Monday, February 8, 2010

A Straya & the end of Asia... For now!

Well, it's good to be home! The place where nothing ever changes. Friends and family doing pretty much the same thing as when I left.
Even though I'll only be home for just over 3 weeks, I think that I am going to get bored here (I say this because I already am). I've been planning to leave the house and going to the beach, but the weather has been crappy since I got he
re and it looks like it will continue like this for another week or so. It has been good to catch up with everyone though!

Well I traveled around China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore in only 3 months. This was a very short to see so many countries and I really feel like a rushed things a bit. There were definitely places that I wished I had spent more time and places that I wish I could have visited. But maybe I'll get back to this part of the world another time. If so, I will give myself a whole lot more time.
During these 3 months i visited 35 different cities/towns and spent about 300 hours on trains and buses (half of that was with no ipod). You do get used to the transport though and find it much more rewarding to take buses and trains rather than planes.

Well this is the end of this blog for now. It won't be updated until I start to travel again. For now you can just assume I will be in Aus or Korea. I may begin another blog for my time in Korea, so stay tuned for that!



Singapore was my last stop on my journey back to Aus. I arrived in good time on what was a pretty simple and straight forward trip from KL.

Well the rumors are true. Singapore is expensive! Not ridiculously overpriced, but it's a lot more of a shock than the rest of SE Asia. My hostel was pretty pricey but it was the cheapest around and there was a decent bar attached, so it had advantages that other hostels didn't. I was staying in 'Little India' too, which was a pretty interesting place. A lot of Bollywood, Indian restaurants and well... Indians I guess!

Singapore is well know for being the hub of Asia. This is made quite apparent through it's diversity and multiculturalism (one thing the rest of Asia is missing). The place seems to be made up of Tamil Indians, Chinese and Malays. Because of this there is no dominant language, which pretty much makes English their official language. Though most ethnics speak their native tongue, you would have a difficult time finding someone that didn't speak excellent English.
Another thing that Singapore is well know for is for being crazy clean. And it is certainly that! I was even tempted to lick the pavement because of it. But it's nice to see Asians being very clean... a contrast to what you may see in other cities. This could be due to their many bins scattered allover the streets (one thing Korea hasn't really heard about). It could also be due to a bit of Singaporian pride and the locals want to keep the city clean. I personally think it's due to the whopping big fines that are strictly in-forced and the people are just too afraid to disobey the law.
One highlight in Singapore for me was actually going to the zoo. I have never really been that into zoos, but thought that I would head to this one to see if it was as good as I'd been told. The first highlight of the zoo was the fact that I got in for free. This was because a Singaporian family had a free pass and offered it to me for nothing. Sweet huh! Thanks guys!
The zoo itself is pretty nice too. Lot's of cool animals and the park is a comfortable place to wander around. Plus I even got to see a rare bread of monkey having sex. Lucky huh!

I also ate some kick-arse Indian food in Singapore too (one of the advantages of staying in Little India). I'd write about the food but I might get a little to excited a start to literally eat my words!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Kualas and Lumpurs

It turns out the trip from Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur was actually a whole day affair. Which involved a ferry and then a long bus ride. A bus, more precisely a coach which only had 4 passengers on it.
I didn't really have any problems
finding a place to stay in KL though. The bus dropped me right next to Chinatown and I walked down the main street and found a cheap clean hostel within minutes!
Eating in Malaysia has been pretty exciting due to it's variety of foods and I have managed to enjoy
a nice mix of Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisine. On my first night in KL I found an outdoor street stall that was cooking up Chinese clay pot. It was cheap and delicious!! I also found many other vendors that cooked up suburb fried noodles and spicy curries.
Chinatown happens to have a bumping
night market. So, I went and checked it out. The market is large. Though the merchandise is typically tacky and typically fake. So, I really didn't open my wallet in this area (though I did pick up a sweet set of Transformer Uno cards).

