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.


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