Southeast Asia …again!

It’s been a bit less than a year and half since my last post. Since then I actually traveled to the US West Coast and London, but I was too lazy to write anything about those trips. So now I’m back again in SE Asia and because the days are very long I was almost too lazy to write something about this too… almost.

Again, the trip started in Bangkok.

Bangkok itself was rather unspectacular. A few “highlights” were

  • An 50-something lady on the flight complaining to the stewardess that she didn’t get a seat next to her friend (she didn’t reserve one).
    Then getting extremely pissed at another passenger (even older than her), making some remark about her stupidity. She then proceeded trying to physically beat that other passenger at the baggage claim at Bangkok airport.
  • Getting shirts tailored. They’ll be waiting for me when I come to Bangkok.
  • Two massages a day. Even got my first facial, manicure and pedicure (all at the same time, while being massaged by third girl). Never felt this manly.
  • Discovering what a pregnant shrimp looks like, after I finished an entire soup with several of them. That black mush between its legs are the eggs.
  • Seeing an interesting flag selection in Chatuchak, the biggest weekend market in the world:
    2014-01-11 16.54.17
  • Fake and original can be so close:
    2014-01-12 16.25.10

Last night in Bangkok

On our last night in Bangkok we went to the Sirocco Sky Bar. Very pricey for Bangkok (500 Baht), but that’s actually just about a normal price for a cocktail in Tel Aviv for example.

The Skybar was also the shooting location for some parts of the movie Hangover 2. Accordingly I ordered the Hangovertini, a cocktail that they supposedly created for the film crew.

We met two English guys from our hostel, who were so nice to take some photos with their camera, which took better photos at night, and email it to us.

with the manliest drink ever: The Hangovertini

Back in Bangkok

The nights in Luang Prabang are kinda special. I haven’t really understood the concept yet: while some laws are completely disregarded (we saw 8 year olds driving scooters), others are very strictly enforced. One of those is the curfew in Luang Prabang.

That’s why all the places close down exactly at 11.30pm. They are so strict about it, that if there’s still some of your drink left in the glas, they fill it into a plastic cup.

For some reason one club with the original name ‘Discotheque’ is allowed to stay open an hour later, until 12.30am. I’ve never been to a club that loud, but more than an hour in there could result in hearing loss. Discotheque is also really popular among the locals, so walking around there kinda felt like Godzilla in Tokyo (I’m 1.90m).

After that place closes down, everybody continues to the bowling alley. Yep, that’s the only place that is allowed to stay open until whenever.

It is a lot of fun though to play bowling drunk. And so this is what we did for our last night in Luang Prabang, again.

Today in the morning we had our flight back to Bangkok. I’m now again available on my Thai number:

+66-8-56685389

Swimming with elephants

We had wanted to spend a day with elephants since Thailand but found the prices to be quite expensive. All the travel agencies wanted at least $70 for an entire day.

It doesn’t sound so much in comparison to the activities you could get for that in Europe, but in Laos that’s a bit more than average monthly salary and a lot compared to the prices of everything else.

After I did some hard bargaining, we did manage to get a 1-day mahout course for $56. Mahout is what the elephant riders are called.

In retrospect, it was one of the best things we could have spent money on.

First of all, we met two awesome couples from the US and Canada. And then there was this 40-something Swedish lady. Already when we got into the minibus that picked us up, I noticed there was something odd about her when she asked Amir “How are you? Because I’m happy. I’m always happy. I’m just a happy girl.”

A bit later she went on to tell us that this was the second happiest day in her life, after the day she gave birth to her daughter. Okaaaay… I then also spotted an elephant tattoo on her shoulder.

Her excitement ended soon after she actually rode an elephant for the first time. Soon she became quiet and eventually the pain in her legs from sitting on the elephant’s neck became too strong, so she had to end the day early and leave the elephant to the real mahout.

