Tagged: trekking

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

The shuttle bus drive to Brunei only ended up taking 3 hours from Miri instead of 4 hours. Brunei is a strict Muslim country and is completely dry aka it’s illegal for alcohol or cigarettes to be sold. However, you can bring a limited amount across the border with you, which we did.

We got off the shuttle bus at 11:30am and were then walking around downtown in our normal short and tank top outfits, carrying around 2 bags of liquor bottles and a 24 rack of beer. We got negative stares left and right for carrying around alcohol. We went to take out money at HSBC and the security guard liked the alcohol, but then when we tried to walk into a restaurant for lunch we got kicked out because we couldn’t have liquor on us. We ended up eating in a food court across the street from the Brunei Hotel. One of the workers provided us with plastic bags to cover the beer in but we still were being stared at for the next hour as we sat there.
We were invited to stay with friends of Gibraltar’s (a wife and husband) while in town at their house a little outside of downtown. The wife picked us up from downtown and drove us home. We spent the rest of the day just relaxing in their house and we enjoyed an amazing home cooked meal by the husband. He made Wagyu beef chili. 
We also learned that night that the fake Smirnoff, Semi-of, that we splurged on and brought is also Arak and not vodka. Arak is a local Malaysian/Indonesian alcohol that tastes like a mix between tequila, whiskey and sake. It has less alcohol than vodka and gives terrible hangovers.
The next morning Vermont and I woke up at 6am to go on a morning trek with the wife and a friend of hers. We drove out and trekked Tasek Lama Taman Peranginan, a public park in the city. The trek was proper with steep hills and beautiful forest views. From a distance we saw the Parliament building with the blue dome, and the Palace with the gold dome. We trekked almost 4km. 

  

After trekking we drove to Ricebowl for breakfast. The restaurant looks like a modern coffee shop with wood accents and marble tables and stools. I had the chicken curry with toast, which was recommended, and the stir fried vegetables. 

After breakfast we drove home and the wife rushed to work. Vermont, Gibraltar and I got ready and set out for the day. We walked down the street to the bus stop and waited almost half and hour for bus #23. It was about a thirty minute right to downtown, and we were dropped off right where we were the day before. We walked across river, over the mini pedestrian bridge, to the day market. The umbrellas were rainbow and there was enough action that we weren’t overwhelmed. Most of the vendors were respectful Muslims and they weren’t harassing us to buy things like we’re used to in other asian countries.

I was hoping to find good vegetables to snack on here but the locals were mostly selling eggplant, squash, potatoes, turnips, ginger, chilis, and various dried seafoods. There was nothing I wanted to buy but the market was very nice nonetheless. 

      Afterwards we checked out a Chinese temple across the street then boarded a small boat to take us to the Water Village. The boat driver had seen us before the market and was following us up and down the river as we walked it, hoping we’d ride with him. We thought he was a bit nuts but he ended up being very nice and helpful. He lives in the Water Village and was a great guide who kept making jokes about anacondas in the water.

The Water Village is just next to downtown. It’s a bunch of houses built on stilts in the water. About 30,000 people live here. There are multiple schools, a fire house, etc. The residents of the village have a great view of the skyline- downtown and the big mosque. 

   

  We drove down the river and went as close as possible to the Palace where the sultan lives. The palace is white and almost resembles a space ship, and has a gold dome. There are over 1,700 rooms in the palace and yet the sultan’s son lives in a separate palace. On Friday’s from 12-2pm the entire city shuts down for prayer. All businesses must close including schools, markets, etc. It was Friday and we were expecting this, and at 12:30pm when we were still on the boat we experienced what the city truly is like. We stopped in the water village right outside the two major mosques downtown and listened to the thousands of people praying. The sound echoed.

We had the driver drop us off at the pedestrian bridge leading to the major mosque, Sultan Omar Ali Saiffudien. The mosque modern Islamic architecture. It is white with a massive gold shiny dome. We are not allowed to enter the mosque at all on Fridays so we just walked around the outside. 

