Sunday, 25 July 2010

I predict a riot

"Time flies when you're having fun". A truism indeed. As a few observant friends have recently pointed out, Traveloysausage is running just a wee bit behind schedule. You might ask yourself why that is and assert correctly that neither of us have nine-to-fives this year, and are in effect living the dream with nothing more to do than whatever takes our fancy on any given day. BUT, let me assure you that this travelling business is hard work. Your day fills very quickly. Even if you've got a full laminated itinerary of wholesome activities lined up in whatever fascinating/beautiful/oddball locale you've found yourself in, morning rapidly turns into lunch (which we all know is vital to eat properly) and the afternoon disappears even faster, leaving you wondering where the day went. Before you know it it's half five, the sun is sinking drowsily toward the horizon and someones telling you they know a great bar down the road with ice cold beer and some damn fine chicken satay. And there goes your plan to spend an hour bashing out a bit of blog back at the hotel cafe. There is nothing you can do. Believe me I've tried - it's like fighting gravity. I never was very good at getting my homework in on time anyway...

So, this segues nicely into the next bit of our travelogue - Southern Thailand. On the whole, I've tried to to cover our movements reasonably comprehensively, sometimes missing chunks out and sometimes getting a case of of verbal diarrhoea about nothing in particular, and while you obviously can't include everything (and wouldn't want to in many cases), I don't really like missing whole places out - there is something interesting to be found just about everywhere if you take the time to look properly. Having said that, I'm now going to do exactly the opposite and skim over Southern Thailand - we spent over a month there and it was to all intents an purposes, a beach holiday. As I've said before nobody wants to read gushing word for word write-ups on other peoples extended sun-soaked sojourns on the beach - it's usually raining back home at the time of reading and only leads to resentment, and frankly it makes fairly banal subject matter for travel writing. Whats the point of writing about something that's already pretty much familiar to everyone?

From a travelers perspective Thailand can roughly be split up into two parts, the North being the head and home to the more cultural and "spiritual" side of the country and the Southern Islands - well, they're the bits below the belt if you will - the party end - not particularly cerebral and where most of the fun and naughtiness happen. This is almost always where everybody wants to go. This is the fabled holiday Nirvana.

The image of Thailand that one conjures up more readily than any other is nearly always an amalgamation of the following; a white sand beach, turquoise water, lush green flora-coated karsts rising majestically from the sea. A healthy looking woman with a golden tan reclines on a sunbed under a row of pristine palm trees while sipping on a meal-in-a-glass size cocktail. It all looks ridiculously exotic. If you think about it, it is a triumph of marketing really. Its a nation-brand so ingrained in the psyche of potential holiday-makers that barely a thing has to be done to get people to go, except print pictures of the place and stick an attractive price tag on it. What Westerners want more than anything else from a holiday are these things, and Thailand has all of them in spades.

Its hard to say why we felt the way we did about the Southern half of Thailand, but there was a palpable sense of something missing for both of us. On paper it ticks all the boxes. The North had blown us away with its kind people, creative food and stunning countryside, but as we headed South you sensed a country that had sold out.

Capitalism is clearly the new religion and it seems the stunning natural beauty of the islands have largely been turned into cash registers for savvy local entrepreneurs. This business clearly only works for some of the populous however. Thai people will you tell time and again they've never been occupied like their neighbours and they wear this badge of independence proudly - you only have to take one look at Bangkoks high-rise skyline to see that it's become a sizable player in the emerging economies of South East Asia, but, to utilise the cliche, there's trouble in paradise - the country has some fundamental political and ideological issues that seem largely unsolvable.

Tourism has been the backbone of Thailands growth over the last few decades - largely because it's lucky enough to have some of the most stunning natural coastline and islands in South East Asia, but if they continue with the problems of the last year they will scare off their key source of income and probably also a lot of foreign investment - a lot of the  locals and ex-pats we spole to were becoming quite concerned about this. As a package holiday destination Thailand has also had success because it's widely percieved as the exotic "safe" choice in South East Asia - no recent history of communism and bloody massacres, relatively decent infrastructure - just the right balance of the known and the unknown. It's hard to tell whether the shootings of dozens of protesters and civilians in the riots this year will have an impact on this. The likely outcome, if any, will be a dip in the high-end luxury market, as this is the demographic that's most concerned with security. I doubt if it will stop budget travellers going at all. Unfortunately as ministers for travel/tourism well know, its short term, high income, holiday makers that spend the real cash.

