Friday, August 10, 2007

Homeward bound...cue the Simon and Garfunkle


Well, old friends, this is it. The final blog we'll be writing from Asia. It's hard to believe we've been gone for thirteen months. It feels like only yesterday that Shayne was writing his great blubbering farewell to Canada magnus opus.

We fly from Singapore to Hong Kong and then from there to Vancouver. We'll be traveling for around 17 hours and we'll definitely be in need of some slurpees and donairs upon arrival (Jo's note: Shayne will...I'll settle for some KD).

But enough about us...on to Thailand.

So we last left off in Bangkok and from there we took a midnight bus to the small island of Koh Tao. Koh Tao is famous for diving and not really for its beaches so we weren't expecting much.

Still, as you can see:

It wasn't all that bad.

Awww just like home.

As a little travel advisory if you ever end up on Koh Tao avoid AC Resort at all costs. The place was absolute rubbish. We've stayed at some of the cheaptest, dirtiest places you can imagine (we're talking cockroaches, garbage left all over the place, etc) and yet we'll always remember this as the crappiest place we stayed at in Asia.

The worst part is we paid quite a bit to stay there expecting to have a semi-comfortable place to relax, but from leaving toilet waste in the room for days (you can't flush over here) to yelling at us when we were brazen enough to ask for more toilet paper when we ran out, the place sucked in all ways imaginable. Anyway, just remember: AC RESORT SUCKS.

Thanks for that rant.

Now, on the other hand, Crystal Dive Resort was everything we hoped for. Clean, affordable, full of friendly staff, and they even had HBO.

And check out the bathrooms they have:

That's right, you can sit on the toilet while you enjoy your very own waterfall. They upgraded us to this deluxe suite when our TV broke. Lovely fellows.

We had planned to just snorkel for a few days but after seeing how much fun the divers were having we decided to finally get our scuba licenses.

We got our open water diving licenses and liked it so much we decided to keep going and get our advanced open water licenses and our nitrox certifications. We've now completed nine dives and done night dives, deep water dives, and we even managed to swim with some sharks (a life changing experience to say the least).

Jo on the dive boat with a friend from Belgium.

Our instructor Justin Mayers. Contrary to the picture (it was weird hat day) he was a great great guy and we were really lucky to have him as our instructor. We didn't hold the fact that he was British against him.

Here's some fish that we saw on our dive (photos are courtesy of Justin). He has the photos from the shark dive too and hopefully we'll be able to post them soon. These are buttefly fish, by the way.

More fish: squirrelfish this time.

And yet again...more fish...this time some species of angelfish.

After spending a few weeks in Thailand and falling in love with diving we didn't have enough time or money to continue on to Malayasia, so we made the decision to fly directly to Singapore (truth be told the idea of a 24 hour bus ride wasn't that appealing).

Singapore's like a dream. It's safe, has drinkable water, toilets that flush paper, and is probably the cleanest place we've ever seen (thanks to iron clad laws that involve death and caning).

A good example of its classic British architecture.

A part of modern Singapore's skyline.

Shayne in front of a famous theatre (whose name he's much too lazy to look up).

Jo shopping up a storm in Little India.

This is from Orchard Street which is home to the best shopping in Singapore. Needless to say we looked around for a few minutes and got our sandal wearing, sweat covered, empty walleted butts back to the wrong side of the tracks.

And here you can see a bustling alley in Chinatown.

Well there ya' have it. The final two weeks of our trip in blog format. I'm sure you noticed that the quality of our blogs got less and less as our trip got longer and longer.

Hopefully a few of you stuck around long enough to make it to the end. Anyway, overdrawn goodbyes are nonsense... so

See ya soon.


Shayne and Jo

P.S - check back for a few more trip related blogs. Hopefully we'll post once we recover from jetlag.

P.P.S - always dive with the French...words to live by

Monday, August 06, 2007

B to the Kok


We spent the last four days getting our open water diving licenses, and now that we have a minute or two to relax we figured it was time for a blog. We still have about five more dives to do here (we're going for advanced) so we'll do a quick blog on Bangkok and then another one on Koh Tao later.

This is the temple of the Emerald Buddha. We could only get outside shots because the royal family was inside and security was super tight. The plus side is that we did get to see some princes and princesses. Alrighttttttttttttttttt.

