Happy New Year! … oh and Vietnam

IMG_2294

I have no idea how to start this post because it has been so long since I have done one of these. But the picture above was one of the first pics I took in SE Asia. This sign looked me in the face right when I stepped on my first train in Bangkok and oh how appropriate it was.

I hope everyone is having an awesome holiday! This post is about 7 months in the making. I don’t know what the hell happened. I landed back in the states June 1st and kind of felt like a lost puppy for a couple weeks. I couldn’t really believe I went to Southeast Asia for a few months. But nonetheless, I straightened some stuff out and got myself on track for whatever life had to offer me next. This has been a pretty crazy year for me now that I think about it. I realized that I am not built to work in an office, quit both my downtown Detroit jobs and headed to Southeast Asia, got back home and opened up a store booth to sell our shirts (Animals Doing Human Things), got a job as a tire delivery guy, decided I wanted to live full time in the mountains, made a house out of my stepmom’s van, went on an awesome road trip with my girlfriend, then finally settled down in Avon Colorado working my passion in hospitality. image7

I guess I have a lot to catch up on in this blog so I will try to be as brief as possible…pinky swear. So I left off hanging out in Ho Chi Minh waiting on Erica to explore the country together. We planned out our 10 day journey together while she was back home via the interweb. By the time she got there we had everything booked and ready, which was new to me. I was so used to just winging everything without really planning the past couple months. Although I was super pumped because we booked some extravagant hotels all across Vietnam. 5 star hotels and beach front resorts for about $80 a night or less. Yeah, time to spoil myself. And this was a great opportunity to spoil the hell out of Erica while still being as cheap as a Wissman. Finally a room without bunk beds and my own shower! The first thing we did when she got there was the Cu Chi Tunnels about an hour outside of town. I was sort of afraid of being American there so we told our tour group we were Canadians eh. There was a ton of history to be learned at these tunnels. Most of which was very disturbing. War is a terrible monster but I won’t get into that. Crawling through the tunnels and seeing how many Vietnamese people lived during the war was truly fascinating. Plus there were about a hundreds millipedes crawling around the paths so my dad would have loved it there. Our tour group leader (named Jackie Chan) was actually involved in the war and was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Here he is explaining how one of the tunnel traps work… image5

After the tunnels we had one day of exploring Ho Chi Minh before flying north to Ha Long Bay. I was able to scope out the city before she got there so I had some ideas on where to take her. We went walking and experienced the traffic there which I think was insane. I made sure she knew that these cars/mopeds do not stop for pedestrians like they do in the states. If you think a car is going to hit you, keep calm and keep your pace, the car will go around you, but it will NOT stop. It takes a little while to realize that. We checked out the crazy Ben Thanh market and then went on a bender in the backpacker district where there are a ton of backpackers and a ton of bars with practically free alcohol. image11IMG_4031image8

After HCMC we hopped on a plane to Ha Long Bay to see the breathtaking limestone mountains in the sea. We stayed in the city of Ha Long which was pretty dead. Although the hotel we stayed at had an amazing buffet where I ate until I practically exploded. Apparently it’s better to stay in Hanoi then take a bus to see the bay, lesson learned. This place was surreal. These rock formations went on into the sea for miles. The boat tour we took also brought us to one of the mountains with a huge cave in it which was nice to explore and beat the 100 degree heat. xdfadf

