Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (1 of 40)

ubud school children

ubud school children

ubud, indonesia
“we made it to ubud! we took the car around the area to see the botanical gardens and a few temples. the most impressive temple was the gorung kawi which was down in this river and the temple was carved into the stone cliffs. i will let the pictures tell the rest. we’ve done lots of exploring, ate some really great meals and of course drank a lot of bintang (local beer). today i think we will hang by the pool, eat some fruit and walk around in my banana sling. ok, if anyone would like to come visit we leave for malaysia on sunday then train it up to thailand. some nice beach time.”

Photo Journey through SE Asia

Beachhouse.com Guest Bloggers, Stacy & Jeff, traveled across 6 countries in Southeast Asia and were nice enough to check in with us all along the way.  This is their journey by the numbers:

  • 21different airplanes they took
  • 6bus rides (varying from 7 hours to 27 hour trips)
  • 2train trips (overnight)
  • 11boat/ferry rides
  • 46different hotels (not including Cynthia and Fernando’s homes)
  • 12the # of languages they came across (at least!) throughout their trip
  • 0sicknesses
  • 0injuries
  • 1root canal
  • 0danger/trouble they encountered
  • 22# of books they read – each!
  • and we both want more!
  • This is their journey in photos (each photo links to the corresponding blog entry):

    We hope you enjoyed this as much as we did!

    Offbeat Vacation Spot: Huacachina, Peru

    Huacachina is a small village located in the Ica Region, in southwestern Peru with a population of only 115.  It’s built around a small isolated lake in the desert called the “Oasis of America,” and has long served as a resort for local families from the nearby city of Ica and a stomping-ground for Peruvian elite.  Those familiar with Peru’s currency may recocnize Huacachina fromt he back of the S/50 note.

    Increasingly though, Huacachina has become a popular destination for offbeat thrill-seekers and backpackers who come to shread the hundred foot+ sand dunes that surround the oasis villiage.  These sandboarding tourists have somewhat come to run the show.  What was once towering palm trees, lush foliage and buildings from days gone by has been virtually transformed as a majority of the hotels, restaurants and businesses are now catering to these new tourists that are known for their all night parties.


    Not that the Peruvians are unacustomed to some wild nights.  Back when the Spanish ruled Peru and grew tired of waiting for their beloved wine to be shipped to them every 6 months, they planted their own grapevines and began making, what turned out to be, quite the tasty vino.  The Peruvians, however liked their spirits a little stronger, which resulted in some of the wines being distilled and turned into waht is now their national drink of choice – pisco (named after the important nearby port of the same name).  The pisco sour, a delicious drink made from pisco, whisked egg white, lemon juice, syrup or sugar, crushed ice and a little bitters, is delicious and refreshing.

    If you’re interested in visiting Huacachina, there are a grip of hostels and inexpensive accomodations to be discovered (try El Huacachinero) that make Huacachina a perfect stop for those traveling throughout Peru, perhaps on their way to Cusco and the Incan Trail.

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (30 of 40)

    nie han beach

    nie han beach

    bagus bagus bagus
    “three for three. not the biggest surf, but it’s bali surf. jeff couldn’t be more happy. the first day, met up with fernando and alana (jeff’s peruvian and auss friends, used to be slocals) and hit up bingin and impossibles. chest high and fun, it’s just good to be surfing with fernando, and just surfin’ at all. inconsistent now, but word on the wave, swells on its way. man was it a fiasco to get here though…

    finishing up our days in phuket, we realized we would need a 60 day visa for indo, otherwise after 30 days we’d have to fly out and fly back in to get a new stamp. not a real problem, but we’ve got boards now and who knows where we’ll be on may 31st. so we figure lets do it, spend the few nights in KL or bangkok and go to the embassy and just deal with it. we pick KL (kuala lumpur, malaysian capitol) for something different. we call ahead, they say we could probably get it done in one day (whereas bangkok’s office said at least 3 days, another reason we went with KL). so, we book the ticket for thursday morning figuring between thursday and friday we can get it, then fly out saturday on the 2nd, giving us exactly 60 days between arrival and our fly out date of june 30th. good to go. bagus.

    one of the many books weve read

    one of the many books we've read

    tidak bagus, not good. in reading the newspaper we realize it’s labour day on may 1st, friday. we’ve been seeing ad’s and signs for this day, but it just hasn’t been registering cause everytime i see it i think, no, it can’t be labour day (spelled the english way) because labor day is in september, duh. but, lo and behold, not everyone in this world is on america’s holiday schedule, and they have a few holidays of their own. one big one being labour day, experienced everywhere through the eastern part of the world, and even europe. what’s this mean for us? it means like most american holidays, big sales and all gov’t offices are closed. so we reassess. our ticket puts us landing in KL at 10:30am. if we want our visa processed in 1 day, we have to have it in by noon. it takes an hour to get from the airport to the embassy of indonesia (according to google’s trusty mapquest directions). so, that leaves a half hour margin to get off the plane, go through customs, get our luggage and get a taxi. jeff’s freaking out. this could mean if we don’t get it, that’s at least 3 extra days of NO surf and being stuck in another city, no matter how cool it could be.

    tannings a serious business

    tanning's a serious business

    we have all our forms filled out and photo copied with extra passport photos and american dollars, we’re ready. we venture off to the airport with cynthia (my mom has already left two days earlier) and with good thoughts, we’re off to KL. we relax and even sleep on the flight, knowing once we land, it’s on, like donkey kong.

    the breaks squeak, we sway from side to side like all airplanes do when they come to that screeching halt, and then we’re off. We grab our bags and speed walk our way as courtessly as we can, through the construction and crowds (keep in mind this is our 3rd time in this airport that is under construction so we know it almost like the back of our palms). we stretch our strides as far as we can til we reach the customs booth. i go first, hand the nice lady my passport, and then, she drops it. these are precious seconds here people, every last one counts. she shuffles in her spin chair, not wanting to get off it it seems. i see jeff’s already through now waiting on the other side for me. she finally reaches it, makes some small talk (side note: everybody at the KL airport are by far the nicest people we’ve come across throughout the trip. every time we’re here, we’re reminded of this), and then i’m through. we continue our giant strides, grab our bags, and make way for the taxi. believe it or not, we’re sitting in the taxi at 10:46am. wow.

    jeff - last night in pukhet

    jeff - last night in phuket

    we make it to the office and walk in with all our luggage, after jeff had to put some pants on cause his shorts were too scandalous for them, at 11:45am. we take a number, we sit, then we go up, show the papers and make our request. he glances, shuffles, glances, then says we’re missing a photo copy of our passports stamped entry into malaysia. who knows whey they need this, but they do. he informs us there’s no budging around the 12 o’clock time whatsoever. i sprint around the corner to this little tiny weeny photocopy shop and get the business done, sprint back, and grab another number (seriously frustrating!). our number says 11:58am. so we think we’re golden. we get called up at 12:05pm. show the same guy our stuff, he shuffles, ho-hums, shuffles, gives us tons of grief on how hard it is for him to get a visa into the states, even with diplomatic whatever. e apologize for his grief, smile, but not too much, keep it short and polite. finally, after what seemed forever, he says he’ll process our visas for us, but not to expect this kind of service in the future. man, what a mess! after paying double the amount cause all we had was USD (not the local currency of ringetts), we got our 60 day visa meaning we were only stuck in KL for one full day…

    more on it tomorrow!”

