Archive for February, 2010

What to wear?

Stretchy heads are stylish

What to wear. A dilemma I face every morning. Back home I’m the type of person who tries on 5 different outfits before walking out the door with my shirt on inside out. You would think this would be an easy decision for me now that I’m traveling. I have an extremely limited selection from which to choose. Pants A or pants B? Shirt A or shirt B? Not so.

Although I’ve never considered myself stylish per se, I like to think that I have style. Fashion is a means for expressing said style. What you put out there for the world to see influences not only other peoples impression of you but more importantly your own self-confidence and outlook. Fashion contributes to feeling good about yourself and feeling good about yourself is important, even when living out of a backpack. Especially when living out of a backpack.

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Space Crown

Space Crown

Mark proudly presents his shiny purple scooter helmet, called “Space Crown”.

Floating down the Mekong

The mighty Mekong River

After a marathon, week-long journey north from Sumatra, we finally arrived at the Laos border in Northern Thailand. We covered almost 3000 kilometers in just over 7 days, on a bee-line up through Malaysia and Thailand. Our goal: to reach the border and have about 10 days to wander south through Laos towards the capital, Vientiane, where we’ll be meeting our friend Rachel. We crossed the border from Chiang Khong, Thailand, to Huay Xai, Laos, and were all set to begin an exciting new leg of our journey.

Our first destination in Laos was Luang Prabang, an ancient city built on the Mekong River, and a Unesco World Heritage site. We opted for the true “slow travel” option to get there: a two day boat trip from Huay Xai down the Mekong River. We were excited and happy to slow our pace down a bit, after the string of bus and train trips we’d recently been on.

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Quotes: Blanket wisdom

Blanket wisdom

“Fragrant Recall
Very Lovely Smile
= Joy Time
We in life lucky”

~ As read on a blanket in our guesthouse in Pak Beng.

Monk chat

Chiang Mai

Our second stop en route to Laos was the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. Although the city is riddled with noisy traffic and is ridiculously westernized, it is still very charming. The central part of the city, where most of the tourists are concentrated, is islanded off by a moat/canal keeping most of the traffic to the perimeter. We spent just two nights in Chiang Mai allowing our well-trodden travel bodies to recover just slightly. We spent our time meandering along the narrow streets of the centre, visiting wats, markets and tasting the local street treats. We got our first Thai massages at the affordable price of around $3.50 Canadian. Mark had masseuse envy because mine was doing all sorts of great things, climbing up and down my back and legs, stretching and pulling me in all sorts of directions. I think Mark was envious not because of my masseuses fine skills but because she was young and cute whereas his was old and haggard. He will admit to this partially.

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Rudy Project Zyons — so cool

One of the most essential pieces of gear that any traveler must carry with them is a decent pair of sunglasses. Having the right pair provides you with much more than simply an elevated “cool” factor — good sunglasses protect your eyes from sun, wind, sand and dust while you explore beaches, mountain tops, glaciers, jungles, and more. The right pair should be comfortable, lightweight and durable. They should be as functional on a mountain bike as they are on a beach. It’s a lot to ask from a single pair.

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Buddhas in a row

We are making a couple stops on our way north. Our first stop was Sukhothai, a 700 year old ancient kingdom. Admittedly, I was partly drawn to Sukhothai because it shares the same name as my 2nd favourite Thai restaurant in Ottawa.

[unrelated discussion]
Back home I take my Thai food seriously, and Ottawa has a disproportionally high number of excellent Thai restaurants. Of all world cuisines, Thai reigns supreme in my books. In order to make just and accurate rankings, I will order the same few dishes at each restaurant. These include the staple Pad Thai (Mark’s fave), chicken or beef panang plus a wildcard dish such as beef with lemongrass, yellow curry, green curry, papaya salad or some kind of meat with cashew nuts. Incidentally, in my mind there is no such thing as bad Pad Thai, it’s all satisfyingly good especially compared to Indonesian msg-laden mie goreng (fried noodles) bleh. My number one in Ottawa, fyi, is Siam Bistro based on quality, quantity, price point and ambiance (Sukhothai is #2, Nokum Thai is #3…). The food in Sukhothai did not quite live up to it’s Ottawa namesake, but the ancient city did not disappoint. I’ve gotten carried away with food again, back to the city…
[/end unrelated discussion]

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