Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

Ten of my favorite places on the trip

It was pretty hard to come up with this kind of list but I managed to squeeze it into my busy schedule.  There were definitely other wonderful places (Mae Salong-Thailand, Meung Ngoi-Laos, LiJiang-China) that just barely missed out on the list.

How many years would it have taken to discover all these places if we hadn’t went traveling for so long?

Here they are in chronological order (with a corresponding picture or two):

Koh Jam (Jum), Thailand-This island near Krabi doesn’t have full time electricity and is better off without it.  Great food and an amazing stretch of beach…think ‘quiet time’.

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Koh Jum sunset

Hongsa, Laos-It takes a while to get to dusty Hongsa and there isn’t a lot to do when you get there.  However, it is incredibly peaceful and you can ride an elephant along trails.

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Luang Prabang, Laos-Former colonial town that is a lot of fun to hang out in. Everyone in E Asia passes through Laos eventually.

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Kalaw, Myanmar-Off the beaten track in Burma where you can do hiking or just relax in the hill country.  One of the best bars in Asia (Hi Snack and Drink).  Great Nepali food.

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Hong Kong, China-Absolutely beautiful yet gritty.  Incredible food and excellent shopping.  One of my top 5 cities in the world. 

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Songpan, ChinaOne of the few small towns in China.  Horse trek in the gorgeous Sichuan Province and rest up afterwards at the fun tea houses.

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Wolong, ChinaFreaking Pandas man!  Everyone loves Pandas! 

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One year old Panda

Francie, shifu Wong and shuo yi

Outside of Lhasa, Tibet-Definitely in the running for most stunningly beautiful place on earth. 

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Gili Trawangan (Lombok), Indonesia-Incredible atmosphere with no cars on the small, beautiful island.  Incredible snorkeling right off the beach and a vibrant nightlife.

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Kaikoura, New ZealandThe beautiful coast and unbelievable plush hills were actually remarkable topped off with a small town and lots of seafood.  Seals, whales, dolphins and sheep–oh my!

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November 7, 2007 Posted by | Beach, burma, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, New Zealand, SE Asia, Sichuan, Thailand, Tibet, Travel, Wolong | 11 Comments

Trip Half-Way Point

Francie and I realized that, with our return home date of November 17th, we have just passed the half-way mark.

It is interesting because, for me, the longer we are away traveling–the less time seems to have actually gone by.  For instance, that month in Laos now feels like just a day or two of my life.   I guess that a few years after this trip is over I will look back on the year and remember it as a month or two off from work.  Bummer.   

Well, to celebrate I thought I would post and talk about a few of Francie’s new pictures (see Flickr on the right).  Here we go:

These kids are from outside of Kalaw, Myanmar.  They were very disappointed that the camera wasn’t a Polaroid.  It really is a beautiful picture.  We gave them some stickers and pencils in exchange for the picture…oh yeah, and a bouncing ball.

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This large pig and his friend scared the devil out of us when the big guy snorted at us toward the end of the Tiger Leaping Gorge hike. He was actually very excited because he was expecting his slop dinner–which sure enough a woman came out with, climbed into the stone pen, and fed him.
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This line of ponies passed us high up in Tiger Leaping Gorge.  I was immediately reminded of every time I read a fantasy book (e.g. Lord of the Rings) where a group of adventurers ride horses through a mountain pass (I know several of you are rolling your eyes and thinking ‘geek‘).

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Race horses busting out of the gate at Happy Valley in Hong Kong.

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The future of China looks bright according to Chairman Mao in Lijiang.

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Beautiful stone building and landscape near the Naxi guesthouse on the Tiger Leaping Gorge hike.  The Naxi are an ethnic group in Yunnan province (pronounced Na sha).

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Me and my new friend checking the bus schedule. 

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We took off running after this kid threatened us (He was demanding our milk money).  They grow up quick in China…

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The park at Black Dragon Pool in LiJiang.  Unfortunately, the black dragon was not available for pictures that day.

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Ok!  I have to quit procrastinating and get back to my Mandarin.

June 19, 2007 Posted by | burma, China, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Travel, Wildlife, Yunnan | 2 Comments

Special Alert: Francie traumatizes animals across Asia

I know she can’t resist but Francie has got to respect these animal’s rights.  I have already told her that we can’t get a dog until she learns to behave herself.   Seriously, here is a quick glance at some of the animals she has traumatized.

