Travelogs & Reflections > Paul's Travelog > Thailand & Laos

Thailand and Laos 

October 21, 2005

Today we woke up and left Bill's farm and go to Chumpong and take the bus to Hat Yai and spent the night there.

October 20, 2005

Today we went to a waterfall where there was a rope going across and you dive in and grab onto the rope and swim to the other side. I went back and forth about 30 times and it was SO refreshing.

When we got back, we did school work and made looms for weaving with Boon which was really fun. We got a piece of wood and put nails about 1/2 centimeter apart on two sides. That day, Peter and I finished our first weavings and gave it to Bill and Boon to thank them for letting us visit their farm.

October 19, 2005

Today we got up and went to the beach and I found a big jellyfish and stuck a light bulb in it. At the end I went swimming. When we got back we worked on school work and played ping pong.

October 18, 2005

Today we went to the farm. Dad got his shoe chewed up by one of Bill’s dogs but we still went and dad will find shoe repair somewhere else. We went on an 8-hour drive to the farm. Peter and I listened to music the whole way. When we got there, it was a spectacular view because it’s surrounded by jungle, palm trees and other fruit trees and it has a river near it and it’s close to the beach and waterfalls. And we got to sleep on a loft. We had really good sandwiches for dinner and I was the official toaster man!

October 17, 2005

We went to church and had Vietnamese food. Peter, Mom, Grandma and I went home and Dad went to an internet café to finish the pictures. Mom, Grandma and Bill went grocery shopping for the food we were going to have at the farm that we were going to the next day. Peter and I stayed back and worked on some school work and hung out with Singh downloading songs from the Internet. Peter and I made French toast for dinner which was fun but Peter kept flicking oil at me but then finally he stopped because he had to go work. I made a stack of 18, and it was a stack about a foot high!

October 13, 2005

I have decided to buy a video camera to make a video about our trip and I am trying to raise money to get it while in Singapore. So, if you contribute, I’ll send you something from a place where we go on our trip and share the video with you at a big party at my house. And, if you don’t live near me, I can send you a copy.

From about noon to 6:30 p.m. today, we did research about my video camera. When we got back, I made a chicken-basil-garlic dish with lots of other vegetables, peanuts, and cashews.

October 12, 2005

We hung around and did school work at our guest house, "Dog"-mee, a.k.a. "Mut"-mee, in the border town of Nong Khai, Thailand. In the afternoon, we went on a bike ride to a sculpture place that had big concrete Buddha and other images and a circle of life. In the circle of life, the artist had shown all the steps of life and the Buddhist stages of enlightenment. Halfway around, Mom was reading an article about the place and she said, "Oh, my gosh, it’s mafia man!" And there was this sculpture of a guy holding two guns! I thought that was pretty weird but I think mafia man means when people have to go to war (like during the Vietnam War). We rode back and saw the sunset and in the picture, Dad got the sunset, the Mekong River, Thailand, Laos, and the Friendship Bridge which connects the two countries. When we got back from our bike ride, Benny, a kid who lives at Mut-mee, taught Peter to play backgammon and Peter won 4-1, but it was all beginners�Eluck!

We got up really, really early�E:45 a.m.—and went to church and we met the priest. He was from Grand Rapids, Michigan! When we got back, Benny and Johnny, Johnny is Benny’s younger brother, Benny and Johnny invited us to go swimming so we went swimming at a hotel and I found a ¼ of a baht. When we got back, we played on our swing which was fun because you could do skateboarding tricks and Peter and I got really good at doing that. I did all sorts of back side tricks. Then we got ready and went to the train station where we left to Bangkok on the night train. I was really bored on the night train but I finally did fall asleep.

When we arrived we went to Bill Savage’s house. He had just gotten back from Sri Lanka because his work is traveling to other places and working there. During the day, we went to get our visas at the Indian Embassy. The sticker looks really cool! Then we went to the Big C shopping mall and we got futons and food and we got a pro Kartor ball! So, you friends at home better be ready to play the Laos national sport when I get back! We had pad thai but they put this unlikable shrimp stuff in mine and it was nasty!

