Trip Report
SE Asia Trip: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Brunei,Singapore, S Korea
Saturday May 30, 2015 9:11am
Alright so I started a new thread because the other one was sort of getting out of control. It was at the point where I didn't even want to scroll down! So here's a new start at a new part of the world.

This first set of pictures is going to be of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. I always get the idea that I'm going to take some street shots in BKK but then when I get there I just want to get out as soon as possible.

So I'll start with the best one. This is my second attempt at a little world shot. The Grand Palace in Bangkok.


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Now off to a bunch of of shots of the temple. For those of you who find these specific types of shots exciting this could be quite interesting to you. For those who don’t…well thats the beauty of the fast scroll. So here we go. The Grand Palace is something I had visited years before and hasn’t changed much except for the copious amounts of people. It was pretty quiet all those years ago but was jam packed with thousands of tourists.


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Everything is so intricately ornate.


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The trick is trying to aim your camera somewhere that you can get a shot unlike the one you’d just taken a second ago. And to see something new in the shadows.


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Oh and now to introduce my company for the next leg of the journey! Most of you that saw the last trip will know that I was traveling with John and Tracy Borland. The second leg of the trip I am starting with Rena and Shasta!


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Don’t mess with the monkey king.


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Excellent architecture.


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Rena checking to see if she’s got anything good.


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Trying to find interesting ways to use that Samyang lens from NZ.


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Missed this girl!


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We finished walking around the Grand Palace and decided to try and make our way to the train through Chinatown. Rena and Shasta had never been in a tuktuk so off we went!


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We spent the last day there getting street food and eating anything we could get our hands on. Will we get sick from it? Well, we haven’t yet and thats saying something. We had planned on two days in Bangkok, only because they had never been there and wanted to look around but I’d convinced them that one was enough and we left a day early toward Krabi. We stayed there for a day as we rode around on motorbikes and ate more food. The next stop was where I really wanted to be. I hadn’t been to Tonsai or Railay in years and was anxious to see how much it had changed. On arriving I could definitely tell there were some changes. Mainly, that East Railay is actually a big resort spot now instead of the shady side compared to the west. Is that a good thing? Not really, but they do have a pier and I’m sure they enjoy that. The first sunset told me one thing for sure. That it was still paradise, even if its more crowded.


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We met up with some friends our first night that had been traveling as well. They are also originally from Alaska and it was cool to have the group to travel with. We spent our first day in the sweltering heat trying to climb on the 1-2-3 Wall and Muay Thai wall before the crowds showed up.

Chris and Emma


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Emma


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After a bunch of people showed up and decided to start chain smoking at the base of a crag, which it doesn’t really matter who you are it makes you an inconsiderate person, we moved off to the Muay Thai wall.

Shasta was excited to make it to the top of this 6a.


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The awesome features of these walls are what lend to such interesting routes.


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We climbed until about noon at which point our bodies could take no more and we escaped to fruit shakes and air conditioned room. After about a mandatory 45 minute cool down session we headed back out to do some kayaking. We walked to Tonsai because it was cheaper but travelers have really started to make the Thai’s paranoid. Everyone here wants a passport as a deposit because they keep losing their boats and motorcycles somehow. Its weird. The lady we rented boats from told us about her stash of ID’s from people that never came back but would drop their boats off at West Railay and just let their drivers license be kept.

After some bargaining on what we felt okay leaving we headed off to the bay.


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Active folks everywhere.


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John had told us about a fun little tunnel next to West Railay and we found it really enjoyable. Enough that I turned us around to go through again.


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Chris paddling back to beat the sunset.


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Tons. Where else can you belay from the bar and rappel back to your beer?


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Climbing mecca for a reason.


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Some steep routes to be had.


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Strong locals.


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West Railay, busier but not yet ruined.


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Making our way back across the rocks from Tonsai.


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Classic Thailand.


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Trusty…sometimes…longtail boats.


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We ate on the beach and watched the boats go and pick up new people. The climbing wasn’t to hot (barely) and we’d survived the heat another day. Gotta love Thailand.

More to come!

(the photo below is for the TR thumbnail)
Thom falling on The Face &#40;5.12b&#41; <br/>
 <br/>
Thom falling on The Face (5.12b)


Credit: Prezwoodz

  Trip Report Views: 13,967
Prezwoodz
About the Author
Prezwoodz is a climber of all types from Alaska

Comments
splitclimber

climber
Sonoma County
  May 30, 2015 - 12:12pm PT
Awesome Prezwood. Some great colorful pictures in there.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  May 30, 2015 - 03:18pm PT
Very different from Alaska, PW. Love that limestone action. Really good pix. I enjoy your rambles a lot.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  May 30, 2015 - 04:37pm PT
Fantastic! You have a great eye behind the lens. Add to that a colorful culture and some obviously nice SLR hardware and you have a legendary TR in the making!
Keep it coming!

Scott
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  May 31, 2015 - 11:02pm PT
Thanks for the replies guys! I hope to keep it interesting!

In that note, how about some deep water soloing? Oh yeah. Thats what I wanted to do here for sure. The last two times I was in Thailand I didn't get out and do any deep water soloing, which sort of seems like a crime.

We chartered a boat from Hard Rock climbing and headed out the next morning.


Apparently todays menu consisted of two areas at Ko Poda. Us and about 30 other people all showed up at the same time. We figured we could try asking for a different place but it looked pretty awesome so we hopped in.


Shasta making the leap.


This was definitely the fun section. You climbed up the ladder and over the stalagtite and then traversed left to the large hanging one. Then spanned across to it and up. I didn't get any pictures but did make the climb and jump. It was amazing.


This guy made it about 4ft higher then bailed.


We had met a few other cool climbers from Tucson, Arizona and they decided to join us on the DWS boat. Here is Matt taking the jump.


Shasta on the traverse. This was a pretty fun traverse with probably one or two 5.10 moves on it.


Shasta and Leesa (sorry if I spelled it wrong!).


Chris was dropped off for some steep and sharp overhanging climbing. They forgot to tell him it was super shallow and he got a bit scrapped up on the bottom.


Leesa on the traverse.


After an awesome day of getting abused by the water, I'd taken two jumps at over 65ft, we headed back to hard land.


The group! Emma, Chris, Leesa, Matt and Shasta.


Here is my latest attempt at a little world shot! Thaiwand Wall.



martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Jun 1, 2015 - 06:29am PT
These are just great pics! Keep them coming please!
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Jun 1, 2015 - 07:17am PT
These are just great pics! Keep them coming please!
Travis Haussener

Trad climber
Salt Lake City
  Jun 1, 2015 - 08:00am PT
TFPU!!!
climbski2

Mountain climber
The Ocean
  Jun 1, 2015 - 08:12am PT
Always feel Lucky when I see one of Kelsey's TRs on the ST. Once again... does not disapoint!

this just in

climber
Justin Ross from North Fork
  Jun 1, 2015 - 09:58am PT
So good, thanks.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 2, 2015 - 09:37am PT
Thanks for the comments everyone! As requested, here's more!

The next day would be our last on Railay and despite the sadness of having to leave such a beautiful area we were able to fight through it and go on a hike to the princess lagoon. This lagoon is often overlooked by many travelers as its not heavily advertised. Most don’t even seem to know that its there. We hiked the muddy path and climbed down to the lagoon where we found only the silence of the beautiful walls of limestone…and the loudness of American travelers. So for from all my travels the loudness goes like this > Chinese, Japanese, Americans, French. They are interchangeable depending on the place. Still, we managed some great swimming in the saltwater lagoon.


Shasta and Rena enjoying the cooler waters.


The hike back out was interesting. Shasta and I didn’t find it to be any issue and in fact had fun on the sections where climbing was mandatory. Rena is not a climber and found it a bit scarier but overall she cruised it!


Heading up to the tunnel.


Waiting for Shasta.


One of the steeper sections where Rena had to do some climbing, I’m not sure she realizes she just climbed 5.5 or 5.6.



Shasta following. I really liked the shadows inside the walls.



Want to get to the lagoon? Go that way.


Rena happy that the steep climbing is over.


There is also a viewpoint that we stopped at. A bunch of years ago (2006) I stopped at the same place and took a picture.

Now:


Before:


Lots of construction going in, but its still pretty beautiful and I still love the place.


On our hike back we ran into the local ruffians. While the shop owners aren’t to happy about them we were excited to get some shots. Some of these are beyond the measurable cute level.


Like this one.


Oh common…


And now….a flood of monkey pictures.



Thinking.


Do you think he’s to close for a picture?


Nope.


But don’t let them bite.





I know, I know…to many monkey pictures. Well, here’s one more.


Well that’s it for now! Off to edit some more.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 3, 2015 - 12:02am PT
bump :)
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 6, 2015 - 10:04am PT
For our last day in Krabi we thought it would be great to go to the Tiger Cave Temple. The highlight of the temple is the hike up the super steep stairs, 1277 in all. We rode our motorbikes to the temple and somehow found the way. We had to hurry though because the light was already fading.


The stairs were not easy to rush up.



But in decent time and sweltering heat we made it to the summit.




Under construction.


Rena barefoot amongst the buddhas.



Well the sun started to go down and that was our cue to run down and try to find our way back to Ao Nang in the dark on our motorbikes.


Oh ya, these again.


Breaks were needed.


After the temple we got ready for our trip to Koh Tao. I’d never been there before and it would be my first real area in Thailand I’d never been. While it is great to see so many things again I was excited about getting to experience something new. The next post is about that and included beautiful waters, diving, and some awesome rock climbing!
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
  Jun 6, 2015 - 12:32pm PT
Wow dude! Thailand just went up on the priority list. Amazing shots. Really liked the monkey ones and the sunset three up is awesome! I want a print.

Looking forward to more dude!

