Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

No coke, pepsi! Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, chips!

Over the last few months I have sometimes felt like Thailand and Laos have been secretly participating in a tribute to the Saturday Night Live skit on the Olympia Cafe.  If you are old’er’–you may remember this very famous series of skits with Dan Ackroyd, Jane Curtain, John Belushi, Bill Murray and the classic gang.  In this SNL skit they worked at a Greek dinner where they only had Pepsi, Cheeseburgers and Chips.  Customers would try and order various things like a hamburger and they would be ‘encouraged’ to get a cheeseburger.  “No coke, Pepsi!” was the other standby–I believe they used the word ‘cheeseburger’ a total of 82 times in one five minute skit.

Thailand seems to like coke but you can only really rely on getting pepsi in Laos.  You quickly realize that a Hamburger may actually, literally, be a Ham patty and not what a Texan considers a ‘burger’.  And french fries or chips…don’t even get me started–Thailand doesn’t know what a french fry is but Laos knows how to cook them fried potatoes.  Ketchup?  All of SE Asia just sucks at Ketchup.

Tomorrow I am going to McDonalds and I am ordering a coke, cheeseburger and french fries.  Maybe I should go to Burger King instead since they are going all humane!

No coke

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April 6, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Vientiane, Laos travel info

Here is travel information for Vientiane – in case there are any travellers out there looking for it… We were there March 25th – 30th, 2007.

Hotel/Guesthouse:

Riverside Hotel – this place is new and not in guidebooks yet. It’s a few doors down from the Douang Deuane hotel towards the river. I highly recommend it. At their special opening price of $16 a night it is a bargain. All rooms have cable tv, ac, fridge and are cleaned everyday.

Restaurants:

Joma – right across from Nam Phu, this place is fantastic for breakfast or lunch. We ate there almost everyday. I recommend the lasagna. The baked goods & coffee are excellent too. It is also a great A/C sanctuary. The upstairs seating is good for reading.

La Cave de Chateaux – right on Namphu, this place is a bit expensive but v. v. good french/italian food. It is similarly priced to all the other french restaurants.

Nazim – as elsewhere in Laos, this place has great & cheap indian food.

Chicago Bar – this place is on the same street as Riverside Hotel and is a really nice bar. I was surprised there weren’t more people there. The upstairs has a projection tv and you can watch any DVD you want! (they have many to choose from) As long as you buy a drink or two of course :-).

Transport:

We took the “Smooth as Silk” VIP overnight bus to Pakse ($15) and it was about as nice and comfortable as it is possible for an overnight bus to be.

April 3, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Vientiane–that’s the capital of Laos to you!

We have now been in the capital of Laos for several days while we wait for our Myanmar visas to be processed.  I like Laos a lot except for the 100 degree heat (although it hits 108 in Myanmar next week). 

Francie and I rented bikes today and pedaled around looking at sights this morning before we were forced to return to the cool sanctuary of our hotel room.   Did I mention it had AC?  It is verrrry nice!

This is the Patuxai–which is some kind of tribute to France’s Arc de Triomphe. 

You would think you were in Paris

This is the legendary Pha That Luang site–possibly the most famous in all of Laos.

Shout out to Sonic Boom

This reclining buddha is very sleepy in the shade of the hot day.  The flowers and balls of sticky rice are very popular offerings at all the Wats.

 sleepy buddha in the shade

Buddhism, coming to a nation near you.

 lao wat

We have a few more days left before we go further south to the Bolaven Plateau and the hotbead of Lao coffee beans!

March 27, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Log Ride at Six Flags

The boat we took to Meung Ngoi reminded me of the log ride at six flags.  You know–cheap wooden boat, really hot, and splashes of water.  Here is a video we shot going down the river.  Don’t worry-everything turns out ok in the end.

Click here for video.

March 27, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

For the record

Just for the record I wanted everyone to know what wonderful weather we are having here in Chiang Mai.  Francie and I have been in Thailand for about 6 weeks and it has only rained 1 day.  Isn’t that amazing?

Right now it is 84 and sunny

I happened to notice that in Seattle it is 49 degrees and raining.

February 17, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Geckos, Puppies and Grasshoppers

We have now left the islands and traveled to Trang which is the capital city of one of the southern Thai provinces.  If you look at this map Trang is towards the bottom of the map (click the small icon on the map to enlarge it).   Off the coast to the west you can see a few small islands and those are pretty much the islands that we just left–Koh Ngai and Koh Muk.   Now we will be going to meet Francie’s friend Jen in Krabi and we will have a few days at the beach in Railay before flying up to Chiang Rai at the very north of Thailand (also on the map).  Exciting–back to the land of elephants, rivers and good panang curry.

Now about this Gecko that you have all heard soooo much about.  Here are two pictures of the little beast.  I believe this may be what they call a leopard gecko.  Now tonight YOU imagine if this foot long gecko was hanging out in your bedroom running around on the walls.  Actually the pictures are pretty cool and you can see the red spots on its body and the rings around its tail (If these pics aren’t big enough you can look at the new pics posted on Francie’s Flickr site to the right).

very naughty little gecko

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

Now here are two pictures from Koh Ngai.  This is a grove of coconut trees we hiked through.

mmmmmm coconuts

This is the tidal area of the marine national park on Koh Ngai.  There were lots of green tidal crabs that were pretty cool and would scuttle away when Francie came near because, yes, we are all very afraid of Francie.

tidal-area.JPG

Francie is also a tough customer in the scrabble games so maybe I need to lay off the alcohol while we play–of course, it doesn’t help when her first play of a game is ‘Friends’ across a double word score + 50 points for using all of her letters.

how do i spell that corn word that has a M and a Z in it?