    stacy - phuket - last night

    stacy - phuket - last night

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (27 of 40)

    group dinner

    group dinner

    crazy cambodia….
    “and we love it.  we’ve started reading quite a collection of books of personal accounts of where we’ve been travelling through so we’ve enjoyed seeing it firsthand a lot more.  and cambodia fits in that category, though all the readings have to do with war, killing, sex, drugs, and guns.  so not the most plesant of subjects, but it’s amazing to see the country and meet the people who live here. cambodia by far has been our favorite people – well right up there with the balinese.

    fish foot massage - creepy and weird!

    fish foot massage - creepy and weird!

    phnom penh was the city of contradiction, fancy in town, surrounded by ‘killing fields’ outside, and by far the most poverty or rather ‘gap’ we’ve seen.  coming over to siem reap, your surrounded by beautiful ancient temples and the nicest people. we stayed for 5 or 6 days, enjoying all of it.  we did 3 days (well I did, jeff’s toe hurt so he was out one day, and cynthia and my mom skipped out on the third day) of angkor wat. lots to see there.  the sad part is there is no recorded history about this ancient palace and city so everyone is guessing with different theories and what nots.  still an amazing site, right up there with machu pichu.

    back to the people…beautiful. dark skin, big eyes and the biggest smiles around.  it’s no wonder angelina jolie adopted one. the kids are darling, its so hard to say no to all the ones in the park selling bracelets, flutes, you name it.  and our guesthouse was filled with hilarious guys working. passing jokes, telling stories, all of it so fun.

    now we’re in bangkok heading south to krabi. late for the plane so gotta run!

    xxoo”

    fish nibble massage

    fish nibble massage

    a hilarious and tickling experience

    a hilarious and tickling experience

    the gang

    the gang

    stacys cambodian boyfriend, wan

    stacy's cambodian boyfriend, wan

    entering angkor wat

    entering angkor wat

    hindu buddhas

    hindu buddhas

    mine survivor band

    mine survivor band

    river carvings

    river carvings

    underwater buddhas

    underwater buddhas

    kids waterfall slide

    kids waterfall slide

    sky and bike

    sky and bike

    temple for sunset

    temple for sunset

    ladies

    ladies

    guardian

    guardian

    temple guardians looking out

    temple guardians looking out

    old

    old

    reflecting pool

    reflecting pool

    elephant terrace

    elephant terrace

    beautiful temple

    beautiful temple

    bathroom instructions

    bathroom instructions

    tree

    tree

    old tree

    old tree

    tree

    tree

    blue sky and tree

    blue sky and tree

    bracelet girl

    bracelet girl

    old bridge

    old bridge

    buddhist university

    buddhist university

    jeff and stacy

    jeff and stacy

    our buddy driver - love him

    our buddy driver - love him

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asis (25 of 40)

    monk kid

    monk kid

    leaving the breast milk for bigger and better things…
    “sorry to say, but we were both glad to get out of vietnam.  a beautiful country but the ‘sales tactics’ were starting to wear on us a bit.  we would definitely recommend anyone of you guys to go there, you just have to be ready for the constant haggling and barganing.  that aside, a great country.

    it’s amazing how much war the country has been through; it seems their whole existence has been based around war, with the chinese, cham empire, french, americans, and the khmer.  i think they really live up to the saying, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  and now, 30 years after the states left the country, consumerism is swallowing it up.  it’s no wonder that everyone’s eger to make a buck, or two or three off you.  for that reason though, people can come off real rash and hard.  but still, we would meet a jem every once in awhile that reminded us not all are just after your wallet.  and actually, in our last town we stopped in, chau doc, we weren’t ripped off the whole time and were given the locals price, no questions asked! such a relief after you’ve spent the last month wheeling and dealing.  not too many tourists stayed in this town, so you can see the ‘tourism dollar’ hadn’t made its impact yet.

    commuter traffic

    commuter traffic

    after a grueling  boat ride and bus ride up to cambodia, we arrived in phnom penh, the city of contradiction. the boat ride was pretty, but loud and hot and air filled with deisel.  but we saw lots of little villages on the river side with kids and monks swimming and working the land.  after loading all 13 of us and our bags in our minivan, the 1hour ride began into the city.  in the first five minutes in the van, we bottomed out but kept on driving.  us in the back seat could tell right away something went bad with the tire.  sure enough, once we reached the center of the city, in the middle of a massive intersection, at a dead stop in traffic, the driver finally realized the rear tire was completely flat.  so we all loaded off the van, and onto the sidewalk, amidst zooming cars and motors, as well as roaring fire engines on their way somewhere.  fortunately there was a tire store right there so within 10 minutes we were back on our way.”

    96 degrees in the shade - real hot

    96 degrees in the shade - real hot

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (23 of 40)

    boatin through the delta

    boatin through the delta

    delta blues…
    “woke up one morning, do do do sat right up in bed, do do do pour myself some whiskey, do do do i look over and kiss my baby still asleep in bed, and then i cried ive got the delta blues,  the delta blues baby  oooh ive got the delta blues.

    we’re traveling to the mekong delta to a home stay on a fruit orchard. locals have been starting an ecotourism on the islands of the delta  where you arrive by boat to rustic bungalows on their property. the average costs are around 7 to 10 dollars a night and the dinners are usually a set menu.

    a 400 lb catfish was caught here last year (biggest ever!)

    a 400 lb catfish was caught here last year (biggest ever!)

    in the delta the local specialty is the elephant ear fish. first they cook the fish on the grill which they fuel with the husk of the rice, giving the fish a flakey crust. then they stand the fish up in between some wooden dowels so you can see the fish (i couldn’t see an elephant ear). next they bring you an assortment of fresh greens and herbs with a plate of rice noodles and rice papers. you place the greens first, next some noodles and top it of with the flakey fish. roll it up and savor the fresh creation.

    we chose a home stay on a fruit orchard which proved to be difficult to reach on our own. we tried to do this without a tour company so we could move on our own schedule. we first booked a 1 day tour of the mekong to reach one of the islands (this was recommended to us so we could see a few diffrent things and also advance further along)  we were planning to get off the tour half way through and catch a ferrry to another island. the remainder of the group would return to saigon.

    taking a rest

    taking a rest

    on the tour we first visited a local coconut candy shop where they make a delicious coconut taffy. then we took the boat to a bee farm where the locals capture the queen bee to produce honey. another attraction was the pythons which you can hold and take your picture with. if you wish, you can stay here at their home stay – we thought it might not be such a good idea to sleep at a home stay with with snakes and bees.

    so here is where we decided to travel by the seat of our pants.

    picture stacy and i with our packs (that weigh around 60 pounds each). our boat guide tells us it’s around ten km to the boat ferry, so we catch a local horse and buggy taxi to the dock (turns out the 10 km was only about 1 km).  we reach the ferry only to find out it was the wrong one. our ride cost us 6 dollars – looks like the driver will be eating steak and lobster tonight.

    mekong canals

    mekong canals

    so then we had to hire motorbikes to take us to the bus stop, which scared the shit out of stacy. with the heavy packs, we were on the scooter with some random guy, zooming along a large bridge that went up and down like a roller coaster – we held on for dear life. were dropped off on the side of the road and greeted by the local vender who offered us a chair and some shade. at this point no one spoke any english so we just smiled and let the trip unfold.