October 11, 2005

Today we leave Veronica, Alex, Anna and take a bus to Vientiane. About 30 minutes after we left, Dad remembered he forgot his passport in Vang Vieng when he rented the motorbike so he had to go back but we kept going. When we were half way there, we turned the corner and the bus driver didn’t see the other truck and the bridge was small so we smashed through 2 to 3 concrete pillars and our bus almost flipped and rolled down the hill. So we all got out and we decided not to get back on the bus so we got a songtaew and went to Vientiane. We got there 10 minutes before Dad. Together, we crossed the border to Thailand.

October 15, 2005

We are in Bangkok at Bill Savage's house (he's a friend of my mom's from Kwajalein, where they grew up!). We received this fun e-mail from our friend, Yuta, from Japan. We introduced him to Hit the Deck too (like Alex, Veronica and Anna!)! He is a childhood friend of our friend Kazu and would like to study English in California and we miss him too!

Hi!! I'm Yuta in Japan.I haven't seen you for a long time. How are you?? I'm fine so much. I was so happy when your visit Miyazaki. I think that Peter & Paul are playing frisbee now. I think that Therese is thinkng about KISS now.I think that Steve is beer now.I think that Carrol is reading book now...HARRY POTTER? Anyway,I hope that your world trip is happy .& wach your step!! Finally, I love you & HIT THE DECK too !!YEA!!

October 8, 2005

Today we left Luang Prabang to go to Vang Vieng. When we got to the bus station, the bus that we wanted to take wasn't there. Alex got mad at the place where we had bought our tickets and he went back into town to get our money back but we didn't know that. Mom asked the office if they knew what happened to our 8th person and they said he had gone back into town. Just before the bus left, Alex came back with 10,000 kip. We took the bus to Vang Vieng and got our hotel at an organic farm which had great food. I got mulberry pancakes and a mulberry shake which were really good! We played Hit the Deck and Mom and Alex were battling it out during the game. Alex and I talked about what we could do when we see him in Germany.

October 7, 2005

Peter got better so Peter, Mom, Veronica, Alex and I went to a waterfall to go swimming. It took about an hour to get there but when we got there, we climbed up a trail. There were 5 sections of the waterfall but when we got the top, it was humongous. We climbed to the bottom of these waterfalls and the mist was really powerful! This guy had been there before and he jumped off this rock and swam across the pool. We jumped off the rock about 6 times and swam across. It was really fun. We climbed up to the 1/2-way mark of the waterfall and it was so cool and COLD because the waterfall was falling on you but you could walk out on this boardwalk. We waved to people down below. Two Laos guys that we had met while jumping off the rock climbed up this steep stretch of waterfall. But, Mom got lost and we found her. We jumped off the rock one more time and then went to another swimming hole and started playing frisbee but the frisbee got sucked under, never to be seen again. We ate lunch and took the song-tai back to Luang Prabang.

October 6, 2005

This morning someone woke me and Alex up by opening the window but Alex claimed it was me and we had a pillow fight. Then we went out to explore the town. We went to a restaurant that had good pancakes and decided what we were going to do that day. Mom, Peter and I decided to do schoolwork (well, mom forced us to do schoolwork!), while Grandma, Veronica, Anna, and Alex went to a paper-making village. When they got back, Alex, Peter and I played kartor in the street but then we decided to go and eat dinner near the restaurant we had eaten at the night before along the Mekong River. Mom, Peter, Dad and Alex came a little later and when Peter was ordering his food, he threw up and he left and so did Mom. So, then, Grandma, Veronica, Alex, Dad, Anna and I went in search of spring rolls. After we had spring rolls, Grandma, Anna and Dad went back to the hotel. I went with Alex and Veronica while they got foot massages and Alex got a facial massage. During Alex's facial, the masseuse put this towel over his eyes so he couldn't see or know what was going on! The masseuse left to get something else and there was this big block of ice and Veronica and I took the ice and rubbed it all over his face and he said, "What's going on?? What's going on?" When the masseuse came back, she fell right next to him and almost spilled the cold water on him but he jumped up so fast, he thought he was going to have a heart-attack and Veronica and I were just imagining if she had dropped the cold water on him! In the foot massage, Veronica said, "Oh, it's cold water." Then when the masseuse came, Alex said, "Oh, it's cold water!" It was really funny.

