Saturday, March 7, 2009

Goodbye Vietnam Hello China, nearly there!

It is amazing that after nearly 6000 miles of driving through South East Asia, we came upon our first road accident to day, 25kms from the border with China. Some of the driving in Vietnam has to be seen to be believed. Here the 4 x 4 driver ( fortunately not one of our group) is getting intimate with a truck, the road was blocked and queues were building up both sides of the incident. Fortunately there was a field next to the road......
It didn't take our group long to figure out that the field was driveable as there was already a basic track there for some road works. Here Tom and Rosalie take the plunge, watched by some amazed drivers also in the queue.

Our turn soon came, the Navara had no trouble in getting through.

The other side of the incident was chaos as traffic had filled both lanes of the road, but we got through. Later one of the big trucks fell over when the road collapsed!

We spent last night on a Junk, with a three hour cruise into the spectacular Ha Long bay with its many many islands. The Junk had all mod cons including en suite bedrooms, all very comfortable.

Dinner last night was held in this spectacular cave together with music and dancing, everything was excellent

Yesterday morning we had an early start with a Cyclo ride round some of the more interesting parts of Hanoi. This was taken just after 6am so no wonder Jayne looks a little bewildered!! It is a very slow form of transport

Along the way we stopped to watch ladies exercising in the square by the Red river. They all needed too as well! ( Not that I can talk!)

Wiring Hanoi style, how the place doesn't blow we will never know

Chaos crossroads at 7 am in the morning, despite the chaos everybody seems to keep quite calm which is more than I could do! Mind you there is a fair bit of horn blowing.

This lady just went straight ahead and ignored everything which seems to be the way most people tackle driving in Hanoi

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Follow us to Vietnam.....lots of rice, but no ham!!

We left Thailand on Feb 28th and entered Laos, via the Freinship Bridge into its capitol Vientiane, a very attractive French Colonial Town with the Laotian version of the Arc De Triumphe finished off with cement donated by the USA to build a new runway at the airport, some of it got diverted!!
On our journey to Luang Prang next day we encountered several sets of roadworks, not too much Health and Safety in evidence!! LP is rich in history, with a beautiful old French Colonial Quarter with, (thankfully) some excellent restaurants serving recogniseable food! All this set alongside the mighty Mekong river.

Next day as we travelled North to the Vietnam border we crossed the Mouang Khoua river on this modern up to date ferry, the tug was holding the ferry against the current, then when all cars were aboard it moved round to propel the ferry forwards. It was attached with a partly severed steel cable!!

ONce we crossed into Vietnam we soon saw evidence of Vietnamese agriculture and the terraced rice fields. We stayed the first night in Vietnam at Dien Bien Phu, the town where the French were beaten by the Vietnamese in 1954 and surrendered the country back to the Vietnamese

Leaving the town the following morning after an evening in a 'quaint' local hotel we saw this poster motivating the populace to greater things!!!!!!!

These fellows had decided to ty a little vehicle maintenance at the side of the road, nothing much just a front axle swap, but hey, they were having fun, just like Ho Chi Minh said they would!

Many of the womed we saw today wore the traditional dress of the Hmong, the tribe/group/ call it what you will, that populate the mountains we have travelled through today ( March 4th).

This was taken on the hill town of Sinho where the market was in full swing, the lady third from the left didn't like me taking the photo, but I told her she wasn't as ugly as the other ones so she shouldn't object. Scoured the market for a pic nic, but not a slice of ham in sight so had to make do with two tomatoes!!
Now in loveley hotel in the mountains, off to Hanoi tomorrow.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Singapore Macau 2009

Eh ooop, 'er's the latest episode of Paul and Jayne do Asia.......................

We have now left Cambodia and are back in Thailand, I must say it was great to be back on the smooth roads of Thailand and to be back in the land of smiles. This is a popular form of transport amongst the farmers.
This fellow aspires to be the owner of one of the trucks in the picture above! They do everything with these engines, plough, harrow, go to market, take the mother in law out for Sunday lunch!!

Not something we see much of in North Yorkshire., here they are taking a snake home for lunch: that is the snake will be their lunch, unless he is able to get his fangs into the moped driver, in which case he may become the snake's lunch!!

One of our buddies!