Perhaps in retrospect being in Thailand for almost the full duration of a major political crisis had given us a slightly jaded view of the country. There is something a little perverse about being in a city where you can be eating and chatting on a noisy street, everyone all smiles and just one block over a few thousand people stand Red Shirted in camps watching angry demos bemoaning the corruption of their government. This sort of proximity would not happen back home. Its hard to tell whether the government, worried about affecting tourism were afraid of making more out of it, or whether the tourists, just happy to be tanking back cheap lager and buying cheap t-shirts, just didn't give a shit. I suspect a bit of both. Nobody wants to think about politics on holiday do they?

Anyhow, we spent six nights in Bangkok. It is everything everyone says it is: busy, seedy, dirty, noisy and exciting - a full on assault on the senses. We liked it, as we have done most of the big brash cities of Asia. At times it can be an overwhelming place; the heady scent of street kitchens and cheap perfume mixed with exaust fumes, the barrage of non-stop banter from street vendors and car horns and shouting, drunken kids getting their hair dreaded on the side of the street, flashing neon that fills your eyes and the grim buzzing of tattooists needles. The heat is unbearable. The food is spicy. Everybody wants your money. It is an intoxicating and vulgar place all at the same time; crass and sleazy feeling with vast shopping centres that go on forever, but don't sell anything you would actually want to buy.

Looking back now its hard to separate one day from another, they all seem to meld into one hot sticky mess. By chance friends from home Matt and Lucy happened to be crossing paths with us while on a visa mission from India, and so the inevitable happened - "a bit of a catchup" turned into a Bangkok Bender of epic proportions, starting with a beer fulled dinner on one of the excellent street food stalls on Rambutri, with a Jewish Hungarian version of Eric Clapton (who lived in Spain) giving us a mini lecture on Chorizo, and moving onto various dens of iniquity before heading off to see one of the city's notorious ping-pong shows. We arrived however to be told we had missed the show, but were invited in anyway and spent the next hour drinking overpriced beer in a brothel. When in Rome. A bit of impromptu al-fresco dancing to the Beegees was also involved at a later stage, but I'll spare everyone the details on that..

So, Bangkok chewed us up and spat us out, and we left for the islands which were to be our home for the next month. First we hit Ko Samui, which was ok - nice be be back on the beach etc. but on the whole pretty dull. We just didn't get the appeal. We left for Ko Phangan after three days which was a vast improvement - a prettier island with better beaches and we had the added bonus of staying at a great little place ( on Ban Tai Beach run by two guys from Jersey who deserve some sort of award for successfully managing run a tight ship while spending most of their days at the beach bar out-drinking the guests. Respect also goes out to the only monk-turned-barman we've ever met, Lak for keeping us in cold Singhas, cocktails, and nuggets of wisdom. Buddha would most definitely approve.

Phangan is known for its Full Moon Parties and is essentially marketed as a party island. Half the kids on the boat trip over looked like un-reconstructed versions of Nathan Barley and we pretty much decided then that where ever they were going, we weren't. We considered doing one of the full moon parties but pretty much most people we spoke to said "don't bother, they tend to be full of idiots" (see boat over) so we gave it a miss. Sam's words were "you know you'll only end up complaining that the music's crap and that trance is for morons and end up wanting to slap some trustafarian trying to stick a bindi on you...". Probably true. The fact that there were also likely to be about two hundred amateurs doing the worlds most annoying hobby - Poi (look it up...) was enough to put me off.

We did however do a few of the smaller parties and had some comedy nights out in Phangan. You can't fail to enjoy yourself when you're drinking in a bar called Fanny 2 really. By far the most entertaining thing about our stay on Phangan though was Songkran - Thai New Year - without doubt one of the craziest days you can imagine. New year across Thailand is celebrated by chucking water over each other at every possible opportunity. There is obviously a cultural significance behind the ritual, but its now mainly just a chance to go mental and drench your next door neighbours with ice cold water shot at high pressure from a giant supersoaker. No-body is immune, and in the scorching midday heat it feels fantastic.