Mike
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
  Jun 6, 2015 - 03:20pm PT
Are you going to Laos? Good travelling and climbing there
Mark Rodell

Trad climber
Bangkok
  Jun 6, 2015 - 04:27pm PT
You have taken so many fine photographs. Happy you went to the lagoon. I first came to Thailand in 93. I have been living here for twenty years and continue to enjoy it, but pictures like yours inspire me to get out more. Cheers. PS. While I live in Bangkok I am on the extreme Western edge next to a very large Buddhist park. If you have a layover, in Bangkok, and want to see the place (Phuddamonthon) drop me a line.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 7, 2015 - 07:58am PT
Alrighty, on to some climbing and awesome diving in Koh Tao.

First off this island is a snorkeling and diving paradise. In fact one of the guides on the island once snorkeled around the entire thing taking 14 hours. For us though we were really there for the diving. The diving is amazing, probably some of the best that I have done. The amount of sea life is incredible, especially considering the fact that the dive site was really close to a resort and a very well trafficked area.



The water clarity was absolutely incredible in this area.



After our dives we were allowed to jump from the top of the boat. I never really pass up a chance to jump off of something. Shasta shows her excitement mid jump.


We’d talked our friend Rena into doing a try dive and she became completely hooked.





There are some really beautiful places to stay in Koh Tao.


Rena contemplating the dive.

After a long day of diving we ate at our favorite little restaurant called Local Thai Food just in front of the Koh Tao Bouldering Wall (more on this soon.)

The next day we had planned climbing and some snorkeling.
This is Shark Bay where you can see black tip reef sharks just snorkeling! Well, its not guaranteed as we found out but apparently it is common.


Although it was just after the massive full noon party on another island and tons of people had showed up, you could still easily find a quiet beach.


Crystal clear water.


We did some diving as well and our friend did her first dive.

Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 7, 2015 - 08:01am PT
AP - We are definitely hoping to make it to Laos. keep an eye on the thread and hopefully that one will pop up too!

Mark - Thanks a lot for the offer! If I can help it I'll never have a layover in Bangkok again but I think it'll happen heh. I haven't been out to that park so it would be cool to see something new in BKK.

Thanks!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 7, 2015 - 08:20am PT
Now its time to get on to the fun! While we were eating at our local favorite food place I saw an advertisement for Koh Tao Bouldering Wall. I was pretty surprised to find that this little place had a bouldering gym. I wasn’t surprised to hear that it had climbing because the island is covered in granite boulders. After talking for a bit with Dan and Dave from the shop we decided to head out climbing at Climbers Cove. It requires a taxi at about $1000 baht, due to the fact that its down a super steep and dangerous hill. I’m hoping to be able to help them put a book together as the climbing potential on the island is significantly higher then I would have expected. They’ve got a bunch of bolted climbs up as well and I think it should be added to anyones Thailand climbing circuit. Its a really unique area and they’ve got some deep water soling on granite!

The area we went has some shorter climbs and is right on the sea. It’s great because its out of the sun in the afternoon. In another awesome twist, by sheer coincidence Matt and Leah who we’d met on Railay and hadn’t spoken to since, ended up booking a little trip with the same guys at the exact same time! It was quite a welcome surprise as we really enjoyed climbing with them. If only Chris and Emma had shown up too! The crew would have been back together.

Here’s Matt on the hardest climb in the area.


What starts out pretty easy turns hard right at this point.



They had hung a tarp and hammock to develop the routes. I was calling it Bikini Rock.


Shasta took the lead on this fun 5.9 while Dave looks on. David is the owner of Onsight Climbing. He’s an awesome guide if you need someone to show you around or to help get a taxi for any of the areas. He’s super knowledgable and really excited about the climbing scene in the area. Him and Dan have been putting up lots of great routes on the island.


Awesome features. The cracks opened up to quite a few trad lines.



After Shasta led the 5.9 it was Lezah’s turn to give it a go. Dave and Matt watching.


While there are lots of great holds they can be a little harder to find as Lezah was discovering.


Catching a little air.


Then finishing it off.


Excited.


The recent rains had loosened up the anchor a bit and so we backed it up until they could replace it. I’ll admit to giving Dave a skeptical look as he pounded this guy into the crack. I had to retract my look as it held the rest of the day.


At the end of the day we headed back and hung out at the bouldering gym for a few hours chatting.

this just in

climber
Justin Ross from North Fork
  Jun 7, 2015 - 10:05am PT
What a trip. You guys have this life thing figured out. Your photography is so good, thanks a lot. Gotta love diving in a swimsuit.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 8, 2015 - 11:20am PT
this just in - It was amazing! The water was 31 degrees celsius. Incredible.

Well its been awesome the last few weeks but its time to leave Thailand behind and head off to somewhere I’ve never been. So here’s my last images from Thailand! I hope you’ve enjoyed them.

We had just half a day left as Rena was heading back to Bangkok and she didn’t want to try and take the bus on her own. I don’t blame her as they can be a pain for sure. So we spent our last day trying to get a shot I’d wanted to get since we arrive. A picture I’d seen in a magazine had this amazing color beaches connected with a thin piece of sand.


A precarious walkway through giant boulders led to the viewpoint trail. These boulders have a j-tree quality to them.


And the viewpoint was amazing.


A look back toward Koh Tao.


Shasta braving the scorching heat for a little yoga.


There were a lot of snorkelers.


Rena taking in the view.




There were also some fun boulders at the summit. Shasta shot this picture.


We caught the ferry at 2:30 through Songserm. I’d been told by the tour guide that it was a crap boat and that peoples things go missing all the time. I figured I would just keep an eye on my bag but I didn’t expect this kind of piling on the back of the boat. I’m not surprised that things go missing.


We arrived in Chumphon and had a few hours to kill before our bus came. Now I know I’ve been posting tons of pictures of paradise in blue but I’ve got to post this one too. Tourism has its cost and everyone drinks bottled water. These bottles and the the plastic bags, which everyone here seems to be addicted too, are ended up in the water. Those things then end up mixed with the pollutants of soap and fuel. Then they end up on the bay. This was the dock. The beaches would look like this too if they didn’t get cleaned all the time. If you are a traveller please do your part to alleviate this strain. Say no bags, no straws, and tap water if its ok to drink. Why do we drink bottled water in Alaska? Looking at the damage done, it seems ridiculous.


Despite my best efforts we ended up back in Bangkok (Mark, I think we’ll be back this way too so I may be dropping you a line in the future as I’m not sure what else to do here). Shasta had looked up the top things to do on Trip Advisor and apparently the reclining buddha was one of the top 25. So we packed up our things and headed out.


That is a very large buddha. Here’s a bunch of pictures of it.






This is from words etched into glass.


Peekaboo.


Whew, and I think thats it for Thailand. Tomorrow, Siem Reap, Cambodia!

Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 11, 2015 - 09:46pm PT
Alrighty, since I am currently in Siem Reap outside of Angkor Wat I know I am going to inundate this thread with tons of temple photos. That can get a bit tedious for anyone willing to scan through them so hopefully breaking them up into a few different posts will help. Maybe, maybe not. Oh well, here goes.

Just a little moment of sadness:
The hustling bustling town of Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor Wat. It is located just a few kilometers from the temple. Those photos of clear skies and views of the temple are fading fast as the pollution of another Southeast Asian city. While they are growing quickly and expanding at surprising rates it is easy to see where they are paying for it. The water is quickly polluted, yesterday we saw a stream that was black, fully black with garbage floating in it that looked like it could be floating in space. It was amazing and a bit heartbreaking. Its important to note that its not just the Cambodians who are filling their lakes and streams with garbage. We the traveller as much, if not more to blame. We want to see everything and don’t have time to get used to drinking their water. Then in a bid to expand it gets polluted so fast they can’t drink it either. So everyone needs bottles, bottles of water all day long. They don’t recycle, its not part of the expansion plan. There is really know where for it all to go. I love to travel but in Southeast Asia I feel like my enjoyment comes at the pain of the land. Its all expanding to quickly with to many people.

Ok back to the photos.

We checked in at Rosy’s Guest Hostel and talked with Smiley, the owner, on where to go next. He suggested we do a tour that isn’t really on the map. We figured that we would spend a few days at the temples anyway so being off the beaten path sounded like a fun idea. The first stop was a temple with 630 stairs. We had flashbacks of the Tiger Cave Temple.


But this time the top was different.


Being away from the main complex these temples haven’t seen the same level of restoration.


We made the hike back down, ate a delicious $1 coconut and then made the drive to a small temple.


Temple construction.


The smaller temple was nice but we knew that wasn’t the main goal so I didn’t take many photos. The next stop along the trip was at Angkor Thom. While Angkor Wat is the most famous, Angkor Thom is larger in general size as the wall is huge. On a side note, if someone suggests a walk along the outer wall I’d suggest skipping it. While it was nice and quiet, it was pretty boring as there weren’t any temple features except one small one.

The North Gate




The entrance to Angkor Thom has dancers that are meant to be sultry.


Walking through the temple gives you an idea of what it must have been like living those days. Cramped.


The many faces of the temple are said to be a mix between the king of the time and buddha.




Some monks.


This monk posed for me. I’m not exactly sure how monks work over here but they are nothing like what I thought or had heard. Here is a list of things we saw monks doing:
1. Talking on Cellphones (you can see it in this monks hand)
2. Buying Things
3. Smoking cigarettes
4. Peeing on the side of Bayon Temple (Seriously) when a bathroom was nearby.
5. One walked by me and looking at the temple said “Oh My God.”
6. Taking pictures with iPhones, iPads, cameras
7. I watched a monk sneak a phone out of his pocket in front of the emerald buddha and secretively, because it is illegal to take a picture inside, snap a photo of the emerald buddha.

This list goes on too! They pretty much do what everyone else does here. I have to recreate my idea of a monk at this point.






Big temples!


With small features.




Maybe she’s secretively Cambodian?



Bayon temple.


Whew, thats it for temples! Except that I haven’t been to Angkor Wat and hope to go tomorrow so there will probably be another big drop of photos soon and of course lots of those will be temples. So hopefully you guys can take another temple barrage. Thanks again for looking!
this just in

climber
Justin Ross from North Fork
  Jun 12, 2015 - 06:16am PT
Seems like this place is a photographer's wet dream. I'd like to hear your photo count when it's all said and done. Have you taken any shots of the black streams and pollution you speak of? Reminded me of this Salgado photo below when you described the sad scene.
A shanty town built around a clean water pipe that flows to the upper class, I believe in India. They struggle for clean water, while they live on it.

