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  #11  
Old 12-14-2004, 07:03 AM
thien thien is offline
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Join Date: May 2003
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Default Re: Glad to hear that you are home

Allo chu Thanh,

Your schedule just make the man-on-the-move looks standing still. I am a slow traveller who likes to linger around places so your schedule looks busy to me :D. I do see that you have included some resting time in between to recuperate your strengths. Do you have problems with jetlag? Most people that I've asked prefered Luang Prabang to Vientiane but you may have some other reason for your chosen destination. The loop that you have chosen is ideal, I can't see anything wrong with it.

Your overnight stay in Sapa with a minority tribe, is it from a tour group? I know that the overnite stay are actually a house purposely built for the tourists and not in a real local house. However, there actually might be a some tour that put people in the house with the locals that I do not know of. I have a few precious little friends in Sapa whom I consider as my sisters which I have continued to communicate through snail-mails. I do not know if it is possible to stay overnight in one of their houses but if you are looking for an authentic experience, you may want to take a chance and ask. At least, you can visit their home as a friend instead of like a tourist. I have been invited back by their family and I am hopeful that they will extend the same hospitality to you. I can write a letter of introduction to break the ice. How long will you be in Sapa?

Cheers,
Thien
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  #12  
Old 12-14-2004, 12:13 PM
Darren Darren is offline
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Default Re: Burma

The restaurant in Yangon that you speak of was called New Delhi. I would gladly go back, I think Philip would probably pass. My biggest regret on the trip was that I didn't get a photo of the second kitchen. Running water on the dirt floor, flames leaping out from under cauldrons, dim lighting, hotter than the furnaces of hell, dirt walls. There may have been elves cooking the food, I am not certain. It was something out of Dante and I am still kicking myself hard for not capturing it on film.

Luko, if you happen in there, please take a shot on my behalf. I think the 3200 TMAX would work.

BTW, the food was great and the meal was less than $1us.
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  #13  
Old 12-20-2004, 12:37 AM
ngythanh ngythanh is offline
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Default Our projected trip

Dear Thien:
Finally, we booked the tickets. Please review and give us your contribution on the dos and donts.

- Feb 16, (Wed), we will be departing from Houston to Hong Kong via Los Angeles.
- Feb 18, (Fri), fly from Hong Kong to Kunming, land at 2:05 PM.[visit the city, Stone Forest (Shilin), Bamboo Temple (Qiongshusi), Yuangtong Temple, Nancheng Ancient Mosque, West Pagoda (Xisita), East Pagoda (Dongsita), Golden Temple (Jindian), Lake Dian (Dian Chi)...]
- Feb 22, (Mon), train to Hekou.
- Feb 23, (Tue), jeep from Lao Cai to Sa Pa, visit Cascade Village.
- Feb 24, (Thu), trek across Lao Cai & Ta Van Village; try to stay overnight in minority tribe (need your "breaking the ice" here).
- Feb 26, (Sat), more trek around Sa Pa.
- Feb 27, (Sun), Bac Ha Sunday Market, evening train to Hanoi. Arrive next morning.
- Mar 01, (Tue), Go to Perfume Pagoda, stay overnight at Ben Duc.
- Mar 02, (Wed), back to Hanoi in afternoon.
- Mar 03, (Thu), Fly to Vientiane
- Mar 04, (Fri), Fly to Siem Reap
- Mar 07, (Mon), Bus to Saigon via Moc Bai/Tay Ninh.
- Mar 10, (Thu), return home.

*****

So far, we are not bound by any tours or schedule. Our plan can be modified according to the local weather and its availability of access to attractions. The airtickets are from USA to Kunming and from Saigon to USA. We will have to break the language barriers in China and Laos and Cambodia to book tickets for next legs. This will involve headache, more expensive but we will have early and late time of the days...

In Sa Pa, I have 2 contacts: one local photographer & author of a photo-book on Sa Pa but he also owns 2 restaurant so I don't expect his free time as promised. The second person is a guide whom I brought high-fever medecine for his 6-month old daughter last June. The day after I came to his house, he has been admitted to emergency room in Lao Cai Hospital, so we didn't have chance to get closer relationship. When I talked about overnight stay in minority tribe, it was just the plan; I had no experience on this. And I am looking toward your arrangemant to your local "sisters". I love the idea of "visit their home as a friend instead of like a tourist." Hope that they will extend the same hospitality to us. Please let me know what do I have to do. Can I talk to them over the phone? Will your letter of introduction be an email or snail-mail? Can you send it to me, then I relay to them?

I know that you are about to leave for Luang Prabang. Will such a letter be too much for you during this tough preparation for your trip?

Please keep me informed and updated. Thanks.

ngythanh
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  #14  
Old 12-21-2004, 05:35 AM
thien thien is offline
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Default Re: Our projected trip

Hi chu Thanh,

Unfortunately, the only way to contact my little friends are through snail mail. Due to the not too reliable VN postal service, I was thinking of you more of like my personal courier service ;). I would like to write a whole bunch of letters and ask you to deliver them for me. In the same vein, I will introduce you and hopefully, they would take care of you like they had took care of me.

The kids are wonderful and very friendly. Most likely, you will need to spent a little time with them so that they can get to know you. I view my time with them as one the best thing that I have done so far. But that also demanded that I had to stop being a tourist and be a friend. If you don't see this a drawback to your trip plan, I am sure that you will have a wonderful time with them. You will enter their villages as a friend, no vendors will harass you as they will make sure that everyone knows that you are their guest.

