St Barth News Bytes

Check out these beautiful photos taken at The Bucket Airshow, the first of it’s kind in St Barth, and held in conjunction with the bucket sailing regatta, a very popular spectacle!

The Round Point or La Tourmante was covered with hundreds for the low level passes at the airport, featured at the bottom of this section.  There were also thousands on hand each day at Shell beach to view the flybys and aerobatics each day of the bucket.  Photos published in St Barth News Bytes Newsletter and taken by Captain Daniel Harper who was aboard a couple of the planes in flight.

Click HERE to view Beachhouse.com’s inventory of beautiful
beach vacation rental properties
in and around St Barth!

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Guest Blog – Stacy & jeff do SE Asia (29 of 40)

east bay phi phi

east bay phi phi

on to phi phi don…
“a comfy air conditioned ferry ride later, we’ve arrived at what some say is the most beautiful island in the world: phi phi don. you probably will recognize it from pictures, the twin bays, and it’s sister island phi phi leh, is the famous beach of the movie the beach. beautiful it is, but crowded as well. everyone always wants a piece of paradise. more lounging, swimming, snorkling, and then we experienced our first monsoon rain. it’s the beginning of the season. a quick bucket of a downpour, and then steamy afternoons. a beautiful island, you can see in the pics, unbelievable water colors and cliffs. after one night and two days, we headed onward to phuket.

jeff escaping the monsoon

jeff escaping the monsoon

here it’s a vacation away from our vacation. lovely house, scooters for all, and for jeff and i, we’re so familar with the area, it’s like the comfort of coming home. some more monsoons, swimming, shopping, and always eating and drinking, we’re closing in on indonesia. jeff is so ready, he’s more than ready. so here we come! first a stop over in malaysia for a few days to take care of our indo visa (in order to stay 60 days, you have to prearrange it) and then we arrive in bali and let the surfin begin.

p.s. we can’t believe we only have two more months to go!!! time went so slowly in the beginning, now it’s flying by…. if anyone has any ideas on how to stay on longer, pass them on! we’re not ready to come home just yet, holiday lifestyle is too good to us :)

xxoo”

trail up to the phi phi don view

trail up to the phi phi don view

phi phi don island

phi phi don island

jeff & stacy

jeff & stacy

phi phi

phi phi

monkey!

monkey!

its real!

it's real!

eyebrows & eyelashes

eyebrows & eyelashes

mom cruisin down the highway!

mom cruisin down the highway!

beer sunset

beer sunset

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (28 of 40)

thai crew team

thai crew team

traveling om
“after we reached our “om” in cambodia with ancient towers and local laughs, we ventured on back into thailand.  our second time entering thailand, and this time like the first, the country seems to be at unrest.  from our taxi ride over the border and into bangkok, much more was visible this time around. swat teams on every corner with the plastic shields and army officers manning their perches, all with rifles.  still, in our little touristy neighborhood of koh san road, life goes on as normal.  little did we know, the morning we arrived one of the main current party leaders (a yellow shirt) was attempted assignation on (by red shirts) in his motor parade by assult rifles.  scary stuff, but lucky for us, the swat and army teams on corners was the only witness we had.  but, i’m guessing it’s gonna take some major time and consideration before thailand is at peace with itself.

approaching raley

approaching raley

after our short stay in the city, we flew south to krabi, land of emerald seas and rock climbers dream limestone cliffs.  first night was spent in krabi town (the province is also named krabi) which is nothing more than a boat launch to the islands around.  but we did catch a great weekend market including karaoke, marching band, and delicous food carts. from krabi we headed out to the penninsula of raley.  this is the paradise at krabi. split into east and west sides surrounded by towering limestone painted with rockclimbers everywhere.  mom and cindy stayed on the fancy west beach while jeff and i bargined for a great bungalow in the center in a breezy grassy valley in the midst of limestones, only 5 minute walk to west or east beach. there’s no cars, only boats, monkeys, birds, great beaches.

