A Travellerspoint blog

April 2012

4 days of Waterfighting!!

Luang Prabang, Loas

=SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND.==
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Once again my lack of preperation kicked me in the ass! I was two days off leaving to Laos and I had run out of money... I had just enough to cover the visa on arrival and the taxi to the airport. So I survived for two days on one meal and stolen sweet rolls from my Halong Bay trip (knew they would come in handy!). Heading to the airport I could only think of what I was going to do when I arrive, my conclusion was to just sleep at the airport untill I could get money out :/

After going through the normal airport confusion I head out to the plane and it is a smaller plane than I am used too. It has propellers instead of the jets. The plane trip takes only 40 minutes or so, getting off I realise my expectations of major airports in south east asia needs to be re assesed.

I head to Immigration and get my visa done, an American girl asks to share a taxi into town (I don't mention that I have no money yet). We pass customs and I try the ATM there and amazingly I have available funds....seriously like a half hour makes the difference?!

Another half hour later and the American girl is having a shower in my bathroom...I know right! Waaaiit! it's not what you think, she was all hot and sweaty... because we were walki...it was hot....ok ok what ever! Anyhow I was meeting friends from previous travels that are doing the same route, they had allready organised rooms and was bunking in with one of them...turns out that there was a hiccup in the plans and they had brought another person (I had said that the american could maybe bunk in with one of us). It all worked out though as the American and myself found a hostel and shared which was difficult in itself trying to dodge the kids bent on drenching us...we were slow and large targets with our backpacks! (Finally I have found a use for the navy seal water proof bags I have been carrying around!). Here a couple of pics ( I would of liked more but water and my camera definitely do not mix!) luang_2_117.jpgluang_2_027.jpgluang_2_014.jpgluang_2_131.jpg Not only do you get drenched but tar'd and every other dye colour with powder thrown at you, cars are also subject to decoration IMG_1902.jpg and if your wondering how this could happen IMG_1908.jpg I would get mobbed by kids looking like this at times also haha IMG_1896.jpg IMG_1885.jpgIMG_1888.jpgIMG_1882.jpg

Luang Prabang is truly beautiful, I'm not sure if it's the lush green vegitation, the mekong river surrounding the town or the many serene monks that roam the streets and temples. The pace of life is a slow one but in this heat who really wants to rush?!

Entering into a country on it's new year is a great way to start! We chose to hire a bicycle and ride around the town exploring, being drenched along the way helped with the heat. I would be drenched and then given beer and food, it was a great way to interact with the locals. I believe the reason to it all is to wash away all the bad mojo. There was a procession down the street of where we were staying, monks would sit on floats of sorts driven down the street getting pretty much drenched by people pouring water on them, but more ritualistically.luang_2_165.jpg In the procession I notice some fellows I'd seen before luang_2_245.jpgluang_2_249.jpg...I couldn't put my finger on it at the time but it soon came to me, they are the evil Wing Kong of Big Trouble in little China!large_bigtrouble..na_gang.jpg

Anyhow bicycling around we ended up taking a turn into a worn path heading into jungle...ending up at a small rustic (had logs for chairs and tables in the dirt) bar on the opposing side from the peak of the peninusla Laos_Mekong_boat_003.jpg We happen to get there at sunset :) IMG_1847.jpg It was beautiful, only enhanced by watching the monks come down to swim and play. I had a dip myself in the water there amongst some rocks..was clean and refreshing. To get back we found a shortcut along a bamboo bridge IMG_1855.jpg Finding that we had to pay on the otherside we bargained half the price because we only used oneway.

The next day I spent drinking and water fighting. The gun I got was super strong and sometimes I forgot how strong... there was a small kid in a tub that splashed me and I shot a burst into his chest nearly boreing a hole through him. You know that moment when a child falls or bangs thier head and they pause, it can go either way from hysteria to it never happend. Well that was the situation, so I tried desperately to make him laugh then walked off quickly as his parents watched me disapprovingly.

