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Lauren and Leslie's gallavant across SE Asia

Join as we embark to the land of smiles, and yummy Thai food. We will do our best to keep you in the know, so you can live vicariously through our adventures!

Diary Entries

Friday, 20 July 2007

Location: Ko Tao, Thailand

Hello to those of you who still check this silly little page!

I think my last entry was pretty brief due to the failure of technology. Not too much has happened since then. I did another 3 day trek to see the "hill tribes" of Thailand which was a fun trip but the tribes were quite dissapointing.

We started out by stopping by a Karen village, also known as the long neck tribe. These are the folks who but the brass rings around their necks. And by folks I mean just the women. Apparently the tribe originates from Burma/Myanmar where there is a heavier tiger population. Back in the day, while the men were off hunting and doing their thang, the women needed a way to protect themselves from the tigers while at the camp. So in came the rings, which are now purley just tradition or in some people's opinions, just to make few bahts by setting up "villages" for the tourists to see. I have to admit it was pretty crazy to see them, however the village was more of a market with a few booths set up where you were encouraged to buy some handicrafts. (Which, by the way, are found EVERYWHERE in Thailand.)

The rest of the trek was good, a little tough going at times but my ski legs prevailed!! We saw many waterfalls, at least 4 or 5 and made some good friends along the way. We had a fun group of 11, plus our 2 Thai guides. The 11 were 4 Irish girls, 2 Spanish guys, 2 Parisians, 2 Americans and me!! Highlights of the trek include white water rafting and bamboo rafting where somehow, I was elected captain. Not a wise choice but I managed to avoid a major disaster and provided the group with lots of laugh. (Andrea, think Gus-Gus!!) After the trek we all agreed to meet for dinner and drinks and invited our guides to join us. It was great to actually hang out with some Thai people our age and learn about life in THailand. The guides were so sweet we were all sad to say good bye to them!!

So after a VERY late night, well actually a very early morning, I caught a bus to Pai. Pai is another small town in the mountains that is most often described as a hippie town. Upon arrival however I was hit with a tummy bug that left me contained to my room for the better part of three days. So I made the quick decision that since I wasn't really seeing anything anyways, and all I seemed to want to do was nothing, I may as well be on beach! So I made the 2 days trek (with a brief layer over in which I was able to check out the new Harry Potter movie- VERY GOOD!!!) of cars, minivans, planes, buses, the back of trucks, boats, etc., and have just arrived in Ko Tao.

Immediately I knew I made the write decision. THe weather was gorgeous when I arrived and I instantly found a nice little hut on the beach! So, here I will stay until I make my way to Bangkok and then home. I'm not sure if I will post any more entries as I plan to just enjoy the sun. I will be home on the 30th and will be around the night of the 31st for dinner with some people if you can make it. If not, then I hope to see you all very shortly!! Thanks for being my audience and following along in my adventures over the last 2 months with me!! Until next time.....

~Lauren
xoxo

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hello!

So I spent a good 45 minutes typing out an update and as luck would have it, the computer froze!! So this is my second attempt which I'm afraid will not be quite as detailed.

I have arrived back in Thailand, which is my last boarder crossing. The rest of my time in Laos was amazing. Laos truly has been my favorite destination in SE Asia. I'm so glad that I got to go there and experience it. I was so sad to leave but northern Thailand seems to have a similiar vibe to it.

Ok, so I did the 2 day trip down the Mekong in a slow boat which is meant to be horrible. I was a bit weary, especially after all my luck with transportation but I had a few extra days to kill before starting a trek so I figured, why not!! I'm so glad that I did because it was great! THe Mekong is so beautiful. I saw so many mountains and small villages along the river, it was definitely worth it!! Then I arrived in Huay Xai ready to start the Gibbon Experience.

