Posted in Diary by Alvin on August 27, 2010

I’ve just watch a skydiving video, on a blog I frequent.

Recalled the other day when PJ asked,  after all that I’ve tried, is skydiving next? From the video, the plunge looks pretty much the same like bungee. Free fall and speed, with the exception of 5000 feet above sea level. Now, you do the math. I am batophobic, and I am not going to skydive. But I have no resistance to the temptations of thrills. Oh wells…

I was quite sure of keeping a complete travelogue of my trip and it somehow got stuck in Vietnam and there’s more on Vietnam, Taiwan and Bali to go. Memory failing so lazy no more.

Holiday coming to an end and I miss school. 😦



Posted in Diary, Thoughts by Alvin on August 21, 2010

I left the airport at 10.50pm, wondering where and when’s the next trip. This departure concludes a sum of 45 days in foreign land, setting foot in 6 different countries.

Every trip and venture meant different sets of exposure. Those pleasant experiences and encounters are definitely memorable. But potholes, crappy hostel, scams, rip off, long tiring bus journey and inhospitable people of yesterday are equally unforgettable.

Holiday as it may seem, these rendezvous are what making all my backpack trip worthwhile.


Source: Meng Fai

and so it ends.

Sapa Adventures

Posted in Photography, Travel by Alvin on August 5, 2010

This tiny town is located up on the mountain, 9 hours train ride away from Hanoi, and an hour bus/van on the winding road. It was an ideal hideout from the humid weather, exploring ethnic mountainous life, forest and rice field terraces.

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I forgo luxury, clean boutique hotels and opted for homestay instead. We started trekking into the village at about 9 in the morning.

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A group of ethnic minorities followed us along the way

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The scenery is a combination of high green mountains, tiny huts and scattered rice field terraces where the local minorities make a living and stay.

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The locals speak decent amount of English and they learnt from scratch through conversing with foreign travelers. Despite them being rather pushy and demanding when it comes to hard selling their crafts, I find them quite capable.

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From handmade crafts, field work, to their determination and effort to earn a living. Poverty realistically forced every men and women, young and old to slog their lives out in the field, farm or the town of Sapa selling crafts and crops. Education is extravagant, and what we deemed norm, is their luxury.  Albeit harsh living conditions, they are all chirpy, happy and grateful.

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We had lunch at Lao Chai village and continued trekking to the next village, where I stayed for the night.

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My host is of Chinese descendant, hence the calligraphy in mandarin characters but they are unable to speak or comprehend the language.

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The only stove and fire. With such mediocre facilities, they whipped out a table of delicacies for dinner.

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Spring rolls, chicken, pork, sweet potatoes, buffaloes and no doubt, my best meal throughout the trip. The host then dished out a few plastic bottles filled with rice wine and started serving in shots glasses. The brew was strong, that we did not want to have a refill after a few shots. They insisted, reaffirmed us with ‘good wine, no hangover’. I think we had no less than 15 shots, with each going at 35%.

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Most were drunk and left before we could grab a picture with everyone present that day.

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We continue trekking the next day and surprisingly, no hangover. It rained the night before, causing the trek to be wet and muddy. Completed the trek with a broken sandal and soiled clothes.

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Sapa is truly a paradise with surreal scenery. This is truly the first countryside I’ve been with very basic living environment, paddy fields, water buffaloes, lush green forests, crystal clear river and abundant farm animals.

The culture, experience and landscape is what to me, luxury.

Xin Chào

Posted in Photography, Travel by Alvin on August 3, 2010

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I was stuck in this tiny space for 24 freaking hours. Boarded the inter-nation bus at 7pm and arrived 7+ pm in Hanoi the next day! My first time on a bunk bed bus and as usual, driver picked up random people along the way. So, even the aisle was filled with people. The trip was oh-kay, at least I arrived in a piece.

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Lao-Vietnam border

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Hanoi’s hustle bustle

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Hoan Kiem Lake

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St. Joseph Cathedral

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Best treat when the sun’s merciless at mid day


Source: Nagai Keita

My ice cream mates. Met them on Halong Bay junk boat and bumped into them again in the streets of Hanoi.

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Vietnamese coffee; strong, bitter, black and served at a portion insufficient to quench thirst, but more than enough to perk me up for the day

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I spent only a few days in Hanoi. I thought the streets and building were quite cool. Different trades nestled in different streets hence a cluster of the same trade on a single street. The buildings in the old quarters, are literally old, giving a nostalgic touch to the town. Motorbikes are abundant and it was quite an experience crossing the road with bikes swerving around you. 

Best thing about Hanoi: Free Bia Hoi (local brew) every night at the hostel I stayed! Out at the streets, this thirst quencher goes around 5000VND or less per pint.

That’s RM 1 for a glass of 3%. 😛

Laos: Randomly, Brief

Posted in Diary, Thoughts, Travel by Alvin on August 1, 2010

Random thoughts and incidents in Laos, which worth to pen and remember.

Crashing a Laotian wedding

Last day in Vientiane, a few of us decided to hit the bar after dinner. I couldn’t remember the name of the bar, but we somehow got hold of a promotional pamphlet which says happy hour: buy 1 free 1. BeerLao for half the price, why not?

As we were making our way to the junction, we heard loud speakers playing Laotian songs,  and one of us suggested that there’s where the real party was. We stood in front of a live band belting out traditional songs, and 2 canopies filled with guests, and a buffet line. We gave out an awkward smile and in split seconds, we were ushered to a table, and the locals started popping bottles and bottles of BeerLao, filling out glass to the brim and dished out plates after plates of food.

‘Welcome to my wedding’. A lady who looked a little tipsy, spoke to us in Laotian accent. The real party starts after that brief introduction. We had unlimited flow of beer, dragged out to try out Laotian dance with the guests and a kid who kept us entertained despite speaking zero English.

Guests left not too long after, and as the band disassembles, and we were asked to join the host and a few of her close friend. ‘Lao style, Lao style’, a man started pouring a glass of beer and it went down at one go. That’s ‘Lao style’, he says. We went a few rounds of yam seng, before he brought out a bottle of Black Label and goes ‘Lao style’, grinning.

That was the night, we first tasted what’s truly Laotian hospitality. And we had our free flow beer, whiskies, got really drunk and a bad hangover the next day.

Hello, my friend

It was raining that night in VangVieng. Rain got heavier near midnight and the whole town blacked out, probably due to storm. The bar counter at Island Bar was fully filled with party peeps sheltering. I bid an early goodbye to the rest, making my way back to the guesthouse, wading through wet road and drizzles. I was soaked wet half way through the journey before I heard a motorcycle from far, slowing down as he approaches me.

‘Crap’, I thought. Having to live in KL for the past few years, dark quiet alley/roads + motorcycle = snatch thieves/robbers. The bike stopped in front of me, with a local guy who looked pretty tipsy and wet.

Biker: Hello, my friend. You ok?

Me: Hi. Yes I am.

Biker: Where you stay?

Me: Just right in front (Randomly points at the nearest building)

Biker: Ok. Take care my friend. Good night.

Me: …….. Oh..err..good night!

I stood there, as the bike made a left turn, and disappears into the dark. I sucked a mouthful of chill cold air and laughed at how I paranoid I was.

Khob Jai Lai Lai

One of the best thing about traveling alone is randomly meeting other travelers. Apart from what Laos had to offer, other backpackers I’ve met made my trip in Laos more enjoyable. Company aside, I’ve learned a lot from random travelers I’ve met and spoke to.

Icing on the cake!