the most/least expensive sushi ever

sheez, how many damn times am i gonna update today?

my layover in tokyo on the way back from thailand was about 11.5 hours. after dealing w/ customs/immigration etc, i still had about 10 and a half hours to see the town. unfortunately, the airport is about 1.5 hours away from downtown tokyo by train so all in all i was left w/ about 6 hours. i checked my bags here at the airport, and as soon as i stepped out of the airport i realized that there was one thing i really hadn’t accounted for. it was february. and while i stepped out wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops, everyone around me was wearing wool coats, layers, and scarves. now i can usually handle a pretty good amount of cold, but it was DAMN COLD.

because of this my time in tokyo was not necessarily that great. i was really really cold, had gotten pretty much no sleep in the last 2 days so i was dead tired, and it was morning time so i felt totally sick and was coughing like crazy. i stumbled around the shopping district for a bit and checked out all the crazy shops in downtown. everything here is soooo expensive. errr… i think. unless i’m just so used to thailand prices that everything just seems expensive to me now. so anyways, i wandered around for a while but i just wasnt really feeling it… so i decided to grab some food and go back to the airport.

i walked into the first sushi place i saw and the place was *packed*. there was a huge counter and the sushi chefs were making sushi at a dizzying pace and putting it on a conveyor belt for the customers to choose. back home, this would have been a bad sign (ahem, miyake), but here there were so many customers and the turnaround was so fast, that all the sushi was very fresh and did not sit around for hours. the sushi was pretty much all nigiri style, and each roll was 1$ which is damn cheap. so pretty soon i was really full, and for only like 9$. i walked into the street thinking happily about how cheap my meal was… until i started thinking that if you figure in the cost of 2 train tickets and the long sleeve shirt i had to buy to avoid freezing to death… i had really spent about 90$ just to go out and get some sushi. DOH!

so that’s it. that’s the last post about my trip. i’ll send a link to my photos whenever i upload them.


last day in bangkok

i woke up this morning to nund trying check my temperature with her hand on my forehead. i’ve been coughing like crazy and apparently she’s worried that i’m sick. i fall asleep, and then wake up again to find out that she had gone out to bring me breakfast, drinks, and cold medicine. wow, that was pretty unexpected. soon after that we go over to her sister’s (Loi) house and then they spent the rest of the day showing me around town. it was really really cool to check out the town from a local’s point of view. also it was a relief to see that they wanted to hang out just for the sake of hanging out… and not for cash, heh.

so, their story is a pretty sad one. they come from a small village about 500 km east of bangkok. their dad was an alcoholic who ended up hanging himself. their mother died shortly thereafter though i’m not sure how. they were stuck having to pay to raise their 2 younger siblings and soon kids of their own as well. unfortunately, there wasn’t really a way for them to earn enough money in the village (especially since they were really hoping to send their younger sister to college, which they never got to go to) so they moved to bangkok. loi got a job as a stripper fairly soon, but nund held out and instead worked as a waitress at a karaoke bar. unfortunately, she didnt really earn enough money to support herself and to pay for everyone back home, so finally she decided to dance at the club. that night that i ran into her was her 4th day on the job.

the apartment that they lived in was tiny and looked pretty depressing. it consisted of just one room (other than the bathroom) with harsh concrete walls and a cold tile floor. there was pretty much no furniture in the room. just a bed area (a pile of blankets, without even a mattress or anything), a tiny wardrobe, a small tv, a shoe rack, and a dish rack. literally… that was it. it made me really sad to see them living like this, especially given why they ended up here in the first place. next, they made lunch, and seeing as there’s no stove, the cooking had to be done on a small electric skillet. despite everything they both seemed fairly happy and chipper that day, although the girl nund is… a bit weird.

bangkok is a huge sprawling dirty filthy city. a lot of people don’t like it, and to be honest i hadn’t really liked a lot of parts of the city i had seen so far. but everything that we did today was actually really cool, mellow, and fun. first we went down to the chao phraya river and hung out on this bridge overlooking the water. it was pretty chill and tranquil down there other than the occasional taxi boat going down the river. after that they showed me the sky-train. it’s this above ground metro system that both of the girls seemed pretty excited about. we then went to this huge park in the middle of town. it was so weird that this was in bangkok! it actually had fresh air, tons of grass, trees, ducks, fountains, etc. this was nothing like the cluttered noisy bangkok i was used to. it was really cool to see a side of the city i had never seen (or even knew that it existed). unfortunately this was the one and only day that i forgot to bring my camera. it would have been cool to take pictures of the park with the bkk skyline behind it.

