Thursday, March 30, 2006

Borneo and Beyond

Well, I have officially left Thailand and traveled between three countries in one day.

I left Phuket after my three day stay between Karon Beach and Kamala Beach and after getting up at 5:45am to travel from there to Singapore. I met up with Matt no problem in Singapore and we just chilled for a bit during the day until we decided to grab a bus that would take us into Malaysia. It was cheap and easy to get across the border, although we had to get on and off the bus a few times to go through various rounds of immigration.

We arrived in Johor Bahru (JB) and picked a random hotel to stay in and then chilled for a bit during the evening. It was another 5:30am morning this morning, but we almost slept through the alarm because I hadn't changed my alarm clock to local time. Oopsies. Luckily Matt set his watch, that HE didn't even hear, but I woke up and was like..."CRAP! Let's go!"

When we got to the Air Asia check in desk it was actually closed cause we were running a little behind, but they let us check in anyway. Surprisingly our flight took off on time and landed ahead of schedule. A feat for this budget airline.

So we arrived here in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo. We've been here a couple hours and already have a ferry ticket booked to an island called Labuan which will get us half way to Brunei, where we are headed tomorrow morning very early. It should be interesting. Not sure what to expect there, but we figured that we might as well check it out while we're here.

Anyway, after all this moving, I'm going to be ready for some more beach time. I'm quite exhausted at the moment and would love a nice nap with a wake up Starbucks (by the way, I had my first Starbucks in over a month yesterday in Malaysia!). We'll probably head north toward the beach after we've seen all there is to see in Brunei and we're both looking forward to snorkling with high hopes of seeing sea turtles off the north coast of the island.

Well, that's it for now!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Koh Lanta...and PICTURES!

I'm here on Koh Lanta and have been for the past couple of days. This place is beautiful. I have the greatest guesthouse. It's called The Sanctuary and it's super chill and right on the beach. I was only going to spend 2 nights here originally, but I think I'll stay a little longer, just cause I like it so much. I have to be in Phuket in a day or two from now though because my flight is leaving from the Phuket airport on March 30 to head to Singapore. I'm still really looking forward to that. The beach I have right outside my doorstep.
This is my outdoor jungle bathroom. It's actually attached to my bungalow. The shower is outside as well and basically consists of a hose coming over the wall with a piece of bamboo attached to the end. It's pretty cool.
This is the beach in Ao Nang where I was last. It rained quite a bit there, but that made for some gorgeous sunsets. There were so many long tail boats there it was almost hard to relax with them yelling "Railey! Railey!" evertime you passed by. Translation: "Excuse me miss, would you care to venture toward Railey beach this afternoon?".I went on a kayaking trip in Ao Nang and we checked out quite a few caves along the way. This was one of them.

This is the classic picture that every tourist takes when you're on Koh Phi Phi Ley. It was a gorgeous beach, though we only spent about an hour there, as it was part of our snorkling trip on Phi Phi Island.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Tribute to Delta Hospital

Well, first of all I want to update you all on the status of my sunburn because I know that you're more than curious to know how that's working out for me. And the reason for this update at this point is because I have pictures.

First of all, when I got this sunburn I went to the Pharmacy on Phi Phi island to see if they had any burn cream. It was looking pretty terrible and had achieved the status of "worst sunburn ever" in my books. Anyway, this lady gave me some cream called "Solcoseryl". I have no idea what that is, but apparently one of the ingredients is protien from calves blood. Sick. I bought it anyway and she says to me, "you should put this stuff on and cover it". She gives me gause and medical tape and a needle to rupture the blister.

Well I take these supplies knowing full well there is no way I'm gonna get rid of the blister. Momma always told me that's the bodies natural reaction to a burn and it does it to protect you. So I ditch the needle. But I go ahead with the cream and gause and tape.

Mi Kyung and I doctored up my injury and I"m good to go, especially since I have to carry a 15kg backpack the following day and the burn is on my shoulder. Now that hurt.
So I get to the new place, Ao Nang, where I am now and it's fine and feeling good. I go have dinner and then when I'm getting ready for bed I decide to remove the bandage.

