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Archive for November, 2007|Monthly archive page

Quinn and the flock of Swedes, Travel-log (day 101), Koh Tao Thailand

In Diving, Thailand, travel on November 28, 2007 at 20:15

On the first day of my diving course i met with the teacher and 5 other students. They were all guys. One guy from england, and the other 4 were from sweden. The british guy for some reason had to back out of the class and fly to away for some sort of emergency, this of course let me with the 4 swedes and suddenly without a partner. That was the creation of team no-swede. I had the pleasure of being the solo member of team no-swede only for half of the first diving day. One of the guys decided diving was not for him. Sad because he was nice, but good for me because i suddenly had a diving buddy! This was the creation of team Sea-sick. Yes, my new dive buddy was the guy who nearly vomited his lunch on me. He claims it was to make us closer.. a bonding expeience. Team sea-sick would be awesome and fearless. Both members of team sea-sick decided that taking motion sickness pills would be best for subsequent trips on boats. Yesterday we felt no sickness at all, and were forced to abandon our name and come up with another. And that was the start of team nose-bleed. I myself did not have any, but my dive-buddy had. He will now be known as Captain Nose-bleed.

SCUBA diving + Typhoon winds + full moon = BAD IDEA, Travel-log (day 99), Koh Tao, Thailand

In Diving, Thailand, travel on November 26, 2007 at 13:40

We did our confined water dive on saturday afternoon in a swimming pool. The pool was more difficult than i thought it would be because of the confined space and the people around me, but it was still not frightening or hard. On sunday afternoon we set out for our first open water dive. I was nervous. We got on the longtail boat from the beach and it took us the rest of the way to the large boat that would take us out to sea. The water was choppy. We got on the boat and i imediately felt a bit odd, at first i decided it was just my nerves but after a while i realized i was again experienceing motion sickness. I felt like an absolute sissy, but then realized that almost everyone else on the boat had already taken a motionsickness pill, so i took one too. I still felt like i was going to vomit. We prepared our gear and started to get ready to get into the water. The person to my imediate right suddenly leaned over the edge where he released his captive partially digested lunch into the water. I froze just incase the boat moved suddenly and he ended up emptying his stomach out onto me. I was sure i would be next the boat rocked and swayed. Eventually we all managed to get into the water. I felt much better. The rocking did not bother me anymore but still i was nervous and this still a little shakky in the tummy. We started to go down, but about half way to our desired depth our instructor aborted thedive. The conditions were horrible. We went back to the boat and proceeded to the second dive site which aparently is more sheltered. At that point one guy in the group decided scuba diving was not for him and that he was finished. We got ready at the second site and got in the water. We got all the way down this itme, but shortly there after the instructor aborted the dive again. The conditions were no better, and as beginners we could not know hwo to control ourselves and so the dive was deemed unsafe. We were the only group on the boat that were unexperienced and so ended up having to wait until eveyrone else was finished. I took off all my gear and got back into the water. I felt more comfortable in the water than i did on the boat. Eventually we headed back to the boat and back to shore. I was a bit deflated, and my nervousness had not been delt with properly. I would save it up for the next day.. today.

We went out early. i felt less nervous. We got in the water and managed to go down. I was fine. I had a little trouble with bouancy, but thats something you have to work out with time i supose. The first dive was great and then we went for a second dive which was even better. I could easily get used to a life under water…

Tomorrow 2 more dives! LOOK MA IM A FISH!

Island life, Travel-log (day 96), Koh Tao Thailand

In Thailand, travel on November 23, 2007 at 11:52

I just realized that i missed Turkeyday. I will probably be craving cranberry sauce all week. Damn.

My journey from Laos to Bangkok was uneventful. We arrived at the bus station 2 hours early at 4:30 in the morning. The central bus station was suprisingly busy. I hailed a tuk tuk and headed to the southern bus station 20km away. I arrived and foudn that my bus to Chumpon did not leave until 9:00. Im not very good at staying awake at bus stations or airports when ive been traveling for a long time, but i somehow managed to keep myself occupied until i could get on the bus. I promptly fell asleep, and awoke to find myself deooling on the old man next to me. He did not seem to mind, so i decided to go back to sleep. The nice old man woke me up when it was time for me to get off the bus at Chumpon. I collected Giles ( my backpack… it not only has a name but also a name tag) and started walking in a random direction. I have no Thailand guide book, i abandoned it months ago because it was heavy. I meant to pick up a “new” one but i never got around to it, so i just wandered until i found a hotel that had beds. It was a crappy hotel but the bed was comfy and they sold boat tickets to Koh Tao. I only managed to eat food and shower before i decided it was bed time again.