    soon after, the shop vender yells out at a mini van passing by to negotiate our bus ticket. seconds later were stuffed into the minivan. one thing about bus travel is that, when we get on, they make the locals get out of their seats so we can have the seat. we feel a little weird, but since we’re paying more than everyone else its ok. the driver gives the local vender a little kick and away we go.

    now the stares begin…everyone usually turns to you smiles and laughs and talks in vietemese. our minivan cargo consists of 12 people, 1 motorbike, lots of boxes, and us. eventually one of the girls started a conversation of broken english to get our story. come to find out she wants stacy to find another boyfriend and she wants me (understandable –  i’m pretty damn good looking).

    river house

    river house

    i have to decline but she still continues to share her fruit and coffee with us. 5 hours later were dropped off at the bus station (the wrong one again). here we have to hire another motorbike to the car ferry. we get on the bikes and away we go to the wrong ferry. the guys are gone before we realize and now we need to get to the car ferry to reach our orchard island. lucky for all travellers, help is always one step away (for the right price).  we’re now the most frustrated we have ever been. we must hire a boat to take us directly to the family ranch or take another scooter ride to the right ferry.  once we calmed down, we bit the bullet and hired the boat ride directly to the orchard guest house.  this $7 a night room has just cost us a total of $35 to get there.

    looking through out boat

    looking through out boat

    after spending two relaxing nights, a day of boating around the floating market and canals, we left on our way to the cambodian border.  another motorcycle ride on skinny little pathways and bridges and we made it to our bus – a local bus. once again the seats were cleared for us and we were on our way to chau doc.  we were told the ride should be about 4 hours long.  after the first hour or so we hit traffic.  we were at a dead stop on the road behind a line of working trucks, minivans, and other buses.  the roads beside the bus are filled with scooters and people.  the scooter guys are poaching people from the buses and vans, and at this point we don’t know whats going on.  ladies are walking up to the windows selling everything from cold water and towels to grilled corn, sticky rice, gum, you name it.  we sat in this traffic line, moving slowly – inch by inch – for at least an hour until we reached a ferry dock.  we realized what the scooters were doing now.  in the distance you could see major construction of a massive bridge.  until it gets completed, this ferry line would be a daily activity for most.

    coconut candy makers

    coconut candy makers

    finally we had fresh air blowing in the bus again (local bus means no AC, just hot sticky and sweaty – smells real good).  an hour later we stop for lunch.  we take a seat and realize everyone’s looking at us again.  guess we’re in an area where not too many westerners pass through.  we sit down sipping our pepsi over ice and take in the silent stares.  i (jeff) begin rolling a ciggy and an old man with ho chi minh characteristics, who has been sweeping around us, takes notice.  he stops.  he stares. he smiles.  we come to realize, maybe he hasn’t seen a rolly since the last time he came across americans some 30 years ago.  jeff offers him one and he smiles and sits down in acceptance.  by now, he’s smoking in silence with a smile, others from the bus are circling around us in silence, and we just sit there and take it all in.  very much like when robin williams returns to neverland in hook and all the lost boys surround him in curiosity staring and touching.  finally the old man says two or three words softly and kindly (we have no idea what he said).  but they were probably the softest words we’ve heard in all of the vietnam language.  after this surreal moment, we load back on the bus and in a few more hours we arrive at our destination.

    coconut candy...like caramel

    coconut candy...like caramel

    we hop on the back of a bike – with both our bags and both of us…major weight – and the guy rides us around from hotel to hotel until we find one that fits us.  now we’ve settled in, we have a great balcony to watch the kites fly in the sky, the mellow traffic below and enjoy the 24 pack of beer 333 that jeff bought and the many mangoes stacy bought.  we’re happy campers.

    wo here we are, do do do do, ice cold beer in my hand, do do do do, killin them mosquitoes to survive, do do do do, hopin my next ride will be alright, do do do do , cause that’s how the mekong delta blues carries you through the night, do do do do…

    xo”

    honey bee man

    honey bee man

    mekong bees - can you find the queen?

    mekong bees - can you find the queen?

    wildman jeff

    wildman jeff

    water buffalo - keeping it cool

    water buffalo - keeping it cool

    starting to charge a bit now...

    starting to charge a bit now...

    $6 horse and carriage ride - what a rip off!

    $6 horse and carriage ride - what a rip off!

    boatin it - its been a looong day

    boatin it - it's been a looong day

    typical mekong scene

    typical mekong scene

    cute little whiskers!

    cute little whiskers!

    wood

    wood

    watermelon

    watermelon

    stacy

    stacy

    jeff in front of our homestay

    jeff in front of our homestay

    mekong cathedral

    mekong cathedral

    canal scene

    canal scene

    boy peeling fruit

    boy peeling fruit

    floating market

    floating market

    house

    house

    schools out

    school's out

    arriving in chau doc

    arriving in chau doc

    jeff + beer = happy camper

    jeff + beer = happy camper

    moon rising

    moon rising

    dusk settling from our balcony view

    dusk settling from our balcony view

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (22 of 40)

    chna beach surf

    china beach surf

    where to begin?????
    “let’s see, we spent 8 days in china beach which is located half way between danang and hoi an. and we loved every second of it.  the only reason we left was cause we’ve now started a bit of a schedule to meet my mom.  but, open long beach, very similar to hosugar (sp?) of southern france according to jeff, just not quite the waves right now. though, we did get one day of surf there. that’s right, WE.  i kinda freaked and came in fairly quickly though cause it was getting too big for the likes of me.

    jeff or mike, i think mike (new friend)

    jeff or mike, i think mike (new friend)

    our little hotel was quaint, on a dirt road that led to the beach where two little seafood restaurants were.  the first few nights the vacant pine forest separated our hotel and the beach filled up with hundreds of high schoolers (you can see it in some older pics) going crazy with karaoke, games, singing and dancing…the vietnamese girls know how to get down.  we were pulled into a few little dance circles not sure what to do, and both of us were pretty seductively ‘freaked’ by the locals… pretty funny. we have it all recorded (with sound)..classic.

    from china beach we chose to stay one night in hoi an; a beautiful city with plenty of old architecture NOT destroyed by the wars past. we rented a motor and went a few days from china beach, but chose not to stay cause it was pricier than where we were anticipating and hot, with no beach at your doorstep.  we got some clothes made, had some traditional foods and then were on our way south to jungle beach, another beach paradise north of nhe trang by 60km.

    stacy - surfs up!

    stacy - surf's up!

    our clothes and a pair of sandals turned out pretty good and we were on our way, back on the night bus onward south.  we heard about jungle beach through our china beach place owner, hoa (a very nice guy who loves his beer).  we got on our bus, got some cozy beds, and at 4:30am we were dropped off alone in the middle of nowhere at a gas station. we made it.

    to our surprise, but not really cause we’re in vietnam, two guys came out of the bushes and offered us rides to jungle beach, which is a 30km ride from there.  after some negotiating we were on our way, once again on the back of a scooter with our way-too-large of bags (we weighed them and they are each teetering on 60lbs!!!).  we had an amazing cruise, starting in the dark with the stars, then watching the sunrise over these beautiful landscapes of rice paddies and what smelled like cow fields.  we hit the water, went through a small village, and voila, we were at the jungle beach.