Well, funnily enough I met up with my French friends from Koh Phangan/Chiang Mai again. We ended up waking up early on the 2nd day to line up for the Petrona Towers visit. This is free, though it does involve half a day of queuing. The visit then takes you to the bridge in between the towers rather than the top of them, which was a bit of a let down... But hey! It was free.
My time in KL also involved a trip to a mosque, a visit to a mall and a walk around a park. That's pretty much it though.
Overall KL was okay... not a whole of fun, but fun comes at cost in KL! As we found out when we tried to go out drinking one night. Service charges, tax and crazy beer prices.

Lazy Langkawi

Once I hit Penang I realised that I was still craving a bit of sun and beach. So I backed tracked a little up the West coast to the Malaysian island of Langkawi. This involved a relatively quick ferry trip. But the day then involved a long stroll around town in hunt of a cheap place to stay. I met a Dutch guy on the ferry who joined me in the quest for budget accommodation. This turned out to be quite difficult in that Langkawi was actually a little more developed than more previous spots in Thailand. And there seemed to be a different market of travelers on the island - no longer the poor backpacker crowd, but the wealthier holiday getters. However, we did end up finding some cheapish accommodation and some other backpackers to hang out with.

Langkawi's beaches are quite nice. Nice sand and warm water. Not too mention the weather was stellar! I spent a good deal of time relaxing and reading on one of these beaches and sometimes even a bit of sleeping.
Another great thing about Langkawi was that everything on the island was tax-free. Don't ask me why! This includes alcohol. Which is surprising because booze on the mainland is ridiculously expensive. So it was nice to be able to have a few drinks to ease the pain of paying for expensive accommodation.
On one of the days I decided to go do some diving. I boarded a boat full of people thinking that this was going to be a busy activity only to find out that all the people were actually going snorkeling and that I was the only one diving. I didn't mind this so much though as it is nice to go diving with few people. The diving however turned out to be a little lame compared to that of Thailand. We did see some large schools of snapper and a really strange Scorpion fish. The visibility was a pretty poor though, so a lot of the time was spent orientating myself and trying not to lose my instructor.
At night in Langkawi I hung out at a cool reggae bar that would constantly fill up with people. This place was chill and right on the beach, which was nice!


After 2 weeks in Thailand I was forced to head on out, mainly due to the fact I only had a 2 week visa. So, I made tracks down to Malaysia! My first stop being Penang, which is an island on the West coast connected to the mainland by a large bridge.
I arrived in Georgetown Penang quite late and had a bit of trouble finding a place to stay. But after a bit of walking around I managed to find a decently cheap place to crash. That night I went out to a large food court to find some Malaysian food. This placed turned out to be the most exciting part of Penang. Not to say that town is not that nice. It is! It's just a little dull and there is not much happening.
Can't even remember what I did on my 2nd day in Penang. Think I wandered around for a while, got Bored and then read a book. Well it only took me a few hours to realise that I needed to catch a boat on out of here. So, that is exactly what I did! Sorry Penang... Nice food though!

Are you feeling Krabi??

Krabi was my last stop in Thailand, and what better way to finish my time there then doing a bunch of climbing and a bit of diving.
Krabi is on the South West coast of Thailand's mainland. It is popular for it's excellent climbing as well as being a jumping off point for Koh Phi Phi.
I arrived in Krabi at about mid-afternoon and headed over to Tonsai beach to find Mark and Clare (2 English teachers based in Namhae Korea). They were on vacation for a couple of weeks and were spending the whole time in Krabi. It didn't take me long to find them as Tonsai is not the largest place. In fact there is no car road leading to Tonsai, so I had to Catch a long-tail boat around to it.
The first day/night was pretty chill. We just hung out, ate, drank and watched a guy fire dance on a slack-line. While we were watching the Slack-line fire dancer I happened to find Marko, the cool Croatian guy I had met in Laos. It was totally random to see him here, but I've had a lot of these random moments throughout my time in Asia.

