On our way to Thailand! December 2-6, 2013

December 2-6, 2013

Another adventure!  A little different that our last since we don’t have the motorcycle with us; however, we have brought our helmets just in case we find a bike to rent.  Our plan is to explore Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos over the next three months as well as help out at the Alliance Guest Home in Bangkok.

LAX - on our way

LAX – on our way

Left LAX at 2:30 pm on Monday, December 2, 2013 ….

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After 11 hours, we had an hour stop in Tokyo….

Tokyo

Tokyo Dr. Pepper

Then after another seven hour flight, arrived at the Singapore Airport at 2:30 am –  We spent some time walking around enjoying the Christmas decor – a beautiful airport, devoid of people at this hour.

Singapore Airport

Singapore Airport – check out the orchids!

Enchanted Garden in the Singapore Airport

Enchanted Garden in the Singapore Airport – see the koi?

Christmas orchids - Singapore airport

Christmas orchids – Singapore airport

Arrived in Bangkok around 8 am on Wednesday, December 4, after 27 hours of travel (whew!) and got on the train into the city.  After a long walk (shorter if you aren’t carrying your luggage!) we found our way to the  Alliance Guest Home (Christian and Missionary Alliance).

Alliance Guest Home, Bangkok

Alliance Guest Home, Bangkok

We were welcomed by Randy and Kerri Nielsen, with whom we had been communicating by e-mail.  Originally from Oregon, they have been managing the guest home since January.  We will be staying here for several days to help them with some projects.

Randy and Kerri Neilsen

Randy and Kerri Nielsen

Alliance Guest Home, Bangkok

Alliance Guest Home, Bangkok

Alliance Guest Home, Bangkok

Alliance Guest Home, Bangkok

Alliance Guest Home, Bangkok

Alliance Guest Home, Bangkok

Alliance Guest Home, Bangkok

Alliance Guest Home, Bangkok

Alliance Guest Home, Bangkok

Alliance Guest Home, Bangkok

After a short rest, Randy took us out to look around town.  December 5th is the King’s birthday so this was a common sight in his honor.

Decorations for the King's birthday

Decorations for the King’s birthday

We are impressed with the friendliness of the Thai people, as well as the cleanliness of the city.  Some pictures while we have been out getting some supplies….

Bangkok

Bangkok

Bangkok

Bangkok

The food is delicious, and inexpensive!  We had cashew chicken for around $6 total for the two of us….

Dinner - cashew chicken

Dinner – cashew chicken

Street sweeper - Bangkok

Street sweeper – Bangkok

Honda, Bangkok

Honda, Bangkok

Itty bitty fish pond, Bangkok

Itty bitty fish pond, Bangkok

Window washers - Bangkok

Window washers – Bangkok

We found the perfect cure for our jet-lagged bodies – Thai massage…. ahhhhhh….I had a foot massage…..happy feet!

We would appreciate your prayers that we are an encouragement to the Alliance Guest Home while we are here!

Blessings to you!  🙂 ❤

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Thanksgiving in Todos Santos, November 23-30, 2015

We rented a house in Todos Santos on the beach for the week of Thanksgiving.  Jake and Bree flew down from Big Bear to join us… we had a very nice relaxing week together!

Casa Cathy - our beachfront abode for the week in Todos Santos

Casa Cathy – our abode for the week in Todos Santos

beautiful sunset at Todos Santos

beautiful sunset at Todos Santos

 

Todos Santos

Todos Santos

 

 

Jake brought a Butterball turkey with him… but it didn’t make it through customs.  So, off to Super Walmart we went to see if we could buy a turkey.  When we arrived, we parked next to this couple… he had traveled all over Europe and the Middle East on his BMW…. met his wife in India… she had a baby….added a sidecar to accommodate the car seat…and now they are traveling through Mexico down to South America.  And people call us crazy…?!!!!!!IMG_2251

 

Thanksgiving turkey

Thanksgiving turkey… in pesos

Endless view

Endless views – great for whale watching and perfect sunsets

Cooling off in the pool

Cooling off in the pool

pool next to the ocean...nothing better!

pool next to the ocean…nothing better!

Relaxing

Relaxing

Todos Santos has the most beautiful beaches!!!

Todos Santos has the most beautiful beaches!!!

breakfast

breakfast

Todos Santos

Todos Santos  – Playa Cerritos

At the beach - Playa Cerritos

At the beach – Playa Cerritos

making pies!

making pies!

