Posted by: Richard | January 25, 2010

Sloan Fellowship – the first three weeks

Imagine bringing together 55 successful senior global executives in the best business school in the world for a year to examine their careers, their successes and their failures.  This is what I am a part of with the Sloan Fellowship at London Business School.

Us lucky individuals get to learn from the best professors in world who have put their ideas into action at some of the most prominent organizations and can tell you about what works, what doesn’t and why.  However, professors and books are really only half (and probably a lot less) of this education.  The education comes from the other 54 leaders in the class, who have experience from start-ups to global multinationals and from techies to PhD scientists.

The first three weeks have been a fascinating examination of who we are (through personality tests, 360 degree feedback, class interaction and direct feedback).  We have examined what has made us successful and whether those skills will continue to help us to be successful.  Many of us are using the classroom to try new communication, work and leadership methods.

I feel particularly lucky as I am one of the younger participants (the average age is 39) and am using my time to soak up as much knowledge from others within my class as possible.  I believe that learning is about understanding how to solve problems, and I eagerly engage with others to understand how ideas from class relate to their experience.

Posted by: Richard | December 28, 2009

and the end of a trip

so, here we are.  it’s almost midnight on the last night of our trip.  Sitting in a lovely hotel in Singapore, listening to Letterman interview Doogie Howser.  It’s not that bad.

We went to Raffles and had some Singapore Slings (pretty average), went through the malls and have eaten a wide variety of very good global food.

Tomorrow at midnight we get on a plane, and move from +33 to +1 weather and a bit of snow. I look forward to it.

Oh well, this is all I’ve got, more tomorrow.

Posted by: Richard | December 21, 2009

In Khao Lak….

Well, we are nearing the end of our trip, and we booked a luxury stay in Khao Lak.  I wanted to come here after hearing the horror stories after the tsunami and thinking ‘if I’m going to spend some money, I want to help the people here get back on their feet.

Alas, good intentions aren’t always rewarded.

We arrived after dinner at the Khao Lak Merlin in the middle of a thunderstorm.  The sky was magical, cutting the power and drenching anybody who stepped outside.  Upon checking in, we found out that we hadn’t booked a room with a view, but were going to be at the edges of the room (damn you expedia).  Oh well.  We got to our room and found out the room was single beds (double damn you expedia).  Eventually we got a room for the night with a king size bed.  The following day, Lynn laid on the charm (and 800 baht a night) and we moved to a lovely room with a view of the sea and about 15 small pools.  Much better.

Well, we thought the unpleasantness was over.  Alas, today made the first two days look like gold.

At lunch today we went to Jo’s Seafood.  We ordered an “extra spicy” green curry (a failsafe of great food) and some spicy shrimp.  What arrived looked like a coconut curry.  Lynn was not very impressed, so I flagged the waiter and said “I think we got the wrong meal, we ordered the green curry extra spicy and this is a coconut curry”.   I was unprepared for what came forth.  The fellow I was talking to went crazy.  “where you from??” he shouted at Lynn.  She replied “Lanta” thinking he meant our previous island.  “No what country” he moved closer to Lynn.  He was nuts.  She said “Canada” to which he got in her face and said “so you do not know what Thai food is, I’m from this country and this is Thai food. “.  I foolishly interjected “we’ve been in Thailand for six weeks and this is nothing like any of the other Thai curries”. Oh oh, this set him off “I will fucking kill you,I will fucking kill you” he yelled.  He was on top of Lynn and at this point I stood up and said “we’re leaving”. “You fucking pay, you pay for your meal.”.  I had taken a bite of mine, and we’d both put a spoon in Lynn’s, but this was getting dangerous.  “Lynn, get out of here” I said while I took the money out of my wallet.  I emptied what I assumed was fair, which was 320 baht.  I think I paid an extra couple of bucks, but when a crazy man is yelling at you because you think you received the wrong dish, it’s time to go.

As we left, the owner (we assume he must have been in charge as nobody stopped him) continued to yell insults at us.  We hurried back to our hotel, scared as kicked puppies.  Lynn vowed to not complain about the food ever again.  I vowed to stay the hell away from that restaurant.  Hell, from that half of the beach.  The guy was nuts and I didn’t want anything to do with him.

