Kill Pig (Laolao San Martinho)

So many years looking for excuses to avoid getting involved in the pigs slaughter at my grandma’s and now I had to take part on it in Lao.

It all started with a trekking to an Akha village. The place was very authentic and basic, no electricity or cold beer… People living basically on what thy grow and raise. So far, from the ethnic groups I saw Akha women are winning in the custom contest big time (worth googling it).

They were having a wedding party and for the occasion they were slaughtering a pig. They asked us to join them, witness the whole thing and help chopping the fat. Nice!, well I wanted to see the real Lao so first on the face. I went through the matter quite well using the best of my team work skill, such as doing things but on purpose so others will pity me and end up doing my work.

Everyone there were drinking lots of laolao (home made rice whisky). Bamboo bongs were smoked. No one could speak English and didn’t understand the conversations but at some point I guess something like this should have been spoken:

–         Hey dude, you know what would be cool?

–         What?

–         Killing another pig!

–         Yes mate! Let’s fucking do it

–         You know, we could rape him before…

–         WTF man? You are sick. What’s wrong with you? No way!

–         OK… we will just stab that motherfucker… hello piggy!

So when drunk they actually killed another swine. After that we had dinner for the third time. The star dishes came to the table, boiled pig fat and the best, the blood; no track of the meat. I tried a bit just to be polite.

The laolao helped a lot with the language barrier and I learnt more Lao that night than Thai in one month, including the national motto: Baw pen nyang – no problem.

Next morning we had breakfast with laolao, of course. Baw pen nyang. Later we visited a house were they produce the evil laolao, more drinking at buying. At one euro per litter, I am gonna like this country..

Breaking Buses

Lao buses have a reputation for breaking very often. I was lucky and it happened to the first one I took after crossing the border. Most of the passenger gathered around the engine probably discussing how to fix it. I joined them and pointing and the engine and said something meaningless pretending I knew what I was talking about and pretty sure none of them could understand much English. They turned their heads to stare at me. I smiled. They didn’t get it but smiled back. I walked out slowly doing a backwards moonwalk and bought a beer. After a couple of hours the bus was working and it took me to a town where I had to wait for another bus. Locals fed me at the station.

When I jumped into the bus it was full so I had to find some space on top of the bags piling up in the aisle, next to a chicken, not bad. After six hours I could get a seat, which was more uncomfortable than the aisle but I could enjoy the amazing landscape. On the way there were lots of snacks such as rats and other unidentified and not less appealing barbecued creatures, yummy! I was on that bus for ten hours but the total bus journey was 30 with the same guy driving. He looked quite awake though as he was taking frequent long breaks to rest and drink red bull and beer. Please don’t complain about Ryanair in front of me in the future.

Just arrived to Phong Sally, my first destination in Lao PDR, and I am very pleased to be back travelling after my Thai holidays. Beard growing time.

Pad Thai

I enjoyed a lot food almost everywhere I went so far but the Thai one is the next level, probably the best I tried in my life. It deserves a post.

Don’t worry about my enthusiasm, I am not gonna upload pictures of everything I eat or shit. I managed to live for quite a while in East London without ever feeling tempted to instagram any stupid cupcake. This post is more about letting mum know I am eating well.

The streets are full with stalls selling lots of different, inexpensive and always incredibly tasty fare. I spent a lot of time just wandering around the streets and markets trying everything I could and still so much left to try.

I ate a lot so for once I thought I wouldn’t loose weight travelling, unfortunately the scale didn’t agree and displayed 58.

If I have to mention every Thai food I love this post would too long but I don’t want to think about my future life without tom yam, papaya salad or mangosteens.

Winter Is Not Coming

I spent my last days in Thailand chilling out at Pai, a village in the North hills. Pai it’s a favorite place with long term staying farang and local tourist seeking for an unusual weather in the country which they reckon as winter. A winter day there is similar to the best day on British summer, maybe a bit warmer.

There is possible to find some of the real hippies and the place still keeps a nice laid back vibe despite of the gentrification. In my opinion it is a great spot to live rather than to visit.

My home was a bamboo bungalow for just 3 euros a night, with a massive breakfast and wifi included, and the permanent smile and kindness of Kuan, the girl running the place.

On those days as well I started to befriend my forthcoming travel companion for Laos, the cheap rice whisky.

