Sunday, August 10, 2008


OK, by this point in my trip I thought I would have been struck with panic. I am 4 days away from reality. Reality bites! Looming at the end of the week is bills and rent and work and that foul "r" word- Responsibility. But it seems I have pleasantly suprised myself and I am feeling on top of the world.

I leave Koh Phi Phi tomorrow morning and go to Phuket and hop on a plane back to BKK. From there I have less than 2 days and I start my long trek across continents, back home.

Today, my last day in the sun on the island, was amazing. I spent most of the day lazing about on the beach (i know, i know, same shit different day!) but then I made a snap decision and took a sunset cruise starting at 3pm. It was like a grand finale to my trip. We did so many amazing things in so little time!

I hopped on board and off we went. First stop was Monkey Beach. A tiny little secluded beach you can only get to by kayak or a longtail boat. I opted to jump off our huge boat and swim in! (mom, I have no fear of jumping off the highest railings of ANY boat now- i LOVE it and I am the one coaxing other scaredy-cats to do it!) There were little monkeys EVERYWHERE and though you are warned they can be dangerous, they are obviously well conditioned to human contact. So we oo'ed and ahh'ed at the monkeys, fed them fruit and swam back to our big boat.

Next stop was for snorkeling. And eat my words, I know I said I was too cool for snorkelling after diving, but the snorkelling here was wild!!!!! I saw almost as much here as i did diving in Koh Tao. The water was really shallow and the reef was beautiful. I was on my own and found the largest puffer fish I have ever come across (maybe 1.5 ft long and huge when it was all puffed out!), which I tailed for about 10 minutes. There were schools of HUGE fish. I was actually a little intimidated by the buggers they were so big and they stare you down totally unafraid of you. I saw an emoray eel tucked under a rock, which again frightened me cause I was alone and they can be violent. The most amazing part was with just a snorkel and mask, when your head is under water all noises are amplified. This sucks when big boats are around cause it sounds like a volcano erupting, but in the silence around me today, I could listen to all the fish eating. It was crazy, it was so shallow I would watch a big fish go up to a rock and open up its chompers nice and wide and hear it crunching away at plankton or whatever else it was gnawing at. It was a really surreal experience just listening to fish eat under water. Something I have never heard while diving. So, one point for snorkelling!!!! I am not a convert, but definalty give it more credit than i did before.

So next stop was Koh PhiPhi Leh. This is the island next to KohPhi Phi Don (the full name of where i am). But this is a world heritage site, or national park or something along those lines and no one is allowed to stay on the island, it is totally unihibited. This is where the movie The Beach took place. I expected it to be really touristy and overdone. I was so wrong. It was magical!

The actual beach is called Maya Beach, but we parked the massive boat in a different bay and jumped ship and swam to shore. But shore was not a soft, sandy beach- it was a rocky, wave ridden, scary entrance where i think a few people saw their lives flash before their eyes getting there. There was a series of ropes that were set in the mountain and you had to climb to the rocks, hold on for dear life and navigate through a cave while the water was beating against you in waves.....I found it pretty intense, there were some poor young japanese tourists wearing life jackets and looking VERY uncomfortable, that i think actually shit their pants (sorry to be crude but it was that intense!)

So from there we trucked through the jungle, and it was EXACTLY like the movie the Beach. I was half hoping to stumble across good old Leonardo after each bend and turn :) After walking through the jungle you crest over a little hill and it opened up to Maya Beach- the beach! And with the small exception of the mass of people and the pollution (which was pretty appalling), it was as beautiful as it looks in the film. I was pretty gobsmacked. We got to sit and catch the last rays of sun on the beach and then headed back to the boat for dusk.

The boat slowly chugged back to Koh Phi Phi Don and we were served a basic but fantastic dinner under the stars. Honestly, I was on my own but i was just exuding contentment. I chatted to a few Brits on the boat. Most of the them were just starting their adventures and when they had found where i had been and for how long they were drilling me with questions and places to go and things to see.

How the tables have turned. That was me not to long ago, excited but terrified of what lay ahead. Although I was a bit jealous that I was on the tail end and they were all fresh off the boat so to speak, I wouldn't change a thing. For some reason, I am not even remotely worried about leaving this all behind. I might be singing a different tune once I arrive at Pearson, but I am just basking in this feeling right now of total contentment. It is my last night here and I have no interest in going out to party and be hung over and feeling gross tomorrow. I am going to head to a beach bar for a quick goodnight drink, then head back to my bungalow to pack and sort myself out for tomorrow. I am going ride with this feeling and see how long it is going to last me.

In Bangkok, I am meeting a few people who will be passing through at the same time as me, so maybe by then I will drowning my sorrows in buckets, but till I go :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

23 Hour Journey

I have landed! In Koh Phi Phi that is. I left the Gulf of Thailand on the east coast of the country yesterday at 8:30p.m. and didnt get to my final destination till 7:30pm today! And though it was actually one of my longest journey's, it was by far not the worst. I hopped in a taxi to get to the port on Koh Phangan and then made a very risky entrance across a thin wooden plank (with my billion pound backpack teetering on my back) onto a big sleeper ferry. It was something different, basically matresses strewn all across the floor with pillows and it was each man for themselves to claim a spot. Luckily it wasnt full and we all had lotsa rolling room and by 930 we were pulling out to sea. The waters were sooooooo rough! Thank god it was pretty much open air space cause people were being sick left and right! The boat was an old wooden one and was crashing and banging and tossing people all over the place. Secretly, i loved it! AFter the first hour I was so used to it and with the exception of waking up to a few crashes and bangs- i slept like a baby till sunrise.

From there the journey went something like taxi, bus, bus station, ferry boarding area (FOR HOURS cause we missed the a.m ferry) and then FINALLY a ferrry from Krabi on the West coast to Koh Phi Phi. And here I am. Almost at the last leg of my trip, but I am pretending that is not happening until i am literally on Canadian soil.

So I have only been in Koh Phi Phi a few hours and i love it already. I think it is the beach bum in me coming out again. I am staying in a pretty decent beach bungalow and am a stones throw away from the beach. I arrived at dusk so I wont be able to suss it all out completely until tomorrow. But from what I can see already love it. It looks like the island has almost fully recovered from the tsunami. This was one of the places that was hit the worst and rebuilding has been going since then. But there are resorts all over the place, and just like all the other islands, it looks like a little piece of paradise to me.

Tomorrow looks like it is going to be a ........suprise suprise....BEACH DAY!!! For a change! And possibly a boat ride to Maya Beach, which is where the movie The Beach was filmed (how many times can i say the word beach in one paragraph!) Then my main objective is figuring out how the hell to get back to Bangkok without spending a million hours on taxis/boats/buses/bikes and ferries. Possibly I will cave and just fly, save myself the hassle and also......get in a few more hours at the BEACH, LOL!

