Saturday, January 31, 2009

A few days in Lamton and Chiang Mai

So what have I been up to the past week or so? Well I stayed with a nice family in Lamton and got to see Thailand's rice belt. It was a very relaxing couple of days and I even helped them with some computer issues to earn my keep. After that I headed back to Uttaradit to catch a train to Chiang Mai. I ended up meeting Mouse and her family at a bar and going later with them to a discotheque. She was really helpful and even took me to the train station the next day and introduced me to where she lives in Lablae (spelling?). Unfortunately, the train was second class only which means the ticket was more than I thought I was going to pay but it was the only train that passed through and was going to Chiang Mai. Arriving in my car I see a bunch of farangs (foreigners) and lots of backpack straps dangling from overhead shelves. I was later served a small pink cake and a drink. A lot different than the third class train I took from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi which had no air-con and when we stopped we got street food hawkers come on board to sell stuff. After arriving in Chiang Mai I went to meet up with Esther, a host on couch surfer. So far it has been a great experience in Chiang Mai. I had some dumplings at what I think was a six star restaurant. I went on what is called Flight of the Gibbons, basically zip-lines strung through the jungle in northern Thailand. If there was any doubt about me not eating enough before, let your thoughts be availed. In the past three days I have eaten more food than the rest of the trip combined. I tried some turtle in Lamton (chewy and spicy), some shark fin on a dumpling (I think the restaurant was The Oriental), all sorts of sushi at a sushi bar with a treadmill like belt for all the dishes to pass by. I also have been trying food specific from northern Thailand that is mostly pork such as sausages and things like that. Oh and I went to the theatre and watched Inkheart. The film was decent but we sat VIP in reclining chairs and were brought a blanket and pillow, pretty nice huh? They also do a little montage before the film with a song saluting the king where everyone stands up. So what is next? Not sure. I have about a week before my visa runs out and I was thinking of heading to Nong Khai because I've heard good things about the atmosphere there; plus it's right next to Vientiane, Laos where I plan to get my Vietnamese visa. But I'm going to see a hill tribe on Monday with Esther and Giles (a sculptor from London). That might flood over into a travel adventure into northern Laos or it might not. Anyway, I leave you with some photo's and hope everything is going well with everyone.

A rice field with a small room
(usually only used when needed)
A couple of rice farmers invited me for some rice whiskey while I was biking around

Esther hosting a bunch of us for massive amounts of dumplings

The skin of the duck is eaten around Chinese New Year (I think)

Some nature

Geared up for being slung through the forest

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Two Weeks

It has only been about two weeks that I have been traveling and I have met so many people from around the world. I've discussed politics and the new president with people from Holland, Belgium, France, and England. I've discussed love and travel with a young French man and a Thai guy. I learned about people moving from Ho Chi Min, Vietnam to Nong Khai during the war, from a tuk tuk driver. I've realized that people who travel generally want to have a good time and so it is easy to talk and get to know each other. And even though I have read about the generosity before, nothing compares with experience and it is still suprising for me to meet such generous and helpful people from everywhere. I got a great map of Bangkok from a friend and then passed it on so that another traveler may use it. I got a Thailand guide book (Lonely Planet which everyone, everyone uses) from another friend and I will try to pass that on as well when I leave for Laos in two weeks.

Right now I'm in Lamton which is near Tron which is near Uttaradit which is not in the guidebook at all. Very exciting stuff. In a day or so I will be heading on to Chiang Mai which I think will be really nice and I will be able to go out and ride an elephant and do such things. After this the plan is to visit Pai and on to Nong Khai to cross the border. But plans are always changing so one never knows. I planned to stay in Kanchanaburi for 3-4 days but ended up staying 6.

I've uploaded some photos including
one of a sort of half breed Egg Mcmuffin dumpling style (no not from McDonalds but from a street vendor,by the way McDonalds delivers here). It was quite good.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sorry it has been so long since I last wrote. I just really haven't been doing much to write about. I checked out the River Kwai Bridge, which is basically a bridge with lots of tourists. The past week or so has mostly been about meeting people from all over and discussing just about everything life has to offer. Not really much sightseeing. Other than that I just got into Sukhothai last night and visited some ruins today. The other picture is of my friend Emil who got to do a little cooking at this place we went to every night. I'll try to take more photo's for everyone. Take Care!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A few photos

Some splashing around

Giant Buddha feet

River taxi

Art in Progress

Friday, January 16, 2009

I took a train yesterday to Kanchanaburi. There was some delay at the halfway point and it took a while longer than expected. When it arrived at Kanchanaburi there was a dash of farangs (foreigners) to the nearest guesthouse. It took me about 3 or 4 tries to find one with a decent price and room. Without a real plan this morning I just set out walking in the direction of a temple that was maybe 3km away. Before the temple is a WWII cemetary commemorating some of the fallen that worked on the railway. I wasn't really planning to go to the cemetary but there were some kids playing that called me over. Being a bit skeptical I went ahead and hung out with them for a few hours and had a pretty good time just goofing around; they even showed me the caves at the temple. I'll post more photo's when I get to a better computer. Take care!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Where I'm Typing From