May I suggest that you spent Feb 24th getting to know them and let them show you around the town and getting to know their parents? Then you can spent Feb 25th-26th to trek around Lao Chai and Ta Van with them as your guide. Hopefully, one of the parents would also recognize you and let you stay in the house overnight instead of the pigs' pen :D. Warning, the Hmong's food are quite bland, mostly a diet of picked vegetable and rice. For men, you will have a dose of rice wine too. You are hereby forewarned.

Cat Cat village is not as nice as Ta Phin home of the Red Dzao. They are on the way from Lao Cai to Sapa. If you have to chose, I would go for Ta Phin. Lao Chai and Ta Van can cover nicely for Cat Cat.

I have 32 hours on the plane, I can surely do some thing useful like writing letters :D. I also have to let them know that I intend to work on their rice field next time I am there.

Cheers,
Thien
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  #15  
Old 12-21-2004, 06:01 AM
ngythanh ngythanh is offline
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Default stop being a tourist and be a friend

Dear Thien:
I totally agree with you on "stop being a tourist and be a friend". Actually, I know that is the only proper approach. I know how to show them that, before being a photographer, I am a human being like them. I won't come to hunt them. I would only do the family photos or participate their activities. Just let me test myself again after too long without a kind of "public relation" job.
I am going to copy this mail to you in your gmail box, with my street address in Houston, Texas.
Just write the letters to them first, and send to me.
After your return from Laos, I will be in touch for your advice regarding their culture, habits. I need your notes on what should I bring to them as present, and what I should not. Do they speak Vietnamese? Last June, I only visit Cat Cat, Lao Chai, Ta Van and Bac Ha. I hope I could go deeper this time, and have access to a real family... Are your sisters H'mong or Red Dzao, and which hamlet do they reside?

But I must let you go now. When will you land Luang Prabang?

Have a safe trip.

Thanh
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  #16  
Old 12-21-2004, 01:06 PM
Luko Luko is offline
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Default Re: Help!!! Luang Prabang experts

Hi Thien

sorry I did no follow up our discussion.

I was thinking of also doing a slow boat ride on the Mekong to the North.
yes, sounds great I may do that also if even I come back around, I think there are slow boats departing from the Thailand border and which take you to LP in two days... seems like there are lots of interesting places (read villages or activities) along the Mekong, such as gold collectors, fishermen etc.

to rent a motorbike and off to myself. Do you know how feasible this is in LP or it is just useless.
Mmmh dunno. Many people rent bycicles from their guesthouses to ride around the town, I don't remember having seen motorbikes to rent... plus Laos is not as easy to go around as Cambodia or Thailand... as soon as you get out of the road there's... nothing...and nobody speaks english. Perhaps then a guide is useful to get to villages.


How EARLY does the monks gets hungry?
Early enough ;D ! As soon as there's a hint of daylight they're already walking the streets, something like 5:40 or 6:00AM and it goes on until about 7:30.


Do you think dragging a flash is OK or it is not really that usefull?
No, absolutely not. I'm not a big fan of flash in low light, but only coupled with artificial light, I hardly see monk photos with a flash.
If you take an overview at my settings, something around 1/30 f/2.8 @100ISO was a start. Your MkII should handle nicely such comfortable settings as 1/125 f/4 @800ISO.

Have you settled on a place to sleep yet? make sure you have a booking beforehand at least for one night because it might be high tourist season in LP, they don't have many rooms in town and depending on the time of arrival it can be fully booked : backpackers coming from Vang Vieng minibuses usually rush on the budget guesthouses along the Mekong.

Cheers
Luko
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  #17  
Old 12-21-2004, 10:42 PM
thien thien is offline
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Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 405
Default Re: Help!!! Luang Prabang experts

Hi Luko,

Thank you for all the advice. I just got my final flight leg confirmed today so I am ready to fly.

I probably see if I can fit a two days boat trip in but it would probably just a one day trip for me. :D. If I can wake up 3 days in a row for Bagan sunrises at 4:30AM, I can take these monks on their tuff ;). Flashes will stay at home then.

I am emailing around but so far has received no answers from any of the guesthouses. I will take your advice and book at least one confirmed room for the arrival date. Don't want to camp out on the streets. I have looked at the temperature for LP yesterday at night, they were saying something like 29C daytime and 15C at night, is this for real? Are we in a desert or what?

Thanks Luko,
Thien
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  #18  
Old 12-21-2004, 11:00 PM
ngythanh ngythanh is offline
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Default to camp out on the streets of Luang Prabang

Hey Thien:

Since you are from Montréal — a "parlant-la-langue-française" province, I don't think you will have to camp out on laotian streets. This is part of former Indochine. Maybe before you find the monks, they already took you as honor guest to some pagoda. Be prepared. And enjoy.

ngythanh
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  #19  
Old 01-01-2005, 06:52 PM
ngythanh ngythanh is offline
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Default Your trip to Luang Prabang

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU, THIEN (Wherever you are right now).

This morning, I search some info about Vientiane, and ran into some interesting info about Luang Prabang — your destination.

I am not sure if you read the above article already or not, but I still want to send you the link, as a NEW YEAR present to you. I wish you could modify your trip, to have a quick stop at the area damaged by tsunamis.

Stay safe and dry, Thien!

Chu Thanh
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