Twenty Nine Days with Omar

  When I went on a cruise back in 2003, I was a 15 year old, 110 pound skinny punk with a mean jaw line. I met a bunch of other kids travelling with their parents and we basically became a solid Wolfpack. The first time I ever got drunk was with these kids from all corners of the world. I remember being so attracted to this one girl from Miami I thought I was about to get my first kiss, but none of us acted on it (being nervous and shy is a huge understatement at this particular moment). By the end of the trip, I remember one of the mates cried as his mom wouldn’t let him stay out later with the rest of us, saying good bye to all of us earlier than when the rest of us had to. We all exchanged MySpace contact and emails. At the time I didn’t have MySpace so I made a note of it to get a profile upon returning home. I remember the feeling of being so close to these fucks I was like “man, we’ll talk all the time and maybe one day we’ll even cross paths again!!”. But after about a month, the flame went out and we just stopped chatting…well, for me anyway. 

  I’m on day 49 – my last day – of my backpacking trip across 5 countries (Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia). Of these 49 days, I’ve spent 29 with a guy named Omar – a 21 year old from a shithole called Ipswich, England. Omar will say it’s a shithole because there’s nothing there to do but to be honest he has yet to realize he’s a byproduct of it and as a result, is a piece of shit himself.  

  

 Much like my experience from that cruise, I have many new and memorable experiences with various people all over the world on my current trip. However, having spent so much time with Omar experiencing these new and exciting moments, it was a difficult good bye see-ya later. There’s just something about travelling that makes it so easy to connect with someone. Being thrown together in strange situations, unbridled and uninhibited, it really makes you open to become connected with someone!   
I originally met this sound geezer in Hoi An over some spliffs with a bunch of mutual friends. Omar was the first to smoke bomb to bed, and I was the second as we both got really fucked up. I never saw him again until randomly bumping into him in Hue at a bar. We ended up getting a bunch of other travellers together and went to town at various bars in Hue. Omar left to Hanoi the next morning and I went to Phong Nha. 

  
In Hanoi, I checked into my hostel and ran into him again. From here on out, there wasn’t a day where we didn’t do something together…well, for the next 29 days anyway. 

I had plans to go to Thailand after Vietnam and spend a week or so there before flying back to Canada. However, I was easily convinced that I shouldn’t go home just after 4 weeks of traveling and with Omar traveling until May with no plans we decided to check out Laos together.    
Going with the flow taking things day by day was something I’m not comfortable with prior to travelling. When it comes to travelling I’m a plan ahead type of guy. I want and need to know what’s going to happen in 2, 5, 10 days ahead. But as I quickly realized a week into my backpacking trip, this isn’t a good way to do a solo trip like this. You meet so many people who give you suggestions and advice that plans change on the daily. So those train tickets to cities in Vietnam I had booked while in Canada? Refunded or scrapped. So when I met Omar and realized he’s doing the same thing as I am – go with the flow travelling – my initial itinerary of Vietnam and Thailand has become Vietnam, Laos, Bangkok, Indonesia, and Australia. 

It’s kind of crazy to realize that the type of shit we went through together I have never gone through with even my closest friends back home…if that makes sense. Over 29 days we really became two peas in a pod.  He became the little brother I never had.

 
Similar to the friends I made on that cruise back in 2003, I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years Omar and I stop talking. It’s the way life goes. Travelling has that ability to bring people together, but it also takes you away from them as well. But one thing is for certain – we are friends for life and I know should we ever meet up again we’d pick up where we left off. I wouldn’t have had my trip any other way.

We went our separate ways after Ubud, with Omar leaving to the Philippines and I to Australia. The photo below is taken at Denpasar Airport before heading our our separate ways and illustrates perfectly our relationship. I’m the quiet, laid back, somewhat introvert guy whereas Omar is the outgoing, jokester goof. I really hope to see you again, pal!  

 
I encourage everyone to really go travel solo. I’ve never done a tour through a group such as G Adventures or Contiko, but I’ve met travellers who have done both and many of them will say backpacking alone is much more fun. I hate to use cliches or popular sayings but I agree with the following quote by Saint Augustine that’s famous among backpackers: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.

And lastly, as one friend who I met in Saigon told me that kind of stuck with me throughout the rest of my trip: “I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of- and if you ever find you’re not – I hope you have the strength to seek it all over again”. 

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Day 42 to 45 – Ubud

There isn’t much not to love about Ubud. It’s quaint and has the vibe of a very chilled town – much like Hoi An in Vietnam – despite the fact that every corner you turn you’ll run into people asking if you want a taxi or motorcycle. I originally booked two nights here but after one day Omar and I decided to finish our trip here. The weather is the same as the other places I’ve been in Indonesia – blistering hot day and night. I’m actually blogging at a nearby Starbucks as its the only place I know of that has awesome AC and wifi! The hostel I’m staying at has an interesting setup for dorms. We are in a 4 bed room, which sounds great and all, but there’s two rooms beside us; one to the left and one to the right, that’s also 4 bed dorms. The issue is that to enter those two rooms you must cut through our room. And the bathroom in our room? No it’s not strictly for our room – it’s for the other two rooms to use as well. As a result, it’s more of a 12 person dorm but with walls separating it into 4 bed dorms. So it’s kind of annoying in the early mornings with people coming into your “room” to use the bathroom since you think it’s your own…but hey that’s what you get when you pay $9CAD a night (and no AC either)!