For the 2nd day we decided to do some climbing. On Tansai, everyone is climbing! That's pretty much what the beach is known for. And there are no shortage of places to climb there! There are a shortage of easy climbs though, so for the less experienced climbers; (myself) had to attempt difficult climbs or just sit round and watch the pros go.
Our first spot was quite nice, right on the sands of Tonsai where some of the climbs weren't too difficult. My lack of climbing (or hard labor for the matter) experience showed though. Not so much in my skill, but on my hands and in my arms. After only a couple climbs my fingers were quite torn apart and my arms were incredibly unhappy as I had just woken up muscles that had been sleeping for quite some time!
By the time we went to our 2nd spot in the afternoon, my body was pretty much done! It was good to watch the boys climb though. Marko is an exceptionally good climber and Mark is definitely more than decent as well.

For my last day in Krabi we had arranged to do some diving over at Koh Phi Phi. I was quite excited about this, as I had heard that the diving over at Phi Phi was a lot better than that of Koh Tao.
The day was perfect for diving! Clear skies, 30 degrees, not much wind. Couldn't have been more ideal! Plus the boat we were on was quite nice too.
The trip out to Phi Phi took about 2 hours and when we got there we jumped off at Maya Bay for our first dive. The first dive was okay. We saw a cool turtle along with several interesting fish. but we weren't here to see fish! We want sharks damn it!
For the 2nd dive we moved to another spot where they had reportedly seen whale-sharks in recent days. We didn't see any of those boys, but we did happen to see a black tip, as well as a few leopard sharks. Plus we also saw a couple sea snakes and a trumpet fish. this was easily one of the coolest dives I've ever done, though all the excitement did see that I ran out of air much quicker than the previous dive.
Well the most exciting part of the day actually happened to be trip back to Krabi. We were about 30 minutes away from docking at the beach when the captain noticed some fins out in the ocean. He slowed down and followed them around for a while. At first we thought that maybe they were dolphins. Then we were thinking that maybe they were small sharks. They actually turned out to be huge whale-sharks! I'll never forget the moment where one of them came right up to the side of the boat. Everyone's reaction was the same! Loud gasps and complete shock... It was amazing!

Everyone was buzzing all the way back to the beach too. No one could stop talking about what we had seen!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No Moon party in Koh Phangan

If you haven't heard of Koh Phangan you have more than likely heard of the "full moon Party." Well, this is the place where it all happens! though I wasn't there for the party I was there for a bit of the fun and festivities.

When I arrived, I met up with a Swedish couple that offered to share a room over at Hat Rin. We agreed to share mainly because there was only one room left at the place we had found. It worked out well though, the room was large and we all saved a bit of cash!
Later after we had checked in I discovered that my roommates were quite young. 21 and 18 to be exact. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It was just that they started to make me feel really old. Plus they were one of thousands of Swedish that were invading Thailand. Seriously! Travel through Thailand and Malaysia for a while and see if you can go a day without meeting some people from Sweden. I dare you!
Well, the first night was probably the most exciting. We went over to Hat Rin Nok, The place where the "Full moon party" takes place. There was definitely no party tonight though. In fact it took a lot of searching to find a place that had people about! The whole place was certainly set up to accommodate a large party though, with stands selling buckets of all kinds alcoholic crap and they are using all kinds of methods to attract attention (dirty catch phrases, yelling and whistling etc). We ended up stopping at 'Cactus bar' which is quite a famous place in Hat Rin and that was the bar that had the most people. I also met up with some French friends that I had met on my bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
Anyway, the bar managed to fill up a bit; so the night was not as boring as I had earlier predicted. They served up a bit of fire frantics, such as 'fire limbo,' as well as the always popular 'balloon on the ankle' game.
well it turns out the room that I was sleeping in held the light of day out very well, because I ended up sleeping into about 1pm. This was not a totally let down though, because I did wake up to torrential rain and was forced to stay inside for most of the day anyway.
That night, our resort was hosting a 'pool party' which was heavily publicised all over the island. The night was not quite as exciting as we had predicted, though it was still plenty of fun! It was pretty much just me, the Swedish couple and my French friends hanging out. We did end up having quite a fun night though, which didn't finish to early in the morning.
Well this is pretty much all that happened in Koh Phangan. There was a 'black moon' party on the last night I was there, but I skipped that due to concerns about my 6am departure the next morning.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Koh Tao Pow!!