Well, since i had to (sniff, sniff) leave my South American posse in Koh Phangan I am now flying solo again. So I am off to catch the last bit of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies and then hopefully make some friends before tomorrow evenings Half Moon Party!

I have heard the weather in Toronto has been a little on the wet side tis summer so i am stockpiling the sun, as every one has requested and I promise to bring it home with me! Until then I am going back to work on my tan :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back By Popular Demand

Thanks for all the emails to hurry up and get on with the next blog! Nice to know people are actually reading and interested in my jabbering!

Since i left Koh Tao, hate me if you will, but I have actually been in paradise. I have spent everyday waking up, rolling out of my bungalow and onto the beach and spending most of the day and evening there. The weather here is stunning. The odd tropical storm breezes by but it is a welcome relief from the heat and the sun comes out minutes later.

I am in Koh Phangan, home to the infamous Full Moon Parties and this place definately lives up to its expectations. One day has almost blended into the next and not a lot has gone on but it has all been pretty damn fun. I think, after almost 30 years of intense searching, I have finally found my calling. Life as a beach bum. Sunshine, sand, ocean, tatoos, peircings, bikinis and cocktails. Everyone just radiates with cool here, and not to toot my own horn, but I blend in beautifully.

I spent a day on a long tail boat going around the island beach hopping, soaking it all in. We hiked into the forest and made our way to a beautiful watertfall and spent a few hours just swimming and tanning on the rocks. I did a bit or snorkelling, but after experiencing it all at eye level on the ocean floor, a birds eye view fails to compare.

I am staying on a peninsula that has two beaches, Sunrise Beach and Sunset Beach. So It is easy to be a sun chaser and position myself in the right spot from sun up to sun down. But as I mentioned, even at sun down I havent really left the beach. At night the DJ's turn on their turn tables, the fire throwers get all phsyched up, the beach is lined with pillows and the best is the buckets. For those who dont know Thailand & its infamous god it is madness! There are stalls lined on the beach and instead of drinks in cups the buckets are sold with a handful of straws and overflowing with booze. Although there are lotsa variations- the typical concoction is cheap Thai whisky, Red Bull and coke. Though I have found the winning mix substitutes peach iced tea for the coke. Breakfast of champions (just kidding mom and dad!). I really could get used to this life!

Being in a place as happy go lucky as here it is hard NOT to meet people. I have nestled myself in very comfortably with a group of South Americans that I have been having a fantastic time with. (insert glowing facebook controversy here) And quite conveniently, I now have wonderful connections in Chile and Argentina and the wheels are already turning, planning the next adventure.

Unfortunately the count down is on and in just over a week I start my dreaded journey back to the real world. But until then I am quite content with todays biggest decision being whether to stay on Koh Phangan or venture to the west side and do one more island hop to Koh Phi Phi before making my way back to Bangkok. Decisions, decisions.

I have amazing photos from the last week or so but am too lazy to burn them on a cd and download them. So i leave it to you to paint your own picture of paradise!

ps. Leanne, hope you enjoyed your cup of tea. x.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

With a Tropical Paradise Comes Tropical Storms!

I have arrived in PARADISE! After my quick pitstop in Bangkok I had a smooth, almost luxurious overnight bus ride and early morning ferry and arrived in Koh Tao. I am stayng in a tiny little beach bungalow here and the island looks beautiful!!!! Crystal clear water and white sand beaches. Sairee Beach is lined with restaurants, cafes and and lounges and all the seating areas extend down to the beach with pillows on the ground, low tables, and torches blazing after the sun goes down.

Koh Tao is known as a diving mecca and thank god I have had that to fall back on the last few days, because since i boarded the ferry the weather has been attrocious....literally!!!! I have never experienced storms like this. Luckily, at the bottom of the sea, it doesnt matter what the weather is like up above! On my first dive in years, we hopped on a huge boat and had to go to a small sheltered cove on the other side of the island but the seas were so rough! The swells were maybe about 25 ft and the boat was crashing all over the place. Things were flying left and right and water was coming over the side in massive rushes. The only comforting factor was the dive masters and thai guys were having a field laughing all the way (mostly at the domino effect of sea sickness going around!) Although i have never really experienced sea sickness, it gave me a reality for my 'year on boat' is gonna take alot before i would feel comfortable commandeering conditions like that! Anywho, we made it, and as soon as we were submerged a foot under water all the turmoil disappeared and it was as peaceful as can be!

The dives were fabulous. The first dive, my dive master was a highly amusing British guy and because i did a refresher coarse I had to go through all the skills with him before I got to "fun dive". Once the boring stuff was out of the way though...diving in Koh Tao definately deserves its reputation! I have done 4 dives so far and seen the most incredible stuff. The coral here is, in my opinion way more interesting than that in the Great Barrier Reef, and even though due to the storms the visibilty was a bit low, we still saw tons!

There are blue spotted sting rays which i have seen lots of and they are soooo magical. Their blue spots are irridescent and their massive eyes stick out like googley eyes! I saw a Harlequin sweetlips, which is a fun little fish with lots of fins and dangly bits; when it is a baby it almost just flops and dances about because it is not sure what to do with all it's parts yet to seamlessly glide through the water. I saw a few puffer fish and emoray eels, trigger fish, angel fish.... and schools of hundreds of brightly coloured fish that seemed just as curious of all the divers, as we of them. The most amazing fish I saw, which i cant really recall ever seeing before, or even hearing of...was a box fish. And we spotted 3 of them, which is apparently quite rare. A box fish is just that- it is shaped as a damn box (like the picture up top)! On my last 2 dives our dive master was a wickedly cool german girl and she explained that the poor box fish were cursed because they were not ergonomically made to swim. They are super tiny, maybe just 2 or 3 inches long and are a vibrant yellow with black spots. So strange and beautiful, and hilarious to watch clumsily go through the water!
So I have been on the island for almost 4 days of grey weather and some mad storms. In fact on the first dive day, there was a spanish couple who had been on the beach when the first storm hit (they come out of nowhere FAST!) and they were trying to refund their dives because they had been scared off thinking the storm was a tsunami because the waves coming in were getting bigger and bigger. I was walking when the first big storm came and it is sooooo dangerous to be unsheltered. A thai man pulled me into his shop lecturing me not to be out. Stuff flies every which way. The coconuts drop (which can be a fatal blow to your head) and leaves and trees are shaking and blowing everywhere. Needless to say it was a great show for a tropical storm, and even more entertaining that no one saw a problem with hopping on a boat and going out diving in the torrential rain and lightening and thunder!
So I leave Koh Tao tomorrow and am headed to Koh Phangan, yet another island, in search of sunshine! I figure the weather will break soon enough and when it does i will be sure to be beach-ready! Saying that though, although it is not sunny out right now, it is still boiling hot with a nice hot breeze, i am reading a great book on Myanmar and so I am headed to the beach to sit with a malibu and pineapple and watch the day go by!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Full Circle

I arrived into bangkok late last night after a pretty exhausting 15 hour journey from Cambodia. It is amazing how different i felt this time compared to just a few moths back when i landed here from England not knowing my ass from my elbow. This time is was a peice of cake! I knew where I was going, where I was staying, what to eat and most importantly how to get out of Bangkok as quickly as possible. So i checked out of my guest house and have been idling the day away, waiting till 8pm when i hop back on a bus south to Koh Tao for some much anticipated diving, sun tanning and generally being a beach bum!