    Meet  momma Pia and her son Zaki – this Danish duo is exploring Indonesia for slightly over a month. Pia is retired and her 35 year old son Zaki is a singer/songwriter and actor in Copenhagen. He actually is on Netflix for a series I can’t remember the name of…we met these two at the port returning from the Gili islands and we happened to be sharing a van to Ubud. In the van Zaki was talking about taking mushrooms on the island and Omar is looking nervously between Zaki and his mom thinking she would give him shit. “Nah man, my mom don’t care too much. I think she understands because she was kind of a hippie growing up” Zaki assures Omar and I. 
    Meet Louise – an early 30s actress and singer/songwriter also from Copenhagen, Denmark! While in the van into Ubud stuck in traffic Zaki goes “I think I know that girl…” So Omar knocks on the window from inside the van. Louise looks at us confused, unable to clearly see through the tinted windows “do I know you?” She asks Omar as he rolls the window down and the van slowly driving off. Later that evening while at dinner with Zaki and Pia, Zaki mentions that it indeed is a girl he knows from back home, confirmed via Facebook message with her. Louise then comes joins us for dinner and explains how they know each other “we both were cast for a tv show to be boyfriend/girlfriend! It’s too bad the series never went through with production though hey Zaki!?”.

  Meet 19 year olds Annie and Julia from Germany. These two minx’s were our dorm roomies at the hostel and when they’re not on their phones you’ll catch them sleeping or eating. In their gap year, these two are still undecided on what to study but Julia is leaning towards design. These two only speak German to each other most of the time so Omar and I would throw in random German sayings to annoy them and get them to speak English. “We are like two peas in a pod” I told the girls about Omar and I. What I didn’t know was it would take some explanation of the metaphor to have these girls understand. Or the time I said that Google photos is a “game changer”…”you Canadians have messed up English” says Julia. 

   Meet Lucy and Stacey – 26 year olds paediatric nurses from England. Met these two sweethearts as part of the sunrise hike up Batur Volcano. Started their trip in SE Asia with G adventures and came to Indonesia after that ended. “What do you prefer, tour group or solo? I asked. “We were lucky in that our tour group had really good people but we met this one girl in Bali who just left her group after 2 days with G Adventure! She didn’t even ask for refund…just left. But I’d have to say going on your own is better! It was fast paced with the group!” 

  Meet Canadians M.C and Jamie. There is nothing mysterious about “MC”, a 25 year old who hails from Montreal, I just can’t spell out her full name as its pretty French! Currently travelling as she just graduated her masters program in Financial Engineering and doesn’t start her new gig in downtown Toronto until August. Jamie is also 25 from Vernon, BC! She worked in Calgary for a few years with Cenovus Energy before leaving to work for United Way. Recently quitting that job to travel. 

   

Meet 22 year old Simone and 19 year old Nadine – two friends who are traveling for 3 weeks on a study break from Germany. When asked what they’re studying, both replied with different answers at the same time – ” business administration” Simone answers, whereas Nadine goes “economic systems!… No Simone say economic systems! It sounds more smarter haha”. When I asked for a good story they drew blanks but managed to tell me a time near Jakarta they were followed by a mob of locals before finally being asked if they could have a photo! 

     Meet Rikki and Shaun – 25 year olds from England who both left their jobs to go travelling. Rikki is a chef who left when his boss moved on and is following him to his new restaurant that is currently in the works. I originally met Rikki in Kuta a week ago and ran into him here. In Kuta while at Sky Garden he got so drunk and ended up footing a $700,000 bill hooking up with a prostitute. Shaun is currently travelling until who knows when. I also met him in Kuta at Sky Garden. No desire to go back home but when he does he will look for a job in his area of studies – marketing. Once got chased by a local in Kuta for an undisclosed matter and he came up to Omar and I saying we need to leave this bar asap!

   Meet 20 and 22 year olds Surya and Kadek. We ordered so much drinks from these waitresses and when they saw me pull Sheldon out they just needed to get in on the action…how can I blame them?

   Meet 42 year old Mangku – one of the bartenders who was giving us free shots all night and even hit the D floor with us while on shift!

    Meet Gwerdjan, or “G”, because if you’re like me chances are you just butchered his name saying it in your head. This 27 year old from Holland hasn’t been home in over 2 years, having spent those years working in Australia picking fruits and vegetables and using money earned to travel

On our first night here we went lounge/bar hopping as places here close quite early with the exception of one bar (that we know of) open til 4am. Louise and Zaki really wanted to find a spot where there was open mic so the two can get up on stage and do a duet but we had such luck….so we just went to this shisha lounge and had some drinks along with some shisha, of course.  

 The monkey forest here is also a must-do and well worth the $40,000 (~$5CAD) entrance fee. Monkeys are let loose to roam free around the park with literally nothing holding them back from leaving but they choose to stay in this area and I don’t blame them. Walking through the forest you’ll quickly understand why they would have no reason to leave. I tried so hard to get the perfect selfie with the monkeys on my GoPro as well, with each attempt pissing the monkey off as they assume it’s a weapon (gopro selfie stick). I had multiple hiss/growl at me and a few chasing me briefly. Omar actually got uneasy each time I tried to get the perfect picture and I don’t blame him – even I was super nervous. The worst thing I would want is to get cut or bit by these guys and having skipped my rabies shot – it’s kind of stupid of me risking it but hey, I got to do it for a 60-liker on Instagram for that straight dopamine hit. Zaki was a fearless fucker I got to give it to him. Putting his hand out in front of the monkeys and they would grab his finger back and hold on to it. There was one monkey who jumped on him and began to bite him and he just let them bite, not phased one bit. “No no it doesn’t hurt guys, it’s like when a dog is biting you but it’s more of a playful biting you know?” Zaki explains. Omar and I are just like “yah fuck that”.  

    
    
   
On another night Zaki was able to finally get on stage and do a little rap/reggae he longed for…and man, he was really good. People from the lounge began to hit the D floor and even the local band there that was on stage with him loved what he was doing. We ended up getting a bottle of vodka with mix this night and kind of felt like celebrities because of good ol’ Zaki boy!

