets early this morning. I woke up early and not wanting to wake Christy up I thought Id go for a jog which ended up at a local market. There were all kinds of fruits, vegatables, every part of the cow and then a gourmet specialty section. This included, fried bat, fried rats (thats not a typo, FRIED RATS), dead bat that hadnt been fried and some other bugs of unknown origin. I wasnt planning on buyng anything but then another tourist who was there had just bought a bag of fried bats and was asking them if he needed to dip them in a sauce or just go at it. Through hand jestures the lady told him you just rip into the bat and eat it. The guy offered me some so I couldnt refuse an offer to eat bat. Its not very often you can get good bat these days. I have to say that it really did just taste like chicken. A little gamey but not too bad. I think I will pass on the fried rat though, thats just over the line. Also, coagulated cow blood is a big seller here as well, not sure if I’ll be touching that as well. I think its safe to say that Christy will be having no part in trying any bat or rats.


Rain, Cold and the Mighty Mekong River

February 7th, 2008


Since we arrived in southeast Asia, everyone has been telling us that Laos is not to be missed. Within a few hours of crossing the border, I started to see why. Things in Laos just move at a really nice pace, slow and slower. Nobody is in a hurry and the scenery is beautiful. 

Our first stop would be Luang nam Tha in the NorthWest section of Laos. We were told the road is horrible and could take 12 hours to get there but decided to do it anyways. To our great relief, the Chinese had just finished a brand new road from China to Thailand which goes right through Luang Nam Tha. Our trip was reduced to only 6 hours. Of course things never go perfectly smooth and two hours into the drive on a very winding road, a car sideswiped our bus. Ahhh, travel days, things never go as planned. We all had to get out of the bus and the driver of our bus, after talking to the other driver, hitched a ride back into the town where we came from. So here we were, on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, not knowing what was going on and when our driver would be back. I guess I should also mention that not many people speak English in Laos, so there was a major language barrier. After about an hour of sitting in the hot sun, the driver came back with the police. Twenty minutes after that everything was settled and we were on our way once again.

We spent 3 days in Luang Nam Tha riding mountain bikes through endless rice patty fields, exploring water falls and riding through some villages where all the little kids would come out screaming “Sabadeeee” which means hello. 

We then rented moterbikes and drove 50km up to the chinese border to a town called Muang sing where we stayed one night and then drove back the next day. Riding bikes and moterbikes in Laos is so great beacause the highways are empty, we would ride for a half an hour sometimes without seeing another car and this was on the main highway. Most people in Laos cant afford a bike let alone a car.  

We left Luang Nam Tha and took a minibus to a place called Knong quiaw (these names are killing me, so hard to pronounce and remember) Its a village on the
Nam Ou river and it was beautiful. Huge mountains and cliffs all
around. It reminded us somewhat of the Columbia gorge in Oregon. Right
when we got to the town it started to rain, and boy did it rain. We
tromped through the mud to find a bungalow which was right on the river
and really nice. The part that wasn’t nice is that bungalows are made
for warm weather because they are all open and the breeze comes right
in. Well, it was about 60 degrees and pouring rain. We havent felt cold weather in a long time so it really felt cold to us. The other problem
is that in Laos, every restaurant is totally open to the outside. we
Havent eaten in one restaurant where we were inside. Its wonderful
when its warm but not so great when is cold. We put on all the dry clothes we had left
and had dinner at the guest house. A french couple sat with us at dinner and we ended up talking for almost 3 hours. He was a helicopter pilot and used to
fly Jacques Chirac (the old pres of France) around. He also lived in Africa
and was the personal pilot for different African presidents. He was
telling us how corrupt they were and how the aid money that goes to these
countries is just taken by the government and spent like it was there
own money. Anyways, we had a great dinner talking with them.
The next day it was still raining non stop so we decided to hike to a
cave where the pathet lao troops hid out from the Americans during the
vietnam war.  we saw big craters where u.s. bombs had exploded and
walked all around in this huge cave. we were the only one there since
it was raining and nobody is as dumb and Christy and I to be out in
the rain. People here use old exploded bombs for all kinds of things, its very eerie. Especially
when you have a Lao citizen telling us about a cave they hid in as our country was bombing them non-stop.

The next day the rain stopped so we decided to take a boat down the
Nam Ou river which connects to the Mekong River and to Luang Prabang. We
were going to go to another town one hour north but the weather was
supposed to turn ugly again the next day and we didnt want to get
stuck. Plus, all our clothes were pretty much damp by this point.  It
was a 6 hour boat ride and was really beautiful, we passed little
villages where the kids would run out and wave to us. I got some great
pictures of kids in their canoes. the scenery was also very dramatic,
huge cliffs and forest everywhere.