From Ha Long we took another plane to Phu Quoc island where we stayed for 4 days. This is where we had a couple beachfront bungalows booked and a plan to relax to the max. We rented a motorbike two of the four days and explored the whole island. Getting around on this island was interesting to say the least. There were about two main roads cutting through most of the island, with dirt roads covering the rest. Dodging giant potholes and monkeys crossing the road was the norm on the motorbike. While exploring the island we found a water amusement park! It was called Vinpearl Land and we planned to go there the day after we discovered it. We rented the motorbike, headed out towards the park and got caught in a pretty bad thunderstorm. We found shelter at what looked like a house party store combo. After the storm rolled past we got to the park and it was COMPLETELY empty. We had a whole amusement park to ourselves which was pretty awesome. All the workers there were pretty surprised to see us, a few were actually asleep at their posts. We went on this one waterslide that flips upside down (wish I had a pic of it). As we approached the top I started thinking about the dangers of a sketchy Vietnamese upside down waterslide, and being the gentleman that I am, I let Erica go first. It was one of those slides where you step into a tube and the bottom drops out as you fall into the slide. The worker at the top did the ole Vietnamese double check and tapped the floor with his foot to make sure it was working properly before Erica stepped on. She made it down safely and I was next. Now I have never experienced a slide like this before, especially not one like this in a foreign country. So as the floor dropped out I let out the most unmanliest American shriek that could be heard throughout the park. The attendant at the bottom and Erica were cracking up as I stood up and tried to regain my manhood. The next couple days were spent chilling on the beach, snorkeling, and exploring town center. Snorkeling on the west side of the island was fantastic. We even tried our luck at squid fishing with fishing poles fashioned as a spool with string. I experienced what a full grown sea urchin looks like in the water, nearly had a heart attack as the waves pushed me really close to them. eferererimage9fishimage1image3efererererergbbimage4

And so that concluded my trip to Southeast Asia (7 months later). It was one hell of time.

I plan on getting together another post where I can describe some crazy experiences left out in this blog, some tips/tricks/lessons learned, along with what happened between Vietnam and now. Too much to talk about in one post. I don’t want to bore you guys! I miss everyone and you are all welcome to come out here to Colorado to explore these mountains with us anytime!

One last pic for ya’ll. This one is the last picture I took overseas. It was on the plane to Tokyo from Ho Chi Minh. I’d like to think it symbolizes new beginnings. It’s simple, but I think it’s my favorite. More posts to come! evrtrtr 

Beaches be trippin’

  The last thing I expected to find in Cambodia was pristine white sandy beaches. The town of Sihanoukville along with koh rong island proved me wrong. It would have been a whole lot better if I didn’t decide to get a beachside BBQ dinner right when I got to town. It was a combo of chicken, a baked potato, salad, and a beer for $2. I was starving from the day of travel so I fell for the deal. I didn’t notice anything wrong until the next day when I decided to try exploring Sihanoukville and I couldn’t make it 20 minutes without having to lay cable. I finally caught the stomach flu. I thought it couldn’t happen to me, I thought I had an iron stomach. I was k.o.’ed for a couple days. I kept near the hostel, had my stomach flu pills, and stuck on the b.r.a.t. diet. I got to chatting with the owner of the hostel and that’s when I realized that the BBQ’s on the beach are a terrible idea. He told me that they keep the meat outside on ice from 3pm till about 9pm. I ate around 8:30. He said a lot of people get sick from those BBQ’s because all the meat juices just sit there and mix in the heat. Sometimes people get salmonella and have to go to the hospital. Luckily it passed through me and I was back on track. I rented a motorbike and drove all around town. Sihanoukville has several beaches, each with their own personality. I was staying right next to the party beach so it was good to see what else the town had to offer. The picture above is sokha beach which was my favorite. There was also otres beach which was home to the most chilled out people I’ve ever seen. And the other beaches were nice, but I was just beached out so I headed up the hills and found Angkor brewery. I wanted a tour but the place only gives tours once a week. I moved on and found a hilltop home to a monk school with a good view of the city, and monkeys. Monkeys are cool, but in large groups they freak me out. They are too damn smart and agile. And I always think they are going to attack me. Damn dirty apes. 

  

      

 

A lot of people I ran into in Cambodia were raving about koh rong island so I got on a ferry from Sihanoukville and found a nice bungalow there for a couple days. The island is just recently developing into a tourist hotspot so there’s a bunch of construction going on. Currently there’s only a small stretch of places to sleep and eat so there wasn’t much to do except lay on the beach. Although I later found out that I should have scuba dived here… It’s like  one of the cheapest and best places to scuba dive in the whole world… Bummer. But I found a couple people to hike with through the jungle to an undisturbed beach. There are a few of these on the island. These are the times I wish I had a travel hammock.  

