A Travellerspoint blog

gabe's leisure time

after a few border crossings and a stopover at the beach, i made my way into cambodia

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i ended my laos trip in vientiane, which was a bit of a disappointment after luang phabang. the architecture in vientiane wasn't nearly as gorgeous as the red-brick streets and detailed temples in the riverside city of luang phabang. the capital city, vientiane, was full of sex-tourists and drug-dealers, and probably a few people who were both. i didnt bother with the nightlife there since it seemed a bit seedy. the only nice part of the town was a french boulevard which led upto the national temple. it's a bit odd walking down the streets of the old french colonial towns and seeing poor lao people sleeping on the sidewalk, but that was definitely a common sight in vientiane.
after an overnight train i returned to ko chang, where i spent a week last year as well. the beaches are still picturesque, but the prices have already started going up. heaps of european families are on winter holiday and they chose to spend it in ko chang. i can't blame the thai business owners who want to attract wealthy families, but they are really pushing out the backpackers. it was only $5 a day for a beach-frong bungalow, so i can't complain too much. after a ferry ride to the mainland, my brother and i parted ways. he's off to university and im off to other asian destinations. i wonder who will learn more......

as for cambodia, the border town was a real treat. ko khong was full of people trying to scam or rob you, but luckily i arrived before sundown. at the actual border crossing four groups of people colluded together and set an insanely high price for a taxi ride into town. i was with a few dutch guys and we decided to start walking down the road. within seconds we had a couple cars trailing us lowering their prices. it was quite a marketplace. currently im in sihanoukville, which isnt much better than the border crossing but atleast it has a decent beach. im heading into phnom penh and then to angkor wat next week. ive been hearing nothing but amazing stories about the temples of angkor, and now its turned into my camobodian pilgrimage. i hope it lives up to the hype.

Posted by ggithens 23:26 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

Bangkok -> Chiang Mai -> Laos

a repeat of last year with a new lao twist

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bangkok's seedy areas rarely phase me these days with the last few towns we've stopped at in laos. the absolute poverty the people live in here is more appalling than transvestites with bulges in their pants.
my brother and i rendezvoused in bangkok on the 19th and quickly made our way up to the northern center of thailand, chiang mai. after scoping out some ornate temples we hopped on a bus and headed for the mekong. once we reached the thai side we had a good look at what life was like across the river in laos. nothing is quite like walking around a port town with people who want to stuff their pockets with your money. that was the vibe in both Chiang Khong, Thailand and its' Lao counterpart Houesai. we only spent a night in the enchanting village of houesai, but we quickly got the idea that the communist government is still fully in control of the lao people. that includes cutting the power at 11pm. the next day we cruised down the mekong and got to see the outside of raw jungle. a few stone faces were thrown in between the lush forest, but for the most part it was the shit-brown color of the mekong against a backdrop of giant green trees.
we slept in pakbeng, another village that exists to extract money from tourists and give lao people the true feeling of capitalism. the food was tasty, especially the morning glory and spring onion. we've been sampling the cuisine from both the street vendors and restaurants, and our expert opinion concludes that vendors are the way to go. not only are they cheaper but the fresh vegetables in the stand just give you a good feeling.
from pakbeng, laos we had another day on the mekong full of dice games, exquisitely-rolled white cylinders and some conversation about taking pictures of poor people (make a post and let me know your thoughts......)
as for luang prabang, the general feel here is much more subdued than in bangkok, a bussling metropolis with seemingly no soul. the people here aren't as hawkish about selling goods, throwing you in their taxis or ripping you off (or maybe im just that naive...)
the temples here have the lao style with a french walkway of red-bricks and cement. surprisingly the two make a nice pair and the mesh of boulders, gold buddhas and colonialist architecture make a nice atmosphere. we just climbed Mt. Phousi and viewed the beautiful setting luang prabang has at the corner of the mekong and nam khan rivers. from here we'll probably be off to Vientiane to explore more of what the french did to lao culture. should be quite a treat.

Posted by ggithens 08:00 Archived in Laos Comments (1)

姫路 Himeji and 大阪 Osaka

A last hurrah of sorts in the Land of the Rising Sun

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My final weekend of travelling in Japan had two destinations; the grandest castle in all the land and the liveliest nightlife in all of Kansai. I whisked a few hundred kilometers on the shinkansen and ended up in Himeji, home to one of the 4 castles which are deemed "National Treasures". Whatever categorical heading you wish to use, the White Heron castle was certainly worth the hard-earned yen spent.
Marvel at the photos, and just dream of what the inside of a Dotombori Love Hotel is like.....
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Posted by ggithens 01:08 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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