in the park you can buy bags of bread pieces to feed to the fish. it was pretty trippy cause the water is very murky and you can’t see any fish below at all, but when you throw in some bread all of a sudden you’ll just see these huge mouths with gigantic whiskers pop up from out of nowhere. there was also a few tiny turtles swimming around and it was really funny to see them going for the bread. they were no match for the huge fish, so most of the time they would just be thrown around by the fish splashing as the bobbed up and down w/ their tiny beaks open. on our way out of the park, the national anthem happened again, and time froze just as before. a group of hacky sack players didn’t even bother to catch the ball flying thru the air cause they snapped to attention so fast.

pretty soon it was time for me to pack my stuff up and go and time for the girls to head to work. so we went to grab my stuff and parted. it was pretty sad cause the girl nund almost seemed in tears and kept saying that she didnt want me to go. as i sat in my taxi on the way to the airport, i got really bummed out. i couldnt believe the trip was over. it’s funny, just the day before i had really wanted to go home, but now that it came down to it, i really didn’t want to leave. thailand had become so familiar to me over the course of this month. it didn’t seem like a foreign country anymore… in fact it kind of seemed like home now. i had gotten so used to everything here. this was definitely the one of the best vacations i’ve ever had. i can’t believe how much i did. i really wish i could come back to thailand again soon… but there’s so many places on my wishlist of places to go, and so little time, that i doubt i’ll actually end up coming back. *sigh*.

anyways, now i get to go check out tokyo for a few hours. should be interesting. peace out peoples… see ya saturday night!


red light


bangkok is pretty infamous for it’s redlight district (patpong). it’s a section of town filled w/ sex shows, prostitutes, and god knows what else. it took me a while to decide whether or not i was going to go there. at first i was, but then when faced with having to go there all by myself, i decided against it. well, curiosity got the best of me, and i ended up going after all. although i had already heard numerous stories about the crazy stuff that can go on there, i kind of didn’t know exactly what to expect… so i just grabbed a cab, and started randomly wandering the streets.

the first street i walked down was lined w/ tons of girls just hanging out wearing nice dresses. i’m assuming they were escorts or some thing kind of upscale like that. the next street was kind of different. there were a bunch of clubs, and all these guys would run up to you trying to usher you in the club they worked for by promising all kinds of crazy outlandish activities within. there wasn’t anything i wanted to see in particular, so i just followed the second guy i saw. there was no cover for the club, but the beers here cost 100B (i know, i know, it’s only $2.50, but in thailand that’s a lot) so that was how they made their money. after sitting down at a table and buying a beer, i was informed that all beers were 100B, *except* for the first beer you bought, which was 300B. ahem. so much for “no cover charge”.

so, the show was pretty damn insane. it’s really fucking amazing what these girls can do with their privates. the way it worked was that there were always 5 or 6 different bikini clad or topless chicks dancing on stage, and every few minutes a girl would get on stage and perform a trick. these tricks varied from: opening bottles, using chopsticks, blowing out birthday candles, playing a small trumpet, shooting ping pong balls, shooting darts, and of course being used as storage for all sorts of random objects. the whole experience was totally nuts! i’ve seen a lot of weird things in my life, but this definitely was one of the weirdest. that’s when things got dangerous. the girls passed out balloons to pretty much everyone out there watching… and a girl proceeded to pop the balloons by shooting them with darts from her you know what. now, somehow she managed to pop most of them on the first try, but it took her like 15 shots to pop the balloon i was holding, and as dart after dart stuck into the wall behind me, i was seriously expecting to accidentally get a dart in my hand… or worse yet, my face. luckily, no one was injured.

