Saturday, August 20, 2011

Indochina Rewind

I'm really sorry for not posting my last travels. Real life and deadlines got in the way of blogging. In the past three months, I've traveled to Bangkok, Laos, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Singapore.  I will start uploading photos and entries. I'm starting off with my two-week trip to Indochina at the end of May to Early June:

7 JUNE 2011-Phew, what a rush the past two weeks have been!  I have indulged in the decadence of the Four Seasons Bangkok, a favorite of the wealthy Thai and expat families for Sunday brunch.

I took an 11-hour land trip from Bangkok to Pakse, Laos. The drive took three or four times to top up the petrol tank and numerous stops for potty breaks for me and two other journalists.

An enterprising child selling at the Thai-Laos Border

She sold this sour fruit.. is similar to the Philippine Kamias, with a chili sugar dipping sauce

our dinner after 11 hours together... by the Mekong River 
At the Mekong Tourism Forum, I marveled the grandeur of the Mekong River. I crossed over to the quiet fishing town of Dong Daeng Island, then headed to the Vat Phu, Khmer ruins dating even earlier than Angkor Wat.

Vat Phu, older than Angkor Wat Temples

Look an instant picture frame! 

I met fascinating people passionate about travel around the Mekong and a fellow foodie Bobby Chinn.
Look who's cooking my dinner...

Me and Bobby Chinn

Interesting scene near Pakse Market, feels like a blast from the past

Market Grilled Lunch

Chili anyone?


We couldn't get the name... but it is a fruit similar to coconut..

I push my adrenaline and my physical strength to the limit by taking on the Tree Top Adventure in Paksong, Laos, where I screamed my head off in 8 ziplines, traversed Canopy walks, and abseiled a couple of towering trees.  No one mentioned there would be a 10 kilometer trek on muddy slippery terrain or it would require negotiating a steep via Ferrata, some 300 meters above ground, looking down at the waterwalls.  But hey, I survived with jello legs for the rest of the day, and sore muscles for the next three days.

That's me with my brake contraption aka a twig... before the trek and 8 ziplines-- still smiling here! 
Aaaaaa.... Zip line number 8! 

 I chilled out at Inthira Hotel , a lovely boutique hotel in Champasak with the cutest baby Mia, daughter of the hotel’s managing director, Frenchman Alex and his Australian wife Jayd.  Mia cooed and giggled as the staff taught me to make traditional Laos dishes (I will post these videos soon). I ease my weary body with a massage at Champasak Spa, ran by a French lady to help local women earn a living. 

Little Mia in the mortar and pestle

From Laos, I flew to Ho Chi Minh City. Being in rural Laos for several days, I welcomed returning to the madness of HCMC.  Staying with my aunt, everything felt familiar again, even bravely crossing the streets with the wild motorcycle drivers. I then got pampered in the Six Senses, Con Dao.

Lovely Six Senses Resort in Con Dao 

I ended my trip with a road trip to Vung Tao with my aunt and her girlfriends.

Lovely seaside town of Vung Tau

Despite all the wows… surprisingly, it was one simple morning in Laos that made a dent to this food and travel writer. I sum it up in the journal entry below....


CHAMPASAK, LAOS- You see them in guidebooks, the classic image of monks in saffron robes walking in single file with their begging bowls. It is 6 am, an hour before leaving for Pakse. The street is empty.  But I am not alone.  Two women stand outside their homes, just across the Inthira Hotel. They have baskets of sticky rice ready for the monks. While waiting one rolled three clumps of rice into balls and placed them on the small wooden altar in front of their home.

They waited in anticipation, ready for their daily act of generosity. I was told there are temples along this road in Champasak, with about ten monks in each one. 

Then they came a line of six monks, just like the Von Trapp family. As if it were carefully choreographed, with the order of the tallest to the shortest monk (perhaps only four or five years old), they all walked gracefully in their robes.  No smiles, no conversation.  The last one skipped and hopped in a playful pace. But what struck me the most was their trust. Everyday, they faithfully believe they would be provided for with food from generous strangers.

It takes deep faith to know God (or the universe, if you wish) would provide abundantly for your needs.  But there too is a lesson to be learned from the women. They waited in anticipation of the monks each day. Every day was a chance to flex their giving muscle more.  They do have a choice. At 6am, I can think of many things I would rather be doing.  They can be sleeping or getting a headstart on their daily tasks of cooking, washing the laundry, or earning a living.  Instead, they choose to give. 

We may be busy improving our running speed, our downward facing dog, or our forehand every morning. But perhaps, the real exercise worth doing daily requires us to flex our giving and receiving muscles. 

10:20am. Written 6.02.20. Copyright2011. Maida Pineda


  1. Love Bobby Chinn. :) Is he as crazy in person as he is on TV?

  2. Hi, Maida! Happy to find your blog. This is Gregg, Kiko's friend. I'm sure you'd remember. Nice blog read.

  3. Yes... Bobby is as crazy as he is on TV.

    Glad you enjoy the blog, Gregg. Cheers!

  4. Hi Maida .. going over your Blogs. am a fan of Bobby Chin. He seems to really love what he does and is a natural on TV. Not show biz type..

    T. Nonny ( forgot my Live Journal account name etc)

    1. Yes, he's quite natural and spontaneous. He has a background as a standup comedian. I got to spend some time with him in Pakse. I also have two published articles about him. See

  5. Hi Maida,

    M a gr8 fan of Bobby Chinn,,,,,,,


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