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    Born to Run by Christopher McDougall - (K) Humorous and thorough history and science behind ultrarunners and long-distance running
    Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela - (K) An autobiography covering his childhood, years as a freedom fighter and incarceration. Inspiring and informative
    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón - (K&T) A mystery set in Barcelona involving an old book, a failed writer and murder
    Lush Life by Richard Price - A Lower East Side tale of cops, drugs and drinking
    The Chinese by Jesper Becker - (K&T) Modern history of my peeps, from the cultural revolution to the many failed economic and social attempts to move the country forward
    Setting the Table by Danny Meyer - A "how-to" on hospitality and business acumen by the restaurateur behind such NY institutions as the Shake Shack and Union Square Grill
    The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama - Obama lays out what is wrong with the current government and how, vaguely, to change it.

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Rough Ride

The 5 hour, 228 km ride to Vung Vien today was brutal in the little minivan. Kelly puked three times even though she was wearing her patch, which has worked well so far. I also thought we were going to fly off the road on more than one occasion. We’re resting now. Kelly is enjoying the satellite TV in our upgraded room. We splurged and spent $30….


I Got Mad Skills, Baby!

Right after we got to the Mon village, where we were staying, the kids challenged us to a game of something that looked like a badminton.  They made this little bouncy thing by using banana leaves for the base and chicken feathers.  Here’s a couple of videos:

Diesel, Cathy, Scott and Steve play with the kids:

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Wed, Jan 28 – The Revenge of the Exhausted Body

My body is angry.  It’s protesting.  I’ve puked twice in two days and I have hives on my neck from sun poisoning.

I’ve just realized that this has been our schedule for the past week:

Tue and Wed: 2-day trek and village homestay north of Chiang Mai
Fri:  6-hour bus ride to Chiang Kong (on the border of Thailand and Laos)
Sat:  6-hour boat ride down the Mekong River to Laos
Sun:  8-hour boat ride and late arrival in Luang Prabangk, Laos
Mon:  1 hr rough ride to Pak Ou caves and walking around
Tue:  trek, 5 hr hike, night village
Wed:  trek, about 4-hour hike, ride back to city

It’s the revenge of the body and we’re giving it what it wants.  We need a reprieve and are staying in Luang Prabang for another day to eat some Western food, be nerds (update our blogs) and then go out to a nice dinner with Cathy and Scott

Tue, Jan 28: North of Luang Prabang, Laos – Too Much Lao Lao and the Search Party

After a long trek up and stops at a couple of the villages, we finally made it up to the Mon village where we were going to stay.  Children half naked and barefoot, chicken, pigs, dogs and rats (as Cathy and I found out later) alike ran wild.  Sita told us that there were about 40 families in the village.  Unlike our last trek, where we spent the night in a separate area of the village, this time we spent all of our time IN the village.   Just like we shamelessly watched and photographed the hilltribe people, so did they shamelessly observe our every move.  During dinner, several of the village people literally stood around watching us, pointing at us, giggling and talking about us.  Every time I looked around, the crowd got bigger.  I asked Sita if they considered me a foreigner too since I’m Asian and all, and he said yes, because I have a big nose just like the white peeps.  Ouch.
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Tue-Wed, Jan 27-28: North of Luang Prabang, Laos – Our Second Trek

LP Trek –

We had a great time on our first trek in Chaing Mai. Yea, it was pretty touristy and we did have a spend a night with a few drunken Welsch kids and one really drunk French seductress, as Kelly says, but they were actually really nice people and the experience and scenery very memorable.

I think you could do a lot worse out of Chiang Mai. We weren’t constantly being pitched to by the villagers. There were no assholes in the group, everybody was pretty respectful. And during the debauchery, we were able to just chat with the guide for a couple hours about the villages, his background and other Thai things of interest.

After this all, we decided to look at the calendar and see how the rest of our itin looked. Amazingly, it felt like we were running out of time to see Laos and Cambodia. We had about 3 weeks left to get to Saigon and we hadn’t even left Thailand yet. You think when you travel for a year you’ll have plenty of downtime, but we really haven’t.
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Wed, Jan 21: North of Chiang Mai – First Hike, The Welsh Boys, the French Seductress, the Germans and the Ozzies

If you know me, you’ve probably heard me say at some point that I hate hiking.  I do.  I HATE it.  But I am also a very good wife and had promised Diesel I was going to give it a go because this is the only way to get a peek at what life is like on the Thai hillside.

We got picked up by a sawngthaew (a truck with seats on the back) at around 9.  Four guys were already there:  Rhys, Webb, Lee and Aled, the Welsh guys.  They seemed pretty drunk.  Great.  Turns out I was right, as they told me later they’d been drinking till 4 am the night before.  The Welsh were happy to tell us about the difference between the Brits and them, and gladly corrected our English pronounciation.  Truth be told, I could hardly understand what they were saying, much less repeat what they were saying.


The trekkers:

(standing, L-R) Christine and Murray (Ozzies), Aled, Rhys, Webb (Welsh), me, Diesel, Kathrin and Andreas (Germans).  Lee (Welsh), Pauline (French), our guides

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Our First Trek

For the next two days, Kelly and I are going trekking up in the northwest of Thailand, hopefully in an area that isn’t SUPER touristy but we have our doubts. This is our first “trek” and is a test. If it goes well, we plan on doing a lot more tres in Laos. Wish us luck!