   
The next night I went to the Shisha lounge with Omar as its the only place we know that shows Premier League football and Omar wanted to catch the matches tonight. We got here around 9pm and began drinking a few of the local radler beers (Bintang Radler), super light in alcohol content it was like drinking juice. I stayed with the boys here until 130 before heading back to the hostel. I booked a hike up Batur Mountain, an active volcano that last erupted in 2000, to catch the sunrise. Definitely a stupid idea to pull an all nighter and drinking before a pretty treacherous hike but I just couldn’t get myself to sleep before midnight and I figured it’d be pointless to try and sleep for 90 minutes as I feel I would be more tired doing that. Either way, it worked out well and the scenery at the top for the sunrise was just amazing. I didn’t think anything could beat the sunsets/sunrise I witnessed in Vietnam but this was the best hands down. The total time it took round trip was about 4.5 hours. There were also monkeys all along the hike! And these monkeys were a lot more relaxed than the ones at monkey forest.  
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

After coming back from the hike I decided to be a lazy cunt and ride the scooter Omar rented earlier for the day to the Starbucks less then a km away. On my way back to the hostel I got was going on an adventure and got caught going against traffic on a one way road. I’ve been warned that when you get pulled over by cops here and all over SE Asia that all you need to do is pay them off so don’t ever carry too much cash on you as they’ll demand all of it. So as luck would have it as I’m driving against traffic (which is actually not a rare thing to happen in Asia!!) this cop steps out of this booth and says “you come here…registration please”. I get off bike, show him the papers…”international license please” and this fucker obviously knows I don’t have one…”oh no licence!?!! Wow that’s not good sir. Come with me”. He pulls me to his desk and shows me the fine for no license. He asks for 500k. Now, I’m pleading with him saying I got nothing on me. He then says that he’ll take the bike then. I would call his bluff but it’s under Omar’s name and I don’t know what information Omar had to give. I have roughly 1 million in my pocket. But I try to pull out like 200k as I suspect hell just take any amount. But as I pull out the cash I ended up pulling out 400k!! Fuck me…and yes, he gladly took it and put it straight into his pocket. As I drive off he and his mate are having a laugh…

All in all, I had an amazing time here and met a ton of good people. Here are pictures from random times throughout my time in Ubud. 

 

MC with her own travel buddy!
  
Taken just before we left to airport. Great girls!
 

   
  

Two sales people, Luh and Rega, at the store I spent some good coin at!
 

 
    
    
    
  

The bar actually let Omar DJ! Good tunes
 

 
    
   

Day 38 to 41 – Gili Trawangan

 The people of Gili T: 

   Meet Gustav, Patrik, Frederick, Joe, Chris, and Yuri – 6 friends from Malmö, Sweden who we spent the night with playing beer pong, flip cup, and general drinking. Gustav, who worked for a year in Australia, said to me “for some reason I just could not pull an Australian girl! Every girl I was with just happened to be Swedish. I don’t know, maybe I was just more comfortable talking to a Swedish girl. I fell in love with this one girl and she lives 15 minutes away from me. I’ve never seen her before ever. Here I’ll show you a picture…” 

  Meet Ruby and Renee – 24 year olds from the Netherlands. It was super random running into Renee, someone I met in Dalat, Vietnam! I also ran into her again in Hoi An and again here in Gili T while playing beer pong at the Swedes hostel. Ruby is her friend who came to meet up with Renee and is travelling for only 3 weeks whereas Renee has been going strong for 4 months now with no end in sight.

    Meet 27 year olds Vitali from England and Romi from Austria, two solo travellers who left their boyfriends at home to enjoy the relentless heat in Indonesia. 

  Meet Charlene, Rachel, Alissa, and Merel – three from Holland and one (Charlene) from Belgium. The first people we met in Gili T as they were hanging out in the pool at our bungalow. Charlene and Rachel met through an online backpackers forum and these two met friends Alissa and Merel on the boat into Gili T. 

    Meet Conor and Tasha – 23 year olds from England who are here to visit their good friends George and Charlotte. These guys were telling me a story of their one friend who is a nutcase once legit asked to get stabbed while high on some drugs. Conor grabbed a knife but couldn’t do it. George then grabs what he described a “full blown butchers knife” and was about to stab his friend. His friend then goes “whoa whoa whoa, okay no grab a smaller knife”. George says he then grabbed a steak knife and….stabbed him. “What the fuck! Like actually pierced his skin?” Omar asked. “Yeah man! I got him right on the side, nothing deep, and straight away blood just started flowing out. He wouldn’t stop asking to get stabbed!”

  Meet Rob, a 21 year old owner of a beach bar called….Robs Bar. But at night, it’s called Bar 420 and you could assume why. This is where George and Conor go to buy what they need to buy and hang out at night by the beach. In the photo he’s not actually that short, he was sitting down on a chair. Also, judging from the sign above his head he sells other things too…