We’ve been shaken ever since (it’s been 7 hours since the incident).  We rented a scooter and went into Khao Lak proper, bought some food (we don’t want to eat out anymore) and for some reason were scared to go out to eat.  In the end, we went to McDonalds (the last time I ate at one they still sold their McPizza’s.  We shared a filet o’ fish and a jumbo fries. I still feel like arse from it, but I feel like I felt after I got mugged in North London….

Well, as you can imagine, Lynn and I cannot wait to get to Singapore and then to Scotland to see Lynn’s family.

In other news, we’ve had a series of friendly adventures with toads.  Three nights ago, Lynn felt like she was being watched, and looking in the corner say a toad the size of a child’s fist looking at her.  We have no idea how he got in our room, or how much he had seen….I used a towel and got him out.  Last night, at our door (in a new hotel), another lovely toad was waiting to get in.  I directed him away from the door, and he has spent the entire day in a huff waiting to be let in.  Jokingly I showed our friend the toad to a cleaner and he scared him over the balcony.  “SPLAT” was all I heard (it’s a 15 foot drop) and I said “he’s dead”.  “Not dead” said the cleaner with a smile.  I jogged down the stairs, and who is hanging out at the bottom with a giant smile, but Mr. Toad, happy as Larry.  Half an hour later, Mr. Toad has brought a buddy as they are hopping back up the steps to our door.  He’s a cute, funny little bugger, though I’m not sure about his friend.

Alright, we are off to dinner at Bamboo and then back to bed for some cards, hopefully a good movie and a peaceful sleep.

Posted by: Richard | December 13, 2009

How fast is the world changing?

When I went to Nepal in 2000, outside Kathmandu there was no internet, no phones, no magazines and in most cases not even tv’s or video machines.  Even in Kathmandu, it was decidedly low tech, with a few internet cafes, but none of the guesthouses I stayed at had tv’s.  While trekking, I was completely out of touch (though I did spend $5 attempting a satellite call to my parents).

In Africa in 2003 I felt if anything that I was less connected to the outside world then in Nepal, with only 7 emails over an 8 week trip being the extent of my connectivity (3 of those emails in 10 days in South Africa).  The influence of outside/western culture was musical (with mutatos from Nairobi to Lilongwe belching out American Rap, Reggae and an East African mix). Finding money was hard, with black markets often being a necessity.

Now maybe I am only getting used to the differences and they don’t make as much of an impression on me, or maybe we are going through a dramatic change in parts of the developing world now, but I notice a change.  It can still be hard to find an ATM (but they all take my debit card), but wifi is everywhere, even where there isn’t mains power, there is still wifi.  TV’s are in all guesthouses, wifi abundant, internet cafes in every corner (in addition to a free computer or 6 at each guesthouse), stores selling pirated dvd’s and pirated newspapers.  Knowledge and information of what is going on outside of wherever we are is constantly available

While I realize I’m on the tourist trail here, I also was in 2002 and 2003.  I’m sure that going into rural towns would not have all the services and information as I see here, but surely these nodes of abundant free information, culture and ideas must exert a growing influence as time marches on.

I wonder if we are losing what makes travelling so unique.  Different cultures, foods, people, ideas, fashion, music…Ironically, it is us as tourists that are causing the loss of the main reason we travel.  At the same time, did somebody think these same thoughts a couple of decades ago with the introduction of telephones, televisions, video machines etc into some virgin paradise?

I wonder what the result of this growing influence of outside culture will be?  Will local cultures become merely nuanced forms of a global culture?  Will we evolve into “regional cultures” that tie a region together but lose a lot of the country sub-cultures as we do this?

While these changes may dampen the mystique of a trip, does this development help or hinder local people?

Posted by: Richard | December 13, 2009

Heaven at the tip of Koh Lanta

First off, our netbook is slowly dying.  We had to buy a new charger.  Then the battery would only charge to 85%.  Now, the past two days have seen the battery revolt, and it won’t charge at all.  Thankfully the previous problem of the AC not working is solved, but a terrible smell comes from the little beauty.  I fear the netbook may not last…oh well, gotta use it while I can.

