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Brian's Trip to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos

To live vicariously through me!

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Gearing up for the journey home. We arrived in Bangkok and found it to be not as crazy as we had expected upon hearing stories from other travellers. When we first arrived we didn't spend any time here, just flew out straight away to the southern islands. We got a hotel near Koh San Road and it is supposedly the big shopping and partying district. We did some of both but when we went to a megamall to pick up a bunch of things we both quickly realised that, yes, we still hate shopping. Seriously.

We really haven't done a whole lot of sightseeing and that's because we're strapped for time. Our flight leaves in about 10 hours to Seoul, South Korea. We then wait there for 12 hours and fly across the Pacific to Seattle, another 2 hour wait, and then Calgary. We are pretty much expecting a parade and Deerfoot to be shut down with a few limos and security personnel to escort us to our homes. If these circumstances end up not reflecting reality than those who are (at least my) family members are bad people.

Thanks to everyone who gave a damn and read this blog, it definitely made me more willing to write when I knew people were reading. On Andrew's getjealous website (getjealous.com/andrew18) there is a map of our route you can see. It is fairly ridiculous.

We'll see you soon.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Location: Luong Prabang, Laos

Dear Diary:

Our trip is rounding up nicely and in approximately 2 hours we will be boarding a plane with Bangkok as its destination. The last couple days have been great. We met Steph and Bryan again and swapped stories about each other's absences when we went to the Gibbon Experience and they went through an ordeal. They ended up taking a "VIP bus" which included 15 people in a small van and hours of bumpy road. Suckers. That will teach them for letting fears get in the way. Just kidding.

That night was pretty relaxing and the next day we got up to go to the waterfall which every damn Tuk Tuk driver offers to take you to along a 5 minute walk up a street. It is extraordinary, these falls, but you really need to see the pictures as confirmation. I'm not sure I have the descriptive skills to give you the right idea, but basically there is one large waterfall in the middle of a jungle and includes 3 sets of individual short falls. Hopefully that makes sense, but we managed to hike in and around one of the landings where a pool had congregated. You could hop off the ledge into the pool and the water's movement was gentle enough that you were never in danger of falling over the edge (which would have sucked I assume). We did some mini cliff jumps into these pond things. At the bottom of these falls was another pool where a tree overhung the water and a rope was there so you could swing from it and land in the water. This pool was loaded with tourists and by the time we got there nobody felt like getting wet again. We were attacked by some strange Canadians. Some seriously weird people. One guy from Quebec noticed Bryan's backpack had the flag on it and inquired where in Canada we were from. We talked with him for about 5 to 10 minutes and while we talked with him 3 different people at different intervals slithered their way into the conversation and explained where in Canada they were from. It was quite odd because, well, they were weird. Example, when we asked one guy from Toronto who invited himself to the convo if he was liking Laos he responded that "yeah, it's a little different from Toronto though". Really? It is? Man I was WAY off, I thought they would have been quite similar myself.

We escaped from the strange Canadians by this pond and walked past a tiger cage. It was no more than 3 feet away from me and the only thing between us was a chain link fence. The good news is that it looked bored and not hungry. Those cats are... what's the word... sizable? He yawned and we got a look at his teeth. Now those things could kick some ass!

We spent the next day calmly, walking around the town and fending off the Tuk Tuk drivers. They will invite you to the National Park (where the waterfall is) even if it's past midnight. Steph and Bryan knew of a small movie theater place where you get your own room and a DVD player. They had bought a bunch of pirated movies so we watched 300 and now I want to become a gladiator and wrestle people and things.

That's all that's new. When we go to Bangkok we plan on making several purchases. In 2.5 days we will be on our flights home.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Location: Luang PraBANG!, Laos

Luang Prabang is one of the more touristy towns and that becomes evident very quickly upon gliding across the skinny 2 by 4 plank that acts as a bridge between boat and land.

We left Way Sigh the following morning after my last entry. It required a 6-7 hour boat ride which took us to a small town on the side of the river where we were to stay overnight. I can't recall the name of it and truly it is a place of maybe 20 buildings, very small and likely constructed for this exact purpose because there were lots of guesthouses and hotels. When you get off the boat and walk up the small hill you are asked several times by local guys and gals if you want to stay there. After a 7 hour boat ride your not really in the mood to be 'sold to' if you know what I mean, so we just walked by them until we were a distance away. Eventually we ended up at some hotel that looked a lot nicer than it was. The inside of the room was like the inside of a room on a ship (all dark mahogany). A flashlight was on the bedside table which we found curious, and the television didn't work. Andrew joked that it was a fake tv designed to trick travellers into believing this was more than what it is. We went to check in at the reception and inquired about the flashlight- yep- lights out at 10:30pm to 10:30am... damn. We also asked about the tv, 'is it a fake?' asked Andrew... yep. I swear to God I've never heard a more honest answer in my life.