unlike jamie’s experience where most of the girls were super ugly, pretty much all the girls here were very attractive. i started feeling so bad for them though. what can be more embarrassing than blowing out birthday candles w/ your privates? but then again, who knows… all these girls must have chosen that job for a reason. i’m sure that reason was high pay and minimal amount of work compared to the other shitty options offered in thailand. and who am i to say that blowing out birthday candles is more embarrassing than say being a janitor and crawling around cleaning people’s crap, or collecting garbage, or what not. dignity is really just a state of mind, and i’m sure this job was much much easier than being a rocket scientist, brain surgeon, or even doing construction work.

at this point, one of the random bikini girls sits down next to me and puts here arm around me. errrrr. so i have no clue what i’m supposed to do. talk to her? hand her money? tell her to go away? pretend she doesn’t exist? so i opt for the last choice and just sit there watching the show go on. soon this same girl sits down next to me each and every time she’s not up there dancing… and that’s when all the other girls come flocking in. soon, i have like 3 different girls sitting next to me grabbing at me, talking to me, and trying to get money out of me(by getting me to buy them drinks). now this is way more than i bargained for. i came here just to see some crazy shit… not to be felt up. so i spent some time fending off people’s advances, pushing hands away from where they shouldnt be, but still buying them drinks cause i felt bad for them. now everyone felt like they should join in the “lets make money” mayhem, and i had bartenders asking for tips, girls asking for drinks, and even the manager asking for baht. sheez! actually, the only one who wasnt asking for hella drinks or trying to get the grope on was that first chick who had initially sat next to me (who i later found out was named nund). by this time i was starting to feel pretty flustered and awkward.

crap… i gotta catch my flight. i’ll have to post the rest later.


making our way back..

yesterday was our last day in laos. the three of us (there’s this new zealand dude named anthony who’s been traveling w/ us for the last few days) were all pretty bummed to be leaving here. even though the food has been wack, going to laos has been a great experience. it’s gonna be weird to go back to thailand which is so much more industrialized and westernized than here. after bumming around for part of the day we grabbed a tuk tuk to go to the border.

it’s weird how it’s always the little differences about a place that really surprise you. sure, when you go to a new country you expect all the big differences: different architecture, different language, different transportation, etc… but when you see something totally basic done in a way that you never would have expected, it’s always so bizarre. like how the showers here are just part of the bathrooms. well, another one of those weird things happened today. i went to a restaurant to get a coke for my ride… and they gave it to me *in a bag*. literally. she grabbed the bottle of coke, grabbed what essentially was a medium sized sandwich bag, poured the coke into the plastic bag and handed it to me. so odd.

we were crossing the laos border when anthony remembered that he had some opium on him that he had bought at some point. luckily for him, he ditched it. that night on the train, all of a sudden about 10 soldiers walk in. 6 of them have huge dogs on chains and they proceed to spend a considerable amount of time sniffing all of our bags. of course we had nothing to worry about, but it was still pretty nerve racking. we met this japanese canadian guy on the train who gave me a bunch of advise on what i can do w/ the 12 hours of time i have in tokyo. tokyo is gonna be FUN! the attendants on the train sold beer, so the 4 of us proceeded to drink a ton of beer and play card games.

this morning i woke up feeling like crap. again. it’s really weird, every single morning now for 7 or 8 days i’ve woken up totally congested with a really really sore throat that then goes away after an hour or so… but then returns the next morning.

we get off the train back in bangkok, and as we’re walking thru the train station, this music starts playing and all of a sudden everybody comes to a dead halt. huh? so the song playing was the national anthem and thai people are very very serious about the anthem here. the whole scene was so surreal. hundreds of people who were all just walking, carrying things, or whatever, are now all standing at attention completely frozen in their tracks as if time stopped. it was almost eerie. then the music came to an end, and literally the very second it stopped, all of a sudden time unfroze and everyone rushed ahead as if freed from a magic spell. seriously, the whole thing seemed like it was out of some trippy movie.

