Monday, November 30, 2009

Color my Scrapbook

I'm posting from Canada for the first time since the start of my trip in August. I thought I would give myself a week and a halfish to digest my overseas adventures so I can make a well attuned final blog post. What a journey that was! 3 months and 7 countries was an incredible life-changing experience. As cliché as that sounds, there is not one part of me that will be the same after this trip. I met some very special and smart people along the way, whom I hope to remain in contact with and visit in the future. I traveled much of this trip with my friend Blair from Victoria, who I met through his older, but less-mature brother Scott. I never thought it was going to be this easy, traveling together for that long could make one kill another, which we saw plenty off (girlfriends bickering with boyfriends and vice versa). It seems the only time we were slightly short with each other was when we were hungry after a long day of traveling. Food! essential to traveling. However, their were never any personality clashes along the way. I think this party due to our extremely laid back Gemini demeanor that created a great connection that never was in trouble throughout the trip. Our order of the trip was Vietnam (South to North) -> Malaysia -> Singapore -> Bali/DPS -> Thailand -> Laos -> back to Vietnam. it was quite the bit to pack in on such a short trip, but obviously well worth it.

I have already started planning my second trip, which would involve a visit to my wonderful English friends. London here I come!! For the time being, I'm back in the frigid Canadian north-west, returning to freezing hail, near sub-zero temperatures, and many a incoming storms. Alas, it feels good to be back at home, I haven't seen my family and friends in ages. I do miss my extended summer though, and I hope to do a longer trip next time around. To my deep disappointment I was never able to fit India in on this trip, which was probably for the best. Having blitzed through the last 2 weeks of the trip we were more than proper busy, and I'm more than proper tired right now having not slept in 2 days. I do plan on trying to fit India in sometime in the near future, the country's beauty fascinates me, and I will try to not skip it the next time around.

This trip gave me plenty of send offs and lessons: one was a re-discovering of a part of myself that I never fully understood. Prior to, I felt I had my entire life figured out, my career mapped, and my future was surely in good hands. And Why Not? I had the last 23 years of my life planned. School and university dominated my life since infancy, so why shouldn't the next 25 years be any more less planned. The trip has left me with more mixed feelings about my future, Asia travel certainly stunned me with a type of travel bug that can only be rectified with more traveling. I am very eager to set afoot on foreign soil again, and I think that half of life is what you do, and the other half is who you spend it with. I've been to amazing places on this trip that this blog can not do justice to, but the places would not have been as incredible without the wonderful people that joined me along the way. I've made incredible incredible friends on this trip, some of which I regretfully only got to spend a few hours with, but proved to make such a great impression that I want to do nothing else but to dive into their lives more. I don't plan to be one of those that spends their lives at professions they don't like, rush into marriages they later dread, and are involved meager futures they can't escape. I think that spending 65% of your entire life at a profession you don't enjoy is completely absurd, and I do not intend to be part of that awful statistic. If you don't like your job, leave, and find something that suits you better, if that means less perks and dollars than so be it. There is no use complaining. We live in this world for a finite amount of time and there should be no price on anyone's happiness, not on mine at least. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the legal profession may or may not be right for me, but for the time being I plan to do what I enjoyed most, meeting new people, traveling to far-away places, and learning more about myself and those closest to me. Hopefully, in the process of, I can find my noble calling that suits me the best, this doesn't have to mean a 150k a year job with a corner office, whatever makes me happy will suit just fine.