Koh Tao was my first a few island stops in Southeast Asia. This island is famous for it's diving. Not just because the diving is good, but because it's also really cheap. It is especially cheap if you want to complete some courses, which is exactly what I did.

Getting to Koh Tao involved an overnight bus from Bangkok that stopped at the ferry pier at 2am. This was a little annoying due to the fact the ferry doesn't arrive until 7am. Luckily there was a little area set up to chill/sleep in (mats on the ground) and I just curled up and passed out. I was so tired in fact someone had to wake me to tell me my ferry had arrived. Once on the ferry, I immediately fell to sleep again.

When the ferry arrived I met up with one of the hawkers selling diving schools and found a sweet deal that was 9000Baht ($300Aus) for my PADI open water Cet. This also included accommodation and a free fun dive at the end of the course. They gave me a ride over to my Bungalow and after a couple of hours I began my "theory lessons" for the course. There was meant to be 4 people doing the course with me but only 1 girl showed up, so it was just us two. This was nice because the classes are much simpler and quicker when there are just a couple of you.
That night, I went out to the beach and got stuck into the cheap BBQ that the restaurants provide on the beach (this would end up being a bit of a daily ritual). I also met up with some folk that I met on the bus on the way to the ferry. We chilled at one of the beach bars and watched the cool Thai Fire dancers. This was pretty much my only night out in Koh Tao (my only late night that is) as every other morning I had to begin diving lesson nice and early. I slept well that night. In fact it was the first time I'd been in a bed for about 3 days because I'd been taking all those damn overnight buses!
The next day of diving school involved a few more cheesy American diving videos and then a bit a pool practice diving. It was exciting to finally get under water and start using all the equipment and stuff.The third day was the first day of diving. We still had to do a few skills when we were under water and stuff, but for the most part swam around and got the feel of being submerged. It was pretty cool! Didn't see anything really amazing though... Just tons of fish and lots of coral.
The last day of the course was pretty sweet! We didn't have many skills to do, just pretty much dived. We went far out to Chompon where there are meant to be lots of sharks (even Whalesharks), so I was hoping to see something cool. once again, there were no sharks :( there were some large schools of Barracudas though which was pretty awesome.
On the fifth and last day, I did just one dive (my free fun dive). This was one of my best! I finally saw a shark, though it was not very big and I also got see a lot of trigger fish, though they didn't want to play (they usually like bit divers fins and stuff).
Overall I really enjoyed Koh Tao. The diving was awesome and the island was really chill and nice. I now have another really expensive hobby though. I wish completing an open water course meant that dives become cheaper, but they really don't. But it so much damn fun! So, I know I'll keep doing it not matter how much it hurts my bank.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What's the capital of Thailand? Bang....?

Okay, so as I mentioned previously I was in Bangkok for a night before I headed over to Laos. I was also there for a day after I left Chiang Mai. So what I'm going to now is "Tarantino" things a bit and go back to when I was in Bangkok in 09 and then catch up to when I was there a couple weeks later.

