What I Learned on this trip

– Blending a team together is difficult but it’s important. If its not blending, find the problem and apply the “no dickhead” rule.

– Laos is beautiful and poor and ever so cheap. Go there and if you can do a trip on the mighty Mekong River then do it.

– Pack lightly and practically. Mix colours so you can alternate shorts/pants and shirts – that rule doesn’t apply to me as I’m colour blind. Take less than you think you’ll need, way less.

– Always mix in some down days to catch up after busy periods otherwise you’ll run out of steam. If you go hard every day all day it will take its toll.

– Cash v Card to get Thai Baht. Bring AUD cash, no fees to change. ATM fee is 220 baht per transaction so withdraw bigger amounts eg 5-10,000 baht per withdrawal. You’ll need 100 baht notes to buy stuff so get them and smaller notes when you can

Know some basic words and use them, the most common are ( phonetically) end words/phrases with Khrup if you are a man and Ka if you are a woman. Thankyou = Kap khum (khrup/ka), Hello = Sawadee (khrup/ka) , Yes = Chai (khrup/ka), No = Mai ,(khrup/ka), Where is the toilet=Hong nam yoo tee nai (khrup/ka), No Worries = Mai pen rai.

Shopping – unless it’s a shop with fixed prices always, always bargain, get them to give you a price, if its 600 baht then shake your head, say 200 baht, then walk away if you can’t get them to 300 baht, they will probably come to the party. Only offer a price first if you know what the market price is. Do “knockoff” clothes in one shop so more means cheaper, bargain hard.

Tailors – cheap tailors usually mean cheap clothes, pay a little more with a quality tailor, word of mouth is the best way to find the better tailors eg Tommy Fashion at Kamala Beach is very good, used to be Hilfiger Fashion in Patong.

Planning a Day – what I like is a) breakfast b) walk on the beach c) swim in pool or surf d) lunch e) massage or shopping + a swim f) dinner and a refreshing beverage g) shopping and/or massage

What did I like the most?

1. 350- 400km on a boat on the Mekong was fantastic. Mountains, jungle, villages, river life, it was wonderful. A special memory is the Buddhist ceremony Naa initiated where we put some of Tim’s ashes into the Mekong, it was a little bit of a blurr to me but I really appreciated everyone participating.

2. Luang Prabang – I could spend more time here. Beautiful World Heritage area, the Mekong, elephant sanctuary/ rehabilitation, the waterfalls, the Lao people, the markets.

3. Northern Thailand. It’s different to the south, a little more chilled.

4. Intrepid trips and staff. Great itineraries, fantastic staff, would travel with them anywhere.

5. Our travel group – what a great group of people to travel with.

What is the next adventure? Well, I’d love to go to Vietnam, Cambodia, Iran and other places in the middle east, Southern India and back to Japan. But first, Europe next week.

Ciao from Thailand/Laos Paulo


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