I don’t want to sound dramatic but the fast boat to Gili Trawangan from Kuta is definitely one of the worst experiences of my life. It was 43C this day and they packed this small, non air conditioned (no fan either) boat to the max capacity. Everybody is sitting down shoulder to shoulder sweating. You’d think the breeze from the sea would help but it did nothing. My tank by the end of it was drenched in sweat. I have never felt anything like that before. Just sitting down and sweating profusely…Once we landed on the island, we were greeted by various locals trying to get you to stay in their villa/hostel/bungalow. I had booked this very cheap hostel earlier in the day and only paid about $2 deposit so I was open to seeing another villa/bungalow if it’s cheaper. Omar and I ended up following this one guy who showed us pics of the place and it looked amazing. Upon arrival of the place, it looked nothing like the picture (surprise!) although the AC in the room was on point. But other than that it reminded me of one of the jail cells I visited in Alcatraz. So we thanked him and decided to go check in at the hostel I booked. When Omar and I arrived at the hostel, I was just a sweaty mess. The owner greeted me with a laugh asking if I was hot. Offered me a cup of water then asked for us to wait a minute. “You guys have AC, right?” I asked…”no we don’t sorry. But it doesn’t get too hot at night so it’s not too bad I promise you”. No AC…I’m sorry but at this point I just can’t be fucked to sleep in a room with no AC or fan. So Omar and I looked at each other, nodded heads, and thanked the very friendly hostel owner and made our way to find a new place. I recalled one of my mates who I met in Saigon recommend me a place called Coconut Dream Bungalows. So Omar and I made our way there and ended up booking 4 nights there for a private bungalow with two beds – one queen and one single – and our own private bathroom. They had AC but it was pathetic. I just came to accept that I’ll be quite miserable here in Indonesia with regards to the heat.  

Slept with towel around head to collect sweat
 
   
    
   

Gili T is absolutely stunning. The beaches are amazing and the waters are so clear I didn’t think I’d see anything like this on my trip. One of the days Omar and I rented snorkelling gear just off the beach then went for a swim. Our goal was to find a turtle as other travellers we met said it’s possible here if you’re fortunate. Fifteen minutes into our snorkel and we spotted one!  

    
    
 On one evening we joined these group of travellers to watch a horror movie outside on the beach. One of the beach resorts has an outdoor cinema on the beach where you lounge on bean bag chairs and enjoy the movie they play. We were told this movie tonight is a horror movie. It was called “Knock Knock” featuring Keanu Reaves. Yeah it was defo a horror movie….horrifying experience that is. What a waste of two hours! We all got up at the end and expressed our disappointment with the movie and then one of our friends, Vitali, says “that movie was so interesting! I really enjoyed it…”…sigh…

  I’m no all star in beer pong – my friends back home can attest to that – but beer pong is played a lot here and one night we were playing with a large group of Swedish travellers and I was on fire. I also didn’t know that Canadians has a reputation among backpackers as being crazy drinkers. But on this night I couldn’t be stopped and the swedes were loving it. “Canada man! You guys are too good!” Chris yelled. Omar and I were playing the night before in one of the bars and I didn’t sink a single shot. “Man, he is not like this. I don’t know what happened!” Omar would try and explain to the group.  

 

On our last day we ran into George and Charlotte on the street, along with their friends back in England Tasha and Conor. These four enjoy their marijuana and when we bumped into them around 230pm they had already rolled and smoked 10 spliffs. We invited them to join us at our bungalow to chill at the pool and play drinking games. Omar stated to the group we are starting way too early…and he wasn’t wrong. By 730 all of us were dusted and to my true form – I fell asleep shortly around 8pm before being woken up to get out to celebrate St Pattys day.             
Gili T is easily a place where you can get stuck in. I would’ve spent the rest of my time in Indonesia here but I know my time is limited here and I want to check out this town called Ubud, a highly recommended place by every traveller I met. So off to Ubud we went! I was mentally preparing for the miserable boat ride back to land but to my surprise this boat was nearly twice the size and had AC!  

      
   

Day 36 and 37 – Kuta

  

  

 Ground Zero of the bombing in Kuta from the 2002 Bali bombings, where 202 people died.

  

  

 Meet Edous, “Monkey”, and Marco. These 3 were working the Monkey Beach bar/surf rental shop on Kuta beach. After unsuccessfully trying to get us to rent surf boards, we sat down anyway and had a beer as there was shade and the heat was relentless. These guys work all 365 days a year and none of them have ever left Indonesia. We sat and chatted for about 2 hours with Omar and I buying them beers to join us. Edous is dating a woman from Holland and says “she’s not the prettiest, but her heart is beautiful and that’s good enough for me. She helps me with my English too!”.     
Meet Vina, Agus, Tutut, and Yumas – 4 nursing students from Sekolah Tinggi ilmu Kesehatan Bali. I was approached by an older man while chilling at Monkey Beach Bar asking if it is okay if students come and sit with me to help with their English. I was more than happy to do so and they came with pen and paper in hand, and a camera to record this session! Omar, who was sitting beside me, began to talk to them as well. “You should talk to me instead and learn proper English” Omar says in his thick English accent. The students just looked and nodded – I’m thinking they just didn’t understand him. The students start filming as the other 3 ask me questions in an interview-like setting with each student alternating who controls the camera recording. Later on, Omar again begins to start mini conversations with the students…Omar made some joke against me towards one of the girls and her response? “Can you hold the camera and record all of us?”. 

  
Both evenings we went to this restaurant/bar called Sky Garden. From 5-9pm everyday you pay $10CAD for unlimited bbq buffet and drinks! After 9pm, you can pay another $15CAD to have unlimited drinks again. The restaurant/bar itself was quite large. It was about 5 stories high and it had EIGHT nightclubs inside. The first night I decided to go hard bar all night drinking Gin and Tonics. By 9pm I started to feel like a sick drunk. I managed to stay out til about 11 before calling it quits but I remember while on the D floor I saw this woman go up on one of those small stages where they dance in underwear. I tried getting up to dance with her and Sheldon but she was having absolutely none of it. So our friend Charlotte got up there despite security saying no and danced with her briefly while I managed to take a photo of Sheldon and the two girls. “You better not be taking a video!” The woman yells at me. 