We were quite happy because her repeatedly replying to everything “T.I.A. – this is asia” became pretty annoying. One more interesting story of her before I start talking about the elephants: On the way from Vietnam she booked one of the sleeper buses with beds, but the bus was overbooked and she had to share a bed with a strange Lao man. To the question if it isn’t a bit strange to share a bed with a random man, she replied “No it was okay, we became friends afterwards and shared a hotel room.”

The elephant course itself was awesome: We started riding the elephants in couples after getting a stylish Mahout-outfit. Then we gave them some candy aka bananas:

Our elephant was apparently quite the lady or just shy, because she didn’t “do her business” on the way, like the other elephants, but had to hide under some trees. Which meant me being in the tree, while she was creating a new waterfall.

During lunch we learnt the basic commands to control the elephants.

After lunch we took the elephants bathing, which was definitely the most fun. The elephants really like cooling off in the rivers as well and it is also the best way for them to stay clean.

On the way to the river, Amir’s elephant, a male who they called ladyboy, because he didn’t grow any tusks, got a boner and was pretty much dragging a penis the size of a man’s leg along the ground. All while Amir was sitting on him… awkward!

Once we got into the river the elephants would submerge completely under the water for 30 seconds and then come up again (all while we were sitting on them). Some of the elephants would also shower the rider on the command “boun boun”. Mine didn’t know how do it (they must learn it when they’re young), but Amir’s elephants loved boun boun.

So I decided to swim over. Which was really cool because I was swimming right next to the elephants heads (they gave me some weird looks), but one of the elephants had also decided to go number two in the river, so I had to dodge turd fishes the size of footballs.

But then I also got boun boun

To finish off the day, we then went tubing – without the elephants ;)

The elephant were actually brought back into the jungle, where they are chained to a tree by a 25-30m chain, so that they can feed (they eat 200-250kg a day!!).

Waterfalls in Luang Prabang

We’ve been doing something pretty much all the time the last few days and whenever I did have time, the Internet here has been a catastrophe. I thought Thailand’s Internet was slow, which it also is, but here it’s not only even slower but often doesn’t work at all.

Anyways, yesterday and the day before we went to Tad Sae and Kuang Sae waterfalls.

Tad Sae

This is the smaller waterfall. While not as beautiful, I liked it more because it offers plenty of options to bath in the many little natural pools.

We also happened to meet some Israeli girls there, that we first met in Vang Vieng.

Can you find me?

Kids next to the waterfall, playing with self-built cars made out of plastic bottles

Kuang Sae

This is a huge waterfall. It offers only one proper place to swim (and jump into), but it’s beautiful.

Huge leaves next to the waterfall

Also here we met again a very friendly American couple and a friend of them, who we had first met the day before. They were so nice to wait for us to jump from a tree into the water and take pictures with their awesome DSLR, which was able to capture much better pictures of the jumps.

Getting up to the rope

After quite a hard hike up and across (super slippery), we were awarded with the view from the top of the waterfall.

Next to the waterfall there is a bear rescue center, where we got to see Asiatic bears live in action.

Tubing & Kayaking

We did an organized tour in Vang Vieng, where we first went to a little temple/shrine inside a cave, which is known as the elephant cave for a stalagmite that looks like an elephant:

This prompted them to make a shrine inside:

We then continued to walk through rice fields to get to a larger cave, in which we would go tubing.

Tubing inside the cave:

We then went for a 15km kayak trip back to Vang Vieng. Amir and I had some pretty close calls, almost falling in the water. All the bars that used to cater to the people going tubing on the river unfortunately closeed down, it was still very nice to look at the scenery though.

 


Making love with prostates

Just found this information leaflet of the Laos Police in our hotel room’s drawer:

(click to enlarge)

5) & 6) are my favorites.

 

T-shirts in Laos

I’ve seen some really bizarre shirts in Laos so far:

Buses & Trucks in Laos

I’ve never seen this in my life before, but I’ve seen now a bunch of these trucks driving around here:

Yes, that thing in the front is the engine.,

Fisherchildren

On the mountain bike trip to the Blue Lagoon we saw a bunch of children having a BBQ.

One of their friends would keep getting fish out of the river with a self-built harpoon.