Monday, June 24, 2013

Country # 12 - Taiwan!

We arrived in Taipei on June 7

It's been a pretty busy 2+ weeks for us that I'll post more about this week - I promise! I am hoping to get this blog caught up so I'm posting closer to real time...

While you wait for the detailed post, here's one picture I thought you'd all enjoy...well, at least I do.

I made Paul pose the way most Asians pose for photos

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Random Shots of the Week (6/2-6/7) - Laos

Fish on a Hot Tin Roof

Sweet Mate...for the goodtime

Why does the woman look like a witch?

Well HELLOOOOO! said DonkeyBear

These boys were taking a page out of Paul Loria's handbook 


We visited a place called Utopia 

Electrical flower pot

Operator, please connect me to Mrs. Jones

That guy shooting the deer looks a lot like Paul

Life will be bright if we preserve forest life

Paul's pet peeve - cars parked on the sidewalk!

Dude's been sitting there for a long time

Why yes, that is sugar next to soy sauce - all the condiments required for breakfast

All he really needs is a white blousy shirt

Have you seen him?

This was a real exciting night club

Paul's Country Review: Laos

We arrived in the former capital city of Laos, Luang Prabang on a short flight from Siem Reap with two other people - weird. Anyway, we immediately liked Laos, the country is beautiful and the people are so nice. It's very laid back and (for the most part) walk on the sidewalk and drive on the roads - crazy, I know. 

Overlooking Luang Prabang

We walked around, saw the sights and took a tour to some caves of religious significance. Along the way we stopped at a place called Whiskey Town where, strangely enough, they made whiskey. It was 9:30 am so naturally they wanted us to try it. They explained it was 53% alcohol (about 110 proof; what's rubbing alcohol?) and had a giant scorpion in it. Whiskey Town, like Frog Town, is a very strange place and we refused the offer of potent, scorpion whiskey and continued our sight seeing. 

Whiskey Town's finest

This reminded me of the Town of the Crazies in Gymkata

We then took another short flight to the current capital city, Vientiane, where our opinion changed from liking Laos to just liking Luang Prabang. There really is no reason to go to Vientiane unless you are a diplomat and it's in your job responsibilities. It was unnecessarily expensive, there was little to see (we saw the entire city while looking for a health clinic) and nothing to really eat.

I like the way this looked

That's Vientiane down there

We ate at a Swenson's everyday using a little known, extremely effective ice cream diet (who knew!) and counted down the days until we left for Taiwan.

I smell ice cream...they got Swensens!

They got Mississippi Mud

They got Chocolate Eruption and Super Duper Chocolate Eruption


On June 4 we flew to Vientiane and walked around the country's capital in a few hours. Here are some of the highlights from our walk...

We snapped a quick photo in front of the Victory Monument (Paxtuxai)

Presidential Palace - so fancy

"The line must be drawn HERE!" says the King Chao Anouvong statue

Locals walking along the Mekong River

Looking across the Mekong River towards Thailand

We didn't do our research and only realized when we arrived that all the things to do around Vientiane require more travel. So, we explored the city some more and tried to find food that Paul could eat. We liked Luang Prabang a lot more than Vientiane.

In front of That Dam Stupa

I wanted to get better photos of Patuxai so we walked back

The ceiling looked pretty cool

There's a fountain on the other side which made for a nice photo

We also went to the top to check out the views - Paul almost tripped running up the stairs

Here's the view from the top looking Northeast

Looking towards the Presidential Palace (southwest towards the Mekong)

Yup, another one of these shots

Nice blue skies the day we left - this is a shot of the Lao National Culture Hall

Bye bye Laos

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Paul's Country Review: Cambodia

Cambodia, surprisingly, is a really cool place. The people are nice and the atmosphere is a lot calmer than Vietnam. Despite an extremely troubled past, Cambodia is home to a large ex-pat community resulting in a wide variety of good restaurants and bars. The capital Phnom Penh, is a nice, quiet, small town without a whole lot to see or do, but it was nice walking around despite the heat. It took us all of two hours to see the city and its sights. People seemed content to hang out in the many cafes lining the river, drinking coffee, beer or wine and passing the day away.

The entrance to Cobra-la. If you are a male in your 30's and don't know what that is, re-evaluate your childhood

People driving on the street! No make shift eateries taking up the whole sidewalk! Absurd!

The whole street along the river is lined with bars, restaurants and cafes

The main draw is, of course, Siem Reap - an ancient complex of temples and tombs, it's an impressive sight. It had a much more organized feel than other, similar sites and was the first place that I had the feeling of occupation - that people actually lived and worked here. In Bagan, Myanmar, it just felt like a bunch of temples, occupying the same general area without any connection between them; the legacy of one king or another. The ruins in Siem Reap felt lived in and that gives a wholly different experience than walking around some monuments from a past you can't possibly understand. 

Here's the supermarket

Are you going to tell me they didn't worship alien overlords? Look at the carvings!

The long walk to Buddha

Away from all of ruins, the city itself is a pretty cool place with a load of restaurants, bars and shopping. You basically spend all day exploring the ruins, then return to town and party like its 1127! We had a great time in Cambodia, and is one of the few places we wished we had more time there.

This guy came to party

Wait, they didn't have DJs in 1127!