   
It wasn’t until the next day I was informed that the alcohol they use isn’t the best and that not too long ago a Swedish man died from drinking the whiskey which turned out to be methane they believed. So the next day we went I only stuck to beers, fuck that. The mates I’m with are big Arsenal fans so around 930 we went to a pub that plays Premier League games and watched Arsenal lose. It was the first full futebol match I ever watched and it was entertaining alone just seeing these guys so into it. After the pub we went on our own little pub crawl bar hopping different places…the town of Kuta is alright. A ton of travellers I met will tell you to just get out of here and go to the Gili islands or Ubud…so that’s what I did and booked a boat to Gili Trawangan.  

  Meet Bert and Walt – two 23 year old Belgiums who are currently here for an internship for 3 months. These two are in the woodworking program in school and have been here in Kuta since February. 
The weather here is absolutely disgusting. I’m not good with heat and even back in Canada when it’s 30C dry heat I’m not doing well. I sweat profusely. Over here it’s 30C and very humid….at midnight. During the day’s the real feel is ~43C and its just perpetual sweating for me.   

Found some AC!! Also, the tank came free from the bar with two shots vodka. I wouldnt pay for this just an FYI.

 

Tash, Charlie, amd Charlotte
 

Day 32 -35 Luang Prabang & Bangkok

The people of Luang Prabang:

 Meet 18 year olds Joe and Summer from England. These two shared our tuk tuk to the waterfalls and hung with us throughout the day. These two are currently travelling for 6 months as part of their gap year!

 Meet 22 year olds Conor and Emily from Ontario, Canada! These two also were on our tuk tuk to the waterfalls and also hung with us throughout the day there.

  
Meet Casey and Ge from England. Omar and I met these 19 year olds while trying to find Utopia our first night there and it turns out they were in the same boat! The funny thing is we are walking one way and these two are walking the other way. So somebody’s going the wrong way…These girls were apparently never fresh enough to take a pic with Sheldon – thus the very flaterring pictures of these girls.

 Navin, who I met in Vang Vieng, was also in Luang Prabang during this time and we hung out with him all 3 days we were there.

Omar and I boarded the sleeper bus to Luang Prabang on the 7th of March and to be completely honest – I was preparing myself for death the whole night. The beds on the bus were quite roomy and comfortable however the bus driver was driving like a maniac and you would literally be sliding around in bed. If not for the railing on the side of the bunk, I would have fell multiple times. Because of this, I had basically no sleep at all.

Omar and I thought we were being budget travellers by going with the sleeper bus to save one nights accomodation. But we got to Luang Prabang at 4am and with the lack of sleep we both said fuck it and found a guesthouse. We walked in at around 5am waking the owner up and he put us up in a room.

Our first day started by visiting the main temple in Luang Prabang and then just spending the rest of the afternoon using wifi at this local cafe. Walking back to the guesthouse we came across the daily night markets, which was quite nice. I tell ya, trying to barter with these ladies was difficult! Omar tried so hard with these shirts and even walked away…only to come back 15 minutes later trying again. After an unsuccessful attempt he gave in to her pricing. In the evenings most backpackers head to this restuarant/lounge called Utopia – a beautiful setup where you really just lay down on these mattresses and have dinner & drinks – but the place closes at 1130 (so does every other bar as a matter of fact) and the only place open is this bowling alley…and this is where EVERYBODY heads towards. You would expect it to be more of a glow in the dark type bowling alley where its somewhat a party/dancing thing but its absolutely not like that at all. The lights are on full blast and if I didn’t know any better you wouldn’t think its 2am outside. The bowling is semi ghetto as well, for example bowling in bare feet, but it was still fun. I don’t reckon doing it more than a night but thats just my opinion. I did this the first night and never came back! Just a bunch of drunk young travellers bowling so you can imagine the type of debauchery that goes down.

  
 The second day we went to the beautiful Kuangsi waterfalls. Navin knew a secret passage to go in for free so he took us on a slight detour jumping this fence and going through the woods. The trail leads to a fence that we jump over and land in the “employees only” area of the bear rescue section of the waterfall park. Continuing our rebel ways, we hiked up the mountain a bit and jumped another fence that said “Danger Do Not Pass” to swim in an area of the waterfall that gave us such an amazing view of the waterfalls. We ended back at Utopia in the evening with some people and stayed there til close before heading back to sleep.

  
  
  
  
Our last full day in Luang Prabang was one of those chill days. Laos is so humid and hot so being outside for me is miserable cause I sweat very easily even when I do nothing. It’s been consistently 38C everyday so it was nice to just sit in an AC spot just chatting doing nothing.

  In the evening Navin, Omar, Casey, Ge, and I switched it up and went to another bar for cheap cocktails. Navin, Omar, and I have been drinking all day so by the end of this night, Navin was pretty messed up. Passing a spliff around, Navin would decline every time. But Omar peer pressured him into doing at least one puff. Ten minutes later as we’re told the bar is closing, Navin sits down at one of the tables near the entrance. We walk over to the other side of the bar that was still open for another half hour or so. Here is a pic of Navin trying to stay alive during this time:

  
While the rest of us were at the other side of the bar, one of the waiters comes to us and says “your friend! your friend!”. We all go over and see that Navin fell over while trying to walk to the toilet. Scary moment because we have no idea if he really hurt himself or not. Turns out Nav is okay but as we’re squatting and checking on him I notice that somebody really ripped ass. It was really stinky but I didn’t care my mind was on the health of Navin. Navin was able to get up after about half hour of sitting against the bar where he fell and went straight to the toilet. We then hopped in a tuk tuk and went back to the guesthouse.

