Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Luang Prabang, Laos

I woke up early in the morning, excited about my new upcoming adventure. I always get excited when I travel to a new destination. I guess it's that element of mystery--new places, new faces--that gets me yearning to hit the road again. And today was the day I would travel to Laos. I'd arranged to take a minivan to the border, a ferry to Laos, then, once in Laos, a minivan straight to Luang Prabang. While waiting for the minivan to take me to the border I met an English girl named Jessica. Jessica recently quit her job in London and is seeking work as a landscape architect in Brisbane, Australia, where she now lives. Jessica is an extremely friendly, honest, and outgoing person who shares the same humor as I do, and may even be more of a frugal traveler than I am--all characteristics for a perfect traveling companion.

Once in Laos we took a minivan straight to Luang Prabang, taking 11 hours to reach. Now in any other circumstance I think our ride would have taken 12-13 hours, however, our driver drove as if he had some deadline to make. Seriously, he drove like a bat out of hell. With every weave and turn through the winding, mountainous roads, our tires would make horrifying screeches: Errr!...Errr!...Errr!...and so on. We past every minivan and bus that left before us. The ride was nothing but a blur, really. When I think back about our ride I see it in flashes: flashes of women grabbing their children out from the street; flashes of our driver forcing people working in construction off the side of the road; flashes of people waiving and hollering at our driver to slow down; flashes of pigs and dogs running and crisscrossing the street, just eluding what I thought was to be every living creatures fate that happened to get in our way--death.

Eh, but at least the ride was fairly comfortable. Well, I mean, at least Jessica and I had comfortable seats. The people sitting in the rows behind us weren't so lucky and didn't relish the comforts that we'd experienced, i.e. leg room and air circulation. That's a shame :-). Jess drew a hilarious sketch of our minivan ride, perfectly depicting the levels of comfort and discomfort according to where one sat in the minivan.

When we arrived in Luang Prabang, the minivan dropped us off on a street full of posh hotels and guesthouses--a bit too expensive for us frugal travelers. When we began searching for inexpensive accommodation we were approached by a guy from our minivan, Blake, a Canadian, who asked if he could join us. Blake just finished a one year contract teaching English in South Korea, and was traveling for a few months before going back to Canada. I told him that his voice sounded similar to actor Seth Rogen. And Blake may have been just as funny as him too. Each of our personalities (Blake, Jess and I) seemed to compliment one another, which made for a good traveling team. The next few days I laughed so much, that, at times, I felt like I was literally high. It had been a long time since I'd laughed that much. The last time I had laughed that much, as I can remember, was with my ex-girlfriend, Jennifer, just before my travels over 4 months ago.

The three of us found cheap accommodation at a guesthouse called Sokmexay Guesthouse, located along the Mekong River, costing us each 40,000 Kip (about $5 per person/night). We spent the next day exploring the the streets of Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang is a very pretty city with French colonial architecture. In 1995, the UNESCO named Luang Prabang as a World Heritage Site. There are a number of markets to see, tasty and cheap street food, boutique shops, and plenty of restaurants and Internet cafes to choose from. It's a real nice place for couples, actually. Don't get me wrong, it's a charming city, but as a sole backpacker 2-3 days here is sufficient.

The highlight of Luang Prabang was visiting Tat Kuang Si waterfalls. Not only was it the highlight of Luang Prabang, but it was one of the highlights of my entire trip. It was simply gorgeous there. My Lonely Planet guidebook does a good job describing this location as "a wide, multitiered waterfall tumbling over limestone formations into a series of cool, turquoise-green pools. The lower level of the falls has been turned into a public park with shelters, picnic tables and food vendors. A trail ascends through the forest along the left side of the falls to an idyllic second tier, which is usually very private except for thousands of butterflies and has a pristine swimming hole." Sounds nice, ey???

I went with a group of 6 people, costing only 25,000 kip per person. You also have to pay 20,000 kip to enter the park. Don't forget to bring your swimsuit as you're allowed to swim in the pools that are present beneath every waterfall. Me and Jonathan, a friend of mine who I'd met in Pai, Thailand, found a secluded waterfall and swimming pool just off the trail. After we showed Blake and Jess, we all enjoyed a nice scenic, refreshing swim. Afterwards we went further down the trail to a busier waterfall (in terms of tourists present) and pool, but this one had a swing! So we all took our turns climbing the large tree and using the swing to dive into the pool. Good times.

