So the story ends with a train ride from Nong Khai to Bangkok. The day train reveals the Thai countryside looking bare and dry, and very much like Australia in places. Although it does have floppy eared Brahman cows running around to keep things entertaining, as well as the occasional expanse of water, or limestone outcrop. Back in Bangkok, I decide I never want to go there again. Khao Sanh road is a cesspit of evil – at night it pounds with music, neon lights glare from everywhere, sun-soaked tourists wearing far too little crowd the street, and vendors pack … Continue reading the end of the story
Night buses always seem a good idea at the time. After spending the first three hours sitting in front of a Japanese girl who is throwing up constantly, I begin to regret things (when they went around handing out bags at the start of the ride, I’d vaguely assumed it was a rubbish bag, silly me). Sleep doesn’t come, and when we stumble off a tuk-tuk into the middle of Vientiane at 4.30am, exhaustion levels are high. We find benches by the river, and I douse myself in Deet and fall asleep, ignoring the hovering swarm of mossies and other … Continue reading relaxing in nong khai, thailand
After spending some time in less touristed lands, Luang Prabang seems infested. We hire bikes and ride randomly out of town. Farmland, Luang Prabang, Laos I find a cow. Several cows in fact. This one was my favourite. Cow, Luang Prabang, Laos
Sleeping lightly, I’m woken by the roosters. They start at 4am – apparently they haven’t heard that they’re supposed to crow at dawn. Later, on the boat, I overhear a couple of English guys: “Were we camped next to a bloody farm or something? The bloody roosters didn’t shut up all night!” We pile onto the boat at 8am, along with a hoard of others, mainly coming down the river from the Thai border. As we sit for a couple of hours, waiting for all of the idiots with no temporal awareness to finally show up, I am amused by … Continue reading downriver on the mekong
Having a thirteen year old guide book can sometimes lead to pleasant surprises. We expected the bus drive from Udomxai to Pak Beng to take around seven hours. Seven hours of being cramped on a tiny mini-bus, the aisles filled with plastic seats, and the leg space designed for people with much less leg than either of us had. But hoorah, we arrived in Pak Beng after only three hours. We wander down to the Mekong and confirm we are indeed already at Pak Beng, then go forth on the hunt for fruit shakes. The main street, Pak Beng, … Continue reading alarming the locals in pak beng
What’s this? What’s what? It’s yet another Wat on a hill. The Wat on the hill, Udomxai, Laos The extreme smokiness of Udomxai didn’t exactly endear it to me. Combined with a room that stank of cigarettes, a guest house filled with yelling Chinese, and some fairly average food, I wasn’t to sad to be leaving after just one night.
They sell baguettes everywhere in Laos – in restaurants, at street vendors, at market stalls… good for breakfast, lunch, or a snack whenever one is needed. Said baguettes always come with the option of Laughing Cow cheese (or a whole swag of other delicious treasures). So the French presence in Laos was not without its benefits, as the baguettes are good. Breakfast in Luang Prabang, Laos
Monks crossing foot bridge at dawn, Luang Prabang, Laos Wat with monk, Luang Prabang, Laos Bridge over the river something, Luang Prabang, Laos The main street in smoky early morning light, Luang Prabang, Laos Tuk-tuk at a Wat, Luang Prabang, Laos
The overnight bus was an experience. We’re still too used to being in Australia, and are alarmed when they haul a moped onto the roof of the bus by hand, and tie it on (along with the rest of our luggage). I gain an appreciation of Thai and Laos karaoke, and am enthralled by Thai kung fu movies with tuk-tuk chases. The 5am arrival in Luang Prabang lets us watch the sunrise … if we could be bothered… Most of the first day is spent asleep, and then watching locals play bocce by the side of the road. This is … Continue reading luang prabang – the wonder years
As we cross the Friendship Bridge, we switch from the left side of the road to the right (damned French), and the well-paved highway turns into potholed ragged asphalt, which turns into dirt road, which turns into a new road… and we’re in Vientiane. Fed up with the place quite quickly, we jump on the bus to Luang Prabang that night. Mekong River at dawn
Swamp, rampant undergrowth, enormous billboard structures, washing hung on every balcony and window of multi-story apartment blocks, and a cat on a smorgasboard of tin rooves. We’d arrived in Bangkok. Then, horror of horrors, we went to Khao San road, where we see an alarmingly enormous bogan woman (with her miniature mother in tow), wearing cork heeled sandles and a hideous elasticated strapless “dress” and straggly bleached hair. As we eat breakfast, we watch overexciteable English blokes standing up and yelling at each other, before returning to conversations with the Thai bar girls who are hanging off them – starting … Continue reading arriving in bangkok
So, plans changed, but finally we should be on an aeroplane tomorrow night, for two weeks of gadding about in South-East Asia. Instead of the old plan, there’ll be just the bit circled in orange below… in other words, lazing around in Laos for two weeks. Well, probably not too much lazing. But not sticking any feet through over the border with China though.
As of February 10th I’ll be doing this: For a month. (Travelling around the countries that is, not badly drawing on maps). Hopefully I don’t get eaten by killer chickens, or sucked into the internets and converted into some sort of virus. The plan is to wander around, posing as tourists, and taking photos (perhaps of high-tech military installations). No climbing due to the injured finger.