On our way back, Veronica and Alex got me a Beer Lao shirt because my shirt had ripped from the bottom to my arm pit. When we got to the hotel, Veronica, Anna and I played Milles Bournes, which is a Frech card game, so Veronica knew about it and had played it as a child. I won by 10 points, yea!

Veronica's rebuttal to this entry: the way, I read your travelog and I must say to Paul...who wrote that he beat me by 10 points at Milles Bornes, that he forgot to mention that everygame after that, I had 3 safety and I won all the time....(except the last game....!!! ;) )

October 5, 2005

Today we got up and went to the boat stop where we took a 6-hour boat to Luang Prabang. We saw lots of mountain ranges and lush forests and bamboo. During the boat, I drew some pictures of bamboo and wrote some postcards. At the end of the journey, we went to a cave where there were lots of Buddha statues, 1000s of them! Then we climbed a lot of stairs to the upper cave. It was all dark and so we got a flashlight and explore it and found more Buddha images and statues.

There was one place in the cave where there was water dripping from the ceiling and I put my head under it and waited for it to land on me for a blessing. One time it hit me in the eye. That was pretty cool.

When we got to Luang Prabang, we got a hotel and then set off to find a place to eat. Every night in Luang Prabang, there is a night market. We all walked through the market and I got some old Laos money. We went to bed but Alex stayed out 3 more hours and I stayed awake listening to music until he came back.

October 4, 2005

We all got up early and caught the bus to Nong Khiew which is about 10 hours away. On our way to the 1/2-way mark, we stopped. One guy got out and he bought some eels and a dead squirrel. We were wondering why they wanted to buy that and then Veronica said, "Oh, my God, it's a dead monkey!" And so we talked about the dead monkey for another hour. We didn't know what it was. I thought it was a large rodent, like a marmot. It definitely wasn't a monkey but she thought it was!

We made it to a town where you switch buses fine. Then we got into a song tau (a truck with seats in the back). Just a little out of town it broke down and Peter, Alex and I played kartor while we waited for another truck. Finally, another truck came and we were on our way. It took us another 6 hours to get to Nong Khiew but finally in the dark, we got there.

October 1-3, 2005

Today we left on our 3-day trek. Our friends, Veronica and Alex who had the adventure below, came with us. On the first day, we trekked 7 hours. We went through forest and rice paddies. Poor grandma fell 4 times in the rice paddies and got really muddy and wet. We went through slippery mud and slipped lots of times. All of our butts were muddy. I got a leech on my foot and I stunned it. When we got to the village, we took a bath in the local river and played Kartor right outside our guest house in the village. While we were waiting for dinner, in our cabin there were lots of grasshoppers and Veronica was really scared of grasshoppers and Alex kept trying to make the grasshoppers jump on her. We had a lot of fun with the grasshoppers. Dad got attacked by a couple of grasshoppers too! [Here's a grasshopper update from Veronica in Vietnam: A couple of days ago, I was sitting in an Internet cafe and (too bad you weren't there) i'm sure you would have loved to see my jump as a Grasshopper 2000 jumped on me...I thought it was a roach and I screamed so was kind of embarassing!] For dinner, we had duck, pumpkin soup, morning glories and sticky rice.

On the second day, Grandma woke up and her ankles were swollen so she didn't go on the rest of the trek with us. We started off and had lunch at a village outside the village we stayed at. Today we hiked up and down the mountains and through mountain rice paddies. Today, we only hiked 4 hours to the other village. When we arrived, we were bombarded by villagers trying to sell us bracelets. But, Peter and I just watched the local villagers play kartor. That night, we played games with the children of the village and then went to bed.

On the third day, we headed out to Luang Nam Tha which we thought would be a 5-hour trek but ended up only being 3 hours. The first 45 minutes were straight uphill but finally we reached the top and walked along the mountain top. Mom found this rare species of plant that you can sell for 60,000 kip/kilo to China for medicine. Finally, we got a view of the town of Luang Nam Tha. Peter got 2 leeches on the way and at the end when we were close, To cracked out a bottle of Red Bull and shared it with all of us! And that gave us enough energy to get to Luang Nam Tha!