My flight home from Ho Chi Minh City was pleasant but un-eventful. Blair and I were quite tired, having made a 32 hour trip from Venne Vieng to Vientienne to Bangkok then back to Ho Chih Minh City in non-stop travel that involved trains, buses, taxis, and planes. By the time we got to Ho Chi Minh City were were proper exhausted and spent the day walking around the streets, eating Pho, and eying up potential shopping venues. HCM city was around the same as last time around when we first arrived, you do notice the stark change in humidity coming from Bangkok to Saigon. Severe perspiration ensued and we were pleased that our place had A/C, a luxury that we have saved for our final few days. The last few days were spent doing very little, sleeping lots, and venturing out on a few tours. In the end, HCM city is a busy bustling place, but their is not too much to do in the surrounding areas. I much preferred Nha Trang and Hoi An up the coast much better. Less people, and less requests for "transport" "where you go" "handsome man, let me help you" "what you want" etc etc... Although, I never been called a handsome man as much as I was in SE Asia, this may or may not have to do with their desire to make a sale, I suspect the former to my dismay. The ride from United Airlines to Hong Kong was half-decent, Blair and I tried to venture upstairs into the 1st class executive lounge, but were promptly denied. You mean two unshaven, smelly, and scruffy-looking students don't belong in first class? Had a nice meal on the plane and were preparing ourselves for the 4 hour layover in HK before our flight back to Vancouver. The flight was great, flying home was considerably shorter due to the westerlies. 10 hours of watching chick flicks (100 days of summer, Post-grad, and some other movie I can't bother name) and we were their. None were very good except for 100 days of summer, but don't broadcast that.

My parents were unmoved as I show up, after waiting 45 minutes for my luggage I suppose they thought I was never coming. I had second thoughts about returning home when I was in Thailand and Vietnam. In an almost split decision I contemplated prolonging my travels to Australia where most of my "mates" were going. Alas, responsiblity and a dwindling bank account finally held me back. Until next time is what I said to Blair.

For now, their is no 5- year plan for my life, there is however a plan for 2010 and that is about it. One step at a time, not looking too far ahead is my new motto. For those who read, thanks a million for not letting me write in vain, thanks a million for reading and commenting on my posts. I apologize for the horrid use of grammar and of the English language. For now I have linked my 800 pictures from this trip, please view at your extreme leisure. xx


Also some useless travel tips

How to haggle 101

You: "How much is your said item?"
Proprietor: "Exorbitant dollars"
You: Like a good lawyer responding to a settlement offer, you react in extreme horror, you wave your hand around and say unprompted things like "too much" or "are you crazy!!!" and "way cheaper down the street"
Proprietor: "I offer your friend/family price!!" There is a difference between friend and family price apparently. Sometimes they are more aggressive and start grabbing you, this is a good sign your likely to get the price of your choosing
You: "No way" and start doing the classic walk-away
Proprietor: " Handsome man (or woman to be gender neutral) What price you want" hands you make-shift calculator
You: Enter a mildly low-ball price, and hope they aren't immediately insulted
Proprietor: Acts insulted and enters in another price
You: Walk away and say your going to "look around", the owner will look frightened because everyone is selling the same item and moves of his inflated price
Proprietor: "Ok Ok" gives you another price much closer to your asking
You: Success

Disclaimer: This obviously isn't a hard and fast rule for haggling and bargaining. If you get a un-interested dealer or owner you may be out of luck. Most of the time however you get the price that is fair to both of you. Remember your not their to outrageously rip anyone off. Most of the time your haggling over dollars or cents, so lets not get unreasonable. 1 dollar unfortunately doesn't buy everything, remembering that the person opposite of you needs to eat too.


British Slang that I am now familiar with.

blimey!: Oh geez!
bloke: a male
brilliant!: great! awesome!
dodgy: shady
gab: to talk a lot
gutted: some form of agony
wankered: drunk
fit: looking good
stones: measuring weight, "I lost 3 stones last year"
mental: crazy
proper: This jacket is "proper cheap"

lots of you reckon, proper, surely, or top notch and mint. In the end, the British were brilliant :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009


We got to Bangkok at 630 and is now on our way to do stuff! Bike riding and palace visiting will ensue when we are filled with food. Then off to Saigon for a few days then home!! :( how sad..