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner

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Playa Cerritos

Playa Cerritos

puzzle

puzzling

working on puzzles

working on puzzles

Crowded beach in front of the house, Todos Santos

The newlyweds on the crowded beach in front of the house, Todos Santos

Todos Santos - Another amazing sunset!

Todos Santos – Another amazing sunset!

So sad for the week to be over… wonderful memories made!  Baja will be a spot we return to again.  The people are so friendly and the beaches are some of the most beautiful we have seen.  We take the ferry across from La Paz to Los Mochis tomorrow.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

 

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Baja Bound! Mexico-November 7-22, 2015

We are off again… heading south to warmer weather for a few months!  We met our good friends, Kevin and Jill Fraley, in Palm Springs and headed to the border. We are so happy that they are able to ride with us for the first 5 days of our trip.

Crossing the border

Crossing the border

Scott and Kevin

Scott and Kevin

Dinner at Nino's

Dinner at El Nino’s

Rosarito

Rosarito

The Rosarito Beach Hotel hasn’t changed much since we were there 15 or so years ago, but they have added a huge new building and pool complex next door.  Jill and I enjoyed a little sunshine next to the new infinity pool the first day while Scott and Kevin rode back to the border to import our motorcycle.

Rosarito Beach Hotel

Rosarito Beach Hotel

Thrifty Ice Cream

Thrifty Ice Cream of course!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After two nights in Rosarito, we rode south to Ensenada, then across Baja to San Felipe.

South of Rosarito

South of Rosarito

Kevin & Jill

Kevin & Jill

The drive took us up in elevation through high desert.  When the temperature dropped to 54, we stopped to add some layers to our jackets.  Not much between Ensenada and San Felipe – a small village and a couple of military check points.  After a good meal in San Felipe (with a view of the Sea of Cortez), we rented a beautiful condo just north of town.  Nice area, but our condo was mixed in with mostly unfinished buildings left from the crash of ’06.  Scott and Kevin golfed while Jill and I sat poolside.

Jill and Vickie enjoying the sun (and the wind!)

Jill and Vickie enjoying the sun (and the wind!)

San Felipe Condo

San Felipe Condo

San Felipe Condo

San Felipe Condo

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El Dorado Ranch, San Felipe

On Friday, Kevin and Jill headed home and we started south again.  The pavement ended and we rode the 20 miles on dirt.  Stopped at Coco’s Corner for a soda.  Coco came to this spot in 1990 – the only person out here for miles.

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Coco’s Corner, Baja

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The highway is being paved through, but there is a portion that has not been completed.  Not too bad, except for one section of soft dirt that dumped us.  We were struggling to get the bike upright when a guy appeared out of nowhere to give us a hand.  My box took the brunt of the fall – it will need to be banged out at some point.

dirt section below San Felipe

dirt section below San Felipe

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As we rode toward the Sea of Cortez, the contrast of the desert ad blue water was stunning. We reached Bahia de Los Angeles, a small fishing village.  After looking at several hotels (that didn’t pass the “test”), we drove north of town and found a little resort called Los Vientos.  Our room is steps from the water.  Fell asleep hearing the waves lap on the sand…

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Early morning walk on the beach

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Bahia de Los Angeles, La Vizcaino Resort

Bahia de Los Angeles, La Vizcaino Resort

Papaya juice for breakfast

Papaya juice for breakfast

A thunderstorm convinced us to stay for another day.  We enjoyed a magnificent lightning show through the night.  We got up early on Sunday and headed toward Guerrero Negro.   The desert, after the rain the night before, was amazing.  The Baja desert is much more beautiful and diverse  than I could have imagined!

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Birthday breakfast

Birthday breakfast

We had a very late breakfast at Guerrero Negro – Scott chose the perfect place for breakfast… pancakes with a birthday serenade from the waiters.

The singing waiters

The singing waiters

Guerrero Negro is on the Pacific side, known for salt exportation and whale watching during January and February.  The town was very quiet at this point as we drove through.

Santa Rosalia

Santa Rosalia

Stopped for the night at Santa Rosalia on the Sea of Cortez.  The hotel we stayed in was pretty nice – settled in for a good night of sleep…. until 4:30 am when the biggest cockroach I have ever seen decides to drop onto my head.  I think the entire hotel woke up with me.  AAAAHHHHH!!!!!!

We left EARLY the next morning and drove south along the Sea of Cortez and Concepcion Bay.