     

I had to leave the island because I ran out of clothes not caked in sweat. I got back to Sihanoukville and dropped off a bag of laundry when I met a guy who told me about a waterfall nearby to which I had no clue even existed. I told him I was down to go so we rented motorbikes the next morning. We also recruited an awesome Italian dude from our hostel so we had a little biker gang going on. After getting pulled over by the police (the police have a little scam going on here where they pull over tourists and demand money for undisclosed reasons, total bs, but we slipped them $10 and we were on our way), getting lost as hell in the hills, stuck in a thunderstorm, and going down trails not meant to be used by motorbikes, we finally made it. The waterfall was a total local hangout. It was just a party spot for Cambodians which was awesome to find.  

     

And so I left Cambodia on to Ho Chi Minh city where I am now. Relaxing, job hunting at Internet cafes, dodging traffic, and waiting for my girlfriend to get here to experience Vietnam together. I’m so excited to explore this country with her! 

Bonus pic: find the spider. I would have gotten a better picture if I wasn’t afraid it was going to jump on my face and condemn me to hell.  

 

Googled it: I think it’s a garden spider which is harmless unless provoked. Then it spits acid on you, rips off your ears, and steals your credit cards. 

  

A sad time in Cambodian history mixed with a plethora of tuk tuks

  After hanging out with the ancient angkor temples near siem reap, I decided to make my way south to the capital city of Phnom Penh. I took what they call a hotel bus where I had my own bed for the overnight trip. This bed was really comfortable and I was excited to get some sleep and arrive at a totally new destination. Little did I know that the way there was sort of how I imagine driving on the moon might be like. Potholes everywhere. Some the size of the bus itself. So needless to say, not many people got sleep on the bus ride since they were too busy being tossed around like rag dolls as the driver swerved around these craters for 10 hours. But I ended up making it to the hostel which had a much needed pool. After I jumped in i was confronted by a few people wanting to split a tuk tuk to the killing fields and to the S-21 prison camp in town. I was exhausted from the bus but I thought this was a good opportunity to see these places and save money. Usually I like to add humor to these posts but learning about these fields and what the Khmer Rouge people did from 1975 to 1979 really threw me back (Feel free to correct me if I say something wrong here, I’m about to try and drop history on your asses). It may be tough to try and fit it all in a post but I’ll try to cover the basics. First of all, I can’t believe it was in 1975 that this took place. A mad man named Pol Pot (the Cambodian hitler) wanted cambodia to be a self sustaining country. He gathered an army of lower class people (which became the Khmer Rouge) promising them food and a steady job. He decided to kill off most of the middle and upper class to be able to start something new and fresh with everyone being equal. This meant killing doctors, teachers, artists, basically anyone who could help with society. He also wanted to get rid of anyone who had an interest in most religions, or people with contacts in another country. Nearly three million Cambodians died in the span of almost 4 years from either execution, starvation, or disease. It was a little more than a quarter of Cambodia’s population back then. The picture above is at the killing field just outside the city. It shows the mass grave sites with the stupa filled with the bones of the victims in the background. There were thousands of these mass graves all throughout the country. The tour there was just plain sad. It’s a walk about tour with a headset that talks to you the whole way. It includes survivors of the tragedy along with Khmer Rouge soldiers sharing thier stories. The part that really got me going was when we reached this tree where they beat children to death. They killed the children after they killed the parents for fear of the kids growing up and seeking revenge. The Khmer Rouge didn’t have much in guns and ammunition so they found different ways of execution. At this camp they would blast songs of their people over the loudspeaker and run a generator really loud so that the other prisoners couldn’t hear the screams of the people being beaten to death. 