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sabadee Lao Lao

Luang Prabang! fantastic place. One of our biggest regrets is not having enough time to spend in Laos, and especially Luang Prabang. LP has an eccentric eclectic feeling that reminds travelers of Laos' colonial past. One would find it hard not to love this place, beside it being terribly cold when we were their, there is much to entertain in LP. We were traveling with 2 English girls from Bristol (Fi and Becca) and a fellow Canadian from Toronto (Matt) We make for a mean scarf shopping group and equally potent drinking contingent. Many passing travelers have said that LP is terribly expensive, however, we did not find it so. Being experienced travelers gives you some of the technical know-how on what is the right price and what is a massive rip off. It's hard to blame people, the population here is generally poor, and they see foreign tourists often as walking ATM's. We were sure to inform people we were student travelers and not ones with the huge bankroll. The boys purchased scarfs which would prove to be very useful returning to the Arctic that is Canada. Snow! it is a terrible thing, one must avoid at all costs. Anyways, 5 more days till I return and I'm already planning my next trip abroad, to the UK I go! Ahh, life is wonderful sometimes isn't it. We were staying at a wonderful hostel with brand new beds and new-style furnishings. 30,000 kip for a night! not bad at all.

After LP, we head to Vang Vienne, the tubing capital of the south or so we thought. We got to VV rather late on the first day so we opted not to tube and enjoy the scenery of the town. Somehow, we found a place with a wicked view, new beds, and a clean bathroom for an affordable price. When we got in, we thought for sure that this was going to be out of our budget. Nonetheless, we were pretty pleased to be proven otherwise. VV is a cheap city, 1 dollar baguettes and cheap pancakes litter the streets. If you have the munchies, there is no shortage of vendors willing to satisfy your voracious travel appetite. Blair and I are all baguetted out now, so we are going to head for some pizza soon. The Vang Vienne hot one is what it's called, it was a great suggestion from our Canadian friend from Vernon who is heading down to Aus soon! Best of luck to him. We went tubing the night before, and it proved to be a major disaster in the latter stages of it. Apparently no one actually tubes down the Nam Khong river, despite its auspicious title of "Tubing down the river" This branding proved rather dubious, as people swim from bar to bar, then hire a tuk-tuk to take them back. Being rookie tubers, we had no idea this was the case. Tubing in Canada means tubing, not tuk-tuking. So we decided to tube all the way down the river thinking we would be followed by a large contingent of fellow drunk tubers. Obviously, this was the case. We were 1 hour down the river and finally clued in that no one was with us, the water was getting more intense and jagged rocks began to appear. Luckily, a Chinese traveler from Hunan province saw us and decided to be nice and tow us for the next 20 minutes. Turns out he is working as a t-shirt manufacturing manager in Tibet and is on vacation in Laos. Fantastic! aid has arrived, we interchanged in mandarin for the next 30 or so, before he decided that it was time to take off! His name was Fai and we hope to see him again for a few beers on me. Long story made short we didn't get back to our place till 7pm, when it was 2 hours dark already, and involved us walking down a dark shallow river in bare feet. I managed to cut my foot earlier from a drunken fall into the river while attempting to doggy paddle to the next bar, so this made the walk down the river even more exciting than it should be. We were lucky we weren't more drunk than we were, or else it may have been fatal. Nonetheless, after all the theatrics we managed to make it back to our place, mend our wounds, cry out our poor luck, and head out for dinner. We met our English friend Erin Burn (Leeds), it was a pleasant sup rise, we knew she was going to be down in Laos, but didn't think we were going to run into her so soon. Erin Burn is fantastic! we met in Halong Bay in Vietnam and have tried to meet up for months. Needless, our anxiously awaited meeting was lovely, she was sick, but I drank nevertheless. Headed down to Smile Bar by the river watched some drugged up girl dance by herself for hours then headed home promising to meet up for lunch the next day. That's where we are headed right now, Blair and I are at the Internet cafe about to head off! So long everyone, see some of you in a week, some of you later on in the UK!

