Day 23 – 29: Thailand and Laos

Okay, so I’ve been a bit lazy and haven’t been posting lately, but seriously, it’s because I’ve been travelling so far! Sorry for the belated post, but I’m going to sit here for a while and pound out everything I’ve done!

Day 23:

So I left by saying that we didn’t end up going to the full moon – which was really disappointing because I heard, from some people that had the balls to get one of those boats through the waters, that it was NUTS. Oh well, Jem, Manny and I met up with a few Norwegians staying at our resort (Matlang, huge recommendation!) and we decided to have a full moon party if our own in Chewang, heh. We ended up with a few drinks at some English pub – pretty cruisy night with some drinking games.

Day 24:

We woke up with the intention of chatching an overnight train to Bangkok, pssht, no chance. The train was heavily booked and we were left with only one option – the 11 hour bus ride. We had to do it, but it was an AWESOME bus and we got a great sunset (pics included, of course!) when on the boat from Na Thon (Koh Samui) to Surat Thani (mainland Thailand). This bus was pretty awesome though, “Super VIP” with a steward, meals and all that jazz included. The 3pm to 6am bus led us to day 25.

Day 25: Thailand – Bangkok

We ended up in Bangkok this morning in hope of catching a train/bus/plane to Chang Mai (north Thailand), heh fat chance. Today was the start of a long weekend and some flower festival was was – as a result, we had to deliberate on where we were going to go. We dropped our bags off at the train station and headed to Khao San Rd for some Internet, Breaky and reevaluation of where we were at on our trip.

With all options to Chang Mai out of the question, we decided on going to Lao! How else? another 10 hour bus ride!

We spent the rest of the day at the huge MBK shopping centre where we had an awesmoe lunch with some funky fruit shakes that not even cabra can compare to!

Sitting at the bus/train terminal and waiting for our way to Lao, KFC was on the cards, heh. No fast food for 3 weeks was going to be tough for the likes of manny and jem, so we had to grab a zinger burger. The bus ride started at 9 and that took us through to day 27.

Day 27: Lao – Vientiane

I GOT SLEEP!!! For the first time in 2 days I had been able to sleep for a decent amount of time. I sat next to 3 Israeli’s on the bus, which was great because they couldn’t speak English and I didn’t have to make conversation! Randomly, I bumped into Matihas, a random Swede drinking buddy I met at Aussie bar in Patong. We said hi and bye, but that’s not the end of it..

Arriving in Vientiane at 9am (after paying $US31 for a visa, yes, an extra dollar for the weekend…) I sat next to a Cambodian/Austrlaian girl (Mara) travelling with her boyfriend (Richard), we all immediately bonded and decided to travel through lao together. Along with Mara and Rich, Matihas joined us and we all looked for accomodation together – random swede strikes again! We found a place by the Mekong to have breaky after getting some accomodation and I decided to get my head shaved (number 3), HOWEVER, walking to the barber who do I run into? ADAM BONES! So random, hehe. We talked a bit, he had just came back from, Vang Vieng – which is where we were going to go tomorrow, since Vientiane was seen as a transit city with not much to do.

Mara, Rich, Jem and myself decided to take a tuk tuk to do the major sites in the city, there wasn’t much. We saw an Arc de Triomphe look alike (Lao was colonised by the French) , a golden temple (i’ll update the name) and a museum full of buddha statues (i’ll update aswell).

Laos Temple

We were pretty buggered and decided to head back for a shower and pit stop before dinner. Rich and Mara decided to sleep in from our 7 o’clock meeting time, so to remainder decided to go by the Mekong for a late nite feed. The night was pretty uneventful as we had ANOTHER bus to catch to Vang Vien at 10am.

Day 28: Vang Vieng

So the gang was set, 5 aussies and a random swede, all ready to head off and travel through Lao together. We arrived in Vang Vien (between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, on the Mekong and famous for tubing!!) at around 2pm and found a pretty nice place which had a room for 4 (with lone travellers) and a room for the couple. It was pretty cool, very dorm like – i love waking up and being able to talk to people around me!