raley cove

raley cove

on arrival we realized we were just in time for the ‘awards ceremony’ for the annual rock climbing cup and fire dancing contest. so by night the west beach turned into a stage and fire show with live music.  after some impressive fire dancing, jazz and then calypso music, we were suprised to see our token thai reggae band, job 2 do, headline the show.  jeff and i first heard of them in phuket and then spotted them throughout thailand but we were always a day or 2 behind their shows. so it was fate we’d see them eventually. it was a great show.  dancing, drinks, and we got it all recorded…jah rastafari.

bungalow

bungalow

after exploring more hidden beaches for a day (by the way, the water temp, way too hot, by far the warmest water any of us have ever swam in), we left onward on a speed boat tour of surrounding islands: hong island, paradise, and two others whose names escape me.  we loaded on our speedboat with 16 others and were on our way. cindy, mom and i sat in the front of the boat while jeff got left in the back.  the driver said it may be a bit bumpy so beware. man oh man were we in for a ride.  there were four others up there with us and we went flying in the air, thank god for the railings we were able to grab ahold of. 20 minutes later we arrived at hong island.

gang on the beach

gang on the beach

here, we kayaked around the island into a beautiful lagoon, emerald with white sands.  once we reached the lagoon, already tired from our paddeling, we decide to go for a swim. jeff asks the guide if there’s a certian area, and he points to the sandy part.  unfortunately, mama wasn’t near us to hear these directions, so she leaped off her kayak onto a blanket of coral – sharp glass-like coral.  too quickly, her toes and feet got sliced (as seen in the graphic picture). luckily she didn’t loose any limbs, but she sliced her big toe and middle toe pretty bad, as well as the bottom of the other foot.  strong as she is, we continued our kayak trip and then back at the beach had the ‘life guard’ do a quick tape job that lasted a short two minutes. we pressed on. we snorkled until it was time to go onto the next island for lunch and more snorkling.  by the end of the day, we’d snorkled, swam, sighted a giant monitor lizard which roam these islands, lunched, and bumped our way back to mainland.  next day on to phi phi don…

xoxo”

happy couple

happy couple

fire show

fire show

fire dancin

fire dancin

jah

jah

job 2 do concert

job 2 do concert

paradise beach, raley

paradise beach, raley

beach view

beach view

beach panorama

beach panorama

beach shells and crab holes

beach shells and crab holes

fertility cave

fertility cave

cave close up

cave close up

caterpillar

caterpillar

beach sign

beach sign

raley west sunset

raley west sunset

jeff bravin the seas

jeff bravin the seas

hong lagoon

hong lagoon

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 (20 of 40)

arriving to the caves

arriving to the caves

descent of the dragon
“the junk/boat was fairly big – it had 10 rooms on the first floor, dinning room for 20 + on the second, and a deck up top.  we started with lunch which was decent.  all-inclusive usually means the food’s gonna suck, and in this case, it pretty much all did. the meals on the boat were okay: sticky rice, fried something (either french fries, fish, calamari, peanuts, peas, you name it) nem (fried spring rolls), grilled fish (unfillet’d of course), steamed cabage of some sort, and sauteed noodles with either a meat or fish…. like i said, decent, but bland for sure.  and as drinks weren’t included, not even water, we suffered cause we refused to pay the 4x markup price…although we did splurg once on a beer.

keeping with food, the food on the island at the hotel we stayed at was horrible.  it was as if you were at the worst hospital ever, and it was ‘chinese food day’, slopped up by the lunch room lady played by chris farley… horrible i tell you! and it made me sick and even jeff a bit too.

