Monday, June 18, 2007

25 Minutes To Go

Well, I actually have something closer to 18 hours, but the sentiment is the same. I'm about to leave Asia for a while and head back to Canada. I'll be there for an undetermined length, but I'm looking at trying to get from one coast to the other while the weather stays warm.

I'm sitting in the lobby of my hotel in Bangkok and trying to pass the time. The city itself smells like a combination of feces, urine, and anger. It's an impatient city with a driving pulse and fortunately it's really raining hard which may or may not wash some of the stench away.

I've talked to a lot of Japanese people on this trip who make a point of visiting only Bangkok when they're in Thailand, and I absolutely cannot see why anyone would do this.

The internet clock says that I have three minutes left before I'm cut off so I'll say only this: I miss all of you who are reading this, whether I left you behind in Canada nearly three years ago or met you along the way on my Asian adventure. I'm coming home and looking forward to it, especially considering that the travels won't end until I decide that I have to come out of retirement. I'm going to try and link some photo albums from Facebook to the blog, but if you're really antsy sign up over there and explore all you like.

I'm coming home!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Taste of Laos

Each morning at around 5:30am in Luang Prabang, hundreds of monks set out to receive alms from the locals. Here's a quick taste of what that's like.

Sometimes the merchants of SE Asia can be pretty demanding.

After staying a night with a band of villagers, the four of us set out on a quest to find a waterfall and a remote Lao village near Muong Ngoi Neau, but didn't have any luck. Instead, we made a short nature video!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Post You Can Read

Well, I've gone bananas with Google Video, haven't I?

The joys of technology have allowed me to broadcast an intermittent reality to all of you, thirty seconds at a time. I've avoided putting up pictures on the blog because there are just too damn many of them, and until I discovered Facebook I wasn't able to find a place that would host all of my thousands of photos without charging me for the extra space that they take up. I opted to compromise my own privacy because I like the attention and it's been really useful in allowing everyone I know (or nearly everyone, surely) to see me in a picture as soon as I put them up. It's also great that the people I know can tag me in photos and then everyone sees every photo of me that's ever been taken. I boycotted MySpace for so long that when Facebook came around I just assumed it was the same network of child-sex offenders acting in a predatory way. Facebook is actually just good for stalkers, I suppose.

At any rate, it's proved useful for me because I don't have to email a single photo out to anyone, except for those who are still burning the stubborn candle in protest. Those of you not on the Facebook train are welcome to check into this blog periodically to see the videos I throw up on Google Video, though now that Facebook has a video option as well I may start neglecting that as well.

So where am I? I've returned to Thailand after nearly a month in Laos. I'm nearly at the end of my Southeast Asia adventure, as I've booked a flight to Vancouver on June 19th and will be landing there just in time to attend the wedding of Alex and Liz, a couple I met while I was still living in Japan and teaching English. From there, I plan on spending a few weeks in British Colombia before starting the long journey back to Toronto, where I will attend yet another wedding that's not mine - this time of my oldest friend, Sheri Jackson. August will be all about Ontario, I think, and from there I'll continue my cross-Canada tour through Quebec and the Maritime provinces, stopping along the way to take in all the great sites in Canada I've never seen. I'm especially excited for New Brunswick, where the lovely and talented Michele Morrison (who I met during my first leg in Thailand) will attempt to prove that there's more to that province than simple bilingualism.

This trip has really been the best thing I've ever done. While it would seem inaccurate to include my experiences in Japan as part of this trip, I really look at that fateful day in January 2005 as the beginning of all of this; leaving Canada has reshaped my thinking and my personality in so many important ways that this trip really has been a two-and-a-half-year exercise in personal exile. I've seen more of Asia than most Asian people see. Counting Japan, I've visited seven countries since January of this year and couldn't be more pleased with the way I executed the journey. Jacob and I timed it perfectly in regards to the rainy and the high-traffic seasons. I avoided the notorious Full Moon party on Koh Pha Ngan and fell in love with each country along the way for different reasons.

I write this email now from Chiang Rai, a city in northern Thailand and the third-to-last stop for me on this crazy Asian backpacking tour. I entered Thailand with Scott Hetherington (a Canadian I met in Vietnam), Naasicaa Larsen and Treezie Moynham (two Australian girls who keep finding me along our mutual paths). It'll be tough to part ways with them, just as it was tough to lose Jacob in Saigon and Phil and Alex in Hanoi who both went their separate ways as we finished our Vietnam tour, leaving me to conquer the winding roads of Laos with just a 6'6" Canadian to keep me company.

I should mention that Laos, while I only really saw the northern half of it, holds a quiet charm unlike any place I've been on Earth. Famous for being one of the most-bombed places on Earth (U.S. Forces led a carpet-bombing campaign over the course of nine years that killed over 350,000 people), Laos is a peaceful and gentle country with a delicateness to both its people and its grand landscapes. I felt as though I needed to tread lightly wherever I went as not to disturb the magic of the place. It remains one of my favourite places, and will sit near the top of my favourite places and be included in my best memories from this trip.

There are so many things to talk about, and I could dedicate all sorts of long-winded blogs like this one to each country I've visited. But for now, I'll say only this: If I had to do it all again, there'd be some changes but absolutely no regrets. I'm looking forward to coming back to Canada to continue my travels on home turf. It's a dream I've had since I landed in Japan, and I can't wait to do it. If you're in Canada in the next three months, drop me a line and I'll pay you a visit.

Until the next one...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Beer and Gravity

This is the best and only way to drink beer. Taken in Vang Vieng, Laos.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Monday, April 16, 2007


Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Prasat Preah Vihear

A musical scene at one of the oldest Angkorian temples in northern Cambodia. The entire temple complex is perched high on a mountain overlooking a beautiful valley.

Urban Cambodia - Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh as seen from the rear of a tuk tuk cart.