We still had an hour until the city came to life again so we decided to make our way back to the Coffee Bean where we had been before to use the wifi. Outside a mall and random shops and restaurants sat local Chinese workers who also seemed annoyed that the city shut down for two hours every Friday.

At 2pm we grabbed lunch at a Chinese restaurant that served pork, which is a rarity in this city. I had dry vermicelli noodles with barbecued pork and a sour mango and plum juice. 

Afterwards we wandered around and ended up at a super market. I bought veggies to snack on. Afterwards we made our way to the bus stations and made our way back home. That night our hosts had some friends over for dinner and we did a big Indian take-out meal. The food was delicious, the company was fun, and in general I’ve loved being in a home for a meal and taking a break from the travel life.

The next morning we woke up for a afternoon of relaxation. Our host made us homemade breakfast wraps filled with Canadian bacon, a sunny side up egg, a roasted sun-dried tomato and cheese. 

At 4:30pm we were back at the big Mosque this time to go inside. We put on the robes and hijab’s and went inside. We weren’t aloud to walk past the main entrance bit but we could see the whole thing from there. It was pretty plain with white walls and gold details, but the colorful carpet lightened it it. After on of the workers there walked us into the boat on the lake attached to the mosque. Along the way he told me that this is the only place on be complex that he can smoke cigarettes. Also that he illegally imports and sells cigarettes. Last week he brought in 600 cartons, which if he was caught would mean jail and a $16,000 Brunei dollar fine.

We mentioned to him that we wanted to hire a boat to go to see the monkeys down the river and he rang up his cousin to take us. We drove all the way down the Brunei river, past the palace and past the new palace that’s being built. We saw about thirty proboscis monkeys in the trees; they are a lot smaller than I expected them to be.   On the drive home we watched the sky turn as the sun began to set. We went through the Water Village again then parked in town which gave us a nice skyline view.   The wife picked us up and we drove out of town to a Excapade sushi restaurant for my birthday dinner- my birthday is tomorrow but we’re splitting up then. I had 15 pieces of salmon sashimi for 15 Brunei dollars, $11. I also had sliced avocado and tuna maki. The salmon was fresh and the tuna is locally caught. The meal was fantastic.

After dinner we can home and had a beer and a Magnum ice cream. 

It was my birthday and I ended up traveling almost the whole day. Vermont and I took an 8am bus back to Kota Kinabulu in Sabah. The bus from was 6 hours during which we passed through immigration 8 times. We left Brunei, entered Sarawak, left Sarawak, entered Brunei, left Brunei, entered Sarawak, left Sarawak, entered Sabah. I got a stamp for each check point, plus I already had stamps for Malaysia and Brunei. Luckily I have two extra booklets in my passport to accommodate this. 

  

Taman Negara, Malaysia

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Sweden and I traveled to Taman Negara via a four hour mini-bus then a three hour long canoe ride along the river. We arrived at 4pm and checked into Julie’s Hostel. The dorm has seven non-bunk beds with two ensuite bathrooms and AC for $7 per night.

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Taman Negara is the oldest rainforest in the world at 130 million years old. Last year there was a major flood and a lot of the rainforest was damaged which is visible along the water banks. The tiny town across from the rainforest is where the accommodation, restaurants and general store in located. The accommodation is up a hill while the restaurants are on barges on the water (the are also a few on the one street up the hill.)

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We had been planning to stay three nights and two days but we changed our plans when we found out how little there is to do besides trekking. We decided to spend our next day doing all the activities (day and night trekking,) and leave the day after.

We woke up, had breakfast on one of the barges, then headed out on our own for day trekking. First we walked to the canopy walk- the longest in the world. There were five walks that were very sturdy.

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Then we walked up to Bukit Terisek view point at 344 meters. But we found a taller peak right before with a nicer view. We trekked back down the mountain which ended up being an adventurous path through destroyed trees. We stumbled upon a massive fallen tree that we were able to climb onto and walk on. It’s roots stuck in the air about 15 ft high. From there we skipped over streams and eventually made our way to Lubuk Simpon, the swimming area. It was a separate part of the river that was lagoon-like. The water was too cold for my liking but it was refreshing to jump in none the less.