    

These next pictures are from the prison camp S-21. It used to be a high school, but it was converted into a camp where they interrogated and tortured people before they were sent off to the fields. (Sorry about this post, it’s a sad thing to realize that this actually happened. It really made me see Cambodia in a totally different light)  

   

The rest of that day I just wanted to relax and drink 50 cent beers. It was a history lesson that I won’t soon forget. I spent the next couple days at the Capitol exploring the sites and avoiding tuk tuks. There are a record amount of tuk tuk drivers here. I recently learned that tuk tuk drivers have to ability to make more than doctors here (sad I know). Doctors only make around $500 a month here, where some tuk tuk drivers can pull in $20 a day. So that made me even more bitter against the tuk tuks. Anyway I explored the city. Visiting the Royal palace, the Cambodian history museum, blowing $2 at the casino, and hitting up skybars to get nice views of the city. There’s a nice tip for ya, any new city you are in just find a hotel with a skybar and go grab a cheap beer, the views are worth it. Or just play dumb, find a tall building, and then find the elevator. If you get any grief just tell them you’re Canadien, it’s hard for a country to hate Canada (those neutral sons of bitches).

        

 

After my fair share of the city I booked another bus down to the beach town of Sihanoukville. Ended up with the stomach flu as well which sucked, but I’ll cover that in the next post in a couple days. Right now I’m in Ho Chi Minh city living it up in an air conditioned room and slowly realizing I’m going to be back home in a few weeks. I plan on visiting some Internet cafes for a few good job hunts. Also I’ve been thinking about opening up a hostel in traverse city… Any thoughts? 

Oh and this is a photo of something going on at a monument in Phnom Pehn. Hint: do not walk on red carpets in a foriegn land, you will get bitched at.  

 

  

River islands, temples, and 50 cent beers

I can get 40 miles to the gallon with this hog.  

 

After a rough introduction to learning how to ride a motorbike (I’m ok) I took this beast to Laos’ oldest temple, Wat Phu. Then I rode it around Pakse for the rest of the day. ($5 to rent one of these, cheaper than renting a mountain bike!). Wat phu was a pretty amazing introduction to the temples in Southeast Asia. Situated on the base of a mountain shaped like a wiener (no joke, that’s why it was put there) with the main religious wat overlooking the rest of the ancient town. The hike to the top wouldn’t have been too bad if I didn’t do it at the hottest time of the day. The locals were looking at me with concern as I was dripping sweat from my shirt, but I made it alive. I then took my bike to a giant golden buddah overlooking the Mekong River for the sunset. The next morning I hopped on a bus to visit the 4000 islands or Si Phan Don at the southern most tip of Laos. 

       

There were two islands I wanted to visit here, Don Khong (the biggest of the islands) and then Don Det. After taking a really sketchy “ferry” or canoe ride to the island, I stepped on and realized that Don khong might have been the wrong choice. This place was dead. I only saw about 3 other tourists, which was nice in a way, but there was nothing to do here. I walked around the Main Street looking for a place to sleep and found a place for about $6. I figured I’d give this island a day so I rented a mountain bike and planned to ride around the whole island. The island was way bigger than I expected. It was a great experience though. All the locals I passed said hi to me in Laos and I replied the same back with a smile. Little kids were running out to the dirt road to clap my hand as I rode on by. They were so friendly, I don’t think they see many tourists on the other side of the island. I got to see families gathering fruit and preparing food from thier farms. Also saw groups of kids playing a game that looked like volleyball, but the net was a lil lower, they only used thier feet, and the ball was made out of bamboo or some sort of plant. I was really grateful being able to see that side of Laos island living. The next morning I got on another boat downriver to Don Det. This place was much more crowded but it was very relaxed. I booked a bungalow on the river with a hammock out front for $3 a day! This island had a lot more going on. There were two waterfalls on each side of the island. These were both pretty spectacular. The mekong River drops off a cliff about 30 feet tall on each side and it produces hundreds of tall rapids and waterfalls cutting through these jagged rocks. After seeing the falls I decided I wanted to play pool at a bar where I met this group of 12 dudes from Amsterdam. Had a great night of drinking and stumbling onto a laos festival at a temple that apparently only happens once every two years. The people there were drinking like it was last call on New Year’s Eve. I tried to dance along with the locals but thier moves were to complex for the state I was in. I think I may have tried to show them the robot, but they weren’t impressed. After a hangover day on a hammock, I booked a trip to the Cambodian border to eventually end up in siem reap.  