    china beach sunrise

    china beach sunrise

    an amazing place. it really was a backpackers resort.  a private-ish beach, white sands, warmer water than where we had just come from (not that it was cold by any means, even up there), beautiful landscapes of jungle and hills with boulders and monkeys, great little rustic bungalows, play areas with a ping pong table, and some great food. it was ‘all inclusive’ per se – 22 bucks each, which included all meals and housing.  alcohol was extra. overall a bit pricier than we were used to, but the experience was great and worth every bit of it.

    it was really something out of ‘the beach’ but all positives… there were around 20 of us for the three days we were there.  you get up around 7 or 8ish, walk around the beach, come up for a delicious breakfast that you get to pick (great scrambled eggs, the best yet, pancakes, frenchtoast…) then you do what you do best and hang on the beach. we all have our own little shades made of bamboo and we laid out, read and surfed. thats right, surfed!

    morning volleyball sessions, china beach

    morning volleyball sessions, china beach

    jeff finally had his moments. me too! it was great.  we showed up in the morning, everyone already down on the beach, but nobody was messing with the shitty, but workable surfboards.  jeff picked up the long board, hit some waves, showed me how, and then everyone was out wanting to learn – it was great and hilarious. jeff was pushing german guys bigger than him on the board into a wave.  everyone else was from europe so they had no experience but were dying to learn. it was so much fun!

    at lunch we’re all summoned from the beach by the nice ladies and served a family style meal that is absolutely delish.  we go back to the beach, repeat, the ladies bring us amazing juicy fresh fruit in the afternoon, beach, then dinner at 6ish…amazing food again.  and then it’s back to the beach for party and bonfires with guitar and singing galore.  it just felt so good to be surrounded by people of like minds doing what we do best…chillin. we listened and sang and just had an awesome time with great people.  it was one of those moments where we were waiting for something bad to happen cause everything was so great. even the local guys were singing on the beach and sharing some local folk songs.

    another china beach sunrise

    another china beach sunrise

    after a few days though, we had to depart.  sylvio, the canadian trippy owner booked us a night train to saigon and we were on our way. coincidentally, 10 others were leaving so the timing was right.  hopefully we’ll run into some again on the road…. the travel road always seems to be smaller than it really is.

    we arrived in saigon, now ho chi minh city at 4:30am after a well rested train ride, bed and all, got a hotel and started our exploring.  we ended up getting a cyclo, a three wheel bike and drove around town.  our driver was hilarious and even famous; he got his photo taken riding his bike in some tourist mag. he wooed us with his charm and we were on our way.

    little girl, wish we knew what she was saying

    little girl, wish we knew what she was saying

    first to the war remnants museum, the last of our war visits.  a moving, depressing, amazing museum, definitely from the VC prospective.  the favorite part of it was the section dedicated to all the correspondence/photographers that had lost their lives in the war. an amazing photo collection…the most moving part of the museum. american, french, english, japanese, korean, and vietnamese photographers. such telling stories.  there was also a section on agent orange (appaling pictures and even two or three you could call it, real babies kept in liquid so you can witness the atrocities the poison causes), the tiger cage jails that the south used, one containing an old french guillotine (old school be-header) that was used through the early 60′s, old weapons/bombs, and alas, a beautiful display of local children’s artwork on how they see a peaceful world.  great museum, but we’re done depressing ourselves.

    hoi an river

    hoi an river

    we then moved on the cho’lon, the old china town. it’s not much of a china town now as many migrated/fled during and after the war.  now it’s all in construction with whole blocks being demolished to create new streets. we saw a cool pagoda, lady in the sky , that was built in 906AD.  then he took us for lunch, some delicious pho, our best yet. and he told us more of his past.

    oh before that, the best part – he was telling us he has 4 kids (3 boys and 1 girl) where he lives and so forth. he recently found a baby at the rail station. crazy saigon.  no one knew where he came from so he took him home and has been raising him for the last 8 months.  he was telling us this story and then kept saying something but we couldn’t really understand. then it came to us:  he was asking us to take this baby home as our own!!!!!!!!!!! he said he’d accompany us to the police station, get all the paperwork figured out, and then we could take him back to the states with us. he then started pulling out pictures of this adorable little boy. we said thank you but no thank you.  but throughout the day he kept asking…. any takers???

    hoi an lanterns...everywhere!

    hoi an lanterns...everywhere!

    so, we had lunch, he told of us his fight with the south from 68-71ish, he was shot twice but just barely, showing us scars above his eye and on his thumb. one of his two brothers disappeared in the war. the remaining of them served in prison for four years, at the end of the war, until they memorized the words of communism and were able to convince them of their dedication.  now he still isn’t allowed in northern vietnam for his past southern alliance.

    it was a great day spent with our friend. now we’re ditchin this massive city and heading south to the mekong…land of fruit and mosquitoes!

    i’m sure there’s a lot more to be said, but jeffs waiting patiently outside so its time to go…. plus these computers are so damn slow you have no idea how long this takes just to do this and upload a measly 15 photos….when we have so much more!

    peace and love”

    hoi an streets

    hoi an streets

    hoi an alley

    hoi an alley

    carving station

    carving station

    old french style building walls

    old french style building walls

    view from back of our hotel hoi an

    view from back of our hotel hoi an

    jungle mountains

    jungle mountains

    campfire singing

    campfire singing

    our jungle beach bungalow

    our jungle beach bungalow

    bungalow inside

    bungalow inside

    classic watch dog

    classic watch dog

    hoi an market

    hoi an market

    eggs

    eggs

    lettuce

    lettuce

    jungle beach - to the beach

    jungle beach - to the beach

    path from dining to bungalow

    path from dining to bungalow

    cyclo with our famous driver

    cyclo with our famous driver

    ho chi minh sity

    ho chi minh sity

    our could be son

    our 'could be' son

    wishes and prayers

    wishes and prayers

    incense prayer to last a month

    incense prayer to last a month

    pho lunch with our driver

    pho lunch with our driver

    our famous driver

    our famous driver

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (18 of 40)

    ho chi minh statue

    ho chi minh statue

    uncle ho…
    today we saw uncle ho.  really we saw him in his own flesh…. embalmed of course.  at the ho chi minh mausoleum, you stand in this thick long line for about thirty minutes and you swiftly move along the outside until you reach the ‘lotus building‘ what looks like a square with pillars, and you silently enter in and weave around to where he rests…. a big, ornamental, glass coffin, resting with his hand layed upon his chest, ‘peacefully sleeping’.  you walk steady around and past him as well as the 6 manikin-like guards beside him, and then out you go.  through this there’s no pictures, bags, anything – you check all that in.  it’s a free sight, as many pilgrimages here often are.  pretty crazy, don’t know how often we’ll see something like that in our lives.  uncle ho wanted to be cremated, but after his death, his followers thought only fit to follow suit of lenin and stalin and embalm him…. crazy stuff.

