Thursday, June 18, 2009

The End Tally for Southeast Asia

Eleven weeks in Southeast Asia and here are some wrap up thoughts and tallies:

1. One elephant ridden, bathed, and attempted to command
2. Bargaining techniques worked on and are much improved
3. One battle with Dengue Fever, one stomach virus, and a bazillion mosquito bites- survived.
4. Finished 20% under my original budget- yeah!
5. Received my box I mailed myself with souvenirs so can officially trust the Thailand post.
6. 2 cooking classes, 1 massage course, and 1 weaving lesson taken.
7. 1 river kayaked
8. 1 day of climbing and abseiling
9. Lots of hiking
10. Lots of sightseeing- got tired of Wats after awhile, and temples...
11. Tried some different foods, became addicted to mixed fruit shakes and sweet chili sauce
12. Didn't kill my travel partner, and he didn't kill me- in fact, we got along really well and had a great time!! Here's to my BFF! ;)
13. Travelled by planes, trains, taxis, buses, automobiles, boats, tuk-tuk's, sangatheaws, bicycle, ferries, and kayaks
14. Slept in 2 treehouses
15. Stayed in 2 REALLY nice hotels, stayed in 1 bad one, the rest were average
16. Only learned how to say "Thank you" in each country, otherwise my foreign language skills are nil
17. Discovered my limit on the amount of sticky rice I can or will consume
18. Participated in a city wide water fight with people of all ages
19. Experienced a caffienne jolt like none other from Vietnamese coffee
20. Considered going vegetarian after wandering the food markets meat sections, I think I'll be okay
21. Went snorkelling- reaffirmed my fear of open water, or at least of things touching me in it
22. Rewrote the Vietnam/Cambodia Lonely Planet book, I'll be sending them my edits later...
23. One shady taxi ride
24. Lost a couple pairs of underwear having my laundry done by others...wierd
25. Duped in to joining Facebook
26. Read the whole Twilight series, fell in love with the second hand books stores everywhere
27. Got a SIM card for my phone for each country, loved calling home to talk to family each week
28. A new found appreciation for cold weather and air conditioning
29. One inspiring cello concert performance
30. Discovering my best time limit for travelling should be about 8 weeks, and then I get tired of living out of a backpack and want to be in one space for a bit...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Farewell Southeast Asia

We were fortunate enough to stay in the Hilton Millenium in Bangkok for the last couple of nights in Thailand and it was so nice! The beds were so comfy and the room was awesome. The pics here are the view from our window out over the city at night. We did some last minute shopping, and I went to the Thai Red Cross again to get another shot in the HPV series- I still can't believe how inexpensive it is here.

Another note- you can walk in to any pharmacy here and pic up just about any prescription drug you could need- the pharmacist can help you determine something that will work for you if you are having a problem. And of course- it's cheap and you don't actually need a prescription. Now with this, I caution you to be careful when it comes to things like antibiotics and antiviral drugs- because things are so easily purchased here and the drugs are readily available, people can use them more often than maybe is needed. This leads to problems in viruses and bacteria building resistance to the drugs we have. So keep that in mind and only get what you need, when you need it.

So that pretty much wraps up our trip. Flying home to Utah and packing up to move to Colorado. Our trip was 11 weeks in total, we decided to head home a week early- we're pretty tired and it's time to see family and friends now instead. I'm starting to panic about all the stuff I have to take care of as well before the move.

It was a great trip- I hope you enjoyed following along.

On to the next adventure....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ko Chang- Learning Thai Massage

I'm a little behind on blogging, but it seems that the remainder of our trip was relatively lax in activities and so there wasn't as much to post. After Vientiane, we headed back in to Thailand for the last 10 days of our trip. We took the overnight train from Laos- this was a bit complicated as you have to cross a few border checkpoints- one thing I wanted to mention is that you will be approached by Tuk Tuk drivers once you are in Thailand telling you that you'll need a ride to the train station and they can take you. If you booked with a travel agency- they will get you all the way to the train station- do not take a tuk tuk. Also, be aware that the visa issued at a land crossing in Thailand is only good for 15 days instead of the 30 days that you are issued when you come in at an airport. We fortunately had changed out plane tickets to go home a week early, so we did not have to apply for a visa extension.

Once in Bangkok, we stayed overnight and then went on to Ko Chang by bus/ferry. Ko Chang is a larger island, and was nice to stay at to mellow out. We're entering the rainy season, and so it stormed every other day we were there for the week we spent there, and the other days were sunny. The high season for tourism just ended so it's much quieter. We stayed at Paddy's Palms which was good, and you should expect to pay about 30% less for accomodation during this time of the year anywhere you stay.

I took a Thai Massage Course through Bodiwork Spa ( for 5 days and recieved my certification. I was lucky enough to have private instruction since it's the slow time of year, and I spent 4 days learning the steps, and then did the practical exam, and was given pointers on where to improve and how to do so at the end of it. I also got a massage at the spa as a reward at the end of the course. The owner and professor, Siriluck, is a wonderful woman and I very much enjoyed her company over the days. We had dinner with her and her husband one evening which was really nice, they took us to one of their favorite Thai restuarants and ordered several dishes for us to try- all of which were wonderful. Be sure to try Papaya Salad if you go to Thailand. I also had lunch with her the day of my exam at a local BBQ stand which was yummy too. There is also a cafe at the resort which is where I had lunch each day of my course, and I tried cold Thai tea there, which I wanted to learn how to make, and so she told me I could go in and have the barista show me how to make it one day, and she took me to the store so I could buy the tea to bring home with me as well. They were really nice and accomodating for everything- I recommend them if you are interested in a course. They also offer several other courses if you are interested in something else.

In between the sporadic torrential downpours and my class, I layed out at the pool and worked on a tan. Life's pretty rough here. :) Pictures of some of the rain and my certificate are scrolling above.

Headed back to Bangkok on the 20th, and meeting some friends of the family who have graciously put us up at the Hilton Millenium for a couple nights- I'm excited for a nice hotel before heading home!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Weaving 101

We've been in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, for a few days, and I spent the first 2 of them at then Houey Hong Vocational Training Center for Women learning how to weave.
This scarf took me 2 days of blood, sweat and tears to make- okay, there was no tears- though my butt hurt enough from sitting on that wood bench to almost cause some, and there was no blood- though I poked myself with a pin a few times in the process, but there was sweat- it's hot here. So this is my first woven piece- a scarf that's about 6 feet long (plus some with the fringe) and it's made from silk- and the threads were just that- threads, which is why it took 2 days. :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

River Kayaking and Caving in Vang Vieng

We booked a one day tour with Green Discovery to do some kayakng down the river and to explore a few caves. Great scenery, don't forget your flashlight for the caves- there is no light in most of it which was pretty cool, wear something other than flipflops because there will be some hiking involved (we were prepared- the rest of our group was not), and put sunscreen on your legs- all of us have tanlines or burn lines where are shorts end from sitting in open kayaks paddling down a river all day.
Oh, and Jim got his first leech attached to him- it was gross, but the guide got it off right away.