A Travellerspoint blog

March 2012

Thailand, Lao, and China Feb. 2012

From the South to the North, Bangkok to Chiang Rai. We decided to rent a van and drive north through the ancient cities of Ayutthaya, and Sukhothai for our first week

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The tourist van we rented. They actually let us drive it away ourselves....even though we drive on the wrong side of the road!
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Elephant ranglin' in Ayutthaya
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He was goin' for my wallet!
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Ayutthaya has its own style...even the tuk-tuk's were different
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Ruins at Ayutthaya Historical City. Built around 1350, destroyed by the Burmese in 1767. It's estimated that Ayutthaya, by the year 1600, had a population of about 300,000, with the population perhaps reaching 1,000,000 around 1700. Making it one of the world's largest cities at that time
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Wonder how long that's been there?
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He didn't look happy having his lunch interupted
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After checking out the ruins we went for a boat ride on the river. The city is basically an island surrounded by the river. In the old days it was used as a defense system. The food was great, cooked on the boat, with a few cold Chang beers large_IMG_2233.jpg
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We had a great time...especially after it got dark and our lovely captain ran out of diesel. We had to tie to a piling in the pitch black night, refuel with the spare can she had on board, and then bleed the system. She was worried. We told her she had three guys, all who had had boats, all with diesels, and all have run outta fuel in the dark! We just laughed and thought it was funny! Made her feel a lot better. Good thing I had a flashlight handy.
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Giant Monk statue on the way to Sukhothai
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Real live pig butt! A bunch of em, all numbered and ready for market
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Now there's somethin' ya don't see everyday!
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We stopped here for lunch. Chicken wings and beer!
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Giant Golden Buddha on the way to Sukhothai
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Had to maneuver our van down some pretty small roads to get to some of the temple cities
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The ruins at Sukhothai and surrounding cities were just as impressive. A little older than Ayutthaya, around 1238, and spread out over a much larger area.
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I climbed to the top of one temple for pics. I asked first
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The town was all decked out for a festival. Perfect time to be there!
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Bring on the Festival!
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Lots of fun, music, dance, food, and fireworks!
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Headed out the next morning for Chiang Mai. Mostly superhighway, nice Morning Glorylarge_IMG_2761.jpg
Back in Chiang Mai. Spent the night, and then headed for Chiang Rai, and Ban Lao, where Nattaya's family lives
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Breakfast at our guesthouse
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Cute little car
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Chiang mai is full of beautiful temples
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Orchid nursery, Chiang Rai
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Wat Tham Pla, the Fish and Monkey cave near the Myanmar border. They don't tell ya about the crocodiles!
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Apparently the monkeys and crocodiles are pals
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The 'fish' part of Fish and Monkey cave
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The cave temple was wonderful, and quite the hike up the mountain.
400 of these.....
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Which leads to this....
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And gets you here. to the entrance
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Buddha image in the cave
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Buffet in Chiang Rai near my guesthouse. There's a new idea, pay by the minute!
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Yum, live crickets, you could get them live, or have them deep fried.
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I opted for the squid! Deeeeeelicious!
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The roaches were next on the menu
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The scenery on the way to Ban Lao
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Thai Scarecrow
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Back at my favorite restaurant, Haad Chiang Rai (Chiang Rai Beach)
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Just tryin' to relax!
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Great temple tucked away from the beach on a hill overlooking the river
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Posted by ikombazana 08:16 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Motorbike Trip, Kok River

Going where no Farang on a motorbike has ever gone before!