The next day Blake and Jonathan left for Vientiane; however, Jess and I decided that we would travel north to Nong Khiaw. I made sure to withdraw some money from the ATM before leaving, as it would be highly unlikely any ATMs would be present there. I was a bit nervous about using the ATM because I'd heard that someones ATM card was eaten by the machine the previous day. Also, I'd spoken to a few people who had problems withdrawing money from the ATMs. In the end, I didn't have any problems and was successful withdrawing my money.

Oh yeah, I also hung out with two Israeli friends of mine that I also met in Pai, Thailand. We met at a bar and watched a soccer game. I think it was Manchester vs. Liverpool. Anyways, it was great meeting up with the both of them and hopefully I'll see them again, as they're following a similar route as me.

Next Stop: Nong Khiaw/Muang Ngoi Neua


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chiang Rai & the Golden Triangle

After finally getting myself to leave Pai I took a bus to Chiang Mai where I immediately hopped on another bus to Chiang Rai. I arrived Chiang Rai at around 9:30 in the evening and begun searching for a phone as I had contacted someone through CouchSurfing who'd possibly be able to host me. When searching for a phone I was approached by a Jewish man, Shalom, from Seattle, who'd been living in Chiang Rai for the past 12 years, and asked if he could interest me in staying at his hotel, The North Hotel. Well it wasn't really his hotel and he didn't technically work there, but he's friends with the owner and enjoys helping the staff. He can speak fluent Thai and the staff from the hotel doesn't speak English very well. I told him my situation and he kindly let me use the hotel's phone. Unfortunately the guy I contacted through CouchSurfing couldn't host me as he was already hosting two other people. Since CS was a no-go I decided I would take a look at the hotel. Even though the hotel was way out of my price range, I decided to book two nights and splurge a little bit. Well, I mean, it was splurging for "my" standards. The room cost $9-10 per night, which included air con, my own bathroom, a hot shower, free Internet, and had a real chill atmosphere. Shalom, like myself, really enjoys jazz music and played some Miles Davis for me upon request. He had a collection of jazz Cd's to choose from. It was great.

The next morning I took a bus to the beautiful Wat Rong Khun or White Temple (see pictures above). I had heard nothing but good things about this temple and was anxious to see it. I have to say, it was one of the coolest temples that I've seen--or the most trippy, at least. The mural inside the temple was spectacular. It's too bad that tourists aren't allowed to take pictures of it. It was a mural of the Buddha defeating his inner demons before he attained enlightenment. The mural contained images of Neo from the movie The Matrix, Superman, Darth Vader, images of war and the World Trade Center. Again, it was like nothing I'd seen before. It was an extremely unconventional Buddhist temple created by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a Thai visual artist.

That night I wandered through the night bazaar in Chiang Rai. In the middle of the bazaar there was a food court and a stage with live musical performances. After dinner in the bazaar I went back to my hotel where I watched the replay of the Manny Pacquiao/Joshua Clottey boxing fight that I'd missed a few nights ago. Score! Go Manny Pacquiao!

The following morning I walked to the bus station not knowing where I would be traveling to next. After I inquired where the line of buses were going I decided I would take the bus that left first, which happened to be Chiang Saen. So off to Chiang Saen I went...

Chiang Saen, land of the Golden Triangle, is a small, quiet city. The only reason worth visiting Chiang Saen is to see the Golden Triangle, located in Sop Ruak about 10 kms away. According to my Lonely Planet guidebook, Southeast Asia: On a Shoestring, "The three-country border between Thailand, Myanmar and Laos forms the legendary Golden Triangle, a mountainous frontier where the opium poppy was once an easy cash crop for the region's ethnic minorities."
When I arrived Chiang Saen I walked aimlessly looking for a place to stay. I'd remembered seeing an information center from the bus when approaching the city, so I decided to check it out. Unfortunately the woman working at the information center didn't speak English. Darn it! But just as I was walking out the door I ran into Joe. And Joe just so happened to own a hostel, called Tankun Hostel, which opened last week. He told me a bed would cost only 99 Baht per night and if I wanted to see the Golden Triangle I could rent a bicycle from him, costing only 80 baht for the day. Nice! So I hitched a ride with him on his motorbike back to the hostel. Again, it never fails how everything just seems to work out.

Once I got myself established at the hostel, I rented a bicycle and rode it to Sop Ruak about 10kms north to see the ''official'' Golden Triangle. The town of Sop Ruak was exactly what the guidebook said it would be: A tourist trap. But it was worth the bicycle ride there and to pose in front of the 'Welcome to the Golden Triangle' sign. It was neat to see Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Thailand at the same time. I didn't stay long, just long enough to take my touristy pictures and to enjoy my snack while overlooking the river of the Golden Triangle. That was a sufficient amount of time to spend there.