Bay of Concepcion

Bay of Concepcion

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Playa Buenaventura

Playa Buenaventura

Good lunch with a great view

Good lunch with a great view

swimming in the Sea of Cortez

swimming in the Sea of Cortez/Concepcion Bay

sea shells through the clear water

sea shells through the clear water

Sea of Cortez

Sea of Cortez

Sea of Cortez - Bay of Concepcion

Sea of Cortez – Bay of Concepcion

The views are incredible, overlooking the crystal clear water and white beaches.  Great place to camp under a palapa on the beach.  We had lunch at Playa Buenaventura and talked with the owner Mark, and his son, Nathan.  Beautiful spot and delicious coconut shrimp and yellow tail.  Only regret was that Scott left his new leather sandals on the beach… didn’t discover they were missing until we were three hours down the road.

We ended up at Loreto – staying a few nights here – this town is great!  Friendly  people, beautiful malecon that begs to be walked, great restaurants and hotels due to the Canadians and Americans that winter here.  An airport nearby and beautiful weather makes this destination one we would like to visit again.

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Loreto

Loreto

Haircut in Mexico

Haircut in Mexico

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We got a great deal on our hotel in Loreto…Posada Del Cortes.   The backhoe that was determined to dig up the road every morning seemed to deter the majority of guests!


Pelicans at Loreto

Pelicans at Loreto

Enjoyed Loreto for four days…back on the bike and riding south to La Paz.  The temperature keeps getting warmer 🙂  Baja is a great place to visit – we are surprised over and over of how friendly everyone is and the beauty of this part of the world!P1090517Sierra de la Giganta – beautiful mountains covered in green just south of Loreto.

La Paz malecon

La Paz malecon

La Paz - La Concha Resort

La Paz – La Concha Resort

 

La Concha

La Concha

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P1090540Sunset over the Sea of Cortez….
As we approach Thanksgiving, we are grateful for all our family and friends – those who enrich our lives with love and friendship.  Though we won’t see you this Thanksgiving, you are in our thoughts and prayers.   May the Lord richly bless each and every one of you!
Posted in Baja Mexico, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Chiang Mai, Thailand – Home! – February 9-19, 2014

This gallery contains 16 photos.

Sunday, February 9 – Thursday, February 13, 2014 A few days of rest in Chiang Mai… Scott was able to sell the motorcycle to Nic – visiting from France, who will be riding into Laos.  When Nic is done riding … Continue reading

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Udon Thani – Chiang Mai, Thailand, January 26-February 8, 2014

January 26 – February 1, 2014

It has been a crazy few days…. I will try to recap as briefly as possible!  Scott was admitted to the ICU in Udon Thani for monitoring.  By the following morning, the doctor determined that Scott needed immediate attention.  We were taken by ambulance 1-1/2 hours (with lights and siren) to the town of Khon Kaen to the Queen Sirikit Heart Center where they performed an angiogram, angioplasty and inserted a stent.  The cardiologist was very pleased with the blood flow after this was completed.

To see the overwhelming amount of e-mail and Facebook messages that came to us over these few days, and to know that all our friends and family at home were praying for Scott and I during this time… words cannot express how loved we feel!  Thank you each and every one for your prayers and words of support!  God has been faithful to be with us every step of the way.

Scott stayed in the ICU there another day, then was transferred to an open ward.  The ICU, technology and doctors at the Heart Center were great, but the ward was not so nice…This is a government hospital, so the ward was crowded, beds close to each other, noisy, NOT clean and full of family members caring for patients. We were told a private room was not available.

Scott spent one night and then decided he felt good enough to leave – so he checked himself out (of course!).

While we were waiting for him to be discharged, in walk two of our sons, Jake and Matt, and Kevin Fraley!!!!  They had dropped everything (and flew countless hours!!!!) to be with us during this ordeal.  We love you guys so much – you cannot imagine how good it was to see you walk in to that hospital!!!!!!

Matt, Jake, Kevin and Scott - Khon Kaen, Thailand

Matt, Jake, Kevin and Scott – Khon Kaen, Thailand

Scott in front of the Queen Sirikit Heart Center - just after checking himself out

Scott in front of the Queen Sirikit Heart Center – just after checking himself out

Jake, Matt and Kevin went back to Udon Thani to retrieve the motorcycle…. it was still parked at the first hospital.  Matt rode it back to Khon Kaen for us.

