Sunday, 11 November 2012


From Krabi we took a 12 hour uncomfortable bus ride to Bangkok, we arrived 5.30am, we spent all day in the city and went on a riverboat cruise, the drivers were pretty rough ! every time they arrived at a jetty bang bang the whole boat jolted from side to side. I accidentally knocked into a monk MAAAANNN was he shitty, he gave me the death stare (probably had to go home and wash himself seven times) we also went in search of some rock climbing shoes and didn't find any, the rock climbing shop doesn't stock shoes...bizarre. Walking around we also saw exotic birds like Macaws and African grey parrots in small cages, right by the polluted roadside, one parrot had his feathers missing, he was obviously stressed about his lifestyle.

We caught an evening sleeper train to the northern border of Thailand Nong Khai which took about 14 hours to do 621km, I think the driver stopped off in different places to catch up with his friends or something, oh well at least we could lie down in air conditioned comfort. From Nong Kai we walked to the border paid $64 American to get visas and found a bus the locals take, to get to Laos, about 4km across the friendship bridge. When we arrived in Vientiane, Laos we walked until we saw a local bus coming and waved him down, then we found a hostel to stay in.
We spent 4 days exploring Vientiane on bicycles. Here, we had to get use to riding on the right side of the road. There was an interesting center we went to where we learnt all about the unexploded ordanants that the Americans dropped on Laos during Vietnam war. We met an interesting 20yr old called Peterkim who at the age of 17 yrs picked up one unexploded ordanent and it blew up in his face, blinding him for life, and blew his hands off. He wanted me to help him, read out messages from his friends on facebook, I had to describe photos for him, setting a scene in his mind. I wonder if he visualises in colour, if he remembers what his family look like.. he has a wicked sense of humour, and I helped him with a speech he was due to give a German delegate from the ASEAN conference in Vientiene. Here are some facts for those who are interested..

*Lao is the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita in history

* More than 580,000 bombing missions were conducted over Laoduring the Vietnam war between 1964 and 1973

*More than 270 million bombies were dropped onto Lao

*Up to 30% (approx 80million bombies) failed to detonate and remained in Lao after the war

*All 17 provinces in Lao suffer from UXO contamination

*Today approx 100 new casualties still occur annually

*Usual activities causing UXO-related accidents
Handling of UXO/ searching for scrap metal 24%
Farming 22%
Forest products collection 14%
Lighting fires, cooking and other domestic activities 12%
Playing with UXO 11%

There weren't many old temples or statues around, coz the Siam (Thais) came in and destroyed them
years ago. After hanging out around a few cool temples and meeting a few Monks who call themselves novice Monks because they still have to do more learning to become a fully fledged monk we caught a sleeper bus to Luang Prabang.
Dudley and I got a top bunk right at the front bus window so we had a good view when the sun was coming up. This bus was definitely made for the short person in mind, so when we were lying down we couldn't stretch our legs. I was lying next to a Thai and a Vietnamese guy. Sleeper bus is not recommended. About an hour into our journey we all could smell something burning and smoke was curling around the lower beds. We yelled stop the bus stop the bus!!I banged on the front window and finally the driver pulled over, we all got off the bus and it took him about 20mins to fix the problem (not sure what the problem was), but didn't give us much confidence!! We kept saying to the bus driver Mai pen rai ka? no problems/worries? and he said yeah get back on the bus. We made sure we knew where the emergency exit was and needless to say we didn't sleep much on the windy potholed narrow road to central Laos.
Luang Prabang is a river town, situated next to the Mekong, it offers some cool scenery but a major letdown is the fact that almost every house has been turned into a guesthouse and the locals have sold out to tourism completely! Everywhere you go a leech is trying to suck on you wanting your money, go for a walk up a hill give me money, come into our temple ? Give me your money. So we only stayed here 2 nights. There are heaps of monks here, allot of them become a monk for the education they get and the honour their family gets (my son is a monk) they are riding the religion for what they can get, free food, education. You often see them smoking and eating meat and playing sports. All of which you don't do if you are truly a monk.

