Archive for the ‘SE Asia’ Category:

Koh Chang

June 28th, 2007

After i recovered from being chadtarded, i was thinking of what to do. Stay in Bangkok and perhaps do some work, like figure out what to do with my life? or learn some more camera and photoshop foo (I did download Photoshop CS3, the latest and greatest for intel mac, but thats another blog). Nope, none of that work stuff, time to goto the beach. I haven’t been to any beaches in thailand, but picked koh chang based on word of mouth and little online reviews. I left Bangkok friday on the 12:30p bus, caught the 7pm ferry, was settled in by 9pm in my pimpin’ Kachapura resort. See my Koh Chang pics.

Koh Chang reminded me a bit of costa rica – but not as many sandy beaches, a bit more crowded, equally plenty of rain and jungle. It’s thailand’s 2nd largest island, and is mostly heavily vegetated hills inside a national park. Even though its not as developed as other islands, its still growing fast with plenty of resorts, bars, restaurants, internet cafes, dive/boat/adventure centers. Most importanly, there are 4 waterfalls, and everybody knows i love waterfalls. Why, chad? Well, I love hills, hiking, being in nature. Specifically to waterfalls, i love that the trails are more technical – you keep your mind occupied and reacting fast by running from rock to rock. And then the waterfall itself is usually beautiful, often providing a cool place to swim after a little exercise. So yeah, thats what i did Saturday. On my way back it rained HARD, so hard it felt like beebees hitting my face when i motorbiked in it. So internet. Then i got back on my bike, but it rained more, so i stopped at a bar. That ended up lasting 6 hours. Sunday i relaxed – watched movies, read on the beach, rode around the island, ate tastee food. Monday i went for a run before i took the bus home and realized i was exhausted. Sigh. Fun sometimes does that to ya.

Bangkok WIFI

June 28th, 2007

When i first got to Bangkok in March 2007, i had trouble finding good wifi.  Well, i’m now gonna list a few spots that I ended up using – i may add to this list more later.


  • Around the Thammasat(?) University – cafeteria a good spot – near Khao San Road
  • Irish Exchange – Bar on Convent Rd (near Sala Daeng BTS)
  • The Dubliner – Irish bar on Sukhumvit, between Soi 22 and 24
  • a few other bars have free wifi on Sukhumvit

Pay (but fast)

  • A-One – hotel and internet, near MBK (national stadium BTS). 40-60 Baht/hr
  • Wendy House – 24hrs, next to A-one.  40-60 Baht/hr (Downloaded 800MB in one hour – over 1Mbps sustained!!!)
  • Old Bangkok Inn – fast, free wifi with room, expensive (2000-3000 baht/night)

Seven Social Sins

June 26th, 2007

politics without principles
pleasure without conscience
wealth without work
knowledge without character
commerce without morality
science without humanity
worship without sacrifice

I saw this poster in Koh Chang a couple days ago, and then noticed the same list on a poster in the Indian Embassy today in Bangkok.  You think Gandi is trying to tell me something?

Bangkok Malls

June 21st, 2007

Ok, i’m not a big shopper. All my life i’ve gone in and out of the store – keeping it quick and painless. But I find myself here loving the malls in Bangkok. Part of it is because the last 3 months i’ve been traveling on the cheap, close with nature, and i think i’m enjoying the change of pace of a nice, clean, air conditioned mall. But the main reason is cuz the malls are cool.

But these aren’t just ordinary Malls, they’re super malls. MBK, Siam complex, Central World – 3 super malls, 7 to 10 floors, all with hundreds if not thousands of stores, restaraunts, movie theaters, and more. They’re all new (a few years old), interesting architecturely, visually, not too crowded, have art exhibits in the atriums, and did i mention clean and air conditioned? Makes me realize i hate hot, polluted cities .. but sitting in clean, aircon chair on the 6th floor overlooking Bangkok thru floor to ceiling glass walls .. is kinda like outside but better. Besides those around Siam square, there’s also Pantip plaza – 7 stories of electronics, computers, cameras, printers, and food. And also the Silom complex down by Pat Pong – more of the same.