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We made it back by 5ish, had lunch on another barge, then went out for an evening jungle trek. Some girls we knew did it the night before and said it was great- they saw spiders, scorpions, snakes, etc. But our trip ended up being not so great. There were two groups with kids right before us on the path who kept screaming and scaring everything off. At one point two boys were arguing over who spotted the tarantula first and by the time we got there all we could see was one leg sticking out of a hole in a tree. Through the whole walk we saw a few stick bugs, a grasshopper, the leg of a tarantula, half a scorpion, and the wing of a colorful bird hiding in a tree. I guess you either luck out or you don’t.

After the tour we grabbed beer and burgers in town with two of our roommates. The next morning we left for Kuala Lumpur.

Sapa, Vietnam

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We arrived in Sapa Friday afternoon. We stayed at Go Sapa Hostel on the top of the hill right above the Main Street in town. The hostel was recently renovated and now resembles a Scandinavian lodge- wooden, sleek and modern. While the hostel is designed well it is not made for winter months. The common area is completely outdoors (a small fireplace does not provide enough warmth) and the rooms are freezing at night.

The town looks exactly like a European ski village. A small Main Street packed with western restaurants and cafes- Italian food is the most common. Local women dressed in traditional costume line the sidewalks selling traditional clothes and accessories to tourists.

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The weather was better than we expected although still not ideal. The daytime was warm and sunny but around 4pm the weather dropped and nighttime felt like winter, minus snow. I wore multiple layers everyday since none of my clothes were actually winter clothes.

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Our first night we walked all around town and had dinner at one of the few Vietnamese restaurants. A bunch of the restaurants in town have set menu options for dinner, which we decided to have. For $5 we each got pumpkin soup, spring rolls, tofu and eggplant baked in a clay pot, rice, and fruit for dessert. All the portions were actually size so the set menu is a fantastic deal.

After dinner we went home to relax. There are a couple bars in town but none seemed too appealing. There’s one western spot that’s overpriced and one local club that’s too loud for a mountain village town. Our room that night was icy. We asked for a heater from reception which didn’t make much of a difference in room temperature, and we were told the next morning that it’s $2.50 a night to use it. We didn’t use it again.

I woke up the next morning with what I think is the flu. I felt awful but determined to see the rice terraces, which was the whole point of coming to Sapa.

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We walked to Cat Cat Village the next day. The walk took about 25 minutes down a winding road. Although the village is original it is now designed for tourists. A pathway leads you through the houses and shops. Local women sell local costumes and accessories on the side of the pathway, and local children wander the pathway selling jewelry. There were pigs, chickens, buffalo and dogs roaming the grounds. The famous rice terraces were everywhere and could be seen from any angle. The terraces were beautiful although not as green and lush as they appear in the summer months.

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At 2pm there was a traditional dance show in the town theater near the waterfall. I admit I didn’t watch much of the show because I was busy taking pictures of three local boys who came in and sat in front of me. They were about 4 years old, all covered in dirt and excited to watch the show. After the show Scotland caught their attention with his iPhone6 and we all took photos with them.

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We then walked through the remaining part of town, over a creaky bridge, and caught motorbikes back to town. Scotland and I rode the same motorbike, it was the first time I rode one with three people. That night a bunch of us went into town and Scotland and I shared a mixed meat hot pot. From there we went to Mountain Bar and Pub (the western expensive bar.) I drank tea and we all played foosball on the oldest table we’ve ever seen- if was covered in about an inch of dust. The game got incredibly intense which was fun.

I woke up the next morning just as sick as the day before so decided not to go out with the group for the day. I missed seeing all the good stuff- Silver and Love waterfalls, going to Ta Phin village (with the most famous rice terraces,) and Tram Ton Pass, but I couldn’t force myself out for a second day in a row. Instead I slept in, then went to Le Petit Gecko and had an outdoor lunch of tuna Niçoise salad and ginger tea. After lunch I had an hour foot massage, bought an Asian pear, then headed back home to relax.

When the group came back they said the day was ok but not spectacular and that they mostly just biked around the whole time. The waterfalls weren’t running, and the village was similar enough to Cat Cat village from the day before. I’m happy I decided to stay back and relax.

