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Still on the beach

Ban Ao Nang, Thailand

So I blew through my 30 day visa without leaving the beach. I'll probably do the same with the new one too. Yessir, traveling far and wide these days.

Ok, I guess I did make it down to Malaysia for a week, but really only to take care of the visa situation and eat a whole bunch of noodles in Chinatown.

Stopped in Trang for a couple nights on the way back, and set off into the countryside on a rented motorbike. There are miles of beautiful white sand beach with basically no development at all, and no tourists except a few Thais. There's even nice rocks to be climbed, just like Railay but without the tourists. I may have to buy some land down there...

One of the beaches that I checked out is only accessable by walking through a cave. And not just one of those duck-under-these-few-rocks caves, but a full on better-have-a-second-light-source cave. With bats.

On the way back, I got rained off the road and into a random little restaurant/shack, where I got to practice my Thai for a few hours with the locals. I still have a long way to go before I can master this language.

Climbing goes well. Flashed a .12a yesterday, just missed flashing another one today, then spent the morning falling off a .13a just for fun.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on February 7, 2004 from Ban Ao Nang, Thailand
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
tagged MotorBike and Climbing

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Here's me, Here's the bear...

Luang Prabang, Laos

So I was mauled by a bear yesterday. Not a very big bear, and not much of a scratch even, but mauled is mauled. I'm sorta proud of myself.

Me & Jay rented motorbikes and headed off to this big waterfall out at the end of a dirt road. It's one of these multi-tiered limestone falls, with lots of pools to swim around in, ledges to jump from, and hidden grottoes behind curtains of water with ferns and moss and forest elves frolicking. A great addition to the end of any dusty dirt road.

Anyway, the caretakers are also nursing back to health a few animals that were retrieved from poachers. There's a large enclosure full of bears, with a shack at one end containing some food and a tiny lady with a stick. If you drop some money in the donation box, she'll hand you a couple bananas and let you in to play with the bears. If they're not too busy fighting amongst themselves and behaving like wild animals, they'll hop up on their hind legs and walk over to take some food from your hand. And maybe take a swipe at you if you don't supply it promptly.

There is also an enclosure with a large tiger inside that you can pet through the bars. I didn't try giving that lady any money.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on March 24, 2004 from Luang Prabang, Laos
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
tagged MotorBike

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Re: Haven't heard from you for awhile.

Ban Ao Nang, Thailand

I've been to Malaysia again for visa run #2. On the way back, I spent another couple nights in Trang and explored some more of the surrounding area on a rented motorscooter. This time, I made it way down some dirt road and stopped to watch this cool Thai Eagle (like a slightly smaller bald eagle, but brown instead of black), when up scoots a local, shouting greetings. We talked a minute, and he invited me back to his home for lunch.

I followed him down an ever-crazier series of dirt roads, cart tracks, footpaths, and jungle trails until we finally came into a clearing with a couple shacks on stilts and an overview of some ponds and mangroves. By the time I had the Thai dictionary out and found myself a place on the floor of the hut, all the neighbor kids had come running up and were standing in a bunch by the door, staring and giggling. I tried out my Thai "Ben dtek Thai chop farang (thai kids like barbarians)." with much success. Got a tasty meal and some good Thai practice before motorscooting onward to go swimming at an empty beach.

And for the record, these were in fact the dreaded Southern Thailand Muslims, though none to separatist nor fanatical at the moment. Just to tempt fate a bit more, I put in a good attempt to handle one of their chickens.

Two days ago, four of us went up Ao Nang tower, this big spire of rock sticking out of the sea. You get there by hiring a boat to the tower and stepping off the bow onto a ledge at the base of the route. The route is 80 meters long, and you do it in three pitches, with lots of scary moves on overhanging rock with a very pronounced feeling of exposure. Getting down is the fun part. You flag down a passing boatman, then rappel the final 50 meters into the boat. Even better, since the boat drifts away a bit during the time it takes to lower, and you are the only thing it's tied to, you end up rapping down over the open ocean until you can just dip a toe into it. Then the boatman reels you and the boat together and pulls you aboard. Too much fun!

I may be moving on to Laos before too long.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on March 11, 2004 from Ban Ao Nang, Thailand
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
tagged MotorBike and Locals

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Lovina Beach: Love the Rain!

Singaraja, Indonesia

We left Probolinggo in the early evening, escorted to an executive bus on a main road and we soon fell asleep after a busy day. When we woke up we found ourselves in Bali and heading along the north coast, our destination, Lovina Beach. We arrived around 4.30am and iwere welcomed by the rain that we would get to know very well during our stay! We asked for directions to a guesthouse and then stretched our legs, walking around 5km with backpacks to the place with the sun coming up to our right and the animals waking the locals. Finally we arrived and were met by another guesthouse owner who easily convinced us to stay in his newly finished [and very exclusive] top room, an oppotunity to relax in comfort and take a shower in the outside bathroom with sea view! Nice!