My favorite might be Siam Paragon, part of the Siam complex. Paragon has the best food court ever – All kinds of chinese, korean, japanese, vietnamese, and of course Thai food. Oh, but don’t stop there – steaks, burgers, pizzas, dozens of fruit smoothie places, lots of real ice cream, and yes, even delicious americanstyle chocolate chip cookie (at Famous Amos). Delishous. Plus an upscale huge grocery store with pretty much anything you need. Not too expensive – you can get fed prett well for 70-150 baht ($2-4 USD). Or you can splurge and spend several hundred on a nicer restaurant. And their movie theaters are unbelievable. 3 days a week its only 80 baht ($2 USD) to got see a movie in a huge, brand new, kick-ass theater. All have huge screens, seats (one of the few places in asia i don’t feel too big), and nobody goes to them. Walk right in 3 mins before the show, get prime seating. Interesting sidenote – After the previews but before the movie they show their respect for the king – gotta stand and watch how awesome he is – Guides the leaders, helps the village people, and even swims in the stormy oceans and talks to the Gods.

There’s also the ridiculous car section – Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, BMW, Maserati, and Lotus all have little stores with actual cars in them. Other interesting things include 3-D TVs (around the elevators and movie theaters), the lack of people – i never wait in any lines for anything, the number of workers – whether its the 10 security guards you can see at any point in the mall or the 4 people working at a shop the size of my bedroom .. i think they’re anticipating a boom any minute. According to wikipedia, Paragon has been around for 1.5 years, and its newly renovated neighbor, Central World, is the largest mall in SE Asia. I like Central as well, but its got alot of empty stores and retail space .. still too new for me, but its got potential (don’t we all?)

Well done, Bangkok. Keep me happy. (my pics)

Pai, Thailand

June 16th, 2007

The LPB has some competition – Pai – my second most favorite spot in SE Asia. Pai is a little town 150km northwest of Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, surrounded by clean air, mountains, rivers and waterfalls. The town is small (5,000 peeps?) but growing, plenty of tastee places to eat, sleep, have a drink, get a massage, check internet, or do some trekking adventures. Similar to LPB in that way, altho i found LPB more beautiful and better food. But Pai is better in other ways – more “untouched” (altho getting crowded), more friendly tourists, smaller so you end up running into same people over and over (i say good, but can be bad). According to a local Pai real estate agent, 60% of the people living in Pai are not from Pai – that includes expats (farang) as well as non-Pai Thai peeps. It was basically undiscovered till the last few years, and especially after being referenced in a Thai movie, its growing like crazy now.

The price point for me was the best in SE Asia. I found a place i really enjoyed staying – Baan Tawan. For $4.50 USD a night (150 baht), i got a big, clean bedroom made out of wood (and smelled like wood and the outdoors, not sewer or cleaning products like most places we stayed). The shared bathroom was also kept clean, with a hot shower big enough to park a car in (most showeres in SE Asia can barely fit one person). Communal space was relaxing – hammocks, a shaded balcony overlooking the river, manicured gardens, and even a mister on the path out to the road. Very nice since it gets quite hot in June.

And the food in Pai made me happy. I found 2 places i went back to repeatedly – Good Life for breakfast and Na’s kitchen for lunch and dinner. Good Life had bagels, pancakes, good coffee, dozens of herbal teas, but mainly a friendly environment – you could actually sit in a swing while having pancakes and fruit salad. And they had free wifi (well, once out of 4 times they made me pay 30 baht). And Na’s kitchen had really tastee dishes for about 30 baht. That’s under a $1 USD. Often i would get two, and a fruit smoothie, and the whole thing is just over $2. And this is a nice little restaurant, clean, wood tables, good people watching. I tried at least 8 things on the menu and most of them were soo delicious i could eat’em again and again. There were other places that were good and cheap, especially street food – for 20 baht i got fried chicken nugget things, rice, stir fried vegies, and a soup. Not bad. I prefered splurging at Na’s. And for 100-200 baht range you get chicken schnitzel, kebabs, falafels, etc. Good for all the Israeli’s that visit Pai. I think they are required to goto Pai after their mandatory military service.

But what kept me in Pai was the stuff to do. Hiking, Biking, Swimming, Elephants, Offroad motorcycles, Cooking classes, massages, and drinking. There’s plenty of people that go just to drink – very easy to drink till sunrise. Take a nap, then goto the big pool, rinse, and repeat. I did that a couple times, but it wears on ya. More fun to bike thru the mountain roads and look at the green hills, wooden huts, blue skies, and puffy white clouds. I really enjoyed my time alone here – i still miss shayna, but if i have to be alone, alone in Pai is the way to go. Here’s some of my favs – PTTM for massage (clean, experienced, strong hands), mushroom shakes at reggae place, Rent mtn bikes for 50baht/day, motobikes (scooters) for 100baht/day (look around), bicycle or motobike to Mo Paeng waterfalls, hike to Mae Yen waterfalls, ride motorcross near Myanmar border with Tip Offroad, Do 1 hour on an elephant (more than that will make your ass sore), Learn a little Pai Cookery, and drink at Phu Pai, Buffalo Exchange, Ting Tong, Bebop, bamboo lounge, and Fubar (last 2 go till dawn).