Now, if there's one thing I've learned from this experience. You don't put a bandage or tape of any sort on any part of a burn, not any part, because when you remove the bandage you remove your skin in large chunks. I was almost screaming bloody murder as I removed this bandage, which ended up leaving me with a nice square cut from where I removed quite a bit of my very tender burned skin. (Ok nurses, sometimes I'm not the brightest, I know...blame my mother...or something).

Anyway, it's been about 3 days and it still hurts, although I braved the pain and went swimming in the ocean anyway. It stung a bunch, but the beach was too beautiful to pass up. It doesn't look infected or anything and once the burn and massive lacerations heal I'll be good to go.

That aside, Ao Nang is a beautiful place. I've heard mixed reviews from others who've been here, but I've really seemed to enjoy myself here. I think that the crowd of people here differs a lot from a place like say, Ko Phi Phi which is a very young and drunken scene, not so much my style. The crowd here is a little older, lots of families, and tons of Europeans. So you know what that means...60 year old German men with beer bellies in SPEEDOS! Yahoo!

Well, I'm off to an island tomorrow called Ko Lanta and I'll spend about three days there on my own. Mi Kyung is going to Phuket for a night before returning to Korea. I'm happy as always to be moving on to a new place and discovering something else...hopefully not discovering anymore painful sunburns and incompitent pharmacists.

Hope you're all having a fantastic March in Vancouver...enjoy your rain!

PS if I hear James Blunt one more time I think I'm gonna punch a baby! That's all that's played from every single kiosk in Thailand!


Well after all that, I finally remembered everything to upload pictures and the friggin computer is being a pain (more than my sunburn...) so the pictures will have to come later!


Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Beach

Welcome to Koh Phi Phi (Pee Pee Islands) Thailand!

I arrived in Phi Phi on a 2 hour ferry from Phuket. I was glad to leave Phuket. Although I had heard stories about how it's not the best place to be and stuff, I really had hopes that it would be something else. So basically I just went there and stayed one night so that I could catch the ferry the next day.

Anyway, I arrived and was accosted by people trying to get me to stay at their guesthouse. I went to this one that was mediocre and then changed this morning to something better and cheaper. Which is the best way to go anyway. So I'm paying about $9 Canadian per night to stay in paradise, which isn't all that bad, although in Chiang Mai I was paying about $1.50 per night for essentially the same thing.

So, today I woke up, changed guesthouses and then hopped aboard a longtail boat with about 15 Dutch girls (and Mi Kyung the solo Korean everywhere we go) and went snorkling for about three and a half hours. We snorkled around Phi Phi Ley which is where the movie The Beach was filmed with Leonardo DiCaprio and they really don't let you forget that here even though the movie was filmed about 8-10 years ago, or something like that.

I'm here on Phi Phi for a few more days and then I'm going to visit some other places around Krabi Province, possibly Ao Nang or Krabi town and then once Mi Kyung leaves on the 25th, I'll likely head to Ko Lanta for a couple of days before returning to Phuket and meeting with Matt.

All in all I'm one very happy Canadian, aside from my massive sunburns attained from today's snorkling.

I'll post pictures soon....wait, don't I always say that? Well, I'll try harder this time.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

This is for you Mom.

My Mom really wanted to see a picture of me on an elephant. Although you can't see it's face really, you can tell, I'm sitting on a big friggin animal...kinda grey...looking elephant like. So that's gonna have to do for now cause it's too much of a pain to fiddle around with my pictures at this point. Plus...let's be serious, I'd rather be doing other things.

Tomorrow morning I'm flying into Bangkok, waiting three hours, then flying to Phuket. I know there are cheaper ways of doing things here, but definitely not as time efficient. I feel like two months isn't much time so I don't want to waste it sitting on a bus.

I'm only spending one night in Phuket and then the next morning heading out to Koh Phi Phi for a few days and then see where I go from there. Not too sure at this point, because for the rest of my trip I really have no other plans. Its kinda nice to just chill in a really wicked part of the world.