While in Chiang Rai the last time, we did a Longtail boat trip down the Kok river from Thaton to Chiang Rai. About a 6 hour trip. This time we decided to tackle it by motorbike. Even though the map showed no roads.....
Some beautiful temples on the road to Thaton
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Not sure....sculpture at the Hot Springs we came across. Also Monk approved massage.
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Villages dotted the hillsides
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Our vehicles of choice. Mine was the speedy lookin' blue Honda
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Don't really approve of this, but Mom was teaching her daughter how to be a waitress, and she even counted our change.
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Thaton. This is where we turned left and headed down the river
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Teak tree trunk stools, very cool...and heavy!
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Literally, tons of garlic
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Love the hand pumps at the gas station. And the amount in Baht was written on the side of the glass
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Found this along the river
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Mostly farm land
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Tom loaded for bear!
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The trail down the Kok river
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Great little villages
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And villagers!
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Cute kids followed us through their village
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Turned out to be a water buffalo/goat trail most of the way. Had a few mishaps, almost lost a bike or two down a cliff and into the river...no pictures, couldn't really let go of the bike for about an hour and a half! The trail was so small you couldn't get off the bike. Mountain straight up on your left, 60-80 foot drop to the river on your right! Turned out to be one of the best parts of the trip!
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Posted by ikombazana 07:32 Comments (0)

North to South, Chiang Rai to Pattaya

Garlic fields outside Thaton, on the way to Fang
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Hotel in Fang. Very nice, $15.00 a night!
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Beautiful temple at Chiang Dao caves
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Herb vendor outside Chiang Dao
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Catfish pond, Chiang Dao caves
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Entrance to Wat Tham Chiang Dao
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The cave was great. 453 meters, many temples, bridges over streams, and stalactites
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Back in Chiang Mai, temples everywhere!
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Monkmobile
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Beautifully carved and polished teak Buddha image
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Kunan, or jackfruit. The tree is well suited to tropical lowlands, and its fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching as much as 80 pounds in weight, and up to 36 inches long and 20 inches in diameter.
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And then it was on to Pattaya to wait for Ted to get his replacement Passport. Not exactly why I go to Thailand, but had never been and everybody said I should see it at least once. That was enough
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Some cool cars
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I asked for a half dozen oysters on the half shell. They were fresh, delicious, probably two dozen of them, and $3.00!
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The duck was delicious too. Ate where the locals did, instead of the big seafood places where the clientele was mostly Russian! And the food rediculously overpriced
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The beach was nice, but very touristy. And the umbrellas cost ya.
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Went to the harbor. Lots of boat building
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The yacht club and harbor were nice
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Ouch!
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Yacht club apartments at Ocean Marina Yacht Club
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My Gucci motorbike to tool around on
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There were a couple of nice temples up on the hill overlooking the city
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The Chinese temple and gardens were truly beautiful.
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As you can see, Pattaya is a large tourist beach town, lots of nightclubs, bars, and, well, rooms rented by the hour, if you know what I mean....and I think you do! Not really my 'cup of tea'. Onward to meet Ted and Nattaya in Ubon, and head to Lao
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Posted by ikombazana 22:48 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Paksong Lao, and the Bolaven Plateau

Waterfalls, French coffee and Lao tea!

The border on the way to Pakse and Paksong. A little confusion?
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Not only the locals!
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ATM's sprouting up everywhere
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Local coffee vendor
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Backpackers 'customized' motorbike
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WIFI in the middle of nowhere
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Ariving at the falls
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The restaurant
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Waiting for lunch
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Delicous traditional Lao food
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And a couple of Beer Lao......
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Make for some happy travellers!
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First view of the falls
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My bungalow overlooking the river valley the falls dumps into
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Kickin' back on Ted and Nattaya's deck, listening to the waterfall, after a long day's travel to Paksong
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The next morning Ted and I got up early and headed for sunrise at the falls. Stairs down to the swimming holes at the base of the waterfall
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Couldn't go any farther
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Sunrise at E Tu waterfall
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Orchids growing wild everywhere
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Tourist
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Monk at the falls
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Giant teak roots
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Cicadas went off until sunset
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Our bungalows at the top of the falls
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All set on a coffee plantation, on a hillside above the falls
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Nattaya and our hostess
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Posted by ikombazana 22:11 Comments (0)