         

Turns out I didn’t take enough cash for the border cross ($35) and the bus to siem reap. Thankfully there were a couple Canadiens that liked hockey who lent me some money. To which I paid back and bought beers for them when we arrived. The beers are 50 cents here, and they are quite good. Once again, 50 cent beers. Although I heard vietnam beer is even cheaper which is insane. When I found a nice cheap hostel I checked in and met an interesting Spanish dude who has been getting paid to be a traveling translator since he knows three languages. Turns out he was wanting to explore The Angkor Wat temples the same day as me so we decided to share a tuk tuk. You can hire a tuk tuk driver all day long to drive you all over Angkor wat for about $10 per person. Maybe even cheaper with more people. We spent about 12 hours there from sunrise to sunset although it was really cloudy for the sunset. The temples are kind of hard to put in words. And it’s going to be hard to pick photos to share since I took so damn many. It’s way bigger than you would ever expect. My favorite temple had to be either bayon temple where there are a couple hundred buddah faces carved into the stone, or ta prohm where they filmed Tomb Raider. Angkor wat was nice, but I thought the other two were much more visually appealing. Ta prohm was being taken over by giant trees growing out of the stone which looked unreal. That night we celebrated a successful day of temple exploring with a trip down pub street. This road reminds me of Beale street in Memphis. Nothing but bars and restaurants. It’s close to the night market too so you can drink then buy a bunch of wierd souvenirs for people.  

                     

Tonight I get on another one of those sleeper buses towards Cambodia’s capitol Phnom Penh. This is where I plan on chilling and getting my Vietnam visa. I heard its a couple day process depending on how much you want to pay for it. Excited to use this visa for a very special girl! Then I may explore a little more of Cambodia before I head over to vietnam. Thinking about the coastal town of Sihanoukville. Oh and here’s a photo of people waiting for the sunset on the highest temple of Angkor. It’s the most crowded for sunsets and sunrises. I had more fun watching people get a good shot then watching the sunset. 

 

Loving Laos

Hey ya’ll! Got a little catching up to do here since I crossed the border. First of all I was fined 1500 baht (500 per day that you go over your visa) which I have been told varies depending on the people who are working that day. I paid the fine and the guy just slipped it into his pocket… But I didn’t want to cause a scene or get arrested so I kept quiet. After crossing the border I hopped on a slow boat on the Mekong which would take me to Luang Prabang. It was a two day journey where we spent the first night in a tiny little town called Pak beng. Pak beng is nice but really shady. I think thier biggest export there is marijuana since I was offered it several times (a few times by the same dude who wouldn’t give up, or he just forgot that he asked me). The slow boat was basically a booze cruise. I guess it depends on the group that you are stuck with. But the scenery was amazing. Laos is a country full of mountains and this river cuts right through them. There were countless little mountain villages that I was tempted to jump off the boat and go visit because they looked so cool.

 

  

So I made it to Luang Prabang and met an irish dude as soon as I checked into the hostel. He just arrived as well so we decided to explore stuff together. Went to an awesome night market and then scoped out the bars. This bar called utopia was one of the coolest bars I’ve been too. It felt like I was in a jungle, but with beer pong, pool tables, and a volleyball court. A really big thing here in Laos is bowling. Who would have guessed that? The bars close around 11:30ish but the bowling alley is open until 2am. I didn’t end up going because I was feeling really funky from the malaria tablets I started taking. I recently stopped taking them because they were really upsetting my stomach. I loaded up on mosquito spray so no worries! Speaking of feeling funky, the next day I ended up going to the hospital (dun dun dunnnnn). It was for an ear ache that just wouldn’t go away. It ended up hurting when I chewed and it was difficult to lay my head on my pillow without pain. Pretty sure I got it from Songkran in Thailand. Someone got me with dirty water right in the ear. I hired a tuk tuk to the hospital and the driver was a god send. He ended up going into the hospital with me and translating the things the nurses couldn’t understand. He stayed with me the whole time. We walked to the ear doctor on the other side of the hospital and I got to witness how people are treated here… We are so spoiled in the states. The driver helped me get the medicine the doctor prescribed me at the pharmacy in the hospital. That pharmacy reminded me of that scene from Trading Places where they sell all thier orange crop stock. Everyone was holding thier prescription in the air waiting for a nurse to come grab it. I got the antibiotics in a sketchy bag with no directions. I just prayed that they were the right ones. I started taking them and immediately the pain was relieved. Phew! After that mess the irish fella and I went to kuang si falls just 40 minutes outside of town. This was the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen. There were like 6 levels you could explore and some you could swim in. The others were blocked off to preserve its beauty. We hiked up to the top and swam in the lagoon up there.

