Thailand Part Three: markets, tigers and Johnny English

20-24 September 2011

After my tour through Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, I had a few days left in Bangkok to explore and enjoy myself. I moved from the Bangkok Centre Hotel, where my tour ended, to a hotel on road parallel to Khao San Road. I realise when you’re backpacking in Southeast Asia, you should be spending your nights in a hostel bunkbed for a couple of pounds a night, but when I found a very reasonably priced hotel room, with an en-suite, a double bed and breakfast, I decided to indulge. Continue reading “Thailand Part Three: markets, tigers and Johnny English”

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Thailand Part Two: the tour comes to an end

19 September 2011

After a surprisingly good night sleep on the overnight train from Chiang Mai, I was ousted from my bed at 7am by staff who wanted to put the beds back. An hour or two later, we finally pulled into Bangkok station and we walked the short distance over to the rather nice Bangkok Centre Hotel, before popping to a nearby 7-Eleven for breakfast. Since my steamed pork bun was a bit disappointing, I ended up with popcorn chicken from the station’s KFC. Never mind. Continue reading “Thailand Part Two: the tour comes to an end”

Thailand Part One: pad thai, a white temple and the sleeper train

17 -18 September 2011

After my boat from Laos docked on the shores of Thailand, I passed through passport control in Chiang Kong easily enough, along with the rest of my tour group. We loaded up two tuk tuks with our luggage and, just like the last time, we were too heavy. The driver pumped up the tyres and we set off, almost immediately getting stuck behind a coach that was barely moving. Unlike in Laos, the tuk tuks were not trucks with us in the back but bikes with trailers for us to sit in, meaning we got blasted by fumes coming in from all directions. Continue reading “Thailand Part One: pad thai, a white temple and the sleeper train”

Laos Part Four: the long journey to Thailand

16-17 September 2011

We had an earlier than usual start the next morning. Our guide had told us that the local monks walk through the streets of Luang Prabang, past our hotel, first thing each day as they collected food donated to them by the local people, so we went to see them for ourselves. Soon enough, a line of monks clad in orange robes walked past, whilst villagers sat at the roadside offering them something to eat.  Continue reading “Laos Part Four: the long journey to Thailand”

Laos Part Three: elephants, waterfalls and dodging water buffalo

14-15 September 2011

The journey from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang was an unpleasantly bumpy one. Our tour group of six piled into a mini-bus along with our tour guide and the driver. Since there were three sets of three seats in 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 – I had to lay across the seats with my travel buddy holding onto me, acting as a seatbelt to stop me from falling off. In that position, the ride was much more comfortable. I think I even dozed off. Continue reading “Laos Part Three: elephants, waterfalls and dodging water buffalo”

Laos Part Two: caves, lagoons and rubber rings

12-13 September 2011

With a 9am start, we got a bit of a lie-in this morning before we left 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. Many of the restaurants had TVs playing shows I recognised and we settled on a place showing Friends. Who doesn’t love a bit of Friends (in fact I’m actually watching it right now whilst I’m writing this). Sadly, we sat outside so I couldn’t actually see the screen but I suppose I was here to be sociable. There were no chairs so we all squeezed around a little table, cross-legged. Our guide recommended the baked potatoes but sadly they turned out peeled, halved and under-cooked, with only a little bit of cheese, a few beans and something that claimed to be tomato sauce.

Continue reading “Laos Part Two: caves, lagoons and rubber rings”

Laos Part One: a cycle tour, pancakes and the only restaurant in town

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 proceeded 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 in Southeast Asia 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?!” Continue reading “Laos Part One: a cycle tour, pancakes and the only restaurant in town”