Just before Jake arrived, he had fallen on his dirt bike and injured his left hand, but hadn’t had time to get to a doctor.  So…Scott suggested getting it x-rayed while he was in Thailand and have whatever needed to be done (wrapped or cast). The x-ray showed it had broken in 5 places.  He needed surgery to put in two wires to hold the bones in place.  The orthopedic surgeon was able to do the surgery that afternoon – Jake stayed two days in the hospital.  This is a different hospital (international and private) than the one Scott was in, so Jake had a private room with couch, tv, private bath, and lots of cute Thai nurses to take care of him.  There was plenty of space for all of us to hang out.

Kevin decided to get in on some of this medical tourism….

?!!!

?!!!

Medical tourism at its best

Medical tourism at its best

Jake and Kevin, Khon Kaen, Thailand

Jake and Kevin, Khon Kaen, Thailand

Tuk tuk time - Khon Kaen, Thailand

Tuk tuk time – Khon Kaen, Thailand

All too soon they were headed back home…

I guess Thailand is a pretty good deal for medical tourism…. heart attack $5,000…..orthopedic surgery $1,000…  however, I don’t think we’ll be promoting any tours!!

Scott decided he felt good enough to stay and travel further.   We are taking it slow…. His doctor from Kaiser recommends that he waits a few weeks to fly home.

February 2, 2014

Left Khon Kaen and rode about 3 hours…

Sunrise tower, Nam Nao National Park, outside Khon Kaen, Thailand

Sunrise tower, Nam Nao National Park, outside Khon Kaen, Thailand
Sunrise tower, Nam Nao National Park, outside Khon Kaen, Thailand

Sunrise tower, Nam Nao National Park, outside Khon Kaen, Thailand

…to Sappraiwan Grand Hotel near Phitsanulok, Thailand.  In this huge, beautiful resort, there was only one other guest tonight.

IMG_0533 IMG_0535 IMG_0537Sappraiwan Grand Hotel, Thailand

Sappraiwan Grand Hotel, Thailand – towels made into elephants, of course!
Sappraiwan Grand Hotel

lake at Sappraiwan Grand Hotel

Sappraiwan Grand Hotel

Sappraiwan Grand Hotel

We enjoyed a restful night, then went out into the jungle with one of the staff (a Swiss gal) to find the elephants.

Sappraiwan Grand Hotel

Sappraiwan Grand Hotel – mama elephant with her nursing baby

February 3-4, 2014

We rode a few hours to Chiang Mai.  Decided to stay two days to relax and plan the route we will take through the northwest part of Thailand – the Mae Hong Son loop – supposedly some of the best bike roads in Thailand.  The first day, we took a ride on Road 1096 around Doi Suthep Mountain.  We stopped to check out some waterfalls….

Mae Sae Waterfall, Doi Ithanon National Park, Thailand

Mae Sa Waterfall, Doi Suthep National Park, Thailand

Mae Ya Waterfall, Doi Ithanon National Park, Thailand

Mae Sa Waterfall, Doi Suthep National Park, Thailand

Mae Ya Waterfall, Doi Ithanon National Park, Thailand

Mae Sa Waterfall, Doi Suthep National Park, Thailand

Strawberries, Doi Ithanon National Park, Thailand

Strawberries, Doi Suthep National Park, Thailand

Sappraiwan Grand Hotel near Phitsanulok, Thailand

Suan Bua Resort, Thailand

We stopped along this route (1096) at the Suan Bua Resort – beautiful property, nice suite for a great deal…. settled in for a peaceful evening… until the karaoke started.  On the lawn outside our window was an event (part of a conference) that included a karaoke contest late into the night.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if the people could sing….  Oh my… moving on….

Thursday, February 6, 2014

We drove down 108 to Chomthong, then took 1009 toward Don Inthanon National Park…

Doi Ithanon National Park, Thailand

Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand

Wachirathan Waterfall, Doi Ithanon National Park, Thailand

Wachirathan Waterfall, Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand

Love this translation at a gas station in Mae Chaem, Thailand

no naked light….?!

Another beautiful waterfall…

IMG_0624We arrived to the town of Mae Chaem, and found a great little B&B….

Mae Chaem, Thailand

Chaem Muang House, Mae Chaem, Thailand

Chaem Muang House has a beautiful garden with lots of little nooks and crannies….the only place to stay in Mae Chaem!

Mae Chaem, Thailand

Mae Chaem, Thailand

Our hostess directed us to a restaurant for dinner.  The view of the sunset over the rice paddies was pretty amazing!