Besides Pai i spent a couple nights in Chiang Mai, which was nice. I had a nice Italian meal with good red wine (i miss good wine), saw a made-for-tourists boxing match, and ran into an old friend, Pius the jerk. We hung out most of the time, so i didn’t see to much of Chiang Mai. But after Laos, i wasn’t interested in Chiang Mai, i just wanted to go back to the mountains. I’m now in Bangkok and getting ready for India. I got here a couple days ago, got my airplanes sorted, and have a couple more days to chill and reflect. Its weird to be back in Bangkok, the place where i started my SE adventures. I find myself liking different things – i’m done with backpacker land – khao san road here in bangkok. I stayed there the first two nights cuz thats where the bus dropped us off and i was tired. Now i’m staying near the middle of town – i find myself loving these huge malls. There’s like 4 of them all next to each other, all like 7-10 stories with everything you need .. and its air conditioned. Did i mention Bangkok is super hot right now? Over a 100 F most days. Gotta stay inside.

I guess thats it for Pai. As always, check out my pics – a picture is worth a billion words or something like that

Oh, and itinerary is updated (for the last time, really).

Fun in Laos

June 4th, 2007

As i mentioned earlier, Laos is my favorite country in SE Asia. Lemme say it again – I love Laos. It has the least population (8 million), the most chill people, tons of mountains and nature, cheap everything (shirts/goods, food, beer, lodging, busses), and some of the tastiest food as well. I’m here in Luang Prabang and almost every meal here is awesome, the town is great to look at (temples, flowers, colonial architecture), and things are just so inexpensive. More on that in my LPB blog.

So let me briefly recap my Lao adventures. I’ve already covered Vientiane and a bit of Vang Vieng. Vang Vieng, altho full of backpackers, was a great little town. We stayed at Maylyn guesthouse, in a beautiful little wooden bungalow surrounded by trees and a creek, 15 min walk from town. In town they had tastee food and plenty of internet, including a spot that would load up your Ipod with movies ($2 each). And really just one really tasteee place – the Organic Farm Cafe – ate there 4 times, having salads, soups, curry, sticky rice, bacon and eggs (yes, bacon, tastier than most spots in America). The cafe is in town, but 3km north is the Organic Farm where they get their goods. The farm also helps out the villages, providing a community center, english school, and a school bus. Hurray. We also explored many caves and swimming holes – my favorite was the Poukham cave lagoon. Awww yeah. And one day we got our drink on and tube on – Could be the most fun day i’ve had all trip. It involved tubing less than half the time, mostly jumping off swings into the river, drinking beer lao, and meeting other travelers. I even played volleyball at one of the many drinking spots along the river.

After Vang Viang we continued north to Luang Prabang, or LPB. We spent about 4 days here, including my 100th day of my trip. On my 100th day we went to Kuang Si Waterfalls, ate traditional Lao food at Tamarind, and got our drink on at Lao Garden and HIVE bar. Shayna also decided she was going to fly back to Bangkok from LPB, freeing up more time for us to spend in Lao. We also saw a great perfomance at the Lao Theatre, got plenty of massages and some internet time.

Next we began our real adventure – Bus to Luang NamTha. 2 beautiful nights at The Boat Landing, and a 3 Day Trek thru Nam Ha National Park. We went with Green Discovery for the Trek, and glad we did – the guides was great. Xay (?), the lead guide, was Lao but spoke english well, he would stop and tell us facts about the plants and stories about the hill tribes. Luckily we got rained out while we hiked. No, i’m not being sarcastic. If it weren’t for the rain, i’d die from the heat. And its not so bad to hike in the rain if you have a poncho. Makes the sweat seem unimportant. We also had a great team of 8 tourists on the trek, making the bug-filled accommodation more of an adventure and less of an annoyance.  The bugs included spiders, ants, and all sorts of flying things. But the worst was the leeches. Oh, how i hate leeches – not as much as cockroaches – now i can grab a leech with my fingers and roll him up and flick him away. But in the beginning of the trek everyone was getting leeches on them .. on the legs, arms, back .. and … yes, even the private parts. Guess who won that prize. Yep, I get the gold star. Luckily the leech already let go by the time i noticed my blood covered underwear. Ewww!!!!! At the time i freaked out, but once i dealt with it .. the worst was over. I wasnt that afraid of them anymore. But the coolest thing on the trek was how fast our guides whipped out a bamboo and banana leaf structure so we could have lunch out of the rain. In like 10 mins they cut down bamboo to make the frame, and a bunch of 3-6 foot banana leaves for the roof. Plus one leaf to throw on the ground as our lunch table. Then out comes the sticky rice, chicken, and vegies. Mmm-mmm. Suffice to say, It was an exhausting and invigorating journey and i’d recommend it to anyone. Once we got back in to town Beer Lao never tasted so good. The whole gang went for Indian Food later, but it sucked. Good thing we had our beer Lao.

