Vientiane may be the smallest capital city I’ve been to after 27 countries but it does punch above its weight class. What I didn’t expect to find in the sleepy city is major brand stores for Goodyear, Honda, Samsung and a handful of Dairy Queen to name a few. It was a stark contrast to the laid back vibe you get while walking around the city, which can be done in a handful of day’s.
I spent my first day walking by the Mekong river which is the border divide between Laos and Thailand. Beyond the beautiful sunset, you can see a rise of the Thai empire compared to the classic architecture you get in Vientiane. The Laos people want to keep out that development, especially around their waterfront.
Keeping up with older tradition extends to their food as a former French colony, you’ll see tons of bakeries and french Restaurants scattered all around town. Vientiane may not be a huge city but it’s a gateway to a beautiful country that surprises you around every corner.
I had a great time exploring KL; from hitting the Petronas Twin Towers, experiencing the city’s monorail to the Batu Caves in the suburbs. When I went to the caves I saw not one but two monkeys steal while I was there.
One took a bag of chips off a lady’s stall and the other cornered a tourist as it went for his pop bottle, which the monkey than pierced open and drank. It was a funny sight as I know monkey’s can be aggressive but I didn’t think they would go for our food. I quickly hide my bottle of juice and continued down the 300 steps to the bottom.
I’m glad to say that my appetite is back after going through the heat that is Sinspore. I ate a ton of baked goods across the city along with some ice cream. Overall KL was great, however, I feel like I enjoyed Singapore more if I had to pick between them.
Jalan Alor Market
Yut Kee Restaurant
Lavender Bakery (Pavillion Mall)
Singapore was hot… an oppressive heat wave if there was ever one. I found the heat made me more thirsty than hungry… so I drank more than I ate in town. Thought I can recommend a couple good bakeries below.
Many 7-Eleven/corner shops are open 24 hours and malls are usually 12 hours. If you love to shop, I say head to Singapore. I had a great time walking around and using the extensive subway and overground system they have. Something Toronto can aspire too.
Carpenter and Cook
Tiong Bahru Bakery
What can be said about Denpasar (Bali). The island had no transportation. So you’ve walking, taking a taxi or hiring a motorbike, which the island has plenty of. There are few traffic lights beyond the main roads, so you’ve chaos at each crossing; everyone is trying to cross at the sametime.
However, if you can get past that. You’ve some of the best fresh OJ I’ve had this side of Europe and a friendly and welcoming community. Plus the Babi Guling (suckling pig) is out of this world. The city is going through growth and a spike in tourism as it tries to sort and rename parts of the island.
I stayed in Legian, which is not Seminyak. Thought some tourist sites might try to convince you otherwise. Seminyak is the popular hipper part of the island. I loved stay in Legian as it was close to the beach while still having a community feel.
Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen
Sea Circus (breakfast brunch; only tourist go really)
A Warun is a sort tiny shack by the road side. Don’t let that put you off as Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen has some of the best suckling pig on the whole island and it’s bloody cheap (40,000 IDR includes an OJ).
P.S. You’ve to pay a 200,000 IDR fee when you leave the island. Keep some cash handy for each person you’re traveling with.
Spent the last 4 days touring around Bangkok and settling into a slower pace of life in Asia…. as I start on my 10 week journey around the continent.
Bangkok has been interesting from a few different perspectives. There seems to be a lot of signs related to laws/rules for the MRT (subway), which go beyond no smoking or photography. You can’t eat/drink or have balloons on the MRT. Also you’ve to pass through a metal detector at each MRT station. They don’t have this on the BTS (overground lines) in Bangkok.
Having said that, everyone is really friendly and nice in the city. Even all the stray cats you come across as you walk around the city. I’d say it’s a hard life if you’re an average person in Bangkok and you work at a street cart. The hot & humid weather combined with your street cart BBQ heat can’t be easy to have on a daily basis.
Speaking of BBQ, the street food is plentiful and wonderful in Bangkok. You can get just about anything BBQed from meat to fish to veggies. Plus if you head to Chinatown for the Night Market, they close down the two parking lanes and turn them into patio for the restaurants/street vendors to use. Seeing that on Saturday night was one of the most intense Chinatown’s I’ve been a part of a in a long time.
See the rest of my Bangkok photos and where I’d eat in the city.
Chinatown Night Market
Nang Loeng Market (day time; 10am-1pm)
Big C mall (day time; vendors around the mall)
P.S. Make sure you have some of the fresh OJ from street vendors. You’ll never be the same again.
Today starts my countdown. I did a test pack as I’m trying to get my life into one bag. Everything else will be shipped home. Traveling for 3 months won’t be easy if I’ve to lug around two bags across 18 flights.
The next part of this crazy journey will be 10 weeks in Asia and one week in Vancouver to see friends. Wish Vancouver was longer…so I could see if work was possible. Tons of photos of street food and beautiful scenery that is Asia to come.
Photos from my Northern trip to Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
I used the last bank weekend before Christmas and found myself in Marrakech. The heat and humidity were worth the trip.
Since Stockholm, I’ve also been to Bristol & Brighton. Both worth a visit if you find yourself with extra time in the UK.