Cultural reflections on Laos:

Laos was called the "Land of a Million Elephants" a long time ago but the Laos people are very poor and many animals were hunted for food and money (poaching). Laos still has more wildlife than Thailand. Laos has 437 kinds of birds and 320 kinds of fish. There are elephants, tigers, jackals, bears, leopards, deer, and Irrawaddy dolphins. Most of the animals are concentrated in the southern part of Laos or more remote areas of the jungle. The Laos government is trying to protect the forest. We hiked in the Nam Ha protected area outside of Luang Nam Tha. We saw butterflies, bugs, leeches, and snakes. This was the only wildlife we saw because all of the other animals had been hunted. We didn't see much wildlife because we didn't go to the southern part of Laos but everywhere we went the country was covered in jungle or rice paddy fields.

September 29, 2005

Today we went on a 9-hour truck ride to Luang Nam Tha. It was weird because it was really muddy and slippery and there was a cliff on one side of the road. Luckily, we got to Luang Nam Tha safely. If you think that was adventurous, listen to this: our friends took the local truck on the same journey. there were 6 people in the front and 11 people in the back so they could barely move! they had to get out and push the truck 7 or 8 times and the truck broke down and they had to wait 3 hours before catching another truck. A couple of hours later when it started getting dark, that truck got a flat tire. They had to walk up muddy hills with all their baggage and it took them 16 hours in total to get to Luang Nam Tha. And, at 1:30 a.m, they stopped at a village where there were policeman at a drug check stop and two people got caught! Finally, they got into Luang Nam Tha at 3:30 a.m. in the morning! 

September 28, 2005

Today we took a bus to Laos. We took the ferry across the MeKong River and I traded in $1 for 10,000 kip! then we went to find a guest house, found one and worked on sketches.

September 27, 2005

Today we took a bus to the border of Myanmar (Burma), went on a tour, and the first place we visited was a golden stuppa. Peter and I got a bird to release next to the shrine of the day of the week we were born. next they took us to a fake village of long neck and Aka peoples. We got some pictures and then they performed a dance from their cultures. We came back to Thailand and took the bus back to Chiang Rai and we ate dinner at Ben's Guest House. Mom and I read Harry Potter 3:30 a.m. in the morning and finished it! 

September 26, 2005

Today we got a bus to Chiang Rai. Then we got a guest house called Ben's Guest House. A couple of guys who work there played with us and they were really good! We tried to find an Internet cafe but couldn't so we went there and I did a typing lesson on the computer and we went to bed! 

September 25, 2005

Today we with Pong Tep to explore Chiang Mai. we went to one temple that had a takro court nearby and we got a takro ball and learned how to play. Pong Tep joined in. We visited the 3 kings monument (the three kings are the kings that made Chiang Mai.). Pong Tep had to go pick up his wife at the airport so we went back to the hotel and worked on school work and photos. At 6 p.m., we met Pong Tep and his wife at the night market or bazaar. we had pizza and walked around the market. Peter got a tuk-tuk made out of a beer can!  

September 24, 2005

Today Mom, Peter, Grandma Carrol and I went on an expedition. We first took a tuk-tuk way out in the middle of who-knows-where and we saw how to make dye and dye silk and cotton. The tuk-tuk took us to a temple where we got to do a "monk chat," where you talk to a monk and ask him questions. One of the questions we asked him: how long do you meditate? he answered: 30 minutes to 6 hours! We also asked him about his orange cloak. He said that in the temple he wears it like Buddha wore it but outside of the temple area, he wears it like a cloak. The tuk-tuk us next to a temple where there is a sitting Buddha and a standing buddha and lots of white cheddis. I took a picture of a giant white cheddi. Our tuk-tuk ride ended at our hotel. We got dad and went to a buffet for lunch/dinner. After the buffet, we got a little snack for a light dinner and came back and started working on this travelog!