Thanks Kelsey, I have enjoyed this TR so much and appreciate you taking the time to share it.
kev

climber
A pile of dirt.
  Jun 12, 2015 - 10:06am PT
Funny - the monks had cell phones 12 years ago over there too!


Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 14, 2015 - 08:56am PT
this just in - I haven't really taken many although I'm considering taking more. I don't seem to have my camera with me during the worst parts and I wondered why at first but it really is obvious. It's because the things we want to see we are funneled to. The black water, garbage, and other things seem like only momentary glimpses on the way to our destinations. Even though it is seen for a brief time though, it leaves a lasting impression.

kev - I'd believe it! I was really surprised to watch one pee on the side of the temple.
climbski2

Mountain climber
The Ocean
  Jun 14, 2015 - 09:06am PT
I don't even know where to begin... so I'll just say.. WOW!!!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 14, 2015 - 09:15am PT
Well I’m back again and once again I’m writing this late in the night so I apologize if there’s missing words or incomplete sentences.

After our trip to Angkor Thom we still had the main objective in mind. In fact we had a few things we wanted to see. They went as follows: Angkor Wat, a tree somewhere with a face behind it, and the trees growing over the temples. We didn’t know where the face or the temple trees were but we figured we’d find them somewhere. We woke up at 4:30 am for the sunrise at Angkor Wat. I wasn’t convinced it would be worth it but I figured what the heck.


There were boatloads of other tourists so we found ourselves a spot on the lawn and started shooting.




Then it started to get excessive.


All in all I must have taken about 200 photos in the span of about 20 minutes. Not bad considering I didn’t think it would be worth it at all.


There were even small bits of wildlife around.


And wonderful company.


After the onslaught of picture taking outside, which I came out with 15 edited photos, we headed in to the temple.


The worlds largest religious monument does not disappoint.


Here are the steep stairs heading into the upper area, which you can’t visit if you are wearing a tank top.


Small people in the outer garden.



Surprisingly it wasn’t hard to find ourselves alone.


After spending about 2 hours at the temple it was time to head on to somewhere else. I’d like to take a minute to share a bit of knowledge on visiting the temples. If you don’t mind the heat and biking, then renting a bike is probably a great way to do it. If you want something easy and reliable, then get a tuktuk to tour you around. Now, tuktuks are not always reliable and neither are their owners but you can get a good one if you go through the right channels. We are staying at a place called Rosy’s Guesthouse in Siem Reap where the owner is British. They have tuktuk drivers they keep an eye on to help you get a good one. Ours was named Sotare and he makes money to put himself through college. He was an awesome guy and super helpful the whole time. If you get a chance, ask for him. He’ll take great care of you and always be there with a smile.


We hopped into the Tuktuk and followed some elephants into one of the gates for Angkor Thom.


More temples.


Temple inhabitants.



We spent the next few hours walking around temples and braving a specific kind of humid heat. It penetrates and pulls the water from your body. Finally we made our way to Ta Prohm Temple. Many will recognize it as the temple from the movie Tomb Raider.


The beauty of this temple is that it actually hasn’t been fully restored yet.



These trees show the power of nature.


While walking through a small hallway I turned and said “there it is.” And we’d seen #2 on our list of things to see that day.



Turn another corner and there’s item #3!



We snapped a bunch of photos in-between swaths of uncaring chinese tourists and made our way back to the tuktuk. It was midday and time for a siesta in our air conditioned room.


Thats it for the temples for now. We have one more day here and then we’re headed south toward Vietnam. We won’t be there for another 4 days though so there will probably be more Cambodia pictures soon. A change of scenery though will put us into the coastline!
clockclimb

Trad climber
Orem, Utah
  Jun 15, 2015 - 08:59am PT
Fantastic photos and trip report! You are an exceptionally talented photographer.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 17, 2015 - 09:44am PT
Todays is a small one but I'm on the move so theres not a lot of photos. We decided to leave Siem Reap and did one last run to the rock gym for some working out.


We took the night bus over some relatively bumpy roads to a town called Sihanoukville, which I need to go on a rant on here for a minute. This town is a sort of pit that I don't think I can get out of fast enough. I'm writing this while I still have one more day here and we'll see if I don't get mugged or robbed before I go. We've had to pay bribes the first day driving around and talked with a group of people who were robbed. Someone came into their room while one of them was sleeping and stole all their stuff. We heard from two other people who'd been robbed as well. The police are in on it too, which is normal but still sucks. They have to lock up their motorbikes with extra cable near the beaches because they tend to get stolen. There are gangs of pickpocket thieves patrolling the beaches and beyond that its just not that great here. The waters ugly and the beaches, along with everywhere else, are full of garbage. So if you want to visit somewhere in Cambodia, go somewhere else. For those of you who live here or liked it here, sorry but your town needs help.

Rant over. On to the pictures!

We headed out to Phnom Penh to switch buses in the morning. Our long three hour wait gave us a first row seat to some Cambodian building tactics.


Then we headed off to Sihanoukville where we got a room at a place called Reaksmey Mean Rith, the room itself is actually really nice and only $14. I'm pretty sure the guy in the room across from us is a russian gangster so I'm hoping that it will dissuade any thieves.


We'd heard that the best climbing in Cambodia was down in this area but it was still a 2 hour drive away so we decided to go on a recon mission. Driving around in our little motorbike we found a beach with a few boulders on them. The climbing actually ended up being really enjoyable with lots of different problems to be had.



Shasta on a really enjoyable V0.


The hardest we climbed was probably in the V2-V3 range, especially considering we didn't have any crash pads.



Thats it for now. We're going on some island tour tomorrow if the weather holds out and then hopefully when we come back we will have some gear to come back to.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jun 17, 2015 - 03:14pm PT
So great!

What kind of camera and lens are you using again?
Brobdignagian

Sport climber
Phoenix, AZ
  Jun 18, 2015 - 10:39am PT
I had to sign back in the first time in a long time to say - these photos are so great! Thank you for sharing.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 21, 2015 - 06:51am PT
Mungeclimber - Thank you! I've got quite a bit of kit with me here. I think it would surprise most how much I'm doing this long travel with. Here's what I brought.

Canon 5DMK3
Canon 24-105mm
Canon 70-200mm
Samyang 14mm
Canon 2x Extender III
Canon TC80N3 Remote Trigger
3 Batteries

And thats just the camera gear! Its heavy but worth it.

Brobdignagian - Thanks for the comment!


Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 21, 2015 - 06:54am PT
Oops. Double Post.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 21, 2015 - 07:05am PT
Ok so its time to finish off Cambodia and head to Vietnam! We took our island tour to Koh Rong on the Sunshine boat which seemed pretty nice. It had a good comfortable atmosphere and the first thing they did was stop for some really bad snorkelling. You could hardly see anything due to bad water quality and you had to float around the garbage. Jellyfish were snorkeling too and stung often. There were some run down looking places along the way.


The island of Koh Rong itself is interesting. Apparently about 3 years ago there wasn't really anything on the island and now all the lands been pretty well purchased on the shore line. The beach is pretty and theres a little walk they take you on where you can walk right through environmentally important mangrove swamps.



The ground was a bit squishy and our guide kept saying there were snakes and crocodiles so there were lots of worried girls. Except Shasta who smiles at fear.



While that was interesting there really wasn't much to see. There are some birds but its a quiet island. So we walked back out to the beach which is pretty nice for dipping.



After a few hours we headed back to the boat while a few afternoon clouds rolled in.


Quickly.


We made it back to the dock with about 1/5 of the boat throwing up. The seas that had been glass the last few days were rocking the boat side to side and we nearly crushed the side as they attempted to dock. Then we pushed off at full speed and went into a harbor. It was a fun end to an enjoyable day. Finally, we're off to Vietnam!
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
  Jun 21, 2015 - 07:22am PT
Good stuff Kelsey!! How many pics would you say you've snapped since the trip started??
feralfae

Boulder climber
Montana, on the Divide and around.
  Jun 21, 2015 - 07:28am PT
Kelsey,
Your photos and commentary add up to a really great TR. Thank you for sharing!
Great use of color and especially to see places I have not yet been.
feralfae
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 21, 2015 - 07:33am PT
eKat - Thanks for looking and commenting!

feralfae - Thank you for the comment! Its is much appreciated!

BigMike - Your question made me go and look for the first time this trip. I'm at just about 10,000 images taken for the trip so far.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 24, 2015 - 07:39pm PT
Looks like I'm finally able to get started on Vietnam! So here we go.

We took the most uncomfortable night bus in the world from Sihanoukville back to Phenom Pehn and then across the border to Ho Chi Mihn city, also known as Saigon. These night buses are a test in patience and what you can endure sometimes. We chose a bus that had seats that were pre reclined most of the way toward laying down. What we got instead was a bed that was entirely flat. That would have been alright had it not been only about 4' 9" long. This was a bit of an issue to Shasta and I who had to share the sleeper bed and are 5' 10" each. Oh well, we've had small sleeping areas before so maybe it wouldn't be so bad. But whats this? This AC is directly above our bed giving us about 18" worth of headspace. Oh and its leaking all over the bed. Well crap. It was a frustrating and annoying night. But in the end we made it to Saigon where we'd decided to spend a few days to see a few museums and sights.

Shasta had looked up the top 10 things to see in the city so we headed off to the first few. The first one we came across happened to be a post office. While I found it interesting and somewhat neat, I was surprised it could be a top 10 thing to see. Here it is.


Across the street is another oddity. The Notre Dame Cathedral.



We had one specific place in mind that we intended to see while we were in Saigon, the War Remnants Museum. My dad had fought in the Vietnam War and I'd never really had the courage to ask him much about it. One time Shasta did ask him about it and his response was, "you ask to many questions." There are a lot of things I think he wouldn't have minded us asking about but this didn't appear to be one of them.