The next morning, Navin came to our guesthouse to make sure we say our goodbyes. It was here he told me “I don’t know if I should be telling you this but when I fell I actually shit my pants”. Oooohhhhhhh it all makes sense now! So nobody ripped ass! It was just Navin taking a shit! “And thats why I was in the toilet for so long…cleaning that shit up. Thank god for that bum gun man otherwise I wasn’t gonna be able to clean much” Navin continues to tell me. Nav, if you’re reading this I’m sorry if you didn’t want me to share this story!!

 We then made our way to the Luang Prabang airport for our flight to Bangkok!

The plan originally was to fly into Bangkok International Airport (BKK) and then just stay there until our flight to Bali leaves 14 hours later. When we arrived in Bangkok, we were convinced by other travellers to just go into town. Omar and I then went looking for lockers at BKK airport so we can store our bag there and just pick it up later. When filling out the forms for arrival and departure, I whipped out my phone to check our flight number leaving Bangkok. It was here I realized…that we don’t actually fly out of BKK! We fucking fly out of DMK airport which is 90 mins north of BKK. Can you imagine if we stayed at BKK thinking we fly out of there. We would’ve realized eventually but that would put a lot of stress on us trying to make out way to the other airport. 

   
So with that, we went and caught the train to the city and then took a taxi to Khao San Road, famous for being Bangkok’s party strip. We dropped our bags off at the hostel where Omar stayed 3 months ago and they charged us 150 Baht. They asked what time we will pick up our bags and we just guess-timated midnight. When we arrived at 1230 to the hostel, we decided to just chill in their lobby for another hour or so because theres no point in leaving that early to the airport. Then this new receptionist says to us “you guys paid to leave your bag until midnight. You need to go now! I can’t risk losing my job if I let you stay here”. Omar and I replied “we’ll just need another hour or so if thats okay”. She was having none of it and then Omar just lost it on her. “Is one hour really going to affect you? We’re just sitting here on our phones!” Omar says. Again, she says no. Omar than simply says to me “For fuck sakes”, and the woman thought he said “fuck you” so she replied “YOU SAY FUCK YOU? I SAY FUCK YOU TOO!”. Back and forth Omar and her went and it got to the point where she was about to call the cops on us and when she pulled out that card we just grabbed our bags and went away… 

 While on Khao San Road, we went to this beach club bar to have some drinks and use wifi. It was here that I was recieving messages from guys I met in Laos – “You’re in Bangkok? Come to Khao San Road!” says Simon, one of the guys I met in Vang Vieng! I replied to him saying we already are on Khao San road and at the beach club. Next thing you know, he comes with 3 others we met in Laos. As well, this couple (George and Charlotte) I met in Nha Trang, then again in Phong Nha and Hanoi, replied to me on Facebook saying they’re also in Bangkok! We all got together and as it turns out, George and Charlotte are on our flight to Bali! 

 Afterwards a few of us decided to walk the strip and sit down elsewhere for cheaper drinks. It was at this little pub sitting outside that I was just drunk enough to agree to try a deep fried scorpion. Simon (we’ll call him Simon #1), fired up, sees a man walking around selling them and calls him over. “50,000 for one” the man says. “No! Too much! Two for 50” Simon #1 replies. Back and forth the bartering goes and he agrees to two for 60,000. Simon ends up buying the scorpions for Simon #2 and I saying “I know that if you had to pay you wouldn’t try it. The only way to get people to try is if they don’t pay for it!”. Holding the scorpion up close kind of fucked me up – you can still see some of the furryness on it and when I saw that I really started to almost sober up and back out! But as soon as I see Simon #2 go in for the bite, all I could do now is not be a bitch and I went for the one-biter. Simon did half first and I just wanted to get it over with. It was actually quite tasteless…I can’t really explain it. At this point it was just all mental. I remember when I bit into the body I felt something ooze out but I tried to not think about what it could be. “Drink some beer!” yells Omar. By taking the entire thing at once I was chewing for what seemed forever…but it all soon came to an end and I can finally say I ate a scorpion! 

 That was about the extent of my trip to Bangkok, just drinking and eating on Khao San Road. Pure Chaos Bangkok is…I don’t know if I’d stay in Bangkok for more than a night or two when I do a proper travel to Thailand. We left for the airport to depart for Bali around 2am and went to sleep for two hours there before checking in to our flight!

 

Day 27-31 Vang Vieng, Laos!!

We arrived in Vang Vieng from Vientiane around 6pm and walked to our hostel which has free bottles of whiskey from 7-10pm. Yes, you read that right! No limit on the number of bottles you can consume…and yes, the whiskey was shit but at the end of the day the results are the same – it fucks you up. Before going into the stories of Vang Vieng, let me introduce you to the great people I met here:  
Meet Simon and Simon – two guys who saved me one question from the way I introduce myself to other travellers. Simon originally came up to me and said “I have the same shirt!” And as he continues walking by I notice that beautiful shiny pinky ring. I call Simon back over and replied “I left my iron ring back at home!” For readers unfamiliar with the iron ring – it’s a ring given to engineering graduates from a Canadian university. It is a sign of ethical obligation to your work as an engineer, or something like that!After some chit chat he introduced me to his travel mate, Simon. Both are civil engineer graduates from Sherbrooke, Quebec. Simon (non beard) was a defensive back for the Sherbrooke university football team. 
Bearded Simon has one helluva story that I need to share as well:   

