Archive for the ‘Laos’ Category

meet Ted Van Eijk…

… possibly the most amazing 71-year-old I’ve ever met.


One of the nicest things about our Laos trip was that we met a few rather interesting individuals along the way, so I thought I’d kick off the travelouge with our chance meeting with Ted at Pha That Luang, the most important national monument in Laos.


We were walking past one of the two temples surrounding Pha That Luang when we saw an ang moh talking to a young monk underneath a tree.  I was curious about their conversation, so I delibrately slowed down to eavesdrop. (occupational hazard i know.. =P)


It turned out that the young monk speaks very little English and was unable to explain to Ted about the origins of the stupa. An exasperated Ted asked as I walked past: “Do you speak English?” and that’s how we started talking.


Earlier on, I had translated excerpts from the Lonely Planet to explain to my mom about the history of the stupa, so I basically rattled off the information that I can remember, and that rather impressed Ted. (LP’s really helpful when you’ve got no guide with you at such historical places.)


So we sat under the tree and Ted from Holland said that he’s on a cycling trip around SEA. He flew to Cambodia, cycled to Laos, and will be covering Thailand, Malaysia, after which he’ll be coming to Singapore to catch his flight back to The Netherlands.


The funny thing was that while planning this journey, Ted thought that Singapore is part of Malaysia, until I told him repeatedly that we’re not. I suggested that crossing the causeway would probably be a better idea than taking a boat from some little island in Malaysia/ Indonesia over.


He’s genuinely shocked that his boat trip was not going to work out and kept apologizing for not knowing that Singapore is a country.


Ted’s 71 but the robust man looks more like he’s in his 60s. An avid cyclist, he began his “mini” bike trips around Europe since he was 12 and got more and more adventurous as he got older, especially after he retired from his job as an engineer.


Countries that he’d cycled in include: Peru, South America, Japan, China, etc. His milestone journey was a 9 month trip around Australia when he turned 65.


“The country is huge and sometimes, I’ve to cycle a few hundred kilometeres in between towns. I have to carry all my food and water supplies with me on my bike.” 


Ted says that he never falls ill on such trips and I supposed it’s because he’s sweating it out everyday and taking in all the wonderful sights that he has no time at all to be sick. He laughed and nodded his head in agreement when I said that.


One thing that struck me about Ted is how meticulous he records all his photos. He carries an analog camera and keeps a short description of all the shots he makes in a slim little 1996 organizer-turned-notebook. In a digitized world, that kind of conscientiousness is hard to find. He develops his films after he gets back home and sticks them into a DIY album, copying the captions from his notebook into the albums. It’s inspiring.   


As he recounted his experiences, his expression showed how much he enjoyed his journeys and if I can ever speak about my life experiences in that same manner when I reach my seventies, it must have been a good life, spiritually.


To say that I admire his courage to pursue his love for seeing the world on his bike is an understatement. Hope things are going well for him on the road.



The man who's still cycling around the world at 71


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Two weeks, just me and mom

We’re all packed and ready to go! (after I’ve taken my shower that is)

Today’s plan is quite straight forward. Fly out to Bangkok, take the Airport Express to Hualamphong train station, catch the night train to Nong Khai where there’s a border crossing to Laos.

Hope there’ll be no hiccups! Adios everyone! Feliz Navidad! =)

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