I didn't take many photos but I thought the museum was actually really good. It didn't glorify the war in any side. It seemed like a more matter of fact point of view and it didn't need propaganda one way or the other, its easy to see that atrocities happened on both sides. This really stuck out to me.


The next day we headed out to the Cu Chi tunnels. The traffic in Ho Chi Mihn is mad, truly mad. Our guide told us there are 12 million people in the city and 7 million motorbikes.


They dropped us first by the normal "buy something" tourist spot where disabled vietnamese were making art.


Then it was off to the tunnels. First they made us watch a 20 minute film that they called a documentary. What it really was is just a propaganda video from the war. It talked about how people won awards called "American Killer" and just continued a narrative of hate toward the US. While I don't think its quite time to just let bygones be bygones I don't think this specific type of thing is a good step toward peace. Basically I didn't like the video, but is it just because I'm an American? Am I not able to look beyond that?

This is one of the small entrances where the Vietnamese would crawl out and then jump back in. The entrances were made so that American soldiers wouldn't fit. Sure enough, I didn't and this one had been enlarged!


Other entrances had been made larger however so that we could explore the tunnels depths.


We crawled along for over 100 meters of tunnels.


They really were ingenious.


Bet the American soldiers wish one of these had been around at that time.


Then we left right before the rains hit. The next day we flew to Hai Phong. We'd intended to bus or train but a 30 hour ride like the one we had before would probably kill our will to travel. So we took a painless trip on Jetstar and headed off toward Cat Ba Island. We took a taxi, then a boat and finally we were here. Those are almost all fishing boats, if you think they over fish their waters, they do for sure.


At night they light up their shores.


We were anxious to get out and do some rock climbing as we felt like we hadn't done much in a while and were feeling soft. So we hopped on a boat with Asia Outdoors and headed out to the islands. The first place we stopped was Moody Beach. We had about 4 hours to climb 6 routes so we went to work!

A beautiful setting.


We climbed quite an efficiently and finished all 6 before lunch. We were feeling partially bushed but had saved enough energy for supposably classic 4 pitch 5.10c on the SloPony Wall. We headed over after lunch and jumped into it.


The first pitch climbs in a cave and has some interesting features.


I wish we'd taken a picture of the second pitch. It is just classic. You have to traverse out of the cave on moves up to 5.10c and its just awesome exposure. From there we linked the next two pitches. Shasta ended up taking a fall at the traverse so it took us a while to work that out and it scared her quite a bit but she held it tough and we headed to the top.



Awesome exposure from the hanging belay.


A not so happy Shasta.



We made it to the top and started our rappel. The rappel is a bit interesting because we were told to go to the top of the third pitch and rap to the anchor for another climb but the top of the third pitch was a bastard to get to. So we headed to the top of the second and then almost made it to the ground from there but still had to go to the top of the other climb. From there our ropes were full on in the water. Bummer, then it started to rain pretty hard. In swinging onto the boat, because the tide came up and the base was under water, I slammed into the side and made a rather awkward entry. But we made it right as the big rain came.


The route goes up the right gash and finishes in the upper cave.


Tiger Beach with more climbs on the left.


The next day we weathered our first Typhoon / Hurricane! Today we're hoping to get back to the rock and take some picture adventures. So more soon!
Phil_B

Social climber
CHC, en zed
  Jun 25, 2015 - 03:40am PT
Oh wow. Those are great pics man! Cleo and I were there (Thailand) two years ago and had a great time. Well, she didn't like the heat that much, but by the time we made it to Chiang Mai, the heat had broken and we spent a great month there.

Actually, it was my favorite climbing spot because the local climbing shop had such a great deal where they'd take you to the crag, feed you lunch and provide you with water for a very good price.

Keep 'em coming man. Looking at the heat makes me yearn for summer again. We're here in NZ and a couple of days ago, Mt. Cook was colder than Mt. Everest. Brr.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 26, 2015 - 07:25pm PT
Phil - It was pretty darn hot down in Railay. We my not get to Chiang Mai on this trip as we're hoping to go to Malaysia, although that volcano eruption has probably changed where we go. Its that cold down in NZ right now? Yikes! It looks like we chose the right time to visit at the beginning of this trip!

Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jun 26, 2015 - 08:27pm PT
Ok I'm going to make this one relatively short because I'm excited about the one after it, mainly because the shots are Amazing!

We took the day off of climbing and headed to The Hospital Cave. There's a lot to see here so we're interspersing our climbing days with sightseeing.

Cave features.


The entrance to the cave has a scene setup of what it may have looked like. They covered them in plastic to preservce the scene and its a bit eerie.


The entire inside was built through with cement. It is really impressive.


And a bit Eerie. The walls are falling in on me!




Around every corner, we thought we'd seen a ghost.


One of the larger caverns.


Local residents.



Then we went for a moto ride across the island to the other side. Beautiful views!



I thought I saw this stick blowing across the ground. Turns out it was walking.



Now its off to edit the photos of our next climbing day. Unfortunately the internet here is super slow on the upload so this could take a while@!
rodermck

Social climber
san jose ca.
  Jun 28, 2015 - 12:04am PT
Wow!!.. Omg!!. It can't get any better have never seen anything better on this beautiful in chanting part of the world it made me feel like I was there with your writing and pictures there was nothing that wasnt covered from temples to the cuties little monkies that seemed to enjoy your company and picture taking with more than enough climbing pictures to know this was a climbing trip and to discover the other many wonders this part of the world has to offer enjoyed the journey with you Thaiks will be looking forward to other adventures and journeys you might do!!. Cheers!!..
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 1, 2015 - 09:17am PT
Thanks rodermck for following along with us!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 1, 2015 - 09:18am PT
Ok this is going to be a pretty huge post but I think its going to be awesome. Mainly because there will be tons of climbing photos in it. After our day of visiting caves and exploring around the island we decided to get back on the boat and head to a climbing area called The Face. We went with the awesome people at Asia Outdoors who runs the trips here. This one wasn’t actually a trip but they invited us along on their day off. We hopped in a basket boat with our faithful driver Tubien (I am almost definitely spelling this wrong) and headed out. Its interesting passing the houses that sit on the water all along the bay.


This area is incredible. This is the Ha Long and Lan Ha bay area. Tons of potential for anyone willing to put in some time.



After a bit of a harrowing ride across the rather turbulent waters we finally made it to our destination. The amazing face that sits by itself. Its called The Face of course.


Here comes a huge selection of photos that will probably be very similar.
Here’s Liz on the first route a definite five star 5.12b, which is probably closer to 5.11c but still amazing.




She was cruising the route but at one awkward section came off. Then she finished it to the top.


Nick Benson was the next to hop on and was happy the shade was still on the wall.


A lot of wall left and it just keeps leaning back.


Mono’s.


The view from the photo ledge.


Next was Thom who took a few nice falls.


Once the sun hit the wall the temperatures heated up fast but the climbing kept on. Here’s Shasta.


Ross enjoying his last week in the bay.



Okay so I know that a lot of these pictures are all the same angle and everything but come on! This place was fantastic.



And if you are wondering about the right side of the wall there is a 5.12c on that side that is also pretty good, and just as good at spitting people off.


Except for Liz who apparently doesn’t like to let go.



Even she got a little air.


The heat finally got to us and we headed back to the boat for a little deep water soloing. There are quite a few areas here and they are usually tide dependent as they don’t have ladders like Thailand.


We climbed around for a bit and took some good falls but it was time to head back to shore. The crew was pretty exhausted from all the heat. From left to right - Ross, Shasta, Thom, Tubien, Benny, and Liz. Thanks guys!


Alright, after all that I’m sure we can all use a break on photos of The Face. So the next day Shasta and I slept in since we were knackered. After finally crawling out of bed we headed to a cave that Thom had told us about. Inside we found quite a few things alive.

Crabs


Spiders


Leopard Gecko, which I believe is the first I’ve ever seen in the wild!


The cave also had some really neat features.



Frogs.


The cave finally ended and we went back to our motorbike. On the way back to town I saw that the sun was going down and I’d been wanting to see if we could catch a sunset from the top of the hill behind town, so I took a sharp turn and headed up. There is much more then just a parking area on this hill as it has remnants from the previous wars. Heres a giant French canon.


There were other living things on the short trail.


Ants, why did it have to be ants.


We got there a bit late and I shot only a few photos to try and show the beauty of the setting sun.


Whew, I actually have more to post but I’ll take a short break and then more DWS photos. Thanks again everyone for checking it out! We’ve got one month left and I hope to show quite a few more places before we go.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 1, 2015 - 07:14pm PT
Climbing bump!@
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 4, 2015 - 10:23am PT
I’m in Hanoi, Vietnam and its midnight. We’ve just finished watching the new Terminator movie at a 4dx theatre where the seats move and water sprays you. Interesting and fun as well. I figure I should post up a small bit before heading off to sleep.

The next day we continue our run of climbing with a day of deep water soloing at Three Brothers Wall.


There are lots of great variations on problems and plenty of fun lines on this wall.


Shasta leaping from the top.


For the second half of the afternoon we headed back to Hawaii 5-0 Wall and played around in the sun.



Go as high as you want, but it gets steep quick!



After burning ourselves out we headed back to Cat Ba island, passing the floating houses along the way.


We then really got treated! We were lucky enough to see Cat Ba Langurs, one of the worlds most endangered primates.





We finally crashed the boat into the dock for another awesome successful day out on the bay. I love this place.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 5, 2015 - 11:49am PT
Time to finish up Vietnam.

For our last full day and to get a bit of a rest we hiked through Cat Ba National park up to the top of a peak. It was hot. That kind of hot that sticks to you, drags you down, and then lays a wet hot blanket on top of you but we made it.


Shasta feeling the heat.


The beautiful park is relatively unspoiled.



On the way down we ran into a reptile friend.


Watchu lookin at?


I’m outta here.



But not until after my meal!


You’re next buddy.