Mae Chaem, Thailand

dinner view, Mae Chaem, Thailand

Mae Chaem, Thailand

Chaem Muang House, Mae Chaem, Thailand

Friday, February 7, 2014

Leaving Mae Chaem, we headed north.  The road wasn’t too bad – we had heard there were lots of potholes.  There are areas of the road that were a bit challenging, but the scenery is worth it! The road was REALLY curvy in some areas – with mirrors on many corners so you could see who was coming!  We took in some beautiful views….

Drive from Mae Chaem to Khun Yuam, Thailand

Drive from Mae Chaem to Khun Yuam, Thailand

Drive from Mae Chaem to Khun Yuam, Thailand

Drive from Mae Chaem to Khun Yuam, Thailand

Stayed one night in Mae Hung Son – a nice little town with enough tourism that we were able to have pizza for dinner!

Mae Hong Son, Thailand

Mae Hong Son Lake, Thailand

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Our ride today was short – only an hour, but full of twists and turns…

Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand

Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand

Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand

Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand

Mae Hong Son loop, Thailand

roadside roasted corn on the cob snack, Mae Hong Son loop, Thailand

We decided to stay at the Soppong River Inn – our little bungalow is $23 for the night… the inn has a comfortable deck overlooking the Soppong River.

Suppong River Inn, Suppong, Thailand

view from Suppong River Inn, Suppong, Thailand

Suppong River Inn, Suppong, Thailand

path to the river…Suppong River Inn, Suppong, Thailand

Tomorrow should find us back in Chiang Mai…There is a good hospital in Chiang Mai, so Scott’s going to go get checked again just to make sure everything is a-okay! He is feeling, in his own words….100%   🙂

Thanks again to each of you for your prayers and encouragement! We love you, our family and friends!

Posted in 2014, Thailand | 1 Comment

Luang Prabang – Vientiane, Laos, to Udon Thani, Thailand – January 20-25, 2014

January 20, 2014

We started out from Luang Prabang this morning, thinking we could make it to Vientiane – the capital city of Laos, in one day (ha ha).  The road climbed into the mountains to a very high altitude (close to 9,000 ft) where we rode all day.  It was slow going, and cold!  We had purchased some inexpensive (and light) jackets in Chiang Khong, not expecting much cold weather. We stopped for lunch at a Chinese restaurant for hot soup and hot tea, trying to warm up. Here are a few pictures from the ride today….P1080817

Chasing a pig! He ran as fast as his little legs would go in front of us for quite a bit before veering off to the side!P1080823 Limestone karsts (rock formations), LaosP1080836

Villagers working in a rice paddy…

P1080849 Common transportation in Laos…

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More karsts… the whole area is covered with a haze that mars the visibility of the mountains…wishing it would be clear to see the expanses we must be missing!!P1080879

This lady was working hard chopping wood…P1080883 P1080894 P1080902

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

We stayed the night in Vang Vieng on the Nam Song River.  This town used to be THE party town – but in 2011 when 27 tourists died (most by drowning in the river when they were wasted), the town shut down most of the bars on the river.  It is much quieter now, but still a backpacker destination.

We are hoping to reach Vientiane today! 🙂

Twin girls in Laos….P1080945

Their truck blew a tire…P1080954

Three on a scooter… The Asian girls can ride side saddle quite gracefully! P1080956 P1080958

Wednesday – Thursday, January 22-23, 2014- Vientiane, Laos

Made it to Vientiane…the layout of this city was confusing for the first few days.  We stayed 3 nights…. good hotel for $40 a night…visited the sights….went bowling… got the new back tire on the motorcycle… enjoyed listening to live music next to the Nam Phou Fountain…walked through the riverside park….

Nam Phou Fountain, Vientiane, Laos

Nam Phou Fountain, Vientiane, Laos

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Patuxal Gate, Vientiane, Laos

P1080965 P1080968 P1080969Statue of Chou Anouvong, Riverside Park, Vientiane, Laos

P1080970Sunset over one of the many temples – Vientiane, Laos
P1080980Tomorrow we cross over the Mekong River border back into Thailand.  Six days in Laos was good…but plenty long!

Friday, January 24, 2014

We rode down to the Friendship Bridge south of Vientiane.  Took the wrong road which led us on an hour long detour on a dirt road that had been heavily watered down to the point of being muddy.  With that detour, we will be hitting the border at lunchtime – again!

