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Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia

a travel blog by Jason Kester


Not really travelling so much this time. Mostly, a winter at work, climbing rocks on the beach. With luck and if the motivation holds up, I'll pull out in the spring and make my way north. I've got a Russian visa for June, so maybe I'll finally make it onto that trans-siberian train.
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The Second Lap

Bangkok, Thailand


I'm at it again.

This time it's Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and parts north, but it really doesn't matter where. The important part is taken care of. I can already feel myself slipping into travel mode, where you can't control anything and it's no big deal. My bags didn't make it, and everything was closed when the cab dropped me off on Khoa San road at 3:30 this morning, but no worries. Life's about to get good, and small things like that don't seem to carry as much weight over here.

Besides, the best red curry in the world is only twenty paces away. I'm'a gonna get me some.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on January 3, 2004 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
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Guy on the beach

Ban Ao Nang, Thailand


I spent the better half of last week in a pitched battle for control of my belly. I escalated to antibiotics, and came out the victor. Got back on the rock yesterday and today I was finally starting to hit stride. Got a 7a and worked out a new sequence for a tough 7b that I squeaked by on last time I was here. That's .11d and .12b for the non-french.

But none of that will matter soon, as I am about to become a huge movie star in Thailand! I was sitting in a cafe on the beach, reading a book and toying with the remains of my pad thai this afternoon, when a couple thai girls came up and asked if I'd like to be in a ice cream commercial. But of course. Why else would I be waiting here?

They took a bunch of photos and videotaped me walking up to the camera and smiling and talking about how much I enjoyed partying on the beach and eating ice cream. It was hilarious. Anyway, if I make the cut, they'll ship me and fifteen other superficial looking farang off to some beach in Trang provence for a week. There's even some baht in the deal.

So yeah, that's my story for the day. I'll keep you posted on my soon to be illustrious career as an actor!

permalink written by  Jason Kester on January 16, 2004 from Ban Ao Nang, Thailand
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
tagged Climbing

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book.

Ban Ao Nang, Thailand


The following is the contents of an email to our poor kid Ethan, who actually wanted to come out, but put too much faith in the motivation of his friends:

As I can sense the impending weenie excuse, I'll leave you with a theory I've developed about travelling: Your friends don't actually want to go.

They'll say the do, and may even believe it themselves after enough talk and a few beers, but as the date draws near and it's time to drop real money on tickets, the excuses will inevitably come out. The only solution I've found is to always plan to go alone. Prepare for the off chance that maybe somebody will actually decide to come along for a while, but never count on it.

If you really want to go travelling, the best thing you can do is book a ticket today. That may actually spur one of these tossers off the fence, but that's not your concern. It is all good here. Get your ass on a plane.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on January 26, 2004 from Ban Ao Nang, Thailand
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
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Re: Watch out for THE BIRDS

Ban Ao Nang, Thailand


This was sent in response to one of the emails that I received from every man, woman and child in the United States, warning me about the dreaded Bird Flu in Thailand:

They are running dangerously low on animals to eat over here. I hear kitten is nice. I'm actually all about the chickens these days. I figure after a month of dealing with the quality standards of a Thai kitchen, there is not much you could put in my stomach that it hasn't seen.

So I've been here a month, and I've seen a total of two places. My visa is about to expire, so I am now forced to do at least a nominal amount of travelling. It's off to Penang, Malaysia.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on January 31, 2004 from Ban Ao Nang, Thailand
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
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Still on the beach

Ban Ao Nang, Thailand


So I blew through my 30 day visa without leaving the beach. I'll probably do the same with the new one too. Yessir, traveling far and wide these days.

Ok, I guess I did make it down to Malaysia for a week, but really only to take care of the visa situation and eat a whole bunch of noodles in Chinatown.

Stopped in Trang for a couple nights on the way back, and set off into the countryside on a rented motorbike. There are miles of beautiful white sand beach with basically no development at all, and no tourists except a few Thais. There's even nice rocks to be climbed, just like Railay but without the tourists. I may have to buy some land down there...

One of the beaches that I checked out is only accessable by walking through a cave. And not just one of those duck-under-these-few-rocks caves, but a full on better-have-a-second-light-source cave. With bats.

On the way back, I got rained off the road and into a random little restaurant/shack, where I got to practice my Thai for a few hours with the locals. I still have a long way to go before I can master this language.

