Beautiful Rainy Laos

After spending about 24 hours on buses (minus a 30 minute layover in Bangkok), we made it all the way from southern Thailand to Vientiene, the capital of Laos, two days ago. After a decent night’s sleep in Vientiene, we decided to keep going for four more hours to Vang Vieng, a little river town farther north into Laos. It had been raining steadily since we got into Laos, so we thought maybe we’d find better weather there.

No luck! We haven’t seen the sky yet in Laos. From what we can see through the rain, Vang Vieng is a beautiful place. There are huge limestone mountain outcroppings that are just barely visible on the other side of the town’s river. Normally, the many tourists spend their time here tubing down the river and exploring nearby caves, which would be amazing. Unfortunately, the river is super swollen so that tubing would be ridiculously unsafe, and we weren’t allowed to cross the bridge to get to the caves on the other side. Instead, we spent our day today wandering the streets of this little town, watching “Family Guy” episodes at a nearby restaurant, relaxing with a Lao beer on our deck overlooking the river, and surfing Facebook. So, kind of a bust, but hey, we’re relaxing in Laos, so life can’t be too bad!

We’ll cross our fingers for better weather tomorrow. Either way, we’ll probably head back to Vientiene by Tuesday (hopefully with a clear day or two to explore that city) and from there over into Cambodia via Bangkok.

Beaches, SCUBA, flip flops, fevers, and more

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost half-way through our trip already!

Basically, we’ve had:
-3 days in Bangkok
-over night train to southern Thailand (Surat Thani)
-3 full days on the northeast side of Ko Pha-ngan (ferry to and from the island), relaxing on the beach
-two day trip across Thailand to the west coast, with an unsuccessful detour to Kao Sak national park
-day in Kao Lak, which is totally shut down this time of year because of weather, but enjoying a small street festival
-day in Krabi, trying to figure out scuba diving, eating street food at the night market
-week+ in Ao Nang, taking scuba lessons, relaxing on the beach, with a few days break due to bad diving weather and bed rest for Emma who had a bit of a fever

Besides the fever, we’ve had a good time here in Ao Nang. We spent two days getting educated all about scuba diving and practicing in a local pool and then got to go to the Phi Phi Islands to put our new skills to practice. Although a little nerve wracking at first and a little counter-intuitive, it is pretty amazing to be able to breathe and move around so freely underwater. Unfortunately, the weather’s not the best for diving this time of year and visibility was poor, but we got to see lots of cute little Nemo clownfish, bright blue sea stars, a crown-of-thorns starfish, a moray eel, a lionfish, some giant-caterpillar-type sea cucumbers, and the back of a sea turtle as it swam away! We were lucky to have a great instructor, Terry, who taught us the number one rule of diving: look cool! I don’t know if we succeeded, but we’ll keep working on it!

You never know with this kind of traveling, but hopefully we’ll be in Laos a couple of days from now. We’ll take an overnight bus up to Bangkok today, then probably another overnight bus to the Laos border the next night. Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly. In Laos, the plan is to spend a few days each in Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang. If we have the chance, we may go for a ride on the Mekong River.

Finally, we got some photos uploaded! Enjoy!

Hitting the beach in Thailand

Kho Pha Ngan
Emma enjoys an evening on the beach.

I’m sitting in under a fan in an internet cafe in Khao Lak, Thailand, sipping on an iced coffee from a 7-11 (which are on every street corner). We packed our trusty Macbook Pro between a couple sleeping bags, said a couple Hail Mary’s for it, and shipped it home on our last day in Ukraine – so we have to go old-school with the internet cafes to stay in touch.

Anyway, we’re alive and sweating and enjoying our break between the stresses of Peace Corps and the inevitable post-Peace Corps “let’s figure our lives out again” phase.