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Monday, July 30, 2007

The Philippines :-)

Beautiful and strange...

Since last Friday I am in the Philippines. After a short but exhausting flight during the night we arrived at Manila around seven in the morning. Got money and took a bus to the north of Luzon (Baguio). Uninteresting town where we just slept and we took a bus early the next day to Sagada. This small place is really nice to spend a couple of days. The ride there is one never to forget! We visited a waterfall which can only be reached by walking through the rice terraces where this area is famous for. Also visited some hanging coffins and a cave where they "bury", stack the coffins of the death.

Today we took a bus to Banaue, another place famous for the rice fields. The bus trip itself has to be one of worlds most beautiful trips, seeing the inmense rice terraces and driving over small, unpaved roads through the mountains... just great!! The ones here are even more exciting than the ones in Sagada. Did a nice tour through some of the fields and tomorrow we go to another town in this area.

The Philippines are kind of strange... although it is an Asian country, the people and their language and habits are totally different from all other Asian countries I have been to. Almost all of them speak English and their native language sounds like a mix between Spanish and English. Same goes for the food... it is not as special as Thai or Chinese food. They serve either Western fast food such as burgers, or rice with a little bit of meat or fish. Too bad we have not been able to find really good food. The one good thing they do have is cheap and tasty liquor. A wide choice between gin, brandy, rum and whisky for next to nothing isn't particularly bad :-)

That is it for now. Tomorrow we have an overnight bus to Manila and from there we fly south to Negros island, hoping to find a great beach to chill on for a couple of days!!

Groeten uit "Azie",

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Dogs..? Beware!!!

After our stay in Vang Vieng we traveled on to Vientiene. Stayed there just for half a day since it is nothing but a boring city. Took a bus across the border to Nong Khiaw in Thailand where we visited a great temple with a bunch of extraordinary statues!

We liked the town, but decided to go on to the Kai Yao National Park further down south. Took a train and had a fun trip there. At some point I had to put up my umbrella because it was raining through one of the windows and they couldn't get it closed...

Changed from train to bus in Khorat to go to Pak Chong, where we took a taxi to the Greenleaf Guesthouse. Determined to explore the park on our own we ended up having a strange day. We couldn't find the bus to the park and were lucky enough to catch a ride with some workers going in that direction. From the park entrance to the actual walking trails was another 14km, but once again we hitch-hiked our way in! Did a great 8.3 km trek through the jungle just to end up (totally soaked) at the famous waterfall from the movie: The Beach! Swam a little in the pool there and to get back we once again had to catch two different rides! So we caught 4 different rides with total strangers and it was great! Thai people are (like most Asians) very friendly.

Next day a bus to Kanchanaburi via Bangkok. Here we hired a motorbike and went to the Tiger Temple, a place run by monks where you can actually touch and be close to tigers. Great experience and definitely worth going to! Did some more driving through a beautiful landscape along the Death Railway.

And just when we were on our way back to our guesthouse it happened: two dogs! And for a change one of them decided to jump right in front of our bike and we crashed. I wasn't driving fast because I saw the dogs, but couldn't avoid it anymore. The result: my right side is blue and red... My elbow is worst with two deep cuts, than my toes and last my shoulder. Shos has nothing because I served as her airbag ;-) Bad end of an otherwise good day! Once again we were lucky enough to be in Thailand because people helped us (drove me to a "hospital" where I got free medical care and medicins).

Today we paid a visit to the famous (but boring) Bridge over the River Kwai and we are going to Bangkok. Stay there for one night and then we are off to the Philippines! Really looking forward to that!

De Mazzel,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Luang Prabang & Vang Vieng

So what have we been up to?

Luang Prabang is nice to hang out and has a number of good things to do. Shos met an old high school friend and we already met Paddy and Becky, and English couple doing a world trip. Together we went to the Kuangsi Waterfall and did a bicycle trip. The waterfall is great and everyone should visit it while in Luang Prabang! Cycling was fun but not as successful as we anticipated... the temple we visited was closed and we were unable to locate the paper making village! But we ended up at a small local shop, drinking Beerlao and having a good time! Food was great, especially at night when there was this little buffet stand where you could get a big plate of food for 5000 Kip (40 Euro cent). We went there almost every night, just as "all" other foreigners ;-) There is also a very nice night market and they actually have stuff you would want to buy like umbrella's and duvet covers. But we decided we already have enough stuff in China and didn't get anything...

On Saturday we took a bus to Vang Vieng where we arrived 6 hours later. Didn't do much the first day, but on Sunday we went for our first Tubing trip :-) Just as six months ago it was GREAT! We took a bottle of whisky and coke, bought several Beerlao's, did a lot of rope jumping into the river and got drunk! Really an amazing way to spend a day!

Click here and here for videos of the rope jumps :-)

The next day Shos ad I took off on a motorbike and drove over a small road we were hoping that would lead us back to Vang Vieng. And it did!! We had to cross a "bridge" made of floating bamboo mats and enjoyed seeing all the little kids playing in the water and greeting us. It always rules when you find something to do that is really off the beaten track and we certainly succeeded this time!!

Yesterday we tubed again, other day, same story ;-) Today we are not doing anything... one reason is that it is raining and the other is that Shos needs to do some work for her GRE and applications and I need to read some material for the classes I will be teaching next semester. Probably we'll take a bus to Vientiane tomorrow, spend a day there and then cross into Thailand.

That's all for now folks!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Back in Laos!!!

Sorry for the long silence!!
So what happened since my last post?

Quite a lot actually!! We (Shoshannah and I) left for our summer trip last Friday at 17.00. However before we left I had some issues getting money from the ATM and this still has not been resolved. Probably my card somehow got demagnetized or something because it just won't work anymore... And I must say that that is pretty inconvenient when you are just about to leave for a six week holiday! But at the end of the day we took a sleeper bus to Laos where we arrived almost 23 hours late and our holiday could start.

Udomxai in the north of Laos is a boring city and mostly used as a transportation hub. So we left the next day to go to Nong Khiaw. The trip was absolutely stunning and we really loved it. The landscape up here is great and never gets boring. In Nong Khiaw we didn't do that much because we were still low on money, hoping to improve that situation when we arrive in Luang Prabang. Still we had a nice couple of days up there and it is definitely worth going!!
On Tuesday we arrived in Luang Prabang. This city is very relaxed, has a lot of fun things to do and serves many, many cold BeerLao's :-) We still have some money issues, but we are working on it... The plan is to stay here for a couple of days and then head for Vang Vieng! Looking forward to that since Vang Vieng is the tubing capital of Laos :-) Already met a bunch of fun people so nothing to worry about!!