much much love,

Monday, November 23, 2009

Banky Bank

Severe apologies for the lack of blog excitement for the last 2 weeks. Being at the end of my trip, we are trying to squeeze in as much as humanly possible. The amount of travel days and running around hasn't given me the proper amount of time for a half-decent update. Ahh! I can't believe its almost over, setting out in late August seemed like centuries ago. I guess six countries and loads of good people in 3 months is nothing to complain about. There are worse ways to spend your fall and winter! I'm not sure if I will be able to withstand the horrors of 4 degree weather, freezing rain, wind chills, and the unwanted joys of a job/school. I'm currently staying in Venn Vienne (Laos), it is quite quaint here. Laos seems to have carried over much of the French-colonial style architecture from the early 20th century. While it has the dubious title of being the most heavily bombed country in history, it is quite beautiful here, the people are pleasant, and the food is quite agreeable. We just arrived from Lung Prabang, amazing city, one of the most scenic in Southeast Asia. The ride from LP to VV was not as pleasurable, windy roads and random potholes make for an exciting time when hungover. Laos reminded me of the days I spent in Hanoi in September, it has a nice French setting with a bustling robust night market. I will recap the happenings in the last 10 days.

On the 15th Blair and I arrived in Bangkok early in the morning, as instructed by many fellow travellers we headed to Khao Sanh road where the tourist hub in Bangkok is. Although the train ride from Surithani was quite long and 2 hours late, the ride itself was much better than expected. Rather than spending 12 hours in the same position on a "express bus" we opted to go for the sleeper train, which featured a bed and a table, and the opportunity to roam freely. The train was packed with locals, Blair and I were the largest humans their, which attracted a sizable crowd for onlookers. The bed was rather small, but it fit nevertheless, being 6 feet you can never expect a proper size bed that is long enough. We were glad to have chosen the the train instead of the bus, life was finally getting busy again. We had to rush our days in Bangkok and the North since the South was tooo nice, we found it hard prying ourselves away from the ocean/beach oasis that was the southern islands. Bangkok was better than expected, and by that I mean the endless berating of BKK that other travellers gave me on my way up. The food was cheap, and it seemed somewhat well organized. We did some shopping, Blair bought a backpack, and we opted for a fish massage.

The fish massage is a must-do, or at least a must-try, in BKK. Tiny fish (not sure what breed) nibble at your feet and hands chewing at the dead skin off. This procedure is meant to be therapeautic and cleansing, although that may be just the reason for them to lure you in. Nonetheless, I was able to cross "Fish-massage" off my extended list of weird things to do in Southeast Asia. It was around 4 dollars for 20 minutes and well-worth it. Blair's friend James met us in BKK as his around the world trip is ending also. Sad, but surely we will all be on the road again in the not-too-distant future. Nothing beats the feeling of being on the road, freedom is a beautiful thing isn't it? Happy times and happy trails. Torrential downpour ensued so we had a few beers, by few I mean many at a local pub, then headed to the mall! We also got a glimpse of the skytrain line, ahh the wonders of modern technology at our finger tips again. The mall was good, food court food was equally better, and it seemed no different from any shopping mega mall in North America. We only had a day in BKK so we were off to the train station and heading to Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai was such a treat! we wished we had more time to spend their. We got a recommendation to stay at Julie's Guesthouse in the citys old quartar from our friend Sebastian (Germany) Of course Sebe didn't let us down, Julie's was one of the best places we stayed at. It had a bustling travelling crowd of all ages, most of them on their way to a trek, a bike ride, or some sort of outdoor adventure. Chiang Mai offers a buffet of outdoor adventures, we really wish we could have been here longer to do a 6-7 day trek. Given our tight time schedule we could only manage a 2 day trek up the mountain to a hill tribe. So we booked our trek, our transfers to Laos, and we were off!