so now i’m back in bangkok. i have a tiny bit of time left to do some shopping etc before i fly out tomorrow night. that guy anthony went off to catch his flight back to new zealand and jamie left to fly to chang mai. it’s weird when you end up spending so much time hanging out with a friend 24/7 (or in this case 24/11), night and day… and then all of a sudden they’re gone. i really hate that feeling. like when you go somewhere w/ your friends for a whole weekend, and then the end of the weekend comes and everyone has to go their separate ways. it’s always so depressing. and when it’s 11 days instead of just a weekend, it’s even worse… *sigh*. so i was pretty bummed… and then all of a sudden i started *totally* missing everyone from back home. so many people i havent seen in sooo long. it sucks. i’d almost rather just leave *right now*. i don’t really wanna be here by myself. traveling alone was totally fine earlier, but today i’m just not feelin’ it. oh well… just one day left… and also, i’m sure this feeling will pass.

wow, only a couple of more posts left…



last night we went to a random bar to watch the big lebowski. i saw a part of the movie earlier when i was in thailand, but was hoping to see the whole thing this time. no such luck. about 3/4 of the way thru the movie, the dvd they were playing died and we were left watching some *horrible* movie called “ants in the pants” about some guy who’s penis talks to him. ugh. also, while at the bar, we had some terrible food. it sucks, ever since we left luang prabang, all the food that we’ve had hasn’t been very good. it’s ranged from mediocre, to not very good, to disgusting. it’s such a disappointment, because up until then we’ve had so much great food, and when you’re paying to eat at restaurants 3 times a day, you really get sick of paying for bad food. oh well, what can you do?

after dinner we went to another bar and met up w/ these 2 israelis that were staying at our guesthouse. they were both hella cool, and we ended up spending many hours hanging out and talking w/ them. it was really interesting to hear how they felt about living in israel while it’s being bombed etc, how they feel about having to serve a mandatory 3 years in the army, and what they thought of americans etc. israelis it seems are really outspoken, and this guy didnt mince words… he had a lot of strong opinions about so many things and it was pretty cool to hear them.

today we finally did a bit of sight-seeing in the city (that is, after another disappointing meal). first we went to go see the Patuxai monument. it is a huge cement structure that looks like the arch de triomphe, except that it has 4 archways instead of just 2. it also has stairs inside of it that allow you to walk to the top of it (about 7 stories up) and check out some great views. after that we went to pha that luang. this is a huge golden stupa surrounded by all these golden jagged walls. hrm, actually it’s really hard to describe, but this thing looked really really cool. it was really huge, and the fact that all of it was in this bright gold color, added to the splendor.

later on in the afternoon we spent some time walking around the morning market. there were tons of different vendors there, but everyone sold pretty much the same thing: cd’s, little sculptures, t-shirts, and fabric.

the plan for tonight is the same as before: drink beer, watch movies, probably more bad food, heh.


ps. thanks everybody who responded to my post yesterday!


don’t really have anything to report today. heh, we’re becoming soooo lazy over here. after taking a van to viantiane (the capital of laos), we did pretty much nothing for the rest of the day. got some food (that wasn’t too good), played a whole bunch of uno (with all sorts of new rules in it that this dude from new zealand taught us), and tonight we’re just gonna chill out and watch a movie in a bar.

wow, i cant believe that i only have four more days here. so weird. i’ve gotten so used to always being on the road, living out of a backpack, having no responsibilities, etc etc. being back in the real world is gonna be such a shock.

so i was just wondering… who out there is reading this?? that’s one of the weird things about livejournal. you write all this stuff about your life and never really know who out there knows about it and who doesn’t. so many times over the course of this trip, i’ve seen a random comment from someone and thought “huh? i didnt know that person bothered to read my journal?”. so anyways, if you’re out there, and reading this, drop me a comment. doesn’t have to be anything fancy (if you’re one of those people who is not down w/ posting), even just a “yo i’m reading the journal” and a name will do. i’m just curious…



so, the plan was to go see a bunch of caves today and possibly go tubing down the river. unfortunately, we got a *really* late start, didn’t get out of the room till 2pm, and then were done eating and ready to go by 3pm. it gets dark fairly early here so that really didn’t leave us much time. after a ton of confusion about how to get there etc, we rented a scooter and were off.

the whole area around here is surrounded by huge limestone cliffs that tower above the forests below. they looks really impressive and are filled w/ many different caves and passageways. the first cave we saw was called tham jang. it’s the most famous cave in this area and was pretty huge. we wandered around in there for a while checking out all the cool stalagmite and stalactite formations. although the caverns in this place were really huge, it didnt go all that deep and we were able to see everything there was to see in only like 15 minutes.

