I like mangosteen.

Link to purple mangosteen photo on flickr.
The purple mangosteen is a delicious fruit in Asia. Photo by Amy Jacobs, Flickr.

A mangosteen is a dark purple fruit from the mangosteen tree. By squeezing it on the top and bottom it splits open to reveal an edible white part in the middle that looks like garlic and tastes like a cross between lychee and heaven.

I also tried a sapodilla fruit. If I really had to describe it, I’d say it has the texture of a ripe pear and flavour of a concentrated apple, grape, mango smoothie, or something like that.

And then I tried tamarind. It grows in a giant brown pod. It’s sort of like a date. The fruit. It’s good too. They’re all good, but I like mangosteen the most.

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Life’s a little different in Laos.

 

“Sunset boat for you, cheap cheap. 80,000 kip!” Sure, why not hire a Mekong river taxi boat for a private sunset cruise? Paired with a cold bottle of Beerlao from the corner store, we couldn’t ask for a better way to spend the evening. Our driver (er, captain?) is a local from Luang Prabang. Like many locals, he was a monk for 8 years before leaving the temple, finding a wife and having 7 kids.  Cheers to that!

Andrea taking a joke a little too far.

I have the worst travel companion

We’re kayaking down the river in Vang Vieng, Laos, when our tour guide points out a snake in the water.  Andrea begins to ask a million questions – is it poisonous? Do people in Lao eat snake? How do you catch a snake?… Before you know it, our guide is bartering with a group of young boys to buy a snake they just caught! The going price in the market is 80 to 100,000 kip (10-14 CAD), which is a LOT when you consider a restaurant meal costs 15 – 30,000 kip.  Andrea got a steal of a deal, paying 20,000 kip for the snake. The kids bashed the snake a couple times, dropped it in a clear plastic bag and handed it to our guide. At the end of our trip, our guide arranged dinner, curbside snake soup. It’s chewy.

The night market in Luang Prabang, Laos. Similar to the night market in Vientiane.

Asia + France = Laos.

I’m looking out my hotel window at the most amazing crafts & clothing market. Hundreds of red-topped stalls along the boardwalk of the Mekong river. I’m the type of person who only goes to the mall when I desperately need to, but this is totally different – I’m actually resisting the urge to shop! This market is adorned with beautiful French clothing, bags, shoes and more at SE Asia prices. And for those who like labels, the Chanel & Louis lookalikes look real to me…not that I’m a good judge. Step aside Chatuchak Market (Bangkok), I’ve got a new favourite!

The last glimpse.

Sunsets & beaches.

Ever look at the sunset and say “It’s almost a full moon tonight!?” No?  Really? Ok, probably not… my friend Andrea is special ;)

 

Colours, numbers, and all that jazz.

Thailand is a colourful country. There are red and yellow flags flying everywhere, and the occasional purple or blue one too. I asked a local, what’s with the colours?… Each flag honours a member of the royal family, and the colour is based on the day of the week they were born. The King’s flag is yellow for Monday, the Queen’s is blue for Friday, the Princess’ is purple for Saturday… My flag would be pink, for Tuesday! According to this, my optimum professions are policeman, soldier, chemist, cook, and hairdresser… time for a career change.

My room number at the last hotel was 13 that had been changed to 43. So I asked the owner if 13 was unlucky. She laughed, then pointed at a dog… and that’s how many conversations go in Thailand.

Chinese New year Bangkok

Day 1.

Calgary to (Seattle to Tokyo to) Bangkok took 30 hours and the final leg coincided with the opening ceremonies of Sochi’s Winter Olympics. Thanks for kicking off my trip, Russia! Getting to Bangkok was pretty seamless. Even though my plane tickets were mysteriously cancelled, my cell phone provider mysteriously lost my account, and I forgot my passport on the last flight, we made it on time, alive, and well-rested. I’d like to thank Alaskan Airlines for the beer at 7am.

Here we go! Go Olympics, go Chinese new year, and go aimaroundtheworld. If all else fails, ”You could prosper in a few years in the field entertainment”, said my fortune cookie.

Now for a little brain exercise… How many hours is it from 6:30am MST to 12am GMT+8, west over the date line?