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» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 13: Luang Prabang

by Ron

More cinnamon buns for breakfast. (Doubled up this time–bought two. :@) )

Had a very Seinfeldian moment. I was negotiating with a boatman for passage across the Mekong river (we wanted to take a short hike to an underground cave temple), and when all was said and done, we were paying more for the ride than he initially offered. (I’m usually an effective negotiator–ask Sara or Danielle; but dealing in three currencies–Lao kip, Thai bhat, and U.S. dollar, all three of which are readily and interchangeably used here–tripped me up!)

P.S., Today we were able to post a random handful of our trip photos.

» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 12: Luang Prabang

by Ron

Woke up early (6am) to see the “Saffron Circuit:” the striking procession of Louang Prabang’s 500 orange-robed monks as they walk through the Old City to collect their day’s food from local residents.

But my true motivation for getting up early was the freshly baked cinnamon bun I devoured after the monks’ morning ritual. Best cinnamon bun I’ve ever had–ever. (Perhaps the one benefit of Laos’s French occupation.)

» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 11: En Route to Luang Prabang

by Ron

We got married (again) on the picturesque Mekong river today. (I would marry Sara every day if I could.)

» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 10: Crossing Into Laos

by Ron

We bade good-bye to our lovely new friends, Charlie and Chris, drove to Chiang Khong and crossed into Laos. Our first observation about the country: that the tourists here are generally much more fit and attractive than those in Thailand. (Chris and Charlie are a noteworthy exception.)

Had a long conversation with the interesting couple (Regina and Manfred from Austria) staying in the next bungalow; apparently, Austrians are very upset that the death penalty exists in the U.S. And as the four of us were talking out on our porch, a young blond woman with European looks walked past, heard part of our conversation, exclaimed, “Americans are bad!” and went into her bungalow. How shameful, silly and closed-minded.

» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 9: Ban Thaton

by Ron
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We love it here in Thaton. It’s quite cold at night (but warm during the day), so today we visited the “Monday Market,” where I bought a fleece jacket. I think it’s quite fashionable; Sara thinks it makes me look like a Vietnamese rice farmer. (Photo forthcoming.)

» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 8: En Route to Thaton

by Ron

Today’s lunch was at the all-you-can-eat buffet at the local orchid farm.

» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 7: Last Day in Chiang Mai

by Ron
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I spent today sick in bed. Danielle and Sara spent the day sightseeing and shopping, and discovered that everyone is much nicer to them when I’m not present. :-| (But maybe that’s because they overpaid for everything. :-P )

» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 6: Chiang Mai

by Ron

Despite it feeling like “DisneyWat,” we really enjoyed seeing the mountain temple at Doi Suthep. But today’s highlight was actually the banana waffle I ate at the bottom of the temple.

We also inadvertantly pissed off a few locals today, by overpaying for the sangtheaw (small public bus) the were in. This had the unfortunate and undesried effect of making the driver take a circuitous , “scenic” route (to make us think we’d gotten our money’s worth, I presume). The passengers started to wonder about the unusual (and inconvenient) route, and we could hear their agitation without understanding their words. They figured out that we were the culprits when we stopped the sangtheaw and paid… we heard them saying “fa-rong” as they rolled their eyes. (Fa-rong literally means “guava,” but it’s slang for an occidental. And we’re still not sure whether it’s derogatory.)

» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 5: Chiang Dao Day Trip

by Ron

On our way down the mountain (Doi Chiang Dao), we passed a small Thai military convoy headed up to destroy some nearby opium farms. The army driver stopped us to ask for directions, and our guide told them the way. (I didn’t ask how he knew the exact location of the opium fields. /:) )

» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 4: Chiang Mai

by Ron

Lunch today: best food of the trip, so far. Khao Soi is a Northern Thai specialty consisting of a curry coconut milk broth with egg noodles and chicken, topped with crispy dried noodles.

We visited several of Chiang Mai’s temples today, and Danielle realized why velcro shoes are the footwear of choice for Wat-hopping. (Untie laces, remove shoes, enter temple, leave temple, put on shoes, tie laces, repeat.)

Epilogue: We finally had good pad Thai. As with all things, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” With the help of Yui–our Thai cooking instructor and a veritible wok guru–we learned how to cook pad Thai, tom kha kai, panaeng curry and green curry.

» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 3: Bangkok

by Ron

Spent the day with our guide, Tong, who was every bit as wonderful as we’d expected. She made an indelible impression on us, taught us more about Buddhism and Thailand than we could ever hope to remember, and gave us a day full of memories.

We also made an impression on her. Apparently, I’m the first person ever to ask about the shoes that the giant reclining Buddha of Wat Pho was wearing. As it turns out, the Buddha never wears shoes. Ever. And, Thais seem to find it amusing as hell if you think that he did.

» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 2: Bangkok

by Ron

Spent today exploring the city. I bought (and wore) a bright yellow shirt today, bearing the King’s crest and some other symbols which I hope don’t say “Kick Me” in Thai. Follow the logic of this purchase:

  • The King of Thailand (King Rama IX) was born on a Monday
  • Monday’s color is… yellow.
  • Every Monday, most Thais wear yellow in honor of their king.
  • I prefer to blend in seamlessly when I travel.
  • I did not bring a yellow shirt with me.
  • Ergo, I had to buy the yellow shirt.

» Southeast Asia Trip, Day 1: Bangkok

by Ron
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Didn’t sleep. The 22-hour flight has worn us down, and our very first sight in Thailand was the chaotic Weekend Market. (Relaxing, it ain’t.)

Tonight’s dinner gets filed under “Unsuccessful International Dining.” We went to a highly recommended pad Thai restaurant–it was bustling with locals (only) so our hopes were high. Alas, not only have we had better pad Thai at home, but every dish we ordered had shrimp and prawns in it, which, between the 3 of us, we don’t like / don’t eat / are allergic to.

» Southeast Asia Trip: Intro

by Ron
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Greetings from Thailand! We’ve just arrived in Ban Thaton, an absolutely lovely little town on the Thai-Burmese border, and we finally find ourselves with enough time to log an entry here. To keep the friction low, my goal is modest: a three-sentence blog entry each day we’re here. I’ll try to make daily updates, but they may appear in batches… hope you enjoy!

P.S., Hi Danielle! :)

» Travel Insurance Is Looking Good

by Ron

You know you’re in for an “exciting” vacation when…
…read the rest 

» Eating Well

by Ron

I’m planning on attending two food events next month. Leave a comment below if you want to join me or just meet up afterwards for a debriefing.

I’m Cuckoo for Cocoa! (Hold the Puffs)

Update: We went.
See comments below and photos for details.

The first one (chronologically and gastronomically) is …read the rest