The peir to the boat for koh tao was about 1km long. It looked almost exactly like something a 3 year old would have built. I walked along and tried not to look down, or straight ahead. The boat was comfortable enough, and the sea looked beautiful. I wanted to sit/stand outside but once the waves started crashing aginst the windows i realized it was a good thing i did not. If i had been paying any attention to the news or weather i might have been prepared for the ride, but i have managed to remain blissfully ignorant. The waves were nearly as tall as the boat, and the rocking rollercoaster like. This is the closest i have ever come to puking from motion sickness. I was one of only a handfull of people who managed to not get sick. I closed my eyes and pretended i was on a nice turbulant airplane ride, and went right to sleep.

Koh Tao is full of tourist, but it isnt crowded. Tomorrow is the full moon party and so everyone is on the party island south of here. I pondered going for the experience and decided the party island during a full moon party was too much party for me, so i will stay here and learn to scuba dive instead. I must go now to sit by the brilliant blue water with my book and a fruity drink with an umbrella….. Enjoy your weekend.

p.s.

My job in Finland fell through… so if anyone knows a family in helsinki that needs a nanny please pass my name on… thanks that would be great!

A month of goodbyes, Travel-log (day 94), Pakse Laos

In Laos, travel on November 21, 2007 at 13:21

Laura and i had a pattern. She always got her food first when we ordered at a resturant. My food arrived just before she was finished, and  usually came with unordered and unwanted bugs. I always got the best computer at internet cafes, and she got the crappier seat on the bus.

The last 5 days has been full of boat trips and hammock swinging as we island hopped around southern Laos. Champasak, Don Det, Don Kohne… Upon returning to Pakse Laura and I set out for our goodbye meal of Italian food. We ate too much and still only managed to spend $7 total. We spent the rest of the night restless and giggling at the Fashion channel in our room like little girls. This morning we said our goodbyes and she headed north to go forward to Vietnam. I will head west and over to Thailand.

As each day passes i begin to see fewer familiar faces. Everyone i’ve met has gone a different route or already headed “home”. It didn’t really hit me until i said goodbye to Ken and TIne in Vientiane. We had been following each other around since Cambodia, and i knew i would eventually run into them no matter where i was. But they have gone now and so have most of the other faces i kept passing.

I will miss Laos. It is a wonderful country. In 2 hours i will board a bus headed to the boarder, andeventually i will board anouther bus headed to bangkok. I wont spend any tiem in bangkok, but will get on another bus headed to Chumpon where i will spent a few days before getting a ferry to Koh Tao (island) to take my diving course!

As of nowish my thai phone number will work again. Call as often as you like, it cost me nothing but it will cost you a small fortune.

I let some woman feel me up,Travel-log (day 89), Pakse Laos

In Laos, travel on November 16, 2007 at 18:11

Laura and i managed to find a sleeping bus from Vientiane to Pakse. Thephotos next to the prices led us to believe the “sleeping” bus was just a bus with reclining chairs and foot rest and not one with bed like we had hoped. When we arrived at the bus station we were pleasently suprised to find that the bus indeed came with beds.  We boarded the bus and Laura was suprised to see that the beds were actual person sized. We were happy until we noticed that two people were to sleep in the beds. We of ocurse had a top bunk. We spent the next 12 hours trying to sleep.  I desperately tried not to fall off the bed as there was no bar to hold me up and the road was bumpy, Laura spent 12 hours smashed up aginst the window. Neither of us slept and we arrived in Pakse grumpy and tired. We found a hotel, ate breakfast and took a nap. When we woke we decided that we needed Italian food, and a massage. Finding reasonable Italian food was easy enough. We filled our bellies with pasta and then sat while it digested before going for our massages.

I had never had a massage and really didnt know what it would be like. We were led back to a room sectioned off  with curtians and padded mats on the floor. We picked the two furthest from the door. they haded us a towel and a pair of shorts. i took one look at mine and determined Laura’s pair was bigger and made her switch. It didn’t make a difference, the shorts were still way too small so i laid there in my underwear and tried to cover as much bare skin with the towel. They started with Laura first and quickly it was revelied that laura is extreeemly ticklish. Her sometimes hysterical laughter amused the lady massaging her and everyone else in the room. I put my Ipod on and tried to think relaxing thoughts. Every few mins i could feel a third persons presence behind my curtain and the lady feeling me up would say something in an excited voice. And as i lay there with most of my ass exposed i could only imagine her to have said somhting like ” come look at the size of her theighs!” and then again somehting simular when she got to my arms. When we left i was flad for the experience, and i was nolonger sore but it wasn’t quite what i had expected. Later Laura and i were talking about the weirdness of it. We were laughing and then she says ” yeah, wasn’t that weird when she massaged your breast?” I looked at her concerned but trying not to laugh and told her that i was not privy to the breast massage. I think she hopped i was joking but realized i was not. We laughed much longer than we should have, then went for more Italian food.