The alms ceremony would have been cool if it wasn't for the locals trying to make money out of it. The alms ceremony occurs every morning about 6.30am and the monks line up on the street with their bowls and get given free food by people, It is supposed to bring the person who gives the food good luck.
So we arrive on the street about 6am and a local comes along with a basket tray saying feed the monks feed the monks, she shoves the tray in my hand and commands me to sit down, how innocent am I , we sit down and wait for like five minutes and then figure out that we actually will have to pay her money to do this, so we think screw that, and put our trays down on the street and take off. Tourists start arriving by the busload and the locals come up to them, depending on how rich the tourist looks depends on how much they will be charged for a tray... what a gay experience, something traditional turned into a money making scheme.

We were pleased to get out of this place and took a bus 10 hours north to Luang Namtha, a smaller town, far less touristy. Where we explore by bicycle and scooter many different villages, this was a cool experience and reminded me of the primitive villages in Papua New Guinea, but these guys haven't seen too many tourists yet. We went 60km to a place off the beaten track called Muang Sing, stayed the night in a guest house, we got a feel for the small town and their food which leaves allot to be desired! Ewww gross, unless you like intestines,stomach linings, grasshoppers, unidentifiable bugs, dogs, cute little things that look like guinea pigs but aren't, small whole birds with beaks, eyes and all...
So our diet consisted of sticky rice with plain baguette, we tried their noodle soup without the liver kidneys etc and it was gross Dudley got sick from it, and has been feeling unwell since...

They are a very stoic people who I think don't welcome us tourists too easily, I guess they want to keep their way of life, without being corrupted by us. The kids are the best and they yell out Sabaidee!! (Hello) they want for nothing, a few ask for pens, but that is all. They are all hard workers, even the little ones are carrying baskets on their backs to collect firewood, they are busy working in the rice paddy fields and growing bananas for export. So refreshing to see young kids playing outside-jump rope, climbing trees kicking around a bamboo ball etc no one had phones or computers. There are a few battery operated bicycles around the place, it was awesome to be able to see China with our own eyes. Muang Sing is about 4km from the Chinese border, so we took our bike right to the border. If only we had organised our visas to get into China, oh well another time. In Luang Namtha we see a few serious looking camper trucks pass through, the people who own them have travelled overland from Europe, so for all you grey nomads out there, instead of touring round Aussie, start from Europe, that would be cool!


Sunday, 28 October 2012

A busy month of visitors!

FINALLY a family member has come to see us whilst exploring this fine globe, its only been 3 years!! Kelly came to Krabi for a rockclimbing holiday and I'm sure she wasn't dissapointed
Kelly showing me a few tricks
The bay we parked in East Railey, while Kelly was here
Yes, I got a wee bit stuck in this position
We had loads of fun rockclimbing, swimming and kayaking together
Action shot jumping off the bow
Not to mention yoga, and 5oclock shenanigans on the beach
Drinking Kahlua and Coconut juice and Duds eating coconut flesh

Downward dog
Typical squid fishing boat and general pilage the ocean boat
We also managed to get in some deep water soloing, as you can see the ladder on the left is what you climb up to get on the rock, and from there I traversed along and climbed up to a ledge so I could jump into the water. People generally wear their rock climbing shoes and have chalk all over their forearms so they can have grippy hands to stay on the rock. So I found it very slippery and I had to pscyh myself up to jump a mere 3m into the water