Leaving Laos and crossing back into Thailand took about and hour and a half. This border crossing is much busier than the one at Chiang Khong.  No waiting for lunch breaks….just waiting in long lines for three different booths.  We were allowed to ride across the bridge into the town of Nong Khai.  The traffic lanes cross just before we enter the bridge, switching from driving on the right to driving on the left. We stopped for lunch and gas as soon as we arrived in Thailand – so good to be back in the land of smiles!  🙂

Crossing the Friendship Bridge from Laos to Thailand

Crossing the Friendship Bridge from Laos to Thailand

Just outside of Udon Thani, Scott began to feel sick… thinking it was the food he had eaten for lunch, we stopped along the road.  He laid down for a few minutes, then said he felt better.  We rode another half hour into the town of Udon Thani, when he felt sick again.  We stopped and he loses his lunch.  His chest hurts.  I get directions to a hospital, we find a hotel and then ride to Aek Udon International Hospital.  They do some tests – ekg, blood, x-ray…. but seem to think it is just indigestion or high blood pressure – which was REALLY high.  They give him an antacid….We go back to the hotel where he spends a restless night in a lot of pain.  In the morning he goes back to the hospital, thinking it might be something wrong with his back…when I arrive a little later, they have determined from another blood test that he indeed had a heart attack and are admitting him to ICU for at least three days of monitoring.  I am so thankful that this did not happen in Laos, but close to a good hospital…   Thank you for all your continued prayers for us and the doctors (and the nurses who have to take care of this patient)!!!

Aek Udon International Hospital, Udon Thani, Thailand

The model patient – ha ha ha – Aek Udon International Hospital, Udon Thani, Thailand

Aek Udon International Hospital

Aek Udon International Hospital, Udon Thani, Thailand

I am reminded of the words of one of my favorite psalms that Jake put to music… “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10

Posted in 2014, Laos, Thailand | 3 Comments

Chiang Khong, Thailand – Luang Prabang, Laos, January 16-19, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

We got the bike packed up after breakfast at Bannana’s Restaurant – homemade wheat bread, whole grain muesli…. yumm…. I’m going to miss their food.  The Thai couple that own this restaurant used to have a guest house….a Danish guest taught her to make this amazing whole wheat bread.

Crossing the border into Laos is a bit tricky with the motorcycle.  We took the motorcycle down to the river where Scott paid around $20 to load it onto a long boat.

loading the bike onto a long boat - Mekong River, Thailand

loading the bike onto a long boat – Mekong River, Thailand

The boat driver will take it across the river while we go through immigration a few miles down river.  We take a taxi to the Friendship Bridge, get our passports stamped as exiting Thailand.  We have our pictures taken for 100 baht each for our Laos visas; and buy two bus tickets to board the bus for the ride across the new 4-lane bridge to Laos (which we were not allowed to drive over on the motorcycle….??!!!???!!!!).  On the other side of the river, we have to wait while the officials eat their lunch… then we watch them process our visas.  Our passports are passed to four different people, each doing something different to our passports, then back to us after we pay the 700,000 kip ($87.50).  The next step was to get the bike through customs… I wait for the official to finish her lunch.  She asks for 100 baht ($3.00 +/-) to process the paperwork.  Meanwhile, Scott takes a taxi to get the bike.  It is already unloaded and waiting for him on the shore.  He comes back to the border to pick me up and we are off to explore Laos!

Houei Xai, Laos

Border crossing into Laos

In Thailand, you drive on the left side of the road…. in Laos, you drive on the right side….maybe that is why we weren’t allowed to drive across the bridge….?

As we follow the highway into the jungle, the villages are farther and farther apart, and becoming more primitive. As we ride through each village, the children smile and wave at us.

Laos

Northern Laos

Laos

Northern Laos

Laos

Northern Laos

After a rooster runs under our front tire (OOPS!!!), we try to be very careful of the chickens, ducks, pigs, cows and dogs and of course people on the highway.  The grass huts up on stilts are fascinating.  Towards evening, each family makes a fire outside on the ground to make their dinner and keep warm.

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Hill tribe, Laos

Hill tribe, Laos

After a few hours, we are still at least an hour away from the town we were hoping to reach.  We stop to get gas at a little town called Vieng Phouke and decide we should find a place to stay.  After driving through town several times, we decide on the Thongmyxai Guesthouse.