Our next trek was not as fun or adventurous, but was interesting nonetheless. We took a 4 hour bus from Luang NamTha up to Muang Sing, a small town near the chinese border. From there we took a 2 day trek thru a government run operation that was cheaper than green discovery. This one was not as strenuous, but we spent alot ore time in the hill tribe villages (which is what i wanted). Our guides were nice but not nearly as informative as the Green Discovery guides. But the number of kids that were friendly to us in the Akha Puli and Hmong villages was astounding. You can tell that plenty of tourists had paved the way before us, but the kids were still excited to interact with us (aka see themselves on a digital camera). I got some of my best shots on this trek. We spent the night in an Akha Puli village called Pawaikao, nestled at the top of a small mountain. We got to drink their lao lao (rice whiskey) and all got massages after dinner. Besides shayna and me, there were 2 others – a girl from Israel and a girl from Denmark, both just recently traveled through China.

After the Muang Sing and the 2 day trek we headed back down to LPB, spending the night in Oudom Say on the way down. Once we got to LPB, we had 2 nights together before shayna left for cali (you know that part), then i spent the next 3 days chillin in LPB. Eating, biking, and uploading pics. One day i biked 60km to the waterfall and back. I pushed myself to edge on that one, eating a ton later that night at dinner. And the day i was supposed to leave, Sarah Bates shows up! So i had to stay one more extra day so we could catch up. We ate some tastee food and checked out LPB from on high.

I left LPB on a slow boat to the Thai Border. It’s a 2 day trip, stopping at Pakbeng the first night and the Lao town of Huoay Xai on the second night, which is right across the river from Chiang Khong, Thailand. The boat ride was a great way to leave Laos – sitting and chilling and looking at beautifull mountains, villages, and river action (fishing, monks swimming, beaches, etc). I admit, the second day i was tired of looking and read 200 pages of my book, finishing it.

Now i’m in Chiang Mai. I woke up in Laos yesterday, made it here last night, and just finished writing this entry. Chiang Mai is cool, too, but its a big city (1.6 million), and i definitely feel different. Its like all of Laos was chill mountains and small towns and now i’m back in the big city. I like cities and all, but i definitely love Laos the best.

Watch out for people trying to overthrow the Laos government.  Or watch out for the Laos government – as people can disappear.

Oh, and i updated my Itinerary again.


June 3rd, 2007

LPB, aka Luang Prabang, Laos, is my favorite city in SE Asia. I started to write all these wonderful things, but my last day there my rental bike was stolen by the thief (they warned by about being stolen by the thief). So that sucked. But besides that, and that it could get really hot, I loved it. I loved the green trees and grass, the red flowers, the colonial architecture and traditional Laos Temples (a Wat), the magnificent views from on top of the big hill in the middle of downtown, and less than an hour away was the beautiful and fun Kuang Si Waterfalls. Plus the town had plenty of good shopping, internet, inexpensive massages (oh yeah), and .. delicious food.

I loved the food. You could go street style and eat entire meals for under a $1. Or goto a Lao restaurant and pay $1-$3 for dishes. Or you could splurge and have a meal great by western standards from $5 to $50. For example, at this french place i got chicken with mushrooms (I’m talking a nice, big, juicy chicken breast with sauteed mushroom sauce), buttered carrots with garlic (gotta have garlic in everything), pasta with garlic, salad, and bread for $5. And it was all good. Are you could totally splurge at one of the few really nice places like Apsara or L’Elephant and get a $20 or $40 bottle of wine to go with your $10-$20 meal. But my favorite (and shayna’s, too), was the LPB Restaraunt overlooking the Mekong river. Almost everything we ordered was really good, (i would order again), and cheap – even the beer lao was cheaper than most (8,000 kip – or $0.80 USD for 24oz). Some of my favorites include Laap (or Larp/Larb), LPB Sausage made from buffalo, Jeow + sticky rice, and the Laos Salad. Unlike the rest of asia, Laos made tastee salads with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrot, sometimes chicken or hard-boiled egg, and a zesty/creamy dressing. And the LPB Restaurant sat right on the banks of the Mekhong – beautiful view as you watch the sunset.