Not much blogging in the last 2 weeks cause I had my mom with me and was kept busy pretty much 24/7. i am now back to flying solo, though the last 2 weeks were great!!!

After a couple of days in Saigon we headed on a boat trip to the mekong Delta which was supposedly going to take us luxuriously over the border to Cambodia. I am not sure in Asia knows the defintion of luxury. In hindsight it was a blast but during the couple of days journey it was pretty hellish. My mom made a good point that NOTHING EVER phases her, she can always get put through the grinder and come out with a smile on her face....but she'd HAD IT! And fair enough. We basically got transfered from one boat to another, then a bus ride, then back on a boat, a quick site see (which was ridiculously stupid, one was at a fish farm that boated us to, we got out and looked at fish in a net and had to hop back on the boat and boated back to our boat...seriously!) Our main boat that we slpet on, was pretty grimy. the bathrooms were repulsive, the food was less than respectable AND the sleeping arrangements were pretty gross too. It was dorm style, so we shared aroom with about 15 other people (in bunk beds) and mom and i had top bunks by the doorway to the dining room whcih was all open concept and the lights were on. So all night we were showered in 100's of dead little was pure filth!!!!! I dont think either of us got more than a few winks of sleep, and mom was definately not impressed (NOR WAS I!) She was a tropper though, cause evn after waking up feeling dirty and gross and a bit fed up...we still had a killer journey for the day. again we were shuffled from boat to boat to boat, we had to get out and walk across the border to Cambodia (where we ALSO had some technical difficulites with visas...NOT something to muck about with in Vietnm) and then back on a boat and to a bus to Phom Penh! Yowzers!!!! Oh and then the icing on the soon as we got into the outskirts of Pnom Penh, there was a tropical storm that you had to see to believe! So we had to find our way about to find accomodation in the dark rainy evening! Mom was a TROOPER!

But we got there, and it was great. We spent the next day few days in the sun wandering around and exploring (and enjoying a well deserved spa trip!) Next stop was Siam Reap, where Angkor Wat is. Definately a trip highlight!!! We spent the entire day wandering from temple to temple on the massive grounds of anciet Angkor Wat. What a day!!! It was so unbelievably hot, but we had hired a tuk-tuk that took us to each of the different locations, where we explored at our leisure. AMAZING!!! One place was more beautifull than the next and I sent all my pictures home with mom so I have nothing to upload but i swear i mustve taken about 500 pics over the course of a few days at the temples!

Mom left me in Angkor Wat to make the trip back to Pnom Penh and start her LONG journey home. I spent a few extra days wandering around on my own and enjoying just hanging about in Siam Reap.

Although I unfortunaly didnt get to spend as much time as I would have hoped in Cambodia, I still loved it! The people were beautiful and I actually learned so much about the struggles of the people in their recent history. I learned all about Pol Pot and the Kmer Rouge and what the people had to endure during his reign.....and the craziest part is that it is such recent history. The Khner Rouge stormed and conquered Phnom Penh the day before my brother was born on April 18th 1975. So so many of the people I met lived through the days of the Killing Fields and al the atrocities that went on, and were speaking from first hand experience. It was definatly an eye opener and made me appreicate how damn lucky I am to be born where I was with the life I lead. Vietnam and Cambodia's history is absolutely astonishing and they still manage to thrive and survive what they have been through, they are remarkable people.

Anywho, enough with the heavy stuff.....I am headed to the beach :) In exactly one hr i am jumping on ANOTHER bus and heading south 8 hrs where i hop on ANOTHER boat, but by tomorrow morning I should be kicked back, bikini clad with the sand in my toes!!!! Woot! WOOT! I am headed to Koh Tao, which is supposed to be a scuba divers paradise so i will get some dives in to. Tough work this traveling is....fufufufufufuf!!!!

(for all those NOT in the know, fufufufufufu means hahahahhahaa in japanese:)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Back in touch!

Where oh where to begin? I think I am way behind and so much great stuff has been happening!!!!! I somehow feel though I am going to get backto Toronto with no fun and adventurous stories since I am writing them all on my blog, so maybe I will just graze over some of the goings on in this part of the world to pique your some interest and then in the flesh, when I am home, i can bore everyone with the details!!!! I think I left off last entry with the possibility of snake blood in the air???

Well........snake blood we had and snake bile and snake hearts, snake ribs, snake skin, snake organs, snake in a roll, bbq'ed, name it-we had!!!!! It was someones 31st bday and we managed to muster up a HUGE crowd to head to Snake Village and we feasted the night away on Cobra delicacies!!!!!

Then.....MOM arrived! YAY, same and sound and with a frickin' backpack stuck on her back! So impressed! I hold a run a tight ship, so the next morning, after Mom arrived we were off to Halong Bay. Halong Bay was one of the places I would sit at mydesk in Toronto at work daydreaming about. And last week we hopped on a big beautiful junk (it had sails but unfortunately they were never rigged up) and spent 2 amazing days in the Bay floating through limestone karsts. It was incredible!!! There were minor issues like being over run with tourists in the harbour boarding 1 of hundreds of junks, and a major water pollution problem everyone seemed to over look- but SOMEHOW, it managed to be so peaceful and highly enjoyable. Lotsa seafood, seakayaking, swimming and of course just overall contentment thatI was on a boat on the water! (also made me realize HOW BADLY i want my dream of living on a boat for a year to come true!)

From Halong Bay we spent a bit more time in Hanoi then headed south on a flight to Hue, whicj in my opinion was a thorough disppointemnt. It could ve been the rididculous heat all day but I htink it came dowm to what we did. I went against my personal traveling code and.....(gulp) did a "tour", What a bloody waste of money. We were herded like cows into and out of a ghetto bus with fake air conditoning from one spot to the next. From tomb such and such to temple whatchyamacallit to pagoda blahblahblah!!!! Hell! Honestly I felt like a ticking time bomb i was so annoyed! We were even fed lunch at cafeteria-style tables (similar to grazing up to a trough). Abd although you paid for a tour- NO entries into the "attractions" were included. It was such a rip-off. Mom was quick to point out, that the actual monetary value of our tour was peanuts when the dongs were converted to dollars but to me it was sheer principle. It SUCKED!

