Halllooo! I know its been like forever since I last wrote on here. Thats because the trip was just so full on it was hard to sit down and spend a few hours updating the blog. Plus there wasnt always internet connections, let alone fast internet connections so thought I would update here. So as you are all aware I am now safely in London & can tell you what I got up to in SE Asia. An overview anyways. Hopefully this will give you something to do on a quiet sunday evening or maybe even during a few lunch breaks.
So I wrote a rather large section in my diary and then copied it onto a wordpad thing so will copy & paste that as it will save me a shit load of typing. This section will be the more detailed section of the trip and warning you now make sure you have a few hours to read it maybe even have a snooze in the middle as it may send you to sleep. But the second section the one I will type out wont be so detailed as I will just keep it as short as I can.
Anywhos so you all hardly know anything from the trip so best start from the beginning aye?
As you all know the first few days of the trip were seriously hard for me was a heck of alot to leave behind and come somewhere I was unfamiliar with with no one I knew around and people who hardly talked any English around but once the trip started things all looked up. The group are a really awesome bunch of people. I am roommates with a lovely lady from Las Angeles Sandra. There are two sisters from NZ Ashlee and Haley. There is Bob and Jan - married - also from NZ. We have Elizabeth and Richard married, from Perth, Trevor a cop from Christchurch and retired & travelling. Then there is Lisa from Melbourne and Amber from South Africa. Our tour leader is Aaron and he is from Texas in the states.
k so day 1 the group meeting at the hotel in Bangkok was around 6.30pm, meet everyone and went over the basics. While we were in the resturant at the top of the Grand Ville Hotel that I was staying at it ended up doing a full on monsoon down pour. So hard out and heavy we couldnt see out the windows and had to raise our voices to talk across the table. Intense. Anyways, after introductions, we took a bus to some night markets and had dinner together in a lil place called Khaosahn (cal-sung). Very cute and rather tasty food. Everyone got along really well straight away and it ended up being the most I had seen of Bangkok in the few days I had been there. All ended up in taxis back to the hotel as many were shattered from flights or various other things such as the heat of the day.
Day 2 - 16-11 - In the morning after breakfast we followed Aaron down to 1 of Bangkoks famous Khlongs and went on a long tail boat all the way down to Wat Po Temple. The heat was immese for us that day so heading down river with the breeze was bliss. Got to see local life from the river side, heaps of dogs, houses packed to the rafters with junk, a monk on a cell phone covered in tattoos (ineresting site) and other crap. No blue water though as its brown becuase of the type of mud in the river. Arrived at Wat Po and were shown around by one of the temples tour guides. the sun really come out by the time we got there round 11 and we all had to be wearing tops that covered our shoulders and pants that covered the knees so it was darn hot. We learnt the Buddha way from the Thai's point of view and wandered round with the guide viewing the different sites there. This is the temple that houses the worlds largest reclining Buddha, 15m tall, 11m wide, and something like 40m long. Cant remember the length for sure. It was stunning. He is reclining because thats the last position Buddha was in before he passed away and went into the state of Nirvana. Took plenty photos. Really hoping to update those sometime soon just been crazy difficult. After this we were free to do what we liked so Sandra and I wandered to the Amulet markets, ended up meeting up with Bob and Jan as well. Had a look at all the amazing Buddha amulets and various other thins for sale. I had my very first battering attempt - luckily with Sandra there who had done it before - and brought a scarf that I could use to cover my shoulders in the future when going into temples and still wear a singlet top. Also brought a little over teh shoulder bag to carry my money, passports, camera and a few other little things. The bumbag under the clothes is pointless and awkward. Also a little umbrella for rain and sunny days. There was even dentures in the streets there, also make your own dentures lol classic!
That afternoon after rinsing off and getting all our stuff together we headed to the train station where we boarded a sleeper train for 17hrs to Chiang Mai. It was only supposed to take 14hrs but there was engine problems. The train was comfy, the beds even more so. I shared a little compartment with Ashlee as all the bags that wouldnt fit on the seats were on one. I didnt sleep much at all unfortunately. An hour and a half, bummer but o well. The food was tasty the company was good and we made it to our destination safe and sound if a little late.