We are on Koh Lanta, an island in Southern Thailand.  Since Samui we took a flight to Krabi with no plan in mind.  I spent the descent and waiting for bags figuring out what to do, where to go.  We went back and forth between Krabi and Ao Nang, finally choosing Ao Nang.  On the bus to Ao Nang, we decided to head to Railay and not stay in Ao Nang.  Railay is a tiny beach only accessible by boat.  Flanking the beach are giant karst mountains that are incredible.  Having no reservations, we luckily found a room (there are only 3 hotels on the beach we were on) and went for a paddle in the lovely Andaman Sea.  That night we had an average meal and then sat on bamboo mats with beers watching the sun set listening to Cafe del Mar cd’s from the bar.  As this is now southern Thailand it is 95% muslim, so getting alcohol can get tricky and usually only available in bars and 7-11s.

The following evening we went on a fine adventure.  We took an evening snorkelling trip.  Truthfully, the snorkelling was average, but being on an old fishing boat, eating pineapple and drinking beer is a fine way to spend an evening.  Heading to a desolate beach on an island not 50m in diameter to watch the sun set, eat a spicy dinner and look at the stars was even better.  Finally, boat problems meant we switched to a much smaller longtail boat for the hour long ride back.  We stopped right below a giant karst cliff to play in the phosphorescent water (which with 4 or 5 beers in the system made me feel like I had supernatural powers).  We got back late and were in heaven!

The following day we decided to come to Koh Lanta via a 2 hour boat ride south.  We decided at 10pm to book a room at a nice place in Koh Lanta on expedia as it got exceptional reviews and was only 15 rooms.  We didn’t know where it was or anything, just hoping the reviews were true as we booked for three nights.

We arrived and negotiated the pier (which seemed to be set up as a means of liquidating as many tourists of as much of their money as quickly as possible), with touts wanting $20 per person for a ride to their hotel.  I walked forward and got into a tuk tuk and asked how much to Phra Nang (our hotel).  The driver said “200 baht”, which I thought was fair.  I didn’t realize our hotel was 25kms away over some hills that would almost paralyse our little tuk tuk.

Arriving at our hotel, we were impressed, a long beach, a tiny lovely hotel room (with a tamarind tree growing right the middle of it) and nobody else here.  We swam in the ocean, marvelled at our good fortune and enjoyed the tranquility. At night, a beachfront restaurant sprang up and we dined by candles and then went toa  beach bar where we listened to a fantastic thai cover band play hits from the 70s to today (all acoustic).  We were truly in heaven.

The nice thing about travelling without plans is that we can change our minds.  The following morning, as Lynn and I lazed in the sea we agreed we loved this place.  We decided to stay at least an extra night.  That extra night has become four extra nights.

Right now, I’m sitting on the bed looking out at some long-tail boats in the bay.  Lynn is asleep on our hammock.  There is nobody else in sight.  If there was anybody else in sight, it would most likely be a Scandinavian person, as those appear to be the only people that come here. The books in book exchanges are all swedish, restaurants and hotels have Scandi flags and a giant pole with arrows pointing to far off parts of the world lists “Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Reykjavik, Copenhagen” as well as “USA”, “Africa”, “Canada” and “Europe”.

Yesterday I rented a scooter and Lynn and I tooted around the island.  It was so much fun, and we scooted about 70km.  I can see why people like to go on road trips on motorbikes – though I need to figure out how to keep the grit from our mouths.

Tomorrow we head on a daytrip to PhiPhi, the mythical island from the book ‘The Beach’.  We were going to stay there, but everybody we talked to said it was a big party place and Lynn and I are enjoying swimming, sleeping, reading, walking and yoga too much to deviate.

On the 17th we spend three days sea kayaking near Phuket, and I’m looking to getting out on the water…..

Posted by: Richard | December 6, 2009

a detox fast…never again

Well, here we are after a week on Koh Samui packing our bags, listening to gorky’s zygotic mynci and drinking a Singha in a tall glass of ice with the air conditioning on….it isn’t heaven, but it’s pretty good.  Very good.

What a week this has been on the enchanted isle (or so they say).  A week of contrasts for us.  Not only is this island part of the trip very different from our past city and countryside adventures, but on this island, our 8 nights have been half fasting detox, half beach bum odessy.  Let’s start with the former.

I am fascinated by the idea of not eating.  Many of my work colleagues are Muslim and fast for Ramadan.  I have never been sure I would be up to it, so last year I fasted for a day.  It wasn’t easy and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it for a lunar cycle.  But both Lynn and I are drawn to challenges, and I have often thought that not eating would be one of the harder things I could attempt.  So, when I saw the opportunity for a detox fast, I was interested. Lynn had a look, and she was interested too.