Next stop....Hoi AN. Thats where we are now and it is heavenly! First of all, the towns predominant business is in tailoring. On every street corner is a tailor and they tailor everyhting from wool coats, to shoes to bags to clothing...i am in heaven, it is a shoppers paradise!!!! It is looking like maybe I am going to have to mail a small package home from Saigon cause I dont think my new shoes/wool coat/pants/dress will fit in my backpack!!!!! No problem! Aside from shopping this town is a beauty. I am finally by the ocean, something I have been waiting for, for weeks! We went for a bike ride today and ended up at China Beach. The ocean water was like a hot bath but at least there was a slight breeze to make it enjoyable! We managed to put up with all the alarming stares when we stripped down to our suits (the local women swim totally clothed!!!) and enjoy every once of sun sand and water!!!

Hoi An is a quaint little seaside place with little markets, hotels everywhere and really nice restaurants with sea food everywhere!!!! We are staying in a hotel that still smells of paint it is so new, with 2 double beds, laundry servcie (DESPARARATELY needed!), bathroom (this isnt always a given), a balcony, 2 fans and proper air con...and we are paying a WHOPPING $10 US/night. How mad is that? It is blissful!!! And actually since MOM has been here I have been in paradise because I have been living the high life...I am being kicked outta the internetcafe- closing time. (no time to proof read, sorry for all the spelling mistakes!)

Off to Saigon on Tuesday with more stories to write about.......

Friday, July 4, 2008

Tourist...or Tourist Attraction?

I had a couple of days in Ninh Binh and the main thing to go and see there is a place called Tam Coc. It is known for the limestone rock formations that look almost like a small mountain range lying just on the outskirts of the city. So for a few hours you hop on a little row boat and a little Vietnamese woman (with pipes of steel!) rows you on a little boat down a river through rice fields with the most beautiful scenery of waterbuffalos bathing in the water, rice fields and mountains. It was boilng hot (which you think I owuldve gotten used to by now) and beautifully amazing. The river takes you through 3 of the mountains and you are inside rowing through these dark grotto caves. In the massive caves there are stalagtites forming everywhere and refreshing drops of cold water pattering down like rain....

So thats Tam Coc. I have been so luckily and managed to wind up at the wrong place and end up being surrounded by Vietnamese local tourists instead of the "backpacker"western crowds.....wicked. This one was the icing on the cake.

So Trang An, is a smaller version of TamCoc but so much more amazing. I dont think very many people go to NinhBinh, but since I am just killing time waiting for my mom to show up, I ended up here. The super friendly and helpful man from my hotel told me if I have the time, see Trang An. I showed up there and was the only white person to be seen. I hopped in a boat with a Vietnamese man and his young 15 year old son and off we paddled. Communication was minimal, and Quang, the son new only a handful of English words. The guide, or the woman rowing the boat more like, spoke not a word nor did the dad. Off we went along the river. Trang An was about a million times more amazing than tam Coc. First of all the caves were smaller, and when i say smaller, i mean we had to duck our heads flat down against the boat to squeeze through, and we were bouncing off both sides of the walls. The stalagtites were massive and our rower expertly navigated the boat through the almost pitch dark caves without taking off our heads.

We got to hop off the boat at a few temples and check stuff out and most of the time we were the only boat with in eye sight. However at one of the stops, we got off and there seemed to be nothing there but stairs up one of the limestone mountains. The guide was yappering on in Vietnamese to the father and son so I just shadowed them and did as they did. Through the whole journey they were so friendly, offering me their foood, curiously glancing at me checking me out and smiling and hand gesturing and attempting to make conversation, I loved it. So up we climbed, father, son and I, and we literally came across the equivalent of a tour bus of Vietnamese people, returning to their boats. Once the first one saw me it was like broken telephone as they called to one another to look whats comin'round the mountain! So instead of passing the big group and the 3 of us continuing on our way- the huge group of tourists followed us and were chatting a mile a minute to the man and his father while gawking and looking at me. Fun times.

So with our new entourage, we climb the top of the mountainand down the other side and I see the destination is this small little temple in the middle of nowhere. It was so beautiful and remote but out of the woodwork pops these men with cameras and little mini printers, who charge you and sell you postcard pictures of you amongst the limestones and in the temple. Man, they had a field day with this, so out come the camers. The photographers cameras AND everyone with their little digies.....I had to pose with every SINGLE one of was hilarious! It started with just the Dad, he was so sweet he bought me a post card of me standing with his super embarrassed looking son- the 2 of us side by side and then once the other Vietnamese saw this they hopped on the bandwagon and literally ALL of them posed with me for pictures and postcards. I am a celebrity!!!!! It was tooooooooo cute! Most of the time they were really friendly and genuinely intrigued by me, but I couldnt help at times feeling like maybe I was a bit like a circus animal to them (especially when I stick my tongue out, I have learned to use that as my wild card while travelling...tongue peircings wow the shit out of some people!) Father, son and I eventually manged to shake the crowd and get back to our boat, after our run in with the paparazzi, and serenly finish our trip down the river through the caves,grottoes and the rice fields.

Once we were back on terra firma, I couldnt locate my motor bike driver and with much sign language, I think father and son were pretty much prepared to safely take me back to Hanoi with them and help me...honestly they were just the sweetest bunch!!!!!! Ít was such a nice change from hanging with the backpackers even though less than one sentence worth of english was said!

The rest of the day just kept getting better and better. The next stop was Hai Lau, which was actually the original capitol of Vietnam way back when. (I was the only non-Vietnamese tourist again) There was a few ruins to see and temples that were somewhat interesting somewhat boring...but this time I hooked on the tails of a group of senior citizen Vietnamese amusing. This group was not as enthrawled with me as the morning bunch, but i would catch the men and women sneaking in glances here and there and then chattering away and looking back at me. My favorite is the attempts to communicate when I dont speak a word of their language and they dont speak a word of mine...but somehow a basice conversation is conducted with a lot of hand gestures, body parts, smiling and laughing!!!!

The last stop of the day was Kenh Ga, a floating village. Another boat trip down another river and through a beautiful little village on the water........I am in love with Vietnam and have only been here for less than 2 weeks, I cant wait for the rest of this trip!!!!

I am headed back to Hanoi now and though the city doesnt really interest me that much, i am rendezvousing with some of the people from the Gibbon Experience back in Laos, and Saturday is one of the guys 31st birthdays. Celebrations look to involve a sacrificial snake, shots of snake blood and the birthday boy getting to swallow the heart while it is still beating (I kid you not!).......nothing like some good old fashion birthday fun!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Travel vs Travelling

Does it seem somehow wrong that my least favorite part about travelling is.......the actual "travel" part?