By the time we'd made it into town we were all wet through and had abandoned our puny plastic Taiwanese water pistols for buckets in an attempt to fight the locals at their own game more effectively (it didn't work). Traffic in the town centre was at a standstill and had been diverted so a couple of fire engines could roll through and blast the crowds. Shops had vast sound systems set up in their doorways belting out throbbing house and Samsong Rum and Chang Beer were being downed in large quantities. It was totally crazy. I cant remember a day when I've seen so many people of all ages interacting and having such a good time. This was our third new year of 2010. Not bad going. Sadly we only have a few pictures - a shame cameras and water don't mix.

From Ko Phangan we moved onto Krabi and Railay where we continued our hectic lifestyle of morning swims, book filled afternoons and balmy evenings dining on endless Thai food. Both were utterly picturesque  with good beaches, but very much family holiday territory. By chance we bumped into partners in crime from our adventures in Laos - Ben, Beth, Luke and Polly and after a bit of haggling with a local fisherman had ourselves a longtail boat for the day. Nine hours, plenty of squid and fish (and a few jellyfish) later we headed back to land sunburned but happy. Our last stops were the island of Ko Lanta and Ao Nang where we all met up again for more of the same.

Although we'd had fun in Thailand, we were getting itchy feet and keen to move on. There is only so much laying on the beach and Bob Marley one can take. We had started to feel like tourists amongst the rest of the Dan Brown-reading middle aged Europeans cooking slowly like lobsters on the shore. As a shorter break it does exactly what it says on the tin but it felt a little two dimensional, a little too packaged and devoid of the depth of culture and magical surprises that we'd got used to travelling India to Laos. I guess we'd been spoiled.

Things had also started to get pretty bad politically by now. Thailand was the headline news across the world. There had been two days of full-on riots and shootings in Bangkok and a spiralling death toll including non-protest civilians and a journalist. Army presence had been ramped up and the CBD we'd shopped in only a few weeks ago sealed off. Rubber bullets had now been upgraded to live ammo and there were buses being stopped and boarded by armed Red Shirt groups in the outer provinces. The British foreign office had issued an official warning to UK citizens encouraging only essential travel to Thailand. It had all started to get a bit dodgy.

...But we weren't going anywhere just yet. Oh no! With timing perfect as ever, Sams mum Gill was due to arrive for her two week holiday. There was just the additional minor problem of a giant Volcanic-Ash-Doom-Cloud back home interfering with half of Europes flight schedules. Some things you just can't make up...

View our pics here:
Bangkok, South Thailand and the Islands...

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Soul Kitchen

If there's one thing guaranteed to put a smile on Sammies face it's Thai food. Our first proper date was in a Thai restaurant and if we're too tired too cook after work then it's more often than not Thai that ends up on the menu. So, as you can imagine there was more than a little excitement about finally arriving in Thailand and heading for our first stop - Chiang Mai, the cultural capital of the the North and home reputedly to the nations finest and most authentic cooking.

Heading into Thailand from Laos had taken us a little longer than we'd planned. The proposed twelve hour bus journey from Luang Prabang to the Thai border had turned into a sweaty, sleepless and increasingly surreal twenty six hour slog involving a broken down coach, numerous changes of grumpy drivers, a distressed puppy rescued from an airtight box in the baggage hold, some overly aggressive border staff and a few mad dashes for connections, so we were fairly relieved when we finally made it to our hotel located on a small Soi near Tapae Gate. After grabbing a well needed shower and siesta, we got the lowdown from the hotel owner on where to eat and it turned out we didn't have to walk far at all - about twenty yards in fact.

From the first few mouthfuls of superb curry we monstered that afternoon, Sammies mildly concerning infatuation with Thai cuisine mutated into full blown addiction, with red curry soon being eaten for lunch and dinner some days. If there was a Betty Ford Clinic for Thai Curry obsessives then I would have been on the phone tout suite. Things nearly went too far when I found out from a local guy that curry is actually traditionally eaten for lunch and breakfast, as opposed to dinner, but we figured that three a day would probably be pushing it.

Anyway, suffice to say the food in Chiang Mai is very, very good. Thailand is obvioulsy a reasonably developed country though now and while we had expected to see more of the trappings of western society it was still weird to see McDonald's, Burgerkings, branches of Starbucks, Seven Elevens and even Tesco lining the streets, particularly after spending the last few months in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam which are largely devoid of big brands and tacky commercialision, but that's globalisation, and good or bad its an inevitability. Thankfully, Chaing Mai hasn't caved in and sold its soul completely. In fact, if you ignore the chains stores its a very charming place to explore. Cycling around in the city heat we saw more temples than you can shake a stick at and some fascinating old streets and buildings, but where Chiang Mai really comes into its own is the Sunday Night Market.