You may be thinking, what's the GIbbon Experience. I will do my best to describe it, but as I learned, hearing someone describe it does not even come close to the actual experience. We hiked into the Bokeo National Provice and stayed up in tree houses 150 meters above the ground. How did we get all the way up there?? BUt using "zips" of course!! The zips are large cables attachted to trees/tree houses. Upon arrival, we were given our harness with the "zipping" mechanism. Basically, you attach your harness to the cables, and let er' rip!! As the tree houses are 150 meters high, so are most of the zips. For the next two days we were free to roam the jungle and hike and zip as much as we want. This was truly unreal. Where else in the world would I get the opportunity to do that?!? You get such a different perspective from that height. The jungle is so vast and holds so many creatures and wild plants that I wuold never have dreamed up. One highlight of the trip was discovering that the staff had a baby bear with them that lost its mother. All of us wasted no time, and a quick zip later we were on our way to the kitchen to meet Paula the Bear. He was sooooooooo cute and playful!! At 5 months old, he is no bigger than Lucy/Daisy/Prince with quite a little pot belly on him!! It is quite sad though because his first instinct is to try and suckle your arm for milk. Because milk in Laos usually means sweetened condensed milk in a can, he only gets rices and veggies for his diet. But you can tell he wants milk. He he suckles your are, it produces such a strange noise and is extremely tickle-ish! He is such a curious little guy and all of us wanted to take him home. But I remembered the advice I've heard so often, that he won't stay little forever. He is already getting quite heavy and his playful nips will soon become quite painful. They are looking into releasing him into the wild soon which will be better for him.

A big part of the trek was to wake up at 5am to the sound of hte Gibbon monkies singing. We used their song, which is the most enchanting noise to try and track them. What a surreal experience to be walking through the jungle, in the mist at 5am surrounded by this exoitc song. I got so close the 2nd morning when I could hear them in the next tree but didn't get to see them. It was a bit dissapointing but in no way did it take away from the whole experience. I took MANY pictures and videos to try and capture how crazy the whole thing was but I don't think it fully captures it. When I find a computer that has a USB port for my camera I will add those pics!

Another interesting event was my first experience in an earth quake! It was so small that I didn't even know what it was but I was with a girl from California who knew right away. I definitely felt it though, and the little aftershock!

Now I'm Chiang Mai and heading out on another trek tomorrow. Today I did another great cooking course and learned to make traditional Thai dishes such as green curry, tom yam soup and some yummy desserts!

Sorry if this has been a bit choppy. I tried to remember all that I wrote before but Ithink I've missed some of it! C'est la vie! I hope things are going well for everyone at home. I miss you all and look forward to hearing from you!!

~lauren

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hello All,

I hope the Stampede is keeping everyone busy!! I will write an update soon!! I've been busy up in the jungle of Laos living like a monkey in the trees!! I will elaborate on this much more in a day or two!! Till then.....

~Lauren

Sunday, 01 July 2007

Location: Luang Probang, Laos

Happy Canada Day!

I just want to start off by saying, I LOVE LAOS! This is such a little jem of place tucked away in the mountains! I heard there is a law here that you cannot build buildings over a certain height which ensures that wherever you go, you can still see the mountains. My kinda place!

Vang Vieng was the perfect place to be at the half way point of the trip. It was so quite and relaxed. I spent 5 days there in the blink of an eye! I could have stayed 5 more easliy. As I mentioned before the main attraction is to go tubbing down the river. Rain threatened to cancel this for us, however with a small break in the weather one day everyone in the town gathered to go. This is such a blast, and a bit of a workout too!! All along the riverbanks there are stops where you can swing from ropes and use flying foxes to jump into the river. And of course plenty of Beer Lao along the way for encouragement!! And this terrible stuff called Lao Lao which is given away for free. (Should give you some idea of how nasty it is and how much is costs to make!) The rest of my time there was spent watching movies, hanging out by the river, and of course watching "Friends". The whole town shuts down around 12am, which is fine because you are so exhausted from your taxing day of floating and tv!! Who would have thought to turn this little village into this little town for backpackers where you can swing from the trees and watch old sitcoms??? I'm not sure, but everyone stays there a little longer than planned and has a blast!