I was sad to leave SAPA, but sadness turned into utter frustration and misery once i boarded my overnight "VIP/First Class" train ride back to Hanoi. Can you pictures animals being crated up into tiny little cages, I am thinking of chickens in particular, and then boxed into frieght cars on a train. There is no such thing as VIP or first class for chickens and that mightve well been the case for me getting back to Hanoi. It was STIFLING hot. We were in our cages.....I mean cabins, 4 per room and found it quite odd that the AC wasnt on yet, seeing that the train was scheduled to leave momentarily. The Vietnamese passengers (that was all of the passengers in my car...i was the only foreigner) were up in arms and shreiking and cursing and STILL nothing was happening, so I figured there was no point in me attempting to get anything accomplished (like what i dont know, maybe get a tool box out of my backpack and start fixing the AC, hahahah). Anywho, after about 15 minutes of inhumane conditons (thing 35 degree heat in a cardboard box with NO windows to let air in) finally the air started circulating and we all tucked into our bunks slowly cooling our body temperature down. When I had just about climatised, maybe one hour into the journey, lights out (again think cardboard box-TOTAL BLACKNESS) and no AIR. Fun times. This happened about 3 more times through the journey and to be honest i just didnt have the energy to move. I was the only backpacker, and of course was armed with a flashlight so I clung to that, taking comfort against the total darkness in my cage with fellow Vietnames men.

We rolled into Hanoi just after 4am. I hopped onto a xe-om (motorbike) and safely got through my first xe-om taxi with my backpack. Luckily at 4am Hanoi is not at its peak of chaos so it was easy enough to navigate. I went back to the hostel I was staying at the night I flew (I think this might be the only actual Ozzie style hostel in asia) and it worked out perfectly. I squatted there for a few hours making use of the free internet, showers and free breakfast and then caught another xe om taxi to a bus station once i decided where I was headed at a much more reasonable hour. WHoah........this bike ride (i know dad i AM SUCH A frickin' hypocrite!) was MADNESS! There were 3 of us on the bike (well my the driver and my backpack, which now that i have been collecting stuff on the way is the equivalent size of another person) and it was rush hour and i honestly could think of nothing else to do except chuckle at how INSANE people driver. For example, the arrows to make a right hand turn in hanoi are in the left lane. Ditto, to go left, stay inthe right lane....i swear to god! oh, and you know how in Toronto they installed those pedestrian friendly little countdown on the street lights? To let you know how much time you have to safely cross the street. Screw that, here there is a coutdown timer that lets the drivers know when they can take off....and NO ONE waits for it to hit zero. and red lights..those optional, ALL THE sounds like I am exaggerating but i kid you not. I am so upset my camera is broken, otherwise I would be taking videos to upload. When mom comes I will use hers and do madness!!!! Lets say at least I am coming to turns with my traffic paranoia as a pedestrain. Crossing the street is hilarious (in a sick kinda way). The only strategy you can use is -JUST GO. you have to walk with a purpose. The motorcycle drivers (there are pretty much no cars) just swerve and manouver to avoid you easily. They see your route and navigate around you, the trouble lies when you hesitate, that throws them off. To locals it is no problem, an ingrained way of thinking and moving. However, as a Western, and one that has had a run in with cars while on foot long ago...this practise is a little threatening! But like i said, i am becoming a much bolcer pedestrian!

At the bus station I hopped on a local bus (only foreigner again...i love it!!!! they unabashedly stare at me like i am a tourist attraction!) and was headed south of the city. Thankfully out of Hanoi before the city swallowed me up. After about an hour on the bus journey, just as I was thinking to myself how this journey was working out well and I knew where i was going and nothing unespected or unexplainable had happened in the last few hours......the man sitting 2 seats ahead me unleashed. Like i thought someone was pouring out a 2litre bottle of water......nope it was his breakfast. sorry to be graphic but i have no pity to you sitting comfortably at your desk, in your office, or kicked back on your laptop. this shit was in my face!!!
So gross. and ya know what? what was i gonna do? get off the bus? hahahah, a few peices of newpaper over the offending mess, AC off, windows down, the driver never even slowed down! is like a love hate relationship, I think. Bittersweet. Well here I am in Ninh Biinh. Safe and sound and in one peice and thrilled to figure out this see what lies around the next corner, I am ready to choose my next adventure :)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The highest peak in Vietnam

I have spent the last week in a place called Sapa, just South of the Chinese border. I flew into Hanoi and the city was absolute mayhem so i took the first train out and found myself the next morning high up in the mountains in Sapa.

I have been here for almost a week and sadly am hopping back on an overnight train tonight to get back to Hanoi (only to catch a bus and leave again- I am trying to avoid staying over night there until my mom arrives in another week).

It was tough leaving Laos since I had a really fun group to travel with but Vietnam has been just as prosperous. At the train station in Sapa I was on a bus with a few french couples (from Quebec, France and Switzerland) and hooked up with them for a few days. The first day we got here we did a trek through the terraced rice fields in the mountains. It is so breath taking. It is the first time I have ever seen landscapes like this in all my travels. There are rice fields carved out of the mountains as far as the eye can see, around every corner. I did manage to drop my camera and break it so even though I am in the most scenic area- I have no pics to prove it (I am using a FUJI disposasble actually right now......going back to basics with REAL FILM!). Luckily I have met 2 wicked photographers who have promised to send me pics down the road.

After a full day of treking and checking into a super dodgy hotel (a whopping $5/night!) I caught my SECOND cold since I have been here. ARGH!!!!!! Might be the weather, since for the first time since I have been here it is not over 30 degrees and there is actual cold mountain air, or it could be the utter filth and cess pool of germs that lurks pretty much everywhere in asia. During one of my strolls through the food market, imagine my surprise to see a selection of repulsive looking raw meet (something I am not a fan of under the most hiegenic of circumstances), some recognizable, some.....not so much. Anyways, as I walked down the stall, I saw whole animals to start off with and then it just got better and better. Pigs heads, chickens claws, innards and gizzards of every shape, size and colour and then the piece de resistance....hmm, is that Sparky I see? Yup, dogs heads. What a delicacy. Literally, chopped at the jugular and pardon the pun, but puppy-dog eyes staring right up at me.......i kid you not! Bon Apetit!

Moving on.....I was deciding whether to do a 3 day trek but since i have been feeling like crap opted for the more comfortable means of travel on the back of a motorcycle, riding through the mountains and it has been wild. The first day was with a guide who took us to an old hill tribe village of the H'Mong people and the Red Dzao, and then to an old church that had been bombed over and over again by the Americans in the Vietnam war. The second day we went without the guide and found our own way around the mountains, but it was pissing it down with rain. It was cold, wet, and uncomfortable but I still had a great time.
Yesterday the sun was out in full effect which made the mountains so much more enjoyable and I went for a few hours of exploring with another Canadian guy out here. We went for a gorgeous drive through the mountains and sat at the base of Fansipan, Vietnam's highest peak, in total awe of it all! On the way back we nativagated our way down to a gorgeous little waterfall and had a road side stop cooling down and sun bathing...super day.