Hope all is well in the MOTHERLAND (and no, I don't mean Korea...but I hope it's good there too guys!).


Monday, March 13, 2006

A Lovely Story

So, after trekking I came back to my guesthouse and was excited to be upgraded to my own room. I was all stoked about the big bed and quiet and whatever. So I went out that night for dinner and drinks with my trekking crew (really rad group) and when I came home around 2am I had some little friends in my room. FRICKING COCKROACHES! All over the bloody place. I freaked out.

Not only that but the fuse had blown so there were no lights. I had to run into my room to find my flashlight that I bought for the trek and then find the security dude who apparently had no idea what a fuse was. I walked up and down the hall for about 10 minutes. He says, "umm tomorrow...tomorrow" and I'm like, "Awesome...that's just perfect. I'm in the dark with cockroaches". So I take my flashlight, find the fuse box and flip the fuse. Seems fine, so I go into my room, brave the cockroaches (there's no switching rooms cause it's almost 3am at this point). Get into bed and leave the bathroom light on cause I was seriously too scared to be in the dark with those big ugly bugs everywhere. I fall asleep and then about 20 minutes later I wake up, it's dark...the fan is off and I have no power again. So now I'm getting kinda angry. I go flip the fuse again and it goes off right away...I try one more time and it seemed to be fine...and was until morning.

Anyway, I didn't even switch rooms the next day because I was hoping that it was a one time deal and they woudln't come back. WRONG. The next night, same same. Friggin cockroaches. I was not happy. I went to the desk this morning and told them and they thought I was joking.

Clearly I was not.

I wasn't angry when I told them at all. More like BEGGING for a new room. Luckily my friend is coming tonight, so they've put us in a triple together. Which is nice, more space but a smaller bed, which I don't really mind anyway.

I just hope that I don't have any unexpected "guests" tonight.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Trekking Pictures!

Alas, I've had the time and patience to post a few pictures. These are of the trek that I just went on in Chiang Mai, Thailand. And that's where I am currently as well.

As for Japan pictures. I think you'll have to wait...

Super cute kids trying to sell us bracelets. All you hear them say is "Hello 10 Baht" over and over. It begins to sound like one word after a while.

This is where we camped on the first night of the trek.
Lisa, Julia and Me having a very cold waterfall shower.
Elephants! They were massive but also very cool. We rode them for about an hour.
These two were little monkeys that I found in the Palong Village where we spent our second night of the trek.
Just after the bamboo raft. The guide in the yellow t-shirt pushed me off my raft at least once. I think I threw him in twice though. ;)

Welcome to the Jungle

I just spent 3 days and 2 nights in the jungle. No cell phones, no email, no lights. It was friggin fantastic!

I signed up for a trek with my hostel, which is also a travel agency, and joined up with eight others to spend the next couple of days walking up and down pretty steep terrain close to the Thailand/Burma border.

First we drove for a couple of hours in the back of a pickup truck and the nine of us, and our guides, hiked to the first camp. The first day was definitely the hardest walking, not the longest, just the hardest. Very steep uphill climbing. Anyway, at the first camp our guide had been partying pretty hard the night before and didn't sleep, so he just passed out right away and we were left with a bunch of other Thai guys who cooked our dinner and started a campfire. It was pretty cool though, sleeping on bamboo mats in the middle of nowhere.

Day two we walked the most, but it was a lot of fun. Also very steep up and downhill, but the downhill was cool cause you basically had to slide down or fall. It was great fun. Also, we stopped early on at a waterfall and froze in the water. However me, Lisa, and Julia (girls on my trek) opted for a waterfall shower and actually washed our hair in it. Pretty dang cold.

At the end of day two, we had walked for about 4-5 hours in the hills and there were elephants waiting for us after we had just slid downhill for about an hour. They were incredible. I've never seen one so close before, actually not sure if I've ever seen one at all, but to ride one is another story. I was on one elephant with our driver, Sarah, and Josephine. I rode on it's neck while they stayed in the seat. It was a little scary cause the elephant kept eating and I thought I was going to fall right off. It's a helluva long way down, that's for sure.