Anyhow, we decided to walk around for a bit and we found that all the restaurants had one thing in particular, something ‘magic’, ‘special’ or ‘happy’ , and that something could be ANYTHING! Pizzas, shakes, pancakes – apparently even Pad Thai! Rich wanted to do try some so we all went and watched him and swede go to another level. Whilst I decided to get some buckets, and these were the worst buckets I had EVER had. Lao Lao, or Lao Whisky was totally WRONG. Two buckets and I was pretty off chops, thankfully responsible Jem was around! That is how we spent our first day in Vang Vien.. plastered.

Day 29: Vang Vien- Tubing!

The day started with an attempt to get some moto’s again (like Phuket) but everything was manual! arhhh, I didn’t have the confidence to ride one so we got a tuk tuk to take us to the ‘blue lagoon’. Lao is known for having some spectacular caves and this one was pretty death defying. We got a torch and the four of us climbed up 100m and plunged into into the depths of the abyss. After the treacherous
climb we got to swim in the ‘blue lagoon’, AWESOME. The water was BLUE and there were swings and diving boards. We were the only group bar two couples (who were also from australia, man Aussies are going to own the wolrd!), had a great time! We ended the day with a speed tubing session, it was NUTS. We started around 2:30pm and it was pretty late, but we had only time to make one pit stop at a bar – and it was the one with the biggest zip line! AWESOOMEEE FUN on these tubes, tubing while drinking the BEST BEER EVER (Beer Lao) is something of a must do. I’m really happy that I’ve come to this place before it becomes too commercial – which is something I think that this whole country will face in the coming years – a massive influx of tourists to this beautiful, truly AMAZING country. The night ended with lao whisky again

more to come!

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Day 14: Bangkok (Lazing poolside), Thailand

Nursing a monster hangover I found myself waking up at 12 and sitting poolside, met some more aussies whom were on ‘schoolies’ (in Thailand, WTF!) it was a group of 9 girls from Byron, that’s NUTS, my parents would have never let me do that!

I was trying to even out my tan lines, to no avail!

Then i flew to Phuket where i met two english girls and we’re just chilling now!

Day 13: Bangkok (Chatachuk* Markets), Thailand

25/11/2006

WOW, today was a hectic, hectic day! I went to the Chatachuk markets, home of the biggest markets i’ve seen in my life (and one of the biggest in the world according to lonely planet). There were 15,000 stalls and I had made the journey with Jo, Ella and Yvette (aussies whom I met the night before) – it was crazzzzy!!!

I wans’t in the mood to shop much, a bit claustraphobic and it was stinking hot. But when I bought my first item (a lamp), it was ALL ON!!! Then I made my way to a silk tie section, picked up 3 ties for $AU10, then found a leather bag for work, which was $AU7. I kept moving, I was a man on a mission with a 2 hour deadline! Too much stuff in too little time! I also got a watch and I was looking for cufflinks but there wasn’t enough time =(.

After the markets I ended up having dinner at some Mediteranian place, followed by a MASSIVE night of drinking. 5 buckets and a beer tower later with the Aussies and some Swedes, I was pretty sweet and made my way back home to bed.

Day 12: Bangkok, Thailand

24/12/2006

Yesterday was a pretty cool day in Bangkok. I met up with Zvir again and we decided to go to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho (home of the reclining Buddha) together. We caught a boat down the river and ended up at the Kings Palace, which was pretty phenomenal! We walked around for a bit looking at the gold sculptures, temples within the grounds and a huge arms collection. I had to borrow some clothes because I wasn’t allowed in with a singlet and shorts.

Wat Pho was next, home of the worlds biggest (?) reclining buddha. It is gold and asolutely massive, I had to do a panorama shot. We then went back to the guesthouse area (Soi Rumbuttri) and got a traditional thai massage, it was EXCELLENT. I got every bone in my back cracked.