So even though I am typically grumpy because I have had a cold for almost 4 days straight, it has been so nice coming to the mountains. Next stop I think is Mai Chau, a small little village outside of hanoi and then FINALLY I will make it to the OCEAN...I am itching to be by the sea!!! It seems almost wrong that I have been away for over amonth and the most exotic ocean I have been to was sitting on Brighton Beach:)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Good Morning Vietnam

After a few lazy and beautiful weeks, I had to say a sad farewell to Laos yesterday as I hopped on an airplane and headed east to Vietnam (after my last long distance bus journey, as enjoyable as it was, I opted for the 55 minute flight to Hanoi as opposed to the 2 day bus trip).

So my last week in laos was by far the best yet! After my wonderful experience on the overnight local bus i caught a few hours sleep once I checked into a Houy Xai guesthouse (as did my valium infused fellow bus riders...argh!). Early Monday morning I met up with about 12 other people at the Gibbon Experience head office and we sat through a "Safety First" video (ya right-i can say this now that i left the country but there are ABSOLUTELY NO safety standards in Laos!) outlining the plans for the next few days and what we were to expect. As we sat through this, a huge Land Cruiser pulled up outside offloading the saddest, most tired, smelly, bruised, battered and spent group of people I have come across yet......they had just finished the Gibbon Experience. Not so reassuring. We pelted them with questions and managed to get a few grunts and groans back, but to be honest at the point all that was running through my head was if my money was refundable?

Needless to say it wasn't. So off we went headed for the jungle. The ride felt like I was a passenger in a Nascar Rally Race (Dad- you would have paid money to have a go at roads like this in the machine that we were driving). Most of the time you felt like you were in a roller coaster going in slow motion, climbing huge hills and then plumeting over the top into unknown territory . We actually drove through a river and managed unbelievably not to get stuck (we found out later the previous group got stuck both on the way in AND out and had to leave the truck and trek an extra 5 of the reason for their long and tired faces upon arrival) .

We made it in and did a 2 hour trek up mountains through the jungle to get to the first hut. We strapped on zip line harnesses that stayed on for most of the next 3 days. We were then split into 3 groups and taken by guides who had little more grasp of the English language than I do of the Laos language and off we went.

Our first zip was just under 400 metres long, soaring through the tree tops of the Laos jungle......absolutley AMAZING!!!!! We managed a few zips around the jungle before getting to our tree house, which was home for the next few days. Once at the tree house our guides took off and we were left to our devices in the was pretty crazy, a mixture of utter freedom and appreciation for where we were and sheer terror as to how remote and far away from ANYONE and ANYTHING civilised we were! The only time you caught up with the guides is when you would hear your tree house rumbling and they would zip in with a bag of food for our meals (meals were rice 3 times a day and other unidentifiable food which was suprisingly tasty). The tree houses were probably about 5 or 6 stories high above the ground and the view was breath taking. Most of the few days there were spent at these heights. So scary and so exhilirating!

We woke up the first morning to the call of the Gibbons and it was the like being front and centre stage to an orchestra starting off with just one instrument and then climaxing to the LOUDEST most ear piercing sound of the monkeys singing to wild! Out of the 3 treehouses we were the only ones that managed to spot the little Gibbons. We actually found a group of little babies and they hung around 2 trees just swinging back and forth and , uh, well....monkeying around!

So after 3 days of leaches, giant squirrels (they were over a metre high!!!!) rats, spiders, monkeys, barking deer (i swear!!!!), a plethora of creepy crawley insects and countless clocked hours zipping through the forest we headed back to civilisation (I use that word VERY loosley!) to Houy Xai with a really group of friends.

I hooked up with a Dutch girl (Jay- there are so many people I have met so far from The Netherlands!) named Liesbeth and she looked and acted exactly like Daphne from Scooby Doo! Super fun girl. I spent most of the rest of the week traveling with the whole group that did the Gibbon X. After celebrating a safe arrival back from the jungle and doing a tally of all the injuries- and there were LOTS (me almost at the top of the list-but that is a whole different story!) it was time to head out of Houy Xai.

A handleful of us opted for a slow boat down the Mekong River to get back to Luang Prabang. Although it took 2 days to get there, it was some of the most enjoyable traveling I've ever done. We had a fun group and laid all of our bags and stuff out on the floor and spent 2 days floating down the river chatting, napping, reading, playing cards and just taking in the most incredible scenery! I have LOADs of photos from the trip, but I havent down loaded any yet....

Well, to wrap it up, we made it eventually back to Luang Prabang and spent another few days in 40 degree heat jut trying to stay cool. One afternoon, I went for what I thought was going to be a leisure bike ride to a near by waterfall for a swim. But it turned out I was with a fit French man (and SO easy on the eyes!), and "Daphne", who revealed to me she used to be on the European swim in the mid day sun we got lost outside of Luang Prabang and i think I must sweat out 10 lbs before finally finding some remote water to cool down in with all the locals which actually led to a different much prettier waterfall! So it was worth the trip and I made it back.

I said farewell to all my travel companions sadly and hopped on a plane (with prayers that plane travel was going to be a step up from bus travel) yesterday to Vietnam.

And here I am. Good morning Vietnam. It is now just 9am and I have a day ahead of me trying to stay cool and make sense of this bustling city (without being nailed by a motorcycle) and make plans for what to do and where to go next!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Top Ten List

Top Ten Reason I Just Endured Worlds Worst Bus Trip (on a LOCAL bus)
1.There was a motorcycle parked in the aisle beside me at the back of the bus which means i spent 15 long hours inhaling diesel fumes.
2.There was Laos comedy BLARING on the TV for the first 6 hours, then Laos music for the last 9 hours (did I mention this was an OVERNIGHT bus?)
3.My seat was jammed in the most upright uncomfortable position imaginable.
4.A young (not so sweet smelling) girl asleep on my shoulder for most of the trip.
5.As opposed to speed bumps, there were cows, dogs, chickens and cats that made the bus come to an abrubt stop or threatening swerve approximately every 3-5 minutes.
6.Horking men.
7.No air conditioning.
8.Windows and doors left wide open during one of the many unneccesary stops so every form of insect and creature joined us on our journey.
9.No toilets at ANY of the stops, forcing me to stop and squat in front of the bus, as I was afraid if any veered off any further I would be left behind.
10.It was a 15 HOUR journey.
-oh and one extra for good luck. 11. the only 2 other backpackers on the bus were passed out THE ENTIRE TIME after taking i get why that is such a hot commodity on the "backpacker circuit". fun times.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Laos Photo Shoot

I love the people of Loas. All they do is SLEEP! Honestly, they sleep EVERYWHERE. To actually pay for something, more times than not, I have had to physically wake up a shopkeeper, guesthouse host, or taxi driver. They sleep anytime and any where! In their market stalls, behind the counters, at their desk, I swear when our nightbus was crossing the border from Thailand to Laos, I saw one of the backpackers having to wake up the guard there to pay the entrance fee to get in the country...i could get use to this lifestyle!