So the reason I went to Bangkok in the first place was because it was much quicker to head there before going to Laos then trying to get to Laos from Siam Reap. This is because Thailand's transportation system is much more organised and efficient.
So after a bumpy ride to the Thai border from Siam Reap, I spent about an hour or so trying to get into Thailand. Not because I was having visa problems, but because there were about 200 other people traveling through the same crossing at the same time. When I eventually got through and across I was pleased to see the smooth sexy 2 laned freeway that the rest of Southeast Asia had been lacking. This made our trip to Bangkok smooth and easy.
The bus dropped us all off at Koh San Rd, which is the main backpacker hub in Bangkok. I didn't have much trouble finding cheap accommodation and I met another backpacker that was keen to split a room to save cash. Also when I arrived in Bangkok I met Graham and Kevin again and they were staying just around the corner from me. So I ended up hanging out with those 2 as well as some other folk and we spent the night drinking on Koh San Rd. The night went by pretty quick and I remember it being quite fun, though I assure you it was an uneventful night... No "Ping Pong" shows and no strange stories involving Ladyboys. though, I did do to bed before Graham and Keven... So maybe they have some interesting stories... Who knows?!
Anyway, even though I thought I had a relatively tame night; I still woke up with a mean hang over. I didn't let this effect my day too much though. I managed to get out on the local buses and get over to the main part of town, where I was attempting to fix my camera (for some reason it's been taking sketchy shots). I also managed to get over to one of the malls and pick up a new lens for my camera too (i've been using the same crappy lens for about 3 years now). Plus I completed all my transportation using Public transport (no Tuk Tuks), which was cheap and rewarding!
Well after a day in Bangkok, I headed out on an overnight sleeper train to Vientiane. This train was not as comfortable and as well organised as the ones in China, but it was still comfortable and got me to my destination (even if I did think I was going to get tossed out of bed all night).

So... Now onto my 2nd time in Bangkok. The journey here first begins with a rough overnight trip from Chiang Mai. Well, maybe rough is the wrong word... Wet is a better one!
So, if you read my last post you would know that Thailand was receiving some rain. Well, the bus we were taking was a little old and not really water-tight and it seemed to be leaking water everywhere! Luckily the bus was half empty (or half full depending on your religion) and a lot of us moved about the bus looking for a seat that was going to keep us dry. I managed to rig up a little shelter by jamming the curtains over the leaking spots and that seemed to keep me dry for the most part. but after a while, I fell to asleep and didn't even notice that the bus was sinking!
I wasn't actually staying in Bangkok this time, just merely hanging out for the day and waiting for a bus to take me south. I arrived in Bangkok at 5am however and still had to wait until 6pm for my bus. I hung with some French guys that were on my bus for a bit and they were doing a similar trip. We were forced to hang at this Israely cafe, which is where the bus drops you and picks you up (and as you know, I do like my food Kosher).
So, this stop in Bangkok was a lot different from my previous stop in Bangkok. This time I ventured out camera in hand and played the tourist game. My first stop was the museum. I'm usually not really into museums and never really have been, but this one was different... NA!! Just kidding... It sucked! It was pretty much the same as every other history museum. Though mildly interesting, it was still full of the same pots and bowls that every museum has. Sorry to be so negative, but I guess I'm just not really into this kind of thing! It's funny because as an adult I thought I would begin to enjoy the things that I had found boring as a child. But no! Most museums are boring and Church sermons are still fall into a similar category. Don't get me wrong, I have been to the odd museum or two that I have enjoyed and Art Galleries are in a totally different category (love those). It just seems though, if a country in Asia has a whole lot of old crap lying around then they are going to open a museum to display it and rip tourist off at the same time.
Well after that I headed over to the palace but back out after I saw the price! So instead I walked over to see the lazy reclining Buddha. This was pretty impressive! He was huge and really really gold!My next plan was to head over to the large market that was on the outskirts of town but after a bit of miss-communication I ended up in Chinatown. this was a pretty crazy place... Very different from the rest of Thailand. didn't spend much time there though. I headed back to Koh San Rd and did a little bit of shopping.
Well that's pretty much it. Bangkok done!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Oh my Chiang Mai

Now that my time in Laos was coming to an end, I purchased a ticket over to Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand. Geographically, this city is very close to Luang Prabang... but in reality the two cities are divided by crappy roads, and an out of the way border crossing and a long transit time after the border crossing.