Food aside…. the bay was great.  Our boat first took us to a giant cave on an island.  The boat pulls up to the cement dock stairway and then the music instantly starts.  It`s like we`re at disneyland! The load speaker is spitting out some form of traditional music followed by a vietnamese voice, and then an english voice.  Now we`re on the ride… She explains to keep the island clean by depositing all rubbage in the Penguin and Dolphin trash cans and stay on the path… Cross between Jurassic Park or Disneyland for sure.  We hiked up a short stairway to enter this massive cave.  It was totally unbelievable.  For the biggest cave we will probably ever see in our lives.  All in all it`s the size of a small mall after you`ve walked it all and it`s tall, a huge room of many forms and shapes. But, continuing with the disney theme, they`ve wired it with electricity and colored lights reflect off different walls or bottoms to represent water i guess or something… kinda crazy.  Still the natural beauty prevailed.  Van Whee took us through with his lazer light and pointed out all the shapes of people and creatures you could see, like when you`re looking at clouds.  But, he forgot to distribute enough drugs for the rest of us so we could be on his same plane….  After 25 minutes, we started to exit the cave, only to find the beautiful bay has now been encompassed by a massive wind and rain storm.  We cancelled the second cave we were to hike to and made our way down the slippery cement stairway to our Junk.
Now, we`re soaking wet and stuck on the boat realizing there went our afternoon of kayaking around the bay.  The boat starts its departure and we`re on our way to find cover in a cove around the bay.  As we`re moving along, I of course bring up whats the liklihood of a boat like this tipping over.  After Jeff and this guy from Boston discuss the decisions made its too big to tip, it would rather have to sink from hitting a rock or something.  Moments later, we hear a crash outside and one of the deck hands rushes inside and yells something loud and crazy that then results with all 20 of us franticlly moving to one side of the boat to balance it out.  The sound had come from two of the beautiful giant flower pots they had outside that were obviously not secured down as they slide around breaking and going overboard.  It seems that we had got caught at just the imperfect time in this wind tunnel between these two islands as we were trying to get around them.  It took about 10 minutes of shifting side to side and opening the windows so the rainy wind could blow through the ship rather than at it, until we were safely motored to cover.  Kinda crazy and exciting, at least since we survived it!
Since our afternoon was shot, we ended up taking a long nap in our actually very comfortable and cozy room.  Then dinner while we watched lightning and thunder surround us.
In the morning we awoke at 630 and hit up the kayaks now that it had cleared and the sun was beginning to shine.  We row`d around for 30 minutes or so then retreated to our room and warmed up before breakfast.  Then after our horrible cold breakfast, we motored over to Cat Ba island where we would spend the next night.
Now we seriously were on Jurassic Park.  We got in our little bus and drove through amazing limestone peaks where we were awaiting T Rex to jump out at any moment.  Unfortunately I guess we were a few million years too late.  Our first stop was the national park.  We hiked a short but gruesome hike to the top of a peak where we climbed a scary old rigidy army look out tower and gazed accross the mountain peaks.  And looking down at the old army base (VC army).  Very cool, but super scary,for me at least, Jeff I guess isn`t fazed much by heights, but half the people couldn`t even make it to the top.  I did, but I could feel my legs almost about to give out if I thought about it too hard, or looked down through the rusty old crate top.  After the trek we went to our mediocore hotel, had horrible lunch, then hit the beach up (cause now its sunny).  Went for a dip, sunbathed, then I got sick and couldn`t really leave the room, or toilet for that matter.  Not much going on the island but a lot of building.  There were whole areas cleared out with the giant billboards showing pictures of the future projects that looked like condominium developements and more resort  hotels… the new Phuket of vietnam, too bad.
On the third day we boat`d back about two hours to mainland, sunbathing on the top deck, not too shabby.
Bia Hoi, our only saving grace.  Translates to Beer Fresh.  Only 18 cents a mug if you can believe that! Tastes kinda like dirty fermented water at first, but after one or two you get used to it.  Its made by locals, unfermented and dranken on the street corners or little cafes.  That`s been part of our daily routine, meeting lots of expats from around the world that are here teaching english or own tourism copanies or restaurants.
Food, we`ve tride fried corn kernals rubbed in a butter custard thing (ultimate popcorn), squid jerky dipped in a sweet and hot sauce, kebabs, either in a pita or baguetts (decent), and more pho (still our first experience has been the best).
Now we`re loaded up on oranges and we`re getting on a 13 hour busride south to Hue in the middle of the DMZ (demilitarized zone) which at once was an imperial capitol and has an old citidel in it…. we`ll see.  Then Jeff just might have his luck as there may be surf at the infamous China Beach which is just south of Hue….
Overall, Hanoi is still in our tops.  We found out it is a city of around 8million now, with 6.5 million scooters! We`ll be uploading photos to prove it at the next stop.  Great people though, with some hasslers everywhere, but we`re used to it now….
Peace and love for now!
xostacy and jeff

