A Travellerspoint blog

Communication Breakdown

Mo Money Mo Problems


Well, we have run into another wee little spot here in Asia. We were all set to head to Grandpa's organic farm and spend several weeks there, but alas, it was not to be. We arrived in Chiang Dao and called the farmer man Steven to come pick us up, and his reply was "didn't you get my message?" I guess he had emailed us the night before telling us that we shouldn't come. A Thai fellow they call "Grandpa" really owns the land and Steven rents it, and things between them weren't so peachy. That's an understatement actually, they were downright horrible and apparently this Grandpa fellow is a really big asshole. The relationship peaked in negativity a few days before we got there, and Steven decided to scrap the project and look for new land. Nevertheless, Steven brought us over for about 4 nights and we did some odd jobs for him. Steven is an extremely interesting fellow. Allow me to elaborate. He has some type of cancer right now and is fighting it by using a treatment based on carrot juice. He has been drinking vegetable juice and eating organic vegetables for almost a year straight now in the hopes that the power of the carrot will cure his sickness. From there, you can imagine what type of fellow he is. It was really fun working with him for the brief period we had. We harvested some veggies, weeded, built some compost bins, and moved a lot of compost. Today was our last day, and we went to the Chiang Dao Tuesday morning street market to sell carrot juice to Thais. Steven being who he is, has in his possession a giant chicken suit, and he decided that I was the perfect candidate to don this, strange apparel. So for several hours I tried to force organic carrot juice upon all passing Thais whilst dressed in an uncomfortable and sweaty chicken suit that I could barely see out of... needless to say, the Thais didn't take too much to the carrot juice, and I'm certain that I frightened multiple children.

So here we are now, spending a night in Chiang Dao, our farm experience severely lacking. We are in contact with another farm right now, but the fellow doesn't know if he needs help. We're going to spend a day or two here and see what he says. If it's good then we'll go, but if not, we'll figure something else out. I will let y'all know what's happening as soon as I do.
Also, I never did find my wallet... crud.

Yours truly,
Your travelling organic chicken boy.

Posted by soupy 04:16 Comments (1)

1 Greg + 1 Overnight Bus -1 Wallet

We're back to where we once belonged

Dearest Readers,

Well, as you have already guessed, we are back in Thailand. We really didn't have much else to do in Laos, so we decided to head back to Luang Prabang and take the dreaded night bus to the Huay Xai border crossing. We got on without a hitch, and the overnight bus actually wasn't so bad. 14 hours of driving is much more enjoyable after a gravol or two. So we arrived at the border, and crossed into Thailand, another hitchless move. It all seemed too easy, and then the moment of realization hit me; I forgot my wallet on the night bus... ahhhhhhhhh! So I am currently without a debit card, but luckily Agnes has been graciously loaning me money until my card arrives. It's quite funny actually, what a silly thing to do.

After a short time of hitting my head against a brick wall, we found a bus station and headed to Chiang Mai. We've been here in Chiang Mai for about four days, and it's been really great. We've visited a lot of the main temples, got a massage at the women's prison, watched some Muay Thai boxing, perused several markets, and spent far too much money. Chiang Mai is a really interesting city, and there's been a lot to see and do. We leave tomorrow for the organic farm, but chances are quite good that we'll be back at some point. I'm not sure what to expect with this farm, so you'll just have to hold tight and wait for another entry! I'm quite sure that the farm has internet though, so it shouldn't take too much time.
Fare thee well!

Harvey, your forgetful traveling boy.

Posted by soupy 02:49 Comments (1)

Spalunkers Unite!

Up in the Boonies

Dear Readers,

Well, we have returned from the Laotian boonies, and we are still alive! The bus ride was even more hectic than the first, let me tell you. Our driver was legally insane. In fact that information was proudly displayed on his liscence card. At least with the bus we would have won a head on battle, but we were driving in a oversized and overstuffed van. We nearly collided with another vehicle on a blind pass about five minutes into the trip, and I mean we literally were meters away from another hunk of metal hurtling towards us at a high speed. I overheard someone tell him that we weren't in a hurry and that he could slow down, but he just smiled mockingly and jaunted on. I just closed my eyes and sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" for the rest of the trip.

But we got to Nong Khiau after 2 hours of terror, and I'm quite sure that it was worth the risk. Nong Khiau was simply stunning. It's a small river town surrounded by mountains, and way out in the boonies, so it was incredibly relaxed and slow-paced. We spent two nights in the town mostly just eating, swimming, and sleeping before we realized that there isn't really much to do in tiny river villages. We took a long bike trip one day and ventured towards the even smaller villages. I guess we weren't the first ones to do so, and the children of the villages have learned that foreigners often have wonderful objects along with them. We were always greeted by a monosyllabic "Sabaideepen," which was confusing because the typical greeting is only sa bai dee. After several seconds of dirty children chanting "pen pen pen pen" and greedily grasping at our bicycles we realized that they were after gifts, specifically (you guessed it) pens. As we ventured further the villages were less accustomed to foreigners, and we didn't have to turn down the little buggers every time. We stopped in one village and got some pictures of the cutest little kids you could imagine. We tried to ask permission, but I don't think they understood what we were saying... on top of that, I don't even think they knew what a camera was. They little children may have never seen white people before, and one small child ran away from us crying.

