A gap in the tales

The astute reader will note there's a significant gap in this weblog, a gap of some two weeks. Oops, maybe closer to three.

It seems to have started when my sons and I separated—Duncan going back to high school, and Andrew staying on in Viet Nam, preparing for a week in Cambodia. I myself, having spent the maximum time available on my Viet Nam visa, returned to Chiangmai, Thailand, to knock around a bit and get ready for my next sojourn in Viet Nam. (The design for my trip has always included two months in Viet Nam, don't ask me why, it just always seemed to me one month wouldn't be enough.)

The Big Plan for that period was to rent a motorcycle and drive for a couple of weeks through northeastern Thailand, ending in Aranyaprathet, on the border with Cambodia, mail the bike back to Chiangmai, and proceed into Cambodia for a while, thence to Viet Nam. Unfortunately, I got little but flak from my biker friends in Chiangmai, who thought it totally weird that I'd want to ride a 125cc motorcycle with luggage for 1,700km. But having done similarly, if not successfully, in the Ha Noi area (the lack of success was in knowing where the heck I was, and not in the riding itself (see "My week in Ha Noi"), and having seen Asians ride with five times what I intended to carry as a matter of everyday life, I didn't think it weird at all.

The other thing, and this is a bit weird, was that in returning to Chiangmai it felt a bit like I was returning home. Chiangmai was familiar, I knew where things were, when I got lost I could find my way out of it—I knew it. And one of the things you do when you return home after a month and a half of new, exciting, sometimes gut-wrenching, experiences, is you unwind. Which I proceeded to do. Which involved a lot of sleeping. A lot of sleeping. Plus, as I tend to do at home, I fell into a pattern. Up at 8, screw around/research on computer till 9 or 9:30, realize the day's slipping away, go out to breakfast, ride motorcycle, back to guesthouse, sleep, lunch, etc., etc.

At one point I realized I'd been in Chiangmai for awhile without having accomplished much. Or got ready for a motorcycle trip. Or anything. So I abandoned the plan to ride around NE Thailand, and decided to just get myself there and ride where I could. More on this later.

The other thing, and this may turn out to be the tragic flaw in the plan for my trip, is that when foreigners travel in SE Asia, they tend to end up, and this is hard to avoid, in the places where other foreigners are. And those places tend to be pretty much the same wherever you go. The backpacker district in Sai Gon looks pretty much like the backpacker district in Bangkok, and the services for them look pretty much the same. Sai Gon western expats look pretty much like the ones in Udon Thani (except for some reason the Udon Thani ones tend to be uglier—don't know why).

Markets in one country tend to sell the same things as markets in another country (except for the more local t-shirts); you have to be pretty seasoned to be able to tell the difference.

So wherever I've been in the last little while, it's been a little bit "same same," as they say here. Which leaves me with less to say, and less to write about.

In any case, these are the highlights that are missing from the record:

  • My last few days with Andrew in Sai Gon, which were quite enjoyable,

  • Later, days and days of confusion over where Andrew was, and how my plan to join up with him in Cambodia fell through,

  • An overnight motorcycle trip to Chiangrai to keep my riding skills up, and a bit of laughter, which ended up being at my own expense, over the "Cabbages and Condoms" resort there (but see the photo gallery),

  • An overnight jaunt to Vientiane, Laos, mostly to say I'd been there, the part between Udon Thani and the border being by motorcycle, and including a drenching from rain/thunderstorms on the way back,

  • Four days in Udon Thani (including the Vientiane jaunt above), which I'd planned to be my base for the NE Thailand adventure, until forecasts of a week-long series of thunderstorms throughout the area put the kibosh on the whole idea, provoking me to flee to Bangkok and the beaches of Cambodia, and

  • Another weekend in Bangkok, with highlights such as purchasing a new Blackberry, and my discovery of the terrific boat system on the Chao Praya (River), which, of course, I discovered in the same sense that Columbus discovered America.

I'll try to get them written about, but...


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