Trekking! best time of my trip, rivaling Halong Bay. Trekking involved white-water rafting, bamboo boat rafting, elephant riding, and of course the trek. The trek was a lot easier than I thought, we didn't push the pace too much, and it was a nice leisurely walk in the mountain. Everything was grand! we had a group of 10, lots of English as usual. They are everywhere! it seems like I visited an exotic version of England rather than South-east Asia. That's nothing to complain about though, the English have proven to be a very pleasant bunch, and at this moment we are travelling with 2 English girls from Bristol! The best part of the trek was the white-water rafting, something I hope to get into more and more if I have the time and money. It is wonderful and a thrilling adrenaline rush, much to be said about that when I have more time. After the trek we were off to Laos! that is where we are now with the English girls! Will update more on the trek and Laos when I have more time, until next time.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

are we there yet?

Blair, Jason and I just finished our rather arduous journey from Ko Samui on Thailand's Southeastern coast back to Ko Phi Phi in the West. This included a ridicules visa-run over the Malaysian border at Pedang-Besar, which somehow included a ride on a local school bus along with 3 bus rides and another boat ride. Needless to say, the travel day between Samui and Phi Phi was definitely not to be desired. Tough Life we live! I know. At least all this traveling has gave me lots of time to finish some of my readings. I was able to read Grisham's "Pelican Brief" and "Rainmaker" and am 200 pages deep into "the Appeal." I quite impressed by the way Grisham writes, his novels typically displays the underdog broke, indebted, and underfunded lawyers/firms against big legal firms, his writing style is intoxicating and makes for an excellent quick and easy read. Reading his works has re-invigorated my aspirations to enter the legal profession, and I hope when I do become a lawyer I would be on the right side in matters of moral and ethics. Being a former lawyer himself, I think Grisham is good at depicting the realities of law school and the life afterward. Starting Law school I think most people go in with the idealistic vision of changing the world, making a difference through defending the law and the innocent. After three years of being waist deep in debt, most just want to land in the right firm, work their seventy hour a work-week, and hopefully be partners in 7 years. Sad reality, but I think if lawyers were to make the same as school teachers, 9/10 law schools would close down immediately.

Back to travels. Our Visa run had to take place on the 10th/11th. Our tourist visa in Thailand was quickly running out and the only way to renew it without paying an exorbitant amount of baht is to quickly cross into Malaysia and scamper back to Thailand for a fresh 28 days. We left Samui early in the morning (5am!! yuck) and ended up at port to go to Hat Yai, once their we will take a bus down to the Malaysian-Thai border at Pedang Besar. We got to Hat Yai in one piece, no AC and all in 35 degree weather, it was not pleasant. Sweating and smelling poorly ensued quickly, and the mood dramatically soured as each hour went by. We hopped on what we thought was a bus used for the border-run, instead it was a bus to take school kids home. However, we were not informed of that at the start. I assume the school teacher was trying to make a few extra dollars on the ride home. We stopped at two dozen different locations on the way down, making a 1 hour ride into more than 2.5 hours. At least the situation was mildly hilarious, and we got some fun out of it. The school kids here are very well dressed, have neatly packed books, and were well-behaved. Pictures will be coming up of the bus-ride. Once we got to the border, we got our Thailand-departure stamp and card filled out. Then we had to walk 3 kms with 15pound bag to the other side of Malaysia to get an Malaysian entry stamp and card. Nonetheless, walking 3kms in the blistering afternoon heat came with its share of grumbles and complaints. We walked back and got our new 28 day visa, taking us to the 23rd of November. We must leave before that or risk paying a 15USD/ per day fee for overstaying our visit. I never understood the idea of Visa's, especially country's who charge for tourist visas. Quite evidently we are spending a small fortune their and they should encourage it rather than making it harder than it needs to be. Anyways, enough complaining. We get our VISA and we were on our way back to Hat Yai to catch a bus to Krabi. We managed to get to Hat Yai just in time for the 7pm night bus to Krabi. We were in a sever food coma at this point, and none of us function well in long periods without food. More grumpy behavior ensues, we find food stalls and gorge ourselves on curries at an appalling rate. We get on the "3 hour" mini bus ride to Krabi. 3 hours turns into 6 hours and we get their exhausted, it didn't help that they cramped as many Thai's and tourists into the bus as possible. We were proper squished, and to make things worse Thai Karaoke was blasting at a ridicules volume. This seemed to the theme on long bus rides, being squished and horrible Thai Karaoke will ensue immediately. On my ride to Bangkok I will pop a Valium and be off to bed.