We'd been told this was pretty special and "quite large", but this turned out to be somewhat of an understatement. Literally from the door of our hotel located down a tiny side street, stalls extended as far as the eye could see, appearing almost miraculously over the course of a few short hours in the afternoon. By the time the sun had set, several thousand artists, craft and food sellers, musicians, hawkers, locals and tourists were packed into the crowed city centre, creating the feel of a street festival. Temples became food courts, symbolic perhaps of a dedication to food as much as religion, and stalls inside served some of the most delicious street grub either of us had ever eaten; home made mini fishcakes with chili jam, marinated BBQ chicken breast on a stick, fried quails eggs, incredible tempura prawns, fried seaweed, squid and octopus satays, spiced omelet in banana leaf, fish curries, papaya salads, sesame pancakes, a rainbow of amazing fresh sushi and too many other mouthwatering things to mention. This is the sort of food you can only fantasise about getting in a Thai restaurant back home, and when you're done wandering the sreets you can grab a beer and get a half hour foot massage right on the side of the pavement for less than the cost of a Big Mac...

Having spent a few days checking out the city, taking in an entertaining night at the Muay Thai Kickboxing and eating pretty much everything in sight, we decided it was time to go get ourselves an education. There are some excellent cooking schools in Chaing Mai and after a bit of research and asking around we found ourselves a well-recommended school for an afternoon class (Asia Scenic), which also turned out to be about fifty yards from our hotel (we were clearly staying on the right street!). From a large list of dishes we could select the ones we wanted to make, and once we'd made our decision as a group we spent half an hour in the herb garden learning about the various flavours that make up the distinctive taste of Thai food and how to use them properly. It was then off to the local market to buy the rest of the ingredients.

We opted for the classics figuring that these would give a better all round understanding, and between us we made fresh Spring Rolls, Papaya salad, Red Curry, Massaman Curry, Cashew Chicken, Tom Sab soup and Tom Yum. Learning how to make the pastes for the curry from scratch was probably the most enlightening part and thankfully everything turned out really well. The surprising thing is that its not actually that difficult to make good Thai food at all; the trick, much like most good cooking is balancing the ingredients and making sure they're super fresh and high quality, which is probably a little easier in Chaing Mai than Oxford.

Our next stop was Pai, North West of Chaing Mai near the Burmese Border. On the drive up we encountered probably the best example yet of managing to get totally and completely fucking lost. Pulling into a little service station on a steep mountain road halfway to Pai, one of the three bubbly Swedish girls who were in our mini-van asked "how far is the town from the beach please?" to which everyone looked at each other with some confusion and responded "what beach?", "the beach! The town is on an island yes!".

....Now, I'm not sure how these girls manage to cross the road on their own or even why their parents actually let them out of their local neighbourhood without a minder, but it doesn't take a genius to realise that a town sitting at altitude, ringed by mountains on the Thai/Burmese border, several hundred miles inland is neither going to be on an island or have a beach (unless you're in Laos that is...). After a bit of explanation about the fundamentals of geography and map reading by fellow passengers, they realised that they were in fact travelling North and not South, where all the pretty islands with the pretty beaches are. They stayed one night in Pai and the following morning made the long journey down to Southern Thailand. Or maybe Central China. Who knows. Either way they probably should have given Pai a bit more of a chance, as although it does have a striking of lack of beach, its not a bad place to spend a few days.

If you are a hippy and/or enjoy spending large amounts of your time stoned and doing sod all except watching Dragonflies buzz around on the river and talking rubbish with people with massive beards, homemade shoes and knitted woolly hats, then the chances are you'll love Pai. It is the quintessential nouveau hippy-chic town. It's very laid back and has a gentle rural feel to it with a smattering of boutique (ah, that word again...) hotels dotted around. As a result it's easy to meet friendly people and very easy to let days slip away doing nothing, which has its own certain charm, but to be honest you do start to feel like you are slipping into a lower state of conciousness after a while. While we were in Pai we did make some new friends however - Guy, Justin, Sheree and Danielle who we spent a few days kicking back with and exploring the nearby waterfalls. We all decided to head back to Chiang Mai for a few more days of food and fun and couldn't resist hitting the market again before heading south.