after that, jamie went back to the room, and i decided to try to see at least one more cave before it got completely dark. across the nam song river, there’s this long road that has small winding paths leading to various caves. i picked one at random and followed these flags that got me to the cave entrance. there was a guide there who led me thru the cave. it ended up being hella cool! unlike the last cave which was mainly just large huge caverns, this one was more like a series of tiny passageways thru the rock. it was fun to scramble thru the cave, crawling under super low overpasses, climbing down rickety bamboo steps, and just exploring everything. it was absolutely pitch black in the cave, so the only illumination came from the flashlights that the guide and i were carrying. the guide was pretty helpful and pointed out some bats hanging from the ceiling and some fish swimming in tiny pools below… stuff i would have never spotted on my own.

i finished the cave tour just as it was getting dark and headed back. the road back was covered w/ garbage on both sides… just like all the other roads everywhere around here. it’s really sad. here (and in thailand and cambodia) they have no concept of not littering. everyone just throws their garbage where ever they feel like it, whether that happens to be on the side of the road, into the jungle, into the river, or any other pristine place. there’s garbage piles everywhere, and when the garbage accumulates, they just light it on fire. i remember reading an article about the full moon parties before i came here and the article said how totally littered the beach is after the party and how you see tons of trash, plastic bottles, and god knows what floating in the water. i remember thinking “damn those bastard tourists for destroying the untainted environment”… but it’s not the tourists. it’s the locals that do most of the damage here and really have no regard. *sigh*. maybe someday that’ll change….


on the road again…

yesterday we took the bus from luang prabang to vang vieng. the bus ride was supposed to take about 6 hours starting at noon. of course, around here nothing ever works out quite the way expected. a few hours after we got on the road, the bus blew out a tire. i guess this is a pretty common occurrence here (several other travelers had mentioned frequent flats on buses). half an hour later, the flat was fixed and we were on the road. but of course, even that wasn’t enough. about 5 hours into the trip the bus started having major issues. it kept failing to start up and the bus driver tried to do some repairs. then, while on a long stretch of windy mountain road, we started running out of gas. uh oh! at this point, the driver actually flagged down one of those gas tanker trucks and got some gas directly from their storage container.

a few hours later we finally arrived. everyone was tired, we were a few hours late, and we all got off the bus in a daze. that’s when all of a sudden the bus took off. huh?! our backpacks were still on the roof!! after a few minutes of panic, it turned out that we hadn’t actually gotten to vang vieng yet. we were in a town called Kasi, still *2 hours* from our destination, and the bus had taken off to just get gas and come back. phew! so when we eventually did get to vang vieng, the 6 hour trip had turned into a 10 hour one.

but to be honest (before the last couple of hours), the bus ride was actually really cool. we drove through the mountains and the rolling lush hills everywhere were really dope. also, we drove through a bunch of small laos villages and it was interesting to see how the people there lived. it seemed like everyone was really hard at work. from little kids, to adults, and to old ladies… everyone was cutting down plants, hauling huge piles of lumber, building houses, and doing all sorts of other manual labor. it’s so odd to see how much people’s roles here are so different than back home. in the US i could never imagine seeing a 60 year old woman hauling like 80 pounds of wood on her back and i could also never imagine seeing a 5 year old girl carrying around an infant on her back and taking care of it. but here everyone has to play their part, both the very young and the very old. a lot of the people on the side of the road seemed pretty excited to see the bus, and the little kids would run around and wave to us.

today we were planning on exploring the caves surrounding vang vieng. there are supposed to be a lot of them. but instead we decided to just take a day off from sight-seeing, traveling, etc. we’re probably gonna just hang out, catch a movie at one of the local restaurants, or whatever. it’s funny, when i first got to thailand i was shocked by how many people sat around and watched movies during the day. all i could think was that they were wasting precious time on their vacations doing stuff that they easily could do back home. i’m coming to realize now though, that sometimes you need a break. you can’t *always* be off doing something wild and new. sometimes you definitely miss and need the small comforts of home like lounging around and watching tv or whatever.


