From the moment we arrived in Vientiane, the capital of Loas, we felt an immediate sense of relaxation. Sauntering across the hot tarmac to the passport control area we did a quick scramble for the US$35 and two small ID photos required for the visa on arrival purchase. It was our first visit to this small Asian city and our friendly immigration officer taught us 'Khorp Jai' is Lao for "thank you".
The gay section of Patong Beach is directly in front of hotel La Flora Resort Patong or near the orange beach watch tower with the rainbow flag beside it. This is the place to be during the day with lots of gay men in their recently purchased swimwear filling the beach in high season. The sun lounges have unfortunately gone but beach umbrellas can be hired for 100BHT or you can buy your own for about 250BHT from the local market stalls.
The ferry terminal was only a few hundred metres from the centre of town. In Commercial Street (the main thoroughfare through town), it was no surprise to see hundreds of gay men of all ages, shapes and sizes, mmasses of rainbow flags and billboards chocked full of gay events. The first big street banner to catch our attention was a welcome to the National Gay Pilots Association. They were in town for the long weekend. How perfect, we were ready to fly.
"Have a great long weekend guys," said the Canadian cabin crew member with a wink and a smile as we disembarked our aircraft in Quebec City. We thought nothing too much about this farewell, until we discovered we had arrived for three days of Gay Pride celebration. What a bonus! Quelle formidable!
We followed St Catherine Street East from the centre of downtown Montreal until we saw thousands of small pink balls strung across the street. For five months of the summer period St Catherine Street is a pedestrian freeway which gives the area a local and relaxed feel. The gay strip goes for about a mile and would have to be one of the most thriving gay areas in the world. It's easy to see how the term 'Le Village' comes about. This is more than just a couple of bars, its a whole district.
Looking ever so smart in our brand new Cadillac hired from Calgary Airport we were on our way to Banff. The hire car company gave us very specific directions for leaving the airport and getting onto the highway but we completely missed the directions they provided and somehow ended up on the more scenic route of Highway16 which is 'straight as an arrow' all the way to Banff.