We get to Krabi, the mini bus drops us off at a random location. We were in the middle of a dead street not knowing where we were. Touting and selling ensues, soon 3 motor-taxis ambush us with recommendations for accommodations and places to eat. This was expected, but at 1am at night, we really were not in the mood. We found our place on the Lonely Planet and hire motorcycles to takes us their for 1 dollar each, a pleasant 6km ride knowing we will finally get to a comfy bed with a shower. We sleep that night, as well as we could, get up early again to head to Ko Phi Phi. Alas, Paradise is not lost, we get their find a good place to stay and then head straight for the beach for some proper tanning. However, having not worn sunglasses in awhile, I managed to get myself a pretty bad raccoon tan, horrible. This tan seemed to get worse and worse as days went on. After 2 nights here, some modest partying, we are of to Railay, and here we are waiting for next boat to Raliay. Railay is the best part of Southern Thailand, its quiet and peaceful, and not littered with overweight and over aged sex-tourists. What a poor exhibition of western culture. That is a rant for another day! As for a plan for the remaining two weeks. I will be in Bangkok for just a day on the 15th, we will spend more time their on the way back. Then up to Chiang Mai for a trek on the 16th-18th, and then to Laos on the 20th. But for now, I have a boat to catch. See you.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

"I am never drinking again"

Famous last words after three day bender at Ko Pha Ngan island in Southern Thailand. Finally, Jason, Blair and I grudgingly left Railay after a "rock" solid 7 days there. Railay was by far my favorite place in southern Thailand so far, great scenery, good rock climbs, fantastic beaches, and epic jungle hikes that would make the grouse grind look like child's play. Railay is a somewhat non-touristy destination for most foreign travellers due to the absence of a quality night life. It has a few major streets, by streets I mean dirt roads winding around the Peninsula. Around 5000 people inhabit Railay, and it was a quiet retreat from the hectic life in Phuket and Ko Phi Phi. Anyways, we had to leave because the Halloween/full moon party was coming up and we were definitely not going to miss that. So we were on our way to Ko Pha Ngan!!

The ride from Railay to Ko Pha Ngan went off without a hitch, besides being squeezed into a small non-ventilated clearly over-crowded bus, everything was fine. The problem with travelling in Thailand is that every bus, boat, rickshaw, or tuk-tuk wants to stop everywhere. Mostly at their cousins, uncles, moms, or grandmas house to sell you their wares. This is moderately annoying and more annoying if your not as patient as I am. These "mandatory" stops are designed to get your baht rolling buy their overpriced goods. Needless to say, the common phrase "patience is a virtue" definitely gets overused here. The stops usually range from 10 minutets to 1hour to 3 hours to sometimes longer, with the level of annoyance going up with each time interval. The tuk-tuks are really bad for this. We took the overnight boat from Railay which left at 2:30pm and got to Ko Pha Ngan at 6:30am the next day. The overnight boat was by far the most interesting experience, about a hundred of us crawl into a cramped bed-bug infested sleeping area, where you are literally touching the person next to you as you sleep. Thank goodness I was beside Jason and Blair the whole time. Not wanting to thinkg about it too much, I popped a quick sleeping pill then was off to bed.

I woke up in Ko Pha Ngan, madness ensued, touts competing for your business lined-up everywhere. We took a 100 baht (3 dollar/1.5 quid) taxi to Jason's hotel, which was actually a walking distance. Oh well! we would have never found it anyways. Besides the rude staff, it was a good hotel, and with how the next few days was going to go we weren't going to sleep much in it anyway. The first night we relaxed on the beach, swam in the pool, and enjoyed the night life in Ko Pha Ngan. There was good street food around, in the form of fried chicken for 50 cents a piece, being 3 guys we promptly gorged ourselves on it.