Climbing goes well. Flashed a .12a yesterday, just missed flashing another one today, then spent the morning falling off a .13a just for fun.


permalink written by  Jason Kester on February 7, 2004 from Ban Ao Nang, Thailand
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
tagged MotorBike and Climbing

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Re: Work, hike, and Espanol

Ban Ao Nang, Thailand


I'm still on Tonsai beach. Just paid for another month, in fact. Yesterday was a great day, as I finally got two hard routes that I had been working on for a while. One of the newly arrived portland people (there are 6 of us now) has a digital video camera, so I'll have a DVD full of climbing footage to show you all when I get home.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on February 14, 2004 from Ban Ao Nang, Thailand
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
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RE: mushroom Mushroom!

Ban Ao Nang, Thailand


Dude. I'm running out of things to report over here. Somehow, the fact that I'm still here doing the same stuff as last month does not seem all that newsworthy. I am, however, consistently onsighting .12a, so I guess that's nice.

Me and Jay rented motorbikes the other day and went tearing around the county. It was awesome, and hardly disastrous at all. Jay only made it over the handlebars once, and not even into traffic. I'll certainly be back for more.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on February 24, 2004 from Ban Ao Nang, Thailand
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
tagged Climbing

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Re: Haven't heard from you for awhile.

Ban Ao Nang, Thailand


I've been to Malaysia again for visa run #2. On the way back, I spent another couple nights in Trang and explored some more of the surrounding area on a rented motorscooter. This time, I made it way down some dirt road and stopped to watch this cool Thai Eagle (like a slightly smaller bald eagle, but brown instead of black), when up scoots a local, shouting greetings. We talked a minute, and he invited me back to his home for lunch.

I followed him down an ever-crazier series of dirt roads, cart tracks, footpaths, and jungle trails until we finally came into a clearing with a couple shacks on stilts and an overview of some ponds and mangroves. By the time I had the Thai dictionary out and found myself a place on the floor of the hut, all the neighbor kids had come running up and were standing in a bunch by the door, staring and giggling. I tried out my Thai "Ben dtek Thai chop farang (thai kids like barbarians)." with much success. Got a tasty meal and some good Thai practice before motorscooting onward to go swimming at an empty beach.

And for the record, these were in fact the dreaded Southern Thailand Muslims, though none to separatist nor fanatical at the moment. Just to tempt fate a bit more, I put in a good attempt to handle one of their chickens.

Two days ago, four of us went up Ao Nang tower, this big spire of rock sticking out of the sea. You get there by hiring a boat to the tower and stepping off the bow onto a ledge at the base of the route. The route is 80 meters long, and you do it in three pitches, with lots of scary moves on overhanging rock with a very pronounced feeling of exposure. Getting down is the fun part. You flag down a passing boatman, then rappel the final 50 meters into the boat. Even better, since the boat drifts away a bit during the time it takes to lower, and you are the only thing it's tied to, you end up rapping down over the open ocean until you can just dip a toe into it. Then the boatman reels you and the boat together and pulls you aboard. Too much fun!

I may be moving on to Laos before too long.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on March 11, 2004 from Ban Ao Nang, Thailand
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
tagged MotorBike and Locals

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Here's me, Here's the bear...

Luang Prabang, Laos


So I was mauled by a bear yesterday. Not a very big bear, and not much of a scratch even, but mauled is mauled. I'm sorta proud of myself.

Me & Jay rented motorbikes and headed off to this big waterfall out at the end of a dirt road. It's one of these multi-tiered limestone falls, with lots of pools to swim around in, ledges to jump from, and hidden grottoes behind curtains of water with ferns and moss and forest elves frolicking. A great addition to the end of any dusty dirt road.

Anyway, the caretakers are also nursing back to health a few animals that were retrieved from poachers. There's a large enclosure full of bears, with a shack at one end containing some food and a tiny lady with a stick. If you drop some money in the donation box, she'll hand you a couple bananas and let you in to play with the bears. If they're not too busy fighting amongst themselves and behaving like wild animals, they'll hop up on their hind legs and walk over to take some food from your hand. And maybe take a swipe at you if you don't supply it promptly.

There is also an enclosure with a large tiger inside that you can pet through the bars. I didn't try giving that lady any money.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on March 24, 2004 from Luang Prabang, Laos
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
tagged MotorBike

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Vientiane, Laos




permalink written by  Jason Kester on March 25, 2004 from Vientiane, Laos
from the travel blog: Southeast Asia, the Trans Siberian and Scandenavia
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Hey! I wrote Blogabond so I guess that makes me your host. Welcome!

I spend about 9 months a year on the road, chasing the sun around the world in search of good climbing and surfing. I carry a laptop along with me, and take on small programming contracts to take care of expenses.
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