      

(On the edge of the top of the falls)

The next day I decided to take a bus south to Vang Vieng. This has been my favorite town so far. It’s famous for its river tubing. Famous in a bad way though…people get so drunk on the river they die, but it hasn’t happened recently. There used to be like 14 bars open along the river that all served free shots, now there are only 6 bars open at a time. They rotate so everyday a new bar is open. But the river wasn’t the best part, it was the landscape. I went hiking up to a peak near the mountain range there and I was in awe. This was how I pictured Laos. I also rented a mountain bike and got lost in the jungle and rice fields, but I found an awesome cave! I got pretty far into the cave then remembered I’m afraid of the dark so I ran back out of there. Oh and I didn’t get pictures of the river tubing for obvious reasons…drinking + phone + river = dead phone.

 

I was sad to leave vang vieng but I knew I had to eventually. I decided to make my way all the way down to pakse which is almost the most southern tip of laos. This involved me getting on a bus, to another bus, to a bigger bus, then to a sleeper bus. The sleeper bus I originally booked was too full so they ended up putting me on a local sleeper bus. And that was nice because I was the only white person on it and I got my own bed since the locals were afraid of me, or I just smelled really bad. Two days worth of traveling and I arrived here in pakse this morning. Tomorrow I plan on renting a motorbike and checking out wat phu (a really old temple) and a couple waterfalls in the area. And laos is a good place to rent a bike since they drive on the right side of the road here. There’s also bolaven plateau right near here which is famous for its coffee fields and that may be cool to check out as well. In a couple days I’ll be off to koh phi don or 4000 islands which is the southern most tip of laos. Then off to Cambodia!

Things I miss besides family and friends:

Golf

American power flushing toilets

American ketchup (the ketchup here is wierd)

Road signs

Meijer

Drinking tap water

Watching live hockey

Golf

Hockey

Golf

5 dollar hot and ready

Elephants, ((Trekking)), and Super Soakers

This is officially my last night in Thailand. Actually my last night should have been yesterday since my visa expired on the 15th… WOOPS! I think it’s going to be ok though. Songkran, the Thai New Year Festival, has been going on the past three days so it was nearly impossible to leave the country, and hell I didn’t really want to! Songkran was beyond awesome. Here I am locked and loaded with some awesome dudes I met in Ko Samui. 10552645_10155521760790651_6005897362919311080_n

