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’.

Koh Jum

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

Francie’s last set of photos

Francie just got her last set of photos developed and I think they are really fantastic (but maybe I am biased).  It includes pictures from Tibet, Bangkok, Indonesia, and New Zealand.  Below is a subset of the pictures or click here to see all of them. 

Boy in Tibet. He brought the horses on Francie’s horse trek.
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I like to call this one ‘Baby with tin can’. Tibet
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This woman was trying out the binoculars. Unfortunately, we think she was trying to focus on the rock a few feet away from her (at the right of the pic).
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Man prostrating himself in the Barkhor in Tibet.
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Kids taking care of business in Lhasa.
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We think this munchkin was in Bangkok. Francie loves the dogs and they love her.
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Three year old elephant in Ayutthaya, Thailand. While you may not love the fact that he is being taught tricks, keep in mind that his previous job was/would have been in the lumber industry (Thailand ‘freed’ all the elephants from doing manual labor). Regardless, it is a pretty damn cute picture.
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Gili Islands (Lombok), Indonesia
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This is definitely the best picture we have of Rinjani. We are standing on the volcano’s outer cone looking down on the inner volcanic cone.
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Francie and I at the Rinjani Volcano.
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These two pictures are of the large Dusky Dolphin pod (at least 200 dolphins) that showed up when we were whale watching.
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We still have a few Burma and China videos to post.  Does anyone know some good software that rotates MOV videos (I was holding the camera sideways).

November 4, 2007 Posted by | Bangkok, Beach, China, Indonesia, Nature, New Zealand, Photography, Rural, Thailand, Tibet, Travel, Wildlife | 4 Comments

Elephants at Ayutthaya

Today we caught a train to Ayutthaya (an ancient capital of Thailand) to see some of the old Wats.  Randall shot a great video of us riding around on bikes that we will try and get up tomorrow.  During the day we stopped and hung out with a bunch of Thai elephants which may have been the highlight of the day.

Of course, Thailand ‘freed’ all their elephants from ‘working’ (for example, logging) and now many of them earn their keep in the tourist trade.

Here at Ayutthaya the elephants train to give rides and do a few tricks. Unfortunately, they were out of blocks of ice that we could feed to the elephants (it was really hot).

Francie feeding 3 year old Elephant
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Randall posing with Elephant
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Greg posing with elephant.
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September 18, 2007 Posted by | Bangkok, SE Asia, Thailand, Travel, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Phuket Plane Crash

We were very sorry to see the airplane crash at Phuket airport in Thailand.  Obviously we are alright.

It has been raining very heavily in Bangkok and on the west coast (where Phuket is).

September 16, 2007 Posted by | Thailand, Travel | 4 Comments

“This is Randall, leave a message”

Randall’s plain and simple voicemail greeting has always left a distinct impression in my mind. 

Randall arrived yesterday.  Welcome Randall. 

Here is Randall with Francie at Wat Phra Kaew.
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We are excited to have Randall here and we promise his mother, in Kansas, that we won’t break him.  We just have a few days here in Bangkok before heading off to Bali and Lombok. 

Thankfully, Randall can keep Francie occupied with surfing lessons in Bali while I lay on the beach.  Then it looks like we will be off to Lombok to hike up to some double cone volcano…more hiking…how exciting.

Tonight we are off to this really incredible Thai food place called Hemlock (it is upscale so it may cost us $19 USD), then off to a Thai massage and then to undisclosed locations.

September 16, 2007 Posted by | Bangkok, Thailand, Travel | Leave a comment

Posh Night at the Movies

We went to see another movie last night – The Bourne Ultimatum.  I happened to notice that it was also playing at the theatre where we saw The Brave One the other night.   Even though we didn’t know the showtimes we just hopped a cab and went straight to the theatre after dinner.  We bought the tickets and they were about twice as much as the tickets we got the night before…  hmmm… maybe it is because it is a Friday night? 