What is a detox fast?  Well, it started for me 3 days before, when I stopped consuming caffeine, sugar and alcohol.  Arriving at the resort, I had a last meal of raw veggies and carrot juice (with a lot of cayenne) before going without food for 3 days.  For Lynn, the fast produced a mild panic that manifested itself in eating 5 meals a day for the three days prior.  In the Bangkok airport Lynn did something she has never done while I have known her…she bought a BK value meal.  Veggie burger, large fries and coke.  My mouth watered while she scarfed it down waiting for our flight to Samui.  The entire time Lynn was ever so kind in offering me tastes saying “you’ll be regretting it Campbell once we are fasting!”.

Well, the fast was not just a fast, it was accompanied by detox drinks and a bevy of pills.  61 pills a day and about a litre of detox drink.  Almost immediately we started to feel horrible.  The resident health consultant nodded approvingly ‘you are starting to detox, this is good’.  Health consultant is a bit of a misnomer, as she wasn’t familiar with doxycycline and spent our group consultation telling all of us how all modern medicine is actually just making you sicker and none of it works.  I was too bashful to ask her to explain the increased life expectancy we have now versus 100 years ago.  You may be asking why, as I’m not a shy retiring person.  Well, it’s because it was an argument I would lose.  Another person had finished telling me that she only used homeopathic medicine, even when she had had dengue fever at the resort several years ago…..we quickly realized that Lynn and I were not the average people that come here.

That first day Lynn decided that the pills were not for her.  After about 40 of the pills, she realized they were making her sick and she stopped (smart of her).  Not me though, I thought that this detox might be a good idea, and kept taking them.  Bad idea.

On day two, I kept getting worse, while Lynn was getting better.  We were still fasting, and not too hungry surprisingly.  At the end of day 2 I follow Lynn’s lead and stop the supplements and detox drinks.  I feel terrible and think that the detox is making me sick!

Day three and Lynn decides to eat, though I am too sick to eat.  Lynn has the post fast breakfast and gets food poisoning….glad I didn’t stop fasting.  The day is spent with both of us huddled on a couch, shivering in 33 degree heat with frequent trips to the toilet.  Finally in the evening, we decide the only solution is to get some food, eventually taking down a green curry and a couple of singha’s (ohhh, how they soothed my detoxed body).

The following day, a few of the other fasters hearing that we had stopped early came and told us we were just getting to the good part, and the evacuations of our bodies were a dream they were hoping for “the perfect fast”.  I had many natural therapies suggested to get better, not one involving eating a curry and drinking beer (which worked incredibly well).

All was not lost on this fast though. Lynn and I developed a good perspective on food, which is what I had hoped for. Lynn also dropped six pounds.

This was the first half of our holiday, and we wanted to get off this island because we hated the entire island and thought it was rubbish.

The following day we walked North 15 minute and came to a dream bay called Silvers.  It is about 200 meters wide and we had the whole beach to ourselves.  We swam in warm water, body surfed in waves and had a great day reading (I was reading Wolf Hall – which was excellent).  This was a great day, and we were in great spirits as we came home.  We did yoga on the beach and followed it up with a great thai meal.  The trip was changing, and we were loving it.

The past three days have been the same.  Wake up and get a fruit plate, coffee and yogurt.  Laze over it all while we read the news.  Go to the supermarket and buy some water, then walk to our beach and spend 5 or 6 hours there.  Read our books, have a swim, listen to audio books, have a fruit shake, maybe split a beer and make our way back around 4pm.  Come back and share a green curry, then shower and enjoy some A/C before doing yoga by ourselves in the dusk at 6pm.  After yoga, go back and sit on the beach and just enjoy the waves, watch the crabs and enjoy our time here.

Overall, this has gone from a terrible week on a lovely island into a great holiday.  We can’t wait to see the karst cliffs of Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta next!

Posted by: Richard | November 30, 2009

Laos Photos

As promised….Photos from Laos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=178036&id=697266334&l=c64b062d28

Posted by: Richard | November 28, 2009

Photos

Well, I got the whole shebang working today. I love this netbook.  I love Picassa.

Hong Kong: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=177436&id=697266334&l=f64e284279

Bangkok: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=177446&id=697266334&l=be07e86543

Lao – images ready, but no more battery

Cambodia – still a while off….