That night I went to dinner alone at the local restaurant. There’s a section over local restaurants above the Main Street and I thought that would be the best place to get plain noodle soup. I walked into the first place mostly because I didn’t have energy to search and they all looked identical. My dinner ended up being a nightmare and I wish I had looked around.

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Cat Ba Island, Vietnam – Halong Bay

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To see Halong Bay we decided to stay on Cat Ba Island, which is directly next to the bay and not too touristy. We stayed at Cat Ba Hostel. Originally we booked a dorm but the hostel was almost empty so we convinced them to give us double rooms for the same price as the dorm, $3 each. I roomed with Scotland.

The town is very small. One strip of restaurants and guesthouses/hotels along the bay with vertical streets going inward towards land. Our hostel was at the top of one of the vertical streets. In the summer the town is supposedly packed with tourists and backpackers. There’s an island feel mixed into this fishing village. But now it’s deserted. We did get very lucky with weather but it’s still winter here.

We picked up two Brits on the ferry to Cat Ba. Now we just need an Irish and I’ll officially be with the whole UK crew.

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Our first day after checking in we walked to the beach, which is about a 10 minute walk from town. It was our first official view of the bay. We stayed long enough to drink one large beer but left because it really wasn’t warm enough to be there- the wind was too cold. On our walk back to town we stopped at an outdoor cafe/bar that was in the sun and out of the wind. We had a free cocktail then a few rounds of beer while sunbathing and playing pool.

That night we went to Good Bar, then Rose Bar, the two backpacker bars in town. Good Bar is on the third floor of a waterfront restaurant. The interior is stone and felt like the perfect atmosphere for a winter bar. The cocktails are legit made with fresh fruit juice, and they’re two for one. Rose Bar is the late night dingy spot.

Our second day we rented scooters- I rode on Scotland’s since I can’t bike. We drove through a small local town behind the touristy waterfront section. Up through the mountains on newly paved roads. We stopped at Hospital Cave, a small cave developed with during the war for Vietnamese to hide from bombers. The cave was 3 floors. The bottom floor is cement rooms- the meeting room, the cinema room, the washing room, the dining room, the hospital, etc. The second floor is a huge open cave, and the third floor (which we couldn’t go to) is a small room that generals used for their meetings. The floors are set-up like a labyrinth, so when you’re on the first floor you can actually be right below the third floor. Incredibly smart and spacious.

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After the cave we drove to the National Park. We did the short hike up to Nam Lam Peak- one hour total. The hike wasn’t too bad and the view was incredible. Lush green mountains surrounded us.

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We hopped back onto our bikes and tried to get to the Cannon before sunset. We made it but after learning it was $3 we decided against it. Not worth it after just being at a better view. So we decided to grab dinner at a local place in town. I had been excited to try the seafood which is supposed to be great on the bay but I was disappointed. I had Pho Tom, Pho with shrimp, but the shrimp were tiny and flavorless. Afterward we cleaned up and went back to Good Bar. I called it an early-ish night since we had to get up early the next day.

Up at 7:30am for breakfast and picked up at 8am for our day on Halong Bay. We drove to the port, which took less than 5 minutes. We boarded a boat and headed out to sea. The boat had an enclosed downstairs, and an open upstairs, half of which was a tarp we could lay on. We became friends with an Aussie and New Zealand girl on the tour, and the group of us spent most of the boat ride hanging out on the tarp. We drove for about 30 minutes past fishing villages (farms on the water) and landed on Monkey Island. We got off the boat directly on the beach and climbed up rocks to reach the top of the mountain on the beach. I wore flip flops which were awful to climb in (no warning there would be rock climbing or a hike.) At the top of the mountain there were two monkeys that joined us. One of them opened up a guys bag and grabbed an apple and piece of bread to snack on- the guy wasn’t quick enough to get them away.

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We hung out on the beach for about 30 minutes after the climb. I found 6 pieces of beach glass including an aqua piece. Most of the pieces are green; I’m assuming they’re from Saigon bottles.