The shopping was great, too. I spent almost $200 on stuff, and about $100 to ship it home. Thats not including some shirts and other stuff i sent home with shayna. It does include a bunch of elephant slippers, clothes, and souvenir pipes, among other things. Everything was soo cheap, i couldn’t believe it. Some are gonna be presents, so i don’t want to divulge to much info. Needless to say, good place to buy gifts for friends and family.

The locals were nice, but it did feel like a tourist town. Most of the time when a local wanted to talk he wanted to take you somewhere in a tuk-tuk or boat. But a couple times i met people who just wanted to practice their english and perhaps show me their village. Sadly i never had the time .. they always caught me when i had stuff planned. However, Lao art was pretty common.  LPB had many arts/crafts stores, street vendors, and even an art exhibit – The Quiet In The Land. We also checked out a very well done cultural show – a type of dance/play with amazing costumes.

You really must see my LPB pictures to feel the LPB.

Shayna leaves for Cali

May 27th, 2007

After 4 countries and 10 weeks of traveling with the lovely Shayna Cohen, today she got on a plane to head back to California. I’m still here in the beautiful town of Luang Prabang (more on my Laos adventures later). It’ll be another 2 months or so before i make it back to Cali.

This was our second big trip together – first was last fall when we did our month long road trip in my faithful Jetta. This time we spent even more time together – 10 weeks – and it was great. We saw tons of budhist temples, had cocktails in a roofless bar on top of a 60-story hotel, wandered through amazing religious ruins, took cooking classes together, learned to weave on a loom, hiked mountains together, saw amazing caves and other natural wonders, hung out with local kids on the beach in Cambodia, spent the night in hill village tribes, met tons of expats and tourists (some super super cool, some not), had many tasteee local beers, received many massages, endured the extreme heat, and rode planes, trains, buses, boats, motorcycles, and bicycles in all parts of SE Asia.

But most importantly, these last few weeks Shayna has made me really happy. And thats a really good thing. I will miss you these next 2 months, miss shay-coh.

Laos Wins

May 9th, 2007

I made it to Laos – Vietnam is Finished. I’ve been here only 5 days, but its already significantly different than the rest of SE Asia. The biggest thing is that there is way less people – almost nobody asking to buy something, rent a motobike, or .. “money?”. The other main reason i love this country is the mountains and clean air. Its kinda like Sapa .. but .. better.

Right now i’m Vang Vieng, a small backpacker town 4 hours north of Vientiane, the capital of Laos. We arrived in Vientiane on Saturday, spent a few days there, some in the rain, some with sun, all good fun. We checked out the Beer Lao Brewery – had the shortest brewery tour ever – only got to see the bottling section, about 5 mins. We also did a traditional Laos Weaving class – We got to dye some silk in Indigo, then spent the rest of the day weaving a pattern using a Loom. Looms are cool. Plus i just like to say the word … LOOM. Good name for a band. Anyway, I now have alot more respect for all hand weaved items. However, my favorite thing in Laos was the herbal sauna and massage. The herbal sauna is like a regular sauna with steam filling in a small room, but mixed with all kinds of herbs. I bet you never would have figured that out. Anyway, it left me feeling very invigorated. Alive. Then the massage made me relaxed. Alive and relaxed. Great combo.

Vietnam ended on a pretty good note – after Sapa we went to Hanoi and the famous Halong Bay. We only spent one night in Hanoi, checked out a water puppet show and had some tasty food. We took the 4 hour bus ride to Halong Bay and spent a night on one of the famous junk boats. It was gorgeous – the rock formations in the bay are quite unique, and there are hundreds of them. Sadly it is foggy 10 months out of the year, so you can’t see them all very clearly. We did get to go on one, inside a cool cave, kayak, swim, and do a little karaoke on the boat. Then we headed back to Hanoi, and the next day took a flight to Vientiane.