    breakdancers

    breakdancers

    after this we had our first real pho experience.  this one was pho bo (beef noodle soup, at least we hope, as we did see more fido being offered just up the street, in a real restaurant in the open )…. the grandma, lookin pretty damn old, sat us down and with no words exchanged. we saw her grab a wad of raw minced beef, throw it in a woven basket spoon, hold it in the boiling water, then dump it atop rice noodles with fresh chives, pepper , salt, and poured over a broth, and then placed these plentiful bowls in front.  that was good enough for us, we thought…. then she grabbed a plate of chicken, a plate of spring rolls and meatball things, a bowl of fresh greens (mint, coriander, lettuce), a jar of garlic, and a spicy soy sauce concoction, and began serving away…. she took much of each and dipped it in one sauce and then threw it all on top of our bowls…it was actually outrageous.  so much food and flavors and really good – as long as you didn’t look too close as what was in the meatballs or the spring rolls…..i’m sure it was all okay to eat  ; )  chased down with two room temp canned heineken, and quite a meal.  we seriously felt like we were hansel and gretal at the candy house, she would NOT stop giving us chow… after we got across we couldn’t eat anymore pho, she had her sweet smiley granddaughter clear our plates… then the bananas came out and the hot tea… we just couldn’t get enough i guess.  by this time jeff and i are cracking up at how she just won’t let down… but we know, there’s gonna be a price to it all.  and of course, she then asks for $200,000 dong (15 bucks about….) and we’re like hell no.  we figured it probably should have been around 80,000 dong, so we left her 100,000 and walked away with her shouting at us.  we passed by her again later and waved and it was all smiles

    evening excercise

    evening excercise

    after pho time, we went to the temple of literature, the 1st school in vietnam, built in 1075 i believe.  very cool old buildings and beautiful property.

    vietnam doesn’t seem to have much if any copyright laws.  the book says it’s in the works but, for now, anything goes.  so what this means is if you have one successful restaurant, hotel, tour company, store of any kind, there will be at least 10 copy cats anywhere, even if it means all 10 are lined up right next door.  it’s hilariously frustrating when you’re looking for the right one, or just trying not to go in circles when, around every corner, you see the same names…. if we’re looking for something out of the book then we just make sure the addresses really match up.  and speaking of books, we bought two:  lonely planet vietnam and mr. nice (aussie book), and both are photocopies! the covers are photocopied on hard back so you would never know… its crazy out here!

    the pho shebang

    the 'pho' shebang

    tomorrow we head to halong bay for 3 days on a junk (boat) and to stay on an island…. should be cool!  the weather is warm to cool with a slight mist, so it’s almost perfect.  the first day we didn’t have any mist and it was perfect, but still, the mist is just that, there’s no wind, so calm seas should lie ahead….

    xxxoo jeff and stacy

    pho grandma and prodigy

    pho grandma and prodigy

    temple of literature enterance

    temple of literature enterance

    hello!

    hello!

    literature grounds

    literature grounds

    doctorines plaques

    'doctorines' plaques

    music video being filmed

    music video being filmed

    old

    old

    incense dragon

    incense dragon

    cool view

    cool view

    freaky giant turtle

    freaky giant turtle

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (17 of 40)

    view of old quarter over hanoi

    view of old quarter over hanoi

    it’s day three in hanoi and we’re still diggin it.  a city of 3 million, its got an amazing amount of character and charm, of course with the daily tourist scams, but we’d be surprised if there weren’t any.

    view of lake from cafe

    view of lake from cafe

    on our first day we walked around ‘old quarter‘ where we’re staying to get our barrings.  first things first – coffee.  the book raves about the coffee here so we gave it a try.  the first cafe we saw was more of a club, but with a fabulous view so we said what the heck.  on the 6th floor balcony we were overlooking the lake on one side and the old quarter on the other.  and the coffee had like 6 shots of espresso, thick espresso, topped off with warm sweet milk, if you like…rip the enamel right off those pearly whites.  this ‘cafe’ was something we could never afford to go to in the states as looked like the swankiest club in vegas…but for us, a mere $5.00 for two coffees and a pineapple/carrot shake…. sure not really on our backpackers budget, but what a view…

    strong coffees and shake... notice the carved carrot...

    strong coffees and shake... notice the carved carrot...

    the old quarter definitely has a french feel to the architecture, but the streets are everything you’d expect of a bustling asian city.  motor bikes, bicycles, and cars, zooming every which way.  horns going off everywhere!  but to tell you the truth, even a blind man could cross the road here, you just gotta keep moving (never stop!) and the traffic weaves around you like a river around a rock.

    each street specializes in one thing, be it aluminum materials, silk cloth, musical instruments, chinese lanterns, flowers, plush toys, plastic toys, you name it.  it’s like one giant store and each street serves as an aisle.

    the lake we’re at has been here for thousands of years, hanoi itself is something like 545 days until its 1000 year anniversary (there’s banners and billboards countin’ down).

    legend has it the dynastic leader at the time, ly, was sent a sword from the gods and defeated the chinese with it, and then a giant turtle

    mmm...coffee

    mmm...coffee

    from this lake came up and grabbed it from his hands, taking it below and returning to the gods

    where it came from…. still today there really are giant turtles in the lake, but you only see them maybe once every two years, so consider yourself damn lucky if you do! we did, but embalmed on a temple island on the lake, looks more like a giant seal or something stuffed in a shell….

    water puppetry is an ancient form of entertainment, originally started at the rice paddies… the puppets are made from fig trees with dye from foods.  they use a stick to move the puppets from afar, and back in the day, these experienced puppeteers would get water borne diseases. yuck.  puppeteers have at least a minimum of 3 years experience.  now, its done in theatres, clean water, and they wear waders.  we saw it, pretty cool.  check out the pics.

    roof tops

    roof tops

    eel or snake?  in food market, of course!

    eel or snake? in food market, of course!

    want some bananas?

    want some bananas?

    what a load

    what a load

    flowers!

    flowers!

    flower bike

    flower bike

    old quarter street corner

    old quarter street corner

    ancient bridge

    ancient bridge

    fruit bikes

    fruit bikes

    house

    house

    jeff in street

    jeff in street

    oranges

    oranges

    jeff lookin like a natural

    jeff lookin like a natural

    old wall

    old wall

    old quarter on the lake by night

    old quarter on the lake by night

    turtle temple island

    turtle temple island

    pagoda, the symbol of hanoi

    pagoda, the symbol of hanoi

    tower

    tower

    cool old trunk

    cool old trunk

    bridge

    bridge

    water puppet parade

    water puppet parade

    the puppet masters

    the puppet masters

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (14 of 40)

    crossing the river in protest of the toll bridge

    crossing the river in protest of the toll bridge

    party on the river…
    “blazing through the towering limestone mountains of laos to the river town of vang vieng we arrive in our mini bus.

    so we’ve been taking lots of minibuses and each time you think your going to be riding in the brand new one sitting at the bus station, but when the time comes they always bring the old van around from the back. well, our luck has changed and we finally had the pleasure our of riding in a new minivan with a great ac and plenty of power.  since the car was so new our driver was a litttle timid and liked to brake when diving up hill.  oh well, the ac worked great.

    our bungalows, jeff and his beer

    our bungalows, jeff and his beer

    the landscape is beautiful here in laos.  we loved thailand but here it’s all blue skies and greenery with the classic limestone giants towering in the air.

    we found a nice bungalow across the river down towards the end of town.  when we arrived at the bridge to cross, they wanted 4000kp to cross, so we decided just to walk across the water instead.  having to wade across the river each time you want to go home makes for a great adventure – plus you can go for a swim and cool off!

