Nov 072009
Culinary Heaven in Luang Prabang, Laos

The fish was so fluffy and delicious that the four of us were completely silent for the fifteen minutes it took to rip the tender flakes from the bones and devour them.

Ooh, the crispy garlic hugging the fried skin! Ooh, the fact that the little swimmer had been caught that very day on the Mekong river flowing three feet below our fairy-lit table! Oooh, the taste!!

Vijay snapped off the [...Read More!]

Nov 072009
The Most Beautiful City in Southeast Asia

Through the eight hours of mountainous twists and turns between Vang Vieng, Laos, and Luang Prabang, we asked ourselves: “Would ‘The Most Beautiful City in Southeast Asia’ live up to the hype?”

And there has been a LOT of hype about Luang Prabang. The most poignant, perhaps, was a friend on one of those whirlwind All-of-Southeast-Asia-in-30-days package trips who had a mere twenty-four hours to see the city. “I just [...Read More!]

Nov 032009
Vang Vieng's Cultural Contrasts

Crowing roosters prance next to restaurants playing “Family Guy” and “Friends” on loop to zoned-out tourists.

Jagged limestone mountains reach skyward behind five internet cafes in a row.

American beats thump late into the night as local Lao families put their children down to sleep for school the next day.

Laotians hand wash clothes in the river in front of Germans eating “Hawaiian-Style” pizza on a restaurant veranda.

Vang Vieng is chock full of cultural [...Read More!]

Nov 022009
Happy Eyes, Sad Tummy, Reflective Heart

Throwing up twenty-one times in twenty-four hours stinks. Being able to drag oneself two flights up to the hotel roof, however, and look out at the sawtooth mountains and glistening river of Vang Vieng, Laos… well, that eases the pain somewhat.

I think it was the squid soup that did me in, but who knows. A traveler is bound to get sick in some way at some point, and we [...Read More!]

Oct 312009
Around Vientiane, led by Orange-Clad Monks!

What did I do today?

In a quest for exercise plus tourism, I covertly tagged along behind various packs of Buddhist monks!

We meandered all day through Vientiane, Laos, drinking in the colors, faces, structures, and warm air.

It was a delightful way to see this delightful city!

Let’s see where the monks led. 1. Monk Pack One:

The first involuntary monk guide pack led me down a highway, past fragrant [...Read More!]

Oct 312009
Eating Like a Beast Through Vientiane, Laos

(Disclaimer: To demonstrate the heavenly Vientiane food scene in this article, I am forced to reveal my gluttonous, anti-social, cheapskate side. I promise, I do at times actually interact with the non-edible facets of life, but yesterday was not such a day.)

“Where else but Vientiane could you enjoy steak au poivre for less than US$5?” asks my Lonely Planet guide, barely holding back its drool.

Laos is an epicure’s dream. [...Read More!]

Oct 312009
Another Reason Travel in Southeast Asia is Easy!

A major goal of this blog is to demonstrate how international travel is far easier and cheaper that most folks think.

It is all too easy to get worked into a froth, worrying about all the scary snags possible in future travel dreams. These worries can make you put off your voyage for months, even years.

Here’s the secret: When you finally set off on your journey and are in the thick [...Read More!]

Oct 302009
Laos is Awesome!

I am confused. What is this strange upward twist of the lips I am seeing here in Laos? I’ve just been in Vietnam for the past month and this expression is unfamiliar. Wait a minute… it’s coming back to me… this expression is known as a “SMILE”! Glory be, Laos is full of them!

That’s right: Laos lives up to the hype. For the past three months [...Read More!]

Oct 302009
30 Hours on a Bus With No Bathroom

Riddle me this: Let’s say you are a budget traveler. Which is the best option to get from Hanoi, Vietnam, to Vientiane, Laos… while still maintaining your sanity?

a) $150 for a one hour flightb) $40 for a 24 hour sleeper busc) $14 for a “20 hour” sitting bus ride which is widely reported to actually take 36 hours.

Ponder… weigh those options…

..And then shake your head in dismay when you hear [...Read More!]

Oct 302009
YUM: Eat Vietnamese Bun Bo Nam Bo!

In Thailand, you can wake up in your hotel room at one pm (two hours after checkout), stagger to the reception clerk and say, “I think I’ll stay another night, cool?” The clerk will usually smile and nod, graciously murmuring something like, “I guessed you would.”

Being a George Bush style genius, I decided to try this tactic in Hanoi, Vietnam. The result? As I swaggered out the hotel [...Read More!]