Afterwards I rode my bicycle to a Buddhist monastery and checked out some of the surrounding temples. Back at the hostel I watched a movie, something I hadn't done in a long time, and hung out with three guys staying there--two of which were from Spain and the other was from Italy. The next morning the four of us guys traveled to Chiang Khong, a border town and launching point to enter Laos. There's really nothing going on in Chiang Khong, just somewhere to rest before entering Laos--which I was doing.

I was really anxious to travel Laos, as I'd heard nothing but good things from fellow backpackers who'd been there.

Yo, Laos, ready or not here I come!

Next stop: Luang Prabang, Laos


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I love Pai

Aside from the fact that my bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai was filled with a bunch of whining babies, the ride was fairly uneventful, which was good. Seriously, I've never seen such a bunch of complainers during my travels. People were upset that pillows and blankets weren't provided and that there wasn't enough leg room. One guy from Holland expressed his dissatisfaction by urinating on the back of our bus during one of our breaks--real classy group of people, let me tell you. Sure it was a bit uncomfortable but what form of transportation in SE Asia isn't? It really wasn't THAT bad, either. I mean, I actually fell asleep for a few hours, something that I hadn't been able to do up that point on my trip. Luckily the German girl who sat next to me was really cool and interesting.

After I arrived Chiang Mai I went searching for a travel agency that my friend, MariJuana (yes, that's her real name), recommended which offered ridiculously cheap accommodation for only 50 Baht. I walked all around the Old City before finding the place. Chiang Mai appeared to be a small, pleasant city--the complete opposite from the hectic and bustling streets of Bangkok--with many temples, meditation centers, massage parlors, restaurants and music.

And once I found the travel agency, again, to my dismay, I was greeted by my friend, MariJuana! I was surprised to see her as she was supposed to have already left Chiang Mai. Apparently she had a couple of crazy nights out and needed a day to recover before departing. She told me that she was heading to Pai and asked if I wanted to join her. I mean, I literally just got to Chiang Mai, but the idea of teaming up with MJ did sound appealing.

"Eh, what the hell, " I said, " Let's go to Pai!"

I only intended to stay in Pai a few days, but I had heard and read that Pai was the sort of place where everyone initially intends to stay a few days but gets stuck for weeks, months, and even years. It sounded a bit cliche if you asked me, but, as I would find out, it was indeed true.

The town of Pai is quite small which is nestled in a valley between the mountains. The surrounding areas of Pai contains hot springs, waterfalls, a beautiful canyon, mountainous scenery and small villages; all of which is easily accessible by motorbike. As I mentioned before, the town itself is small but with many arts and crafts shops, restaurants and bars, bookshops, and plenty of cheap accommodation to choose from. There's also a bit of a music scene in Pai. Every night there are live bands and music being played. And you'll be hard pressed not to find someone carrying his/her guitar down the street. Also, if you don't fancy going into town to find music, you can always find people playing some nice tunes at their bungalows.

I got stuck here for nearly three weeks. There's just something about Pai that makes you feel at home. There were so many other places I wanted to see but I couldn't get myself to leave Pai. I found myself telling other long-term travelers my dilemma (not really a dilemma, but hey...), to which they would all reply, "Man, you just need to relax; make yourself at home. Just slow down and go with the flow, and stop thinking about and planning for the future." It seemed like sound advice. It all kind of reminded me of a scene from the movie Almost Famous where the main character in the film, William Miller, couldn't bring himself to leave the band he was assigned to write about after traveling with them. (Watch below) And strangely enough, the people in Pai look pretty much the same as the people in the movie clip, just picture a few more of them with dreadlocks. Oh yes, Pai is a hippy town.

The first few nights in Pai, MJ and I rented motorbikes and rode around the surrounding areas and viewed the nearby waterfalls, canyon, and scenic countryside. Renting a motorbike in Pai is the best way to see the surrounding areas. Plus, it's cheap. It only costs 100 Baht per day for an automatic through Aya Motorbike Services. But if you do decide to rent a motorbike, DRIVE SLOW. I can't tell you how many times I've spoken with people who have told me that they've gotten in motorbike accidents. You can see many people walking down the streets of Pai with bandages from these accidents. So I repeat: SLOW DOWN.
And if Pai couldn't get any better, every evening at 6:00 outside of the local high school there are basketball pick-up games. So of course I had to make my way over there and check out the local scene. I have to say, they weren't too bad. The really good players were actually the ones from the hill tribes who don't speak Thai and are about 4 feet tall. I mean, these guys were lightning fast. It was strange watching them run up and down the court, it looked as if they were skipping but, again, at lightning speed.

