Friday, July 27, 2007

back home

Like all good things, this adventure has come to an end. Some fun statistics:

Modes of transportation: car, plane, bus (scheduled & chartered on the street), train, tram, subway, escalator (it's a mode of transport in Hong Kong!), boat (speedboat, long tail boat, crazy chinese ferry boat), tuk-tuk, elephant. [missing from the list: helicopter]

Miles flown: around 29,000 (which averages out to a crazy 800 miles per day)

Countries visited: 5 + 2 Special Administrative Regions
Passport pages filled up with stamps & visas: about 5

Things lost: sunglasses, a watch (on the last day), and a little under10 pounds.

pictures taken: around 900

timezones to readjust to: 10 (or 14 depending which way you count)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Climbing climbing climbing

And of course Railay bay has spectacular climbing... the pictures below don't do it justice, it's simply amazing.

This was a nice 25m climb...waaay high.
The palm tree does not make for a good hold, it's a bit wobbly.
This one definitely took a bit of mental effort to lead, but I got it in the end (the ratings here are definitely overrated - this climb was a 6b+ on the french system / 5.11a on the american system, and I would never be able to lead something that hard).
The famous cave on Tonsai beach. The rusty ladder leads to another terrace of climbing above. The stalactites make for some good holds.

Taking a break inside the cave, only about 20 feet up.

Done with the inner cave climb. Too bad it looks like I climbed the ladder.. I really didn't - the stalactite on the right was pretty handy though.

The paradise that is Railay bay

I promised some pictures, so here we are. Our hotel:

The beach in the morning - the long tail boats will take you to nearby islands or other beaches.
looking the other way on the beach.
Another view:

The water is almost hot, the sand is silky smooth, what more could you ask for?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


i moved computers in an effort to upload some pictures, but this one just shocks me whenever i touch it (which includes plugging in a USB cable). I can't say I didn't try though..

Railay Beach

Railay beach is absolutely gorgeous. The water is almost hot, you can easily stay in for an hour w/o feeling a tiny bit cold, the sand is silky smooth, and the cliffs surrounding the beach make it all the more picturesque. I wish the computer in this overpriced internet cafe was a bit faster so I could upload some pictures, but with 256megs of ram it can barely handle the internet.. the plan for tomorrow: find a better computer :)

Went climbing for a full day today, unfortunatley no deep water soloing for me: this is low season, and the guy who does it needs at least 8 people to do it. We were able to assemble a group of 3, but that was far too little.. :( next time, i guess. But we still climbed right on the beach today, which made for some good views.

Tomorrow Lila & I are going on an all day snorkeling / island hopping adventure. Should be a blast.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Chiang Mai

Ah...thailand..the land of cooking courses, waterfalls & elephants (at least those are the parts that I've seen this far). We are even staying at a guesthouse with a beautiful courtyard that has its own small waterfall :)

Our first day here we decided to go for a cooking course. It was run on an organic farm outside of town and was incredibly well organized. We ate all of the food that we made & got a recipe book to take with us (so there's a slight chance i'll be making some thai food again).

Today we had a day long adventure that included hiking through some local villages, swimming at a waterfall (we dove in seconds after this shot):

and riding elephants through the jungle! We bought some sugar cane and bananas before the ride & fed our elephant throughout the hour long trip.

The trip ended with some rafting on long bamboo rafts down a small river. Even small rapids (grade I, maybe II) were super exciting. The only downside to the day was that it rained non-stop, but after we went swimming in the waterfall we were super wet anyway :) The rain did however wipe out my thoughts of going climbing tomorrow.

We are off to Railey beach on Monday morning & will stay there until thurday afternoon, before heading back to bangkok to catch our flights home. Hopefully we'll get some good weather for climbing and some deep water soloing.

Although I didn't do it in Hong Kong, I am getting a suit tailored here in Chiang's been quite an experience :)

Needless to say the food here has been top it off, I just had the best pad thai ever from a street vendor for 30 baht (~$1USD).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


We got into Cambodia at 7am local time, after getting a visa & getting picked up by a tuk-tuk (a motorcycle towing a two person carriage) we were in our hotel by 8, and back on the road by 9, making the most of our time in Cambodia.

Our first glimpse of the temples:

Closeup of the majestic Angkor Wat ( I have about 80 more pictures of it)

Here's one :)

And here's another...the "reflective pool" is a bit on the dirty side, but serves its purpose well.

We then moved on to the temple of smiling faces, there're 216 in total, each facing either north, south, east or west.

And then we pretended to be in the Tombraider movie (this is actually where it was filmed)
Can you believe this tree?

Today we went to see the floating villages... these houses are moored near the river banks. You can walk on the banks, but most people are in boats... There are little grocery canoes that float around with vegetables, etc. A bit reminiscent of Venice, but only a bit.

Notice the blue sky in the middle of the rainy season :) We were lucky yesterday as it started raining just as we got into our tuk tuk at the end of the day, today was just sunny and hot (not surprisingly both of us got a little burnt).