I was feeling a little guilty about not really getting to see the "culture" of Laos so me and my new friends made our way to Luang Probang....taking a minivan this time! The trip itself was a good glimpse into the culture of this country. It took over 6 hours to travel to L.P due to the massive mountains you have to drive through. All along the way there are little villages set up, each different from the next. It was so neat to see the children playing on the side of the mountain and the men and women at work. All in the traditional Laos attire. We stopped in a few of the villages and met some of the kids. There were so cute and let us take some pictures of them, for a fee of a few sticks of gum. They were so cute and excited to use the few words of English that they knew.

Luang Probang is another very quite and and very quaint town. Again, quite touristy but there is a heavy Fernch Colonial influence here that makes up for it. The highlight here so far has been the night market. I almost died when I saw it. It has the most amazing crafts and wonderful little things made by the locals here. We went a little bit crazy last night, but at these prices so are silly not too!! And the stuff has been so unique to anything I've seen in SE Asia so far!! Today we started a day tour that included caves, local villages and waterfalls. On the way to our first stop however, our van broke down. (What is it with my luck of transportation here??) No problem, he had a brother who could pick us up! This is something you hear over and over again, usually in reference to a guesthouse, "Its okay, I have a brother who hasa place!" Sure enough we got picked up and taken to this cave which was rather dissapointing and then skipped the villages. We quickly decided not to do the other half of the tour and make our own way to the waterfalls tomorrow. Also, this partially due to the fact it started raining around lunch time and has not stopped since! Again, no problem because there is a great little bookstore / cafe that has over 60 kinds of tea!! The perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon!!

Tonight we are off to the famous Hive Club to celebrate Canada Day. SInce it closes around 12am, we are told everyone goes bowling because it is the only place that is open! Hahaha, should be a blast!! I hope you are all enjoying Canada Day!! Miss you all!!

~Lauren


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Recent Messages

From chelseat
anxiously awaiting your pictures and more juicey details from your travels abroad my dear. Miss you lots and can't wait to see you again..till that time comes though...take it all in, relax, and enjoy every minute of it.
xoxox
chels
Response: Thanks Babe! In Ko Tao for my last week...:( but its the perfect place to wrap up a trip!! Miss you too but hope to see you soon!! What is your schedule like over the next few weeks?? Let me know cause I DEF want to see you but I'm a bit up in the air and not around a whole lot!
From grandma s
dear Lauren, it is Sunday July 15. we are experiencing the hotest weather I can remember in a long time, and I do not especially enjoy it. But for the stampede crowd it is perfecct. Every one here are doing okay, beverly is sstill teaching summer school and has two more weeks, David and Kinmberly and Madison are at their condo for a couple of weeks, talked to them tonight and they are having a wonderful time, hot weather and all. Shirley and Cathy are at Marble Lake for a couple of weeks and aare really enjoying them selves, no dogs to get up early and no phone calls for work. Tedi and Daniel left today for Gull Lake for a few days camping, so they are happy for that. I am heere at home where I feel safe, have been having a little trouble with my left arm so am better off at home. but I am enjoying the family and your dad comes over once a week, you mom phones and keeps in tough and the kids come over every so often so I keep busy and love to see them all. My brother, John and his wife Sherrill from Pocatello came up for a few days last week and we did have fun remenicing and visiting. You sound like you having the time of your life and your reports are so enlightening, I can see you being a jounalist. Take care of yourself and keep having good times, the time has gone so fast I can hardly belief you will be home soon, but it will be fun to talke to you and see you again, take care dear and know I love you very much love grandma s
Response: Thanks for your kind message Grandma! It's always nice to hear from you and hear how everyone else is doing. I can't wait to see you hopefully in a few weeks or even less and hear about your summer too!! Miss you lots!

