Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween in Southeast Asia

Halloween is my favourite holiday. Sure, Christmas is nice with all the family, food and Santa Claus, but it can hardly hold a candle to the hoards of skimpily dressed women and copious drinking that accompanies a North-American Halloween. Last Halloween was the first time I celebrated Halloween outside of Canada and it was distinctly different from my previous Hallows eves.
halloween  ThailandI had been travelling Southeast Asia for nearly two months when Oct 31st rolled around. I was on the Island of Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand preparing for the November 2nd Full-Moon party. I had planned on buying a costume on the Island so as to celebrate my favourite holiday in style, however, luckily I had bought a children's Power-Ranger-ish mask in Bangkok because the island was seriously lacking costume supply stores. When Halloween night arrived I was excited to enjoy a night of costume party debauchery just like home, however, to my disappointment, apart from me and my small group of Canadian friends nearly anyone dressed up at all. It was nearly a non-event, sure we enjoyed the regular beach foam-dance parties that Haad-Rin typically has on offer but the lack of a full blown Halloween party with ghosts, ghouls and slutty-(insert any noun here)s was somewhat disappointing.

As such, I am happy celebrate Halloween properly in Canada this year. Although i certainly wish I was travelling, a North American Halloween celebration is something I truly missed while travelling abroad. If you happen to be travelling for Halloween, do your best to find a group of fellow backpackers and travellers and make the best of it with your own Halloween celebration.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Luang Prabang: Waterfalls, Lao Lao and Bowling

Where the Nam Khan River meets the Mekong, French colonial architecture and stunning Buddhist temples combine for beautiful cultural patchwork that makes Luang Prabang amazing. This northern Lao city has not gone unnoticed by UNESCO as it has been named as one of their World Heritage Cities. With all that Luang Prabang has to offer, it is no wonder that it is a popular tourist destination for many visitors to Southeast Asia.

party, travel, nightlifeCentral Luang Prabang is located on a peninsula between the two aforementioned rivers. The city itself is surrounded by numerous temples and monasteries, the most prominent of which is Wat Chom Si, sitting high above the city. As a result of Luang Prabang’s many temples, every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms, tourists looking to join in need only make their way to Sisavangvong Rd (the main street in town) for sunrise.

Sisavangvong Rd is also the site a nightly market catering exclusively to tourists. The market opens every evening and closes around 10 pm and is well stocked with all the handcrafts and souvenirs that anyone could ever want.

For those looking to for change of scenery from the city, the Kuang Si Falls located about 29 kilometers (18 miles) south of town make for a great day trip. Many travelers rent bicycles to ride to the falls while those looking for a less strenuous mode of transport can organize a tour through one of the many travel agencies or for much less money barter with a tuk-tuk driver for a ride. The park surrounding the falls contains a bear rescue centre. The waterfalls themselves are stunning; a main fall with a 50m cascade flows downstream into numerous turquoise blue pools perfect for swimming in.
bars, luang prabang, nightlife

Nightlife in Luang Prabang is enjoyable although can seem subdued at first glance. The main strip offers a great selection of top-notch restaurants and wine bars while a back street along the Nam Song is where you’ll find backpackers drinking Lao whiskey at the 4 or 5 bars crowded onto this narrow strip. "The Hive Bar" and the "Lao Lao Beer Garden” are two of the most popular with young travellers Lao Lao Beer Garden serves up a variety of cheap Lao Lao (Lao whiskey) cocktails including the popular ‘Pink Gay.’ When all the bars close (at midnight), those looking to extend the night head to the bowling alley a few kilometers out of the city centre. As it turns out the bowling alley offers the best nightlife and partying in Luang Prabang. The alley stays open until 3 am and is a great way to party the night away with fellow travellers.

partying, drinking, laos

Whatever type of trip you are on, whether it be backpacking, honeymoon or family vacation; Luang Prabang is an exceptional addition to any Southeast Asian itinerary.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Favourite Travel Photos: Koh Phi Phi

travel, beach, thailand, party
Please, take me back!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

International Beer of the Week: 333

333, or “Ba Ba Ba” as it is known in Vietnam (ba means three in Vietnamese) has managed to endure over a century of regional conflict and turmoil to become one of Vietnam's most popular beers.

First produced in 1893 by France's Brasseries et Glacieres Internationales, 333 has continued to be produced from original German ingredients and best German technology. This beer gained popularity as Beer 33, at the turn of the century referring to the 33 cl can size. '33' called "Ba Moui Ba"(thirty-three) by the Vietnamese, was popular among American soldiers who referred to it as "Bomb-De Bomb" and drank it with ice. The brand was nationalized with the fall of South Vietnam and the brand was changed to '333' to reflect the change to millilitres as the standard measurement. Today, 333 is brewed by the country’s largest brewer Sabeco which boasts of having a beer taster who samples each batch to make sure it meets the company’s highest standards; I may have to apply for this job.

The beer pours pale yellow with a foamy white head and has weak flavours typical of an Asian rice-adjunct lager. A bit of grassy hop flavour and a lot of carbonation make this watery beer a refreshing beverage if not much else. On second thought, maybe I'll rethink their beer-taster position... If you're in Vietnam, don't be shocked if the beer you ordered comes with a big chunk of ice in it, hell, it beats drinking it warm.

"Mot, Hai, Ba, Yo!" (1, 2, 3, Yo(?)!) Cheers.
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