Well thats it for me. A relatively tame ending to Vietnam. There will be a few more pictures but nothing crazy. I’m in Vientiane, Laos now and headed to the climbing. Will see how it goes!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 11, 2015 - 10:02pm PT
Its time to get started on the awesome country that is Laos. We flew from Hanoi to Vientiane because the 30 hours of bus on crazy roads through a border crossing just didn’t sound like that much fun. The flight was painless as Hanoi has a really nice airport and we were in Laos before long. Vientiane is the capital of Laos and is surprisingly expensive. Rooms were about $20-30 and didn’t really give you much. We’re also not much into the city so we headed right off to Thakhek, our main destination that was supposed to be the climbing area. We got a crazy nice room at the Inthira Hotel, rented a motorbike, and headed right to the climbing area. There is usually a camping area in the valley itself but its closed because of the rainy season. We hoped that the climbing would still be possible.


It was intimidating quickly as many of the routes are greatly overhanging. This cave is full of routes. The nice thing about the really steep ones is that many of them have permanent draws. Its interesting to find here for sure.


We warmed up by bouldering around on a climb called Elephant Man, party just to show the super cool features of the area. This is the start of the climb.


The first day we climbed hard and took no pictures. This was day two, when I thought I’d give something steep a try. Its called Hanging Gardens and is a 5.11d. The wetness of the route mixed with the steepness and a bit of a bee attack helped me get about 4 draws from the finish. Here’s shasta and on attempt.


I mentioned it was steep right? Unfortunately we are the only two people here, in the entire climbing area. So I didn’t have the opportunity for more pictures but its pretty amazing here. Lots of climbs and even a decent guidebook.


After that day we decided to see some sights. I’d split my fingernail right down the middle lunging for a hold and didn’t feel like grabbing anymore rock for a few days. We talked around town and settled on the Thakhek loop. A popular motorbike trip through the countryside that usually takes 4-5 days. We took our bike from Mad Monkeys, packed our bags (which we left at the hotel), and headed off. The potential for new climbing in this country blows my mind. This cliff is along the way, its probably 400+ ft tall.


Our first day we rode for 2 1/2 hours to a place called Phosy Guesthouse. It is a nice guesthouse located on what is often a river or small lake. Currently its a really small pond due to the lack of water the country is having. We read books on the bridge.


The scenery around the lake was quite beautiful however.


Our room was the first one in the building on the left. Not bad for $6 per night.




Also the French had previously spent some time colonizing Laos and there are some lasting remnants such as this game, Boule. We played with some of the locals and the owner of Mad Monkey Motorbike shop in a 2 on 2 match. They are pretty darn good.


The next morning we had our breakfast and headed off to the next days destination, Konglor Cave which is the main destination of the trip. As we drove through what was supposed to be a lake we found the devastation that can be brought by a dam. It had filled the area and killed the trees. Now without water it was just a wasteland.


Another much needed rest stop on the trip was this watering hole. We turned off the main road and drove through cow pastures and the occasional village until it ended. This is where we found what the call a “cold water spring”. Its funny that most of their water is so warm they actually name the cold ones!



And it was really cold!


After going for a nice swim and having the area all to ourselves we were joined by a local family traveling through. They decided we were a bit of a spectacle and took out their iPhones to record us swimming, getting out of the water, walking, saying hi, pretty much everything. Its oddly common here. I looked over the shoulder of the lady and she was taking a picture of Shasta’s midsection…a little strange. We posed for pictures with the lady and her family, all while in our bathing suites and then took off fast. It was nice to have it to ourselves.


Thats it for now! More soon but now its time for lunch!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 13, 2015 - 04:28am PT
Alright time to finish Laos. Yes its been way to short but its the last few weeks and its off to Myanmar! If there's anyone still out there looking at this then shout out. I'm wondering if I'm not just typing to myself! heh.

We arrived in Konglor Village after only one flat tire. The town is small and if it wasn’t for the numerous guesthouses you wouldn’t even know that it was a tourist destination. While getting our tire fixed Shasta was shown how to weave by a local.


And after finally getting rain the rice season was on.



The limestone…oh the limestone was everywhere.


The people here in Laos are kind and friendly. We walked by the rice fields and they smiled and waived Shasta over. Soon she was pulling rice like the best of them.


Well, maybe like the newest ones of them.


The whole area, and indeed most of the country that we saw, is lined with beautiful scenery of sharp limestone towers and formations.


Grumpy livestock.


Locals.



Finally it was time to see what this cave was all about. We drove the 1km to the entrance and paid for the boat tour through the cave.


The cave is massive! The caverns were plenty and you can ride on a motorboat through the entire cave. It would be better if it wasn’t motorized, hopefully that’ll happen in the future.


But there were so many different incredible features.


Other boats going by deep inside the cave. This is probably around 1km from the entrance.


When you come out on the other side they take you on a quick trip up the river.


Then its back in for the return.



If you’re wondering how big the cave is, look for the people in the boat in this picture.


The entrance.



That was it for our time in the cave. It was an incredible experience which I highly recommend. We got back on the bike and did the long ride back to Thakhek, closing our loop.


Next post will probably be from Myanmar! So stay tuned.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 13, 2015 - 07:34pm PT
Bump because...
Rock Eagle

Trad climber
Central Coast
  Jul 13, 2015 - 10:28pm PT
Thanks for posting these wonderful pictures and narrative.

How do you make the small world pictures?
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
  Jul 14, 2015 - 12:04am PT
Rock on, Kelsey.....your pictures and your adventures inspire and amaze....good for you;..I am proud to be your friend. By example, you inspire us to explore, learn, grow, and have fun. Good for you!;....hope to see you as soon as possible for some climbs!....Thanks again for sharing and going for it!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 14, 2015 - 11:24pm PT
Rock Eagle - The little world shots are two 360 degree pano's and then stitched together in a special program.

Tami - Thanks for looking in! I'll have more in a few days for sure. Its off to Myanmar tomorrow.

Todd - Thanks! I really appreciate the comments and I still love talking about the fundraiser. It was such a great opportunity to come down, do some good, and talk to some awesome people. That includes making new awesome friends! Are you going to Facelift? I just got my plane ticket!

this just in

climber
Justin Ross from North Fork
  Jul 16, 2015 - 07:20am PT
Dude, you are planning my next vacation. Unreal the quality of pics and scenery you guys are experiencing.
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
  Jul 16, 2015 - 09:36am PT
Beautiful work!

Having been to most of these places you've really done a fine job capturing the beauty and wonder of SE Asia!
And, all the work you've put into this is really appreciated.
My daughter is off to Burma in a week to start her new job. I really encouraged her as it is a cool place to explore and wonderful people despite their struggles.

Anyway keep it coming! I'm headed back that way the end of the month-usually a sad time for me leaving the US, but your images have psyched me up to look with new eyes-thanks!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 19, 2015 - 02:10am PT
Thanks everyone for the comments and letting me know there’s someone out there willing to actually read all this! So now I’m going to start a post that I really didn’t think i’d be writing at the beginning of this trip report. We decided, way back in Alaska, that Myanmar is still dangerous and just not a good idea to visit. This is a common theme among Americans, be afraid of everything that doesn’t include a 5 star resort or a beach. Normally I like to think I’m beyond that but this time I was also caught up in the game. When we were in Thailand we talked with a few people who mentioned Myanmar and got a little excited. They really seemed to love the place and all we heard were good things. The basic statement about Myanmar was this, “GO NOW! Hurry before all the tourists find it!”

We decided to listen to them and booked a ticket to Mandalay. When we arrived we first noticed how quiet the streets seemed. I’m not sure if this is common on a day to day basis but the highways are relatively uncrowded, which seemed strange for a country with 54 million people. The city was crowded but not Vietnam crowded so it still seemed not to bad. We made our way to Hotel A1, which is a pretty decent place to stay and headed out to the temples. Here’s a disclaimer. Does anyone remember all the temples from Thailand way back when in this thread? Hopefully not because Myanmar is the land of temples. By the time we get to Bagan you’ll probably be feeling like we do. Its a common thing called “temple fatigue”. You see so many temples you just sort of stop caring. Hopefully you won’t hit that point here, I’ll try to intersperse it with climbing, monkeys, and snakes. Well, off to adventure!

The first place we went in Mandalay was the Golden Palace. It’s located inside a huge walled complex that is 8 miles in circumference and has a moat. It’s in the middle of the city too, which also gives it an interesting appeal. We are in Myanmar in the low season so it was quiet as well.



The temple was made of wood but ornately colored.






We like to break up our temples a bit so we headed back and had some shakes. Shasta’s is pineapple and mines dragonfruit.


In continuing with our climbing adventures, we’ve so far climbed in each country we visited this trip, we searched out the climbing near Mandalay. According to the interweb there was climbing nearby we just had to get in contact with the local climbing club. We facebooked them and heard back pretty quickly. Then as the time approached we couldn’t get a hold of them at all. It was starting to look grim for climbing as we were now in Myanmar and they just were not answering. There were some super basic directions on Mountain Project and we started to ask taxi’s how much it would cost to get to the monastery where the climbing was located. First taxi said it’d take 1 1/2 hours, 60-70$ should do it. We ran away to the next guy and he quoted us $20 for the ride out 3 hours of climbing and the ride back. That should do! The next morning we woke up early and hopped in the car to head out to a place called Waterfall Hill. Apparently it has the first route in Myanmar as well as plenty of others. The area is beautiful and definitely the best part about the climbing. You have to walk past monks and through the monastery and the climbing is right on the road. It had a Seward Highway kind of feel, complete with mediocre rock quality and falling debris. We roped up for a 5.10c and I pulled multiple blocks off on the ascent. Shasta climbs the now cleaner route.


The Mild 7.



We had an audience for most of the day.



Beyond the humans watching there were plenty of other occupants at the monastery.


The Fire Wall area.


Protective mothers.


Dang that’s an angry one armed monkey.


Gluttons.


We tired out of throwing rocks at each other, some of the blocks are big and scary and one of the decent sized rocks I knocked off hit Shasta’s camera and caused it not to work for a while. So we hopped back in the taxi and headed toward our hotel. On the way back we came to a crowd in the road where they’d found a large Burmese Python.