They love their King here. They really really do. These giant pictures are everywhere and it's illegal to say anything bad about the guy. I figure Jo will be out in about six months for the joke she made about him and the monkey.

Another photo that was about the size of BC.

We were lucky enough to be in Bangkok on a holiday and caught the royal procession cruising around. From what we were told this was one of the Prince's cars.

This guy reminds me of my inlaws (just kidding Jill) . This guy was similar to the ones we saw in Korean temples only a hell of a lot bigger.

Jo stylin' and profilin' in front of another temple.

We're in Koh Tao for three more days then we're off to Kuala Lumpur then finally Singapore. It's crazy to think our wonderful vacation will soon be over. Stay tuned for a blog about our diving.


Shayne and Jo

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Angkor what?


We tried several times to update the site in Cambodia but between our 1996 connection speeds and blackouts we could never manage to upload the pictures.

It took us 7 hours to get from Cambodia to Thailand and we were on a bus with no shocks on a dirt road. After that it was another 5 hours or so to get to Bangkok.

Right now we're in Bangkok waiting for another bus to come so I figured I might as well get the Cambodian update out of the way while I still can.

And what a better way to get started then by introducing you to the pride of Cambodia...

They might not have paved roads or proper electrical grids but I'll be damned if they don't have a fine beer. It's pretty famous all across Asia but Angkor beer is a little too bold for my liking. Still, if you get a chance it's worth trying.

Here's a picture of a local funeral service we witnessed. They carry the dead body to a temple and then burn it in front of everyone.

The poverty in Cambodia is really unimaginable.Not even the Philipines or Mexico can compare to anything we saw in Siem Reap. Shacks like these were common up and down the river that was across from our hotel.

Of course the main reason to visit Cambodia is to explore the temples. Here's a shot of a door carving.

Jo relaxing in a water chamber. A few hundred years ago that little guy served as a spout. Pretty nifty stuff.

The temples are slowly fighting nature in a battle that they just won't win. Here's a shot of Jo in front of an example of a tree kicking a temple's ass.

Jo with her new found elephant friend.

Jo, again, taking a much deserved break in a temple.

Finally a shot of yours truly. Another example of nature dominating.

You might recognize this from Tomb Raider the movie.

Another shot of some of the carvings that surround each temple.

The smiling faces of Buddha. The temples are either Hindu or Buddhist. There are no statues of Christ in Cambodia.

This is Ankor Wat, the biggest religous building in the world (take that Harman, hahahah...oh).

When we were exploring the temples I noticed something moving in the jungle and upon exploring we found a city of wild monkies.

This guy must have been the King as he had several underlings that spent the afternoon eating his lice. Look at the size of his giant...

Jo must have been NUTS to climb this staircase.

Here's some proof that men have always been men. Note- the idealized form of the women. Shame on you ancient Cambodian men, shame on you.
Well, we're going to explore Bangkok for a few more hours then we're off to the island of Koh Tao to swim for a week or so.
Hopefully we'll be able to post in a few days.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

From Karsts to Hong Kong


We're in Cambodia now, but we should update you on our last week in China. On our last day in Yangshuo, I gave in to Shayne's dream of renting a long as I didn't have to drive one. Despite my premonitions, we didn't crash, or get crashed into. Here're some pics...

Outside our guesthouse after signing a "stupid tourist" activity waiver.

Shayne, apparently forgetting that he's standing next to a scooter, not a Hog.

A farmer and his cows.

A water buffalo with her geese.

Old stone bridges, rice fields, and karsts...perfect.

Later that day we met up with some of the others in our group to share a local delicacy: snake. We had just about mentally prepared ourselves for what we were about to eat when they brought the sucker out!

Here she is.

And here she is again...tastes like chicken.

After our stay in Yangshuo, we boarded our last overnight train to Hong Kong. I won't miss these...

Sarah modeling the 3-tier bunk beds. They're as cozy as they look.

After a train, a walk through customs, another train, and a taxi, we finally arrived in Hong Kong.

A statue of Bruce Lee along Hong Kong's version of the Walk of Fame.

Shayne and John Woo.

More Shayne...this time with some skyscrapers.

Us at the top of Victoria Peak (now just called "The Peak").

That completes the China a few days we'll post some pics from Cambodia...that is, if Shayne can get over his flu (it's strange...he keeps chirping for some reason).

Until then,