Posted by: Richard | November 28, 2009

If eating pineapple is wrong…I don’t want to be right

Wow, what a great past week.  We managed to move our flight up a couple of days  from Vientiane in Laos to Siem Reap in Cambodia.  Very glad that we did, as the extra days here in Cambodia have been magical, with Siem Reap vying with Hong Kong as our favorite destination.  Our days here have been filled with good coffee, touring the temples and watching cheezy 80’s action films on Cambodian TV.

Highlights:

  • The temples here are incredible.  We spent three days just looking at the ones close to town (30 minute bike ride).  After looking at them all, our favorites are Ta Prohm (a somewhat dilapidated temple with trees and ferns still growing throughout) and Bayon (the temple with all the faces).
  • We had a great 35km bike yesterday in 33C heat around our favorite temples.  The bikes we rode were like the 1940 models from The Ranche.  It was so much fun, it felt like we were always going downhill (it wasn’t, but just too much fun).  I probably rang my bell 1000 times.  Maybe more.  I just had it going non-stop.
  • The other two days we took a nice tut-tut around the temples.  Very relaxing and still a lot of fun.
  • We’ve found a great little place (well, moderately sized) where we eat at least one meal a day.  A french chef has created a cafe / bistro called Blue Pumpkin and EVERYTHING is great to eat.  Right now I’m having coffee, fruit salad and yogurt.  Lynn is the same + an Orangina. Yumm Yumm.
  • Last night we spent two hours at Dr. Feet.  Not his real name, but a reflexologist working on the feet.  I didn’t think much of it, but today is the first day since before our hike across the alps when my left foot doesn’t hurt.  So, we are going back again tonight.  We also had massages.  It was quite funny, as the masseuse was walking on back (from neck to knees) trying to crack or knead something.  She thought it was funny, though it actually didn’t do much.
  • Reminiscent of Electric Avenue in Calgary, there is a Pub Street here.  Full of restos and bars.  The main difference between Electric Avenue and Pub Street is the lack of trucks and guys yelling here at Pub Street.  We spent a couple of nights on Pub street, enjoying pitchers of Gin and Tonics and usually being offered the opportunity to “get stoned”.  I can think of nothing I would like less.  Especially when the G&Ts go down so smooth in this heat.
  • Actually, I am remiss in saying that there are no loud hooligans a la Electric Avenue here.  There was a table of 20-something Aussie ladies behind us one night.  They were loaded and kept yelling to the two quiet Swedish fellas beside us “HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A GROWN MAN NAKED….DOYAWANNA?”.  After the cackling this elicited (from their table only), another would yell “HAVE YA EVER DRANK BAILEY’S FROM A SHOE…..DOYAWANNA?”.  This one made me laugh.  Finally, one of the ladies stumbled down to the road and did a chicken dance for 30 seconds.  Needless to say, the quiet Swedish fellas left.  We followed soon behind.  An hour later, two of the women were at the side of the street, heads in their hands and another in tears.  I think the booze got on top of them.
  • We eat a lot of pineapple.  Yesterday I had 1.5 full pineapples + pineapple in my dinner + pineapple in my breakfast fruit salad.  Cost for a full, peeled pineapple: $0.50
  • Our guesthouse is great.  One problem is that our old room (we moved the third night) had a mouse.  Now, one little mouse isn’t a problem, but this little guy would spend the evening laying a minefield of poops on the other bed, the dresser, our guidebooks, our hats, the floor, the TV remote, etc etc.  I thought we got rid of him night 2, but Lynn woke me up Night 3, and who is in the trash bin (reading our discarded Economist magazine perhaps?), but Terrence, our friendly little mouse.  Well, I really hope he was a mouse, I just caught a glimpse, either a giant head or small mouse.  Luckily the owners were up late that night and moved us into a nice room on the top floor, where for the past 3 nights we have slumbered in peace and tranquility.
  • We have realized that we tend to buy the same souvenirs over and over.  We have a preference for bags (or satchels for me) and scarfs.  Here in Siem Reap, we got bags made out of giant fish food sacs (cooler than they sound) and some silk scarves.  Very cool.  There are lots of shops focused for re-habing disabled people, so we’ve been shopping there.
  • The kids here (much like many other touristed developing country children) know a lot about geography.  “Where you from” they ask.  I reply “Canada” to which a chorus of voices yell out “Ottawa capital”, “Toronto big city”, “Montreal”, “Vancouver” and most bizarre “Stephen Harper”.  I quizzed the kids on one occasion, and found them knowing most major tourist nations capital cities (I actually didn’t know that Spain had (not officially) three capitals – Barcelona for Catalan, Biarritz for Basque and Madrid).  I then asked for the capital of Laos….. “Ummmm, ummmmm, i forget that one”.  Laos borders Cambodia!  I guess they don’t get many Lao tourists.