This one was at least 8 ft long and the villagers were quite scared of it. The taxi driver even declared it super poisonous before I told him otherwise.


Shasta getting a little pet on the snake.


After returning to our hotel we took a rest and headed back out for another temple. That ones next, but its different then the other temples so that’s cool….right?!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 19, 2015 - 02:13am PT
Dehli Dog -

I'm really impressed with it here. It's beautiful and still unspoiled. What's your daughter doing here for work?

this just in - If your serious about planning your next vacation and if you are hoping to climb during it let me know. I've got a map I've been keeping about all the awesome places.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 19, 2015 - 06:03pm PT
After climbing we had lunch and then headed out to our next destination. The Golden Palace Monastery, which is not located inside the golden palace itself. The king that came after the one who lived in the building thought it haunted so he had it moved outside the palace. Then in WWII the palace was basically bombed to oblivion so this building was the only survivor. Pretty awesome considering its uniqueness. The whole building is intricate woodwork.



The carvings on the building are just awesome.


Beautiful ladies adorn the temple as well.





The inside is a sleeping chamber.



Shwenandaw Monastery (the Golden Palace Monastery) is one of the most unique I had seen, it was made almost entirely of teak wood. Across the street was another temple, this one was wide open inside and a different construction than any others we would see.





After that rather nice building we headed over to Kuthadow Pagoda and what they call the Worlds Largest Book. Its not really a book but some huge tablets. Sometimes when you’re going into these temples you get an ancient statue in a calm and peaceful pose. Other times you get something entirely different. This Buddha came with rotating lights and flashing colors.



Hows that temple fatigue going? Well heres a squirrel eating upside down to give you a little break.


That was the end of our trip to Mandalay for pictures, the next day it was off to Bagan. We knew that there plenty of other temples and what not to see in Mandalay but Bagan is land of the temples and we didn’t want to fully burn out before going there!

So the next post, which I may start writing now is going to be about the city of Bagan. There’s a lot of temples but its different I swear! I’ll try and make it interesting, maybe use some wit, possibly some photo shenanigans. Who knows.
scaredycat

Trad climber
Berkeley,CA
  Jul 19, 2015 - 07:57pm PT

Nice reptile. Too much climbing, though.
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
  Jul 20, 2015 - 10:06am PT
Prez- daughter will be the K-12 Librarian at one of the main American International School there.

We were in Myanmar a couple winters ago and really loved the place. Bagon was really cool-land of temples indeed! And fairly quiet beaches still.
I did a bunch of salt water fly fishing while there as well. Trippy place. We're headed back probably this year to visit again.

a small sampling if you're interested.

http://www.chriskemperphotography.com/Travel/MyanmarBurma/21035932_pChxNt#!i=1672504339&k=hnHbgWk

and
http://www.chriskemperphotography.com/Travel/MyanmarBurma2/21168463_7fpsjS#!i=1684420943&k=4Gkn5zX
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 20, 2015 - 08:07pm PT
Alright, now lets start with Bagan. Bagan temples have been in various states of building and repair for the last 900 years. Some of the temples are originals, others are new or rebuilt. We got a place in New Bagan, which isn’t a bad town and includes our new favorite place to eat. Plus the rooms are cheaper then they are in Old Bagan. It’s not cheap here but its definitely worth a few days visit. We rented e-bikes, which is basically the only way i’d want to visit these temples, and headed out at 5am the next morning. I’d seen a bunch of pictures when I was looking up the area to visit and they all were sunrise or sunset so we knew we had to try and get the shot.

We are currently in the rainy season, I think, and so there were plenty of clouds to obscure the sunrise. We still hoped we could get some good shots as it slowly came up.



We were on the quiet sunrise temple, which was different then the one all the tour busses showed up for. Here you can see the tourists arriving for sunrise.


Getting better…


Then it got really good! Seriously, can you believe this place exists?



This is the biggest temple that they made or is remaining. It is so big that just after it was finished they had to close up the middle pathways and windows because it couldn’t support its own weight.


I know theres a lot of similar shots here…but I couldn’t help it.


Here’s a stylized version.


This is considered the most beautiful temple. It’s called Ananda temple.



What if we look the other way? More temples!



Temple ghosts.


And so the sun had risen.


We hopped on our e-bikes, you have to use electric bikes because it’s illegal for foreigners to rent anything here that doesn’t have pedals, and rode to the big temple - Dhamma-yan-gyi.


Kids play in the open passages asking, “You want postcard? Where you go? Where you from?” I don’t even care where I’m from anymore its been asked so much.


Steep passageways. These are actually stairs that more closely resemble ladders.


Don’t turn a corner to fast. Those are bees.


Steep.


We cruised over to the Ananda temple for another tour through the popular ones.



Many temples include artwork. Some of the artwork is from the 13th century!


Here is Shasta getting her photo taken in Ananda temple. This is something that we didn’t expect and has been a bit weird getting used too. We are tourist attractions here. We’re constantly being asked to have our pictures taken, often with each member of an entire family. They laugh and smile and use their cellphones to snap away. Did we come here for them or did they come for us?


Ok thats a good start and to be honest thats most of it. The next day we went back to the temples and when we get internet again I’ll upload those pictures to post but their won’t be so many, so don’t worry about that temple fatigue!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 20, 2015 - 08:11pm PT
Dehli Dog - That's pretty awesome. Shasta's been gauging every city for climbing ability and smoggyness to decide if we should move here so she can teach at one of the international schools. She's been really considering it heavy.

Great pictures! Glad someone takes pictures of the people, I'm bad at that! :)
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 22, 2015 - 07:07am PT
I was trying to upload and post my final Myanmar photos but the internet here in Yangon is so bad it's just not working. So I'm bumping this instead...Bump.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 23, 2015 - 07:14pm PT
The next day we decided to head out in the middle of the day and ride our bikes through the uncovered countryside on our motorbikes. We burned a bit and had one small motorbike laydown but otherwise came out unscathed. You guessed it, here’s more temples. The temples are surrounded by farms which is kind of cool because they actually seem to care about the temples.


This is a completely normal mode of transportation in Bagan. Horse drawn carts are big there.


We dedcided to see if we could get a different view for sunset and went on a recon mission. This is from the other side of the complex than what I have posted before.


Temple features.


Despite all our looking the temple we found for sunset was under a heavy cloud of rain when it came time. So we drove around for a while and ended up back on the same one we were at before. But the colors were a bit different so here’s a few pictures.



Now that was wonderful to watch.



We headed back from the sunset in the rain and both got flat tires. We ended up walking about 2km pushing our bikes through sand and the dark, we had one headlamp and one headlight on the bikes. It was a bit of a mess of an end to the day but what can you expect from a developing country? Our next morning gave us just one mission. Go to a big gray temple we’d looked at the entire time we had been there but hadn’t yet visited. It was the one temple Shasta said she wanted to see just by looking at it and we hadn’t gone there yet! So off we went. We realized an interesting thing this day. We were pretty much done taking photos of temples…but we weren’t tired of going to them yet. We realized that each temple seemed to have its own unique quirks and they were still pleasant to visit. Hurrah for staving off temple fatigue!

On the way to the temple we saw some wildlife.


This guy freaked me out when we pulled around the corner. I got closer and closer until I realized it wasn’t sunning itself but was actually dead. I’m not sure how but when I picked up by the neck it didn’t bite and try to kill me so all is good.


Temples and Rainbows!


We hadn’t purchased much even though I really liked much of the art being produced in the area. Walking around the temple there are art sellers at nearly every window. This guys eyes moved to watch me pass but was to wrapped up in painting to yell, “Hey you. Painting. Just look! Where you from?” So we looped around and came back to him. He spoke quietly and unhurriedly and never rushed me. I enjoyed my talk with him and ended up with a few of his items. Here he signs on for me, he doesn’t sign them because he says some tourists don’t like it.


During my art dealings Shasta, who’d contracted a bit of a bug, decided to go local and sleep in the doorway.


We headed back to New Bagan to get ready for a super long train ride which I’ll get into soon but first we wanted to visit our favorite restaurant, Shwe Ou. The owner was awesome and spoke english well. His food was amazing but what really kicked it off was his homemade ice cream! We’d been waiting the whole trip to eat his pride and joy, an ice cream fondue.


And I’ll tell you right now this thing was delicious! That’s Taro, coconut, strawberry, avacado, durian, cookies and cream, milk, and chocolate ice cream. He makes everything, including the chocolate dip. If you come to Bagan then don’t miss this place. He also makes the best gyoza I think I may have had anywhere.


We made our way to the train station and finally got to see what would be our transportation for the next night. A personal sleeper car. It was dirty, dusty, and somewhat smelly but it was ours and we were happy not to be cramped onto a bus. It had its own bathroom as well.


One of the great things about riding the train is that you pretty much get to do whatever you want. Here I am hanging off the side of the train by one arm as it speeds along the track. I looked the other way and the guy driving the train laughed and waved at me.


While the train may take longer then the bus I think its worth it. It really was amazing to get to see the countryside without having to see it through a glass window or from a busy road. We feel like we actually got to see what its like there. Some of you may know what they are doing here, we weren’t quite sure but guessed harvesting palm oil.


Dangerous job.


If you ride the train try and make sure to buy a big bag of candy before you get on. The local kids and adults run alongside the train for nearly the first 50 miles. All waiting for a gift from the train goers. We tossed out some dried banana and a lady nearly 70 years old took off running for it. Even the little monks got into it.


Ok I was going to save this next little bit for another post but its small so lets just finish off Myanmar shall we? The train took 17 hours. It was long and sleeping was a chore for those who don’t sleep heavily. The train rocks and bounces along the track all night long shouting its whistle nearly every 15 min. Shasta somehow still managed to sleep probably a good 8 hours. I got 3 or 4 unbroken hours and was up from 3am on. I’d still say its worth it and better than the bus. You get to walk around, make a table, the chairs are even pretty comfortable since you can angle them however you want and you get a bed. It’s worth it. When we arrived in Yangon the next morning we knew that if we wanted to see anything we’d better get on with it right away since we were going to fly out the next morning. Everything we’d talked to said the same thing about Yangon, go to Shewedagon Pagoda, so that what we told the taxi driver.