The american girl, you know lets give her a name..Linda. Linda was a huge food junkie which was cool because I tried alot of stall stuff that I would'nt of normally, but there was a downside. Once she left I found myself thinking I'm quite the iron stomach food stall taster, so I suggest to the others that we go and eat down this food alley where it is only 10,000 kip (a little over $1 aus) for a buffet of food IMG_1920.jpg Well this was a very bad descision and I paid for it for the next 3 days! (Immodium is my new best friend) The food alley was part of a larger night market open everynight it seemed and it actually has some very nice stuff...will buy something on my way back there I'm sure.

Here are some pictures from Luang Prabang large_luang_2_037.jpgluang_2_068.jpglarge_luang_2_062.jpgluang_2_071.jpgluang_2_085.jpgluang_2_088.jpgluang_2_100.jpgluang_2_112.jpgluang_2_128.jpglarge_luang_2_113.jpgluang_2_148.jpglarge_luang_2_145.jpgluang_2_150.jpgluang_2_168.jpgluang_2_186.jpgluang_2_198.jpgluang_2_195.jpgluang_2_219.jpgluang_2_240.jpgluang_2_251.jpgluang_2_232.jpgIMG_1923.jpg

So next was a 2 day slow bout ride up the Mekong to get to where I needed to be for the Gibbon Experience. We had heard horror stories of people having to stand and there being no room but it was fine for us on the first one at capacity and the second one was less and had alot of room (could be that going up river is less crowded).We could not get a boat that would go all the way and you needed to stay at the halfway point in Pak Beng. Here is some pictures at the half way point Laos_Mekong_boat_025.jpgLaos_Mekong_boat_027.jpgLaos_Mekong_boat_018.jpgLaos_Mekong_boat_022.jpgLaos_Mekong_boat_024.jpgLaos_Mekong_boat_035.jpgLaos_Mekong_boat_036.jpg The next day we continued to Huay Xai, both trips taking about 10 hours or so. The boat was extremely loud if you are more to the rear so there was no conversation. If you do travel on one of these boats the seats move so move them to face each other and you have a foot rest for a more comfortable journey. Here is the boat there Laos_Mekong_boat_009.jpg This was the second one Laos_Mekong_boat_032.jpg And here are some random pics from the boat...Destination is Huay Xai where I will be doing the Gibbon Experience living in the trees zipping along the jungle canopy :)
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Soooo Ewok adventure coming soon! :)

S.

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 19:36 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

I survived Nam!

Hanoi/Halong Bay

overcast

Hot weather and cheap beer is the perfect storm of procrastination!

But enough is enough! Time to see the sights, enjoy the culture and experience that which is the descending dragon (aka, Halong Bay).
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The name comes from a story of the mother dragon. You see the gods sent down a family of dragons to help defend from invaders. As they descended the mother dragon spat out pearls which landed in Halong Bay thus creating the limestone islets. These islets devastated the enemy fleet, winning the war the mother dragon did not want to return to the heavens leaving such beauty like Halong Bay and descided to stay.

All the way travelling north in Vietnam I would hear stories of the famed backpackers booze cruise. There would be lots of nudity, lots of drinking and people running amok. We decided that we actually wanted to see the bay and not have it as a drunken blur so we opted for the more expensive but chilled out version. We booked with the hostel under pressure of time, which was probably not the best descision as we paid alot more than some we spoke with. It pays to shop around a bit, you see there are travel agency shops all throughout Vietnam tourist areas and you can get some really good deals. I guess it's a risk also though of not knowing what your getting.