“I was in koh Tao and went to withdraw money from 7-11 to get enough to get my way back to Bangkok. I withdraw the money and when I turn around there was 3 Thai guys on two scooters. One of them had a knife. So he asks for my money and I give it to him. Now he’s asking for everything! I just gave him 1000 Thai baht. Then he asks for my wallet. And I showed him there’s nothing here! Just my debit card. But he still wanted it so I gave it to him. So afterwards I knew I don’t have any money to get my way back to Bangkok. I walked back to my guesthouse and told the manager what happened and was nice enough to not charge me for the night. So afterwards I hid my backpack in the woods while I went out literally begging for money. It got to the point where all the travellers on the island knew my situation. I was begging travellers at first but now it got to the point where I’m asking locals who run the street foods. One guy who ran a pancake stand offered me to work his stand while he fucked off for an hour and I could keep the money. And I never do pancakes so I was soooo bad! After I left the pancake stand I went to sleep on the beach but I couldn’t sleep cuz people were walking by me and I didn’t want to get robbed again. The next morning I was $15 bucks USD short of catching the boat to the mainland. I met these two girls buying sunscreen and explained my situation. They were kind enough to buy me one boiled egg, my first meal in two days. As well, I gave the girls all my money I had and in return they covered the rest of my boat ticket to the mainland. On the boat I met a German guy, who I met on the way to koh Tao and gave my book to. So when I ran into him again I had to ask ‘can I have some money for that book I gave you?’ He agreed and paid me 60 baht. We arrive to the mainland and we were the only two ppl on the boat who didn’t have a ticket to Bangkok. So I started begging again…and these people began to realize that I’m not just a drunk trying to find money for booze but rather someone who really just wants to go home. So I met these 4 couples from holland and Sweden. They understood my situation and bought my bus ticket to Bangkok. I arrived in Bangkok 3am I tried to beg for money to go to the airport. But everybody I met thought I was just a drunk begging for money so I ran into a lot of bad people, who started pushing me and being aggressive. So I said to myself I’ll just walk all the way to downtown where there’s a train. But I ran into these policemen who advised me not to do that as it’s very dangerous to go alone down this street. So as these taxi drivers were driving by trying to get my business I had to explain to them that I had no money! Eventually one guy picked me up and drove me downtown to where the train is. I offered him all I had left remaining – 60 baht – and he wanted more money. I flipped my pockets inside out and even offered clothing from my backpack. He turned around and said ‘MR LUCKY MR LUCKY’ and I said to him ‘I know! I’m lucky for you’ and he replied ‘no no! I’m mister lucky!’ And he gave me like 10 business cards and said ‘you give to friend!’ So he dropped me off in front of a 7-11 by the train station. He used my 60 baht to go into the 7-11 and came out with a pack of cigarettes and a burger for me. So he used my money and some of his to buy me food and cigarettes! And also he gave me 90 baht to pay for the train to go to the airport! The train station doesn’t open til 6am so the entire time I waited I was handing out the business cards of Mr Lucky cuz I feel like I owe him so much. I fucking made it back..And I was so hungry that I stood on top of tables in the food court scanning people who weren’t finishing their plates. It took about 3 plates of other people’s food before security escorted me OUT of the airport. But I told them ‘look look! I have a ticket! I’m going to Canada.’ I lost 35lbs this trip. When I got back to Canada my father was in such shock that he took me to mcdonalds and ordered me 2 Big Macs and 2 large fries…”

The Simons are travelling until mid April as bearded Simon has a wedding to prepare for, scheduled to wed in July!  

 Meet 22 year old Manuel from Barcelona, Spain! He came to Laos not long ago and seems to love it so much he recently got a job at a nearby restaurant. A great kid who can be seen mimicking the moves of Messi and Neymar whenever there’s a ball around.  

 
Meet Oestke and Chloe from Switzerland!  

 Meet Tyler and Britt! I don’t know how I remembered Tyler’s name but I saw him walking the street and just yelled out Tyler, and he turned around! I met him for about 45 minutes back in Dalat at the 100 rooftop bar. A great guy from Vancouver, BC who has been living in Calgary the last couple years. I can not recall if he suffered the same fate as me but when I asked what his plans are after travelling he said “I’m getting the fuck out of Alberta and going back home to BC”. I don’t blame ya, mate! 

Britt is a student from Holland currently travelling SE Asia!  

 
Meet 22 year old German sweetheart Kim!  

 
Meet the Vang Vieng legend Rob Nash, a 25 year old law student from Dublin, Ireland. Full of charisma and one of the most entertaining geezers I’ve met on this trip. He honestly could be a comedian. “I was standing in the queue one day and this girl in front of me turns around and says ‘GINGER!!’ And I don’t know why she said it but you know I don’t care. I laugh with the people in the queue. A few minutes later, she turns around and says it again! I’m a calm guy and I don’t get mad so again I just smile back and giggle a bit. Then this bitch says it again and she has this scar on her cheek, so when she said it the third time I calmly said ‘whoa! Calm down scarface’ and everybody just lost it and laughed, it was GAS” 

We were sitting in a restaurant one day and Rob goes “lads, I am in a predicament right now. Now I don’t have a massive cock, but I don’t have a small cock. I have a beautiful sized cock. Do you know where I can find western sized condoms in Asia? Because the condoms here are too damn small and I can’t continue ejaculating in girls”. Rob, you’re a legend mate. I love you and take care of yourself! More on Rob below about our day at the blue lagoon.  

 
Meet Johanne from Norway. This 19 year old Norwegian is currently travelling on her gap year.   

  Meet Benedicte and Nora also from Norway! These two are friends with Johanne and also travelling for their gap year.  

 
Meet Navin, a 36 year old from Sydney, Australia. Since getting laid off in 2014 after working for 8+ years, Nav decided to go travel. His travels lead him to end up living in Chiang Mai in Thailand since July. “I have not worked a day in over a year. When I went to visit my family in Perth over Christmas, I helped out in the garden. That was the first time in a year that I did any actual work you know what I mean?”. Navin is a sound geezer and as you’ll see in my later posts, Nav and I got close as we left Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang at the same time.  

 
Meet Dominic and Antea from Croatia! These two kept me awake as I was about to pass out at one of the bars one night. 

  

bar games
 During my time in Vang Vieng, I went tubing twice, and on my final day I went to the Blue Lagoon. The evenings consisted mainly of drinking the free whiskey, playing pool, chit chatting in the hostel before leaving to this bar called Sakura.   

 
Vang Vieng is probably most famous for its tubing. Apparently back in the day tubing was less regulated by the government, with plenty of bars along the river open for people to stop in for a party before tubing down to another bar. But there have been numerous deaths in recent past which caused the government to step in and say only two bars allowed open a day. I don’t blame them as its so easy to get messed up, pass out, and miss the exit completely. Aside from those risks, tubing was an absolute blast. The first bar we stopped at we played beer pong, this game called “slip-n-flip” – modified version of flip cup where you start by doing a slip and slide to the table , flip your cup, then flag your teammate to slip and slide and flip, etc. We also played beach volleyball. In between all these were various drinking games and random free shots. Me and the gang ended up staying at this bar much longer than intended and it would eventually come to bite us in the ass. 

        
 The second bar was less rowdy but still fun. There was a basketball hoop so people were playing ball, beer pong was played as well, and just general dancing. By the time we left this bar it was around 5pm. And when we rented the tubes there’s a deposit of 60,000 kip, which you get back if you return by 6pm. If you return between 6-8 you get 40k back. And after 8pm you lose your deposit. I had no idea how long it took to get back to the exit so as we were tubing back down the guys who done this before were saying there’s no way we’re making it back by 6. Also, tubing back down this late wasn’t fun as it got extremely chilly in the waters. It got to the point where we reached an area where a sign said “2km to exit” and everybody started trying to get to the shore. The currents were extremely slow so 2km more would’ve taken forever basically everybody got off here, walked up the side, and found a tuk tuk to drive us back. At this point it was getting very dark so it’s also quite silly and risky to go all the way down the tube, in my opinion. 

The day after tubing was just a chill day. There’s restaurants all along the main street and I didn’t know this but many of them sell opium infused shakes, tea, pancakes, etc. The same goes with weed and shrooms. The gang and I spent most of the day just chilling at the restaurant “basking in the ambience” 😉 … 

 The next day we went back to the tubes because well, why not! We had a late start to this one as we spent the better part of morning watching the UFC fight. The 9am beers coupled with tubing drinks messed me up right good and I passed out for a stretch of the river while on the tube! Great times. This time around we just took a tuk tuk from the second bar straight back to town rather than risk getting fucked around in the dark tubing back. 

On our last day we went to the blue lagoon – a spot where you swim and jump off swings and a tree. From the tree you can jump from about ~5 meters high or ~2m high. Rob, the Irishman, is afraid of heights. And we spent THREE hours trying to convince him to just jump off the 2m section of the tree. We managed to get Rob to go up the steps to the tree but that’s about as far as he got. Rob literally stood there for 15 mins – I have no idea what’s going through his mind – before finally stepping down unable to jump off. I got to give him props though, the amount of peer pressure we applied on him was ridiculous!  

omar and simon trying to get rob to jump. you can see robs back turned to us trying to get down
   
   
 
Later that day, we caught the sleeper bus to Luang Prabang! 
   
 

Day 25 and 26 – Last Night in Hanoi and a Sick Day

The morning after Aron’s and Elli’s final night was a tough one. I laid in bed until about 12ish, and this is having been awake since 8am. I simply just did not want to move. It’s pretty safe to say the afternoon was pretty non-eventful and with this being my last night, I knew the guys were going to pressure me to go hard so I wanted to rest up. 
Because we were on the cocktail cruise I missed being with Mike while he got tattooed of Sheldon. So I knew one of the things I needed to do was at least catch him before we both leave the next morning. While walking to grab some street beer for 5000 VND ($0.25 USD beer) at the beer corner I bumped into Mike! And then posed for this picture.     
Afterwards at the bar we were at I bumped into my old roomies from my initial stay in Hanoi before departing for the cruise. 


 Meet Milane, Elizabeth, and Kira – 3 20 year old German girls who are currently studying medicine 

The rest of the night was pretty basic so I won’t bore you with … Well boring stories. However, walking up to my room around 2am I see my dorm mate walk back with a girl. And I know what they’re about to do – and with his bed right next to mine I decided to just chill in the lounge area for awhile to give him some time. I walk back in at 245ish and fuck me they’re still chatting away and trying to be discrete / quiet as she’s getting railed. Luckily I was pretty exhausted and fell asleep quite easily…the problem with Hanoi Rocks (the name of our hostel) is that the beds are 18(!!!) bed rooms. And every night I was there it was full. So this kind of thing was I happening all the time and your best hope is to just not be nearby someone who’s bringing a girl or guy back to the room! 

The next day it was time to leave Hanoi. Our flight to Vientiane didn’t leave til 5 so we still had most of the day. The problem however was that I believe the drinking finally caught up to me. Initially I thought it was a hangover but looking back im sure I came down with the flu. I had muscle fatigue, chills then getting hot again, and just had no appetite. The boys convinced me that eating a greasy burger will cure me, but it did the exact opposite. But I still managed to snipe a picture of Thomas being an animal and crushing 3 big burgers.  

   

I ended up just sleeping whenever I can on the couch of the hostel waiting for the taxi to take us to airport whenever it was time to go.

     

We got to the airport around 3pm and I immediately went straight to the gate area and went to sleep. We got to Laos around 645 and by the time we checked in around 730 I went straight to bed and that’s all she wrote for day 26! People told us Vientiane has nothing to do (despite being the capital city in Laos) so we only booked a night and are leaving to Vang Vieng the next day.