The next 5 days was going to go like this.

Day 1: We were off to the Halloween pool party at the Coral Beach Inn at Haad Drin bay. HD is where all the action is and where people go to party at night, it was a 20 minute taxi ride that was mildly amusing and dangerous at the same time. Powering at 80km/hr in windy back-country roads can be a bit un-nerving. However, the night was absolutely brilliant, we were out till 5am and ended up stumbling into bed at 6am. Lots of beautiful girls from Sweden and a weirdo from Saskatchewan. Long story made short, a "grain farmer" from Saskatchewan (province in the middle of Canada) made himself out to be a 3rd degree clinger. He literally followed us around everywhere, and proceeded to embarrass Canadians every place he went with his red-neck banter about farming grain in the middle of no where. We were definitely not pleased with his presence there, he was an appalling figure, and we had no interest in hanging out with him. Needless to say he did not represent the province of Saskatchewan very well. Oh well! off to day 2

Day 2: Pre-full moon party, I shit you not, I was already feeling absolutely haggard from the night before so I did not partake this night, but Blair and Jason were out in full-force again. They came back at 5:30am and woke me up with some good band-camping (gossiping about the rumblings that happened during the night) We talked for a few hours then we all went to bed.

Day 3: This was going to be the day of days, party of party's, night of nights, and gathering of gatherings. Life was swell, I was feeling semi-better, with a mild headache. The buckets of alcohol you drink here contain a lot of sugar and redbull (that is banned in North America and Europe due to some of its ingredients) so you get a massive headache after from the sweetness of the mixed drinks. We sucked it up, ate lots, and took a long nap before heading out at 10 at night. That is when all the party started, 10,000 people all on one beach, and it was a marvelous sight to be a part of. We got our drinks and dance the night away. We met a lot of cool people during the night, many of which I do not remember names of. The amount of dancing that occur ed made my legs and feet very sore and by 7am the sun had gone up we were still on the beach. Life is good! Nothing would ever come close to that experience. Alcohol, drug-peddlers, naked girls running around, and just overall carnage summed up the night and morning. I got back to our hotel at 9ish and slept till 3am, then slept more and more. We definitely needed sometime to detox our bodies from the amount of alcohol and crappy food we were eating. We were positively wankered and needed sleep asap. For those who have never been to a full-moon, it is a must go, it is absolutely crazy. Seeing that many people have that much fun definitely gets your adrenaline pumping. Also, I have acquired many new dance moves that I will export back home. Watch out Canada! Johnny Wu is coming home to the dance floor!!! Oh ya, for those looking at my pictures and looking confused at the names Blair wrote on my back. They are a collection of mediocre to horrible Canuck players, quite hilarious considering no one else their understood what was going on.

Day 4: Sleeping, zzZzzzZzz

Day 5: Off to Ko Samui for a few day some rest and relaxation. That is where we are now! it is great! Plan is to do some mountain biking, gun-shooting, and driving ranging.

Overall: Southern Thailand has been an absolute treat. I did not plan on staying here for this long, but with so much going on how could one not. I hope to stay here for another 10 days or so then head up to Chiang Mai to do some trekking. I will try to update again sooner, now that I'm not so hungover. Hope all is well back home! Although, I do not wish to come home to such frigid circumstances , I do miss my family and friends and I hope they are all well. I also miss the new best friends I have met along the way, and hope that they are doing well at home, working away at their jobs!! hehe

much love always!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blair, Obama, and Mr. Harper

Due to some excessive relaxing on Railay beach causing a lack of scandalous typhoid filled travel news, I decided to post a general rant about some general political happenings around the world that are close to my heart. As for a general update. Blair and our new friend Jason will be heading up to Ko Pha Ngan for the full moon party and Halloween on the 29th, then we will spend a few days in Ko Samui and a day or 2 in Bangkok for a bike tour.