We boated the next 7 hours today and arrived in Luang Prabang. Steph and Bryan are apparently wandering around but we haven't found them yet... and in fact if Steph or Bryan are reading this tonight you guys should come back to the hotel because... we're here!

Lastly I wanted to add before I forget about the Gibbon Experience. I forgot to explain one of the best parts! During our second day we zipped down to the kitchen (or main entry) because there was rumours they had a pet bear. The Asiatic Black Bear was only 5 months old and about the size of a dog. You could play and wrestle with it, and if it misbehaved they threw it outside the kitchen and it never liked that. Can't say I'll ever get the chance to play with a bear before but it was awesome, those things are hilarious. I think I was annoying it because it tried biting my leg but the sucker only got my shorts. This bear was saved by Gibbon Experience dudes after they arrested a poacher who had killed its mother. Anyways, I'm off.

Oh yeah and unfortunately I can't post videos unless I want to upgrade on this website which costs money and I don't feel like it. Soooo you'll have to wait til we're home for the cool video.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Location: Houay Xai (Way Sigh), Laos

Wow, I could just about write a novel for this one. The last 3 days were very intense. I will try to keep it small.

We woke up the next day back in Way Sigh and ready for the Gibbon Experience. The Gibbon Experience is an actual company devoted to saving the forests in Laos or some humanitarian bs like that (just kidding!). Basically some French guy decided it would be neat to set up tree houses in the middle of nowhere and attach them with cables so that you can fly around on them. Steph wasn't really feeling the whole idea anyway because she is afraid of heights. The previous day we had strained to get her to come because maybe she could test her fears, she had told us that ferris wheels scare her, and they signed up. She was hesitant even after paying and signing the waiver form (first time since leaving Canada we had to sign a waiver, which made me infinitely nervous as you can imagine) so that when the next morning came and it had rained that night, Steph and Bryan backed out at the last minute but somehow managed to retain 80% of their money. Andrew and I still plugged on.

We hopped in a Land Ranger truck which was pretty heavy duty. These are some thick, dense jungles you drive through and the road is bumpy to say the least. They stuffed 10 of us in the back of the truck and we instantly became friends with everyone due to the body contact. Actually I'm just kidding because most of the people on this trek were kind of lame but I will explain later. After 2 hours of highway driving and another 1 hour of jungle driving, we were kicked out at the side of the jungle road and trekked it in for at least 2 hours before we arrived at the Gibbon Experience.

You walk to the kitchen level and strap yourself with a harness. The kitchen is essentially a big hut in the middle of the jungle. You trek a little more (and believe me, at this point we were SICK of hiking because the previous few days were spent hiking around Chiang Mai) and eventually reach a platform with the first zipline which connects to Treehouse 1. Treehouse 1 is where we slept and stayed and it is the main hub that connects all the other Treehouses in the jungle to the entrance, exit and Kitchen. The harness is a belt with leg straps that you can tighten. It is attached to a carabeener (sp?) and rope that acts as a safety line. The harness is ALSO connected to the main zip attachment, which has two rollers embedded in a steel case and carabeener that you can fasten to the steel cables which are attached to the the massive jungle trees. Got all that? Good. You slap all your gear on the cables and then run and jump as if you were trying to commit suicide. Before you know it your in a treehouse.

It's actually quite fun, and an amazing experience. You are at heights of up to 150 metres and some of the cables are very long, they move quickly and take sometimes half a minute. While your up the first time you think "Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit" and subsequent zipping you think "Pretty fun, but if this harness snaps... hmmm........ can one survive a 150 meter fall?".

Bees were ruthless in the treehouses. ALL OVER US. You can't get a break and now Andrew and I are not so much of pansies in that department. The sleeps were genuinely comfortable and the sounds of the jungle get soothing, in the morning you awake to a thick fog and you can hear the gibbons singing to each other. It's pretty interesting. We had a guide wake us up so we could try and spot them, but they can hear the ziplining of the cables and scurry away. We missed them but the people who stayed in our treehouse with us saw them because they went a different direction. These were some BORING people. Incredibly boring. At night we would sit around and talk via candlelight in the treehouse and it would mostly be Andrew, me and one of the British girls we went with. They just loved to be boring. Not sure why. Insects are all around you constantly, and if you come back without a muddy shirt you are either a champion or not leaving the treehouses. Andrew took a video of the zipping with his camera which is really neat, Im not sure if Planet Ranger allows for video but if I can find the feature I will try to post it.

