check out the new posts….

Just a wee note to let you know we have updated the blog!  Check out the new posts that have been backdated: 

The trip is over… a map and a debrief!

A joint effort by 2.5 Kiwis, the Service Design Travel Companions and Moose.

To start off with, here is a map of where we went on our trip (click on it once to see it at full size):

 Map of SE Asia

From Julia:  Back to Bangkok!   Boo hoo… our 8 weeks are up, it is time for me to stay put for a while and I must reluctantly let Megan go back to NZ (I am going to miss her soooo much).  I am at my dads place and will stay here for a month while preparing to go volunteering up north (trying to learn Thai and gathering teaching resources).  At the end of October I am going to catch up with my ozzie mates Aimee and Jono as they are stopping off in Bangkok on the way to the islands down south.   After that I will head to North Eastern Thailand for my Volunthai experience!    So, even though I am not traveling, life is good and I have many more adventures to come.

From Megan: Home James!  And so we’ve reached the end. What an adventure. The experience has been incredible. I have done things I never thought I would. Seeing South East Asia and interacting with the people without the “shelter” of a tour group really was the best way to do it.  I am looking forward to coming home. I can now appreciate how lucky I am to be a Kiwi. However I am going to miss Julia like crazy. We have been attached at the hip 24/7 for the last 2 months. It is going to be hard to leave tonight that’s for sure!    

From the Service Design Travel Companions:  Well, firstly – Julia was VERY slack at emailing and posting photos of us, but having said that we did get to see some stuff which was cool and we met lots of cool people (who thought we were very strange).   We have told Julia off and she said she will post some photos of us that she took during the trip.  We think that now Megan has gone to New Zealand we might get to hang out with Julia some more.  Here are some of the photos we liked the best, Ale (red finger) and Amanda (yellow finger) suggested we post the toilet photos because they make great conversation starters:

    This lady had funny clothes. Beer…. yum Us and the tank Snorkelling is fun! A toilet we discussed while drinking jugs on the beach We were all hung-over (it was like after the Christmas party last year) Team Photo - Megan, Julia, Mini Moose, Max and SD Travel Companions Vietnamese coffee is the best.  As usual we drank a lot of coffee. A funny toilet sign that we liked a lot (especially Amanda and Ale) A nice lady we met in Saigon.  She thought we were cool.

A note from Max the Kiwi: Well, I’ve had a great holiday I liked it best when I was stuck to Julia’s bag and got to make lots of noise (thus causing some embarrassment to Julia and Megan and strange looks from everyone else).  The worst part of the holiday was when Megan got sick of my noise and I had to undergo surgery and have my voice box removed.   It hurt a lot but afterwards Megan was a lot nicer to me.    Now I am in Bangkok with Julia, I don’t go out much but she has promised to take me to North Eastern Thailand with her next month.  That will be exciting.  

A note from Moose:I am looking forward to going back to New Zealand with Megan as it will be a lot colder than in SE Asia and I get to see my dad (he let me go travelling with Megan which was nice of him).   I spent most of the holiday on Megans bag, it was funny because everyone thought that she was Canadian because of me!   I liked Hoi Ann the best because Megan bought me a new outfit.  Check out my photo:    

Mooses new clothes

A quick update…

Hi all,

A quick update as we are about to catch the train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.   Obviously seeing as our last post was just after Vang Vieng (Laos) we have a bit of blogging to catch up on!  We will do that when we get some time in Bangkok.  🙂

A quick run down though:

– after a couple of days in bed and some antibiotics I am 100% healthy!  Yay – that was a nasty tummy bug.

– seeing as I wasted a few days in Luang Prabang (Northern Laos) being sick we decided to flag the 3 day overland trip to Chiang Mai (2 days by boat, 1 day by mini-van) and instead we flew to Chiang Mai which only took 1 hour.

– we did lots of cool stuff in Luang Prabang and Chiang Mai. Highlights include: elephant trekking, waterfall climbing, Thai cooking class, night markets, day markets, visiting hill tribe people and going to a snake show.  

– Megan leaves for New Zealand in 4 days!!!!   I am most upset that she has to go, I considered hiding her passport but I don’t think her boss would be too impressed. 

– I got some information about my volunteering stint that starts at the beginning of November.  I will be teaching in a countryside village, Amphur BuaYai in Korat province.   I am yet to find it on a map, I know its in North Eastern Thailand though!

– The Service Design Travel Companions are doing well.  They have had plenty of ‘fresh air’ outside the pack and I have photos to prove that they also have had some fun on this trip.  They have met some interesting people over the last couple of months…. I promise to post photos soon.