One night MJ and I were walking back to a our bungalows and saw a sign that said Chai Tea. "Ooh, Chai tea!" I said enthusiastically. I was excited to try it as I had delicious chai tea in Myanmar (Burma). The chai tea was delicious and was better than the tea that I had in Myanmar. Plus, it was served in a larger cup. The shop, Pai Art Design Way, is ran by Otto and Sandy, a lovely couple who have been living in Pai for 2 years.

Sandy is from Sweden whose been traveling since her early 20s and Otto is from southern Thailand. And together they're a great team. Because not only do they serve tea which is normally made by Sandy, but they also sell t-shirts and bracelets which are designed and created by Otto. I just loved the atmosphere at the shop--very chill and laid back. I went to the shop every evening to enjoy the tea, music, and interesting conversations with new people that I had met everyday. There was so much positive energy flowing through the shop that I literally felt addicted to it, and needed my "positive energy fix" every night.

One day MJ and I decided to take a bit of a road trip on our motorbikes to Lod Cave, located 10km outside the town of Sappong. The main reason why I visited Lod Cave was to see the birds and bats fly in and out of the cave, which occurs every morning and evening. The ride to Lod Cave, which took about 2 hours, was well worth the trip because of the beautiful scenery along the way (see pictures above). We stayed at Cave Lodge and stayed in the dormitory room, costing only 100 Baht.

In our dormitory room we met Frank. Frank is from Germany and he's been traveling for the past 7 years. He had been staying at the Cave Lodge for the previous 3 nights and took on the role as our guide for the night, showing us the cave and providing info about cave and the surrounding areas. Afterwards at the lodge, Frank and I enjoyed many games of ping pong, a nice meal, and interesting conversations. One could easily spend 3-5 days at the Cave Lodge. Good luck traveling back to Germany, Frank!

MJ and I parted ways again, as she had to get back to Chiang Mai to attend her first day of massage school. And even though this was our third time partying ways, I was still sad to see her leave. I'm sure we'll see each other again on the trail someday. Many people from the states ask me if I get lonely traveling by myself. And to be honest, I'm really never traveling by myself. I always seem to meet someone to travel with. And again, it wasn't but 2 days after MJ left that I'd meet Bryan from Lafayette, Louisiana. It was nice to meet a fellow Cajun, as my dad's side of the family is from New Orleans, Louisiana. Bryan had just spent a year on an island off the coast of Honduras as a scuba diver instructor, and after spending a few months home he decided to hit the trail once again. He told me that he'd just came back from Mae Yen waterfall and that he was considering going back to camp. I told him that I would love to camp at the waterfall--so we left the following day. We spent 2 days and 2 nights at the waterfall. It was great. I decided to leave my watch and camera back in town and to bring only the essentials: a few items of extra clothing, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a flashlight, and fruits and nuts for food. I didn't have a tent or a sleeping bag so I had to rough it for a few nights, sleeping on the ground next to the campfire. We also drank the water from the waterfall. We had an unlimited supply of delicious water. Good times.

We only saw a few people for the entire time we were there, too! The first day we met two girls who traveled to the waterfall with a guide. That reminds me: if you're going to trek to the waterfall, don't hire a guide. If you somehow lose the trail, just follow the river to the waterfall. It took us, maybe, two hours at a reasonably fast pace to reach the waterfall. And later on the first night while sitting at the campfire, Bryan and I noticed two Thais approaching our camp with large rifles strapped onto their backs. Bryan and I looked at each other as if to say, "And what is going on here?" They ended up being a couple of Thai locals who were hunting and camped next to us. These guys were both former boy scouts and were hardcore campers. After they assembled their tent they put up a tarp and shrubbery on and all around the tent to camouflage themselves. And with their Rambo size knife they were able to make everything from the bamboo trees. It was quite impressive to say the least. I mean they made cups, plates, chop sticks, and most impressively, they made a bong. Again, it was quite the spectacle to witness. They were exceptionally nice guys who shared their deliciously cooked meals with us. I felt a bit lame as we only had nuts and some fruit to offer.