Same Same But Different

As beautiful as the South of Thailand is it is spoiled by the tourist hordes. The “farang” there are treated as cattle. They take you into only tourist buses/vans, drop you in random places in the middle of nowhere and you wait without knowing when the next van/pickup/boat… will take you to your destination or another hub. Once you reach your destination the money milking starts. Always the same routine. Time to break it and go North.

I arrived then to Chang Mai. Still on the tourist trail but quite different. Prices are lower and both locals and farang nicer. It is a pretty city with plenty of temples, a few great bookshops and amazing food everywhere. So good it was that I took a  cooking lesson. OK, I did it expecting to meet chicks.

The King Cobra

The Railay peninsula is probably the second most beautiful place I have seen on this trip only after the Himalayas. it’s a climbers paradise with amazing karst cliffs, caves, an astonishing lagoon and the best beaches so far (plenty of sunset pics from here).

I stayed at Tongsay beach, only reachable by boat. There were a bunch of bamboo bars which smell funny, have plenty of hammocks and mats, sell happy shakes and play non-stop the Bob Marley greatest hits CD.

I spent most of my time there lying on the beach and focusing in keep breathing (I am mastering it) as I was told in the diving course is the most important and trying to do the photosynthesis.

I had a good time there but after a few days I decided to leave tired of the heat, having sand in all my stuff, my archenemies the mosquitoes and the cool hippies. I mean the fake hippies talking crap about energies, smoking joints, spending lots of money in hippie like fashion, sipping expensive organic teas… and all of that while updating their fb status on the iPhone. I still admire the real hippies, don’t get me wrong, but, unfortunately, there aren’t many left. The place was infested and one of them quoting Coelho acted as a trigger to make me leave.

One night there I could witness a king cobra show. I had a chance to fight my snake fear and failed. Didn’t take any pic with the cobras and pythons. actually I felt rather sorry for the snakes that scared. as disgusting as snakes or right wingers are they feel physical pain and shouldn’t get it just for people amusement. Never will watch one again.

Trying to make you jealous I am gonna upload a very artistic and original photo. It comprises of my feet, the sand and the sea (forgot a beer, damn it!). I am sure no one before had the same idea. Ooh, I am so cool!

Original Pic

Barbecuing Nemo

Apparently Koh Tao is the place to go to loose the diving virginity and get PADI certified.

They told me that keep breathing and chilling out is the most important. I think I am pretty good at chilling out. About breathing, I was doing it almost exclusively for 31 years, with not many distraction from other annoying activities such as thinking or working.. Only my lack of physical coordination could handicap me then.

Diving was amazing! I saw a lot of colorful fish, a pity I was not allowed to take them. Looking forward to do more diving.

There was a scary moment when I saw what it looked like a giant eel but then I realized I had lost my swimming clothes and recognizes the familiar big fish. I know this joke is bad but I needed it. It was a long time I didn’t make any related one and I am running out of ideas.

Party Animals

Koh Phangan is very well-known for its fool moon beach parties. Apart from that they have half moon parties, black moon parties, jungle parties, waterfall parties, pool parties and much, much more…

I had the feeling it wouldn’t be my thing, but I had to check them out, so went to 4 of them down the booze I brought from Myanmar. The parties were massive and crazy with cheap drinks served in buckets. I realized I am too old for this battles but still was fun. One night I failed big time, but that gave me the chance to wake up early and could see the party fauna at its best. I could spot one typical scene of Thai wildlife, the happy drunk tourist thinking he hunted a local female specimen without realizing that soon he will get a surprise. Well, maybe he doesn’t mind, the motto here is same same. I managed to sleep 2 nights in a bar, one in a Buddhist monastery and another in a hut on Haad Khom beach.

I took a motorbike to get around the island and didn’t have a place to stay which was like going back in time 7 years when I was in Greece. Away from the party area there were plenty of pretty empty beaches to bum around.

During all this time travelling the most work related thing I was doing, apart from full-time awesomeness, was growing a beard. I did something very stupid. I shaved. More than 3 months work… I had to do something to make up for it so I went wake-boarding to give a boost to my awesomeness. It was great.

There is a very nice spot in the island called Mushroom Hill. People go there to see unicorns, pink elephants,  honest politicians and bankers, fire-spitting dragons and more mythological creatures.