Nous avons quitte Probolinggo par le bus de nuit pour nous reveiller a Bali. Ce qui nous a marque dans le bus, c'est leur facheuse habitude de mettre la clim a fond (alors que la chaleur reste tres supportable, surtout la nuit!) pour ensuite distribuer des couvertures afin que les gens n'aient pas froid!! Nous avons carrement sorti nos sacs de couchage !! Allez comprendre... Nous sommes finalement arrive sur la cote nord a 4h30 a Lovina Beach, sous la pluie, et avons decide de marcher les 5 km qui nous separaient de notre guest house avec nos 15kg sur le dos. Nous avions besoin de nous detendre les jambes et cela nous permettait de decouvrir l'endroit ou nous etions, le temps que le soleil se leve. Enfin arrive, nous avons profite de la salle de bain sur le balcon avec vue sur mer par une bonne douche chaude bien meritee! On adoooooore!

To be honest, there was not a lot to do in Lovina Beach itself and th best part was renting a moped and shooting off into the hills to discover the GitGit Waterfalls, temples and surrounding countryside. This option is also much cheaper and convenient than taking organised trips with either the guesthouse or another local agency. The waterfalls were nice but better not talk about 'the hammock'! The temples were everywhere and after a while it became much more interesting just to roam the county roads and discover the places we would otherwise not have seen.

We also had the fortune to make it to the lakes 'danau tamblingan' and 'danau buyan' just before the rain arrived. We had a great lunch and then the heavens opened, meaning we had to stay inside for an hour before getting soaked anyway on te journey back. After ten minutes your feet and everything are soaked and there really is no getting away from it. Then there are the lorries which cover you in a blanket of water off the road too. It was an experience and introduction to the real 'rainy season'!

Lovina Beach n'etait pas vraiment ce qu'on attendait... endroit touristique pour aller nager avec les dauphins sans charme. Alors nous avons decide de louer un scooter pour decouvrir les alentours: la cascade Git-Git, les temples et les beaux points de vue du haut des montagnes proche des lacs tramblingan et buyan. Tout se passait tres bien nous mangions a l'exterieur, admirant la vue sur les lacs... jusqu'au moment ou des enormes nuages gris arrivent en un rien de temps, et une minute apres : pluie tropicale!!! hum les pates (mie goreng) a la pluie!

Optimistes, nous avons decide d'attendre a l'interieur du restaurant que la pluie se calme un peu... en vain... et il fallait bien rentrer! Alors sans aucun equipement de pluie (bien sur c'est toujours comme ca) nous avons repris la route en evitant l'aquaplanning. Nous avons mesure ce que l'expression "trempe jusqu'aux os" voulait dire! Mais a ce moment la, nous n'avions pas encore rencontre le gros camion qui venait en sens inverse... deja qu'on y voyait plus rien et qu'on avait la bouche grand ouverte pour respirer, un gros SPLACH d'eau nous a totalement submerge!! c'etait tellement enorme qu'on s'arretait plus de rire (nerveusement a ce stade!).

Equipped with our new raincoats [imagine a small tent on wheels] we decided to go west along the northern coast of Bali until Permuteran. In the morning we stopped at the local hot springs for little dip and the chance to meet local people. Lenaic felt a little uncomfortable in her swimming costume so she decided to keep some clothes on and not make any cultural statements. After this we got back on the road, passing through Pulaki and then finally landing in Permuteran, where we enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours on a nice beach and with some gorgeous food! The sun beating down and still no sign of the rain, we returned to Lovina and saw out the night at the restaurant which had become our little reliable place!

The usual entertainment was provided by the two young lads who served us each night and on the first night brought us home. They got the chance to practice both their English and French and we got a small insight into a backstreet but local place to eat, of course complete with cats and flying insects! The next morning it was time to leave but not without seeing the street dog which followed us for a good 30 minutes along the main road one last time. A sad sight but a reminder of another way of life!

Equipes de nos nouveaux ponchos de pluie, nous avons decide d'aller explorer la cote nord-ouest de Bali. En chemin nous nous sommes arretes aux hot springs, une source d'eau chaude dans laquelle vont se baigner les locaux. Par pudeur j'ai garde un vetement par dessus mon maillot de bain car les femmes se baignaient toutes habillees! et hop, de nouveau sur le scooter en partance pour Pulaki et Permuteran ou nous avons profite d'une belle plage. Magnifique! C'est la ou nous aurions du aller! Mais non, il nous a fallu repartir vers Lovina sous un soleil de plomb (toujours pas de pluie...finalement ca rafraichit la pluie!)

Nous sommes directement alle a ce qui etait devenu notre repere du soir, "kiki restaurant" avec ses insectes, ses chats et ses 2 serveurs mythiques qui ne loupaient pas une occasion de nous parler pour pratiquer leur francais et anglais. Ils etaient bien sympa. Le lendemain matin il etait deja temps de repartir mais pas avant d'avoir revu le chien sauvage qui nous avait suivi durant une demi-heure la veille le long de la rue. C'etait triste mais reflete bien la realite de Bali qui est une ile remplie de chiens qui vivent sur le bord de la route a la recherche d'ordures. Le probleme est que ces chiens dorment sur la route, traversent a tout bout de champs et qu'un accident est tres vite arrive.

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 10, 2010 from Singaraja, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged MotorBike, Waterfalls, Bali and Indonesia

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