food aside…. the bay was great.  our boat first took us to a giant cave on an island.  the boat pulls up to the cement dock stairway and then the music instantly starts.  it’s like we’re at disneyland!  the loud speaker is spitting out some form of traditional music followed by a vietnamese voice, and then an english voice.  now we’re on the ride… she explains to keep the island clean by depositing all rubbage in the penguin and dolphin trash cans and stay on the path… cross between jurassic park or disneyland for sure.

Van Whee and Captain, chugging beers, you just cant see it in the pic

van whee and captain, chugging beers, you just cant see it in the pic

we hiked up a short stairway to enter this massive cave.  it was totally unbelievable.  by far the biggest cave we will probably ever see in our lives.  all in all it’s the size of a small mall – a tall, huge room of many forms and shapes. but, continuing with the disney theme, they’ve wired it with electricity and colored lights reflect off different walls or bottoms to represent water i guess…or something… kinda crazy.  still, the natural beauty prevailed.  van whee took us through with his laser light and pointed out all the shapes of people and creatures you could see, like when you’re looking at clouds…but he forgot to distribute enough drugs for the rest of us so we could be in his same frame of mind….  after 25 minutes, we started to exit the cave, only to find the beautiful bay has now been encompassed by a massive wind and rain storm.  we cancelled the second cave we were to hike to and made our way down the slippery cement stairway to our junk.

rushing from one side of the boat to the other

rushing from one side of the boat to the other

now, we’re soaking wet and stuck on the boat realizing “there went our afternoon of kayaking around the bay.”  the boat starts its departure and we’re on our way to find cover in a cove around the bay.  as we’re moving along, I of course bring up “whats the likelihood of a boat like this tipping over?”  after jeff and this guy from boston discuss and come to the decision that it’s too big to tip, (rather it would have to sink from hitting a rock or something).  moments later, we hear a crash outside and one of the deck hands rushes inside and yells something loud and crazy that then results with all 20 of us frantically moving to one side of the boat to balance it out.  the sound had come from two of the beautiful giant flower pots they had outside that were obviously not secured down as they slide around breaking and flying overboard.  it seems that we had got caught at just the imperfect time in this wind tunnel between these two islands as we were trying to get around them.

our nice room below deck

our nice room below deck

it took about 10 minutes of shifting side to side and opening the windows so the rainy wind could blow through the ship rather than at it, until we had safely motored to cover.  kinda crazy and exciting – at least since we survived it!

since our afternoon was shot, we ended up taking a long nap in our actually very comfortable and cozy room.  then dinner while we watched the lightning and thunder that surround us.

in the morning we awoke at 6:30 and hit up the kayaks now that it had cleared and the sun was beginning to shine.  we rowed around for 30 minutes or so then retreated to our room and warmed up before breakfast.  then after our horrible cold breakfast, we motored over to cat ba island where we would spend the next night.

view of the island from our kayak

view of the island from our kayak

now we seriously were on jurassic park.  we got in our little bus and drove through amazing limestone peaks where we were awaiting t rex to jump out at any moment.  unfortunately i guess we were a few million years too late.  our first stop was the national park.  we hiked a short but gruesome hike to the top of a peak where we climbed a scary old rickety army look-out tower and gazed across the mountain peaks and could look down at the old army base (vc army).  very cool, but super scary, for me at least.  jeff isn’t fazed much by heights, but half the people couldn’t even make it to the top.  i did, but i could feel my legs almost about to give out if i thought about it too hard, or looked down through the rusty old crate top.

fishing village

fishing village

after the trek we went to our mediocre hotel, had a horrible lunch, then hit up the beach (cause now it’s sunny).  we went for a dip, sunbathed, then i got sick and couldn’t really leave the room, or toilet for that matter.  not much going on on the island but a lot of building.  there were whole areas cleared out with the giant billboards showing pictures of the future projects that looked like condominium developments and more resort  hotels… the new phuket of vietnam – too bad.