We just left Vientiane yesterday, so we plan on being here in Vang Vieng a few more days – need to do some tubing down the river and a bit more exploring. There is no rush, i’m enjoying the relaxed Laos vibe, friendly locals, beatiful countryside .. as well as the free wireless, the 50 cent mango shakes, $1 meals and beers. Then we head north to Luang Prabang, a day bus ride from here, then we’ll get into some more remote action in northern Laos. Then back to Thailand.

Beautiful Sapa

May 2nd, 2007

Still in Vietnam, and just got back from 10 beautiful days in Sapa. Mmmmm… Sapa. It’s a small town in the mountains north of Hanoi, and a must for anybody who goes to Vietnam – unless you hate mountains, fresh air, relaxed atmosphere, and colorful locals. We spent our days hiking around the hills and mountains, visiting waterfalls, renting moto-bikes and seeing the countryside, as well as sitting around inside reading on a few cloudy and rainy days. Yes, the weather was not perfect – but close. The people were great, too, except for the the “you buy from me?” we got from many local villagers who hang out on the street, in front of hotels and bars, trying to sell jewelry, arts, and crafts. Also, the food was not terrible, but definitely not great anywhere in sapa. But it has the cleanest air in vietnam, and definitely the best scenery. You really have to check out my flickr pictures tagged with Sapa to get a feel for it.

We didn’t plan on 10 days – we just happen to get up there before a big holiday weekend. April 30 is Liberation Day in Vietnam, where they were liberated from the Americans in 1975 (end of Vietnam war). The whole country gets 5 or 6 days off (maybe Thursday, and Friday-Tuesday), and everybody heads to the beach or to the mountains. When i asked vietnamese about the holidays, most didn’t really know what the holiday was for. I guess many americans don’t know labor day from memorial day – they are all just holidays.

The overnight train ride back to Hanoi was booked till after all those crazy kids left (i say crazy cuz all the male vietnamese were drunk the entire weekend) which made us do a 3 day 2 night homestay tour. And we’re both really glad we did – it was one of the most interesting parts of my entire trip. First night was in Ta Van, about 13km from Sapa down river, and the next night was another 15km or so down in a village called Ban Ho. They were 3 types of village people we saw, the H’mong, the Red Zao, and the Zai (not sure spelling). Most were H’mong, and i ended up buying a H’mong vest and pants. Our guide was On-Shee, a 17 year old H’mong girl who spoke quite good english (no education, just talking to tourists). Our homestay dinners were also the best food i’ve had in vietnam – 10-15 people sitting around 6-8 different dishes, all you can eat. Awww yeah. And the houses and beds were not that bad. Our view from our room at the Cat Cat Hotel was the best view in all of sapa, though. Definitely stay at that hotel if you’re going to make it to Sapa (thanks to Croan for tha tip).

Before Sapa we spent our time going up the coast of Vietnam. That was also quite nice. We were only in Saigon (HCMC, Ho Chi Minh City) for a couple days, then we spent 4 days in Mui Ne, a really nice beach town. We didn’t do much there, its a one road town with some nice resorts – just ate well, sat on the beach, swam a little bit, and relaxed. One hotel had a nice pool right by the water with the fastest wifi i’ve had in Asia. I love uploading pics, and i totally caught up there. Sihanoukville in Cambodia was the first time i got to chill, but not till Mui Ne did i felt like i caught up on my need to chill. Ya feel me?

After Mui Ne we spent 3 days in Hoi An, an old colonial city in central Vietnam. Yes, we skipped the beach town of Nha Trang – not interested in another semi-big city or snorkeling. Hoi An is known for good food, cheap, custom clothes, and colonial architecture. The city was a major trading stop between China and India/Europe for centuries. But the river is shallow, and about a hundred years ago the boats became too big to navigate the shallow river. As a result, Danang (just 100k north) became the trading city, and Hoi An froze in time. Shayna and i both bought some clothes here – i got a wool coat and she got a nice dress, shirt, and coat. All custom made for like $10 to $30. After Hoi An we worked our way to Hanoi, stopping for less than a day in Hue, which was quite nice. Saw the old citadel, an old pagoda, and got a better feel for some old school Vietnamese culture. We were only in Hanoi for a day before taking the night train to sapa. Ahhhh… Sa Pa … (every syl la bull is its own word here).

Tomorrow we do the famous Halong Bay, then Saturday we’re flying to Laos (Vientiene). We’ll prolly spend 2 weeks in Laos, then a week in Thailand before Shayna heads back to the good ol’ USA. Then i’ll prolly kick it in Thailand another week or two before India.