City of barbed wire

As mentioned before Los Angeles was quite a different experience compared to Southeastern Asia, especially when it comes to prices. For four days we went to touristy places like the Hollywood sign, Universal Studios, Hollywood Boulevard and Rodeo Drive to mingle with the celebrities, which there were none of. However, we saw a few when going to the cinema as there was a premiere on a standard Hollywood comedy/romance flick which got horrible reviews immediately after the release.

We were to fly out of Los Angeles at 1:30 AM so we were quite disappointed to see the enormous line of people outside the check-in building a few hours before takeoff. The disappointment was soon gone when we, at the gate, found out that our tickets had been upgraded to business class, so we had a decent sleep after a few free drinks and woke up to a nice breakfast 6 hours later. Thank you, Taca Airlines. The people squeezed together on monkey class probably didn't feel the same way, though.


From Pakse, Laos to Los Angeles

The trip back to Pakse included spending half of the minibus drive with a huge iguana, which the driver suddenly bought from a roadside vendor. Slightly weird. We found a decent hotel in town and went by motorbike the next day to see the Angkor ruins this area is famous for. The ruins themselves were ridiculously small compared to Angkor Wat to the south but the nature in the area was quite nice so we enjoyed our little road trip including the two ferry rides across Mekong river.

The following day we went by bus to Ubon Ratchathani across the border to Thailand. Immediately after crossing the border we rediscovered how civilized Thailand really is compared to it's neighbors with nicely paved roads, well maintained buildings and generally less trash in the streets.


Mekong and Four Thousand Islands

Following up on the trip to southern Laos, Tha Khaek was quite an uninteresting town so we slept there one night before going to the bus station to catch a ride to Pakse. The last local bus was amazing so we gave it another try. This local bus, however, was at least 20 years older than the one we went to Tha Khaek on. It had no air conditioning and felt like it had no suspension at all. If the bus was a big wok, the passengers, were pieces of chicken being stir fried for 7 hours. One row of seats even broke off as we hit a hole in the road. This brutally woke up the guy sleeping on it as the seats fell onto the center isle of the bus to much amusement of the many other locals passengers.


Northern Laos

Our stay in Luang Prabang led us to Tat Kuang Si which is a multi-tiered waterfall with numerous turquoise colored pools fit for swimming and rope jumping (swinging from a rope and jumping from the highest point). Beautiful and fun. We stayed in Luang Prabang at Chittana Guest House for 60000 kip (42 DKK, $7) for an additional 4 nights, along with some huge cockroaches, before we decided to move a bit on southwards.

Surviving an interesting 6 hour bus ride through the green mountainous landscape we finally arrived at the infamous Vang Vieng, which is the craziest place on earth so far. The city is famous for it's “tubing”, which is an activity where you sit in a inflated tube as the current takes you down the river (in this case Nam Song) while randomly stopping at makeshift bars on the river side selling beer and handing out free whiskey shots.


Sabaai-dii, Laos

After a tiresome stay in Vietnam we've decided to put it all behind us and concentrate on Laos. Describing the Halong Bay incident shortly, it was an incredibly poor organized tour and the boat crew behaved like we were there for their sake and not the other way around. Our mood wasn't positively influenced by the rainy weather either on day two on Cat Ba island. Altogether the trip was shit, and almost everybody we met on the tour agreed. Unfortunately we had paid a deposit on another tour to Sapa. We booked both tours through Sinh Cafe, which can be found throughout Vietnam, and we got nearly the entire amount refunded, so they are almost forgiven for selling us a useless tour. When we got back from the tour, aching everywhere from a 4 hour minibus ride, we decided to go to Laos on the first plane the following day. This gave us until the afternoon to explore Hanoi's old town which was quite fun.


The infamous Halong Bay scam

We've actually been there already and it was horrible. It probably sounds to the reader like we're just negative people impossible to satisfy, but the Halong Bay tour was the very worst so far and we even started the tour with a positive attitude. 80 percent of the people we met on the tour had the same experience. Halong Bay, Vietnam


Hoi An & Hanoi

On a more informative perspective compared to the previous writing, we stayed in Hoi An for 4 nights. We booked a hotel in advance from the bus ticket office in Da Nang which turned out to be quite a fiasco. We figured we would like to pay a little extra, $17, for some additional comfort, wireless Internet access and even a pool. Our hotel was called Hoang Binh and turned out to have closet-sized rooms, a freezing tiny swimming pool, malfunctioning wi-fi and grumpy staff. Very overpriced and not recommendable. We changed to another hotel called An Phu later on which was way nicer and indeed recommendable. You should be aware that you are able to negotiate every hotel price and never believe the printed price list shown to you.


Hate and loathing in Hoi An

The purpose of this writing is mainly for venting the aggressions that builds up just by being among the Vietnamese. Traveling in Southeastern Asia is good fun and all, but there are certain situations where your tolerance is put to the test. We've now spent one day in the major city of Da Nang and are currently in Hoi An. For us Da Nang was a complete waste of time – big city, indifferent population, gray and dull and almost hostile to people who come to visit. Hoi An is a lot smaller and better, but the locals here are extremely annoying! It's almost like they are deliberately trying to piss you off when they want you to look at the crap they're selling or eat in their restaurant.


Vietnam – First Impressions

As we left Cambodia on the Mekong river and entered Chau Doc we were met with a smokescreen caused by everybody firing up their bonfires for dinnertime using lots of paper and wood. Through the haze we quickly found ourselves a hotel (a super nice one, even) for $15 including breakfast. Chau Doc was much less touristy than any other place we've been to. We found only local eateries which we then had to try out resulting in finding a place with a menu including frog, snake, turtle and luckily less extreme Vietnamese dishes as well. We ate our dinner while locals had a few too many after-work drinks all around us. We also saw, for the first time here, Asians getting chili pepper red faces when drinking which was good fun. For the first time we tried a cyclo as transport, a bicycle with a trailer meant to contain small Vietnamese people.


Leaving Cambodia

Staying in Sihanoukville for 5 nights felt like a tad too much. In our search for a more tranquil place to stay we went from Ochheuteal Beach, where all the hawkers seemed to hang around, to the more deserted Otres Beach. This beach is only accessible by a dirt road and there are no shops, ATMs, or constant electricity in this area. We stayed for a few nights at Small Green Bungalows for $15 a night, which was expensive, but reasonably comfortable.

The Khmer new year is quickly approaching starting from April 13th lasting three days. Most Khmer see this as a big and expensive festival and the only way to get enough money is for some locals to rely on bag snatching and robberies. The western hotel owners said they've been hearing about lots of robberies lately and apparently it's much worse than the year before.

Otres beach