As soon as we walked into the row of theatres a very nicely dressed lady comes up to us, welcomes us and offers to show us to our seats.  Strange…  We walk into the theatre and it has a handful of well spaced “love seat” electronic lazy boy type recliners.  We sit down and the hostess brings us silk blankets and pillows.  Greg’s first reaction is “I wonder if we can order cocktails!”.  Turns out this movie was playing in one of the “Ultra Screen” theatres.  It was awesome.  Yet another cool thing in Bangkok.

The movie was great.  I wasn’t expecting too much because by the 3rd movie in a series sometimes it all becomes really contrived.  There is an awesome scene where Jason rides a motorcycle up and down stairs in Tangiers, followed by some roof hopping and a kick-ass fist fight.  I want to learn how to jump off a roof, through someone’s window in the adjacent building, and land so I don’t hurt myself.  Do you know someone who can teach me that? 😉

September 14, 2007 Posted by | Bangkok, Thailand, Travel, Urban | 1 Comment

Return to Bangkok

I was so excited to return to Bangkok.  I think I was partly just exhausted with China but I have also grown to really enjoy this city. 

It is a little rainy now (more so than in Jan and May) but doesn’t seem quite as hot.  Plus it seems things are just a little less crowded.  We stay at the Merry V Guesthouse on Soi Rambuttri (in the back building) which is pretty sweet and still only $14 with AC. 

The first thing I did was head out front of Merry V and purchased my dinner of grilled chicken, pad thai and banana shake.  All for about $2.00.  I think the first thing Francie did was head out of the Merry V and play with the neighborhood dogs.

Pad Thai, Chicken, Banana Shake

It was a little crazy ordering food because I walked up to the little Thai vendor and tried to use my words…my Thai words.  And they just didn’t come.  I could barely get out “Pad Thai” but without asking for ‘Nit noy’ cabbage and all that about making it extra hot. 

It was a rather pathetic attempt for using thai when I could have just used english.  I find that I want to tell everyone hello and thanks in Mandarin and not in Thai.  I can hardly even remember my numbers  😦  About the only thing I can remember wth certainly is ‘don’t want’ and ‘how much?’.  Of course, asking how much in Thai always result in being told how much in Thai.  😦

After some dinner we strolled over to the main Bangkok tourist street called Khao San Rd to get some new flip flops for me (I bought some phoney Birkenstocks for $4.00).  Khao San Rd is pretty crazy with westerners drinking and many, many people trying to sell you things.  This is where you can get your ipod loaded with any album in the world or have a movie dropped on your HD (either computer or iPod) for $3.  Walking down the street it is super easy to forget that this country had a coup a year ago and still has a military junta–however benign. 

Khao San Rd is always blurry!
Koh San Road

The next day Francie and I got up bright and early to run some errands.  We hopped on a river taxi/bus which is one of the quickest ways to get around Bangkok.  The guy standing on the side (in the helmet) is selling tickets.

River Bus

We took this boat to a river stop downtown and then hopped on the skytrain to drop off Francie’s film (all 23 rolls).

Thailand Skytrain

We then went to one of the very cool (as in, air conditioned) malls to browse…not buy…and decided to see the new Jodie Foster movie ‘The Brave One’.  This was Francie’s first movie since we were in Hong Kong three months ago (and a little better than Ocean 13).  After which we hopped on a tuk tuk for a quick ride home.

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The end. 

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Thailand, Travel, Urban | Leave a comment

Pull off tops a turn on?

Good ol’ Ben in San Francisco thought the post ‘pull off tops’ would be about something other than coke cans.  He encouraged a more scandalous post while in Bangkok (don’t blush Ben).  That would, of course, mean that we would need to go somewhere scandalous first, right?

Well we will try and accomodate him when Randall arrives (tomorrow).  We have a number of activities planned which include either Lucifer Disko or Qbar as well as a Transvestite Cabaret and the famous Patpong area of Bangkok.

Francie and I have been meaning to explore a few of these places and we are just using Randall as an excuse.  We will see if we can actually post about them…or determine whether the blog is just too family friendly.  🙂

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Thailand, Travel | Leave a 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

It doesn’t take long for those tans to fade…

February in Thailand:
 self portrait of G & F

June in Hong Kong:
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June 19, 2007 Posted by | Hong Kong, Thailand, Travel | 1 Comment