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

The smell of the Mekong

En-route back to Bangkok Greg and I have a 24-hour stopover in Jinghong, a small town on the Mekong in southern Yunnan province, not too far from the border. As soon as we stepped off the plane the smell of the river, the tropical vegetation, the humidity, and the rich soil hit me and it brought back all these wonderful memories of SE Asia, but Laos in particular, where we spent lots of time on the Mekong as well as many other rivers. Thinking back about all the countries we’ve travelled through I realize just how much I loved being in Laos. Right now it is still not over-run by tourists (as Thailand is in many places) but that’s starting to change as it becomes “discovered” as the special travel destination that it is. So people, go visit Laos now! You will not regret it. However, don’t go with a big list of must-see destinations and sites. Instead, take some good books, ride the slow-moving river boats, eat lots of river fish, and visit some remote villages.

September 11, 2007 Posted by | China, Laos, SE Asia, Travel, Yunnan | 2 Comments

Sonic Boom Records Pics

FYI to you Seattlites and Sonic Boom Records fans;  Greg is now featured twice on the “boom around the world” page: http://www.sonicboomrecords.com/world/

Double sweet!  I need to send them a pic of Greg with a panda.  I’ll get to work on that…

August 4, 2007 Posted by | Beijing, China, Laos, Travel | 1 Comment

Do you like my hat?

As a kid I really like the Dr. Seuss story Go Dog Go!!! (oh wait, I guess it was P. D. Eastman). One thing I thought was funny was the dog that keeps reappearing and asking whether the other dog likes their hat. 

 I got a new hat the other day so I thought I would review the hats that I have used on the trip. 

This is the Gilligan Island look I was sporting on the beaches in Thailand.  Actually, it was Francie’s hat that I stole from her.  It worked well for blocking out the sun while sleeping on the beach.  Francie bought the hat in Bangkok’s Chinatown. I think it cost about $4 USD.

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This is the adventure hat and I bought it in Vientiane.  It cost about $3 USD.

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The adventure hat has now been replaced with the Laoban hat.  Laoban means ‘boss’ in Mandarin.  It cost about $5 in Hong Kong.  Slightly more stylish for our time in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

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It cracks up that I just learned that Go Dog Go!!! was actually written by Eastman and not Dr. Seuss.  I have been wrong all these years…

June 23, 2007 Posted by | Hong Kong, Laos, Thailand, Travel | 1 Comment

Francie’s 5 month Top Ten List

Greg & I have been travelling now for over 5 months!  I can’t believe it’s been that long.  Roughly half-way through our trip, at 6 months, we were going to do a Top Ten travel experiences list (geez, how self-absorbed is that), but we’re impatient so we’re doing it now. 

Francie’s top 10: (in no particular order) 

  • Scuba diving/snorkeling in the Andaman Sea, Thailand.
  • Thai Beaches: Rantee (Koh Phi Phi), Koh Jam, & Koh Ngai.
  • Thai lessons in Chiang Mai.
  • Motorbike trip through the Bolaven Plateau, Laos.
  • Working elephants in Hongsa, Laos.
  • Village trek in Kalaw, Myanmar.
  • Water festival in Mandalay and Yangon, Myanmar.
  • Eloping in Bangkok and our subsequent “Honeymoon” stay at the Banyan Tree. 🙂
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge hike, Yunnan province, China.
  • Everything in Hong Kong.

Greg’s list will follow shortly.

June 7, 2007 Posted by | China, Hong Kong, Laos, Myanmar, SE Asia, Thailand, Travel, Yunnan | 1 Comment

Many new photos

I just got back all the BW film that I have shot so far on the trip plus a few new color rolls.  I’m slowly getting them up on flickr so check them out.  They’re mostly from Laos and Myanmar. 

Here are a few favorites:

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May 5, 2007 Posted by | Laos, Photography, SE Asia, Travel | 5 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

awwww, he's so cute

A sleepy, exhibitionist cat

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This water buffalo is smart enough to keep her at horn’s length
Francie & water buffalo

 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

All the Bars of Asia

My ‘goodbye’ message from Microsoft was entitled ‘One Way Ticket to Bangkok, please’ but the first title I came up with was ‘All the Bars of Asia’.  I have decided to make sure I keep a running list of all the bars I have frequented while traveling this year.

For the record, this is NOT a complete list of places we have drank at (drinks with dinner)–just the bars!