So far, travelling through the wilder parts of Asia we had avoided any of the sporadic political flair ups that tend to characterise developing nations, so it was a tad ironic really that now we had reached Thailand, home of the Modern Eastern Package Holiday, that a crisis of sizable proportions was gathering momentum.

Watching the news the night before we left there was increasing tension in Thailand with the political protests in Bangkok. Televised meetings between the two parties in dispute over governance had been on six channels simultaneously in most bars and restaurants all day long, and after two days still they hadn't yet produced a deal. It was looking like the issues created by Red Shirt camps in the city centre weren't going anywhere for the time being and we were heading right into the capital the following morning. Perfect timing.

View our pics here:

Chiang Mai & Pai

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Get your rocks off

Everybody, at some point in their life needs to purchase an Ornamental Samurai Sword, or a Tazer, a Machete, a foot long gas lighter that shines a picture of a naked woman on to walls, or possibly a gas Mask. At least that's you what you'd think looking at the shopping options in Vang Vieng.

There is definitely a direct correlation between how many pissed people there are in a square kilometre and how much utter crap is on sale - and there are a lot of pissed people in Vang Vieng. Probably one of the other main indicators in South East Asia that you are in the vicinity of a dense population of inebriated people, are Beer Vests.

Anybody who's been to South East Asia knows what these are, and for anyone who doesn't, I will explain - no, they are not a clever and novel way of transporting beer around on your person in warm temperatures, they are simply a cheap cotton vest which proudly displays the logo of the most popular beer in the country on the front and back in large letters. In Vietnam it's Saigon Beer, Cambodia it's Angkor, in Thailand it's Chang and Laos its Beer get the picture. Basically it conveys to anyone passing this sophisticated message: "I like beer and I am holiday in this country".

Now I don't wish to appear like a grumpy bastard about this (I now own a beer hat, bought for fishing purposes only obviously), but the mass-wearing of Beer Vests does add an element of Zombieishness (is that a word?) to any place where wearers can be found in large herds. They are not unlike football shirts. In fact, close field study of Beer Vest wearers shows behaviour almost identical to the domestic football fan, and leads one to believe that the Beer Vest may in fact be a substitute for a football (also often rugby and American football ) shirt whilst abroad. Other common characteristics also re-enforce this hypothesis. Migration in large, predominantly male groups being an obvious one, a strong desire to fit in at all costs by doing stupid stuff, being sick in flowerbeds and shop doorways, high volume purchasing of aforementioned useless crap and, my particular pet trait favoured by the American breed - Hi-Fiving! Desmond Morris would have a field day.

Anyway, you may have thought this was rapidly turning into a tirade against the moronic behaviour of large groups of Westerners abroad in Asia (Sam can tell you I do have moments when I turn in to my Dad, and tend to get bit vocal about the sheer retardedness of tourists in foreign lands), but I would be a massive hypocrite if I told you we didn't behave like total idiots and enjoy pretty much every minute of our few days in Vang Vieng. It's a bit like going to a theme park - you know its going to be a totally plastic consumer culture experience, full of chavs and you are likely to return home having spent way too much money, but nevertheless once you're in and on the rides, you end up having a ball.

Vang Vieng itself is a smallish town in North East of Laos and lies on a beautiful stretch of the Nam Song River surrounded by hugely impressive limestone karsts. At some point in the last twenty years a farmer must have been changing a tractor tire by the river bank and slipped and fell in to the river with it. After a few moments of intial panic he realised that he was actually having quite a nice time bobbing down the picturesque rapids in the afternoon sunshine, waving to people, and thought, "if only I had about twenty five beers and half a bottle of free Tiger Whisky and some rope swings and a marker pen to draw dumb stuff all over myself, then this would be perfect", and so Tubing in Vang Vieng was born. And yay, the Tourons came in their droves.

