Archive for September, 2010

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September 28
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The Great Wall of China is one of the great man made wonders of the world, and top of my list for this trip. We have already been to Machu Picchu in Peru, did Angkor Wat in Cambodia last month, and now, climbing the Great Wall in China….and of course, we do it in style!!!

Mutianyu is the part of the wall we chose to climb. It’s 90 km north of Beijing and stretches about 2 km long. It is less touristy than Badaling and the scenery is top notch. We saw a bunch if panda hats the day before and thought they were super cute. We saw them again walking up, and each bought one for pics!

 

On the wall, we were attempting to do jumping pictures. This really cute couple asked to help take the picture for us instead of us using a self timer. We also did a jumping picture for them, and i think theirs is better than ours!! Tien took this picture of me in a panda hat…taking a picture of them…and it makes me laugh every time I see it. The girl is so cute, and the guy is just hilarious with his ballerina jump and China hat!!!

stretching to climb the Great Wall!!!
Kat slid into full split after this shot! *_*
see no panda, hear no panda, speak no panda
love this set tien took of kat and i
a pic of the whole Great Wall
literally climbing the great wall!!!
 falling off the great wall
panda FAIL *_*
 
September 24
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September 23
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I stand out in China in this outfit. I fit in a lot better in Southeast Asia where the weather is wicked humid and hot. Flying in, I didn’t anticipate the weather to be a nice 75 degrees F with not much humidity at all. It’s actually quite similar to California. Here, all the women are covered from head to toe in something. I found it really interesting, watching the women dress. Many are dressed like I normally would in the States, but all bare legs are covered with pantyhose if they are wearing shorts or skirts. More than being conservative, they just don’t want their skin to be exposed to the sun. Although Vitamin D is great, it isn’t as important as preserving their porcelain skin. As dark as I am right now, I was quite surprised to get so many Chinese locals coming up to me, and telling me I look Chinese. They would gesture to my features and say “face is Chinese.” I had this effect on the Thais, the Laotians, and the Vietnamese. Guess I’m adapting to each country better than I thought!

H&M halter, pants from Thailand, bag from Laos, Old Navy flip flops, Aldo sunglasses
 
September 20
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Can you believe I took these photos from a moving bus, on the way to Vientiane, Laos?!??! I have taken a million before, but none has justified the actual beauty of the countryside. These two somehow came out perfectly clear, and I am so happy about the timing. I randomly snapped a couple pictures, and when I went back to look at them, it was perfectly cropped and got the little boys playing in the pond!

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September 16
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I never knew about Vang Vieng until we came to Asia. It’s one of those places that no one knows about unless you are a backpacker. As soon as we landed in Vietnam, everyone we met told us about tubing and this place, so we decided to come to Laos instead of Burma. The locals basically give you a tube, and tuk tuk you down the river about 10 km away, and then let you into the water. Along the way, you paddle yourself over to the riverside bars that have swing ropes, cheap mojitos, and unlimited Beerlao.

I took a shot of this tequila with fermented bees. It was the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted. The ladies were walking around with a communal cup, and I couldn’t resist the challenge. Thank god it was just a tiny shot! And then they sent us off in our tubes down this slide!!! We stopped at every bar down the river!!

Helen is our temporary roomie in Laos. She’s from Britain and super fun. We met up with a bunch of other backpackers from Holland, Britain, Scotland, and Belgium for the day. We tubed down together, got separated, and then met up later at another bar.

Tien braved the swing rope!!! She was the only girl to swing back and drop.
All the other girls belly flopped like crazy!

I was being lazy on a hammock, enjoying the majestic mountains surrounding me

overflowing with tubes

The river locals are the sweetest people. They are incredibly quick in lassoing the tubers coming down the river. The British and Aussies have gotten quite good at lassoing themselves after watching the locals do it.

Some of the little boys will wait for you at the end of the river, and will hold your tube hostage until you pay them something. A little boy no more than 10 years old asked me for money after he literally hauled me against the current, but I was satisfied with giving him 1000 kip for the effort.


The last 2 km stretch, we just floated down the river. It started to rain but I was brave enough to pull my camera out of the waterproof bag to snap a couple pics before the rain set in.

Dinner at a restaurant next to our hotel. It overlook the river, and is stunning.
You can see the mountains in the background.