Why does Francie always want to play scrabble after I have a bottle of 50 cent whiskey?

did you know that if you tie a game of scrabble whoever had more points before counting unplayed letters wins?

After Koh Ngai we went to Koh Muk where there were a bunch of lazy, good for nothing puppies lying around.  Somebody needs to do something about that.

dirty, lazy, good for nuthin puppies

I liked Koh Muk a lot because there was a fishing village that we could walk through.  Here is a video to give you an idea of the area including the fishing boats at low tide.  Here is also a picture of the fishing boats under a full moon.

I didn’t really understand the concept of tides before this trip

Now we are in Trang which I like very much, despite a touch of the flu, because our room has hot water, AC and this crazy thing called a television.  We have a weird selection to choose from but we continually gravitate to the fashion channel.  Last night we walked through a street market where they had lots of different types of bugs to eat including these grasshoppers!  They look very crunchy in their sweet and sour sauce.

crunch crunch crunch

We are coming up on one month!  That is just crazy.  All is going well and you should really check out the new posted photos!

February 5, 2007 Posted by | Misc, Pets, Travel, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Best Scuba dive EVAR!!!

Today Simon & I went diving at Koh Haa (off coast of Koh Lanta) and we SAW A FREAKING WHALE SHARK.  He was just a wee babe, only 12 feet long, but still was simply amazing to see.  According to the dive shop owner there are only about 1000 left in the world and are a rare sighting, even in Thailand.   Our dive today was also an instructional ‘deep dive’.   One of the many fun learning activites we did was to time ourselves doing a math problem at the surface and then do the same one again 28 meters below** – to demonstrate the effects of nitrogen narcosis.  The test isn’t so reliable though – because if you do it faster below the surface then you could be exhibiting the symptom of over confidence.  But if you do it slower its because of your impaired cognitive function…  hmmm.

MORE GOOD NEWS:  Greg and I are 95% recovered from our bed bug bites!!!  YAY!  (break into song; “The sun will come out, tomorroooow…”)

** Note to Ed:  watch water resistance ratings hold true – she went to 28 meters with me! 🙂

January 24, 2007 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Sometimes missing a ferry is a good thing…

Now it is off to meet up with Simon and Justine for a few weeks.

Francie and I were supposed to be shuttled out from Koh Jum via long boat to a ferry heading to Koh Lanta.  At Koh Lanta we had a theroetical 30 minutes to transfer to the Koh Phi Phi ferry.  Of course things are running a little late on the first ferry and we miss our connection. 

We were very sad because we had to stay at Phra Ae Beach for a night.  For those following along with a map we are here in the Lanta island/Phi Phi area.  Sometimes missing a ferry is a good thing…

 Corona commercial

Here is also a nice picture for you people in the land of cold, snow and ice.

Koh Lanta

And supergirl asleep after our hard day of traveling.

Resting her super powers

P.S. Whoever has my patent plaque–give it back or I will taunt you a second time.

January 16, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Back in civilization… but not for long!

Greg and I arrived in Koh Lanta this afternoon after 5 days in a shack on a small island with no electricity where we were “living out our castaway dreams”.  Well, i should say that I was living out those dreams, while Greg was having fun but showed a little too much “joy” when we got to our new room here and it had finished wood floors and a sit down toilet…  😉  I however, cannot WAIT to go back to another place like that.  I’m going to do my darndest to convince Greg (and Simon and Justine, who we meet up with tomorrow) that we should go stay on another tiny remote island soon.  I have one in mind – it’s called Koh Bu Bu!

okay, some pictures!  Here’s the sun setting on the beach at Koh Jum:

sunset.jpg

Us on the beach:

us.jpg

and finally, me on a rope swing:

swing.jpg

*note the red blotches on my leg where I missed a spot here and there when applying sunscreen :-o.  oops.

Coming soon…  a post profiling all the frogs we’ve met so far on our journey!  Tune in tomorrow folks…

January 15, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

How do I love you ambien, let me count the ways…

Ambien is soooo awesome.  It is like the raddest thing EVAR for time change, fyi.  I feel so fantastic after my 10 hours of sleep!

Tonight greggy and i take a 14 hour bus ride followed by a 1 hour boat ride to get to a remote island with no electricity.  Greg is apprehensive about the bus ride – he is used to fancy things like “planes” and “trains with sleepers”.  I will let you know how he fared.  With no power on the island, we prolly won’t be able to post on this thing for 4-5 days. 

We tewtally need to get some photos up.  Soon, I promise.  Right now we are so busy just taking it all in that we haven’t had quality time in the internet cafe.  Bangkok is a bit overwhelming to the sensory system and makes it hard to concentrate on doing any one thing for too long… 

we’re now off to visit chinatown.  bon nuit mes gens!

January 9, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments