Christmas in Vientiane

Christmas shopping.

Not sure who would want this. (me)

Vroom vroom!

Will tipped forward this painting to look behind. With hilarious consequences.

Laughing with the artist about said consequence.

Thankful it was fine.

Christmas tree?

House lights.

Gifts from England.

The perfect final addition to my suit.

Will really wanted this.

Will really wanted this.

Starter for 10.

A farmer has two hens, a white one and a white one…

A happy eater.


…and a dance.

Pakse and 4,000 Mekong Islands (I’m sure there aren’t that many)

We’ve been in Laos now since the 15th December and having a jolly good time with Mr William Moss. There will be photos to follow of our Christmas in Vientiane, but first we will write about our time away in the south at Pakse and the 4,000 islands.

We took a bus from Vientiane at 8 am and 16 bone-shaking hours later we arrived in Pakse. We only had 2 full days in the south so decided to do a full day tour of the islands. We had our own private mini van, driver and tour guide who took us to Ban Nakasang, where we caught a motor boat (a narrow boat with an incredibly noisy diesel engine on the back) to Don Khone island. We hired some bicycles and toured around the island with our guide. It was my first time on a bike for at least 10 years and took me back to the rides we used to do around the villages in Cocking. After races and dodging chickens and dogs galore we made our way to the south of the island to take another motor boat across the boarder to the edge of Cambodia where we sat and watched some Mekong dolphins playing in the water. We then went back to Don Khon island for lunch and visited the Li Phi waterfall. Li Phi literally translates to “ghost trap” as the waterfall was used to build contraptions to catch dead bodies floating down the Mekong during war time. Lovely!

After catching a motorboat back to the mainland of Laos we visited the Khong Phapheng waterfall, which is the biggest in South East Asia. We clambered over rocks and climbed down to the waters edge. I cracked my knee on the side of a rock, but it was nothing that a bit of germolene and a plaster couldn’t fix. We will also post some photos of the islands later.

Photos to boot

This is the stuff dreams are made of.

Boring view.

Not kidding. They follow you. “Hello, you buy?”

Authentic cooking.

On Monkey Island

“My name is Guybrush Threepwood and I’m a mighty pirate.”

Noony was there


Post-Cave. (not Grinderman)

Halong Bay, Vietnam

So, we have a lot of catching up to do. We have been having too much fun at Wills to write anything. Shame on us.

First, I will write about our trip to Halong Bay, which was stunning. The place really lives up to the legend that it was created by dragon footprints as it has a magical atmosphere and the perfect blue water with the giant towers of rock just don’t seem real. When we first arrived we went on a bamboo boat around the bay and went to a floating fishing village and visited a floating school. And yes, they literally are floating houses/buildings on bamboo and industrial floating devices. There were a number of dogs on everyones boats and on the decks of their house which we were wondering whether they are for security or food…maybe both?

Noony has gone for a shower so I suppose I better take over.

When we returned from the bamboo boat we were invited to join a cooking class on our junk boat. This was one of the things that swayed our decision to use this specific tour operator. What excitement! To learn ancient traditional cooking and utilise this knowledge for when we get back home. I shall share with you the secrets taught to us, handed down over the generations.

Wet finger
Rub finger over rice paper
Roll up ready-made spring roll mixture
Hand to cooking teacher for him to cook.

The free glass of red wine made it fun though. Noony was incredibly proud of her spring roll, to the point that rejected any photo that didn’t have all 65 of her teeth showing.

After eating a shovel load of food, (I tried squid and prawns and pork, oh my) which Noony tells me was delicious, we found out it was the Captian’s birthday. Free beers were pushed into our hands, we politely got drunk. The captain asked who had iPods, so we got ours and after playing some party hits, the other table turned to Noony and asked, “Are you the DJ, because this music is terrible.” If there’s one things I’ve learnt, it’s ‘know your audience’. They weren’t even happy with Van Morrison, so quite frankly they can piss off forever, snobby nosed old hags.

Our cabin was impressive and the bathroom, stunning. James Bond would have done fine here wooing, intimidating and euphemising with all the Swedish wood. We thought we had the life to live here. Except… There were two problems: the first being the horrific rumbling of the diesel engine that constantly roared below us. The bed vibrated and I’m sure moved about the room at night. That might be the sea sickness, it might be the moss I ate on the side of the boat. But needless to say sleeping was tough. The second problem respectively was much much worse. Not only were we above the engine room, we were also adjacent to the kitchen. And out of the woodwork, like clockwork, cockroaches would infest the room. We killed twenty. If you don’t know Noony, (she’s saying hello) there are two bugs she just cannot bare, a phobia to the point of madness. Decrepid, non-sensical madness. She didn’t sleep the first night at all after finding cockroaches in the bedsheets.

In the morning, we asked if we could move. Noony, white as a cockroach covered sheet, put her assertive foot forward. Their answer was simple: no. There were spare rooms but they wouldn’t move us. Knowing that we would have to sleep in there for a second night put a mild dampener on things.
Moan over, boo. Here’s Noony.

The day began very early, not that it mattered as I didn’t sleep a wink anyway, with us heading off on a smaller boat to get some kayaks. We had a double kayak and set off around the bay to find a nice secluded beach. Pez sneakily sat in the back and wasn’t paddling half as much as me. Cheeky bugger. We mostly sat on the sand and chatted with some other tourists we found but others went for a swim in the cold blue water. After kayaking for most of the morning we had lunch on the small boat while we sailed to Monkey Island. If any of you are familiar with the computer game, you would be severely disappointed. However, the view from climbing up the rocks was awesome, and there were plenty of monkeys. One stole someones sock and taunted him with it and put it on as a hat and then a glove. After most of us chasing the monkey across the beach we finally got the sock back. The monkeys even tried to take someones back pack and Pez was attacked by one. He put up his fists and made a grumble noise and I think the monkey realised how ridiculous he looked and gave up swiftly.

I was particularly upset at this point in the day as it was time to return to the junk boat and our dreaded cabin of bugs. Luckily a girl on the tour lent us a mosquito net which put up at least a psychological barrier to the cockroaches, if not a physical one. I still hardly slept but at least I closed my eyes. The following morning Pez and I were really happy as we knew we didn’t have to sleep in the room again and were shortly heading back to the mainland after a visit to the “Amazing Cave”. The cave looked like something out of The Labyrinth or The Dark Crystal and was pretty amazing. (Photos to follow)

We had one full day left to spend in Hanoi on our return and Pez and I decided the best way to spend it would be visiting a dead dictator. For 41 years dead, Ho Chi Minh looked awesome. Unfortunately, there are no photos to follow on this one as there is some crazy dictatorial rule that no pictures are allowed in his mausoleum.

Merry Christmas

Happy Christmas everyone. Will’s Internet ran out so we’ve come to an Internet cafe to say that everything is fine. We had a jolly day yesterday. We will update tomorrow as we are travelling to Pakse in the south of Laos.

All is well.

Hope snow isn’t getting in everyone’s way. The 30 degree heat here means we have no snow. Shame.


it works…it wohuurksssss!

come back soon.


Hip Hip Hué!

We have now arrived in Hanoi which we will write more about later but first we haven’t mentioned anything about Hué yet…

So, what can we say about Hué? We stopped in Hué for 5 days as our flight to Hanoi was much much cheaper if we stayed an extra day or two. The hostel/hotel we stayed in was fantastic, but very very weird. When we turned up to check in, we were given steak and eggs, little did we know that was just the start of the feeding frenzy they enforced upon us. Over the 5 days we were given rice parcels, omelettes, a pizza, cakes, watermelon, coca nut, etc. Our room was lovely and quaint with a tiny wooden bath. Not a clever idea engineering wise as it leaked very badly and poured water all over the floor. The eccentric owner (who reminded me a lot of Ozzy Osborne, not for his looks, but for his post-drug abuse mental state) took quite a shining to Pez and laughed at anything and everything he did or said. We played quite a bit of chess in the hall as it rained non stop so when we left yesterday he gave us a print out of a chess board on paper and a chess set to carry with us on our travels!

In Hué, the most we did was take some long walks along the river and visit the Citadel. Quite an impressive site, but not as well restored as we had hoped. The grounds were quite beautiful and more impressive than the buildings, with a moat filled with coy carp and stunning trees lining the water. Just a side note, fish are stupid. When we raised our hands to take a picture every fish in the water assumed they were being fed so lifted their heads out of the water and opened their mouths. It reminded me of the joke Uncle Alan always used to say about every fish being called Bob!

Most evenings we spent perched on the door step of the hotel next door to ours with a lovely chap named Dutch Mike. Huda beers in hand, most conversations led to the best of British comedy. It was nice to share a mutual appreciation of Monty Python and Black Adder. Although, I have to blame Mike for fuelling Pez’s obsession with getting a motorbike!

Hanoi has been a bit more eventful. We have visited the famous Hoàn Kiêm Lake, the Hóa Lò prison Anne wandered about the Old Quarter. The lake is a respite from the crazy traffic of Hanoi and a bit of a paradise for young lovers! The prison, which has mostly been converted into a hotel/shopping centre complex, is a communist propaganda account of the humane treatment of American air pilots. Of course the only perspective is from the Vietnamese and the video showing them being allowed to make Christmas dinner and play basketball is a little cringe worthy. The Old Quarter is insane! It is like walking through a maze of people, bikes, cars and vendors. I love that each street is named after what it sells though, e.g. Silk street. Pez insists that consumer electronic street was the most popular in the 1890s. If only it was named in English rather than what looks like funny euphemisms. Our favourite street is “Hung Dong”!

This evening we went to the Opera House of Hanoi to see a collection of classic chamber works and fancy romantic action, including some ballet and opera. We had a private booth which was invaded by a Vietnamese man half way through the evening. Pez asked him to leave, but as he spoke no English he stayed standing behind my chair, breathing on my neck. It was infuriating. Thankfully, he left after a minute or two of his own accord. The performance and the Opera House were quite stunning and as I have never been to anything like that, it was nice to be initiated in Vietnam!

Tomorrow, we are off on a 3 day tour to Halong Bay, spending 2 nights on junk boat. I am super duper excited and will write more when we are back in Hanoi. Although, apparently the boat has an Internet connection which baffles me.

We have abandoned our audience

But you don’t mind. Do you? Hello?

We have spent 5 days in Hué, but rain stopped us from doing very much, lame!

About to get on to a plane to Hanoi this afternoon so once we are settled, we’ll let you know what’s been going on.

On a side note, if anyone would like anything from Asia that they want shipped home let us know and we will try to accommodate. Apple fans should appreciate that items sadly are not cheaper here so don’t ask. Boo. Other tech is cheaper though. So get thinking y’all.


Hoi An. Some photos.

Have a spin on my propellor.

Should have left my radio controlled race car in the hold.


Japanese Bridge


Travel in antiquated style


I could see Noony's face taking this. Either jealousy or sadness at how camp I look


A'top of the marble mountains


Yep. We were those guys.


Beach Matrix.


We were in Vietnam in December 2010.


I like the lining. eh?

This charming man (in Hoi An)

Peter thinks we have died. We haven’t. Far from it. We are in fact alive, but not kicking, I’ve bloody done my back in this morning leaning over to turn the alarm off. Noony laughs at me when I move slightly, go “schhh, oooooooh”‘ and have to sit down for a minute.

We haven’t written about Nha Trang, the seaside resort of Vietnam because it was an absolute wash-out. It rained constantly for the three days we were there. We were going to have a sand building contest and let you, our friends and family, victoriously vote for mine. So yes. Nha Trang nothing to say.

We arrived three days ago in Hoi An, (not to be confused with Hanoi, an up and coming destination) and we think it has been our favourite place so far. Noony says it has been exactly how she imagined Vietnam to be. Rustic riverside architecture, vintage boutiques, and quiet roads. Hoi An is famed for its tailors and yes, I bought one. A bespoke charcoal suit with matching waistcoat, dark blue lining and five tailor made shirts, the only shirts I have ever worn that is a skinny fit but I can do the top button up over my Robert Wadlow of an adams apple. It works out at about 20% of British bespoke prices so i am happy. It is currently being shipped back to England via seamail. Inside the container also is a day’s worth of shopping which I shan’t speak off. Noony wants it to be a surprise for our return but mainly we don’t know how you’ll feel about matching crocodile skin swimming caps as your christmas presents.

The only thing we would change about the town is the unrelenting sales techniques; if only they knew that leaving you alone might encourage you to buy something rather than standing by the door, shouting “come in please”, and showing the slightest interest means they invade such intimate personal space and generally hover over you like flies on Noony’s face. It was such a deterrent that the only shop that didn’t show any interest, we bought everything in it. Not sure what to do with the Grandmother though.

We rented a motorbike for the day from the hotel and drove to the Marble Mountains, (think Ayer’s rock, flat lands with a big stone in the middle of nowhere.) then stopped off at the beach for lunch. With the amount of souvenir shops selling marble goods, they will soon only be able to call it Mountain. Having looked like utter western morons outside the hotel where we couldn’t find the lock switch to open the seat to get the helmets (in the ignition hole), not being able to turn the motorbike on (you need to hold the brake) and trying to pull away for the first time with Noony on the back, I couldn’t have felt more useless. But after about 30 seconds it was fine and great fun. Noony says she felt safe, even when we side-skidded through the middle of a tanker and flipped over the ramp before the lorry exploded by the red sunset.

Photos to follow shortly. Head to Hue tomorrow morning. Tata for now.