When we finished our elephant ride for about an hour we arrived at a small hilltribe village. I can't remember what they were called, but I will later. Anyway, it was huts, dirt, and kids everywhere. So, naturally I found the biggest pile of kids and played for about 2 hours. I decided to find the rest of my group to make sure that they weren't eating dinner just yet. They weren't, but I told them about the kids and they came to join me. I had them hanging all over me. It was great.

We spent the night there and before bed they performed different songs and dances in traditional dress. They don't speak Thai there, so it's quite a bit different than the rest of the country.

Day three (today) was bamboo rafting. We still had to walk for another hour, but then we arrived at a dock with three bamboo rafts for the nine of us. It was great. We were having seaweed fights (sick) and trying to tip other rafts. I got chucked in twice by one guide but I also got him back by dunking him a couple of times. It was great.

I met some pretty cool people on this trip and actually we're all having dinner together tonight. It was cool to have such a diverse group of people: 2 from England, 2 from France, 3 from Sweeden, 1 Australian and 1 Canadian. All young though and a lot of fun to chill with.

Anyway, it was a great time and my friend should be out here in a couple days and then it's off to the south for some fantastic beach time. However, this place is great because it's so freakin cheap you have to TRY to spend your's pretty tough.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Chiang Mai

I'm in Chiang Mai safe and sound.

After a long and not so restful night spent on benches at the Bangkok International Airport and a quick flight up to Northern Thailand, I am here. Finally.

I checked into my hostel no problem after taking a short tuk tuk ride from the airport. As soon as I got into my room I basically fell into my bed and slept for an hour. When I woke up I booked a jungle trek that will take place over the next three days. I'll get to walk through the jungle, ride an elephant and take a bamboo raft ride down the river. The nights are spent at hill tribe villages just hanging out and spending the night. It sounds pretty cool and I'm excited to do it.

So, a strange thing happened to me in the airport. I saw the MOST white people in one place that I've seen in the past year of my life. I am not kidding you, groups of white people are kinda scary. I'm not too sure how I'm supposed to behave...hah. It's a little weird, but there are a ton of backpackers in Thailand (naturally), so it'll take some getting used to.

So, I'm safe and ok and SUPER greatful to get emails from those of you who have been sending them to me. It's nice to hear from home once in a while!

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Well, today I ventured to a city you may have heard of called Kobe. No, not Kobe Bryant, not even pronounced the same more like "Koh-bay". Anyway, the city is flippin amazing. I was told a couple of days ago by a British couple that it's "not much" in the way of a place to visit...but screw them...I want to LIVE there! Actually, I felt like I was at home in Vancouver. Some of you may have heard of Kobe because of the massive earthquake that was there in 1995. They have a bunch of monuments remembering the event, but other than that, they've rebuilt the city from scratch, which means that its all brand new. In a good way.

Anyway, I heard that Kobe is known for their international cuisine, so I ate some pretty awesome food for lunch, then walked around the harbour. Then I decided to take a boat ride around Osaka Harbour...just for kicks. Honestly, I couldn't help but take continuous deep breaths of ocean air...I've missed it so much!!

So at the harbour there is this huge park and a lot of that park is concrete or tile which means it's an attraction for not only skateboarders but BMX riders. I sat for over an hour just chillin in the park watching these wicked awesome Japanese kids bike and skate. Again...reminded me of home.

After I got mildly sunburned (it was another beautiful day!) I walked around the shopping area. And, although I've told myself time and time again that I'm NOT to buy anything in Japan, I couldn't help myself when I saw a really awesome pair of sunglasses that even my sister would be jealous of. Only $20. I also bought a small backpack from this place called Uniqlo in Kyoto. I just hope that there is a Uniqlo in Canada or the US because I love that store. I bought stuff from there in Seoul too (remember Lydia...go to Meyongdong Lotte for Uniqlo!). I just love it.