Day 3 of trip - 17-6-11 Once all setteled into our rooms there was a small group of us who went out for the Elephant ride. We had lunch on the way to the location & the place we ate had enormous beehives as decorations - dead ones of course. At the elephant place, Sandra and I got on the one elephant. Had to climb up large steps and monurve our way onto the seat. Soon as the elephant moved we started holding on for dear life. In the end our elephant ended up being so stubborn and not wanting to move at all even with all the encouragement of rocking back and forth from the "driver" and also us. So he requested I get off the seat onto the elephants neck and help steer him by being more weight there and rocking back and forth on the neck. Elephants have rather prickly thick black hairs, their ears are huge and flap all the time to keep the flies off, so naturally the ears were slapping into my legs becuase of where I was sitting haa haa and to top that off his shoulder blades were right below my butt cheecks. Sandra and I were in fits of laughter the whole time trying to get this stubborn elephant to move, and hang on when he went his own way round the little track. Haa you shoulda seen me climb off the elephant at the end. My legs pretty much didnt work and I had to crawl off the deck thing to get out of the way for Trev, Amber, Liz and Richard to get off. Not very successfully haa haa haa. So funny. It was great though and we even had a little baby elephant with us. At the end I pulled out bananas to feed them, I was the only one who had any left and I was surrounded by trunks and elephant heads and bodys trying to suck the bananas out of my hands. Haa I had to drop the last one and get out of there for fear of being trod on by a giant or even a baby elephant foot. But wow what an experience, loved it to bits. Got the professional photo too for memory
That afternoon we all clambered into 2 Songthaews which literally means 'two rows', these are pick up trucks with bench seats down either side covered by a roof. All took a trip up to on of the temples up the top of the hills in Chiang Mai called Doi Suthep. Heard and recorded Monks chanting. Took photos of the area, learnt a little local culture and heard these incredible bugs matting call. At first I thought it was the sound of planes starting up on the runway we could see in the city below, then we all thought it was locals on chainsaws or drills doing some work. Discovered otherwise. It was so unreal I recorded the sound. Will have to wait till I can get to You Tube (prob not till UK) to upload the vids. Was lovely up there even with the bit of rain we had on the way up. Nothing like the down pour in Bangkok. That afternoon went into the local night markets and brought some pants and a top. Had a lovely meal together and tried our hand at more battering. That night slept like a log after the full on day.
The following morning - Day 4 of trip Sat 18/6/11 - after a delicious breakfast we jumped in vans for a 4hr ride to the Thailand boarder. On the drive we stopped off in a Cashew Nut factory. Saw a cashew before it gets solds in stores. Did you know that it is on a fruit, its on the outside of this red fruit that looks like a tiny capsicum and smells like a mixture of strawberries and roses. Photos to come. What they do is take the nut off the top of the fruit - 1 nut per fruit - open the shell with gloves on - as the oil the nut sits in inside this shell is very potent on ya skin can be corrosive INTENSE!!! They crack that in a massive nut cracker, peal it and get the small cashew from the inside, put the nuts outside in drying trays then do whatever. Apparently there arent that many fruits with the nuts to a tree either. So all the effort they put in, I can completely understand why Cashew nuts are so freaking expensive now. Back on the road for another hour or so and went to another temple, cant remember the name but its probably better known as The White Temple - as everything on it is white. Its amazing. There is alot of art that would depict hell and the evils of life shrunken heads, predator (yes the Predator from the movies you read right). The artsist is a 50yr old Monk/Guy? who believes that the two most evil people in there world are Osama Bin Laden and George Bush - he believes they are the reason why the earth is corrupt and shite like it is rar de rar political bull crap Im not interested in. But he is one amazing artsist. Inside the temple - we were not allowed to photograph sorry as its not finished, is walls covered with Buddist stuff mixed in with like Spiderman, Transformers, Batman, Avatar, Superman etc etc. And really well done like he is an AMAZING Artsist. I guess you could google The White Temple in Thailand (prob Chiang Rai??) and see the temple and his artwork and read what he is all about. Daryl I think you would be interested in his stuff so check it out, I've taken plenty pix outside the temple.
Eventually we got to the Thai/Loas boarder, sorted our Visas and then went across the river to Loas and stayed the night in a cute little village named Huay Xai. Had the cutest little basic bungalos, only fans in this place but provided enough to keep us cool. We all walked down to we discovered "the Best Resturant in town" and had a divine meal. Yes it has been rice, rice, rice and more rice lol! I have been having some meat but have mainly been doing vegeterain meals. Been good though. Oh on other notes, the heat has been so intense that I have taken off my rings and the toe ring I have worn non stop for the last 7yrs due to swelling. Also discovered that my doctor has got me on 2 types of Maleria tablets. Im on Doxycyclene (devil tablets I nicknamed them as I had them without food and they made me sick as anything - on the upside discovered what was making me sick back in Bangkok like I mentioned before) which are maleria tablets - not that my doc informed me - and also for some wormy thing in the water here. But also on Larimum which I take once a week and my doc informed me were my Maleria tablets lol. Either way Im taking both. Discovered this as everyone else only has Doxycyclene and theirs are labelled as maleria tablets. Better safe than sorry I guess. Anyways after the night in Huay Xai at a place called Arimid Guest House (& waking up at like 4 in the morning to all the village dogs barking their heads off) and after having banana pancakes for brekky we started the treck to Luang Prabang.
