Thailand Part Two: Bangkok (Reclining Buddha and Grand Palace)

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: Bangkok (Reclining Buddha and Grand Palace)”

Thailand Part One: Chiang Kong, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

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: Chiang Kong, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai”

Laos Part Four: 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: Journey to Thailand”

Laos Part Three: Luang Prabang (Elephant Sanctuary and Kuang Si Waterfall)

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: Luang Prabang (Elephant Sanctuary and Kuang Si Waterfall)”

Laos Part Two: Vang Vieng (Caves, Lagoons and Tubing)

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: Vang Vieng (Caves, Lagoons and Tubing)”

Laos Part One: Lac Xao and Vientiane

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: Lac Xao and Vientiane”

Hanoi Part Three: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the War Museum

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, I wasn’t feeling great so I instead spent the morning in bed in front of the National Geographic Channel. Continue reading “Hanoi Part Three: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the War Museum”

Hanoi Part Two: a trip to Ha Long Bay

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 I was 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.

Continue reading “Hanoi Part Two: a trip to Ha Long Bay”