Bryan and I decided to do some trekking after a late start the following day. Bryan had his eyes set for this one particular mountain peak to climb. However, it was a bit further away than we expected and once we reached the mountain that he wanted to climb, I noticed that the sun was setting rather quickly and was a bit hesitant to continue any further. And the only way to get there was to trek off the beaten path, i.e. no trail, just straight up the mountain. Again, Bryan was pretty keen to climb to the top.

"Let's just climb a little further," Bryan said.

We walked a bit further up the steep mountain until I expressed my leeriness to continue. "I don't know, man. The sun is coming down pretty fast." Bryan and I starred at the top of the mountain for a few minutes in silence. I could tell he really wanted to continue to climb it. However, in the end he decided to turn around. "We'll just walk back to camp real slow then," he said. That was fine with me, just as long as we were heading back in the direction of our campsite. However, we couldn't seem to find our trail. The leaves falling from the trees appeared to have hidden our trail. This wasn't good. I mean we had a general idea where we came from but all the mountains began to look the same. Once we decided what mountain to trek to, we quickly got going, but, again, with no trail to swiftly guide us there. It was pretty rough to say the least. I won't even go into the details right now but it's safe to assume that it was excruciating tiring and dangerous.

Once we made it to the top we realized that it was the wrong mountain! I can assure you that obscenities were yelled at that point. I was also beginning to feel dehydrated--my lips were completely dry and I was experiencing brief moments of chills--and I didn't have any water left. We just couldn't seem to find the correct path or mountain. Bryan and I exchanged many looks as if to say, "Dude, this is not looking good." We were beginning to accept the fact that we were going to have to sleep in the mountains. My concern, however, was that I needed water and that Bryan wasn't wearing a shirt--it gets fairly cold at night. If only we could find the river we would be alright, as it would lead us to our campsite. We decided to try one more route. By this point the sun had already set, and it wouldn't be too long before it would be dark. After about 45 minutes of walking down this new path we thought we heard water. We both stopped and looked at each other. Just listened.

"Is that water or wind?" Bryan said.

"I think it's water, man!" I responded.

We quickly picked up the pace--well, more like Bryan did, as I felt like I was going to pass out. I had also developed blisters on the bottom of my feet which felt like I was walking on nails every time I took a step.

"Hey, I think I hear the river!" Bryan yelled to me.

That got me to move a bit faster. And once I caught up to him where we had a decent view of the surrounding area, we both began panning right to left looking for...........

"The river!" we both shouted with joy.

Oh man, I've never been so happy to see a river before in my entire life. We quickly made our way to it and began rinsing off and filling our bottles. We both gave each other a high five and let out a nice sigh of relief. Getting lost in the mountains pretty much ranks up there as one of the most horrifying moments in my life.

Back in town I ran into a friend who told me about a market that occurs every Tuesday morning in the town of Sappong, near Lod Cave. What's suppose to be so unique about this market is that hill tribes from all around the area come down to sell their goods with other hill tribes and Thais, then go back when finished. It's not a market for tourists. This sounded very interesting to me and wanted to check it out. I decided not to rent a motorbike and to take a local bus. People asked me how I would get to the Cave Lodge, as it's 10km away from town and I wouldn't have a motorbike. Honestly, I really wasn't worried about it. I knew that everything would work out somehow. Everything seems to work out since I've been traveling. I was talking to a German woman about this, how I feel as if I am able to change the laws of the universe in my favor. I thought her response was interesting, she said, " I don't necessarily think you're changing the laws of the universe but rather falling back unto them."

I left my backpack with Sandy and Otto at their chai tea shop and took only my day bag. When I arrived Sappong I thought I would check some guesthouses near town before trying to venture to Cave Lodge. I was about to start walking to Cave Lodge after failing to find any cheap guesthouses when a young Japanese tourist pulled up on his motorbike and ordered something to eat. So I introduced myself and inquired what his plans were for the day. He told me he planned to see Lod Cave, adjacent to Cave Lodge, after finishing his meal. I smiled, looked up to the sky and gave the traveling Gods a wink. Ah, yes, everything always seems to work out. After I hitched a ride with him to Cave Lodge I gave him a guided tour of the Lod Cave which, Frank from Germany, gave me the previous week--just paying it forward.

Later that night I met two girls in my dormitory room, Lisa (from California) and Tiziana (from Sicily). I enjoyed the rest of my night with the both of them over dinner and pleasant conversations. I woke up early the next morning and hitched a ride on the back of a pick-up truck with a bunch of Thais going to work. The truck dropped me off literally in the middle of the market. Nice! And as far as the market, well, eh, it was a market. I was a little disappointed. I don't know, I just envisioned it a bit differently. I guess once you've seen a SE Asian market, you've seen them all. Afterwards I ran into Tiziana and took the local bus together back to town, which was another adventure in itself (just ask me about it).