    our first night we joined our travel friends for a great meal on the streets.  we tried the fried morning glory and fired noodles with chicken and chased it down with a large beer lao. then we went to the bucket bar for a bucket of wiskey.  in asia it seems to be your best value but the hangover is very bad.  even worse was the dj who was playing at the club.  so we sat and watch 3 boys that look like girls dance and grind on the pole – not a pretty sight.  it seemd to work because every 10 minutes or so you would see a guy walk up and go for a hug, then jump back 5 feet and run away while his buddies would laugh.

    more about our mountain bike excursion next time…”

    sunrise

    sunrise

    Guest Blog – Jeff & Stacy do SE Asia (13 of 40)

    monks playing football

    monks playing football

    back on the tuk tuk …
    “to the public bus stop.

    well we made it to our furthest northern town of chaing sien. this little town sits on the mekong river near the famous golden triangle.

    we found a great little guest house that sits just outside the old city walls. thinking that we could walk there we turned down the tuk tuk driver (fare was a doller) and made our way down the street strolling along the mekong river. temperature was in the 90′s, our packs weigh a good amount, yet we were determined to walk, because as a backpacker that’s what you do to save a dollar.

    after we settled in we walked back to town for a meal at the local street vender. i had chinese chicken rice which was prepared over a bed of japanese mesquite fire, then was flashed in a dry red curry powder and sprinkled with fresh corriander. stacy had the red pork on baby greens. her dish was prepared from 2 month aged pork that had been smoked with candy apples, figs and a hint of honey. amazing!

    luang prabang tuk tuk

    luang prabang tuk tuk

    the next day we rented a motorbike and head to the golden triangle where you can see burma, laos, and thailand all meet on the mekong. they burn all the under brush in this part of the world so its hard to see much of anything in the distance, but we were able to appreciate the beauty.

    after that, we set out to see the wats (or temples) that sit on the hillsides of chaing sien. very impressive with buhhda and all his monks chillin in their orange robes.  we then tried to catch the sunset at a nearby lake that captures  the beauty of the lotus flowers and the orchestra of the numerous wild birds. we ended our day with a great meal on the river. street venders throw down bamboo mats and tables and serve you a great meal with beers and local wiskey.

    the next day we were on our way to laos on a 2 day slow boat down the mekong river. the border on the laos side was a little unorganized. after we filled out the forms we stood in a line (or what looks like a line) to wait and wait to give our passport and 35 american dollars to the officials.
    grand palace now museum

    grand palace now museum

    after that, the boat company gets all the travelers together for a speech on the laos boat trip. first they tell us that on the first day we will be on the boat for 12 hours and that our lives are at risk.

    we spend the night at a river town and again the boat guy tells us that we might have our luggage stolen off the boat by villagers, that there is also no electricity, very few rooms available and, to top it all off, we could DIE.

    at that point i had to leave to get a beer because everywhere we went there is a scam and we have heard it many times. this whole speech is being given so they can talk people into taking the bus for an additional 300 baht.

    overall, the boat trip was a great time with travelers from all over the world. they had a bar with food, the seats were wood benches that suck after about 30 min, but lucky for us the first day was only 7 hours long.

    peace

    peace

    we arrived to a great little village with friendly locals and plenty of places to stay. a bit more expensive but nice. we ate at a great indian/laos resturant to fuel up for our second day.

    second day was great with lots of time to take in the beauty of the river and chat with the other travelers – this trip took about 10hrs. now we are in luang prabang checkin it out. seems to be more french influence here with fresh baguettes and wine stores along the narrow streets.

    we’re leaving in a day to vang vieng to see more and keep the adventure exciting and new….”

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (10 of 40)

    our little bungalow

    our little bungalow

    and we’re off…part 2
    in the morning, everyone was up at the crack of dawn, and the whole family was up and about getting things ready for the day.  women were already returning from the forest with baskets full of dried leaves, to either use as fuel or as roofing, kids were running everywhere, water was boiling, roosters were kooing, dogs were barking, it was quite a lively village.  as jeff and i walked around the village there were a few ecstatic ‘hello’s’ but mostly stares. 

    after a large breakfast of scrambled eggs, a whole loaf of white bread toasted for us, hot tea…. we were on our way.  our plan was to go up to a lahu village then over to another karen village and then to a cave, waterfall, and get lessons on more bamboo cooking uses.  we ventured on through some burn fields (created for rice paddie farms) on to the lahu village.

    lahu village

    lahu village

    within 20 minutes we were at the next village, a lahu village.  so close together, but there were so many little differences between the two it was pretty amazing.  appearance all together was different, this one seeming a little tidier, not as many trees and bushes or fences either.  and a lot more cows – tons of cows.  the houses themselves were made slightly differnt materials: palm leaves as roofs instead of the teak leaves, and the siding was actual wood slabs rather than woven wood.  the language different too.  we hung at a house for almost 45 minutes drinking tea and watching the men talk over banana leaf rolled cigarettes and observing. mong, the local lahu guide is hilarious – especially after some moonshine or even red bull.  he mumbles to himself as the leader of the pack.  we’d always ask him what kind of terrain was ahead, and he’d say, oh, easy easy, no hill, and then we would arrive at a steap and long hill, but to him, it wasn’t a hill.  pretty amazing. 

    whisky in a bucket!

    whisky in a bucket!

    at the next karen village we were given yet another large meal, similar to the others along with tea and soda this time.  we relaxed for quite some time, went with some of the locals to look at the local ‘coffin cave’ (a 5 minute walk from where we were) saw a large old wooden coffin, then waited till it was time to go meet the truck.

    overall a fantastic experience – we do wish we could have finished out the trip, but after jeffs spider experience, we were all a little nervous to camp in the jungle itself.  so instead, the next day we went with our new friends to the pool in pai and chilled all day long at the pool drinking beer and eating french fries… can’t beat that!
     
    at night we decided to go out and see what the real nightlife was all about.  we went to a bar called re-tox (vs detox…clever) that was all about drinking games – chalk boards covered the walls with ongoing scores between countries based on the speed of drinking, the quantity of drinking, anything from beer to shots
    jeff & our new french friends!

    jeff & our new french friends!

    this night happened to be the canadian owners birthday so he threw himself a party.  we weren’t really sure what to expect but before we knew it we were joining in on some dice games and drinking a bucket of whiskey.  the group was kinda small, about 15 of us, so we partied on and then ventured out to some other bars come midnight.  we met a crazy and cool west african chick that had some amazing stories of hitching through sudan and such, some crazy french (see photos), scots, irish, etc… by the time we made it to the next bar, we were well on our way so decided to call it a night before it was too late.  later we found out the rest of the gang was out til 7in the morning… wow were we glad we didn’t make it out that long, we felt hungover enough as it was…. but now we can say we partied hard in thailand!

    next on the agenda:  elephant riding tonight, cooking class tomorrow, then monday we venture on…….