Tomorrow we leave for Koh Samui, where we are on a 10-day retreat that includes a 7-day fast (detox!) and some yoga.  I’m really not sure how much yoga we will do with no food in our system, but we shall go and see.  The bungalows are on the beach and I’m going to pick out some books to keep me occupied.  I’ve only once gone even a day without eating, so trying to go 7 days (well, we get some fruit shakes and veggie broth) will be unique.  I figure the human body is designed for centuries to feast and famine, however this guy only does the feasts.  Now, I’m sure my mom is freaking out reading this, so please know that the resort also has one of the top 50 veggie restaurants in the world (I think rated by Conde Naste), so I can simply walk from the beach to the restaurant and get some good eating if I need to.

Today we go to a real floating village on the Tonle Sap lake.  I think it will be a bit Disneyfied, but still looking forward to seeing it.  Lynn keeps promising to do an update (which I really like as she sees a lot of things that I miss), so email her and ask her.

Oh yes, finally I need to say that Warehouse Computers in Siem Reap are great.  They spent an hour with me trying to get the power charging to work.  Nice people.

Posted by: Richard | November 21, 2009

and so on and so on…forever and ever

well, we are now in Ventiane…and we like it. Nobody is supposed to, but we do.  A slow sedate city with a few nice restaurants and some cars edging along.  Very nice.  Especially after Veng Viang.  Highlights of the last little while:

  • The bars in Veng Viang have stumbled upon a hit to bring in the punters: show tv.  Either Friends or Family guy (friends running ahead at 3 bars:1 bar with family guy.  I would love to be the guy with the full episodes of Seinfeld.  That said, we watched about 5 episodes of family guy.
  • I understand ladies, and couples watching friends, but to see guys in there solo willingly….I don’t get that.  I can also only assume that the laughter from people watching Friends was due to the willy-nilly use of magic mushrooms
  • Lynn and I prayed last night that the waiter had not put magic mushrooms on our pizza.  We have no interest in this.  The wacky guy kept making references to mushrooms and we kept saying “just the pizza, no mushrooms” that I became paranoid that he had put mushrooms on the pizza, which made Lynn paranoid.
  • Veng Viang.  The tube adventure.  I wish I had my camera for this.  It was really something.  We kayaked through.  Thank god we could move quickly.  Even with paddles and kayaks, one in our group got flipped. 
  • Veng Viang is probably what spring break is like.  As Lynn overheard one woman saying “i love it here.  I’m always so stoned that I forget to eat, i’m losing so much weight”
  • Veng Viang isn’t all bad (as it might seem from the above).  Did I mention the bar that was showing season 6 of the Family guy.
  • Our bungalow looked out on the Nahm Kahn, and was absolutely incredible to lie in bed, watch small boats coast down and the sun set over the beautiful karst mountains….
  • we trekked to the hidden eden valley.  our guide got covered in leeches.  it was lovely, and the day was only about 20 degrees, but we were both covered in sweat and were exhausted.  High compliments to those poor souls that explored SE Asia centuries ago…
  • Caves.  I have never been inside real ones.  Ones that go on for km’s. Ones with rivers in them.  They are very cool.  Especially the river ones.  Though the spiders are a bit freaky.
  • Watching loaded hippies coming back on tuktuks, 15 on a tiny bus, loaded, singing, half naked in the dark…they didn’t complete the tube trip…

We met a lot of nice people there, had a great kayak and enjoyed our time.  That said, it is lovely to be in sedate Vientiane.  Fewer hippies, nicer restaurants and the locals seem happier (hell, I would go insane if every day my town was populated by out of control foreigners bingeing on drink).

Tomorrow we head to Cambodia.  We cannot wait.  Should be lovely.

Oh yes, forget to mention that we won the kayak race. Go Canada (though several others commented “but kayaking is your national sport”.  Is it?)

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