 
September 13
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Laos is beautiful. The drive in was just full of lush greenery and the people have been so nice. The countryside is absolutely stunning with the high mountains and low clouds. The people are polite and they don’t pressure you into anything. Bargaining with them is much different than dealing with the Viets, Cambodians, and Thais.

Luang Prabang is very serene. It rained cats and dogs all day today but we walked around anyway. There was not a single honk of a tuk tuk nor car horn although we walked through the main street. We found a cheap hotel ($3 US) a night, right across the street from $100 a night accommodation for the rich whom probably refuse to eat anything but the nice French restaurants.


This is dead center on the river…and we got another visa on the other side! Thailand to Laos!

There is a lot of French influence, Scandinavian influence, and then Laotian mixed into Lao food. We found the night market and the night food market. It’s similar to the street food in Vietnam, filled with all kinds of AMAZING food. Grilled fish on a stick, fresh from the river, beef noodle soup, and all other kinds of lao food. We tried everything and had the best meal, only costing us $3 total!!


grilled fish on a stick

I’m very fond of Lao food and love the street vendors. I can’t resist the crepes!!!!! They make them exactly like in Paris, and it makes me so happy to hold a hot, perfectly made crepe with nutella and bananas inside, or lemon sugar, or condensed milk with bananas!!!! They call them pancakes here…for 10,000 kip, I can have about 5 of them a day.

We are off to Vang Vieng next for the tubing. I’ve never heard of tubing before, but during our travels through Siem Reap and Thailand, other backpackers rave about Laos and Vang Vieng’s tubing scene. Tomorrow, we will head out to the river to test this out!!

 
September 12
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Align CenterChiang Mai is gorgeous! It is so different than Bangkok and Phuket. The mountain drive was all green and lush, and you can tell the wildlife is just rampant here. We booked a tour the minute we got into Chiang Mai and did so many things!! We white water rafted, rode elephants, zip lined, and had lunch with a really fun group!

riding barebacked

this is how far out in the jungle we were! can you find us?!

This elephant was just too cute. She was just letting off riders, and I was petting her. We wanted a group pic with her, but her ears were flapping like crazy, and it smacked me in the back of my head. I’m mid laugh here, and i just love the candidness of this image.

We went zip lining as part of the package. This is probably the most fun activity during the day. We zipped through 19 platforms in the jungle and the last platform zip lined over the river with all the elephants bathing!

our really fun tour group for the day!

getting ready to zip!

Tien’s first run…she is scared out of her mind

a walk across the bridge

a sheer drop!!!!

a waterfall is always refreshing

a mini waterfall i slid off of

a gorgeous temple we passed by on the tour

our usual drinks of choice

street food is ridiculously good. this is egg noodles with wontons

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September 10
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Phuket is stunning. The beaches are pristine, and since we are here in low season, we basically had any beach we wanted to ourselves. We stayed in Karon at this gorgeous hotel only minutes from the beach. The street bazaar is filled with street food, street vendors, and even some American restaurants. Luckily, our hotel was a stone’s throw away from one of the most amazing food carts that served spicy braised beef soup with egg/rice noodles. The turnover rate and amount of locals picking up to go orders was insane.



Phuket is very different than Bangkok. It’s more relaxed here than in Bangkok, and the tourists are just from a different crowd. The resorts are very secluded, and exceptionally luxurious, so we did not have the pleasure of enjoying it….but we were not deprived from any fun! The beaches are free, the street food is better than restaurants, and we got our own private tour guide from a very wonderful local named Ski. He drove us all over the city to see all the different beaches, to Karon Kata vista point, and then showed us where the locals go for bar-b-que and seafood.

Karon Kata Viewpoint

Buddha Temple @ Phuket

you have to rub this for good luck, but it’s very hard to get sound from it!!
i barely got a sound, but watched some very skilled kids make the most incredible sound from this gong

touring the grounds still under construction

the smaller golden buddha

All the proceeds from postcards, marble tile with etchings, and other random things go back into the construction for the buddha. We made our mark on the etchings as well. Tien did one for herself and Shawn. Kat and I did one for our big bar trip. We write what we want etched into the marble, and they will put that peace at the bottom section of the buddha when it is time.

a day at the beach, doing absolutely nothing but reading, sleeping, and eating

the best larb i’ve ever had