Luang prabang

today (after being awakened by roosters as usual) we got up early to go sightseeing around luang prabang. other than the city itself, there are 2 cool spots near the city: Pak Ou cave and Kuang Si falls.

the cave is a natural huge cavern that has been filled by locals with different buddha statues. the cave itself is really big and it was crazy just how many different statues were in it. big buddhas, small buddhas, reclining buddhas, standing buddhas, sitting buddhas etc. seeing the cave from the riverside was pretty impressive.

afterward, we took a tuk-tuk to the falls. these falls were *huge*. probably more impressive than any set of waterfalls i’ve seen. there were tons of jutting rocks to break up the falls so there were tons of tiers of pools at different levels. the water was very pristine and was a magnificent shade of turquoise blue in the pools. we spent some time hiking up a trail by the falls, and had to scramble across tree branches, through water, and across staircases that had turned into mini waterfalls. it was tricky to get there, but seeing the view from halfway up the falls, where we could see the rushing falls above, and the shimmering pools below was well worth it.

after that we went back into town, and witnessed a scooter accident. just when you thought that despite all the crazy traffic no one got hurt.. someone did. luckily it seemed that both people were kind of ok. we spent the rest of the day wandering around the night market. there people sold tons of different kinds of foods, and we were curious to try them. we had these weird coconut juice snacks that were super delicious, some of the crazy red spiky fruit (not sure what it’s called), an other stuff. so much good food sold on the street (and all *very* cheap).

i think i’ll definitely miss this place when we leave tomorrow. luang prabang is probably my favorite city in southeast asia so far. everyone here is just so *nice* and everyone is smiling everywhere. thailand is supposed to be the land of smiles, but really, i think it’s laos. also, it’s just so funny to see all the bands of little kids wandering around. they travel in small packs and are so young (like 6-9 years old!, could you imagine kids in the US being allowed out alone at night at that age). they’re always chattering away, laughing, and just look so happy.

so tomorrow we take the bus to vang vieng… i just hope that it’s as cool as here!


falling behind…

so i’ve totally fallen behind on the journal. it’s because i’ve spent most of the last few days on a boat… but i’ll just pick up where i left off.

Jan 19th

on the 19th i woke up and met jamie at the airport in chang rai. tom had just flown home from bangkok, and jamie and i were about to set off to Laos. it was pretty weird for me cause this meant that i was on the last part of my journey. when i had been planning my thailand trip, i had pretty much decided to just wing it and go wherever i felt like whenever i felt like it… but the only concrete plan i really had was that on the 19th i would set off to laos. of course that was always so far off.. the end of the trip and everything, and now it was here. it’s amazing how fast the month flew by.

we hung around town for part of the day, just kicking it, and then caught the 5pm bus up to chiang khong. chiang khong is a tiny border town in the north east corner of thailand and is right across the river from laos. we got in fairly late and pretty much only had one goal for the night. there are no ATM’s in all of Laos, so we needed to get some cash tonight before we went to laos in the morning. unfortunately, there was no such luck. there was some weird wiring problem, and all of the ATM’s in the city were down. crap! what were we gonna do? we had about 4$ between the 2 of us, and if these ATM’s didnt start working by the next morning, we’d have no money and be stuck in this tiny middle of nowhere town. we went to bed praying that everything would be fine in the morning.

jan 20th

luckily for us everything turned out ok. we hit the ATM in the morning, grabbed a bunch of cash, bought our boat ticket (12$), and headed for the pier. after some confusion at immigration, we were soon on the boat. now i really had no idea what to expect of the boat. it turns out that the boat is a super long flat boat w/ a metallic roof. everyone’s backpacks are left on top of the roof while the passengers sit underneath. unfortunately the boat has *no seats*. if you’re lucky and get there early you could sit around the edge of the boat and lean your back on the side of the boat, but if you were late like us, you just sat on the floor… for *8* hours! needless to say, the boatride was long and exhausting.

at the beginning of the ride, some guy was collecting everyone’s passports for a while and then eventually handing the passports back to people. we didn’t really understand why this was, and when we asked the guy whether we needed to give our passports too, he said that we didn’t need to bother. huh? so the boat ride itself was really scenic. nice lush forests and jungles on all sides, beautiful mountains, and some cool rock formations jutting out of the water. it was cool cause you could climb out of the boat on top of the roof, and it was really nice to be able to just hang out up there, and watch the banks of the river roll on by. despite this, after all 8 hours, we were practically dying to get off the boat. 8 hours just sitting there was starting to drive us crazy (especially since it was super uncomfortable) and we dreaded the fact that we would have a whole other day of this.