Vieng Phoukha, Laos

Vieng Phoukha, Laos

Vieng Phoukha, Laos

our hostess, Nguyng, Vieng Phoukha, Laos

The hostess is very sweet and all smiles as she shows us to our thatched hut on stilts overlooking the creek.  The walls are made from woven bamboo… I can see through the cracks in the floor down about 15 feet to the hillside.  The view of the creek and jungle from the deck is beautiful. The bed has a mosquito net – I am glad!  There is electricity, so we can charge our communications system. We have a private bath with a squatty toilet and a shower (no hot water). The rate is $5.00.  For another $7.50 she prepared dinner for us – fried rice, grilled chicken and some sort of vegetable stir fried with chicken parts you don’t eat.  It filled our stomachs.  We are so grateful for a decent place to rest tonight!

Vieng Phoukha, Laos

our hut – Vieng Phoukha, Laos

Vieng Phoukha, Laos

view from the room -Vieng Phoukha, Laos

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Vieng Phoukha, Laos

Vieng Phoukha, Laos

Vieng Phoukha, Laos

Vieng Phoukha, Laos

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For an hour that evening,  the Laos government has a program blasting from a loud speaker that everyone in town listens to.  We are assuming it is propaganda…. patriotic music and rhetoric.

Went to bed early because we were cold! Brrhhhhhh!!!!!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Slept pretty well under our mosquito net 🙂  At 6:30 am, the propaganda program started again for an hour.  Scott endured a cold shower, while I warmed up with a cup of coffee.  We ordered an egg omelet with tomato and some fruit from our innkeeper for our breakfast.  As soon as Scott told her what we wanted, she ran to her scooter to go to the market.  We were on our way after breakfast – first stop to find an ATM for more kip.

Vieng Phoukha, Laos

Vieng Phoukha, Laos

A few miles down the road we see a sign for the Kao Rao Cave.  We stop and walk past the closed ticket booth.  Farther along, we come along some men working on a building.  They wave us past… we eventually come to the mouth of the cave.

Northern Laos, Kao Rao Cave

Northern Laos, Kao Rao Cave

It looks like it was meant to have lighting (we have a flashlight) by the wires we see snaking into the cave.  There are steps and a walkway, so we slowly make our way inside about 800 meters.  The cave is supposed to be 5 km deep, but we turn around once the walkway ends.  The formations we see are impressive!

Northern Laos, Kao Rao Cave

Northern Laos, Kao Rao Cave

We stop at another tourist attraction – all abandoned like the cave.

On through the jungle we travel.  The road is actually very good, which makes the ride comfortable.  Not much traffic – the local people have a few carts, but no cars.  We pass a few trucks, tourist vans and busses.

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

We stopped in a village to get some water.  As soon as we got off the bike we were surrounded by children.  They let me take their pictures and were so excited to see themselves on the camera.

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Northern Laos – broom material

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

At Oudom Xai, we turn onto another highway, which is partial pavement, potholes and dirt.  The ride is not so comfortable at this point….

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

After several hours, we stopped for gas and lunch near Na Tong.  We are within an hour or so of the border of China.  The young Chinese girl who pumps our the gas speaks English amazingly well.  Her family operates the gas station, guest house and restaurant (brand new).  We stay for lunch and talk with her.  She is 17 years old and wants to go to the university to become a doctor.  We have no doubt she will do this!

We are back on the never ending road… hoping to reach Luang Prabang before dark.  Luang Prabang is where the slow boats end up, so we know there are many choices for restaurants and hotels.  I am dreaming of a clean bed and a hot bath…. when we hit a deep  pothole.  The suspension on the bike is suddenly gone and we are resting on the back tire… hmmm…

Scott stands up and I move as far forward as I can on the seat for the next 1/2 mile.  We reach a village and Scott pulls up to a shop that looks like it might do automotive work.  He is happy to see a welder sitting next to the door.

Northern Laos

Northern Laos

Within an hour, the shop owner has the bike welded back together and we are back on the road!  We had a crowd of villagers watching the whole episode – a lot of laughter as they listened to Scott and the welder trying to communicate.

Northern Laos near Houay Pan

Northern Laos near Houay Pan

Northern Laos

the welder  – Northern Laos

Northern Laos

villager – Northern Laos

Northern Laos

villagers – Northern Laos

After another hour, the road becomes complete pavement.  We make it to Luang Prabang after dark – the last half hour is crazy traffic.  We find a hotel and are quoted $240. for the night – quite a contrast to last night’s $5 rate!  We search farther to find a reasonable guesthouse that offers a room at $35 for the night.  We get settled in and find a restaurant next to the river where we share a bottle of wine and enjoy dinner of chicken kabobs and fried rice.  It’s been an adventurous day to say the least – but a good day!  We are thankful for God’s provision and care today!!!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

In the 1860’s, Laos was a French Colony.  In Luang Prabang you can see the French influence in some of the architecture, bakeries and restaurants.  The croissants are delicious!!!!