xoxo
From John
Been a while since we had an update. Wats shakin L DOGG?
Response: Sorry been up in the jungle!! Update has arrived though! But you will have to wait for pics!
From Dan
I did all that stuff in Laos too. I can't wait to talk all about it when you get back!! I know exactly what you mean about the personal space issue. It drove me nuts.
Response: I LOVE Laos!! I just left today and I'm so sad....:( ALthough I'm hoping to do some good trekking from Chiang Mai! I can't wait to chat to you all about it too!! It'll be nice cause you will know exactly what I'm talking about!! Hope the job isn't keeping ya down!! See you soon!
From Cailin
Hey you,

Just making sure you are having a good time! Miss ya!
Response: Hey you back!! I am indeed having a great time!! THis place is so amazing! I'm about to start this amazing trek that I know you would love!! I'll carry you with me in spirit!! Miss you too!!
From
Hi and hope you are well, your mom finally sent me your link, as everytime i wrote it down i lost the paper. Glad to hear you are doing well, and having a blast. your journal is a fasinating read, continue to be safe

Sally
Response: Thanks Sally!! Good to hear from you! I'm sure you are quite busy and gearing up for the Stampede!! Hope to see you in wasa in August!
From amanda B
Oh my God!!!!!!! I am sooooo jealous! F%#k ya!!!!! You sound like you are just having the best time ever! Travelling alone is the best! I am glad you were able to celebrate Canada Day with some others. Happy Canada Day!!!!!! I cannot wait to see you, I really hope we will be able to hook up when you get back! You are amazing~!!!!!!!! I'm loving your tan!
Response: Amanda!

So nice to hear from you!! Yes, travelling alone is definitely an experience that forces you to grow and take each moment as it comes! I can't wait to see you either!! Miss you!
From Heather
Lauren, I am so happy for you. You look radiant in your pictures. I think we should make Canadian whiskey...maye we can put like beaver tails in it or something...ewwwww! I must admit, I am jealous of Vietnam, that is the only place in Asia I have ever really been interested in seeing...and not only for the salad rolls. I can't wait to see more and hear more and once again, am super happy for you!
Namaste,
Heather
Response: Heather, sooo good to hear from you!! It has been a while, i was starting to get a bit worried! Hahah, ok enough of me being all "mom-like"! Vietnam was a very eye opening experience. Each country here is so distinctive and has their own culture unique to the people. I'm loving getting to know each of them! Haha, the whiskey can be an off-shoot of our wine company! I'm happy for you as well that you are getting to see and do everything you wanted!! You must be getting ready to head home soon!! Can't wait to hear about your stories in the fall!
From chelsea T
HAPPY CANADA DAY!!!!!!!!
Response: Haha, thanks!! Luckily I am with some Canadians to celebrate!! Miss you!
xxx
From John
Dirty Hippies!

Again, I will never forget, or repeat the 14 hour bus ride in Turkey with Mark. Warm flat pop to drink, and everybody passing around a bottle of purfume every 10 mins. You are way tougher than I am. Wow does tubing down the river every sound good! I'm off to Wasa for the Long weekend, and not a moment too soon. Amanda, Amber, Capital G, Mark, Andrea, the Grandparents, and of course, Mom and Dad will be there. Amanda spent 4 hours putting together a Wasa Classic tunes playlist...so let the good times roll. Glad you are having fun..Be safe!
Response: Thanks for the message! It was good chatting to you guys, I missed being in Wasa for a few minutes but then remember where I am! Plus I still get to have Wasa time in August!! Yeah, tubbing was soooooo much fun...and a bit of a work out!! That place brought out the inner hippie in me for sure! I was so sad to leave!
From Cailin
hey hey,

That was definitely a long one but you kept me captivated the whole time. I can't wait to see the pictures of the bus ride because I have some strange pictures in my head of what it must have been like. Live it up!
Response: Hey CM!!