Yesterday i went to America, but they wouldn't let me in, Travel-log (day 86) Vientiane Laos

In Laos, travel on November 13, 2007 at 19:18

Yesterday i walked for miles in search of the U.S Embassy. I found it. I walked past one security guard up a ramp heading towards the next security guard. Half way up the security guard behind me (the one i had just walked past) says ” where you go?”.  I thought it was pretty obvious so i look at him and point to the door. He returns the gaze and says ” holiday, come back tomorrow”.  So i came back tomorrow, which happends to be today. I now have many new pages in my passport with hart warming quotes from famous americans.

Vientian is not so busy. Its the sleepiest capitol city i have ever been in, but it has its fun. Today i took a weaving course. Ots difficult and kind of painful at times, but good fun. I managed to weave about 6 inches. Its beautiful but not very useful for much but a coaster, but much too nice to actually be used as a coaster… well maybe for one beerlao…

Tubing?, Travel-log (day 83), Vang Vien, Laos

In Laos, travel on November 10, 2007 at 17:40

Everyone knows that i am not a party girl. I am the girl that hides in her room when there are more than 5 people in the house that i don’t know. But i felt it was my Anthropological duty to come here… to study backpackers in their fictional native enviornment. So i came to Vang Vien. The town is small, bu t full of bars and resturants. You look around and nearly everyone is laying down watching episodes of Friends. You only need walk 2 feet to find a different episode playing. Its kind of creepy. A town of sedated foreiners, doped out on Friends. Everyone comes here for adventure water sports. Kyaking, cave tubing… There is a 10 km tubing experience. You get into a tuk tuk, it drives you about 10 km out of town and you grab an innertube, and hop into the river. For about 5km its nothing but beautiful nature. You sit blisfully most of the time and the rest of the time you are desperately trying to avoid hitting your ass on the rocks or trees hidden in the water. I will say its amazing, but the word amazing really doesnt do it justice. after the first 5km is over the river melows out mostly but the natural adventure is replaced by man made obsticles. Along the banks of the river you will find bars fully stocked with beer lao and bucket of whiskey or vodka. They have slapped together rope swings and zip lines with bamboo poles and sticky tape. I of course did not use any of the slides or zip lines, as i ws only there for observations… but i may have consumed a beer or 2… possibly 5. Lets just say the last 5km of tubbing were extreemly comical nd i spent a large amount of it with my head tipped back into the water spining around and screaming “wheeeeee”. Again… I love this country.

ELEPHANTS!, Travel-log (day 80), Luang Prabang Laos

In Laos, travel on November 7, 2007 at 10:33

My Elephant Expidition

Our first ride was tame and touristy. We sat on a wooden bench that was fitted and strapped to the elephant. We treked through the jungle. I was very greatful for the loosely fit “safety” bar as we went up and down steep mountian passes. After the first ride we ended up back at camp where we fed first the elephants and then ourselves. After lunch we put on our blue Mahout suits and tried to remember the elephant direction instructions we were given at lunch. It wasnt long after we had mounted our elephants that we began to discover that our “training” was completely useless as the elephants were going to do what the elephants wanted to do no matter what we shouted at them. My elephant did not seem very pleased to have a apassenger. He kept slapping me with his ears and rubbing my legs and feet aginst trees. We walked into the jungle and to a river. My elephant refused to go into the water. He refused to do anything i asked but instead did everything the elephant in front of me did, which mostly involved eating. We eventually leftthe elephants in the jungle and ran to the river with inertubes in hand. We floated down the river with our buts in the water and tried to avoid running into trees and rocks. I managed to leave the river uninjured. That night i had the worst nights sleep. The mattress was covered in plastic. We were attacked by the fitted sheet as it slipped and slided. Our pillows poped from under our heads like they were attached to over streached rubberbands, and the roosters stareted crowing at 3 am. Then they woke us up at 05:50 to get he elephants from the jungle. I was grumpy, and tired and woke up with a headache. Then i realized i was going to somehow manage to get on to my elephant from the ground. After 2 mins of people pushing on my ass i was on the elephant. The ride was hard. Mostly all downhill. My elephant wasnt trying to kill me this time but my tiredness was making it difficult to hold on. We got down to the river to give the elephants their morning bath. My elephant went in with no problems this time, but while everyone elses tiny elephants were getting them all wet my elephant was so large that i was still nowhere near the water and stayed mostly dry. I was more awake by that point and thus less grumpy. We walked the elephants back to camp and said our goodbyes.  We ate breakfast and prepared for our bamboo rafting journey.  It took hours and hours and hours, but it was very relaxing and fun!

I miss my elephant.