The morning of the trip I had got perhaps 2 hours sleep due to the evil lure of free beer and a barbie for easter at the hostel. It was a mad rush for the bus that was turning up out front and I had thought I lost my wallet and held up the bus running around franticly. Anyhow it ended up my wallet was in the bag I had brought down at the start...but I did'nt tell anyone, so Shhhh ;p I try to get sleep slinking to a corner.
Now with every tour in Vietnam there is an obligitory stop off at a souvenir shop masked as a toilet break. (Toilets are marked as W.C., I'm not quite sure why) I take this time to play my Mekong bamboo flute for Mallory to ease her hangover :) Sooo we get to the port and await to go on the boat, now your probably expecting a traditional wood boat with the asian sails n stuff yeah? This is what you get.. halong_bay_014.jpg It seems that there are two stories of why two months ago it became compulsory to have a white boat. First story is that there were accidents and a white boat helps it be visible in the dark. second is that some head honcho travelled in Greece and saw all the nice white boats and decided that it would be a good look over here to increase the beauty of the bay. Our fellow shipmates consisted of three Australian couples, a Russian family and French family. Ended up being fun with lots of laughs and a little midnight karaoke (scored a 98!), kayaked and swam (even though the water is grosse :/ ) Here are some of the pictures I got, the place was fairly misty which seems to be the norm. The photo's that you see on the postcards with clear sunny days happen maybe 3 days of the year haha
halong_bay_061.jpghalong_bay_036.jpghalong_bay_067.jpghalong_bay_071.jpghalong_bay_076.jpghalong_bay_064.jpghalong_bay_171.jpghalong_bay_239.jpghalong_bay_254.jpghalong_bay_187.jpghalong_bay_191.jpg Now you would think you'd be safe from hawkers in an area like this on your own boat....but no, there are these little rowed boats all over selling booze and foodhalong_bay_125.jpghalong_bay_113.jpg They also live on the water on makeshift floating homeshalong_bay_119.jpghalong_bay_129.jpghalong_bay_127.jpghalong bay 096

halong bay 096

halong_bay_056.jpg I believe that the guide said there is 15,000 people who live there...or 1,500...

I went and saw Ho Chi Minh the other day, it took about an hour in line which I would say was a kilometre long. They have him embalmbed on display. This is serious business, there was no talking, laughing, your hands straight ..not in pockets, hats off, sunnies off and these guys have guns with bayonetes so you listen. Girls get knocked back for inapropriate attire. Well it was worth it, he is looking pretty good. I was just waiting for him to do the "rarrrr!" movement....didn't happen :(

So 2 more days left untill 4 days of water fighting in Laos!!

Ive been boasting of gearing up with an improvised arsenal of bamboo weaponry, I should start drawing up plans... so ciao for now!

S.

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 01:06 Archived in Vietnam Tagged boat vietnam bay dragon hanoi halong ho_chi_minh halong_bay Comments (0)

Vietnam continued

Mekonging, Tunneling, Shooting, and Drinking.

Hi again!

So to continue, I thought after drinking out on the town for the first three nights I should go and do something. First I decided to check out the Cu Chi tunnels from the Vietnam war plus I found out you can shoot some automatic weapons :) large_Vietnam_Wa..els_066.jpg

So we were picked up by SlimJim who was a crack up. He was named SlimJim because he eats like a bird but drinks like a fish he told us. He had so many sayings of Australia where he had learnt alot of our slang from. It took a while to get there but when there SlimJim took us through the jungle paths showing us traps that the VC used, explaining that they were not that effective except for pyschological warfare. Vietnam_Wa..els_013.jpg The tunnels that were used are incredibly small, here is a picture Vietnam_Wa..els_040.jpg Here is an original trench used in the war Vietnam_Wa..els_043.jpg Can you see something suspicious here? Vietnam_Wa..els_023.jpg How about now? Vietnam_Wa..els_021.jpg
Why is it that as soon as you hold a gun you become a poseing douche? ...I mean RAMBO!Vietnam_Wa..els_070.jpg
Into the tunnel I head...Vietnam_Wa..els_077.jpg and ever deeper Vietnam_Wa..els_082.jpg So Marc my mate from the netherlands was the one with me, we convinced a girl that was worried about doing it to come in and it'd be ok...which made it all the more difficult to make the descision to ditch her on the first exit :p The tunnel was really short and well I'm tall and it's much the same for the rest of it I was sure, so me and Marc jump out giggling because we have decided to come back in at the last exit to make it look like we did it. We run out and then run back in, it's pitch black entering in but with the noise we are making we hear a "Is that you guys?" from down the tunnel (I'm impressed with her speed). We enter in giggling and I get stuck with my backpack for a moment causing a jam, with the poor girl at the end haha Vietnam_Wa..els_093.jpg Well in the end we exited with the applaude of our tour group, it seems that they all left and didn't finish. So in the end the only person who really did do the whole length was the girl who didn't want to do it in the first place! Haha