After two days we figured we'd seen enough, and we took a river boat to a nearby village by the name of Muang Ngoi Nua. This village was quite similar; small, riverside, and mountainous. Our activities were quite similar for the most part... in fact, I suppose they usually are. We hiked out of the town one day, hoping to explore the nearby cave and village. The cave was brilliant. Of course there was no guide, no signs, and no safety features whatsoever. They just took our money and turned us loose in a massive, and probably quite dangerous cave. Four of us ventured deep into the bowels of this incredible formation, and the trip included a lot of wading through a stream the ran through most of the cave. We went until we hit a dead end, a dead end which had a whole bunch of huge bats! It was really great to see all of them, but at that moment we realized that the rocks were slippery not from clay as we had previously thought, but from bat shit. At the dead end, we were so happy about our accomplishment that we had the first ever Cave Rave! This consisted of everyone turning their headlamps onto flash-mode and dancing around in the water. We almost got lost on the way back, and I didn't have a light so I fell partway into a big hole, but we made it out alright. We kept walking towards the other village, but it wasn't very interesting and we headed back.
We spent two more nights in Muang Ngoi Nua, and saw most of what was there to see. It was a great venture into the north though. We met a lot of really interesting travellers, and I met my first ever fellow Canadian prairie boy traveller! He was from Manitoba, but that's about as close as you can get when you're on the other side of the world.

We took another van back to Luang Prabang today, but this one was much less interesting, and consequently much less life-threatening. We've decided that we want to spend some time in Chiang Mai before we go to the farm on the 5th, so we're going to take the night bus to Huay Xai tomorrow and cross into Thailand on the 27th. From there we'll spend time around Chiang Mai until we head to Grandpa's Organic Farm on the 5th... that is if we make it through another treacherous bus ride. Ta Ta!

John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt, your spalunking/travelling boy.

Posted by soupy 02:53 Comments (6)

The Long and Winding Road


Dearest Readers,

We made it alive out of the buzzing metropolis of Vang Vieng, and are now in the former French capital of Luang Prabang, but we only just made it. We left yesterday morning on a so called "VIP Bus," which is really a normal charter bus, only with some dingy curtains around the windows as a deperate attempt for added class. I have never hated a drive more than the one from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang. I was born in the flattest of the flat; Saskatchewan, and this road winds through mountain after mountain. It was a single road, curved all over, and mere feet from thousand meter drops. On top of that, the driver was insane, and would pass cars in areas where it would be impossible to forsee another vehicle hurtling around the corner. I had to close my eyes and listen to soothing music. About five hours into the ride, I was awoken by a loud thud, and I was sure that we had run over some poor Laotian... or at least a dog. It turns out we blew a tire. All the tourists filed out of the bus which was soon filling up with a putrid, plastic scented smoke, and sat on the side of the road as the driver repaired the damage. It turns out we were only ten minutes away from the bus station when we had our mishap, so soon after the repair we were at our destination. It only took us six and a half hours to cover approximately 200 km.

We really haven't spent much time in Luang Prabang yet, but we aren't really planning to either. It is not an especially interesting place thus far. As far as I've heard, the main attractions are all temples. Now, I don't mind temples, but to my eyes they all look incredibly similar, and after the first ten or twenty I began to lose interest. We are going to walk around a bit today and see what we can see see see. Tomorrow we're going to head north to a remote village and spend several days there. I don't remember the name, but there's no internet whatsoever so you're going to have to wait a while for the next exciting entry!

Until then,
Johnston, your motion-sickened travelling boy.

Posted by soupy 20:12 Comments (2)

Bread! Glorious Bread!

La la la la la Laos

To Whom it Concerns,

Well, as you have most likely assumed, Agnes and I have crossed the border into the Lao People's Democratic Republic. The first thing that we've noticed about this lovely little country is that because of the French influence, they have bread!!! I personally love bread, and haven't eaten proper bread in almost a month... how dearly I missed it. They make delicious baguettes here, and I've been consuming sandwich after glorious sandwich. My system is very pleased, and my valve is responding positively to the familiarity.

Enough about bread. We crossed the border from Nong Khai to the Laotian capital of Vientiane. Now, Vientiane is not a very interesting place. It is about twice as expensive as everywhere else, and the Lonely Planet basically explains that the major points of interest are the temples, and the local bowling alley. Perhaps if there was a bowling alley inside a temple it would have been a little more interesting, but the monks here are passive people and don't enjoy the battering of innocent pins.
So instead of spending time in Vientiane, we moved north to Vang Vieng. It is quite a place, I must say. It's a tiny town of about 25,000, and the tourist population must make up a good portion of that. Despite this, it's a pretty fun place to be. There are many nearby caves which we have yet to see, maybe tomorrow or the day after. And the other major attraction involves tubing down the river and stopping by at various bars. We haven't done it yet, but perhaps we'll give it a whirl.

We plan on spending a few more nights here, and then we're going to venture north to Luang Probang, the former French capital of Laos. I've heard it's an interesting place, and it's bound to have baguette sandwiches aplenty! From there we're just planning on spending another couple weeks in Laos, and then going back to Thailand around the beginning of March. We told the farm that we are going to work for that we'll be there on the 5th, so that's all we have for a schedule right now. Au Revoir!

Gerald, your baguette-filled travelling boy.

Posted by soupy 02:23 Comments (2)

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