Today we woke up and began our way back. Unfortunately it rained last night which meant that the truck that brought us in probably wouldn't be able to pick us up until we could make it tp the main road. How do you spell 'uh oh'????

Thaaaaat's right folks! We were faced with a beauty 7 hour hike because we were in the middle of NOWHERE! This is also in the face of muddy hills, or so we thought. We hiked for about 4 hours back (about half of it uphill which is never a lot of fun) and finally in the distance you could hear the murmur of a truck. I've never been so delighted in my life to see a truck. We are pretty sore now (our legs) from all the walking and hiking and zipping, but overall it was a fantastic experience.

The trucks drove us back, and here we are back at Way Sigh. Tomorrow we are going to exit the down via slowboat and spend a night in some town (mandatory to get the hell out of here) and the following day we will have arrived at Luang Prabang which- coincidentally- has an airport. We may just fly straight to Bangkok ready for hometime or we may go to Vang Vieng again because we loved it that much. Either way our travels are almost at an end and, yes, we are happy about coming home.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Location: Way Sigh, Laos

The town isn't called "Way Sigh" but that's how you pronounce it, and I'm positive nobody back home reading this will know it anyway so it doesn't really matter. This is going to have to be very short because I only have T-Minus 5 minutes to write (I'm on the clock!).

We barely found internet, there are no phones and the fastest way back into a major town in Laos is 2 days either way! Well, two days or something called a Speed Boat in which "fatalities are an often occurrence, usually about once a week" (from Lonely Planet book)- so we decided to not test our luck.

The story is this, after our incredible 3 day hike outside Chiang Mai we left the following day via bus to Way Sigh here in Laos. Andrew and I wanted to go back anyways and Steph and Bryan wanted to come as well. Laos is simply an amazing place, I will go in more detail in 3 days when I am next able to write. Oh! 2 minutes, okay!

Alright, hmmm... we ended up here and hung out last night along the street of a small town. This is a town right on the river and across the river is Thailand (Mekong River...). There was a huge celebration that we joined and on further inspection it was a funeral... but I am out of town now and will let everyone know the story in 3 days. The next 3 days we are going to be ziplining in a jungle full of Gibbon monkeys and its called the Gibbon Experience!


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Recent Messages

From Jonathan
You lucky bastard... that is all.
Response: Got your music!
From Taxi Driver
Yaya, I guess someone can meet you at the airport to pick you up.

Either mom or me. I may be there picking up Andres and Sole anyways, as they are getting in on Thurs as well. One question though...how bad do you smell? :P
Response: I think Mom is, she said she was leaving work early!
From Steve
Did it feel good to finally pick on something smaller than you? I am sure you have been waiting for an opportunity to arise and when it did you had to pick a fight with an infant bear who just lost its mother! You are a monster.
Response: Steve, seek help. I'm telling you this as a friend.
From Jonathan
What you needed to do was find the bee's hideout, and steal their honey. That would have done it. By the way, I am actually starting to be impressed with your outdoor finess here... though, I do NOT want to smell your laundry.
Response: Neither do I, my laundry is simply nasty. I just push it back into Sherry's backpack and she will get the surprise when I get home hehehehe. Shhh just kidding don't tell Sherry. Re: the problem with the bees = we were living in their hideout!
From Kim Ng
Sounds like an awesome time in the jungle man, this is so something I see you reflecting on as being some of the best times of your life.
Response: Definitely, I agree for sure.
From Super Awesome Dude
Nicely done. Sounds like quite the experience.

Um.. so when are you coming back home? Just so I can tell everyone that asks me, aka every 2 freaking minutes. Its getting annoying. And I dont get annoyed easily.

-Brad
Response: June 28th at 5:30pm... feel like picking me up?
From ebola virus
enjoy.
Response: Sweet. Thanks Mr. Ebola virus.
From Colvin
To follow up on what Grace said earlier it's official Mike is our new coach, Jim's an "Associate" coach not an Assistant coach (make sure you notice the difference) but don't worry Nik Kypreos says its a good fit because there are alot of similarities between the 94 Rangers and th Flames of today...
P.S. Guitar hero is amazing

-Colvin
Response: Andrew write me an email and tell me when you go to Europe.
From Ross
interesting how 3 unreal days were set up by someone else...haha...in anycase that sounds like a wicked tour...again wish I could have been there...when do you guys come back again?
Response: yeah the trek was incredible, we're actually going back to Laos now because we want to and Steph and Bryan are coming with. We're going to do the gibbon experience.
From Brad
I decided to start counting the # of cries in your post. I got to 546,987, and then just gave up.