The 4000 Islands of Southern Lao

Mekong Delta near the Cambodian border

Boat dock for the trip to the islands
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On our way, lots of traffic on the river
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Our first view of Don Det
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Found out it was more for the twenty something crowd with 'Space Cookies, and 'Mushroom Shakes' And the local beach loving water buffalo. Not that there's anything wrong with that.....
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So we headed out....
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Over the old railroad bridge....
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To some quiet bungalows...
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On a beautiful private beach on Don Khon, the next island.....
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Where the restaurants were empty.....
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And beautiful Temples, and waterfalls filled the landscape
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Where the monks lived
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Friendly local kids
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The road to Liphi Waterfall
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Locals selling their crafts
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Sunset from my deck
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Breakfast!
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Our taxi for the trip to Khon Pha Peng waterfall
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Our restaurant from the water
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Farm life along the Mekong
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Local critters
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Khon Pha Peng waterfall, the largest in South East Asia
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Restaurant along the way
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Our ride awaits for the trip back to Don Khon
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We picked up the owners kids for the trip back
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Nice houseboats for rent
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Under the bridge and back to our beach
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The beach on the south end of Don Khon
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With amazing swimming holes
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And boats to take you to find the Irrawaddy Dolphin. One of the only species of freshwater dolphin still in existence
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Looking over to Cambodia
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The hoist the French built to overcome the falls
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And take goods by train to the shipping dock they built. If you wanted something shipped up the Mekong, you had to do it through the French.
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The old loading dock
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The landscape was absolutely amazing!
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The motorbike ride to Don Det for dinner and entertainment
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My trusty steed
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Little naked boy driving his boat along the river
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Sums up life on Don Det
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A beautiful little village
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Traffic on the bridge
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The first bungalow was mine, the third Ted and Nattaya's
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The staff having a spirited game of Badminton
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Sunset, day 2. just like day one, Amazing!
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Hammocks on every porch
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Hand woven walls, not very soundproof, but nice
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More happy travellers we met. Ed and Sue who owned a resort in Nepal
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Oh yeah...they were Aussies!
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Posted by ikombazana 19:45 Comments (1)

Pakse, Southern Lao

Gateway to the South

Hotel in Pakse, we splurged!
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The first elevator I had seen in weeks!
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Comfy $30.00 hotel room
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The view from my window
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Across the street
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Downtown Pakse
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Temple near the hotel
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The Nagas guarding the temple are very different in Lao
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Lots of old temples
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Wonderful hand carved wood doors
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How do you say that?
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I just liked the paint job
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The view from the restaurant on the roof of the hotel
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Posted by ikombazana 19:19 Comments (0)

Ubon Ratchatani, Thailand

From Pakse, on the way to Beijing

On our way back into Thailand
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Lots of Bananas!
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The water heater store, just like the one in iKombazana
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Al Pacino gets around
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The Golden Buddha inside the main temple in Ubon
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Balls of gold leaf to adorn the Buddha
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Miami Vice colored Naga
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The amazing golden statue in the Town Centre in Ubon Ratchatani
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Beautiful Plumeria were everywhere...just like Hawaii!
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Posted by ikombazana 18:58 Comments (0)

China Feb 2012

Good Night Beijing! Crashed in the airport for a few hours before heading to the wall
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Mmmmm...woke up to Chinese Mickey D's coffee
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Beijing Skyline
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My Buddy. He actually saluted me on the way out
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Many Chinese tourists on this section of the wall
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'Cindy' our guide
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It basically says 'Be a man, Climb the Wall!'
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Village at the wall
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Example of weaponry of the time
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Happy Travellers. Ted, Nattaya, and I at Juyong Pass
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Steep section
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Many beautiful Temples and buildings at this section
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Not a bad gig, Great Wall cop!
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Entrance to the Ming Tombs
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The 'Soul Tower' where the Emperor is burried
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The 'Yin and Yang' gate at the tomb
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Original headstone at the tomb of Emperor Muzong of the Ming Dynasty
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View from the tomb
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No tourists. The Chinese people believe the tomb is full of ghosts and won't go there
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Jade market
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Some amazing pieces
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Some, as big as me!
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What everyone needs, solid jade patio furniture. About $80.000.00
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The base is wood, but the carving is Yellow Jade
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It was an incredible trip! From temples in the north, to almost crashing into the river on a motorbike, to seeing wonderful new places I have never been, and spending days on the river, hiking, boating, and just relaxing!. But mostly just interacting with the local people and learning about new food, meeting new friends, and realizing what truly matters in life! Can't wait till next time!

Posted by ikombazana 17:46 Comments (0)

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