I am still in Luang Prabang but only for a few more hours. I'm scheduled on a local night bus (14 deathly hours!!!) to leave here at 5:30 and arrive at some point tomorrow morning. Last night, when I went to buy my ticket I went to the first travel stall/tour agent in town and they said it was 225,000 kip- air conditioned bus, including tuk tuk ride to the bus station. I thought I would be smart and do some comparative shopping, but by the time I had hit the 5th bloody stall and EVERY SINGLE ONE had given me a diffent price, and i found out there is only one bus that goes there and it is a local bus with no air conditioning. ARGH! The glamourous side of being a dumb tourist! So I took the cheapest one and again, keep my fingers crossed I get there:) I am headed to Houay Xay (pronounced Hoy Say- ya, go figure!) where I will be leaving on Tuesday to do a 3 day eco-trek at the Gibbon Experience. This is the place where I will be sleeping in tree houses and zip lining all through the jungle. I cant wait. It is going to be a mission to get there but it should hopefully be worth it! (to see it checkout

Luang Prabang has been pretty cool. It has been nice staying in one spot for a few days with a nice room with AC. Though last night I went into the bathroom and shared my shower with a cockroach that was big enough to actually bite my head off. I had dreams all night of the book Metamorphosis by Frank Kafka, where the lowly salesman turns into a roach and he was hiding out in my room......ugh!!!!! Sweet Dreams.

So, it turned out that my free Tiger Trail photo shoot trip worked out. We headed out at 8am and drove for a few hours up river and literally did a photo shoot of us kayaking down the river for a few hours. All the photos are supposed to be for there new website and promo stuff. We went through a bunch of pretty big rapids but did it with the guides so it was pretty chill. The only gross part was that the earth here is a red clay colour so all the rivers run this gross brown red colour and i was SOOOOO dirty by the time mid day arrived. Even if you push your hand about an inch under water, it is totally hidden in the muck. Doesnt exactly make you want to plunge in for a refreshing dip. We kayaked to the main Lodge and had buffet and then had the guides to ourselves all afternoon to take us to the Elephant Project. What a wicked afternoon!!!! We got to climb up the elephants (literally climbing up there legs and pulling their ears to get us up) and walk around on them, and it wasn't part of a big touristy group, it was just 2 other girls and moi with the guides! And of course, the best part- it was ALLL FREEEEEEEEE!

The 2 guides we had were super cool too, on the way back to Luang Prabang, we were driving through fields upon fields of pineapple crops (the pineapples here are better than anything i have ever tasted before!) and they explained to us that this one village was a pineapple village. All they farmed was pineapples and they were everywhere, as it is pineapple season here. There was hut after hut after hut ALL SELLING pineapples. So we stopped, ate free pineapples in one of the huts with the locals, and then made our way back to L.P. Beautiful, beautiful day!

A few more hrs to go until I pack myself up and head out to the next stop............

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Elephant Country

Check in time! I made it to Laos~Elephant Country! My visa and passport all made it back to me!!!!! I have spent the last few days in Vientianne, Vang Vieng & have now parked myself at the verytipofthe Mekong River in a beautiful little place called Luang Prabang.
I dont want to count my chickens before they hatch but tomorrow I have a full day planned going into the jungle with one of the big tour companies and they are doing promotional pictures and therefore I dont have to pay for the full days worth (kinda like Tom did with the A.J.Hacket bungy jumping in New Zealand)! We shall see if itpans out but it looks like a pretty exciting day planned with the elephants!!!
I spent my weekend in Vang Vieng and did a 20km kayaking trip and went exploring some amazing caves along the Nam Song River. Also rented a bike for aday (a pink pimped out hello kitty bike i might add!) and went riding in Vientianne checking outtemples and going up the Mekong River....pretty amazing stuff (as well as more physical activitythis body has seen in ages!!)
Unfortunately this internet cafe is not AC'ed and although it is still before 10am here it is already over 30 degrees out. So i am off to mingle with the monks and check out the markets!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sweet Buddha!

I have absolutley nothing remarkable to say or write but to be honest, I am so hot I HAVE to sit in the internet cafe for AC, as I have checked out of my room so have no more safe haven to look forward to until my 7pm overnight bus ride to Laos (pending I haven't been scammed and my passport finds its way back to me:)

So I guess to kill time I will just start typing..... I used to consider myself a person who did not sweat. Maybe a light glisten here or there but never have i experienced an ACTUAL bead of sweat trickle down my body. Well........thats no longer the case. I think i have actually just lost about 10 pounds of perseperation from my body and had i been standing in one spot the whole time I think I mightve actually drowned in it. Disgusting. I just walked to the Grand Palace/Emerald Buddha, a main site i guess to see. Well, 12:00 sun is not the right time to do it. It is probably only about a 15 minute walk from where I am however, that is not including the flow of traffic and route to get there. And with my love of jaywalking and any kind of fast moving traffic while I am a pedestrian, I think the big buddha must've been watching over me. I had to fight cars, trucks, buses, stray cats and dogs, hagglers, tuk-tuks and my (carrying anywhere up to and including 5 people on them I swear!) It was a miracle I actually made it there. The way there was worse than the way back because a) i wasnt 100% sure where I was going and b) i was 10 pounds lighter on the way back and therefore more able to hustle with my life and the traffic flashing before my eyes.

So eventually i safely got there but sweet Jesus (sweet buddha maybe?) I have never been so hot in my entire life. And to add insult to injury, you have no idea how difficult it then was to reach into my bag and don more clothing (long sleeves i might add) to be "respectfully dressed" on the grounds. So the grounds are equivalent to a few football fields and as beautiful as it was there was about as much shade to fit a few coins tossed on the ground. The only safe haven was inside one of the temples, where i strategically placed myself near one of the fans at the edge and sat for about 15 minutes trying to regenerate myself. But honestly, how much regenerating can I do while literally dripping with sweat. All this was doing was saving myself from sunstroke. So, off I went back to face the elements (sun AND possibly even more damaging than sun- the traffic). And now I find myself slowly bringing down my body temperature in this internet cafe, so beautifully air conditioned. There you have it. I feel sorry for the person sitting beside me thats for sure. Oh ya, the best part? My bags are in hotel storage, and basically I am just lazing about wasting time until my overnight bus leaves for Laos. No shower is in the cards for a long, long time. (and trust me this is not the kind of accomodation that has courtesy suites available...though i have been trying to figure out what i can do with the roof top pool shower, though it is in obvious view of all the guests and i have no bathing suit or towel).

Fun times. Hahahahha, gross huh? Ah well. When in Bangkok, do as (Elise I am sure you are having a field day with that one, LOL)

Well, my clothing feels a bit dryer and my stomach is growling so off I go to sit next door and faff the time away until my departure........