So how to begin... I didn't realize I had to change terminals at one airport so I had to run, but no worries the plane was delayed and I made it okay. I also met two lovely older women, a mother and daughter, who are travelling to a small village and invited me to stay with them. It will be nice because it is an area where no tourists go and I can see a bit of rural Thailand without following everyone. I got a taxi from the airport to my couchsurfing friends place for a decent price. The place I am staying has 6 floors. My room is 100 Baht a night with a communal bathroom; 100 baht is a little more than 3 U.S. dollars. It is a really good price but only if a simple mat is okay with you and you don't mind being in a residential area rather than in the tourist area on the other side of the river. After three nights though I moved to the roof to sleep in a tent for free, more for the experience than the price but that is always nice. The weather has been really nice, not too cold in the evenings.
I got lost looking for chinatown with a really nice Croatian couple and wandered aimlessly in the residential area to see how people live (not too different from us). Just to give you an idea water is about 12or 14 baht for 1.5 liters, which is less than 50 cents. Where I'm staying is being converted into a bar (it was an abandoned brothel) so they had a party with graffiti artist come 
and write on a wall. There were also some drummers that came one night who were really quite good. Well, I'll write more as it comes to me but so far I have simply been relaxing and not rushing which I think will be my mode for the rest of the trip. A bit of planning has been going on in my head and I think that I will go to Kachanaburi on Wed or Thurs then go to the small village a few days later and work my way north. Take care!

Friday, January 9, 2009


Finally got to Bangkok and arrived at the place I will be staying. It was a very long trip with a few interesting moments that I will write more about later. I am alive and well. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

One Way Ticket to Bangkok

Yesterday I cancelled my phone, applied for readmission to UNC for the fall, applied for financial aid, found some people to stay with on, and managed to come down with a sore throat. I went to the doctor today and feel a lot better now which is good considering that I leave in a few hours.
On a somewhat side note I highly recommend Traveler's Tool Kit by Rob Sangster. It's a bit dated but I really like the way he writes and his information is general enough to be applied anywhere.
My tentative itinerary is into Bangkok then north and over into Laos, then down Vietnam, maybe into Cambodia, back to Thailand to go to the beaches in the south, head over to Malaysia for a bit, and finally to do some WWOOFing in Sri Lanka. I still am unsure if I am going to Nepal to do the Annapurna trek. 
I have been extremely nervous the past week and only grew excited when I received messages back about people inviting me to sleep on their couch. I guess it's always nice to see how welcoming some people are and to feel a sort of connectedness even though I have yet to meet them and only have travel in common. Even as of now I am not sure if I am looking for something or taking a young mans adventure (coming of age kind of stuff). I do know that foremost I simply want to travel and test myself, hopefully meeting some good people and trying some delicious, though exotic, food along the way.
I'll just scratch this itch and see if it doesn't turn into a disease.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Things He Planned to Carry

Well everything is just about in order. Got all my shots, called my bank and credit card company, got all my medications in order. I just need to print out some passport photo's, upload copies of documents, and get some iodine or Silver Ion/Chlorine Dioxide.

This image contains just about everything that I will be taking on my trip. I suppose an itemized list is in order (starting in top left):
- journal with pens (one with a bit of duct tape wrapped around it)
-Gorilla pod
-Chap stick and sunblock
-Rubber bands and Money belt 
-Day pack
-General guidebook 
-Travel pack
-Lock and keys
-3 bandages
-Insect repellent
-Extra batteries (for a total of 8 recharcheables; 2 in camera and 2 in flashlight)
-Bike Lock
-Universal outlet plugs
-Sink stopper and braided clothesline
-Ear plugs
-1 pair of shorts and two shirts
-Harmonica (learn on the road?)
-3 zip lock bags
-Battery charger and mp3 charger with usb cable
-The Pocket Doctor (one never knows)
-Waterproof case for camera (I think I'm going to borrow this a bit longer Eddie)
-Mp3 player
-1 long sleeve shirt, 1 pair of pants, and 1 pair socks (with shoes is the outfit for day of travel)
-3 underwears and 2 socks in packing cube
-Zip lock with anti-malarial, anti-diarrhoea, anti-biotic, ibuprofen, and hand sanitizing wipes
-Toothbrush in a case
-Baby shampoo and shaving oil
-Floss and toothpaste (which I have to put in another container)
-Collapsible water bottle
-Sleep sack 

This brings the weight of my pack to about 14lbs when I have the money belt, watch, belt, camera, mp3 player, and harmonica on me. I'll also have a novel with me that I will probably carry in my hand. I plan to pick up a poncho and a hat when I get there. Any questions or ideas are welcome.