We met up with some scandanavians we met the night before and decided to make our way across to the muay thai and lumpinee stadium. It was pretty steep at 1000THB a ticket (for the cheapest economy tickets) but it was great fun! We sat with the locals (rather than ringside like the other farang-foreigners) and the atmosphere was electric. People were screaming and shouting trying to get their bets in with makeshift bookies that had 20 mobile phones attached to their hips. A local started making bets with us, which was pretty funny, we hadn’t had the faintest idea and we chose the red or blue corner, we won everytime! The combination of lone travellers was interesting, you could start a joke with the line ‘An aussie, israeli, german and norwegian walked into a bar…’ heh

We then went to Gulliver’s Travellers Tavern and had a few drinks, which was great for my sore throat, the tequila/lemon combo made me heaps better!

Day 8 – 11: Bangkok, Thailand

Okay, so I’ve been pretty lazy in my posting of late, but I think I think I can be excused, as the tummy bug had hit me HARD! I arrived on Tuesday (21/11) from Phnom Penh and saw Jem off to India. I waited at the taxi terminal for a bit and bumped into a random English couple who had just arrived, we started speaking and I asked if we could cab share to Khao San Rd (backpacker haven), and they loved the idea! I didn’t have any accomodation so I walked around for a bit and couldn’t find anything I liked – until I stepped into a really nice, clean and Lonely Planet recommended hostel called Rumbutri Village Inn (and yes, the cleaners were cleaning the grout in the bathroom with a toothbrush as I inspected my room!)

I put my stuff down and went outside of a bit of a wonder and lunch, I had half of my tom yum soup with rice when I felt sick in my stomache. I went back to my room (air-con, hot water equipped for $AU15 a night) and had the worst case of food poisoning, not as bad as I got it in Sydney though! So I decided to relax and sit back in my room till the next day. I learnt a lot in this time, I felt quite isolated, alone and homesick, BUT I guess Jeremy put it best as describing it as, CHARACTER BUILDING.

I felt a bit better the next day (day 9 – 22/11) so I decided to go to MBK (as recommended by Shaun and Yin), and as they described it was MASSIVE. It was 7 floors of heaps of shopping, a floor for each type of section, for example, there was one for technology, homewares, mens clothes etc etc. I picked up a second hand Nokia and a sim card for 1800 bhat ($AU60) and I’ve been calling home for 7 Bhat (25 cents) a minute. I did some more wondering and wasn’t quite up for anything, well, I didn’t feel the best so I called Lucy at 3 and we decided to meet up for dinner at 6.

I left the hostel around 5 and bummed around for an hour when I bumped into Laura and Eliza (who I met from Cambodia), TOTALLY RANDOM! They were all valium’ed out so we grabbed a fruit juice, exchanged stories until I had to leave to see Lucy. Lucy and I went looking for an ellusive Japanese restaurant which no one knew about, hehe. We asked locals, school kids, restaurant owners and EVERYONE, until some kind juicing lady pointed us into the right direction. We had dinner for around hours and just chatted about Lucy’s work in setting up AISEC in Thailand. I went back to the hostel, bought some ear plugs and hit the hay.

Day 10 (22/11/2006)

Today was totally bizarre, it’s funny how things turn out. I got out of bed at 11am in hope of finding a pub that showed the Ashes. Unfortunately, no one, including all the indian tailors around the area had the faintest idea what cricket was, let alone The Ashes! I didn’t end up finding it, so I plonked myself at a swanky western cafe outside of my hotel. I had some $2 pad thai and some fresh juice and got into my ‘Stupid White Men’ book, when a random sat down next to me and we started talking. His name was Zdvir and he had arrived from Israel just yesteday, we bummed around for a bit and I got to see the city more (more than what I got from my hostel room). We were walking down one street and the military was out in force, we were wondering what the **** was going on, we started getting worried. Then we saw the ‘discrete’ Thai Secret Service, who were wearing suits that had ‘Thai Secret Service’ embroided onto their uniforms, and the King was arriving!! heh we stood around for a bit and watched as the king arrived, we were quite far away and didn’t get a real glimpse.

And that’s all that’s been happening. I may head down to Phuket on Saturday if Shab doesn’t show up. What I’ve noticed is that the backpacker community in Bangkok is pretty non-existent. There are heaps of backpackers, don’t get me wrong, but everyone sticks to themselves. I heard this would be the case, and that Phuket and down south would be heaps better.