Saturday, 13 November 2010

Laos and Northern Thailand

I'm going to have to write this quickly or at least try to because I don't have too much time. The last time I wrote it was the night before we left Siem Reap on an epic 26 hour bus journey to Vientiane in Laos. The bus journey wasn't actually as bad as I thought but that probably has something to do with the Valium we bought. I spent most of the day reading Dexter so I was happy but was sad we didn't have time to stop in 4000 islands which is meant to be beautiful... damn our time constraints!! We arrived in Vientiane early on the morning of October 30th and after an extremely quick breakfast we boarded another bus to Vang Vieng.

If you've ever been to SE Asia you will probably know about Vang Vieng, it is a small town in the middle of nowhere with not a whole lot to do except the infamous tubing. For those that don't know tubing is when you sit in a yellow rubber ring and float down a crappy river. On the way down the river you are pulled into many bars where there are buckets full of booze, free shots with insects in plus rope swings and slides to injure yourself upon. By the late afternoon everyone is pretty intoxicated and having the time of their lives. Out aim was to do this on Halloween and of course we did not let ourselves down. We did it 2 days in a row despite the fact I almost fatally injured myself on a rope swing. After a day of tubing everyone heads to the Bucket Bar for more free booze!!! We stayed in the most fantastic hostel called Spicy Laos. You sleep in wooden huts and hang out around a massive fire talking about your day on the river. On our second day tubing a bunch of us from the hostel went together and we all spray painted our right foot green, random I know but that's tubing for you!!! Despite Daire nearly drowning both days (he can't swim) we had a blast =)

To be honest we didn't really do much else in Vang Vieng except chill out and eat pancakes. On our third day we left for Luang Prabang on the most terrifying bus ride ever!! LP is a UNESCO world heritage site due to the massive amount of temples used as places of worship by the orange robed monks and because of this there is an 11.30 curfew. Whilst here we shopped in the amazing night market, wandered about and went to see a magnificent waterfall. It was a pretty chilled out couple of days to make up for the madness of Vang Vieng.

We left Luang Prabang for Thailand on a epic 3 day trip. The first third on the trip consisted of a full day boat trip up the Mekong to Pakbeng. We had to stay the night in the tiny little town where only 1 bar existed. On the second day we caught another boat to Huay Xai on the Laos-Thailand border. We arrived too late so had to stay the night but this time the town was a decent size and we spent the evening drinking and playing Israeli card games with our fellow travellers. On the third morning we had a 3 minute boat journey across the river (border crossing) to Chaing Kong, Thailand where we caught a 7 hour bus to Chaing Mai where we reached our first proper Thailand destination. That evening we checked out the might Sunday market and ate some delicious food.... mmmm I LOVE Thai food.

In Chaing Mai I did an 'elephant experience' for a day where we got to learn Mahot training techniques, feed the elephants, ride the elephants bare back and wash them in the river. It was fantastic but I don't think I'd ride an elephant again since I was terrified of falling off most of the time. That evening Daire had a bit of an experience with the crazy red bull they sell over here (which is banned at home) but all was all right. The following day Claudia, Lena (our new German friend) and myself did a Thai cooking class for the day. I made a Thai green curry, friend prawns in curry sauce, hot and sour soup, spring rolls and sticky coconut rice with mango for desert. We got to eat everything we made and could barely move after. It was fantastic!!!! That evening was a bit of a chill since we were all too full to move.

On the 10th it was Claudia's birthday so we spent the day wandering around the city. By this stage I had finished my 4 Dexter novels and The Alchemist so I went to a book shop, sold The Alchemist and bought The Beach and Veronica Decided to Die. I am currently reading The Beach and it is completely addictive, I love it!! After our trip to the book shop we went to buy some cake followed by a long jaunt at the Night Bazar. I decided (somewhat stupidly) to but a beautiful handmade bed throw and matching cushion cases. Don't get my wrong, the bed throw is stunning and cheaper than the one I almost bought in Laos but I takes up a fair bit of room in my rucksack which is now overflowing!!!! Nevertheless it was something I really wanted to buy. Because it was Claudia's birthday she wanted to get one of those fish feet massage things so of course we all had to oblige. It was pretty weird and we all spent the first 10 minutes screaming but it did leave our feet nice and smooth. We went out for some yummy food and hung out with the hotel neighbours who were lighting lanterns and let u join in, lovely!

On the next day Claudia and Daire headed off to Bangkok on the night bus to meet Martin (Claudia's boyfriend) on the 12th. Lena and I decided to go to Pai for a few days instead, which is where I am currently writing this. Pai is a little like Vang Vieng but bigger. There is a fairly big hippie scene here and loads of Reggae bars. It's nice and relaxing so I'm glad I ditched Bangkok for 2 days. We have been to hot springs which were too hot to get into and a waterfall that was too cold to swim in. We checked out the markets and local shops and generally chilled out. We keep bumping into people Lena met in Nepal and these 2 Israeli guys keep driving us about on their mopeds which is fab... free travel and all that!!! In the evening we have checked out the locals bars and eaten more delicious Thai food.

Pai has been a much needed escape but this afternoon we head back to Chaing Mai where we will fly to Bangkok this evening. It's only an hour flight instead of a 12 hour bus journey so woop!!!

I think that is everything but every time I write in this blog I always realise I left something out. I'm not looking forward to Bangkok too much since I haven't been in a buys city for ages so it'll come as quite a shock. Daire has gone home now which is a shame and I've only got a month left which is no time at all.

Laos was an amazing country and I would really love to go back and see more. The country side was beautiful and the people were so friendly, it really is the perfect retreat. Thailand has been fab so far and I can't wait to get to the islands in the South but I'm really worried I wont get to see everything I plan to. I'm kind of regretting having a booked flight home but what can I do?

We only have a couple of hours left in Pai to chill out so I best dash xxxxx