the boat dropped us off in a tiny village called pakbang where a mob of little kids (like 8 or 9 years old!) scampered to grab our bags off the boat. it was pretty sad to see these super young kids having to haul heavy stuff just to get a tiny bit of money or food. we then needed to find a room, and after following several touts who lied to us about whether or not their rooms had hot water or even a bathroom, finally found a place to stay. it had been a long exhausting day and we were starving.

at the restaurant i ordered chicken w/ tomatoes an onions, but when they brought me my food, it was obvious that it was not chicken but some kind of red meat (cow? water buffalo?). when i complained to the waiter, they simply refused to admit that it wasn’t chicken. they just kept pointing at it and saying “chicken! big big chicken!! 6 kilo chicken”. now, there was absolutely NO WAY that this was chicken. it sucked to have people stand there and just lie to your face. and yet there was nothing i could do about it, so i had to just order another dish. i think that this is definitely one of the most frustrating things about traveling here in southeast asia. there’s nothing you can do if you get ripped off. people rip you off all the time, lie to your face, give you wrong information, or whatever… and you just have to take it. who are you gonna complain to? no one here has a manager or anything, and especially if you can’t speak the language, they just pretend (or don’t pretend) that they can’t understand you. *sigh*.

jan 21st

last night i was awakened by something crawling around in our room. not sure what it was, but judging by the clicking of feet on the floor and little scampering noises, it probably was a rat. ugh. and then around 6am the roosters started going nuts as usual. so after getting hardly any sleep we dragged ourselves to the boat (without showering). that was where we found out why people had been collecting passports yesterday. turns out, when they grab your passport, they put a ticket for the second day of the boat ride into it. and since we hadn’t given our passports we had no ticket, so now we had to pay again. it was so lame, especially since we had specifically asked if we need to turn in the passport, and they had said no!! so now we ended up paying more money, and of course once again… what could we do? just get ripped off again as usual.

so we started the day off poorly, and then had to endure another 8 hours of the boat. we hadn’t had time to buy any food (or water) before we got on the boat, and the only thing we had to eat all day was a few pieces of bread and some Laughing Cow cheese. finally around 5ish, we docked in Luang Prabang. at this point the guy who had made us pay the second time this morning had the audacity of trying to get us to pay him *again*! DUDE!!! we were so pissed, but just ignored him in the end. at this point we were so glad to be done w/ the boat trip. i mean don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some pleasant parts of the last 2 days, but overall the boat ride was quite an ordeal.

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is the second largest city in Laos and is considered one of the best preserved cities in southeast asia. it is a united nations world heritage area because it has such a unique blend of french colonial architecture and asian architecture together. it’s really really cool here. the city totally has a super mellow small town feel with a casual atmosphere. monks stroll the streets, there are temples everywhere, little kids running around, old ladies sell there wares, and lots of chill restaurants. finally seeing the city makes me really glad that i came to Laos.

we spent the night wandering around town a little. right in front of our hotel (which by the way was the most expensive place i’ve stayed in so far here 20$!!) there was a cool little night-market. everyone was selling grilled food, woven gods, and various trinkets. there were so many little kids running around everywhere. the other cool thing about this town, is that because of the french influence, there are tons of shops selling baguettes, espresso, and all sort of different donuts, pastries, and baked goods.

Jan 22nd

we woke up today and switched hotels to a much cheaper place (6$). it’s pretty crazy using money here, cause the currency that they use is the Kip and there are 9,000 kip in one dollar… but the largest bill that they have is the 5,000 kip bill. when the largest bill you have in your pocket is barely worth 50 cents, you have to carry a ton of money. so we walk around with *huge* piles of bills in our pockets.

after breakfast (food in laos actually is pretty damn good and cheap too), we set off to explore the city. like i said earlier, the city is really picturesque and it was cool to wander the streets, check out the buildings, and explore several of the watts in town.