  • Tokyo, Japan–Narita Airport Bar.  The Jack on the Rocks were short and simple.
  • Koh Phi Phi, Thailand–The Sunflower Bar.  Rebuilt after the tsunami, made to look like little shipping vessels.
  • Koh Lanta, Thailand–beach bar by Koh Lanta Palm Bungalows.  Laid back and red glow lights.
  • Koh Ngai Villa, Thailand–Tiki Bar next to the bungalows.  Great pina coladas with fresh fruit.  Neat atmosphere.  Partially owned by some Aussies.
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand–La Villa Pizzeria.  Technically, an eating establishment with drinks but the Gin and Tonics were too good to go unnoted.
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand–The Drunken Flower.  Expat bar with great mojitos and a cool dog named charcoal.
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand–The Wine Bar.  This was a nice wine bar (which isn’t always accessible in Thailand) that is owned by a German.  Some techno in the background.
  • Chiang Rai, Thailand–TeePee Bar.  Nice ambience.  Cheap(er) drinks.  I liked the place.
  • Luang Prabang, Laos–The Hive Bar.  Happy hour is 2:1 here between 5-9pm.  Feels upscale!  Great drinks.
  • Luang Prabang, Laos–The Wine Bar. On the main strip.  Lots of wine.
  • Vientiane, Laos–The Chicago Bar.  Quiet bar with nice drinks.  Slightly dark with reddish lights.  They let you select movies to watch upstairs. I was propositioned by a woman in the bathroom.
  • Vientiane, Laos–Sticky’s.  Expat bar.  Good nachos.  Happy hour on Wed and Friday nights.
  • Bangkok, Thailand–Witch’s Tavern.  Expat bar.  Expensive but they do make a nice gin martini.  They also wear Jack Daniels T-shirts and shirts that say “God is busy, can I help you?”.

I will reserve picking my favorite this year but in the running are Koh Ngai Villa Tiki bar, The Hive and the TeePee Bar.   

April 9, 2007 Posted by | Laos, Misc, SE Asia, Thailand, Travel | 4 Comments

Motorbike trip highlights!

March 31st – April 3rd Greg and I went on a little motorbike road trip through the Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos – it was the perfect way to explore this area because it is very remote with almost no public transportation but many things to see. It was a sweaty, hot, dirty thing, but we saw some amazing sites along the way and we did not get stranded with a single flat tire! This is remarkable considering some of the rocky dirt roads we were driving on.

Day 1: Pakse to Tat Lo

We arrived in Pakse at 7am on the night bus from Vientiane, picked up rental bikes and stored our bags at the Lankham hotel. We drove from Pakse, through the Plateau, and ended at Tat Lo – a lovely waterfall. We stayed the night in a guest house right on the river. Here’s a photo of Greg taking a dip:
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Day 2: Tat Lo to Sekong

Sekong is the capitol of, you guessed it, the Sekong province. It was an interesting place but definitely not on the tourist track. It is so hot & dry right now that most folks just lay around at their shop or stand or house and try not to move except to serve the 1 customer that comes every couple hours. The kids spend most of the day playing in the river – what a great idea!

The most interesting thing for us was visiting the Lao National UXO Office. UXO = Unexploded ordinance. From the wikipedia article; “The country of Laos has the distinction of being one of the world’s most heavily bombed nations… “. The Sekong province has a high concentration of UXO, probably because of its proximity to the Ho Chi Minh trail – a supply route for Vietnamese troups during the Vietnam war.

Some of the old bombs that have been found and neutralized by the Sekong Lao UXO:
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Day 3: Sekong to Paksong

This part of the journey was the most grueling in terms of the driving, but also had the most beautiful, amazing scenery. Most of the route was on a rocky, dusty road that took us back up the mountains slopes and onto the plateau area.

One of the 3 waterfalls we saw along the way:
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Here we are at the end of our dusty ride. No, we did not get darker tans, it is dirt:
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Day 4: Paksong back to Pakse

Along the way we stopped to take photos of some coffee trees & coffee beans. Then it was back to Vientiane on the night bus.

Beans drying in the sun:
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April 3, 2007 Posted by | Laos, Photography, SE Asia, Travel | 1 Comment

Back from motorbike trip

Greg and I just returned to Pakse after an awesome 4 day motorbike trip through some remote provinces in southern Laos. We saw waterfalls, coffee plantations, remote villages, and tons of beautiful scenery.

We’ll post some pics and more info soon 🙂

April 3, 2007 Posted by | Laos, SE Asia, Travel | 1 Comment