To begin my journey to Chiang Mai I took a night bus from Luang Prabang to the Thai border. This trip took a really long time! 12 hours to be exact! Plus I reckon we traveled on the windiest and bumpiest road in Southeast Asia. Not even 10mg of Valium could get me through the trip (this dosage has worked well on previous long bus trips). I did meet up with Marco (a Croatian guy that I met in Vang Vieng) on the bus, which was cool and provided a bit of conversation for good portion of the trip. Plus, in case the current bus circumstances were not bad enough they were worsened by the fact the temperature dropped incredibly low (I was wearing shorts and t-shirt) and my stomach was feeling a little ill. Anyway, enough complaining...

We got to the border early in the morning and once we got our exit stamp we had to catch a long tail boat across the Mekong over to the Thai border. After all the usual Immigration/Customs crap was completed, I had to wait about 2 hours for a minivan to take me over to Chiang Mai. Well... Late in the afternoon, I arrived in Chiang Mai!!

My first impressions of Chiang Mai are blurred by the fact that I was incredibly tired at the time of arrival. It did seem like it was a happening place though. Lots of people (foreign and Thai) and nice little restaurants and cafes. I did manage to head over to the 'Night Bizarre' to see what the fuss was all about. It was pretty much just a night market filled with the same stuff you find allover Thailand (funny t-shirts, lanterns and jewelery). The was a bit of "Bizarre" there though, this was the elephant I saw walking in to bars and the lady-boys yelling out 'handsome boy' from across the street to all passersbys.

On my first full day in "the Chiang" I took an all day cooking class, which was high on my list of priorities due to the fact that I love Thai food. The class was relatively cheap compared to the amount of food that I was fed. Myself and the rest of the class had to choice a bunch of things that we wanted to cook and after the usual "trip to the market" we all spent time learning how to create Thai masterpieces. I was surprised at how simple most of the things were to make, though the biggest challenge that presents itself to me is being able to recreate them with limited access to Thai style ingredients.
On the 2nd day I rented a scooter to drive up to Doi Suthep which was about 16km out of town... Not a far trip, but this was made difficult by the bendy and steep road that I had to ride up and oh... did I mention that it was Raining!! not just raining, but pouring!! I wasn't when I left town though - just a slight drizzle, but as I was about halfway it really started to piss down! I powered on though, my main concerns being staying on the road and if my camera was getting wet in my backpack!

Once I arrived at the top of Doi Suthep, I was surprised at how many people were already there wandering around and checking out the temple. Surprised because I think I only was about 2 other cars on my way up to the top of the hill. Anyway, I walked around for a bit and saw the temple/Wat, but was bummed not to be able to see the view over Chiang Mai. As I was up there though the rain really picked up and I was forced to abandon my decent plans and sit and wait the rain out. I was on a bit of a time schedule though as I had to catch a bus to Bangkok later in the arvo and I was worried that I would have to just suck up the weather and gun it back to town. Luckily the weather subsided and I was able to make it down and back to town safely while staying pretty dry.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Luang PruaBANG!!

Ok, second stop in Laos! Luang Pruabang is probably one of the most famous towns in Laos and it is definitely the most touristy! I guess before I headed over there I had visions of this relaxed, charming Buddhist town with few people and few western luxuries. But I guess once 'UNESCO' gives your town the heritage stamp then everyone start to flock in, especially when you open an international airport right on the edge of town.

The first shock I received when I arrived in Luang Pruabang was the expense! It seems that everything was about a third more expensive than Vang Vieng and my dorm room hostel ended up costing more than my private room guesthouse I was staying at previously. the next thing that I noticed was that all the trendy backpackers I'd been seeing round Vang Vieng had now been swapped for rich retirees and middle aged vacation seekers. This is not really a bad thing, though when there are people with money (and not afraid to spend it) then everything is generally made to cater and appeal to their needs.

The reason this place is on UNESCO world heritage list is due to its charming French architecture and it's Buddhist landmarks (Wats, Wats, and more Wats). I guess after I saw past the obvious touristic chaos, then I really did start to enjoy the town a little more. The Wats were pretty and unique and the architecture really was quite charming. This is also made all the more impressive by the 2 rivers that are on either side of the town (Mekong and I don't remember the other).