After this we were rewarded with some thing like potato, I tried my food photography Vietnam_Wa..els_108.jpgVietnam_Wa..els_106.jpg at the end we were taken to watch a video. It was pretty funny, made in the time of the war it was very much propoganda. Reffering to the U.S. as demons and such and how this guy or that girl won the award for killing americans etc.. here's us watching it Vietnam_Wa..els_110.jpg Here are some pics from the drive back Vietnam_Wa..els_134.jpgVietnam_Wa..els_124.jpgVietnam_Wa..els_129.jpgVietnam_Wa..els_160.jpgVietnam_Wa..els_163.jpg

The next trip was the Mekong Delta. I really felt that even though I had heard mixed reviews I needed to do this, I convinced Mallory with this ideal also. The bus trip was going to be three hours or so with an early start. I would love to say that I slept these hours but I seem never to be able to sleep other than in a bed...I get close but never asleep. It is VERY annoying.

We opted for the day trip which meant that we would not be able to see the big floating market, only the "other" one. I was a bit upset with this as I had really wanted to see the teaming market like in the pictures etc. Here is some pictures of the market which really is just a few boats that had food on them going up and down the river... I did see some bartering and exchanges so I guess technically they can call it a market...maybe. Mekong_Delta_001.jpgMekong_Delta_029.jpgMekong_Delta_030.jpgMekong_Delta_036.jpgMekong_Delta_037.jpgMekong_Delta_050.jpgMekong_Delta_060.jpgMekong Delta 100

Mekong Delta 100


I'm not sure if this is her wardrobe or they are for sale...Mekong_Delta_053.jpg The river is quite busy though, people are in and out all over the shore Mekong_Delta_088.jpgMekong_Delta_016.jpg
After a time we reach our first stop which is the coconut place, they make all kinds of things out of it but mostly a coconut candy. There is also gift shops at every stop trying to sell you crap. They also have a home distillery for some reason so we all get a shot (It's harsh). The next stop is the honey place, they have two big boa's and give us honey tea then try to get us to buy some. Here is the bee's they bring out.. Mekong_Delta_128.jpg.

Next they take us to be rowed on a small boat down to where we will have lunch, (Here they are waiting for us) Mekong_Delta_173.jpg they lady that ends up rowing us makes sighing sounds all they way there ever increasing the closer we get to our drop off point (We were told we can tip them before getting in and I assume they know this), I somehow get fooled and tip. Suprise, suprise there is a lady selling soft drink and beer...I spy a flute and ask how much expecting some stupid price but it's only a dollar. Much to the disapointment of those around me I now have a Mekong Delta bamboo flute! :) So we head off to have lunch then a boat trip back and another bus back to the hostel. Her are some other pics from the trip... check out the load of grain this boats taking Mekong_Delta_166.jpgMekong_Delta_164.jpgMekong_Delta_171.jpgMekong_Delta_139.jpg The petrol station Mekong_Delta_135.jpgMekong_Delta_124.jpgMekong_Delta_113.jpgMekong_Delta_163.jpgMekong_Delta_147.jpg I bought some top gun sunnies! Mekong_Delta_191.jpgMekong_Delta_132.jpgMekong_Delta_121.jpg It's like they all have cable?! Mekong_Delta_070.jpg

So Ive booked my ticket for Loas, staying in Hanoi. Tomorrow I'm gonna try and see Ho Chi Minh himself, it's supposed to be crazy like...wish me luck!

S.

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 07:56 Archived in Vietnam Tagged vietnam tunnel mekong chi gun guns delta chu shooting mekong_delta Comments (0)

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