The Ox–Ride em France!
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This rooster gets it good!
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These dogs and cats have no option but to submit!
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FZ & teeny pup

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A sleepy, exhibitionist cat

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This water buffalo is smart enough to keep her at horn’s length
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 This frog didn’t stand a chance…
Francie (hearts) frogs

Giraffes are not immune to her trickery
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This puppy tries to bite the hand that feeds it.
I must bite you

Poor poor pony!
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And she has done exhausted these little puppies out!
They were up all night partying

The Panda is just grateful for the zoo barrier and the guards…and the bamboo, always grateful for the bamboo (munch, munch).
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May 2, 2007 Posted by | burma, Laos, Myanmar, Pets, SE Asia, Thailand, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Amazing Bagan

Now that we have a better internet connection I wanted to post some more pictures and a video of Bagan. 

Bagan is a major archaeological site in SE Asia and is one of the primary reasons people travel to Myanmar (it sure isn’t to marvel at the great job the junta government is doing).  At one time there were several thousand functional Buddhist sites at Bagan and now there are about 300 temples. 

While the individual temples are not as impressive as, say, Anghor Wat, the area is amazing because everywhere you look is a temple.  Here is a video from atop a Buddhist temple.

Here are a number of scenic pictures of both the horizon and inside the temples.

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Here are some new friends Francie made while we were watching the sunset.  Many of them wanted to sell us postcards (see post below).

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May 1, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar, SE Asia, Travel | Leave a comment

Those UNICEF Christmas Cards

Remember a decade or two ago when everyone was buying those UNICEF Christmas cards? 

Well, last week Francie and I were on a two day hike through Myanmar and I was really impressed by UNICEF’s work.  In 1988 UNICEF apparently went through a large amount of the Myanmar country and built water systems for villages that brought purified water to the doorstep.  These water systems are still working today and the purified water is incredible considering that the city’s water supply is polluted and everyone has to drink from water bottles.   

I guess all that money for UNICEF Christmas cards was well spent…now someone just needs to fix this hose.
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May 1, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar, Photography, SE Asia, Travel | 1 Comment

The life of a water buffalo

I have begun to like water buffaloes since we have been touring around SE Asia and now Francie wants one for a pet.  I think it would do just fine in the wet Seattle.  I didn’t realize how much these beasts love the H2O–probably because it is much cooler and keeps the insects at bay. 

During a hike we came upon this little river and water buffaloes–these water buffalo were lucky enough to have a shepard boy to clean them.

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Here is a video of the water buffalo in the river–if you listen closely you can hear the boy singing to them.

May 1, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar, Pets, SE Asia, Travel, Wildlife | 1 Comment

Craptastic Postcards

A few of you lucky individuals will soon be receiving postcards from Myanmar.  Francie and I really have to apologize for this dubious honor because the postcard choices in Myanmar where abysmal (which meant that those little kids just had to try and sell them that much harder).   I suspect that the Myanmar government (in their infinite wisdom) decided to allow an artistically challenged nephew to take the photographs because they are about as drab as a Texas strip mall. 

indirect effects of oppression

April 30, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar, SE Asia, Travel | 2 Comments

Big Greg, Smaller Greg

I took a picture of two of my passport/visa photos–the first from Oct. 2005 and the second from a few months ago.  Here they are side by side.

super size me

Look at that big boy on the left!  In my defense, that was right when we were shipping the Xbox 360 and exercise had fallen by the wayside. 

The right photo is from two months ago–I weighed myself on the scales (below) at the Mandalay Airport and I was about 168 pounds. 

I think these scales were left by the British Empire and are now primarily used to weigh their #1 export, opium (just a little joke there–about the British, not about the opium).
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April 30, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar, SE Asia, Travel | 4 Comments

113 and 104

It was 113 freakin degrees yesterday.  In the words of The Breeder’s…‘that’s hot’.

It was also 104 days ago that we left the U.S.  It snuck up on us.  Someone owes us $50 bucks.  Tom you probably don’t remember being intoxicated at the Bus Stop saying ‘I’ll pay you fifty bucks if you make it 100 days’.  Just kidding, but I know you were thinking it.

April 21, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar | 2 Comments

Modes of travel in Myanmar

Myanmar is transport challenged.  You have many options-many that haven’t been seen in the United States since about 1909.

You have the good ol’ tried and true ‘walking’–sometimes while carrying things on your head.
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You have the bicycle–another tried and true option.
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You have the trishaw.  Relative to the rickshaw but this is a bicycle (see previous entry) but also sports a sidecar (not the drink) that can carry two riders (back to back).  Here is Joe and Francie.
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There is also the horse and cart.  A popular option back in the US circa 1909 or in the Amish country. 
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There is also the very, very small Mazda taxi.  These blue vehicles where probably purchased from Russia in about 1978 (after being sold by Japan to Russia in 1966). Width is about 4 feet. It reminds me of the small car the main character drives from the movie ‘Brazil’.
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April 21, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar, SE Asia, Travel | 2 Comments