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About an hour later we reached Halong Bay from Cat Ba Bay, although we couldn’t tell the difference. We canoed through Halong Bay for a while going through caves. After canoeing we had a seafood spread lunch on the boat. Steamed shrimp, fish, tofu, sautéed cabbage, spring rolls and rice. We then laid out on the tarp sunbathing for half an hour before the boat took off again. However, the boat only drive for about 20 minutes and then it stopped again for another 30 minutes. We parked next to another boat like ours and the workers all played cards and drank together. We just relaxed and played cards in the sun. The UK boy jumped in the water but it was too cold for swimming.

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On the way home (about a 2 hour journey) we stopped at one of the fish farms and were able to walk around. Imagine a very narrow (less than two feet wide) boardwalk grid above the water, and in each of the squares is a massive net keeping the fish in. The fish are raised here. We saw all types of fish, some tiny and some that looked like mini-sharks. The boardwalk pathway was staying afloat by sitting on top of plastic canisters. Needless to say it was a wobbly walk, and my fears were heightened when I tripped over my own flip flops.

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We went out hard that night since we didn’t have to wake up for anything the next day. First Oasis for half price daiquiris, then Good Bar where I drank 2-for-1 fresh passion fruit mojitos and the bartender split a cantaloupe shisha with me. I met a few Americans who are in Vietnam for a week on business- they’re in the shit business, engineers making toilets. We all went to Marigold Club, which was empty except with a few local men who insisted on taking photos and videos with me/us non-stop. Danced on stage for a bit then headed back to Good Bar until we finally got kicked out because it closed. A great night.

I woke up the next afternoon and headed down to the waterfront for lunch. I walked around the lake on the far side of town then settled into an outdoor table in the sun at My Way Cafe for some fresh seafood. I ordered grilled squid and a tomato salad. The squid was amazing- grilled with chopped garlic, ginger and chili peppers.

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After lunch I walked through the local market looking for my typical fruit snack and a big a sweatshirt for Sapa. The market was typical for a town, a small section for fruit and vegetables, and another small section for clothes and accessories. Most of the fruit didn’t appeal to me; there are no papayas in the cold and the dragon fruit wasn’t ripe. However, I couldn’t stand to casually walk through the market like I usually do. I was the only person shopping at that time of day and every single stand owner was screaming at my to buy bananas while throwing green unripened bananas in my face. It became too much to stand so I quickly left.

Across the street I ran into Scotland and we decided to go for massages. We went to Foot Therapy above Kiwi Bar and both got an hour back, neck and head massage. They took us to the top floor of the bar and we each laid down on an actual bed and got massaged.

That night all of us went for a big seafood dinner at Phong Phong Restaurant, which I found on trip advisor. I ordered boiled green vegetables and grilled scallops. The waiter first brought me out a plate of white cabbage dripping with oil. I sent it back saying that this vegetable is not green and can I please have the boiled spinach instead. Next the waiter brought me out a plate of steamed clams with sweet and sour sauce, yet another translation mistake. I sent back the clams for grilled squid, which was difficult since the waiter was convinced he brought me scallops. More than halfway through my squid the waiter brought me a plate of broccoli in oyster sauce. Not what I ordered either but I didn’t complain; the broccoli was delicious. The squid on the other hand was not. It was supposed to be grilled with a lemon garlic sauce and instead was grilled then doused with a sweet jam like sauce. The restaurant forgot to charge me for the broccoli but I didn’t tell them. The entire meal was slow and stressed me out, so I felt better knowing something was free.

After dinner we went back to Oasis Bar where I got a peppermint tea and a coconut- I took the day off from drinking. There was a “Marnie the dog” look-a-like there who was in a serious need of a haircut. I called it an early night and went home a little after midnight to read. Yes, that’s an early night.

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Pai, Thailand

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I just spent 8 nights in Pai, known as the village of hippies, vegans, hot springs and drugs. The village is north-west of Chiang Mai, approx. 3 hours on a windy road through the mountains in a minivan. It’s mainly 2 roads (3 traffic lights), lined with shops, bars, restaurants and street food vendors. Everyone is hippied out and looks incredibly relaxed. Like a beach town minus the beach.

