The Next Chapter…Several Chapters Later

When we left this story, Stu and I were biking around Ubud, Indonesia four years ago. That trip didn’t end with the bike trip, but our camera died not long after, and so did the will to blog. After that month in Indonesia, we spent another four weeks in Thailand, living in a tiny little town of Thong Nai Pan Yai, on the northeast corner of the island of Koh Phangan.  We spent 28 days in a Dreamland, dipping into the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand, swimming in the beautiful freshwater pool, relaxing in the hot tub surrounded by frangipani trees, or hooping on the white sands of a beach so private, that if there were more than 10 other people there it felt like a crowd.  It looked like this, pretty much all day, every day.

Dreamland Beach

It was paradise.

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Bali Bikes

While we were in Ubud, we decided to do a one-day bicycle tour.  Richard Van Camp (who we saw at Cafe Luna) suggested we take the tour with Bali Bikes.  Locally owned and operated (instead of being run by those damn Aussies), Richard said the scenery was beautiful, the owners were lovely and the lunch was good.  Done.

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Man vs. Monkey

After surfing and lounging around Kuta for a couple of weeks, we decided to check out Ubud for a while.  For those of you who have read Eat Pray Love, Ubud is where Elizabeth lives while she’s in Indonesia.

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WATER FIGHT!!!!!

Picture this: For seven days, the entire city is engaged in a massive water fight.  Not just the kids.  Not just the troublemakers.  Everyone.  You can’t walk down the street without getting wet.  So secure your phone, wrap your cigarettes in plastic (or just quit already!!) because you WILL get soaked.  This is how they celebrate Thai New Year (Songkran) in Chiang Mai.

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Battered and Bruised

After leaving Cambodia, we arrived back in Thailand to find that not much had changed after a month away.  The government’s attention to spelling was as strong as ever.

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Angkor What??

Ok, the joke is old, but I had to.

So anyway, Angkor Wat.

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Chocolate Lingams In Scambodia

After hanging out in Laos way longer than we thought we would, we finally made our way into Scambodia (a term Stu coined, which aptly describes so many of our experiences there.  You wouldn’t believe some of the crap we heard in that country.)

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Stuck in Siem Reap

Ever since we booked our trip, we’ve been looking forward to hitting the beach.  Fahrin has been waiting for 33 years!  In Bangkok we decided to travel north to see our brother rather than south to the beach.  Now it’s three months later and we’re at our last stop before the beach…and we’re STRANDED!!!!! Continue reading

Damn Damn Mosquitos

After Vang Vieng, we spent the rest of our time in two small towns in southern Laos.  First, we went to Pakse, then to Don Det in Si Phan Don.

Pakse is a small town known mostly for its eco-tours in the area, and a few things that are easily seen on a one-day organized trip around town. We bought a new camera on our first trip in Pakse (after losing our old one to a faulty wet bag while tubing in Vang Vieng), and on our second day, we took a whirlwind tour through what the town and surrounding area had to offer.

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A Brave Soldier

We had heard a lot about Vang Vieng before going there.  It’s a town known for three things:

1) its party atmosphere, particularly tubing down the river

2) the endless loop of Friends or Family Guy playing at any number of eating establishments in town

3) its “Special Menu” items, also found at many eating establishments in town

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Ban Lung – “More Than Just Dust and Sweat”

We survived the bus ride from hell, which brought us to Ban Lung, a small town in the north east of Cambodia.  Our first day there, we wandered through the town just to see what we could see.  We checked out the local market, which was very similar to the markets we’ve seen in Laos – dark, dusty mazes with stall after stall of the exact same things.  And the food section smelled of rotting meat.  Par for the course. Continue reading

The Bus Ride From HELL

I’m writing this post from the restaurant/bus station in the middle of nowhere, where we got dropped off at 1 pm.  It’s now 4:17 pm.  We left Don Det Island in the very south of Laos at 8 am, bound for Ban Lung, Cambodia.  The border crossing for a busload of people took a ridiculously long time, then the bus seemed to just wait to be filled with more people.  So we waited.  And waited.

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A Quick Update from Laos – It’s Been Awhile

Wow, you wouldn’t believe how busy I’ve been! So busy, in fact, that I haven’t had time to update the blog.  And today is a designated “Rest Day” to rest up from our adventures before a big travel day tomorrow.  I’ve got a hammock with my name on it at the “Relax Bars” across the river, so I’ll try to cover a lot of ground here…

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Best. Waterfall. Ever.

After a brief but eventful stay in Nong Khiaw, we boarded a slow boat for Luang Prabang.  There were a few options to get down to LP, including a much faster bus ride.  But we had heard nice things about the ride down the Nam Ou, and we managed to find a few other people who were going the same way, so we were able to charter a private boat with 8 people on it for just slightly more than the public boat that had over 20, plus gear.

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Cave 1. Fahrin 0.

Our second stop in northern Laos landed us in Nong Khiaw.  Even smaller than Luang Nam Tha, but a beautiful town nestled along the Nam Ou, in a valley between two mountains.

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Village Balloons

When we got to Luang Nam Tha, we check out the signs in front of all the eco-tour companies and quickly decided that the one we wanted to do was the tour that included 1 day of kayaking down the Nam Ou, an overnight stay at a local village, and one day of jungle trekking. Continue reading

Little Warriors

After our stopover at The White Temple, Stu and I made our way to the Thai-Laos border, where you have to cross by boat into Huey Xai. Continue reading

The White Temple

After four and a half weeks in Pai, we finally got out of that lovely, sleepy small town.  We lounged for a couple of days in Chiang Mai and then boarded a bus to make our way to Laos.  On the way to the border, we made a stop in Chiang Rai, at the Wat Rong Khun (the White Temple).  Funnily enough, during our couple of days in Chiang Mai, we met a guy from Los Angeles who only had a couple of weeks left in Thailand, and who was intent on seeing he White Temple in Chiang Rai.  I tried to convince him to spend his time in Pai instead.  I mean temples (Wats) are nice and all, but this is Southeast Asia.  You can’t spit six feet without hitting another temple.  I got Watted out pretty fast when we got here.  And while all these Wats are beautiful, I found them to be fairly similar.  Gold.  Red.  Buddha.  We got it.   Continue reading

Ink

I love tattoos.  Love love love tattoos.  I have three small ones myself, but being in Thailand is making me itch for more. Continue reading

18 Years Later…It Smells Just As Sweet…

Back in 1993, I took a summer trip that included a couple of months inDar-es-Salaam Tanzania.  There, I fell in love with frangipanis.

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