I had been told by a friend that Tubing was "about as much fun as you can possibly have", but nothing actually prepares you for the chaos that awaits when you arrive at the first river station. Pulling down a dirt track from the town with the tubes tied to the top of the jeep, you head straight into a massive party on the riverbank where house music is belting out, and a couple of hundred half-naked people are dancing and chatting on a wooden platform with a packed bar loaded with beer and serving free whisky. In front of you is a huge zip-slide swing with people somersaulting off it every thirty seconds and landing practically on top of each other. Looking downstream is a view resembling a Bachanalian version of Neverland - wooden tree house style platforms hang from the banks filled with people partying, while painted kids attempt to lasso tubers with bottles tied to ropes, trying to pull them out of the current and into the bars to join in the carnage. All this set to an almost mythical backdrop of towering mountains and stunning countryside. Like much of Laos, you really couldn't make it up...

Anyway, without going into all the gory details, we had, as expected, one of the funniest and most mental days we've ever had. The pictures below pretty much say it all. I don't think I've ever seen as many grown adults behaving as immaturely or having such a good time. You cannot fail to meet stacks of people on the way down the river too, and by the time we'd reached the final station in the hazy late afternoon sun, we had assembled a small hyperactive tribe with whom who we headed back into town and then on to party early until the next morning at the rammed, notorious Bucket Bar.

In total we were in Vang Vieng for four days, which by the end was enough. There are seemingly only two states in the town, drunk or hungover and its gets a bit repetetive after a while. So, Sam, Sammie and I grabbed a minivan to Luang Prabang, in Central North Laos - a winding but straightforward journey that should have taken six hours or so had we not had a weirdo driver who insisted that he stop three times in the creepiest places possible in the middle of nowhere, because "I very tired now please, sleep sleep". We would have argued, but decided on balance it was probably best not make a tired man who was bad at driving anyway keep going in the dark, along roads that had five hundred foot sheer drops down one side...

If there is an antidote to Vang Vieng, it is Laung Prabang. It's by far one of the most chilled out and serene towns you could imagine. After travelling through the rest of Laos which is ruggedly beautiful but sparse in places, it came as a real surprise - it was far more sophisticated than we expected, with some beautiful shops, restaurants and galleries. The word Boutique (which is now officially used on everything ever) springs to mind, but not in bad way, and although the town has been classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site (which can easily turn somewhere into a living museum) it still feels pretty authentic and isn't too over-commercialised.

Much of its charm lies in its location on the banks of two unbelievably picturesque sections of the Mekong and Khan Rivers and its architecture is fascinating too - a combination of Colonial French and the tradional Indonchinese style. Many of the old houses have clearly been bought up by wealthier Asians now and are immaculately decked out inside, and with most people leaving thier doors wide open it's hard not to be nosy...

We spent four days in and around the town - there are plenty of little places with hidden gardens and terraces with views over the Mekong you can hide away for the afternoon with a book and a decent glass of wine (the best of these being the Utopia Bar which is well worth finding if you go). There are also some excellent places to eat (which we did a lot of as usual), many of these in the superb evening market which takes over the main street in the town. You really can pick up some amazing handmade things very cheaply and we both decided we're coming back to do some serious house shopping once we've topped up the bank account and er, have a house...

As far as adventures go Luang Prabang was more civilized and low key than the rest of Laos; we did however do a few trips out of the town - one to the pristine Kuang Si waterfalls which were shockingly blue and and refreshingly cold, and one too the Pak Ou caves which are famous for holding thousands of statues of the Buddha. This actually turned out to be well over hyped and somewhat traumatic. The entire journey down river consisted of the three of us in a small boat with an overly excitable twenty stone American woman who kept going on about Lady Gaga, the X-Factor and Kelly f*cking Clarkson, and a tatoo-covered, seemingly mute Eastern European Neo Nazi who looked like he was ready to murder one of us at any minute. By the time we'd reached the caves we were more terrified of the American woman than we were of the Neo Nazi.

Climbing two hundred steps to stare at a load of old Buddhas for half an hour did little to help too, and things only got worse when we re-boarded and the American Nightmare nearly capsized the boat. She then gave us all a ten minute lecture about why should couldn't make it up the steps (Hockey injury my arse), and promptly proceeded to grab my hand and plant it firmly on her bare sweaty varicose knee, stating "Can you feel it?! That's my knee cap honey, it's totally detached!". Its not often I am speechless, but this was definately one of those times. It certainly made me wonder what the hell had happened to the Neo Nazi before we got on the boat anyway...
View our pics here:
Vang Vieng

Luang Prabang