Archive for the ‘Laos’ Category

I’ve talked a lot about where I’ve been going over the last few weeks but not that much about the people I’ve been sharing the experience with.
This is where I get all emotional about how great friends are…stop if you’ve heard this before, bottom line is – the friends I’ve had with me here are the bomb.
The places I’ve seen have been amazing but this experience would not have been nearly as fun if it weren’t for the people I’ve been with.
Juliet – one of the first people I met when I arrived in Thailand so many months ago now who will always keep me entertained with her drama from getting her passport lost by the Laos immigration office to swimming half drunk down the Mekong river with a broken hand… šŸ™‚
Calvin – The youngest of our ‘family’ yet still the ‘dad’ somehow, whose feet haven’t touched a pair of shoes in months. (By the way Calvin you’re rubbing off on me, I’ve been barefoot since arriving in Koh Phangan)
Matt – I don’t think he knows why he stuck with us for six weeks, but we’re so happy he did, even if he did get a bit grumpy sometimes. šŸ˜‰
Claudia – In Claudia I’ve managed to find someone with almsot the exact same ideas as me about what traveling should be like. Thanks to her I’ve got someone to go see Vietnam with and to hopefully get a job with!
Zoe – She wasn’t with us for nearly as long as I would have liked but my time in Van Vieng wouldn’t have been the same without her, as well as the rest of Laos of course!
Chris – I think he was healthy for about two days of the five weeks I knew him… Moral of the story, M-150 is dangerous stuff….
Patrick – The ‘talented bastard’ whose guitar skills have kept me entertained many a night..
Sophie, Claudia and George – My lovely London friends who I have joined in the islands for a week or so who remind me of what I miss from home.
These are the people who are in all my photos that I will one day manage to post, and they are the people who have made this the best trip of my life. Can you taste the cheese yet?! Whatever, deal with it.

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So after three total days of swimming from bar to bar in Van Vieng we decided it was time for a detox.
After a quick overnight stay in Ventiene, the capital, with a brief visit to a couple of beautiful temples, we headed on a very long journey down through Laos to the Four Thousand Islands.

After a sleeper bus whose beds were obviously not made to hold our overly tall Western frames a minibus the next morning and a boat ride, we found ourselves on Don Det island.

The Four Thousand Islands is right down in southern Laos just before the Cambodian border. I’m still unclear as to how many days I stayed there because time didn’t seem to move. While the islands are getting a little more popular, we managed to hit them at a pretty good time. There are a few guesthouses, mostly bungalow style which means a wooden hut by the water with just enough room for a double bed and nothing else. No, not even toilets, those are in another building.
We spent however many days hanging out in hammocks a LOT and occasionally jumping into the river for a quick swim.
If you are ever on Don Det, find the bakery if it doesn’t find you first. Darren, an Australian who has moved to the island runs a delicious bakery/resturant. On our first day there he rode to our guesthouse on his bike with his leftover pastries for the day. You HAVE to try a coconut slice or a caramel slice if you’re there and he’s making them. After he realized we were his goldmine we went there almost every day at noon when the fresh stuff came out of the oven, and then without fail he showed up on his bike after closing with leftovers.

There are no banks, ATMs, or anything on the islands which caused some entertainment. Two of our group made it to the mainland before finding out that it was a Sunday and therefore the one Western Union was closed. Then made it back the next day with some cash which was lucky because then we all started to run out…stupid Darren…

We finally decided to leave and bought a ticket to Siem Reap, Cambodia. We got a boat to the mainland, then a bus to the border. We got dropped off and went through the departure process (which costs $1) then Claudia and I (we were ahead of everyone else) realised that our bus wasn’t there anymore….
The bus had driven across to the Cambodian side, dropped our bags on the side of the road and left. So Claudia (who was barefoot after losing her flip flops, well done…) and I walked the 200 metres of No Man’s Land in between the boarders to our bags. I should mention that this was an unofficial border, so the border offices were literally just wooden huts on the side of the dirt road with a wooden police station in between to apply for the Cambodian visa. We were in the middle of NOWHERE. We get our visas, ($21) then enter Cambodia (another $1).
I managed to get through this whole process with exactly $0. Remember the whole problem with no cash machines on the island…. Anyway I’m lucky enough to have friends who do bring dollars with them and my tip for you is to do so as well!!

