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Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

Started in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, the Buddha park contains more than 200 statues from the Buddhist and Hindu pantheon. Its a masterpiece of outsider art.

Luang Pu combined both Buddhism and Hinduism to create his own doctrine.  He left Laos after the revolution in 1975 to Thailand – only 200m away over the river and visible from the park. He continued his project there, building another sculpture park in Nong Khai.

 

statue 7

 

statue 6

 

 

statue 5

 

statue 4

statue 3

statue 8

 

statue 9

 

statue 10

 

statue 2

 

statue 1

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Travelling in Northern Laos is an amazing experience.  Serene, Beautiful, amazing people and a slow pace of life.  A great place to relax and enjoy Nature at its finest.

The river boat to Muang Ngoi

09 boat

 

Hill Tribe girls pose for a photo

12 kids

 

Another young hill tribe girl plays, and young boys prepare their cocks for fighting.

01 Hill tribe girl10 cocks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A beautifully looked after sowing machine.

11 sowing machine

 

Scenes up and down the river

08 mountains

07 sunset

 

A huge tree, and dead parrot like birds for sale at the side of the road – Sadly a common sight in Laos

04 dead birds

06 tree

 

A white water buffalo family

05 Buffalo family

An Akha Hill tribe village

03 muang sing hilltribe village

 

A spirit gate – protecting the people of the village.

02 Hill tribe girl

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Tad lo fall

Tad Lo, on the Bolaven Plateau of Southern Laos – Waterfalls, scenery, relaxation. Or So I thought. Well it was good while it lasted….

Dry waterfallThe day started off pretty normal – Rent motorbikes, drive up to see some waterfalls, find somewhere to swim, eat, drink.  Exactly the kind of things I dream about when on holiday.  We drove straight up to The largest and furthest away waterfall.  But this being the dry season, and a newly built hydro-electric dam, meant no water.  Shame, this was a huge fall that would have been spectacular if there was even a little water – What little water was falling was strangely being blown back up and over the fall by the wind, or simply evaporating before it hit the bottom.

IMG_2578After this we hit our first snag – Paul’s bike ran out of petrol, but this was easily fixed with a run down to the local petrol station.  Right after this though we take a drive to the Tad Lo falls, where we think we’ve hit the jackpot.  A wide 4m high fall, with crystal clear water for swimming, right along a precarious bamboo ladder/bridge thing.  Beautiful.  We spend Half an hour swimming, managing to navigate ourselves right behind the falls and back again.

Swimming is tiring though, and I try to get out of the water to rest for a bit.  The rocks are slippy though, and I feel something under my foot.  I try to move away but slip on the rocks.  As my foot runs the length of the random object I can feel a hole tear in the sole of my foot – But no pain.  Just the kind of feeling you get when a really sharp object cuts you quickly.

gillan getting outAs I drag myself out onto the dry rocks I can see the extent of the damage – A 2 1/2” slice right into the muscle fibre of my foot my friend Paul laughing at me in the background.  I’m still not in pain, but now I don’t know what to do.  How am I going to get back over the bridge? There’s no way I can navigate that bridge, even with the T-shirt I’ve now got tied around my foot. Turns out the thing that cut me was a discarded bamboo fishing rod – also with line and hooks which luckily I didn’t get snagged on.

leder boysAt this point, seemingly out of nowhere, two young Germans, wearing Lederhosen,  come to my rescue.  They’ve got a decent first aid kit and bandage me up enough so I can get back over the bridge to find some help.  I couldn’t be more thankful that those guys were there to help me.  Apparently they are part of a trio travelling around the world, in Lederhosen.  Why not.  I would appreciate people taking a look at their site………………HERE.

Back in town the man who we rented the bikes from offers to drive me to the doctor.  Another person I’m eternally grateful to.  He had a bar full of guests watching a Muay Thai match but left to find me help.

IMG_2585And help we got.  The doctor was also watching the Muay Thai and didn’t seem too happy to help, the word Falang (or foreigner) was thrown around quite a bit. After opening up the hospital for me and taking off my bandages though, he realised how bad a gash it was.

He stitched me up good and tight – with what looked like 20lb fishing line, covered me in iodine – much more pain than the actual cut, gave me antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, and sent me on my way.  And all for only $10, a bargain.

It’s now been four days and I still cant walk, and it bleeds a little.  It’s getting better slowly, but I’m in a hammock on an Island in the Mekong – And its a good excuse to do nothing.

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Many of the Temples in Chiang Mai take the opportunity to give a little advice to us tourists as we pass through admiring the architecture.  Here are some of my favourites.

adversity

nothing

brotherly

sacrifice

covetous

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First time I was here 10 years ago I didn’t even own a camera.  Thank God I got a second chance to take some memories from this amazing city.

 

stupa 2

worshippers

buddha 4

monks pray

don temple stupa‌mini buddha

pray man

buddha 2buddha 3buddha 1

chinese templebuddhas 1

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Some photos of my trip to Hoi An.  Once the greatest trading port in all of South East Asia,and now a Unesco world heritage site,this small town is the most captivating in all of Vietnam.

Boats in the town harbour at night.

boats night

 

Dragons in a water feature in a Chinese temple.

dragons

 

A Mother of pearl eagle above one old the Chinese meeting houses

eagle

 

A shrine at a Family home and Incense burning in a Taoist Temple

houseincense 1

 

Kids Playing in the street at night, and lanterns hanging outside a doorway.

kids nightlantern

 

Another of the Chinese meeting houses.  Each one built for a different region.

meeting house

 

A boatman waits to take people on trips down the river.

relaxing boatman

Temple Alters

tao god

shrine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Hoi An Housing.