Thailand cultural reflection:

We have gone to lots of Buddhist temples in our travels in Thailand. In Thailand, 95 percent of the people are Buddhist. At the temples, we saw big rows of food that people had brought to honor their dead relatives. We have also seen a lot of monks. Our friend, Ton, a Thai exchange student who lived with us in Eugene last spring before our trip, was a monk for three months too. In Luang Prabang, I woke up early to join other villagers to feed the monks. Monks do this every morning because they can't own anything and they get their food from the villagers that line up in the streets and this is called tak bhat (a scoop of rice). I was interested in the monks and Buddhist faith and so I decided to go to a monk chat in Chiang Mai to find out more about monks and Buddhism. Here's what I found out:

  • They meditate from 30 minutes to 6 hours a day.
  • The language they speak is Bali and all student monks learn Bali.
  • You can start being a monk at 7 years old.
  • They have to shave their head when they become a monk.
  • They can't touch a woman or have a wife.
  • When you greet a monk, you hold your hands in the prayer position and touch your thumbs on your forehead in the typical wai Thai greeting and say, "Na Musoken."
At the end of our conversation, the monk asked me if I'd like to be a monk and I said I would have to learn more about the faith and I don't think I would because I have other interests and things I want to be.

September 23, 2005

Today we go to Chiang Mai. Before we arrived at Chiang Mai, we stopped at an elephant conservatory. We saw tons and tons (literally, adults weigh a ton and a half) of elephants with lots of talents--pushing logs with their feet, tusks and their trunks; pulling the flag of the center up and down; turning the faucet on by themselves to get a drink of water and turning it back off; picking things up with their trunks and giving it to their trainers; bowing; lifting their knee up so that their trainers can get on their backs; and last but not least, painting! One trainer taught an elephant to paint a self-portrait! Then we walked around the grounds and decided to go on an elephant ride! It was so fun--a once-in-a-life opportunity. It was fun going through the jungle on top of an elephant's back and seeing mom and dad on the other elephant! Our elephant was always going off the trail to get snacks. Once he took a whole bamboo tree with him for a snack. And, finally when we got down from the jungle and into the water, they splashed us with water as they shot it out of their trunks to cool themselves off!

Outside of Chiang Mai, we went to a center where they make umbrellas and paint different items. I got my backpack painted with a mama and baby elephant. Then we went to a center where they make silk. There were silk worms and silk moths in their cocoons. They cook the cocoons in a pot of boiling water and I got a sample straight from the pot and they gave me two cocoons for my collection of trip artifacts.

Next, we went to a temple right on the top of Chiang Mai. It was very cool because we had to walk up 306 stairs (I counted) and then you got there and there was a gold cheddi where a bone from Buddha was buried. Then we went down to the observatory deck and we saw a plane take off from the airport at Chiang Mai. The weather wasn't looking so good so we had to rush down the stairs and took our van to our hotel and Ton's uncle, Loong Pongtep. We had dinner with Pongtep and then went to bed.

September 21-22, 2005

Today we walked around Lampang. We went to Internet cafe, laundrymat, and then worked on school work. When we were working on school work, mom came rushing in and said she had met three high school students that had interviewed her and had motorcycles and were willing to take us on a ride. Their names were Tik, Bo, and Nan. They took us to a big market and then to a Burmese temple, the largest in Thailand.

Septemper 20, 2005

Today we went to Sukathai, another old capital. It took 4 hours to get there. When we got there, there was a man who owned an elephant. We bought some food for the elephant (bamboo shoots and a whole bunch of bananas) that he scarffed down and we got some pictures by the elephant as he was eating. We got a call from Ton's mother and she told us we had to head north because of the weather. So we drove another 4-5 hours to a place near Chiang Mai where we went to a hotel and worked on school work (because we're behind). 

