Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thailand


We flew into Bangkok with no problems and easily found our hotel. Since we only had a night planned there we went to a travel agency to book flights and hotels on two of the islands. Although we were really tired, we took a cab to Kao San Road. We enjoyed watching tourists from a balcony while we enjoyed a beer. Moved on to another bar for some Sang Som and red bull that we drank from a bucket. People constantly came around to try and sell us roasted scorpions, but turned them down. We ended up talking to a British couple who had also landed that day, but hadn't slept in many hours. Apparently there was a guy in the men's bathroom creeping on all the men who came in.

The next day we got on a plane for Phuket, a long drive across the island and then a ferry to Ko Phi Phi. Cam had forgotten his phone in the cab to the ferry, but luckily he realized before the driver was too far away. Our hotel wasn't too close to the busy part of the island. The island was too tourist focused for my liking, but it was fairly quiet where we were. Getting away from the crowds and having to do anything was a good thing because both of us spent most of our time on the island being really sick.

We did walk into town during a heavy rainstorm just to do something. The path was very muddy and slippery. Many hours were spent watching movies and learning English from an Australian program. It was a bit concerning that a snake had obviously been in our shower at some point. Wombie made friends with the small lizard that hung around our bathroom for a bit. I was glad to leave even if we had to go by ferry again.






We didn't do much in Phuket. There was an Australian bar that Cam wanted to check
 out, but after walking up and down the street we couldn't find it. Made the mistake of going to, and use the term loosely, an Italian resturant. You know you're in a classy joint when you watch the waiter pour a glass of red wine from a large jug they keep in the fridge. The food was just terrible. We ordered room service later that was cheaper and better. The guy who brought it up even complimented Cam on his beard.

The view of the bathroom from the bedroom
The highlight of the trip was the hotel in Bangkok. We decided that we would go all out and get a $300/ per night hotel room which gets you a lot in that city. They gave us an upgrade, but informed us it wasn't ready yet. There's a whole floor dedicated to people who spend a certain amount of money for a room. So we sat up there and had afternoon tea. I did feel out of place wearing shorts and sandals and my legs covered in bug bites. Staff constantly came by to apologize for the delay. After an hour wait, our room was finally ready. It is easy to see why! There was a dining room, living room, two bathrooms, a room for luggage, and two balconies - one even had a spa! It was ridiculous! We went to get complimentary drinks and snacks that evening. We never got around to eating dinner. It was great lounging in the spa while overlooking Bangkok at night.

I really wish I could say our trip to Bangkok ended on a high note, but alas. Didn't fully enjoy the hotel room because I was suddenly very tired early in the night. The next day I was really sick. The whole ride out to the airport (and it was a long trip!) I was trying not to throw up in the cab. Made it without any issues and spent the rest of the day in bed. Still a bit sick in the morning before our flight, but I was good when I got on the plane. Very glad to be home.






Monday, November 11, 2013

Tokyo Wrapup

Oh Hey! It's Me Cam again! How's goin'?

I haven't posted in a while. OOPS.

Let's pretend I haven't been home a week already (making it three weeks or so since my last post) and wrap up Tokyo!

Alright, so I don't have too much to say about the rest of Tokyo. We basically spent our days subwaying somewhere, wandering around, finding somewhere for food and repeating! We liked it, but found the place very exhausting. The people were a bit odd... Everyone was very polite but not many people seemed very nice?

The shopping was great. I fell in love with Uniqlo, a fashion brand over there (and a bunch of other places). Their stuff just seemed to fit me right. We also stopped and shopped at Don Quijote, the most amazing place I have ever seen. Slight regrets I didn't pick up these badass underpants.

Much too cool for me.






Anyway, here's some photos with captions!
Love!
There are too many people in Tokyo!
So many people!

Tokyo by JJ Abrams
Wombie looking wise beyond his years in his kimono thing at the fancy hotel 

Thanks for stopping by!

Motoring and Moving Water

If you had seen me freaking out at the end of the small street, with a death grip on the handlebars of a scooter, and being very short with Cam,  you will not see the rest of this update coming.

Every city I've willingly moved to has been because of very good public transport. I'm fully licenced by the Ontario government to operate a motor vehicle with the same limitations as someone who has been licenced for decades. Not once was I asked to produce proof of road savvy-ness before I took control of that scooter.

My school friend and her fellow travellers had planned to venture out to the nearby waterfalls, but bad weather had delayed their excursion. Cam was overly delighted to be able to travel with someone, especially by our own independent means. The very friendly hostel/scooter rental guy had us go up and down the narrow street to get use to the scooter before venturing out onto the main roads. It was just Cam and I left after everyone else left to fuel up. I was not feeling confident about driving all the way there and back on my own. I knew Cam would let me ride on the back of his, but he really would not of been happy about it. We attempted to return my scooter, but we had already be charged for two and we either had to pay or I would have to stick it out. I sucked it up.

I think it was just the narrow streets that got to me because I was feeling much more confident by the time we got to the gas station. It was great fun motoring up to the waterfalls. I wish I focused more on the scenery than trying to avoid all the potholes since the surrounding area was lovely. We passed school kids who were happily waving at the passing tourists and I managed to avoid the potholes while waving back. There were a very cows on the road, but not one returned my greeting. The soldiers practising their use of assault rifles in the field next to a school was a bit concerning.