First, Tony Blair as the 1st President of the EU! No! no! no! and a fourth and definite no! surely the European Union and its member nations could find someone with less ideological baggage than Mr. Blair to be its nominal first President. While on the surface, Blair seems like a sensible candidate for the position, having spent 10 years as Prime Minister of arguably Europe's most influential nation. His attempt to re-enter European politics is not only pathetic and shameless, but indeed quite sad. Blair is almost the last person the EU should want to see at the head of its organization. Someone who holds this position should bring credibility with fame and charisma, both characteristics Mr. Blair does not hold. As the co-captain of the Iraq war, he alike his partner in crime have yet to atone for their Iraq war sins, and with the global re-focus on the Middle East and relations between Arab nations and the rest of the world, is Tony Blair really the noble leader for a new peace in the Middle East, I think the answer is a resounding no. During his ten year reign at No.10 downing street, Blair has failed to keep GBR at the heart of European politics, instead his Iraq war follies have left him alienated from Germany and France. Blair has done little to reunite the European Left, instead many painful vestiges of Margaret Thatcher's era have yet to be rolled back. He has kept GBR out of the Euro, instead holding on to the diminishing prestige of the pound sterling. Having gone for world empire to global umpire has been hard to accept for most British nationalists, but I think its something that needs to be acknowledged rather than dragging out the last memories of empire through the 21st century. Blair's invovlement in the Iraq war will stick out as a sore thumb constantly questioning at his credibility and his decision-making process. The reason why he was able to commit GBR to war was his contempt for the views of others in his party and in Britain. Whether or not the position is a symbolic or influential one, it does not matter, the fact that it may be just for symbolic purposes makes this appointment more important. The leader must come with a sense of humility and modesty to be able to tackle important issues on a multi-lateral level, and I think Blair has proven to show none of the qualities of a great leader and should be relegated to retirement and the odd speech here and there. On another note, I hope the recent conference in Copenhagen can produce some real plans for tackling climate change!

Secondly, the issue of a nationalized health care in the United States is absolutely reaching ridicules proportions. An issue that is neither conservative or liberal is reaching a very heightened pitch for the wrong reasons. Rather than focusing on the issue that millions of Americans are without a health care plan, and that the current system of health coverage is simply not working, American conservatives are turning the issue of health care for all into a bash Obama session. Maybe many Americans don't deserve a charismatic leader like Barack Obama. Many like I do feel that Obama is a once in a lifetime leader, however real change also depends on the will of the American people. This isn't an issue that is Left, Right, or Center; it is about the willingness of one person to make sure that his neighbor, brother, sister, dad, mother, father, or significant other is being taken care of. It is absolutely absurd that the country that calls itself the most industrialized, civilized, and exceptional nation on earth cannot agree on a plan that would take care of all Americans. GBR has the NHS, Canada has health care for all, France and other industrialized European nations have health care coverage for its citizens so why can't the Americans figure it out? All comes down to the power of government, and I feel many Americans still re-visit the old Federalists vs. Republican argument of how much power should big government have? When it comes down to it, I rather have the government handling my claims than profit-driven HMO's who want to deny deny deny health coverage to rightful recipients. For their sake, I hope they come to their senses soon and end this hurtful partisan bickering. Also, congratulations to President Obama as the recent recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, a high honor in any regard. His commitment to international diplomacy and bridging gaps between people should be admired and followed.

Lastly, Stephen Harper please bring back Omar Khadr. For those who don't know this issue, please google it. I guess in the end you can't fix stupid, and that is what the Mr. Harper represents, backwards conservative politics that has no place in Canadian politics.

That's all the ranting for now, I'll revert back to travel blogging when the time comes to update. Hope everyone has been enjoying the blog so far, and that this senseless deviation into a political post won't turn anyone off. Being a political science and history student just gives you the urge to write and rant when possible.

Best wishes,
home in a month,
Johnny Wu