How are ya?? I heard you are sporting a nice and cutre new due! Yeah the bus was anightmare but long since over!! The pics say it all!! Miss you tons!!

xxx
From Jill
I can't wait for those spring rolls!
Response: I hope I can repeat the process and make them as yummy as they are here!! Miss you tons!!
From Grandma S
Lauren - Sorry it has taken me awhile to email, I lost your email and Beverly had to get it for me again. Your trip sounds wonderful. I hope you don't get lost or anything and take care of yourself now that you are on your own. I'm glad it is you eating Vietnamese food and not me. Everybody is waiting for the end of school and they are all busy. I sure miss you and wish you well. Stay safe and have fun. Love Grandma S.
Response: Thanks Grandma! And thanks for the other message! Since being on my own and having everyone so supportive has really made me appreciate my family. It is because of all of you that I am able to be confident and travel on my own. I miss you too and can't wait to see you at the end of July!!
xoxo
From John
Can't wait to try the salad rolls
Response: Haha, me too!! You still owe me a sushi dinner too! Maybe we can have an Asian cusinine night when I get back!
From Shauna
Hey Lauren,
I've been following along your updates and pics....It looks like you and Leslie are having a wonderful time!!!!! I hope you enjoy the rest of your travels (tooo bad Leslie had to go home!) But be safe and know that I'm thinking of you:)
Talk to you soon, Shauna
Response: Hey Shauna!

Thanks so much for the message!! I am having a good time here and meeting lots of cool people!! I heard you had a big trip to H & M!! I'm sooooo excited now that its in Calgary!! How was it?!?! Hope to see you when I get back before you head out on your big trip!!
From Jill
Hey Girls, It seems you are gaining a world of experience, and are seeing things that most of us over here would not ever imagine. Spoiled Canadians I suppose! It is wonderful to read about your adventures and the phenomenal world that lies outside of our continent! I can't wait to hear more! I miss you so much!

Love ya!
Response: Hey Jill, nice to hear from you!! Yes, we are seeing things and doing things I never imagined I would!! For sure gives you a different perspective on life at home!! But that is the point of travel and experiencing a culture different from your own! Hope things are going well for you!! Let me know about that weekend!!

¬Lauren
From chelsea T
wow girls!!
I am so excited to read about your adventures. What an experience you must be having.

your pics are absolutely stunning and leave me feeling just a tad jealsous! Oh and where did you stay on Ko Panghan...was is Had Yuan on the east side of the island???

anyway best of luck in Vietnam traffic, I'm currently enjoying a very quiet peaceful life here in Golden. I'll enjoy some of this abundant personal space on the behalf of you both...I'm sure you're missing it. and you guys be sure to enjoy that beach for me!!

take care ladies
lots of love
chelsea
Response: Hey Chels,
We actually stayed in Mai Pen Rai on the east side of the island. On Thong Sala beach I think.....? Glad to hear things in Golden are going well and please do take a deep breath of the mountain air for us!! We will think of you today on the beach!

xxx
From Dano
Hey guys,

Sounds like a ton of fun. I remember the good old days of Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. Crazy place, Cambodia! The people show great resilliance in their struggle to rebuild what the Khmer Rouge left of their country. My second favorite country in SE Asia! I will be looking for the full report on Phnom Pehn. I never made it down there. Sounds like you are having the adventure of a lifetime!!
Response: Hey Dan!! Thnx for the message!! Siem Reap was super cool!! Small enough to enjoy the culture and just big enough to have some fun at night....a little too much fun to be exact. WIll have a full report on P.P- pretty crazy stuff. I've never seen poverty like that before, very eye opening. Hope the summer and job is going well!! Miss ya!
From John
Well...The Sopranos is finished. Can't wait for you to see so we can discuss! All is well in Calgary. I'm playing Tennis like a mad man, so you will have to buy some gear upon your return. The highlight of the weekend was Graham and I beating Dan and Jenny in doubles..haha. Sounds like you guys are having a good time. Feel free to call me at any time. Peace out.
2Gunz
Response: Thanks john!! By the time I read this I had both called yo uand talked to you about Soprano's!! Bought you a pretty cool gift yesterday!! Keep your stick on the ice! Hahahah....
LDogg
From Cailin
Hey girls,

Sounds AWESOME!!!
I"ll write a big e-mail soon....going back to Calgary next week. Things are well!