While I was there I met up with Joey and Skye once more and we hung out for a bit. We ended up recruiting a few others and headed over to a waterfall that was about 30km out of town. The waterfall is pretty and the water temperature was chilly but refreshing! There is also a bit of a rope swing there which was relatively tame compared to the ones in Vang Vieng, but still fun none the less.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Vang Vieng madness!!

After, Siem Reap I actually headed over to Bangkok for the night but I'll be there again in a bit so I will wait for my 2nd visit before I blog that chapter.

Anyway, so I caught a sleeper train from Bangkok all the way to the Laos border. The train was an incredibly bumpy experience; not nearly as comfortable as the trains in China, but it got me there none the less. At the border I had to go threw all the proceedings of making my way into Vientiane, which pretty much included a couple of Tuk Tuks and a bit of negotiating. Once I arrived in Vientiane, I immediately found a local bus that would take me all the way to Vang Vieng. The local bus was pretty crazy! A lot of Laos folk packed onto it, along with a few token westerners. Plus they also seemed to be able to pack the bus full of all other sorts of things such as groceries, luggage and household appliances... It was full!

After a 4 hour bumping and uncomfortable ride I arrived in Vang Vieng. I wandered off to the main street where I found Joey and Skye who were having a bit of lunch. We walked around in search of a cheap guest house, which took a lot longer then I anticipated. Eventually I found a hostel for the night, but could only stay there one night as they were going to be full the next. Once I had dropped of my bags I set off to explore the town. 30 minutes later I'd seen the whole place... Yeah, it's pretty small! But there is a lot going on and the excitement is on the outskirts, not in the town. That night I met up with Graham and Kevin again and we all went out for some drinks.

On the 2nd day; Joey, Skye and myself rented some scooters and headed out of the town. We ended up finding some cool caves and a sweet blue lagoon where we did a bunch of swimming and jumping off stuff. We also hiked up a nice peak where we grabbed some amazing views looking out over the nearby rice fields. Some local kids followed us up the mountain, which was kinda cool... Not sure if they were expecting us to give them money, but we gave them a bunch of other stuff, like snacks instead. They were good fun! That night we stayed out a bit later then we had planned and the night ended at about 3am. it also ended with me losing my room key which sucked! I spent a bit of time looking for it but eventually gave up and woke up my guest house owners and got them to let me in. I was pretty annoyed about losing my key though, I blame the sketchy pockets in my fisherman's pants! Comfy pants... Crappy safe house for valuables!

The next day was new years eve so a whole lot of us went tubing, which is really what Vang Vieng is famous for. It's not really the tubing that is the exciting part, it's the craziness that happens along the banks of the river that is exciting.
Once we arrived at the drop point we were met by a hundred other fellow tubers who were all drinking and dancing at the bamboo bar next to the river. This is the first bar... There are several more though all within about 10m tubing distance of each other. Each bar hands out free 'Lao Lao' (it's free because it sucks!) and all the bars were serving up their own slice of creative, irresponsible madness. The first bar has a zip-line that would come to a sudden stop, instantly propelling the person who is attached to the line (this one was quite entertaining to watch). Another bar had a mud volleyball court, which was more of a mud fight then it was a game. With all this going on, sometimes you forget that you still have to tube down the river.

Eventually, we grew tired of all the partying (not really, it was just that it was getting late and we had to have the tubes back by 6pm) and we headed down the river. The river has a natural and constant current, though being the dry season this current was a little slow and we were getting a little annoyed at how long it was taking us to get back into town. After a while we were starting to feel a cold, so we decided to hop out and hitch a Tuk Tuk back to the tubing shop. We arrived just in time!
Well the details of the rest of new years are all a little fuzzy. I think that those stories are best saved for first hand explanation, which will involve me saying things like "I think this is what happened... But i'm not sure." And the day after involved me switching between cafes (which play either 'Family Guy' or 'Friends' on TV) and sleeping on there really comfortable cushions and mats.