 

street

A Chinese lantern showing tanks and bombings.

war lantern

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saigon bikesThe story begins one drunken evening in Saigon.  After meeting a couple of people having just done the road trip from Hanoi we decide to buy two motorbikes and make the journey ourselves.  The next afternoon we’re $200 lighter, but the proud owners of two Honda Win’s – Vietnam’s finest. Check out our video of the trip – The electic tigers youtube…

hogsWe test drive the bikes on a 50km drive out to the Cu Chi tunnels – where the  north Vietnamese would take shelter from the constant shelling from American artillery and then nip up in between to pop off a few GI’s or launch somecu chi rich rocket attacks.  They survived down here almost the entire war. It wasn’t until the American presence was ending that they finally destroyed the network – a kind of swansong to the whole campaign.  Some areas of land here still feel the effects agent orange and other chemical weapons used by the US military.

gunshipSo the trip went well, chaotic, but easy driving…until we try to get back to our hotel.  Its getting dark as we enter the built up area of Saigon and the streets look pretty much the same.  There are very few landmarks and nobody speaks enough English to help us find our way back to our part of the city – And a map is useless if you cant find where you are on it.  Nightmare.  It takes us hours to find it.  But many lessons are learned, and luckily we need only navigate this crazy metropolis one more time.  We’re glad to hear no other city is quite as intense.

mui neAnd leave we do, the next morning. And head for the coast and a town called  Mui Ne. Where we chill for a couple of nights and hit the beach – and check out some sand dunes. Though we have our first breakdown – my accelerator cable snaps.  Rich drags my up the hill to the town where we find a mechanic.  he can fix it.  We time him.  It takes 12 minutes,including the trip to buy a new part.  It costs $2. Awesome.

Its Here we come up with the idea – or steal it from another guy, to start a biker gang and call it the Vietnam Electric Tigers.  You can check out our facebook page click here – Vietnam Electric Tigers!.  All facebook likes would be appreciated!!!

gillan duneNext we drive up to Dalat, in the southern mountains.  The road there, well, it isn’t a road.  More a collection of bits of road mixed with dirt track and some gravel – And potholes that schools of fish could easily live in.  But we make it in one piece.  Up here the cool weather is a break from the heat down south.  The town is nice and a trip to the ‘Crazy House’ is fun.  1 electricWe also get the decals of our biker club, the electric tigers done here.

But its the road back down is the star – a newly paved piece of road, winding all the way down to Nha Trang on the coast.  Beautiful scenery of dense jungle clad peaks and views all the way out to the sea. The best road in Vietnam.

We stay in Nha Trang for nearly a week, socrazy houseaking up the sun, sea, sand – and a good bit of the local happy hours – 50c beer anybody? and then move on up the coast along the dreaded highway number 1 – or as Paul Theroux calls it in ‘ The great railway bazaar’, “The highway of no joy”.

view bikeThis road is the worst – potholes everywhere, buses, trucks, crazy minibus drivers, police trying to wave you down to extort money – we never stop for the police, in fact we don’t stop for anybody.  In fact we don’t stop until Rich’s back tire blows out on the highway.  A real scary moment, but he slows down quick and neither him nor the bike are damaged – apart from the hole on his tyre, obviously.  It takes us ages to get the bike along to a repair place, going super slow in the red hot sun.

gillan bikeWe don’t stop again till night falls and the sand and dust is turning our eyelids into sandpaper against our eyes.  We stay overnight in what is clearly a brothel – but god are we glad to get off that road.

The next day we ride into Hoi An.  We need a few repairs on the hogs and take some time to relax.  This place is a shopaholic’s dream and by far the prettiest city in Vietnam – More on this in a separate post.

lanternMoving on we travel further north over the Hoi Van pass – Named for the mists and clouds that top the peaks.  And we literally drive right up into the clouds.  The road is not used by trucks and buses, as a tunnel  has been built, so we have the road to ourselves. But getting over the other side, the geographical separation of the country between north and south we begin to notice a big change in the weather.  Here they are experiencing colder wet weather and this affects the rest of our trip.

1 hueWe get into Hue after lunch and stay for a few nights, hoping the weather will change.  A typhoon has just left the Philippines and is heading right for us.  We have to move on, but head inland for the Ho Chi Minh highway where hopefully we are shielded from the worst.  The HCM Highway is another spectacular piece of road – This time with Karst mountains running up either side of the road and thundering rivers running down the steep valleys below. saigon hammer and sickle But the weather really is unpleasant, to say the least, and we struggle with the wind and rain stinging our face.

We stay overnight in Phuong Na farm stay.  A great place with great people.  Sadly we cant visit the famous caves as the entrance is flooded and the next day we head on for Vinh.

By this time a second tropical storm has hit and its no longer wet,  its a swimming pool just being out of cover.  We leave the HCMH and drive towards Highway 1.  At this point the road turns to the worst I’ve ever seen.1 phong na  Potholes going on for 100m and no way to know how deep, no proper road surface to speak of – and the rain still battering down on us.  We hit highway number 1 again coming into Vinh. Its unreal.  How could it possibly get worse?  Although the road is better water coming at us from every angle – Trucks, buses, cars, all passing us, covering us in water, and the clouds so dark we can hardly see with our sunglasses on – our only protection against the lashing rain in our eyes .  Freezing cold we head into the train station – And finally give in.

We cant go on anymore so we put the bikes on the train for the last couple of hundred km’s and get into Hanoi early the next morning.  And its over, and were glad.

An experience.  And An achievement.  but not to be repeated in the near future….but hey, never say never.

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