Luv ya Cailin
Response: Cailin, we've been wondering where this big email you speak of is and when it is coming!! Hahaha, it must be just cause you are enjoying the good times in Golden! We miss you too and can't wait to hear how things are going!!
From Torhild & Roger
Hey Leslie!
It looks like you are really having fun! Thailand seems wonderful, the pictures looks amazing and it's nice to read about your adventures.
We are finally getting our summer weather here in Norway too, with temperatures around 25 - 30 C. It feels great.
We look forward to see you again, and hope it will be soon.
Response: Hello! Hvordan gaar det? I am having a really great time, it's hard to be away from Fredrik though. Are you able to swim in the ocean yet? I hope sometime soon I can come and see you. Hopefully you will come and see us in the fall. Have a great summer, and enjoy the sun!
-Leslie
From Amanda Barry
Hey Gals,
Well I finally had time to slip away into your wonderful world! and am I ever glad that I did! Your stories are awsome! I dreamt all night last night of being there with you guys! It was funny I'll have to fill you in later. You girls are lookin' HOT!! just think of how good it is for you to be sweating out all those buckets! Patrick and I put an offer on a house so we'll find out if we got it tomorrow, I'm really excited!!! Remember, Baby powder, baby powder, baby powder! It really helps. Love you both! Amanda.
Response: Thanks for the tips Amanda!! We wish you were here with us too....although buying a house sounds VERY exciting!! Good luck!! Say hi to Pat for us!
From Heather
Word Sistas!
I just read a magazine in Spanish that had an article on Cambodia...aren't we all so lucky to be travelling. I think the opportunities are so vast and the benefits we reap from these trips outweigh many other things we do in our lives and I am so happy to be able to travel.
I can't wait to see your pictures on Angkor Vat and the sunrise. No matter where you are in the world it is almost always worth waking up for an outstanding sunrise!
Stay safe and keep it real homies!
Kisses from Peru!
Response: Heather,

Thanks for your last email, gave us a good glimpse of your travels! Sorry to hear about your camera, that always sucks big time!! The sunrise was definitely worth it!! You could easily spend days in that place just wondering around taking it all in. Yes the personal benefits to travel are endless. We're so happy that you are also getting so much of your trip as well!! We miss you lots too and look forward to catching up in the Fall!!
Kisses from Cambodia!
From Lindsay
Hello Again! Lauren- thanks for the email - that was great! I am super jealous about this fabulous restuarant you talked about - I will have to check it out one day! I was in Van this week and it was soo amazing. I want to move there now so bad. I got sun burnt but it was totally worth it and I really do not like being home now! So that is the update here. Back to the hours of studying I guess!
Can't wait for more stories! :)
Response: Lindsay!! That restaurant was right up your alley!! All kinds of veggie (organic too!) pastas and amazing salades....mmmmmm my mouth is watering!! Glad to hear Van was good and its always nice to get some color!! I will keep the stories coming!! Miss you, study hard!
From Heather
Hola a las 2 bonitas!
Your experiences may be across the world but some of your stories relate to my adventures ...keep living the dream, and be cautious as well...
Hope you are enjoying remote islands, tasty food, and life in general, can't wait to see y'all in the fall,
mucho besos from your travellin' sista!
Response: Hola to our south american sista! We just arrived in Cambodia and spent the afternoon biking around the streets, learning the rules of the road or lack thereof. Tomorrow we are off to see the largest religious monument in the world! Going to be awesome. We can't wait to see your pretty face either. Hope you are enjoying life in Peru (but I know you are) love you lot's! xoxoxoxox
Leslie i Lauren