Sun Day 5 of Trip 19/6/11 - We went on old rice barges Slow boats (cant remember the proper name) along the Mekong River. This was an 8hr journey for half way. I finally got the time to fill in my diary. We had lunch made for us onboard the boat and had a really cruizey day. We even stopped at a traditional Loas village. One that has only had electricity to for 2 months, that half of them were clothed and half were not, that was a bit of an eye opener and we were the odd looking white people in their village. It was lovely but Aaron asked if possible dont take your cameras. You can but only a couple. So I didnt take mine, will get copies off others. Got back onboard after an hour or so and floated our way down to a small sleepy little village called Pakbang. Updated everyone from FB and had a delicious meal in a cute resturant called Lovely Jubley where the guy advertises his wife as 'a very good cook'. The guy was so sweet when we told him some of us were from NZ, he said he had heard about the earthquake on the news and was sorry for what had happend. How insane and heartfelt is that? He is in a village people stop off in and he sends his kind thoughts to those in CHCH awww bless.
Our accommodation was clean and basic but with fan and we were all happy with anyways. Started getting sick of rice to eat but meh you get that in Asia. I had a bit of a restless night becuase of the heat and only having a fan but did alright the next day. Plus woken up by a ruddy rooster at 5.30am argh o well.
Day 6 of trip Mon 20/6/11 Took the second 8hr boat ride on the Mekong to Luang Prabang. About an hour or so before we arrived we stopped at a cave that housed 4 thousand Buddha statues. It was absoltely stunning here. The view was great, the cave was georgous, even had a bat flying around inside. We all enjoyed it and were in awe over it. Even made our way to the top cave where flaslights were needed to see inside. Ooo took a photo of the giant ants they have here. Arrived in Luang Prabang around 4pm. Our accommodation was stunning here. Little bungalos, situaed around a lovely garden near the river. Felt like were were like kings and queens in this place. The people were all so lovely here too. Got some washing done finally. After freshing up we all made our way into town for dinner. The amount of tourists here compared to what we have seen previously is unreal. There seemed to be more white people than locals which was odd. Anyways the dinner we went to was across a river and we had to climb 4 at a time into this terribly tiny little boat that got so close to the water when were were all in it and have these 2 skinny local boys take us upstream a bit against the strong current and across just so that by the time we got to the other side we didnt overshoot our mark. Haa haa was soo funny. The dinner was in a very flash resurant in the trees on a hill. Had a divine meal and cocktails. Relaxed up well. After dinner came back into town and slept really well that night. Had breakfast delivered to to deck of our bungalo in the morning ahhhh bliss!
Day 7 Tues 21/6/11 - After the lovely breakfast we ventured out into the worst heat we have had so far. We then all jumped in a couple of tuk tuks and drove about 40mins to some local waterfalls just outside of town. Our lovely tour guide from the boats on the Mekong - Vong - joined us at the waterfalls. Wandered up to the top section first to take a look around and take photos. So pretty the water was an intense aqua colour, it was stunning. Then walked down to the watering hole for a very refreshing swim. Had some of tghe group jump off the waterfall there and the swing on a tree. Richard, one of the older guys who is retired, decided he was gunna jump off the waterfall like the otheres. After much coaxing and alot of encouragement from everyone that was looking he conqured his temporary fear of herights and jumped off. Absolutely loved it too. Took a wee while for him to get the courage to jump, but the group and everyone else who were there including some young monks watched him jump. Too cool. Afterwards on the walk down we stopped off at a Bear rescue centre and looked at some of the bears and took photos of a couple wallowing in the water and then having a play fight. Went back down to the car park for lunch and to purchase a Beer Lao top. That afternoon after we got back to town we all wandered through the markets and I brought a ring and a necklace for myself.
Rar de rar enough update for the day. Will do a second update tomorrow sheesh I write alot lol! I decided I cant be arsed writing more the copy and pasting was time consuming as it was lol! Plus you can only read so much before you nod off right? Till tomorrow