Most hostels and hotels are located just outside of the village. I’m currently traveling with a friend from Calgary. The hostel I stayed at my first and last two nights is called Common Grounds. It has an outdoor common area with pillows on the ground, tapestry draping from the ceiling, white Christmas lights and plants all around. In the middle of our week there we stayed at SpicyPai Backpackers, which is bungalow style. Multiple dorm bungalows and a few lounge bungalows, with a fire pit outside. The hot springs are located just up the road.

My first night I got a hair wrap (red, taupe and aqua.) Our second night we ate dinner at Mama Falafel, an Israeli restaurant that was recommended by Lonely Planet. The hummus wasn’t real hummus and the service was slow. I definitely won’t be going back there. That night the bar street was packed with people and late night everyone shifted just over the bridge to Don’t Cry- an outdoor bar with 2 fire pits. The next morning we actually found lox and bagels, which was delicious.

The foreign works at out hostel don’t wake up until around noon and then they lounge around the common area all day and night, just like the guests. One worker said that if he writes two emails in one day that he’s done a lot and takes a nap. If he told me that while I was home I would think that’s ridiculous, but here it makes complete since. Our first day we woke up at noon, went out to breakfast, inquired about trekking, had a papaya shake, got a thai massage, had a banana passion fruit shake, and shopped around a bit. The whole day was exhausting. It definitely has to do with the heat but in general the culture in Pai really is hippie.

Even the dogs are hippies. Dressed up in crazy outfits, lounging in guesthouse common areas, bar seats, on top of motorbikes, etc. They’re all adorable.

We moved out of town to SpicyPai on our third day. The hostel is in the middle of mountains and has amazing views. Directly behind our dorms sits the white marble Buddah in the middle of a mountain. It’s about a 20min walk from town but too hot to walk. I hired a motorbike taxi to take me to the hospital one day and up pulled a motorbike with a cage attached to the side. The cage had one bench on the side and a few bars around to hold onto. It was more terrifying than a tuk tuk. I kept feeling like he was going to smash me into something, but luckily I survived.

I made the decision not to rent a motorbike. I’m not comfortable driving one and I know I’ll wind up hurting myself and possibly whoever I hit. Unfortunately having a motorbike is the only good mode of transportation, and apparently in Vietnam and Cambodia too. To get to the hot springs from downtown Pai it costs around 600 baht, versus a motorbike which is 100 baht for the whole day. However, literally every single person I’ve met who rides one has crashed at least once, and many people walking around the town have bandages on their arms and legs. At the hospital I saw about 30 people come in post-crash. One guy broke his arm, another girl scratched up half of her body badly, including her face. This one guy was in a wheel chair and couldn’t stop heavily breathing and crying. And yet even with all these crashes everyone continues to ride, most without helmets.

On our fourth day we rented a taxi for the day with some girls from our hostel- a girl from Queens, an Aussie, and a Brit. We went to the Mae Paeng Waterfall first. I went swimming in the middle part of the fall and had the hardest time getting out because the rocks were too slippery. My other friend from Queens had to drag me out, funniest thing ever. Next we went to the Chinese Village where we ate Chinese food (I had my favorite wonton soup from Guangzhou that I used to eat at the trade show everyday) and we rode a 4 seat wooden Ferris wheel pushed around by two guys. Then we went to the WWII wooden bridge and headed to the Canon for sunset. The canon had a bunch of small pathways which led to farther points to walk on. Beautiful scene although the sunset was pretty unimpressive. The sun disappeared but there was no coloring.

The next day we went to Fluid pool. 60 baht to get into the Western haven. A large pool with a long patch grass down one side. Colorful tweed plastic mats are provided and are spread throughout the grass, everyone overlapping. We went for our friends Bday and seriously enjoyed the decision to go there. Everyone is good looking, the drinks and food are delish and the music is like a quite DJ. We went back again the second day. We closed the pool down on both nights after sunset, and I saw the most amazing sky at the pool on the first night- thick blue and white vertical streaks.