The land of the Lotus eaters…Travel-log (day 76 ) Luang Prabang, Laos

In Laos, travel on November 3, 2007 at 13:33

My attempt to leave Vietnam on tuesday failed. As it turns out the bus to Laos only leaves on mon, wed, fri and as i was still very much sick on monday morning i had to wait until wednesday. This was not good for many reasons. I had not planned to be in Vietnam so long and thus had not budgeted my monies well enough. Normally this would not be much of a problem but Dien Bien Phu did not like my visa card. The ATM told me “sorry wrong bank” and the actual bank refused to even try to give me a cash advance. Luckily for me Tine and Ken were there to lend me money, but i started to worry that my card  was some how blocked adn that my money was now being held hostage.

On wednesday morning i woke up at 4am to make final preperations for my 05:30 am bus to Muang Khua Laos. I went down to a deserted front desk and wiated for someone to come unlock the door and gate. The bus station, literally accross the road, was dark but busy. A local woman decided i needed help and kept screaming words at me until i finally responded to “muang khua lao”. She pointed to an empty parking spot to inform me that the bus had not yet arrived. When it did finally get there she made sure that i saw it and i thanked her than went over to the bus. This bus was the same size as the bus i had taken from Sapa only it was already half full of  boxes and as the westerners started arriving it was soon evident that there was not enough room. They started placing backpacks on the roof and as i saw mine being passed through the window and thrown on top i suddenly remembered the box of apples from the last bus. I kept telling myself that i didnt need a change of clothes anyway.  We left the bus station with not a spare seat, nor a bare spot on the floor. Then as we drove down the road they started packing in locals. They filled every possible inch  and by the time we left the city we were 40. By 8 am we had arrived at  Tay Trang. Tay Trang is only 36kim form dien bien phu but an over crowded bus up the mountian roads obviously takes time. Once in Laos we cheered and packed back into the bus. We were now 44. We continued our drive accross rivers ( accross rivers, not bridges) and over dirt roads. At this point i was already in love with the country. By 2pm we had arrived in Maung Khua. A french couple, Ken and Tine, and I all decided that we were going all the way to Luang Prabang in one day. So we hurried to the other side of the river ( by boat) and then up the hill and found that there was still one bus heading to Udomxai. This ride was more comfortable and not very long. We arrived in the dark around 17:45 and found that the last bus headed to Luang Prabang left at 18:30. We took this as a sign and jumped on board. Finally at midnight we had arrived. We hoped into the back of a truck and set off to find a place to stay. We were 5, and it was midnight. We knocked on doors and woke people up. Every place claimed to have no room in the inn. We continued our search, hopeful, but skeptical.  In the end everyone found a room. The two couples found reasonable accomadation while i ended up in the slums for a night. The place and rooms were free of bugs but did not seem exactly clean, but i could handle it for a few hours. I took a shower, and then got into my sleeping bag and passed out.  

 I woke early the next morning and went in search of a bank as i was now quite desperate for money.  I walked the 5 million blocks asking for directions along the way. I found one finally. I was confused about the exchange rate for a few moments and so i let the person behind me go first.  We started talking and it turned out she was also traveling alone and had just arrived last night. And very unlike the shy me i asked her if she wanted to share a room.  So i now have a new roommate, Laura from Vancouver, Canada.

 After we found a room and took a little rest we headed out to find transport to the waterfalls about about an hour south of here,  Khuang Si.  ABout half way there it started to rain, but we were still excited. We arrived and waisted some time having lunch trying to see if the rain would stop. It did not. We hiked up the road taking some time to look at the tiger that was caged near by. After establishing that the tiger was happy ( it had a tire swing to play on) we continued out walk up the road. The water fall was amazing. I need to find a new word to express beautiful and amazing. The water was a glittering shade of aqua. We stared in awe for a few mins then started walking up the hill to go to the top of the water fall. It was muddy and still raining. After a few mins we decided it probbaly wasnt a good idea and turned around to go back down. This was a wise choice. While we were at the bottom of the falls amusing ourselves watching people in the water we ran into a group of australian kids on a feild trip. They were covered in mud. Later we found out that they had walked up to the top of the water fall. They had all fallen down into a puddle of goo and came out covered in leeches. We followed them down to one of the swimming holes. They were getting out when iw as getting in. One girl bent over to rince off her shoes and i noticed that she had a leech on her bum. Not wanting to just touch her butt i pointed to it as if to ask her friend if i should take it off. Her friend started to freak out, and by the time i managed to get her to calm down the leech infested girl had started freaking out. By then of course the leech was gone. They were screaming and i was laughing. They left eventually and iw as alone in the water. Laura was staring out into the wonderfulness. The water was cool but not freezing. I was enjoying it but now slightly terrified of being covered in leeches. By the time we started walking back we were the only people at the falls. It was nice.

Laos is beautiful and wonderful and relaxing and the people here are great and i love this country. I might stay here for an extra week. 🙂

ps. I am in the process of uploading the last photos from Vietnam , and the beginning of the photos from Laos, however the upload speed is slow so im not sure how long this will take.