20-24 September 2011 After my tour in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, I had a few days left in Bangkok to explore and enjoy myself. I moved from the Bangkok Centre Hotel to a hotel on road parallel to Khao San Road. I know when you’re backpacking in Asia, you should be spending your nights in a hostel bed for a couple of pounds, but when I found a very reasonably priced hotel room, with an en-suite, a double bed and breakfast, I decided to indulge.
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 were finally pulling into Bangkok station and we walked the short distance over to the rather nice Bangkok Centre Hotel, before popping to the 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.
17 -18 September 2011 After my boat docked on the shore 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. 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.
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?!”
Dates I was there: 8-9 September 2011 The next morning, I intended to find Hang Be Market, which was close to my hotel, before I moved on elsewhere. Sadly, that morning, I wasn’t feeling great so I instead spent the morning in bed in front of the National Geographic Channel.
Date I was there: 6-7 September 2011 I was picked up at 8.30am from the Hanoi Style Hotel to begin my trip to Ha Long Bay– the UNESCO site where rocks loom out of the turquoise water. My travel agent had said that I may be on the trip alone but four hours later, along with the bus load of people we were on a rather bumpy and uncomfortable ride with, I was on a little boat heading to the Phoenix Cruiser which was to be my tour boat for the next couple of days.