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (9 of 40)

    stacy and her stick in the bamboo

    stacy and her stick in the bamboo

    and we’re offpart 1
    “before we knew it, mong (our local guide) charged down the hill with his basket on his back full of tons of food, water, a pot, and who knows what else…. we were told to follow with our little daypacks on our back, toil (our pai guide) following behind.

    we started through farmlands, then down to a creek through banana and bamboo groves.  first order of business was walking sticks.  the men stopped got out there machetes and cut each of us a sturdy bamboo walking stick.  we were off….

    jungle lunch

    we hiked up, down and around, and it was hot hot hot!  but we had our water, and every once in awhile it would get a little cooler.  we ventured through major teak groves and bamboo groves…we trumped over dry clay, through creeks, over bamboo fences, and through masses of dried huge leaves…it felt like trumping through snow, only a little crunchier sounding.  and of course, going through my mind was wondering what was underneath all these leaves, perhaps a poisonous snake? a giant spider? even a big lizard would give me a jump… but no such luck thank god.

    villiage street

    after a few hours we stopped for lunch in a dry creek bed.  the two guides pulled down some banana leaves and created some seats for us, then they swiftly created a fire with twigs, cut down some bamboo and made a mortar and pestle to crush chili and two bamboo cups for his homemade ‘moonshine whiskey’ – so resourceful! we sat in amazement as we watched the two of them create this tremendous lunch:  ramen noodles with tons of fresh veggies, salted fish, pork belly, and a fresh chili sauce using some ‘wild olives’ they found in the forest.  it was great, and super delish!

    karen villiage

    karen village

    as we were sitting, we glanced above at the banana leaves and realized they were moving… there were thousands, if not millions, of daddy long leg spiders with the longest legs you’ve ever seen! and when the fire started, the smoke must of spooked them cause it started raining daddy long legs…. you could hear it even as they made a run for the ground, and crawling on us! it was crazy, but okay, none of us freaked too much, rather observed in amazement!

    curious karen girl

    curious karen girl

    we tried some moonshine, and it literally evaporated on your tongue – strong stuff! and the two, toil and mong downed this stuff.  it must keep them running.  after lunch we ventured on to a waterfall, took a little dip, then we were on to the village.  all in all we probably hiked around 16 km (miles??) up down and around, we were totally pooped!

    we arrived at the karen village at dusk and were escorted to a house where tea awaited us.  the ‘hill tribe’ was very much a village, with one satellite in sight, but still very rustic. we were greeted by what seemed like one very large family.  the village itself consists of around 25 families. the house was two rooms, only separated by a half size wall and an open doorway and a step.  the front room was the ‘kitchen’ and hangout area with some storage, the back room the sleeping area.  large mats were thrown down with a small table and from there we were waited on all night long with tea, way too much food, snacks, fruit, etc….

    karen generations

    karen generations

    the dinner was rice, dandelion soup with pork, morning glory greens with cat ear mushrooms, noodles with veggies…. all very good!  and then we were given large samplings of a karen dinner… similar to ours but more spice and thrown in some dried fish and chili and tuna sauce that an eggplant like veggie was dipped into.  soo much food though, but all good.  the stars were amazing.  the most we’ve seen yet by far.  everybody was very nice, lots of staring from the curious kids too.

    after we set up our beds, we all fell asleep pretty swiftly.  but then… shortly after a lil sleep, jeff was awakened by a small sensation – after a little more focus on it, he felt something crawl up his beardand then all giant 8 legs hit his face, just over his eye!  aaahhhhh!”   we had previously seen this suckers outside in their bathroom:  the size of your palm, dirt brown, skinny long legs and big eyes…… jeff swiftly and quickly grabbed it and threw it against the wall beside him creating quite a pound and a thump to follow, just to show you how big this guy was.  after debating whether or not to wake me and tell me, he chose to wait til morning and then mummified himself in his blankets and tried to get more shut eye.  so glad it wasn’t me, i think i would have screamed bloody murder!

    more on our trek to come….

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (8 of 40)

    lahu men

    lahu men

    the trek
    “on our 3rd day here in pai we ventured out on a trek.  after seeing all the places in chiang mai we were getting kinda picky.  we didn’t want to just take a truck and get dropped off at the village and then turn around and get back on the truck.  thats’ what most of tours looked like.  we found a local guide named toil that seemed pretty cool – he caught our attention right away.

    so we signed up for a 3 day 2 night trek, 1 night in a karen village the other camping in the jungle.  we lucked out with just 1 other couple with us, vs the other treks who would go with around 15 people.

    so we hopped in the back of toils truck and ventured off.  our first stop, the tourist police.  toil gave them photo copies of our passports and informed them where we were off to.  then the head police guy comes out to us in the truck and gives us almost a farewell speech, it was crazy.  he pretty much said be safe its dangerous out there, our lives are in toils hands so respect him, and then finished it off with saying he hopes we return.

    our guide

    our guide

    wow, you should have seen all of our faces.  what had we gotten ourselves into ?!?!  (later, at the end of course, toil tells us he’s never had the guy say that before and it even gave him the shivers! but here we are, safe and sound… )

    so, we drove 45 minutes northwest and then off the main road up a fairly bumpy dirt road – pretty much reminded me of the indiana jones ride at disneyland…grasping on the handlebars as ventured up.  we arrived at a lahu village.

    all these ‘hill tribe’ villages are migrants from burma and china from hundreds of years past.  each has their own language dialect and culture.  we were greeted by two guys, as well as puppies, pigs, cows, and chickens, all roaming around.  we were also greeted by a local guy, named mong, who was to serve as our guide.

    stay tuned and we’ll tell you all about the trek….”

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (7 of 40)

    early morning

    early morning

    chiang mai to pai
    “we actually survived beautiful bangkok! we have a few more things to do there but were going to wait until stacy’s mom arrives. after our overnight bus ride, which was a shitty bus with old uncomfortable seats we arrived in chiang mai.

    the bus company has this little scam when you show up in town. they say that the bus can’t go into town so they need to drop you off outside and they will have their truck taxi take you into old town….so we all get out and load up into the taxi (around 10 people per) and they take us to a guest house where they offered coffee or tea.  its a good offer since it’s around 6:30 in the morning.

    minutes later, after we woke up from our travels, they brought out a picture board that shows all the treks they offer in the mountains. 3 days, 2 nights, one day you hike then the next you ride an elephant through the jungle then you finish by riding a bamboo raft down a river – sounds pretty cool!  they sweeten the deal with a one night free room if you book it.

    stacy and i are trying to get off the standard backpacker scam trail so we left for our guest house that we already arranged. i never thought i would be traveling with a cell phone but i have to say it makes thing easy in se asia.

    once we were settled we went out to see chiang mai, the town everyone is talking about. a lot of the backpackers stay in the old part off town which is surrounded by a moat, and on the interior of that was a large wall around the city (now only the main gate is still standing). we search for what everyone has been talking about, but we only found a cool reggae roof-top bar and the night market where everyone goes to buy their gifts. stacy found some cool silver jewelry and a dress, as I found a chang wallet.

    after we decided we weren’t really diggin on chiang mai, we fled and went up to pai, about three hours northwest on a windy road.  finally, a great place!  chiang mai was just too much of a city still for us.  pai is just the opposite.

    killer pai breakfast - wild mushroom crepe and tomato salad

    killer pai breakfast - wild mushroom crepe and tomato salad

    hardly any cars on the road, maybe more motor bike, if even that, and bicycles.  it was described in the book as a little hippie town and that it is.  a little more touristy than in the past i’m sure, but still a great feeling all around.  now we’re staying in a killer little bungalow on the river just across from downtown, very cheap too!

    the food everywhere has been excellent, all organic, some even vegan.  even the western food is great, though the thai is beyond excellent.  and of course, being the hippie town it is, lots of wheat grass shots, tons of different teas for every ailment out there, and then there’s the crystal wand therapy, reiki, yoga and good ol’ meditation… almost a little berkeley in the hills!”