Ok – better go as I don’t really want to miss the train.   Missing everyone lots and lots.   Hugs and kisses from THAILAND!

Keep smiling.

Love Julia

Elephant Trekking through the Jungle

Posted by Megan.  Julia recommends you whistle the baby elephant song before you read this (or, if you are really clever you could whistle the song and read at the same time):

We drove about 30 minutes out of Luang Prabang to have a go at elephant trekking. I hopped onto the back of a 35 year old female called Bourhum. It was exhilarating. We trekked for 2 hours through the jungle. It was so scary going up and down steep muddy banks and when it started to pour with rain, we picked giant leaves to use as umbrellas. I really felt like royalty. We even took the elephants into the river for some swimming. My elephant was a bit of a trickster and took great delight in using her trunk to splash water all over me (on the mahout’s command of course).  When we got back I rewarded Bourhum with a couple of bunches of bananas. Such a beautiful animal I was captivated. 

 Julia Attinborough! Elephants Trekking - oh so much fun!  Elephants Trekking Julia on her elephant Megans Elephant Elephant Elephant Feeding

The afternoon we caught the long tail boat up the river to the Tat Sae water falls. We swam at the waterfall and took advantage of the pounding water for a complimentary massage.  We spent the rest of the afternoon in a café overlooking the waterfall drinking beer with our guide.

 Megan in the waterfall The Tad Sae Waterfall

A trip to the Pak Ou Caves and a waterfall

Posted by Megan:

We booked a day excursion to see two of the local sights – Pak Ou Caves and the Kuang Si waterfall. Julia was still feeling a bit below average and the trip started out a little slowly with us waiting for an hour early in the morning to get a boat up the river. Julia ended up piking and staying behind but my curiosity got the better of me and I persevered.  I wish I hadn’t bothered. An extremely boring 2 hour slow boat trip up the river to the most underwhelming caves so far and whats more I was stuck talking to an Aussie guy in his 50s with a mullet for the whole morning.  I wasn’t happy.  The most exciting thing I saw was this chicken:

 The most exciting thing I saw all day!

On my late return Julia bribed me with chocolate and we headed to Kuang Si Waterfall with a picnic lunch. I forced Julia to climb to the top of the waterfall with me – quite a hairy walk up steps through the waterfall itself. We walked around the park and had a look at the bear rescue centre and a tiger.

The waterfall Kuang Si Steps

Impressions of Luang Prabang – Laos

Written by Megan on (4th Oct):

What a gorgeous little place Luang Prabang is. As poor Ju was bedridden for a few days I was able to take my time and explore the French influenced town rather thoroughly. I had fun wandering around the art shops and galleries, souvenir shops, drinking freshly brewed Laos coffee and exploring the numerous temples.  First thing in the morning and in the early evening I could hear the monks chanting in the temples, so peaceful.  Luang Prabang also has an impressive night market, with vendors selling duvet covers, jewelley, toys etc…  

Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang……what a trip!

Posted by Julia:

So, the biggest decision of the day was establishing  a) whether or not I should get out of bed  and   b) if I was likely to make it to Luang Prabang (a 6 hour drive) in one piece without making a complete embarrassment of myself.   In the end I decided I was OK, I got bored of running between my bed and the toilet during the night so I took some ‘blockers’ and ‘anti-puke pills’ at about 4am…consequently I felt the trip was doable – no worries mate! 

We decided to splash out and pay for a mini van to make the journey from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang as we thought it would be more comfortable than the bus.  Well, that was a bit of a mistake, there were 13 of us jammed into this old dunger of a minivan with no air-con for 6.5 hours.   What’s more, the trip was like some kind of X-Box game where we drove on an extremely windy road whilst dodging cows, buffalo, goats, chickens, roosters, pigs, small naked village children, piles of pumpkins and pot holes.    

 hmm… the chicken looks just as upset as we were! Surely the mini-van is better than a pubic bus!

 We decided the trip between Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang would equate to a 6.5 hour version of the NZ Rimatakas (that’s 6.5 hours of constant twists and turns, steep cliffs and pretty scenery).   The trip required a stomach of steel, especially as we had to stop twice when the little boy behind us vomited all over his father.   We both managed to arrive in Luang Prabang without spewing once (it was touch and go for most of the trip).   I only think I made it because I kept the blockers and anti-puke pills topped up and didn’t dare to eat or drink anything all day!           

Having said that, the first thing I did on arrival at the hostel in Luang Prabang was to push Megan out of the way and make a run for the loo where I chundered up the last little bit of stomach lining that was left from the previous evenings efforts.   Nice…  needless to say, I spent the next 48 hours in bed!   L     

Ps: Big thank you to Megan for looking after me