Taken at the wonderful historical park at Sukhothai, this incredible place was built in the 13th/14th century, that's before even John Brown was born!

On Tuesday 24th Feb we called in to an elephant conservation centre on our way to Chiang Mai. Here they are trying to help conserve the Thai elephant which are an endangered breed. These elephants are smaller and more docile than their African counterparts and can be trained to do a number of different tasks, a

After each task performed the elephant takes a bow

Two elephants working together to carry a heavy log between their tusks and their trunk.

Here two elephants move a pile of logs. Elephants were used to help clear the debris after the Tsunami. You can see why.

Here an elephant paints a picture, his handler chooses the colour, applies the paint to the brush and then hands the brush to the elephant who then paints the picture. This elephant painted a picture of two elephants.

Yes an elephant painted this picture too, imagine what they could do to your house with a roller and a tin of emulsion!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ankor Ruins

We had a very difficult 'Jeep' Trail 33kms long through the Cambodian jungle yesterday, here Tom and Rosalie Gatsonidies tackle a typical bit of the trail

Simon and Andrew came across these two lads whose moped had broken down, not only did they give them a lift for 20kms they then gave them $20 to get the thing fixed when they got to their village. They had great difficulty getting round the tree stump on the right, so did we, it was very narrow.

It took us two hours to do 18 miles on this route, sometimes you just didn't know where the road went.

Today ,Saturday we visited an amazing fishing village on the borders of a huge lake. The variation between the level in the rainy season and the dry season ( now) is twenty metres, so all the houses are built on stilts. The community is 20,000 strong and subsists on fishing in the lake.

We took a boat trip in a wooden boat, here we are passing under a bridge.

This was a truck, stuck on a bridge which had given way under its weight, this is a Cambodian made truck!! They had got it out by the time we came back. The black stuff is the engine oil

Happy families Cambodian style

Drying the fish they catch prior to smoking them. Hygiene is of the highest priority!!

Ankor Temple at Siem Riep, the jungle took over and covered these ruins until Victorian times when they were re discovered. Amazing place, show this to your dentist if he really wants to see some good root work!
800yrs old and doesn't look a day over 50!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

C Cambodian taking his chickens to market, there are at least twenty each side of the bike and they are alive!!

During the Kyhmer Rouge period when Pohl Pot ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 he killed all the intelligent people as well as many farmers and even his own soldiers. Here is what was once a wealthy families' house, they are probably all dead and the house has been gutted, but there are people squatting in it. We have seen lots like this. He had over two million people murdered from a populatioin of about 5-6 million.
Butchers shop Cambodian style!! I'm sure the dog under the table is well fed, the lady behind the counter doesn't look too pleased!

Bangkok and for the journey to the restaurant the organisers had hired about thirty of these Tuk Tuks, three wheeled open taxi's, what a laugh!! We tried to get our driver to speed up and overtake but he was a miserable bugger and wouldn't do it!

We have seen loads of pick ups overloaded like this, this one is on the road from Bangkok to the Cambdian border.

Royal Place ( one bit of it) in Bangkok, we are 'Palaced' and 'Templed' out !! Not to mention Bugha!

Took an early morning trip on the canals around and through Bangkok, here is a monk out collecting food, don't think I want to be a monk!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Singapore Macau Day Nine Chumphong to Bangkok.
This was a long day with over 500kms to cover before reaching our night's halt The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok located right alongside the Mae Nam Chao Phraya River. So after a lousy breakfast at the Novotel where we had an equally rotten meal the night before ,we followed the line of the coast up the Gulf of Thailand alongside spectacular white beaches, small fishing villages and unspoilt countryside with lots to see, fishermen drying their catch, a whitebait drying station, pineapples fields and so on, a really great drive.


ohn Brown, Don Griffiths and us enjoying an early lunch at about 10am, well we did have an early start!

Whitebait laid out to dry......maybe anchovies!

e. On the right you can see a typical Thai fishing village, on the left a lady laying out last night's catch to dry.
We then hit a busy nain road for the last 250 k's into bustling Bangkok

We had a small detour to this temple which is called
Wat Phra Mahathat your life is better for knowing that!
Moving furniture Thai style..........imagine what he could do with a Transit Van!!