17 September 2011 During my second trip to Asia, I found myself at the point where three countries met: Laos, Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). As I crossed the Mekong River, leaving Laos and entering Thailand, I snapped a photo, just in case that was as much of Burma as I will ever get to see. Hopefully it won’t be.
Dates I was there: 16-17 September 2011 We had an earlier than usual start the next morning. Our guide had told us that first thing the monks walked past our hotel as they collected food, donated to them by the local people, so we went to see it for ourselves. Soon enough, a line of monks glad in orange robes walked past, whilst villagers sat at the roadside offering them food.
Dates I was there: 14-15 September 2011 The journey from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang was an unpleasantly bumpy one. There were six of us piled into the mini-bus along with our tour guide and the driver. Since there were three sets of three seats on the back, we divided into pairs and sprawled across them. I get car sick at the best of times and, as we swung around mountain corner after mountain corner, I could barely sit up straight. In fact, I couldn’t sit up at all. Instead, I had to lay across my seats with my travel buddy holding onto me, acting as my seatbelt to stop me from falling off. In that position, the ride was much more comfortable. I think I even dozed off.
12-13 September 2011 With a 9am start, we got a bit of a lie-in before leaving Vientiane for Vang Vieng and, after quite a bumpy ride, we arrived early afternoon. We checked into the Inthira hotel and went straight back out again to find food down by the river.
Dates I was there: 10-11 September 2011 It was an early start as my tour group left Vietnam for Laos. Apparently, the Laos border closed at 5pm so we had to firm deadline to meet. Thankfully, depending on your point of view, our mini-bus preceded to bomb around the country roads, overtaking any car or bike that got in our way and beeping at anything in sight- standard driving practice really. Beeping in Vietnam essentially means, “I’m here, watch out”, unlike in England where it tends to angrily mean, “what are you even doing?!”
The first time I rode a motorbike was pretty much by accident. We’d reached 1770 on the east coast of Australia (that’s the name of the place- it’s not just really old-fashioned) and the big tourist attraction was the Scooteroo bike tours.
After doing my list of the Seven Wonders of the World, I wondered how many UNESCO World Heritage sites I’d seen without knowing it and how many I had left to do. It turns out, that out of the 981 preserved cultural and natural landmarks, I have been to 25. Only 956 to go then- I may complete my Seven Wonders list first:
Whilst arguably it may not be the most ‘cultural’ activity, you cannot go abroad without going shopping. Well, you can’t if you’re me anyway. Not only is there the necessity of buying gifts for people at home but you will want something that reminds you of your trip away. It is also a great opportunity to hunt for a bargain.