After a long hot bus journey we arrived in a small Cambodian town where we stayed the night and celebrated St Patrick’s Day by drinking a bottle of Baileys after I had some wine!! My first wine and Baileys since leaving England, so it was a big deal. Then on to Siem Reap this morning.
Some tuk tuk driver tried to take advantage of us, but after getting out at a gas station and walking away we found another tuk tuk who took us to our hostel and here we are!

Cambodia, here we go.

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This is an e-mail I just sent to my friend Lisa covering my travel so far. Since I’m paying for internet and I’m lazy, I have copied it here. So read below to get the short version of what I’ve been up to! It has been edited a little, I tried to add more detail where I felt like it, but like I said, I’m lazy.

Hey dude,

Juliet said she just replied to you in the briefest form possible and would like me to explain that typing is a massive pain for her right now because she has a broken hand!

Let’s rewind shall we? First we get across the Thai/Laos border, after meeting some awesome people in Chang Khong who we’re still traveling with now. On the Laos side, we give our passports in to get stamped by a bunch of people and they give it back. Except Juliet never gets her back.

Long story short, they accidentally gave it to someone else, but Juliet and I are both blessed with dual citizenship so she used her US passport to get across, we get on the slow boat with the friends we’d met the night before plus a ton of other people obviously, then we started a small protest to force the slow boat guys to give us a second boat because there were FAR too many of us to fit on one boat. This ended up really well because we got the second boat and it was way better than the first boat. Comfy seats, plus an area in the back where we just laid down a mat, sat on the floor and did our thing. A Laos border guy calls Juliet, and at the first stop we make they deliver her passport. No idea what happened, but who cares, she is now a dual citizen again!

Two days on the slow boat – big party, it was awesome. We had a great group of people, we just drank a lot and played cards and hung out for two days. Not bad and totally worth it, whatever you do, do not take the speed boat or the bus. The speed boats look like suicide missions and apparently the buses are pretty horrific.

Our group currently consists of myself and Juliet, Calvin from Canada, Matt, Zoe, Claudia, Patrick and Andy from England (the Brits kind of dominate the group), and Chris from Australia.

Luang Prabang was cool, the one thing we really did there except just explore around was to go to this amazing waterfall. The night market is also amazing, I highly recommend it for some shopping although I did none because I cannot fit one more thing into my backack right now.

Most of us took a tuk tuk to the waterfall, but Juliet, this guy Patrick, and this couple Heather and Jason decided they wanted to rent motorbikes. I should say that about a week and a half before that, Juliet had her cards read and was told that while traveling to NEVER ride a motorbike. So a week later that’s exactly what she did. The four of them arrive at the waterfall a little while after the tuk tuk group, Patrick’s arm is covered in blood, and Juliet can’t move her hand. The next morning when her hand is still incredibly swollen, she goes to the pharmacy to get pain killers and comes back a couple of hours later after being sent to the hospital to find out she has snapped a bone in her hand in half. So now she has a large club for a left hand. Luckily it hasn’t stopped her from swimming down the river with the rest of us in Van Vieng, going from bar to bar and enjoying herself. The only thing she can’t do are the HUGE rope swings that are at each bar which is a shame. Another tip – if you go ‘tubing’ in Van Vieng, don’t bother getting a tube. They’re expensive, it’s very easy to swim from bar to bar, and it means you don’t have to keep track of a massive rubber tube that people are constantly trying to steal.

So that’s it so far! Another day of tubing ahead of us I think. We’re currently a band of about nine travellers all doing this thing together and so far it looks like a lot of us will be together for a large amount of this trip, which should be a blast. Sorry there are no photos but I can’t afford toi spend more time in on the internet than already have today! There are LOTS of photos and videos to upload though so I’ll try to get to that sometime soon.

For now, bye bye!

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