on the third day we boated back about two hours to mainland, sunbathing on the top deck, not too shabby.

floating villages

floating villages

bia hoi – our only saving grace – translates to beer fresh.  only 18 cents a mug if you can believe that!  tastes kinda like dirty fermented water at first, but after one or two you get used to it.  it’s made by locals, unfermented and drank on the street corners or in little cafes.  that’s been part of our daily routine, in addition to meeting lots of expats from around the world that are here teaching english or who own tourism companies or restaurants.

food, we’ve tried fried corn kernels rubbed in a butter custard thing (ultimate popcorn), squid jerky dipped in a sweet and hot sauce, kebabs, either in a pita or baguettes (decent), and more pho (still our first experience has been the best).

kayaking couple

kayaking couple

now we’re loaded up on oranges and we’re getting on a 13 hour bus ride south to hue in the middle of the DMZ (de-militarized zone) which once was an imperial capitol and has an old citadel in it…. we’ll see.  then jeff just might have his luck as there may be surf at the infamous china beach which is just south of hue….

overall, hanoi is still in our tops.  we found out it is a city of around 8 million now, with 6.5 million scooters! we’ll be uploading photos to prove it at the next stop.  great people though, with some hasslers everywhere, but we’re used to it now….

peace and love!

xo, stacy and jeff”

rusty stairs

rusty stairs

at top of peak

at top of peak

mountain views

mountain views

top of lookout tower

top of lookout tower

lookin down

lookin down

sign on top

sign on top

seriously tall

seriously tall

and seriously old and rusty...missing last step!

and seriously old and rusty...missing last step!

from below looking up

from below looking up

army barracks

army barracks

old army barracks

old army barracks

cat ba harbor

cat ba harbor

jeff takin a dip

jeff takin a dip

sunset

sunset

3rd day on the boat and sunny!

3rd day on the boat and sunny!

always sportin the flag

always sportin the flag

view off junk deck

view off junk deck

front of boat

front of boat

this does no justice to show how many there really are

this does no justice to show how many there really are

beer hoi

beer hoi

motor transport for anything and everything

motor transport for anything and everything

lunch

lunch

Guest Blog – Jeff & Stacy do SE Asia (19 of 40)

now departing the bay of halong city

now departing the bay of halong city

startin the boat tour…
“it’s amazing, our seventh day here in hanoi and we’re still walking down little streets and alleys we hadn’t done before… something always new!

we departed from the old quarter on friday the 13th to halong bay, which in vietnamese means, ‘descent of the dragon’ because if you were to fly over the bay, all the islands would look like a dragon…but from the boat it’s hard to tell.

view of the bay

view of the bay

the book actually recommends taking a tour to do halong bay because it’s just too complicated and expensive to do it on your own.  so after a day devoted to finding the REAL tourist companies that are listed in the book, we had a better idea on what we wanted.

we settled on a $53 each tour, three days two nights, one night on the boat, the other on the only inhabited island, cat ba.  we were tempted to go for a higher priced tour guaranteeing more kayaking and boating, less island, but after all was said and done, we figured it’s all the same bay, so lets save a buck.  all tours are ‘all inclusive’ minus drinks.

jeff on deck

jeff on deck

we left at 8:30am in a short bus with 18 other tourists and our tour guide van whee.  as our trip began, our lovable crazy tour guide began his orientation to us in his best english that was very hilarious and slightly frustrating.  we did learn some history of hanoi, traffic laws, history of halong and that he called the bathroom the ‘happy room’ cause you always come out happier… usually true.

after 3 hours we arrived at the harbor of halong city.  not much to see thus far.  plus it’s slightly misty/foggy so our sight could only go so far.  but the city itself is highrises, big bridges, not much to see.

we were loaded on our junk (that’s what they call a boat) and off we went!

more about the boar trip later…..”

nice weather, eh?

nice weather, eh?

stacy on deck

stacy on deck

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….”