We are off to Chiang Mai, Thailand tomorrow for a few days. Hopefully I'll get a little bit of climbing in there, before attempting to do some deep water soloing at Raleigh / Tonsai beaches.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Siem Reap

After meeting up with Lila at the Singapore airport at 5am, we made it to Siem Reap and had a full day tour around Ankgor Wat. The place is amazing, I can't believe it didn't make the new 7 wonders of the world. We are off for the day, but chances are I'll get some pictures up in 12 hours or so.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hong Kong

Hong Kong... After stuffing outselves silly with dim sum the girls went shopping, and I went up to the peak to get a good look at the city. The city is on a hill, and our hotel was quite a ways up, luckily Hong Kong has the world's longest series of escalators. In the morning the escalator goes down, but at 10am it switches and goes back up. The ride from the sea to where we were staying near the top took about 10 minutes..

My second day there I caught a ferry to Lantau island, which in addition to having the new HK airport (which is absolutely wonderful!) also has the world's largest sitting bronze buddha statue (I believe all of the qualifiers are necessary :) There is a monastery on the grounds which serves yummy vegetarian chinese food. The stairs were painful in the blistering heat.

At the top:

Returning from Macau I couldn't resist the picture of the night skyline.

Leaving TLG

The ferry to take us across the river. If you look closely you can spot the cave where the ferry operator was sleeping slight above the leftmost boat. Needless to say the village is on top of the very steep hill...

4 very happy people on our private bus to Lijiang. About an hour and a half into the two and a half hour trip the driver would abruptly stop & tell us to get out. A few seconds later a small minivan pulled up and took us the rest of the way. The driver went back to the village to pick up 11 more people for the same route...

Our celebratory snack of fresh lychees. The lonely planet claimed that lychee wine is popular in Lijiang, but no one we asked had ever heard of it. So we picked up some fresh ones on the street. We ate most of them in the next 14 hours.

Tiger Leaping Gorge


Women in traditional Naxi costumes dancing in the street.

Me, Carri & Dian in Lijiang.
More traditional architecture.
Lijiang at night.
Carri and Dian in Lijiang at night, with lots of touristy souvenir shops in the backgroud

We later learned that this building was built primarily for the tourists in 1997. It's still gorgeous though.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

good bye china

I just went through passport control at hong kong (and found some free internet) I wish all airports had it. It still has not USB port, so no pictures still.

Yesterday saw me going on a day trip to Macau, which was quite interesting. It definitely has a bit of a las vegas feel to it, but without as much glitz (yet - there's a lot of construction going on). The single daytrip resulted in 5 passport stamps - one for leavnig HK, one for entering & leaving Macau & then two more on entering HK (they always give two).

Alas, I did not get a taylored suit while at HK, there wasn't enough time... but there's still hope, people say getting them made in thailand is even better :)

Now onto singapore for a couple of days


Thursday, July 12, 2007


Ah Hong Kong, what a change... The city is hot, humid, modern, full of people and quite clean :) SOmetimes you forget this is technically part of China, but then realize that the blog is still blocked by the firewall, so no comment reading for me for another couple of days.

The one gripe I have about the city is that internet is incredibly difficult to find. I guess the point is that everyone has it at home, so they don't need internet cafes...on the other hand the hotels cator to business visitors & charge an arm and a leg for an horu of internet... So no pictures until I find a real internet cafe instead of kiosks scattered in coffee shops across the city.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tiger leaping gorge was amazingly beautiful, although a bit wet :) It was cloudy, and raining on and off during our two day trek, but the real adventure came at the end.

Coming down to the last guesthouse we planned on getting a ride back to the starting point and then taking a bus back from there. However, the constant rain the night before cause a few landslides which completely blocked the road back. Not wanting to do the hike in reverse in one day, we found someone who drove us a few kilometers further down stream, to a sign that said "ferry 500m". About 2.5km (and 40 minutes) later we found the ferry stop, shouted across the river to wake up the ferry captain and soon made it into town on the opposite side.

The town people told us there was only one car in town and it had already gone to Lijiang, and wouldn't be back till 10pm. Not deterred we started walking around and saw a bus returning from Lijiang. After some quick negotiations we chartered it for the 4 of us (3 of us, plus a stanford business school student who we met on the way) all the way back to Lijiang, and made it home by 7.

Pictures are forthcoming, in the meantime, we are off to HK in a few hours. The adventure continues...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Took things easy today, visited a small local town of Baisha, and talked to the famous (thanks to a nytimes article 20 years ago) Dr Ho. Off for the tiger leaping gorge trek tomorrow.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

We went to the great wall yesterday, going as far away from Beijing as possible to find the least touristy part of the wall. View from the valley below..

On the wall..

You can see it stretch for miles..

Now we made it to Lijiang, with a nice pedestrian old city. It's reminiscent of some small european towns..except for the pagodaesque architecture.

Our hotel:

Thursday, July 5, 2007

In the land of Dragons

. After waking up early in the morning, to avoid the heat, the crowds & the traffic, we made it to the Forbidden city, where we were greeted by many dragons.

The whole complex is immense, and quite crowded, but we were able to find a few secluded spots.

We went to grab some lunch afterwards. The food here has been amazing, turns out I like Peking duck (though perhaps only in Peking :).

And what pray tell greeted me right after lunch? a reminder of work life.

We just booked a tour to the great wall for tomorrow. I'm excited!