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (4 of 40)

    the big buddah

    the big buddah

    getting out
    “well we have been in phuket for a while now. stacy dental work was a success and she is feeling better! we’ve been spending our days on the motor bike cruising around the island.

    one day we went to the biggest buddah in thailand, then we also went to see a movie at the mall on the same day (inkheart). for $12 we got our own private couch (that reclines!) and for $3 we got 2 large cokes and a medium carmel popcorn…we just wanted to treat ourselves.

    then we cruz to patong beach where anything goes. its a pit of travelers, women that are men, girls of the night, souvenirs, anything you want. we walked around for a bit then headed back to nai han where we’re staying.

    we stopped at the small view reggae bar for a bite to eat and to see the local band covering some bob marley, peter tosh, jimmy cliff, and some thai reggae originals. we recorded it with our audio recorder. once we figure out how to put it on the web site you will be able to hear our music recordings.

    we went sailing on tuesday for the night with plans to sail for three days. we motored to an island for the first night where we anchored in the cove next to all the thai fishing boats. when we arrived, our new friend with the boat (chip, a family friend of stacy’s) brought his 3 new kittens along. we decided to take them to the beach. stacy and i went snorkeling while chip watched the kittens and they decided to go explore. they left for the whole night in the jungle. we all were very concerned motoring to shore in our zodiac every few hours.

    crazy

    crazy

    long story short, they were on the beach in the morning safe, but a little scared. so we decided to go back to phuket and get the kittens home.

    we’ll try the sailing when we return to thailand in a few months. stacy’s mom is coming to visit us soon so we’re excited to see some family and explore new places together.

    lots more to tell but i hate computers and its sunny outside. i also need to work on my tan in my banana sling, chicks are diggin it (and of course, stacy too).

    peace and love, jeff and stacy”

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (3 0f 40)

    elephant crossing

    elephant crossing

    planes, trains and automobiles….
    “seriously, 37 hours worth…. but we made it to phuket from bali in that short amount of time.

    it all started sunday morning at 8 o’clock we went into to kuta from padang, returned our car and hitched a ride to the airport. from there we took asia air (a great cheap airline that flies everywhere direct, their slogan ” now everyone can fly,” which was free seating – kinda a funny airplane all together, but big. we made it safe into kula lumpar, malaysia. from here we didn’t really know what our plan was, but at that point we decided to head straight into thailand and we’ll come back and do malaysia. we took an hour bus ride from the airport into town to the sentral train station. wow. niether of us really knew what to expect in malaysia. driving through what looked like thousands of day palm farms, out of nowhere a mini brand new suburb would pop up; classy shiny lookin houses! and the roads are immaculate. the whole infrastructure was amazing. something i’d expect to see in japan or something. and all the cars on this 4 lane freeway were big and newer than our car cars. getting closer into the city we could see larger buildings holding some major technology firms or something. and in town, the bridges look like that of melbourne with the lines going everywhich way to create a modern art piece.

    not knowing anything, what we learned is that malaysia is quite the melody between chinese and indian; between muslim, buddhist, and christian. in one area you see ladies adorned in beautiful scarves covering all of their body and then you turn around and see a group of young chinese girls in little heels with their mini skirts on. it was crazy. and in the bathroom, much to be said, but for one, all the ladies washed thier feet as well as their hands.

    after waiting for three hours in the train station, we took an overnighter up to a town called butterworth outside of georgetown (can you guess that malaysia used to be under the british empire…?). this was the farthest north we could get by train on that day. the train was horrible. from all that we had seen so far we were really looking forward to it. but no such luck. the seats were okay, pretty spacious (no sleepers were available), but man, they had that a/c blasting all night with the flourescent lights on the whole time too…. we couldn’t believe it. we would have needed our thickest wool blanket to be comfortable on this sucker. after a miserable 8 hours we arrived at our destination at 6am and then started our bussin’ adventures at 9am.

    mango salad

    mango salad

    these ‘gypsy vans’ (toyota vans converted to hold 12 people) were suprisingly pretty darn cool. with the funky curtains in the window, a/c above each person like on an airplane, and some decent local tunes, we cruised over the border accompanied by two local old men, looking to be the 70 year old version of bert and ernie but malaysian, a muslim girl, another girl dressed for a good time, a caucasian monk who kept to himself and a young boy looking like an abercrombie and fitch model. and us of course. a unique combination. four hours later and getting on and off this ‘bus’ three time to take care of stamping, paying, more stamping, etc…. we made it to hat yoi, thailand. then another bus to krabi, and then another bus to phuket. by 8pm monday night we arrived at our destination.

    phuket. many people told us to not really hang here too long cause it’s just another expat area now, not too much culture. well this is somewhat true but we’ve lucked out meeting some great people and fell into an awesome situation. first night we stayed in old phuket town in the little china town part. we found a great little restaurant with the nicest owners who talked us through our first language lesson and told us about our whereabouts. we liked it so much we returned for breakfast the next day and tried their lemon grass juice.

    sundown

    sundown

    all along this we communicated with my moms best friend who has a vacation house in phuket near the beach – it turns out she’s letting us crash there while they’re in south africa! this place is amazing. talk about the indoor/outdoor living with beautiful hand carved furniture, lovely bathrooms, and a pool to match it all. we are way spoiled! we rented our first scooter and we’ve been cruising up and down the coast. lots of little coves with the perfect turquoise water and white sand. lots of expats for sure. but hey, it’s beautiful here.

    so today we venture on our scooter with snorkling gear in hand (hold the speedo) to go find the perfect beach. tomorrow we get down to business and find me a dentist. the healthcare is supposed to be great here, something people travel here specifically for, so we’re in luck!

    p.s. pictures are takin way too long to upload so only a few for now….

    peace and love….”

    Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (2 of 40)

    view from our front porch

    view from our front porch

    surfs up in padang padang
    “not really, well sorta.

    after an amazing time in ubud we’re back down in padang. the beach is still beautiful. ubud was a great little place, definitely the hub for displaying their culture, foods, music, and mysticism. we had a great little place looking over some rice paddies, beautiful pool, delicious green banana pancakes with a buddalicous host, all for a mere $10. couldn’t ask for more.

    ubud has the charm of a little community, everyone excited to see you there. great markets with awesome crafts. the foods are everything you want, be it turkish flat bread and hummus, hamburger that actually tasted really good, polish sausages – yes, polish sausages – and the fab local cuisine. we listened to some great jazz, all mostly covers, but still great.

    after leaving slightly frantically yesterday morning due to a painful tooth ache (stacy) we made it down to the clinic in legian/kuta area. great little experience, a little more expensive than expected but whatever. they gave me some antibiotics and pain killers and said ‘if tooth no better in five days, we take out’…. good thing we’ll be gone by then, so now i’m on painkillers and antibiotics and off to find a thai dentist…that’s another story.

    first major rain storm this morning while we lay in our bamboo huts raised on stilts in our mosquito net. thunder like we’ve never heard before, not too much lightning, but buckets of rain. after the clapping stopped we sailed down to ulu and checked the surf. small but people out having fun.

    suns startin to poke out so we’re back to the beach on padang. more pics to come, slow connection out here in the jungle though…

    tomorrow to kula lumpar, malaysia…. from there who knows!”