This is the tallest pagoda in Myanmar and the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia. Its heavily revered. They say its over 2500 years old and contains actual hairs from Buddha.


Ravens and fire.


Just fire.



And so that ends it for Myanmar. I’ll leave it with this little world. Today we landed in Malaysian Borneo so there will be lots of pictures coming soon!

stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
  Jul 23, 2015 - 07:29pm PT
Very cool. Myanmar and Laos now also on the long list of places to go to.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 26, 2015 - 06:16am PT
Stevep - For climbing Laos was significantly better than Myanmar, in fact Laos climbing was quite awesome and highly recommended. Myanmar was excellent though, we really enjoyed it and felt safe the entire time. Just a wonderful place.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 26, 2015 - 06:28am PT
The last few days in Malaysian Borneo have been amazing. Tons of wildlife and insects so there’s going to be a lot of photos about animals here in this section. If thats not your thing then you might want to skip through or check it out anyway!

Arriving in Kuching we got our room at the Hero Hostel, we got the Ironman room, and headed off the next day to Semengoh Orangutan Sanctuary. It was supposed to be a good place to see Orangutans in the wild and we hoped to do so. It is “the wild” but at the same time it is not. They are enclosed in this 625 hectare park which doesn’t quite have enough food to support all the orangutans in it. So they have daily feedings where they put a bunch of food out and if the orangutans want to, they can come eat. Only one showed up this day, but it was a cool thing regardless! So here’s a bunch of photos of an orangutan and some other wildlife.

Carniverous pitcher plants.


Dragons.



Probably the biggest ant I’ve ever seen.


Ah and here’s the Orangutan.


Peekaboo



I think my favorite shot from the day.



More carnivorous plants.


We really enjoyed our trip but wanted to try again and see if we could see more Orangutans. There were quite a few people around and it wasn’t feeling like the authentic experience we’d hoped for. So the next day we went back and there were even more people! We didn’t wait around till the feeding time was over and walked through the trails to see if we could find one on our own. We didn’t but found this guy. Creepy!


Thats it for our first trip into the jungle. We just finished our trip to Bako National Park and the wildlife was incredible. I have tons of pictures from that coming up soon!
BryanE

climber
Minnesota
  Jul 26, 2015 - 08:53am PT
Thanks for posting, just read the whole thing all the way through. The climbing looks amazing and the temples are otherworldly! I had been to Angkor Wat before as well as a couple other places you have posted (although not as in depth as you) so it was nice to revisit some of those places as well as see plenty of new ones. I didn't get to do any climbing when I was there last so that was all new to me, definitely on my list now!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 30, 2015 - 07:55am PT
Thanks BryanE for responding! There is a lot of amazing climbing in Southeast Asia it should definitely be on everyones list!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 30, 2015 - 07:56am PT
Ok so its time for an update and this ones going to be pretty huge. Unfortunately it won’t include any climbing. Sometimes it seems like the further we go and the closer it is to home the more we jump around just to try and see all that we can. Either way it was an awesome few days so I’m excited to show it.

We decided to try and see the Proboscis Monkey (if you don’t know what that is you will soon!) and so we headed to a place called Bako National Park. Its somewhat easy to get to compared to some of the other parks, it took a 40 minute motorbike ride and then a 35 minute boat, but we were arrived at the park around 10am with high expectations.

Getting out of the boat I looked down to see two snakes swimming through the water! I love snakes, when they’re at at least a bit of a distance, and so I was happy to see them right away.


Keeping the snakes company were these awesome little mudskippers. Pretty much the most convincing evidence Shasta’s ever seen for evolution.


A few feet further was this rather large lizard lying around.


And then about another 20ft down the trail we ran into our first Proboscis Monkey! The forest was alive in nearly every direction and we were really excited to see them so early. You are not guaranteed to get a good viewing of the monkeys, especially during a day trip. Proboscis monkeys have large noses that hang down over their face, I did call them penis monkeys more then once.


Grazing in the grass was one of the hairy wild boars.


And as with many other asian areas there were macaque monkeys everywhere. This guy was working his way toward nirvana.



What looked like an odd shaped lump on the tree turned out to be a flying lemur and it’s baby!



We started off down one of the many trails and our luck continued as we came to a creature I’d been wanting to see for years! I’d been looking in branches since 2007 when I went to Costa Rica just to try and see a green snake in the trees. I had failed for all these years until finally there it was, a pit viper!




With so many different dangerous creatures in the Bornean jungle you figure that is where the danger would come from but that is not always the case. Male proboscis monkeys are heavy fighters and constantly battling it out. We came around the corner and heard the noise of a proboscis in the trees, soon we learned that it was injured. We stayed around a bit and then left and came back. When we returned the rangers were looking for it and we pointed out where it had hidden. It didn’t look good as its spine and leg were badly injured. They guessed that it had been fighting and lost with a fall.


It was a very sad sight as he was still alive. He’d move his eyes and occasionally try to make his way back to the tree’s. It was futile as it was obvious that his legs weren’t moving. He looked at me and just seemed to stare down inside. I’m sorry, I can’t help you but I wish I could. The ranger told me that he would be taken to the vet but it didn’t look good. You can see the gash in his leg in the photo.


We stayed around for a bit but eventually we knew there was nothing we could help with. We walked on and admired the plant life with a bit of a somber feeling in our hearts but as the ranger said, “It was the jungle, it is good that it wasn’t humans who hurt it.”


I’ve always though of bamboo as a friendly fun looking material. It looks like something you want to climb or use to build with. That is until I came to Borneo bamboo, you do not want to fall into this stuff.


The trail we followed ended in a high point overlooking the jungle.


Always remember to look down when hiking in Borneo. This guy was just off the trail!


Ok, I’ll be honest, I’ve wanted for a long time to take a picture of one of these! He was gone too fast but I was happy to get a few photos. I was giddy with excitement from this awesome jungle.


More dangerous yet beautiful plant life.


I saw a sign that could hang in front of any frat house.


Insect life.


Bak National Park has some accommodations but they were full when we tried to book so we would have to leave the park by 4pm. Which is unfortunate because it turns out thats when everything comes out of the jungle to eat in the mangroves. We walked toward where the boat dock was but they were launching from the other side of the bay. We turned to head in the other direction but suddenly heard a monkey come from the jungle and it was a silver haired langur! The last animal on our list of things we wanted to see before we left.


The great things about these langurs is that their babies are orange and the adults are gray or black. Well we got another dose of the super cute.


I mean this just isn’t right! Its like they were put here as ultimate distraction devices to try and make us miss our boat.



Is this where Dr. Suess got the idea for the Grinch?


Ha! Caught.


I looked at the time and the langurs had done their job. We only had 5 minutes to catch the boat! We turned and started walking down the trail as I heard the last boat take off. When we got to the admin building they told us we were to late and they’d have to try and figure something out. We were a bit surprised that they really didn’t have a backup plan so we walked around a bit and waited. I looked through my Proboscis monkey shots and although they weren’t to bad, they just were not that good. It wasn’t the shot I was looking for but enough to convince me I’d be satisfied. Then all of a sudden the place came alive with the sound of their grunts. Within a few minutes they were everywhere! This one is not work safe heh.



As I stood on the ground and waited one of the larger males walked right by me and stared me down. It was amazing considering we’d only seen them from far away at the tops of the trees until that point.



We stayed and snapped pictures until we were told a boat had arrived to pick us up. We’d have to pay more but it was completely worth it! We got all the shot’s we wanted and felt like it had been a day full of life. I’d taken about 800 photos since that morning. We saw some rocks that apparently do have some climbing on them, there are some great looking boulders too. We had planned on climbing them but were surrounded in so much wildlife it was hard to put the camera down.



Our boat captain arrived and was the father of one of the guys working at the park. He charged us double what it would have normally cost but that was okay, and he was a really nice guy. As we headed back he decided to take it slow and give us a personal tour of the area. He told us about how much he loves the park and how he once saved a proboscis from drowning by bring it into his boat. He said he looked it in the eye and they communicated. It pulled into the boat and sat on the front until he pulled into the mangroves and it left. He said we could see some life on the way back like a crocodile but it was unlikely. Hey, who knows? Our day had been pretty amazing so far. And then just a few minutes later -


We were nearly exhausted with excitement from the day! We’d seen everything we wanted and figured we couldn’t possibly see anything else…then behind us…


Otters! He told us it was very rare.


We landed on the shore and thanked him profusely for the great trip on the return and made our moto trip back to our hostel. We smiled large enough I’m sure I ate some extra bugs on the way back. Our night was spent in the Hero Hostel.


We had the Ironman Room.


At this point I debated breaking up the post but what the heck. We’re this far, lets keep going!

The next day we flew from Kuching to Miri. Our main goal was to go to Brunei as it looked interesting and I’ll admit that I love getting to new countries. We landed in Miri and got a rental car for the first time since New Zealand. It was great getting around by car again and our second day we drove to a park called Lambir National Park where there weren’t as many animals but lots of plant and insect life.




There were several waterfalls which you could swim in.


The amount of plant and insect life is incredible. There are roughly 1500 tree species located inside this national park. Perhaps even more amazing is that there have been almost 1200 insect species identified on each type of tree! Its a staggering number to think about.


We had no shortage of insects.


In looking up pictures of insects in Borneo I’d seen a lot about leeches and even read quite a bit. I still hadn’t released the idea of what a leech is however from my Alaskan memories. In Alaska the leeches are in the water, often you don’t see them until they are stuck to you and are big black ugly things that don’t move much. I looked for them in the water but still hadn’t seen any. It was a bit of a shame because for some reason I wanted a picture of one. Suddenly, Shasta said, “What is that!”


Judging from all the pictures I’d seen my reply was, “Thats a leech!”