There was another party held at the Pittalew my last night in Pai. I had attended the last one which was held nearly 3 weeks ago. This was definitly a fitting ending to my stay here. The Pittalew is an art gallery that hosts frequent parties where great dance & fire shows and live music can be found (see pictures above). And I'm not talking about your ordinary type of music here, I'm talking about Astonapai music! Astonapai is a local band which plays music that's sort of a mix between Gypsy, Middle Eastern, and Indian music--and I love it! It's a trippy atmosphere at the Pittalew. When I'm there I almost feel like I'm in a tree house partying with the Ewoks from the movie Star Wars, with many bamboo trees and bonfires. The party felt like a friend reunion. Everyone I had met or become friends with were in attendance. Again, it was a fabulous finale.

I said my final goodbyes at the chai tea shop the following morning where I would have my final cup of chai tea, and hang out with friends I had made. Pai had been extremely good to me. I was very sad to leave. I'm beginning to realize that it's not the destiniation in itself but the people that make places special. And I met so many special people in Pai. That reason alone is a reason while I'll be back.

Next Stop: Chiang Rai
Check out my Flickr link for pictures ------>

Sunday, March 7, 2010


After an amazing trip to Myanmar (Burma) I went back to Thailand. I would spend the next 5 days in Bangkok decompressing, unwinding, relaxing, writing, etc, before traveling to northern Thailand. I was pretty much always on the move in Myanmar and was looking forward to taking it easy, i.e. not moving. I stayed at Mama's Hotel, located on a street perpendicular to Khao San Road behind the Burger King, for only 100 Baht. It wasn't the most inviting place, I can assure you. In fact, it was a bit of a dump. It was dark, gloomy, with extremely thin walls, and it didn't appear that the sheets on the bed were washed too often. It reminded me of the room that Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Richard, from the movie The Beach stayed in when he traveled to Bangkok. I was waiting for that crazy guy, Daffy, to climb over my partitioning wall from the adjacent room and yell obscenities. (Begin watching at the 4:20 mark below)

Eh, but for 100 Baht I wasn't going to complain. Long-term travelers from all over the globe resided here, as it was the cheapest hotel around. And, boy, were they some characters. I loved listening to their traveling stories--so inspiring.

Speaking of which, here's a pretty funny story: One night while hanging out with the guests from my hotel on Khao San Road, I ran into Rob, a friend of mine who I'd met in Kuala Lumpur. He has a blog too if you're interested: Anyways, he introduced me to his friend who he was with, named Benny. When Rob said that his name was Benny, I looked at him and told him that he looked familiar and asked if we had met before, possibly. It took all but two seconds before it hit me.

"Wait a second, wait a second," I said, "You're from!" (TGATW) is a travel website created by Sammy and William who documented their trip around the world through travel videos. TGATW was one of the few travel blogs I followed regularly before I embarked on my trip. So anyways, I remembered Benny because he made an appearance in one of the TGATW episodes, as Benny hosted Sammy through Benny was pretty easy to remember, as he was from Ireland, wore the same Irish hat, and speaks, like, 7-8 languages. (Watch Benny at the 2:00 mark below)

If you're interested in learning another language, you might want to check out his website: & After laughing about the utter randomness of the situation that had just occurred, we all hung out for a few hours.

Another pleasant surprise occurred while in Bangkok: One of my traveling partners from Myanmar, MariJuana, graced me with her presence while at an Internet cafe. She was supposed to have traveled to Koh Chang, but, due to bad weather, she decided to stop in Bangkok for a few days before heading to Chiang Mai where she'll be participating in a month long massage course. It was great seeing MJ again, as I was beginning to miss her. We really vibed well while traveling together for the 3 weeks in Myanmar. So it was great to be back together again; however, it would be short lived as she left for Chiang Mai a few days before me in order to travel a bit before her course began.

I enjoyed my short stint in Bangkok. I accomplished everything I wanted to do here. I got about 3-4 blogs written, uploaded a ton a pictures, ate some good food, and, most importantly, stayed in one place. However, after 5 days on Khao San Road I was ready to travel north to Chiang Mai. I purchased a cheap bus ticket from some Jewish travel agency, costing me only 350 Baht. Score!

Next stop: Chiang Mai or so I thought.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Myanmar (Burma) Pictures...

Pictures from my travels to Myanmar (Burma):