The falls were great fun. Standing under the large waterfall was almost a bit too refreshing even on such a hot day. It wasn't an easy trek up the almost vertical hill to get to the top of the waterfall. Of course Wombie wasn't pulling his weight, but instead enjoyed a comfy ride to the top in his carrier. The other way down was only a bit easier. It did have some stone steps that were a bit slippery from being partly under the falls.

Some water and really good street food before we headed back to town before it got dark. A relaxed dinner by the river as we all started to fall asleep. Cam and I were going to take the long way to return the scooters, but in the dark we realised that his lights weren't working. It wasn't the most pleasant ride back with Cam following close behind while I attempted to make it through the city alive.

Another walk through the night market to get booties for Wombie, a drink on the other side, and purchasing aloe before heading back to the hotel.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Luang Prabang

What do you know about Laos? It's a question rarely asked and if your answer is, 'what's that?' don't feel bad. Like many of the countries in the region, Laos hasn't been open to foreigners for much longer than I've been alive.
We didn't know we had to fill out visa on arrival forms for entry into the country. It was a good thing we had extra photos and American cash leftover from our Vietnam visas since both were needed. Cam, being Australian, only had to pay $30 USD while I had to pay $42 USD since I was Canadian. The prices for each country were listed by the visa counter and Canadians were paying the most to get in. Wonder why that is.
It was such a noticeable difference landing into Laos. The air was fresher, the airport silent, and there wasn't a swarm of scooters about. I felt more relaxed in this relatively unknown country within the first hour.
One of my high school friends has been teaching in South Korea for the last year and planned a trip around the region unbeknownst us. The only dates our itinerary had us in the same city or country was Luang Prabang, Laos. We agreed that we hadn't seen each other in 5.5 years so you can be forgiving if I didn't shout out to someone who I was pretty sure was her. We had plans to catch up later that day, but it seems hard not to run into someone in that to town. My friend looked right at me as she walked by and her friend gave us a suspicious smile when she noticed me trying to sus out if it was indeed an old friend. Luckily my intense stares and creepy whispers weren't directed towards an innocent passer by. It was a fantastic time catching up with her and meeting her fellow teachers. We had dinner and then ventured to a place they had been earlier that day for drinks. Luckily the rain had cleared so we could enjoy talking about our high school antics while lounging by the river.
Although the start wasn't promising, Laos was looking better and better.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Definitely not Tokyo

Ho Chi Minh City makes Tokyo seem even more creepily quiet. The roads were packed with scooters and motorcycles. Everyone was honking at everyone to telling everyone else they were there and they were about to be where four other people were. You had to constantly dodge traffic at every intersection even when there was a stop light.

We went to the market the first day in search of shorts for Cam. I'm not a fan of crowds so you can imagine how much I liked being in a crowd of people, walking down narrow aisles while avoiding the insistent calls of "Miss! Miss! What are you looking for miss?" I didn't want to stop anywhere in fear I would be descended upon by every sales person within 5 metres. At least Cam found shorts amongst the madness. Not wanting to go far, I stayed and was talked at by a woman who asked the usual questions of where we were from. After finding out that we were married she inquired if I was a mother and/or pregnant. Nope. In her defence she thought we had been married for longer than two months. Her current plans are for my reproductive uses to be utilised within two years and then busy with baby! No. Just no.

After escaping the market we took advantage of the fact you can buy beer on the streets and enjoyed our walk. We came across a woman selling Vietnamese hats in various sizes and much to Wombie's excitement she had his size. It has since been agreed that he looks very darling in his hat.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wombie, Woms, Wombie Woms, Wombles

Wombie (rhymes with zombie) is a well travelled wombat who has seen more of the world in a year and a half than some people will ever see in their life. Since he's a fairly uncommon animal, he often gets mistaken for a beaver or bear. He doesn't have the best attitude and he's a bit racist, but that's easy to ignore when few people can understand him.

Wombie has been travelling with us everywhere ever since we picked him up from a tourist shop in Melbourne the day before we left for Toronto. He's a great little traveller to bring along. Just the right size and shape to carry in a bag and soft enough to be a pillow.

People everywhere in the world love Wombie. Our niece, originally the intended owner, has been his fan for most of her life and would happily say 'Wom Wom!' every time she saw him. I'm not sure if Wombie picked that greeting up from her or if it was the other way around. If Wombie waves at you, his 'Wom Woms' will get more insistent and he won't stop waving until you wave back.

I think most people are surprised to see two adults with a stuffed animal (especially when Woms breaks out into song and dance.) Once they realise he's not a real animal he usually gets smiles from the staff when we bring him out at restaurants. Every flight attendant has commented on how cute he is sitting buckled in to the spare seat between Cam and I (he was a bit miffed that he didn't get a snack.)

We usually keep Wombie in Cam's bag, The Wombie Carrier, with his head poking out one side. This has caused many good reactions when various people open the bag to inspect it. A TSA agent claimed he was bitten when we were going through security. Pretty sure he was telling slanderous lies since Wombie is more of a hitter than a biter.