I started taking pictures of it and Shasta hopped around uncomfortably, she really doesn’t like leeches and neither do I. She was wearing Chaco’s with no socks and said, “I’d better make sure I don’t have - AHHHHHH”

When I turned she’d found one on her shoe, then two, and three… I looked to my shoes and they were all over my feet as well. We’d walked into a leech haven.


We pulled them from our shoes and took off for more docile and pleasant creatures.



Later we’d walk through a few more leech cities and eventually Shasta would get two on her skin. She handled it well as I sprayed them with bug spray and they fell off dead.

Other insects were less gross and more enjoyable like this guy.


Even these carnivores pitcher plants were better than the leeches.



And for the end of this post I leave you with a giant beetle. He was really big. Next post will be Brunei! A country I didn’t even know existed before this trip and was pleasantly surprising.
EdwardT

Trad climber
Retired
  Jul 30, 2015 - 08:23am PT
The road goes on forever...







and the party never ends.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMjWV2lqlqQ
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Jul 31, 2015 - 08:51am PT
After a few days in Miri we decided to use our rental car to take a day trip into Brunei. It was more expensive to stay there so we just decided to head back after a long day and drive back to Miri. The border crossings are some of the easiest I had ever been through. Nobody asked any questions and they just waived us through after a quick stamping.

The country is really small but oil reach so you know there’s going to be mosques! We drove to the first mosque on the list Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, which is the #1 attraction in the country according to most any reports. It really was an impressive mosque.







Shasta enjoying a walk along the bridge to the boat.


Impressive.




We were waved into the building but before we could enter there were a few rules to be followed. I had to wear a robe and Shasta had to wear a robe and a hijab.


We spent a little while at the mosque but I had seen pictures of the temples before and the one I really wanted was the night shot. So we drove around the country looking for interesting things to try and use up the day. I’d heard that the Empire Hotel was something worth seeing and I was surprised to hear that. It was just a normal hotel. We walked inside and suddenly, BAM! The biggest lobby of any hotel I had ever seen. Seriously, it is really impressive in there.




We continued along and found a few nice beaches with water from the Bay of Brunei. What was interesting is that I never saw any Bruneian put even their toes into the water. We had every beach we went to to ourselves.






The country is definitely on the more expensive side when you’ve just come from Malaysia so it was becoming a bit difficult finding food, and even harder finding local food. We ended up taking a boat across the Ulu River where they have a huge floating village. Boats took kids to and from school.


As with many other countries their cities were clean but they seemed to have no regard for the waters. Their beaches that weren’t for swimming were covered in garbage. Please try and stop using plastic. It’s getting out of hand.


If you don’t want to listen to me, listen to this cat.


We returned to the mosque as the sun was setting, just in time to take pictures.




Sometimes you take pictures over and over again as the light changes just hoping that something great will come out. Then you look at the screen and say, “Oh yeah. I got it!” This was one of those moments, it was the shot I’d seen in my mind.



The border from Brunei into Malaysia closes at 10pm so we started our way back but before leaving the country there was still one more mosque we wanted to see. It is one of the largest in Southeast Asia.




Ok this was an unexpected shot. I didn’t plan it at all but once we saw it, we couldn’t help but take it! There is no water in this picture.


And that was it, we waved goodbye and drove back to Miri, Malaysia for the night. We made it out of Brunei with about 10 minutes to spare. It was a really quiet country but pleasant.

Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Aug 6, 2015 - 04:21pm PT
After a bit of a delay its time to work through the last week of our trip. After Brunei we headed back to Malaysia for one last day before flying off to Singapore. We didn’t really have enough time to head to the really popular park because it takes a few days so instead we just stayed around the town of Miri and looked for cool things we hadn’t seen. During our drive around we came to a Taoist Temple. It is one of the largest Taoist temples in Southeast Asia. As a side note I’ve been studying Northern Shaolin Kung Fu for the last 12 or 13 years and our specific school is Taoist. We’ve spent some time on the philosophy but I’d never been to a temple so it was really interesting to see what it looked like and to experience some of what it was like there. This specific temple was currently in the renovation process so it was bright and colorful.





The inner temple area.



Really colorful dragons.


Taoist birds.


And puking fish.


Out of curiosity we decided to come back at night because we figured the temple would be really well lit and it could make for some interesting pictures. What we got instead was quite a surprise. There were a lot of people in the temple going through some type of ritual. The man seated is a monk who is acting as the 6th dragon emperor. We holds this large stamp on your hands and speaks quickly and with a super deep voice. Then he would blow some cigar smoke out and hold the stamp to your chest. We were told it was a blessing of good luck. Here is Shasta being blessed by the monk. Pretty interesting and a little bit awkward considering we could tell he hesitated then told a joke before stamping us.


Temple at night.


And thats it! my last picture for Malaysia. I’ve got to edit the Singapore pictures now but i’ll tell you, I really enjoyed taking some of them and have some great ones coming up!
johntp

Trad climber
Punter, Little Rock
  Aug 6, 2015 - 04:58pm PT
Nice TR.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Author's Reply  Aug 16, 2015 - 07:19pm PT
Alright guys, well its been fun but I think its time to finish off this adventure. So here goes...thanks to anyone who's kept along for this long, you impress me.

We left from Malaysia on a quick flight to Singapore, which required a 4 hours stopover in Kuala Lumpur. We must have really wanted to get that extra country in because we were actually leaving from Kuala Lumpur so we had to fly there, leave, and bus back. Booking a hotel in Singapore gave us an idea of what it was going to be like to travel there, our room cost $77 a night for a single room with nothing but a bed in it. Yikes.It was located in an area called Boat Quay.


Our first day we walked around the town and then tried to watch a movie and go to a market. I can't even remember if we made it to the movie, big cities are exhuasting. The market was basically expensive booths of fruit and it was an overall letdown. There were a few interesting things along the way however like this street art complete with no talking and loud static from the speakers.


I feel like most cities are better at night.


We also stumbled on a sculpture by Dali.



The next day we slept in so that we had plenty of energy, we'd planned on spending the entire day checking out different sights that we'd looked up the previous night. We found that in big cities like this you sometimes need more of a plan. We walked along the waterfront for a view of the Marina Sands Hotel, a somewhat iconic building.


And the Merlion...its a cross between a mermaid and a lion and I don't know why.


Then things started to get intresting. We'd already realized that something big was going on because there were lots of areas that were blocked off. We still didn't know what it was when we saw these big military vehicles following a line of tanks down the street!



We continued our walk toward the National Art Science Center. Shasta really wanted to visit so we made it a point to go. It was rather expensive as far as everything we'd paid for so far but such is the life of a city. Inside there was an exhibit for Dreamworks and this rather awesome gallery of undersea creatures. Here Shasta looks at the male of this species which as attached itself forever to the larger female.


If you are someone who likes malls then this place is for you.


I dont...so we got away as fast as possible. We headed toward the Cloud Forest and Supertrees, a really neat outdoor exhibit, structure.


Inside the cloud forest.


It was pretty cool being inside this massive greenhouse that creates the atmosphere of a cloud forest.




Walking across the city had taken its toll on us but there was still something we really wanted to see. At 7:30 and 8:30 each night they do a light and music show in the supertrees so we headed in that direction. As far as I'm concerned the supertrees are the very best free thing to do in Singapore. We waited as the sun went down.



The light show was actually really cool with great music and a dazzling array of colors.



As we were taking pictures the National Day Parade started (you remember all those tanks right?) and the largest fireworks in National Day history started.


The Supertree show ended and we started our walk back toward the hotel but I still wanted to get a good photo of the Marina Sands Hotel since it seemed so different from many of the hotels we saw. I clicked the button for a long exposure and waited and then suddenly the fireworks started again giving me one of my favorite city shots of the trip.


And more toward the supertrees.



We quickly ran back toward our room, having walked over 10 miles through the city, so that we could pack up and catch our night bus to Kuala Lumpur. The first night in Singapore was a total bust but the second redeemed so quality points.


We took the night bus back into Malaysia and then the next morning we were on a flight to South Korea. What do you do when you have a 12 hour layover in South Korea? Well you meet up with a friend and spend the entire day trying to see everything you can. It's not really glorious but its a mission. The first place we went in Seoul was to a market for some food.




We ended up walking into a small restuarant in the market where nobody spoke english. She pointed to the menu and we said yes, to whatever she was saying, and soon we were eating a bowl of who knows what. Well it turns out it was the most expensive thing in the place (she must have seen the pharangs coming) it was $21 per bowl per person. Our best guess is that it was oxtail. After our expensive mission in the market we headed to one of the large city gates. This is the gate that burned down a few years ago, nicely restored.



Apparently there is also something going on in Korea and they've put giant flags up on several buildings.


On our trip to the palace we showed up right in time for the changing of the guard.


I'd rather mess with the guards in London...



Anyone else have to wear a fake beard to work?



The old and new.



Well while it may not have been the most dramatic or amazing ending to such a long incredible trip I want to thank anyone who's come along on this journey. I know that this thread became something of a beast and I'm surprised if anyone didn't go over their internet limit by looking at it.

So thanks again...and see you on the next one.


Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Aug 16, 2015 - 09:35pm PT
such great color on those trees! And the hotel shot with fireworks is pretty much amazeballs!
Rock Eagle

Trad climber
Central Coast
  Aug 16, 2015 - 10:31pm PT
Thank you so moch for taking the time to create this trip report. I have thoroughly enjoyed following along. Your photos are amazing.
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Aug 17, 2015 - 07:22pm PT
What an interesting TR. Great photography. Thanks for all the work.
Will_P

Trad climber
Melbourne, Victoria
  Aug 18, 2015 - 07:17pm PT
Thanks for the effort in documenting all this for us. It's redundant, I know, but I feel obliged to say it anyway - your photos are truly impressive.
John M

climber
  Aug 13, 2018 - 09:07pm PT
Somehow I missed this trip report. Amazing photos Kelsey.

But man this on needs page breaks.. hahaha.. Great thread.
clockclimb

Trad climber
Orem, Utah
  Aug 14, 2018 - 12:25pm PT
Stupendous. Trip of a lifetime. Thanks for the ride!
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