September 19, 2005

Today we went to Ton's father's farm. At one farm were the cows where they breeded the cows and sold them, i.e. they were born and then they beefed them up! The next farm was where Ton's mother's school brings students for their outdoor school. We had pad thai noodles for lunch at a small restaurant near the river and then said goodbye. We went to Lopburi, what was consider the second capital of Thailand in Thai history. We went to a palace of one of the kings and Peter and I played frisbee. Then we went to a ruin where there was about 50 monkeys. One tried to pull my hair out but did not succeed! We got some good pics him and then one time while Peter was bending down to take a picture, one monkey jumped on him and when he stood up, the monkey bit him in the butt! Our next stop was Ayutthaya, the old capital of Thailand. We went to a temple where we tried to lose Peter in the ruins. We saw Peter and he had climbed a wall that had a sign that said not to climb it but he just walked around the sign climbed it. Then he climbed the big structure too. So, the security guards followed him wherever he went until we left the site. We went to a world heritage site and climbed the cheddis and right after we left they boomed on the lights to make the cheddis look like they were made of gold. Peter climbed the wall to get a better view and could have been arrested if somebody had caught him! We stayed at a really nice hotel which had a bowling alley in it but it was closed because they were doing construction.

September 18, 2005

Today we went with Faang to meet Ton's parents! When we got there, we were greeted by his large family. We had lunch at Ton's house. For dessert, we had the local ice cream called Ummm! Milk. We met Ton's two cousins who we had met in Eugene, many aunts and uncles, his grandparents and his parents. They own three schools and many other businesses and are in politics. His grandfather has been in politics for a long time. That day we went to a nearby national park. We saw 2 deer, 2 monkeys, 3 or 4 hornbills, and a king fisher. That night we stayed at a really nice hotel provided by Ton's family in their hometown. 

September 17, 2005

Today we went to Wat Po where the reclining Buddha is. His feet alone were 3 by 5 meters! Then we went to Khao San Road to meet Faang, Ton's girlfriend. We had lunch with her and then went shopping. She took us to a big market and Mom and Dad almost got lost! We took the sky train to one of Mom's old friends from Kwajalein, Bill Savage. He lives in Bangkok. We met Singh who is studying English and he led a ceremony at the spirit house in Bill's yard for safe travel for Bill and us. We all went to dinner in the neighborhood. then we went back to our hotel.

September 16, 2005

Today was our day to tour Bangkok. We walked to the Grand Palace that has lots and lots of wats (temples) in it, like gold, emerald, and lots of other temples. In one of the main temples, there is something called the Emerald Buddha, which is actually a Buddha made of jade. Then we took a tuk-tuk for 30 baht (less than $1) and went to the sitting Buddha (a very big Buddha that is sitting), standing Buddha (a really, really, really BIG Buddha that towered over the small community in the area), and the pier to take a boat to Wat Arun (across the river). Wat Arun is very cool because there were 4 cheddis (pronounced "jeddis") surrounding a big one sticking up into the sky. I got some nice pics!

September 15, 2005

Today, we woke up and had to get our Visas for India. We got to go on the BTS Skytrain for the first time! It was pretty cool. You go up an escalator or stairs, get your tickets, and go up another escalator or stairs and then catch a train that travels above the city. You can get really great views of the city. When we got to the embassy, we filled out paperwork and waited for about 45 minutes. Then, when we finally got to the window, we found out that we didn't have enough money. Dad had to go get money at the bank while Peter, Mom and I waited and read Harry Potter while we waited. We paid our fees and will pick up our Visas when we go back to Bangkok later in the month.

We went shopping for mom, dad, and Peter at the shopping center that Ton told us to go, the MBK in Siam Square, but we only found mom a bathing suit. Then we went to another shopping mall and Grandma and I went to Starbucks on the 8th floor and I had a frappacino. To get back to our hotel, we took a tuk-tuk, a motorcycle/taxi that is driven by insane people and feels like it's going to tip over. We had 5 people in it (it's built for maybe 2 or 3!).

September 14, 2005

Today we went to the pool and exercised!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In the afternoon, we had to move hotels in a monsoon! We got a taxi but we had a lot of hotels to look at so we got dropped off in one area and these people were really nice to us. They helped us call hotels and then gave us an umbrella to go look at them. We finally found a hotel that was somebody's house and we stayed there. We went to a vegetarian restaurant for dinner that was really good! After dinner, we walked to Khao San Road, a famous road where you can buy a lot of stuff for pretty cheap prices and where my father had stayed when he was in Thailand 20 years ago.

September 13, 2005

Today we went on a plane to Bangkok and we went to a really, really nice hotel because grandma had points and stayed there for the night.