Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Found this map, and thought I would draw on it in order to give you an idea of where I am, where I was, and where I am going.

There it is.

In particular, please take note of the difference in spellings, and difference in geographical locations of "Taiwan" and "Thailand". Eureka!

Check out the mountains west of Kunming. Dem's called the Himalaya. Oh boy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Last of Laos

My two week Lao visa expired, and I got out just in time feeling like I would as well. Not so bad like that, but it was this trip's first serious case of la duzi (worst since India).

First off, this picture is for those parents who have discovered that their children, recently returned from Asia - innocence lost - have converted to vegetarianism. I hope this gives you some insight as to why they did something like that without telling you.

Here is a pic of Lao looking it's best. A small village on a misty early morning high in the mountains near Kasi.

And here, not five km down the road, is Lao looking it's worst. Now I don't want to get into a discussion concerning slash and burn farming (whether or not one has any right to inflict modern environmental values on hill tribe cultures who have been doing this type of thing for thousands of years), but I have to wonder what this guy thought when he looked out from his door the morning after he burned off this hill side.

River side village.

These are backpackers. This is what backpackers do. THE waterfall near Laung Prabang. A nice one.

Early morning on the Mekong. After being held up in Laung Prabang for far too long, we found we didn't have time to cycle out of Lao as planned. The only option was a two day (ten hours each!) ferry up the river to the Thai border.

Now in Chiang Mai, second or third biggest city in Thailand I think (though at 700,000 it pales to Bangkok's 8 or 9 million). An allright place to spend a few days eating excellent food and relaxing while we wait for our visas for China. The best we could get out of them was a double entry 3 month visa. As I understand it, this means I can stay for 3 months, and then I have to leave... but then I can just turn around and go right back in for another 3 months.

We left our bikes up in Chiang Saen - staging point for the aforementioned barge to YunNan. Two days ago there were at least five barges being loaded for the return trip, and hopefully there will be a few new ones by the time we get back. Chiang Saen is a port town in the golden triangle, the point where Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand's borders come together, and where an awful lot of opium used to be grown. We will return in a few days with those visas and arrange passage for the three day trip; again along the Mekong, where it forms the border between Myanmar and Laos.

In other news, following a vision involving a pigeon that I had during my ten day meditation
, my lost camera has been located.

Next posting will be from somewhere in southwest China I guess.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Photos of Vang Viene

Just some pictures today.

The bungalows we stayed in at Vang Viene.

Limestone "Karsts" across the river.

Brett is mobbed by some kids who were swimming in the river as we considered if we would pay the toll to cross the bridge (every bridge had a troll).

A view from a bridge as we biked north to Kasi.

Another view from along the road of a little canyon we passed through.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Vientiane to Vang Viene

I know it's been a while - sorry - but we've been biking through some high country, and highspeed internet isn't as common as you might expect in the mountains of northern Laos.

Actually it's probably more common than you would expect, assuming you expected that there wasn't high speed internet up here. There is (dummy).

I admit it. This picture wasn't even taken in Laos. It was Thailand. Oh well. Cha BuDuo.

This one was though. A fine restaurant floating on the Mekong. Meals starting at 1 USD.

Watched this guy from the restaurant. He fished with a throw net while his wife deftly maneuvered the boat over schools of fish. Skilled they were.

These kids gathered round us when we stopped in a little road side village for a refreshment. As we ride into the villages, the first kid to see us will start running to the road yelling "SaBaDi!". When other children hear this, they inevitably drop whatever they are playing with and make a beeline for the road as well. This chain reaction moves up the road faster than we do, which makes riding through the villages pretty funny.

This is the only country I have ever been to where kids don't yell "Hello!" when we meet...

And then, riding out of town we met these guys. Not sure what they use them for... maybe logging?

No, probably just for riding.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Ok, an update as to what I'm doing now...

Met Brett coming out of the meditation course. Originally we were planning on heading to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. We started off in that direction... We met a Dutch woman on a bike. She was riding to BeiJing. She gave us her card.

Should I get a card? Do I need one? I didn't know.


We had stopped for a drink.

Inevitably, the question was asked.

"So, why do you want to go to Angkor?"

"I dunno. You?"

"I dunno."

"I want to go to China."

"Me too... I don't even like temples."

"So, let's go to China."


"mmmm Ok."

We took the next road heading north. Now, sooner than expected, we find ourselves in Nong Khai - a Thai town set on the banks of the Mekong River. From the garden of the guesthouse, one can watch the Lao working and playing on the opposite bank.

I know I said we were going to China, but we still have a ways north to go, and this is the best way to go. Thailand is rather flat and boring in these parts. Laos has mountains.

Due to a spectacular thunderstorm that lasted most of last night, and the intermittent rain today, Laos will have to wait until tomorrow. When it clears up we will head over to the Thai-Lao friendship bridge and pick up 2 week visas. From there it's about 20 km into the Lao capital of Vientiane. After a few days there we will spend a week biking up through the mountains to the north central city of Laung Prabang. From there we plan to head east along the Mekong into the far north of Thailand.

Rumors have been confirmed, and we find that it is possible - hopefully - to take a barge into China. Chinese barges carrying cheap electronics ply the Mekong to trade with Thailand, returning with fruit and sometimes passengers holding valid Chinese Visas. Two or three days after leaving Thailand and traveling along the river between Myanmar and Laos, we will be dropped off in JingHong (or GuanLei if the water is too low) in southmost YunNan province (XiShuangBanNa district).

Two days on a barge with a bunch of Chinese traders and blue colar workers is just my idea of fun.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006