Kelly and Dudley were more rambo than I was and in the end put their shoes on so they could grip the rock easier and climb higher... screw that!
Kelly jumping into water
After some deep water soloing we took the dinghy over to another island and watched a storm pass through
Baikal anchored in the storms path
We spotted lots of wild life along our trvels with Kelly
Water buffalo and friend
Green tree snake on our way to Tonsai for a climb
Langur Monkey eating something from the tree- the scabby macaq monkeys steal human food to eat
crazy looking caterpillar
Duds leading a climb for us.
Showing Kelly the view from Thaiwand wall overlooking Tonsai
After hiring a couple of motorbikes to see around Koh Yao Noi, we were allowed to take a plunge into the resorts swimming pool! What bliss after a hot day
A nice wee spot we found kayaking around Koh Hong
Finally, Kelly and I got a thai massage!
Kelly cutting open her first coconut
after saying a sad farewell to Kelly, a couple of days later Vicky and Ross arrived, on a fleeting visit to Railey, they stayed the night on Baikal. We had fun hanging out and climbing with Ross and Miles.
Was great to hang out with these guys !
We are now in Krabi Boat Lagoon, where we plan to leave Baikal for a month, to do some overland adventures...

Thailand beckons..

Ahoy there! Its been a while! We made our way back to Thailand stopping off at some beautiful swimming and snorkelling spots along the way
Koh Lipe

See Baikal anchored on the left?
We kayaked over to a neighbouring island and trekked up a hill to take some nice shots of Koh Lipe, a resort island. This island had many stray dogs on it, there is a program that has been in place since mid 2010 where they tag the dogs who have been sterilised and give them vaccines against rabies. There are many dogs who haven't been tagged. They were all following us around the island and when we kayaked back to the boat one was swimming with us for ages!! They must hate the place so much they want to come and live with us!
Duds surfing on some waves

Throwing the dinghy anchor Baikal in backgound
 After Koh Lipe we found another island in the middle of nowhere
We parked up for the night at the booby shaped island

We were lucky to get this anchorage so calm, the next day a raging storm blew in !
Hin Klang reef had some beautiful clear water but unfortunately not much coral or fish... but it was a great spot to swim anyway
The island in the background is Mosquito Island, we kayaked around this. Tourists have to pay 400baht for going ashore ($16NZD) and get nothing for it, you still have to take your rubbish home with you.
Baikal anchored between Bamboo and Mosquito Island just north of Phi Phi Don
We went for a motorbike ride up the west coast of Phuket, the beaches this time of year still have a bit of swell running in some keen surfers can be seen catching some measley wee waves. Good on them!
From front, Karon, Kata and Kata Noi beach
Ao Chalong is a bay in SE Phuket where yachties park to go and clear into the country.
Overloking Ao Chalong
german style helmet
On our excursion around Phuket we went to see the Big Buddah
It still has bamboo scaffolding around it, there are workers busy (some not so busy) tiling it..

Thursday, 23 August 2012


We walked all day and stumbled across temples and catering companies and dogs on bikes. Pollution is a problem, we left Penang 11 days later with sore throats and were pleased to get back into some fresh air! Massive sensory overload! Constantly watching where you walk, holes in the ground
Making up a whole lot of Indian food in big aluminium pots nice..

We arrived in Penang do get our Thai visas and organise our Cruising permit for Indonesia
We parked our dinghy at the end of this historical jetty, It has a pretty cool pic on the side of one of the buildings,
many people stop to take photos of this
Walking around the historical area of Georgetown there are a few arty things on the wall like this one

One of the many temples in Penang
Snake temple, pit viper snakes, that have had their venom removed
The crafty art work in the temples were amazing! A few temples there is no explanation in english about them, so we kind of get bored. Would be nice to know about them.
Monks doing their thing..

Ahhh the sun is lovely says Mr Tortoise

We made our own fun

Didn't have a clue what all this was about.

This is what people put the burning incense in and prey to ??something
While we were in Penang there was a chinese ghost festival on and there were many things happening. people walking down the jettys throwing tiny home made biscuits and individually wrapped lollies into the sea and by everyones houses, all to please the ghosts. There were tables of food, chicken, duck, pig and fruit, and entertainment all for the ghosts.
these sticks burned away day and night

putting on a show to entertain the ghosts