Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls

I keep saying I want to find a HUGE waterfall that is hidden in the jungle and has pools that are crystal blue, blah blah blah. Finally, Luang Prabang delivered in a big way! Our little family of Scottish and English (and the American chick) tuk-tuk'd it up into the mountains and found this gem of a place.

I almost lost a flip flop trying to brave it out into the middle of the falls, but it was totally worth it.
Neil and I (in not planned matching colors) enjoy the view!

After we got back from the waterfall, we had to say goodbye to our lovely English traveling babes! We had some delicious Buffalo at our final dinner, I could almost taste it after getting over my nasty cold from Vang Vieng. One should learn to not share drinks with others.

The next day we hiked up flights of stairs that made the Santa Monica stairs look like a day at the beach. Its either that or I am sorely out of shape. Either way, there was a great Buddha at the top!

Next up, Neil and I decided we are not done with Laos yet, so we will fly to the 4,000 islands in the South. Time to venture onto the 2nd prop plane...I hate this part.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Wore a Helmet, Dad!

I swore I wouldn't do it, but I guess this is what happens when traveling with a Scottish boy. After a few days of tubing in Vang Vieng I decided I had to get closer to the epic mountains off in the distance. Since I didnt want to take a tuk-tuk and a regular bike was FAR too much work, the next best choice was a motorbike! Daddy, I wore a helmet and was VERY careful. You did it in the 60's, I was just trying to be like you! LOVE YOU!!!

Neil and I cruised through the mountains while humming the theme song to Jurassic Park, it seemed appropriate.

I have no idea how to ride one of these things, so it is best that my first try at it was on the roads in Laos where you see maybe a car every 20 minutes and a cow every 2 seconds. They are pretty easy to get around, just honk and yell.

We made our way over a Temple of Doom bridge with kids chasing us and waving to stop and play. I dont know if they knew what to make of freckles; they probably just thought I was splattered with dirt. Then we climbed into the abyss of a cave, only armed with flashlights. Neil was really scared...I was so brave. Not scared at all, nope, not even a little bit.

The trip was so epic and wonderful and I never wanted it to end. If only I was bad-ass to ride one of those at home. Don't worry, Dad, I will keep with the Hyundai.

Family Hospitality in Vientiene

I made it to Laos! After risking life and limb by climing onto my first prop plane (picture seen above) I touched down in my 3rd country in South East Asia. My group had now grown to me, the Scottie and 3 lovely English girls- Jess, Katie and Jen. They would be with us for the next week and were wonderful to mimick. They did say my accent is still a bit off, more like a Harry Potter character.

We were all picked up by a family friend and taken on a VIP tour of Vientiene. Thank god, cause I dont think any of us were ready to be tour guide after our venture from Vietnam! Thank you Sujata, you were an amazing guide!

We visited our first Laotian Wats (temples) and I met my very own Buddha. In Laos, they have Buddhas dedicated to each day of the week. Obviously, Sunday Buddha was my fav!

Lunch was an unexpected trip to the mall. At first I was ready to have some Laotian McDonalds but it was the exact opposite. There were millions of choices of local cuisine, Thai, Vietnamese...you name it. But, I went with some homecooked Indian food. It changed my life, and opinion on all food courts in South East Asia.

It was a great first view at Laos! Next up, we will venture to backpacker heaven in Vang Vieng!

I Found Chico State in Laos

What? Wait, what just happened? Suddenly im 21 again and back at Chico State...but im in Laos. Im so confused. I didn't know what to expect about Vang Vieng, but I should have gotten the message when I stepped on to the bus headed for this mystery town, only to find it full of crazy looking kids who didnt break the 30yr old age barrier. Should have been a clue.

When we stepped off the bus, after our 4hr journey, we had already made friends with 2 English guys, an Irish girl and the 3 English girls from Vientiene. It was nice cause I had this group, all ready to take on the town together!
Neil and I ready for the adventure and our group for our first meal on the river.

I sadly have no pictures of the main attraction in Vang Vieng: Tubing. I will paint you a picture. A ton of people in tubes, rope swings, bars built in to the side of the river. When the bar staff wants you to come to their bar they heave water bottles tied to a rope over to your tube and then pull you in. The rest of the day...I guess you will just have to visit yourself to see the true craziness!
This is the river (untouched by the party) and Neil gets us suited up with red bandanas for our second day of tubing

After everyone is back from tubing, the best part of the day starts. You grab a seat/couch/bed and plant yourself in front of huge tv's playing non-stop Friends or Family Guy. Yes, this was my heaven. Match it with a tuna sandwich and I could have lived my whole life here...on what money? I have no idea.

Our little family of English, Irish and Scottish parked in front of Friends

Later at night, after everyone is full of Friends and chicken sandwiches, the town picks up again. Fire limbo (dont worry, Dad, I stayed away) and apparently guys dancing around with snorkles. He took a quick liking to Neil.

It was a fantastic escape from all reality, even travel reality, but I had to get out. It would be easy to get sucked up in tubing and Friends, but I also enjoy my soul and health, so on to Luang Prabang! It was nice to be back at Chico for a second, though...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

You Were Crazy...But I Loved Ya

It was so nice for a second, while traveling through the quieter cities in Vietnam, to not have to hold my breath while crossing the streets. But, now in Hanoi, I can feel my heart start to race again as I build the courage to step off the sidewalk. I think its funny that I called it a sidewalk, when really its just a place for people to set up small tables and park their motorbikes.

I took refuge at one of those tables to stop for a beer and some Pho, total price for meal: $1.35

We visited the Museum of Literature and I finally understood the Entourage reference of "Confucius say: RUN, Ari!!" Confucius was a great mind, also a great scene for Ari at Joshua Tree. And, I got to hit a huge drum. What more could you want from site seeing?

I was then treated to one of the best stage performances since "O" in Vegas. It was on the same level as a Cirque Show. I know you think of it fondly if you have experienced it. It's the Puppet Water Show.

I wont lie to you and tell you I had any sort of clue of what was going on. All I know is that there were puppets, there was water, there was no story line, and at one point there was a dance called "Dance of the Unicorns" where the puppets were CLEARLY tigers. Loved every second of it.

Another country down! Sad to leave but also SO excited to see what Laos is all about. I had to leave some amazing people who kept me entertained with their presence at every minute. Can't wait to meet up in Laos!