So now we are in  Luang Prabang. I am blown away by how nice this city
is. its a unesco world heritage site and I can tell why. Its a pretty
small town that you can walk everywhere. All the buildings are french
architecture and it feels like a small artsy california town. We had
dinner at a restaurant right on the mekong river. The great thing is
that its a really nice town with nice cafes and restaurants yet its
still really cheap. Were planning on being here for about a week to recharge the batteries and enjoy this beautiful part of the world.


MMMM…….. tasty fried Grasshopper

January 26th, 2008


The Sunday night market in Chang Mai is one of the biggest markets we had ever been to. Street after street of vendors selling all kinds of food and home made products. Ive had my eye out for some good fried bugs since we got to Southeast Asia but had no luck. Finally, at the market I found a vendor selling a whole assortment of fried bugs. They had meal worms, grasshoppers, crickets and a couple of other large bugs that looked a lot like a cockroach. I decided to go with the grasshopper as it looked the least scary of the lot.

I cant say that it was the best thing I have eaten or even that it tasted like chicken. It pretty much tasted like… welll…. grasshopper I guess. Just a fried mess of legs and body. Christy had to join in on the fun and tried one herself, the picture that I took of her eating it says it all.

We are now off to Laos where Im sure we will find many more culinary delights.


Chang Mai

January 24th, 2008

So much to do in Chang Mai, so little time. We left the island of Koh Tao and took a 2 hour ferry to the mainland and then an overnight train to Bangkok. Thinking that things probably wouldn’t run perfectly smooth, we gave ourselves a 5 hour window from when we arrived in Bangkok to when our plane departed to Chang Mai. As luck would have it, the train arrived a few minutes early and we had to spend 5 hours at the airport killing time. And of course, the plane got delayed so that added another hour. The joys of traveling never cease.

Chang Mai is the 2nd largest city in Thailand and is much more laid back than crazy Bangkok. Our time here would be spent doing all kinds of activites. We started our first day off with an all day cooking school which was a blast. I can’t say we’re ready to open a Thai restaurant back home but I can cook up a pretty mean Tom Kha Gai soup (coconut soup for you uneducated). Christy’s stomach wasnt up to par that day so every meal she cooked she gave to me to eat as well. I thought they were going to have to roll me out of the class.

The following day we decided to get on some mountain bikes and head for the hills. The tour group we signed up with decided to put us with the “expert” downhill group and boy did we pay the price for that. These guys were nuts and the single track we went down was some of the toughest that I have ever ridden. Luckily we wore full-body armour as both Christy and I went over the handle bars a couple of times. 

The big tourist thing to do when you come to Chang Mai is to go on a forest trek, an elephant ride and visit/stay over night with different mountain tribes, one being the famous long neck tribe. These people have been featured in National Geographic many times.  This is the tribe where the woman wear the gold coils wrapped around their necks, which makes their necks appear longer than normal. They never take it off and it essentially crushes down on their collar bones and shoulders making there necks look very long. The elephant ride isn’t much to speak of.  In fact everyone in our group was in agreement that it seemed a bit cruel to the animals, not to mention uncomfortable to ride.  It didn’t seem the elephants were having a grand ol’ time either.  On our hike, we had a great crew of people and spent many hours on the hike talking about the many adventures we have all had on our travels. One couple had been gone as long as Christy and I have and had traveled almost the exact same route as us, so we had plenty to talk about. We hiked to some beautiful mountain overlooks and waterfalls, one we could actually swim in.  Thais don’t seem too worried about lawsuits so they take a few more risks than tour groups would in the U.S. Our guide showed us a spot that we could run and jump off of the top of the waterfall into a pool about 6 meters (18 feet, I think) below. This wasn’t any ordinary jump because you had to clear the rocks below. Christy is always good for encourging me to do very moronic things all in the name of “A good photo opp” and this was one os those times. Luckily I did make the jump and she got a great shot so all’s well that ends well.

Our nights were spent at the different villages with all of us sleeping in one big room in a very large hut. Our guide would cook for us and we would eat out on the bamboo terrace overlooking the village and the hills.  On our second night all the children in the village came over to sing songs and dance for us. Sitting on a bamboo floor, with candle light as your only source of light, watching kids in costumes dancing and singing was one of those special moments of traveling.

We finished our third day with some white water rafting which was mainly bouncing off of rocks as the river was way too shallow since it was the dry season. It still made for a fun adventure.  Another highlight was me jumping into the river with my new (3rd pair of the trip) sunglasses and watching them sink to the bottom. At least they were fake Oakleys that I had only paid 3 dollars for at the market in Chang Mai.

We’re now back from our trek and in the town of Chang Mai spending a couple of days chilling out and running some errands. We’ve been going non-stop since getting to southeast Asia so we felt it was time for a little R & R before taking off to Laos on the 26th. It was a weird feeling today as we talked of making travel plans for our flight back home in a couple of months. I guess all good things must slowly come to an end.

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