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The next day I left for a white water rafting/ stay overnight at a village/ trekking trip. Our tour guide for all the activities was Jako from Pai Adventures. Jako spoke English almost fluently, which he taught himself from speaking with tourists. He’s 33, has a girlfriend and 2 kids, a boy and a girl. His origin is Tibet, from the Lahu tribe.

The white water rafting was really fun. 6 hours long with about 20 patches of white water. Nothing too crazy but well worth it. Jako kept steering us into rocks to make it more fun. At one point we all jumped out and floated down the river on our backs for about 20 minutes with the current. There was one patch where we got stuck on a rock with a strong current. Three people initially fell and got tumbled along. I fell trying to get us off the rock, and then I fell again when we got stuck on another rock. But my first fall was epic. My Canadian friend tumbled into me and we both fell backwards. My camera panel snapped off when Jake was dragging me back onto the boat but luckily the camera is still working. Along the river we stopped at a waterfall and then at a hot spring. The hot spring was just a small stream of water but it was cool to touch and see- it was at least 110 degrees. The highlight of my day was when we spotted a black monkey swinging from a white bridge. He then jumped onto the bridge and quickly walked off, like a little human.

After rafting we went with Jako back to his village, called Lookaulam. The village has 600 people, 150 families. There’s a general store, a school with a volleyball net, and a rice sifter machine in a shack. That’s it besides the homes. There were 6 of us who stayed that night. Me, my Canadian, 2 boys from Madrid, and 2 girls from Holland. We slept in an empty house that Jako built. Thin mattresses, sleeping bags and mosquito nets. We ate dinner that night on Jako’s porch. Yellow curry chicken with potatoes, and mixed vegetables and wild mountain rice (from his village.) After dinner we bought some of the village local whiskey, which tasted like tequila, and drank and talked with Jako and his male friends all night. Thai girls don’t drink and socialize, they can’t be hungover at work.

It was impossible to sleep. There were a million roosters crowing all through the night, and a few dog fights. Jako says he can’t sleep in the city because of the noise. The village is far worse.

We woke up at 7am to take a walk through the village and then headed to Jako’s house for breakfast. He made us an American breakfast, scrambled eggs with toast, tomatoes, onions and chopped pineapple. It started to downpour while we were eating but luckily the rain stopped just in time for our trek. Unfortunately all the mud was wet when we started so it made the beginning of the trek twice as hard. The first 45 minutes was straight up hill. It was definitely a struggle. Halfway up Jako’s fat sister passes us with a huge basket of water, food and working tools on her back. She was going to work in the rice fields for 4 days. If she can do the climb so can I. We trekked for 5 hours through the jungle. We saw a canon/cave, the tallest corn stalks I’ve ever seen (I’d guess 20 feet,) the rice fields with the locals working, bamboo, a massive spider in it’s web, 2 new puppies who tried to follow us, and much more. I gave myself a war paint face but by the end of the hike I was completely covered in mud, bug spray, sunscreen and sweat.

That night back in Pai Canada and I went back to Almost Famous, our regular spot. Here I met two guys from Bordeaux and had the chance to practice my French a little. From there I went to a reggae bar called Roots, which is located along the river behind town. There was a gymnast and fire performer who performed solo and together. He’s from Cali and she’s from Switzerland and they’re living together in Pai now.

On our last night Canada and I met up with some girls from SpicyPai for drinks at Spirit bar and we finally got to sit in the tree house and drink. From there we met up with the guys that work at our hostel. We drank with them for the rest of the night and listened to live music at a Jamaican bar called Irie.

Had a dragon fruit/ passion fruit shake, and our last breakfast at Om Garden- 5th breakfast there. This time I got a BLT with bacon and a friend egg on top. Yum.

Off to Chiang Rai today.

Bars:
Almost Famous (laid back and only 50 baht for a cocktail, 150 for a bucket). 20 baht deposit to take bucket out of bar
Roots- Jamaican bar along river

Late night bars:
Don’t Cry (just out of town, has fire pits)
Sunset- fire show, Jimmy

Restaurants:
Om Garden – breakfast and lunch
Hemp Healed the World- nighttime veggie lady outside

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