Anyway, I have one full day left here in Japan and I friggin love it. I think that had I taught English here it would have been a completely different experience for me. I really REALLY love Japan and already have made mental plans to come back here at some point. I wondered why so many travelers here have been back to this country a few's incredible. So much to do and see. I could spend the entire week lunching and shopping I swear...and that's coming from ME!

Well, I can't decided what to do tomorrow because I've already done everything I wanted to do...including eating sushi from a sushi bar, seeing a Geisha, and visiting one town other than Kyoto. Sooo, there are a couple of things I could do...jump on another bullet train to I really want to!)...or just walk around some more. We'll see.

Anyway, I'm doing well and on Monday I'm headed to Chiang Mai, which I'm pretty excited about. Although leaving Japan isn't ideal. (By the way, Japan is my new favorite country ever if you haven't figured that out...and I've been to a few countries ;) I love it).

Keep sending the emails, sorry I don't have much time to reply, but I'll do my best!

Love Andrea

Friday, March 03, 2006

Geisha Sightings

Ok, my trip was made entirely worthwhile tonight. Yes, I saw Geisha...not just one, or two...but TEN! Honestly, I can't even describe how excited I was when I saw the first one...or three, cause they were together. There were a bunch of foreigners around, but not as many as you'd think, and they'd just pop out from the alleys and into a teahouse or restaraunt as quickly as they could. Amazing really.

I took a whole bunch of pictures, but a couple of times I had to tell myself to relax and just see them instead of staring at my camera the whole time.

I probably waited outside for an hour in the freezing cold (not raining here, but still very cold) and I was handsomely rewarded. I swear, my trip has been awesome regardless of what else happens...or doesn't happen. I didn't think that seeing a Geisha was that important to me...but apparently it was, cause I rode the bus home by myself smiling and looking at my pictures. I'd love to show you them, but I'm not allowed to load them onto this computer here. So, hopefully when I get myself to Thailand I'll be able to post some. I've got some great ones.

And honestly, if you've heard that some people "might" have seen Geisha, it's not a "might" thing. I thought I "might have" before tonight and really, you know when you see one. It's truly incredible and a sight not to be missed. Actually, I enjoyed it so much that I think I might go back tomorrow night to see if I can find some more. Usually they're going to appointments between about 5 and 6pm.

Ohh man. So awesome!

As you can see, I'm still having a fantastic time. Saw some more temples today too and checked out some other cool sights. I thought that I might do a day trip to Nara, but I think there's too much to see in Kyoto, so I don't want to do anything else at this point besides look into this city more.

I also had awesome tempura tonight and soba noodles. Real Japanese food wins! Tomorrow afternoon I'm going to go and scout out a couple of sushi bars, just hope it's not super expensive.

Anyway, time is running low. Oh yeah and Mi Keyung is meeting me in Chiang Mai on March 13th, which means that I'll have someone to do things with...besides randoms! I'm pretty excited about that.

Welp, time for bed.

Love ya!


ps Sake is WAAAY better than Soju (not that I've had excess, but just that I've tried to compare...that's all ^^).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Kyoto is awesome, slightly different than I expected, but in a good way.

I arrived last night via the airport limosine bus and wandered around a little bit before I found my hostel, but it worked out well and my place is great.

I visited Gion today, and for those who have seen Memoirs of a Geisha, it's not quite how I pictured it, but beautiful nonetheless. It poured rain all day and I got soaked, but I didn't care...I'm in flippin Japan. Although I'm kind of regretting not bringing warmer (and dryer) clothes at this point. But, I'm sure that I won't be come time to go to Thailand, that's for sure. If the rain lets up, it won't be so bad.

Tomorrow I"m heading to the "Path of Philosophy" which is supposed to be a pretty cool walk. I swear with what I"ve seen already, I haven't been in a place this chill, relaxed and calm in a LONG time. Imagine, being thrilled by the sight of green: trees, moss, one pushing me around!! It's great.

Anyway, I have another 5 or 6 days here and they're sure to be enjoyed. It's not backbreakingly expensive like everyone told me. Probably comparitable with home.

I'll post pictures when the internet isn't so expensive! ;).

Love Andrea