Yes, I will email you a large note to answer all your questions. Dont send me a cry note. :P

-Brad
Response: How about a swift kick to the balls instead?
From Grace
Just a bit of sports new in case you are not getting any -
Stamps play Edm on Sat. night.
Brad played golf @ Priddis on
Sun. And looks like Mike Keenan will be Flames new coach. Will know later today.
Enjoying your blog!
Response: Thanks Grace!
From Jonathan
Well well well, look at that. You and Andrew are actually doing things. So glad you got in a good 'work out' on your vacation. :P I expect lots of pictures when you return, and keep an eye out for some music my good man! :)
Response: Hey we've done lots of stuff! If you read this blog I bet you'd be surprised. We do stuff everyday. And about that music... I'm not totally sure you'll really want it, but Oooookay, you asked for it. I will pick it up in Bangkok before I fly back.
From Jonathan
Holy crap this blog is getting popular. Looks like it only took you being gone for 5 weeks, and better writing on your part. hahahah Have you ever considered that 'the king' is really just Buddha? Think about it.
Response: Does Buddha wear glasses?
From Ross
trust me...you won't miss home when you're sitting at your desk...soak it up...after this your life is over!
Response: Your so dramatic. Heard you introduced everyone to Erdingers!! Is it as good as it was in Korea?
From Brad
Jeopardy time.

Answer: Fishbone.

Question: You go to a doctor to get 'this' removed from your throat.
Response: I'm not getting surgery in Cambodia, Laos or Thailand despite the fact you may think it may be smart.
From Stephen
Hey, about Las Vegas, I am going to book for friday afternoon and was just wondering if you wanted me to book a spot for you too. Let me know soon bud. Besides that, have fun and hope everything is going good.
Response: Hey, no that's okay don't book me a spot. I'll have to figure everything out when I'm home.
From Jonathan
I think you are wrong about Diamond and the King being boring stories. That's the real stuff right there. And thank goodness Diamond is there to get you to do things.. otherwise, you and andrew would just end up looking like the King. ahahhah
Response: I'll try and get a picture of the king for you.
From Kim
Brad just sent me the link and I gave it a good read, sounds fun and hilarious. So should of exploded something with a bazooka and youtube'd it. And it seems like your constantly afraid of theft there, you watching people get mugged all around you or something?
Response: I dunno... you can't assume nothing will happen that's for sure. We've already had some money stolen from our bags in a hotel room we're pretty sure.
From Brad
Watching TV? Boo urns.

I like the gun stories...

Shouldnt you be just walking around the towns, or checking out the sights...instead of sitting in a hotel and watching tv. The blog says, "to live vicariously through you" well, I dont want to if your just going to watch tv. Hows the fish bone? Still stuck in the throat...now that would suck. You should get a witch doctor to take it out....
-Brad
Response: Yeah... I mean there's just so much to see here and all..... oh no wait... there isn't. Believe me, if you were "sight-seeing" what we do here you'd agree that there isn't much to see in Phnom Penh. Fish bone is still stuck. At least I think it's a fishbone.
From Ross
nah nah...never with golfing w/ Bill...was in the friars golf tourny then got drunk with bill after the tourny...discussed sports betting and business...said he was happy u left as his business increased immediatlly after your departure...said he wished he let you go sooner! haha..jk...love the blog
Response: Well if I knew I had that much of an impact with Bill's business I would have never left! Thanks bud
From Jonathan
Brian, I am freakin impressed. You've got quite the blog going here. Too bad you are running out of cash... but I guess that's good news for livestock.
Response: I'm not running out of cash, just didn't bring enough. But you know, the way they feed the cows here they probably want to die anyway.
From Brad
Ya...have fun on the buses through cambodia... uh.. you might want to stay awake on that bus ride...

Response: You cant really fall asleep anyway, but if you can that is impressive. But if your referring to theft it hasn't really been an issue at all, only once in a hotel room and on the buses my bag is completely locked and stored away.
From Ross
haha...man paramount loves me...for now anyways...love the baby carrage story...too funny...ho chi min sounds just like hanoi eh...pretty sweet...good luck in cambodia...cannot wait to hear about that gong show
Response: You went golfing with bill?? Did he have anything interesting to say? Does he miss me? (He does doesn't he)
From Brad
When do we hear about you blowing up a cow with a bazooka? Please tell me that is still on the agenda.
Response: We're not entirely sure yet actually. We were offered to go to the shooting range with our friend who ran a hotel back in Ao Nang... but I don't think there was livestock involved. We declined.
From "Auntie Cindy"
Hope you're finding the scenery as nice as our Saskatchewan prairies :-) The pictures are amazing. Enjoyed having Sherry for a visit this past weekend...tho not the same without you here sneezing all over us ;-) Enjoying your blog....White Devil hehehe!
Response: I know, I really wish I could have come to Rosetown and I asked Sherry when the next time I could swing by. I didn't know you were reading!