Also I have done some research and a few days past expiration really isn’t that big of a deal. I’ll get fined but that’s it… I hope! But before that festival started I went on a two-day trek up in the mountains. It would have been a really great trip, but I was stuck with a group including 2 stuck up, posh girls from London that kind of ruined it. Now when I booked this I wanted to be challenged. I wanted to fear for my life in the middle of a jungle with a guide clearing a path with a machete. I wanted to cross rivers, jump over gorges, build a shelter to sleep in… I wanted to be Bear Grylls minus the pee drinking thing. Instead the guide had to cut the trip short over these girls who just couldn’t take the heat, the bugs, and the hiking….THE HIKING!! You paid money for all three of these things. So we ended up taking a shortcut (on a road) to the camp. The camp was nice, it was set next to a river with a natural waterslide which I took full advantage of. We had a really good chicken and noodle dinner cooked over the fire. The next day the two girls got a ride back to town (thank god) and the rest of the group hiked to a waterfall. I cliff jumped next to the falls and couldn’t walk straight the rest of the trek since I landed directly on my ass. After that we did some bamboo rafting down the river which was fun, and also made me think a bamboo rafting company in the states would make a killing… image2IMG_2966image5image4image6A day after the trek I decided to go to an elephant retreat. This might have been my favorite part of my trip so far. We got to collect food for them, feed them, bareback ride them, take a bath with them, then we hopped in a truck to a beautiful waterfall to clean off. There are a lot of elephant things up here, but if you ever do it make sure its a retreat or a sanctuary. There are some bad ones where the elephants are treated very poorly which is really sad. The elephants at this camp seemed quite happy and in turn they were very fun to play with. I jumped on the baby elephant while we were taking a bath and it got up and sprayed me pretty good. Yes the water was full of poop and whatever else, but hell, when you can scrub down a happy elephant you don’t really mind it. image9image10IMG_3046And so the 3 day Songkran festival started. Before the madness I decided to rent a bike and ride up to a reservoir in the mountains. That was a nice little spot to check out. But I should have planned it out a little more because for being on a bike, I was very vulnerable to water attacks. On the way back from the lake I was a victim of several drive by buckets of water. You can’t go anywhere in Thailand from the 13th to the 15th without expecting to be drenched in water. I learned that the only two people who are safe are pregnant women and monks. I was in awe by how happy everyone was to get soaked by water guns and buckets of water. Apparently the water is supposed to represent washing away sins to begin a new year fresh and clean. But they don’t tell you that it’s just one gigantic party. Stages set up on every corner blasting techno, booze flowing everywhere from 10am to god knows when, trucks carrying drunk families throwing buckets of water on anyone in the street, people throwing people in the moat that surrounds the town. The first two days I walked the moat finding people I met at other hostels and posting up outside of bars soaking as many people as possible. The big parties were near any of the four gates on the moat of old town Chiang Mai. I managed to snap a couple of photos but I was seriously scared to pull out my phone for 3 days fearing it would get soaked. Songkran was a blast though. Really glad I could experience it!image8image7image11image13Thank you Thailand for an amazing month! There is still so much to explore in this beautiful country, but I am off to Laos tomorrow morning. Taking a bus, then a slow boat to a town called Luang Prabang. I also have to wake up early to see the Wings take game 1!!! image14

Northern Thailand and a sweaty crack

It is hot. It is so so hot up here, and there is no beach. I totally spoiled myself in the beginning of this trip by going to all the beaches. It was so convienient. Get too hot.. Jump in the ocean. Up here it’s get too hot… Deal with it. I found releif in air conditioned 7 elevens and picking hostels with pools. It rained the past couple days up here which was a god send. 

When I got to chiang Mai I was with two London chaps I met on ko phi phi island. We spent a day walking around and exploring the old town which is surrounded by a moat and deteriorating castle walls. Found a bunch of temples and a bunch of reggae bars. Being the second biggest city in Thailand it surprisingly still had that small town feeling. It is much more relaxed up here. Then we decided to check out the town of Pai for a few days.  

     

The ride there was intense. 762 curves up and down mountains. A lot of people end up getting motion sickness apparently. Thankfully no one on our bus got it. Pai was a really laid back chilled out town. Really hippie-ish. Might be my favorite town so far. Found some really cool bars and shops. I don’t usually shop but I bought stuff here because it seemed like a lot of it was all home made artsy crap that I like. First night I was there I met a Canadian guy who looked exactly like chris osgood. And he apparently just drank a mushroom shake so he was all over the place but very interesting to talk to and get info on the city. It was hotter here than it was in chiang Mai… And the mountains were pretty hazy because of the smoke and heat, but still cool to see. I ended up doing a hike up a mountain (almost died) to see a giant white buddah. That was really cool to see and the view from it was great. Stayed in a bungalow for the first time. Something about sleeping with fresh mountain air makes you feel so much better in the morning. I ended up getting dragged to the full moon party in pai. It wasn’t as crazy as you might think. They had a really good live band covering the rhcp and sublime. I caught a pic of one of the londoners eating a half a chicken on the dance floor. (He’s the one that’s totally ignoring the girl talking to him. Because…chicken) 

       

  

After realizing that I’m totally out of the party scene now (more of a beer and a hockey game guy now), I headed back to chiang Mai to wait for the Songkran festival. It starts in a few days and I think I may go squirt gun shopping tomorrow. Oh and I went on a trek and visited an elephant camp, but I’ll cover that in another post!