So tonight, when you all lay dry and comfortable and smelling squeaky clean- think of me :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Khoa San Rd.

So here I am, in an internet cafe, having been awake already for over 6 hrs and it is only 9am. Jet lag SUCKS!!!! I have spent the first 2 nights in Bangkok fully awake (and with a killer soar throat!) and somewhat dazed and confused.

I got here safely Wednesday evening and came to the manic area of Banglampu where Khoa San Rd is. Absolute mayhem. I dont even think I can put in to words the chaos of this city, between the people, the animals, the cars, the smells, the sites, the filth......unless you have actually been here, it is tough to imagine.
I am actually staying at a decent hotel in the area and my room has been a bit of a safe haven from it all. Although I am ecstatic to actually be starting out on my trip I am not going to lie to say that that excitement is equally met with fear and anxiety of what is to come......but i can tell 2 days in that the carefree way of life is going to come back to me quite quickly.
So as soon as i got here and checked in I went for a stroll to sit and find somewhere to eat. After ordering (suprisingly green thai curry!!!) the couple next to meet had there food put infront of them. I stole a quick peak and though it looked very appetizing to my utmost relief, moments later the woman shreaked and both people jumped up just in time for me to see a lizard about 6 inches long that had fallen from the ceiling scurry off from the middle of the gents plate........right, bon apetit!
Actually the food has been amazing and knock on wood, my stomach is fine so far. The stalls are a dime a dozen and although some if it is unrecognizable, you can have just about anything under the sun (if you dare!).
My biggest hurdle getting here was figuring out what the hell to do! With literally everything on my doorstep and a free calendar for the next few months (and jet lag kicking in) I was totally taken aback by my inability to figure what to do and where to go (so i have actually spent the last 2 days wandering the market stalls conveniently!). Upon making the first concrete decision (GET OUT OF BAGKOK!) i decided to forget about going north in thailand as i hear it is a tourist mecca now and head straight for Laos. Oops I have no visa (though i must point out that i was supposed to get one for thailand too, but no one seemed to notice at the passport control...hmmmm.) There are warnings everywhere saying NOT to trust the tourism agencies in Banglampu, so again I was stumped but not for long. I took my first tuk-tuk ride to the TAT (gov approved tourist centre) and the wheels are in motion. Unfortunaly I had to handover my passport (never a fun thing to have to do in a foreign country to someone who barely has a grasp of your language) in order to apply for a Laos visa. So as of right now, my plan is to pick up passport and visa from "joe", my friendly Thai, at 6pm on friday and then at 7pm I head north to the border. Although it was tough to give over my passport, i let out a huge sigh of relief now that I actually have a plan that is taking form.
As for today and tomorrow, I am off maybe to see some more temples, sit by the rooftop pool of my hotel, brouse some more market stalls and start upon my 4th book since i left TO (dad i just finished Lois on the Loose and LOVED it!!!!!! any more suggestions?)
Hopefully tonight I might sleep properly instead of wide eyed all night with only the sounds of the streets winding down, then the calls of the early morning monks and then eventually the roosters wishing me a good morning by sun up. We shall see.
Again thanks for all the emails........sending lotsa love out.


Back Tracking To England

Ok, ok, ok! I'M HERE!!!!! I'm in Bangkok and my head is still spinning even though I landed just over 24hrs ago.

I know I missed a whole weeks worth in England-but to sum it up- IT WAS SMASHING! I spent loads of time with Jessica which acted as a little chicken soup for the soul to start me on my journey. I was staying in her flat in earlsfield in London most of the time although she is still living in Reading for another few weeks before she makes the big move to London. So it was pretty chill having access to my own place.
Highlights of England: Jessica, Amanda, Will, Brighton and Banksy!!!!!

As I said spending time with Jessica was obviously fantastic. She seems happuer now than i have seen her in ages. Amanda- same goes! I love how quickly and easily we seem to be able to slip into an old routine no matter how many months go by without seeing eachother. I met Amanda's new man Richard and felt instantly enthralled by him! He definatetaly got my stamp of approval and the sense of humour on this kid is probably right up there with Kosta's!

Will......mid-week I made the journey down to Brighton and took all the familiar paths through my old stomping ground- the North Laine, the high street and a stroll on Brighton Beach. I met up with Will and we had a few drinks and a quick bite and chatted the evening away :)

On Saturday, Jessica and I went to Waterloo Tube Station and found our way to The Cans Festival: The Banksy Exhibit. (If you dont know who Banksy is, Google him-he is a wicked street graffiti artist from London, who not only does really cool looking street art, but it also has quite a political undertone to it). So we found the tunnel and spent ages just taking in all the graffiti and i snapped a zillion pics which i will try to post on facebook at some point (sorry Jay!).
Saturday evening a bunch of us went down to Brighton for an adventurous night out. It started off quite tame and in a typical fashion ended up hopping from place to place, meeting new people and having a memorable (well, somewhat memorable) night! Jessica and I totally imposed ourselves on Will and his flat and I think by Sunday afternooon when we were finally out of his place he let out a huge sigh of relief to be free of the damn Canadians! (though I did get him somewhat tossing about the idea of marrying me for a visa, hahahahah!)
So with a hangover that I actually think I am still getting over, off we went back to London to pack up my stuff and do any preparations needed for the next part of my travels.....
Saying bye to Jess and Amanda sucked but hopefully I will be seeing both of them before I find myself back in Canada at the end of the summer. So that was England. Well, a pretty quick overview of it anyways.
Bags packed and weighing a tonne (what happened to my empty bag policy i couldnt tell you- but I will always have a special little spot in my heart for PRIMARK;)- off I went bound for Heathrow Airport and a very long (11 hr) flight to Bangkok.
AND SO HERE I AM. I have found my way somewhat and although I am not afraid to say that I have been pretty much scared shitless for the last 24 hrs, I am smiling from ear to ear and slowly getting a handle on what i am doing.
My coins are running out (and my stomach is ravenouslyt growling), but as I am in Bagkok for another few days and there are internet cafes a dime a dozen, I will for sure be back to write more........thinking and missing you (thats directed toward Jay and mom and dad, mostly cause i havent sent out a mass email yet with my blog address, LOL!)

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Countdown

Testing, testing, 1...2...3! goes. It is just over 24 hours before I leave on my next big adventure. I am still sitting at my desk, at work (clearly working very hard!) and getting myself sorted for what comes next!

Out of Office response put on my work email- CHECK!
Voicemail changed (to see you in September suckers!!!)- CHECK!
Set up new blog to record what the hell goes on in the next few months- CHECK!

Good to go. 2.5 hours left before I get to lock the office door for the last time. So sweet!
Departure Time: Saturday May 24th, 2008. 11:15pm.
First Stop: London, England (to see Jessica & Amanda)

2008 Summer Vacation- HERE I COME!