Showing posts from January, 2010

Mummies' the Word, Cairo, Egypt, Jan 11-15, 2010

For most of the past four months, Trish was often the only white folk around. And I could almost blend in well enough to get the occasional local price. All this came to a screeching halt in the chaos and dusty mayhem they call, Cairo. The largest city in Africa, 20 million people . We landed with virtually no prep, or research---completely vulnerable. Many had forewarned us of the locals, how aggressive and shifty they are. Trish might disagree but I think they've been more honest, courteous and friendly than just about anybody we've met.

Case in point. One night I wandered the lively back alleys- looking for necessities eg beer (an impossible search in Muslim world) yogurt, and chocolate, etc...I had no idea of the costs, didn't have enough Arabic to BS my way, and couldn't have looked any more conspicuous. Nevertheless, I came back with 2 chicken sandwiches and a bag of groceries. I paid with a 100 pound note and got change of 86. That's under $3 Cdn. In Vietna…

Love and Madness, Bangkok, Jan 4-10, 2010

The overnight VIP bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is anything but VIP. We see passengers on other buses passing us with blankets,trays,water, and night lights. Our smiling travel agent who booked this no doubt pocketed most of our fare and schlepped us on this backpacker delight. On the road Trish lays a bombshell and tells me she's up for India. This coming from a woman who's repulsed by Indian food, who has little stomach left for touts and child beggars, and who ran out of gas 3 countries ago. She was going for me. It's a fine line between love and madness sometimes. I was so high I could've flapped my arms and flown the rest of the way to Bangkok!

Bangkok is either loved or loathed, and is inevitable if in Thailand. For us it was just rewards at the end of the road. It was also a place to plot an exit strategy and to hook up with the Elborns (more on them in a sec).

We check into our first splash out digs, the Pullman. Urbane, chic, hip, $100 nightly, 30m infinity poo…

Countdown in Chiang Mai, Dec 28-Jan 3, 2010

Yet another lame jungle 'elephant trek.' These elephants spend most of their time foraging for grass and drinking.

This only goes to prove that the bigger you are, the bigger pile of shXX you will produce.

As we stumble to the finish line of this magnificient Asia leg, we continually see startling contrasts.

We took the one hour flight from Luang Prabang into Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, saving us an arduous 3 day overland journey. Leaving behind the ramshackle tin and thatch roof homes and dirt roads of Laos, we arrive in the Land of Smiles, Thailand. Where the roads are sealed, SUVs outmuscle motorbikes, clay roofs and solid homes are the norm, and fish and chips and German beer cater to the legions of westerners blissed out in this safe, easy going exotica.

It's easy to see why so many westerners adore this area. Many get by without speaking anything other than English. You can get Premier League, even NHL games in pubs n clubs. There is a startling lack of abject pover…