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

A stadium just for badminton?! Luang Prabang, Laos

A stadium just for badminton?! Luang Prabang, Laos

We stopped to get the bike cleaned at a carwash in town and walked next door to get a soda – these young men invited Scott to play petanque (similar to bocce) with them.

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motorcycle bridge, Luang Prabang, Laos

motorcycle bridge, Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

tuk tuks, Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

foot bridge, Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

Slow boat on the Mekong River, Luang Prabang, Laos

Sunday, January 19, 2014

We took a short drive outside town to Elephant Village.  They have seven or eight elephants – got to watch them come in from a ride with their mahouts and then be fed.  We were able to feed some bananas to one elephant – amazing!

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 Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

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On the way back to town, we stopped at the Tadthong Waterfall and hiked up the trail to the top.  Even though the water level is very low this time of year, the falls are pretty and the hike through the jungle was perfect.   It was a bit too cool for a swim.

 Tadthong Waterfall,  Prabang, Laos

Tadthong Waterfall, Prabang, Laos

Tadthong Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos

Tadthong Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos

 Tadthong Waterfall,  Prabang, Laos

Tadthong Waterfall, Prabang, Laos

Tadthong Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos

Tadthong Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos

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IMG_0494Tomorrow, we will be heading south to Vientiane, the capital city of Laos.

ໃນ​ຕອນ​ກາງ​ຄືນ​ທີ່​ດີ​ຂອງ​ຂ້າ​ພະ​ເຈົ້າ​ຫມູ່​ເພື່ອນ

(Good night my friends!)

Posted in 2014, Laos, Thailand | 5 Comments

Koh Tao to Chang Khong, Thailand, January 2-15, 2014

January 2, 2014

Our visas expire today, so we have to do a visa run.  What is a visa run, you ask?  We go to the border, have our passports stamped as exiting Thailand, go to Burma via boat, get our visas stamped as entering and exiting, then back to the Thai border to enter again.  We chose to do this through a travel agency who coordinates the whole trip through the Andaman Club via Ranong.  It took the entire day, but we are set for another 30 days.

Visa Run to Burma

Visa Run to Burma

Andaman Sea

Andaman Sea

Andaman Sea

Andaman Sea

January 3-9, 2014

A few more days in Bangkok to enjoy the city before we head up to the northern part of Thailand, Chang Mai.

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Chinatown, Bangkok

Bangkok, Dusit Zoo

Bangkok, Dusit Zoo

January 10-13, 2014

We flew up to Chiang Mai to meet up with Jimmy Jones.   Scott and Jimmy have been e-mailing back and forth the past few weeks – he is from the UK and is selling his Yamaha 600.  He rode it from Germany to Thailand.  Seems to be a good bike for us to do some exploring.  The flight from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong was a domestic flight with AsiaAir – I think that will be our only domestic flight….not too confident with the Thai pilots….

We stayed in the old city of Chiang Mai.  Some of the original walls are still in place next to the moat that surrounds the old city (build in 1296).

Chiang Mai old city wall and moat

Chiang Mai old city wall and moat

January 14-16, 2014

To take possession of the motorcycle, we have to meet Jimmy up in Chiang Khong – a border town.  The 5-hour minibus drive was a bit unnerving at times – the driver didn’t seem to know how to drive very well.  It appears to us that the center line doesn’t mean much to anyone here!  We made it to Chiang Khong in one piece – yeah!

Chiang Khong is on the Mekong River which borders Laos.  We have to take the bike out of Thailand and then eventually bring it back in under our name.  Nok, a friend of Jimmy’s, took us on a drive up to the mountains above Chiang Khong.  The road seems to go straight up.  She is a sweet lady and very happy to show us Thai hospitality! She took us to her father’s house where she prepared a meal for us, before taking us back to town.  Chiang Khong is really a nice little town with a river walk that we enjoyed.

crops along Mekong River Thailand

crops along Mekong River Thailand

Sunrise over Mekong River, Thailand

Sunrise over Mekong River, Chiang Khong, Thailand

Chiang Khong

Chiang Khong

New wheels!

Scott is happy to have his own transportation!

Posted in 2014, Thailand | 1 Comment