Published: February 23rd 2009February 23rd 2009
Ouch!!! didn't know I could still bend like that!
Hello from Laos!!!
So last I wrote we were on our way up to Chiang Mai! Our flights went really well and we were introduced to what Bangkok airlines has to offer. On an hour flight from Bangkok up to Chiang Mai we were served drinks, coffee or tea and a full lunch consisting of a huge ham sandwich, a cookie and then more juice after. It is the little things while traveling that can really make your day. Lee, our friend from England joined us up to Chiang Mai as well. We arrived at night in Chiang Mai and arranged a taxi to our guest house. The guest house that Mitch recommended was unfortunately full so we made our way to Eagle 2 guest house. It was nice and clean so we quickly dropped our bags and headed for the night market. After walking around for a few hours Stacey had scoped out all the good deals and we headed home for some sleep.
The next morning we booked a cooking class and headed out to explore some of the Temples and city sights. We planned a loop to see a few places and were pleasantly surprised when the
at the market
loop only took us a couple of hours. We read in the lonely planet that you can get massages at the woman’s prison. We figured that since we hadn’t had a thai massage yet that a prison would be quite the place to get one. The women’s prison has a program for the women to make some money and learn skills to help them when they are released. All the women who are doing the massages are getting out of jail in the next 6 months. So off we went to find the prison. We started with a nice little foot bath. It is not surprising that they wanted to clean our feet before they touched them as they get very dirty walking around all day. Stacey, Lee and I were all shocked at how clean our feet were after some work with a scrub brush and soap. A Thai massage is not relaxing like most massages I have received and at times you think you are being bruised but it actually feels really good, AFTER. Haha so the massage was an experience and the women were lovely. They laughed at us as we said “Oi” each time it hurt
and we laughed at them as they bent us over backwards and stretched us into some very unnatural positions (see picture). So we survived and it was another one of those moments that we were glad to be traveling with friends as laughing at what each other was going through was more fun than anything.
So we headed back to the guest house and were picked up for our cooking course. It was just the three of us and two Americans. We went to the market to pick out the ingredients we would need. The markets in which Thai people shop are tucked away in back alleys where you would never think to look. They charge about a quarter what the tourist markets charge and sell some very interesting things. We headed out of Chiang Mai city to a small homestead. We cooked a lemon grass soup, pad thai, fried chicken with cashew nuts, and banana spring rolls. After the meals were prepared we sat down to a feast. It all tasted amazing and we couldn’t believe how simple the recipes were.
After the cooking course we asked to be dropped off at the Sunday night market. In
Laos, Myanmar, Thailand
Chiang Mai, every Sunday, a huge main street shuts down to all vehicles and a night market is set up. You name it, you can buy it here. We walked for 5 hours and didn’t even see it all. Bought some fun things and headed for home. We booked a day trip the next day to the Myanmar/Thai/Laos border to an area called the golden triangle. We needed to extend our Thai visa for a few more days. It was just as much money to take a tour as it was to pay to be driven to the border so we took the tour. The tour was kinda boring but it was neat to see where the three countries met. Stacey and I crossed into Myanmar (Burma) for a grand 15 minutes to extend our Visas. Didn’t see much but a typical border town and lots of children begging for money. Stopped on the way home to see the White Palace (see picture) and then headed back to Chiang Mai. The best parts of the tour was being able to see more of northern Thailand and our tour guide whose name was Dang. He took his job very seriously and
was very very concerned about us going across the border and deciding to stay over there. So we headed for bed to rest up for the next day in which we were leaving for a 3 day trek.
When booking treks in Chiang Mai you can go with the regular trek that everybody does in which you stay in villages with lots of other groups of travelers. We wanted a bit more of a natural experience so we searched out a travel company that specialized in this. We found a company in which the guide was born and raised in the area and we were guaranteed to be the only group in the areas we went to. Success!! Only catch haha, we of course had to pay more and in order to go we needed a minimum of 4 people. Of course it was just the three of us. So we set out to find more people so that we could go. We easily found a group of four who were eager to have an experience like the one we wanted. The travel company was so thankful for us helping that they gave each of us a Chiang Mai
t-shirt and thank you note. On the morning of our trek we found that there were now 9 of us going. It worked out really well. We had 6 from England including Lee, one from Holland and us two Canadians. Two of the English guys were very hungover the morning we left for the trek and were very entertaining on the bumpy road to our first stop.
Our first stop was a limestone water fall. As it formed it created a natural staircase and we were able to walk from the bottom to the top of the waterfall. It was a great introduction to the dynamics of the group as Stacey and I fearlessly scaled the waterfall and saw the jaws drop on the guys who weren’t so confident. I told them it is because as children in Canada it is sink or swim and we climb waterfalls all the time. They weren’t sure if I was joking or not, it was really funny. Next we drove to a small village to have lunch and begin our walk. Fried rice for lunch, of course, and we began our walk. Being two of the three non smokers in the group
Stacey and I found ourselves comfortably at the front of the pack. It was a very challenging hike that took 5 hours to reach our camp for the night. A few of the smokers claimed that they were sure death was calling them but we all made it in one piece. It was nearing dark so we organized our beds (also known as a blanket under and two on top) and got ourselves seated for dinner. We had the most amazing dinner by candle light. Food tastes so much better when you work for it. Our guide (Jay) prepared the food for us, wouldn’t eat until we had all had our fill and then wouldn’t let us help clean up at all. After we finished we lit a fire and enjoyed the brightest stars I have seen on this trip. We were literally in the middle of the jungle with no lights around.
The next morning I awoke to the sound of elephants outside. In the area the locals have 6 working elephants that help with farming and carrying equipment. They weren’t there for us but it was neat to see them up close for the first time. We
Elephant looking in our door
Wasn't kidding when I said I woke up to Elephants
had breakfast and headed back out on the trail. We walked for two hours and then stopped for lunch in the jungle. Our guide built a fire, chopped up some vegetables and threw in some spices and noodles and lunch was ready. We walked for another hour and arrived at a small village. This is where we were greeted by the elephants and began our elephant ride. Yes it is as uncomfortable as I expected but it was really cool to see hw massive the elephants were and how easily they walked up the hills. One word commands could make the elephant stop, turn right or left, or go faster or slower. At each stream we crossed the elephant would use the opportunity to cool itself down by filling its trunk with water and splashing the water up its sides, resulting in us getting cooled down as well. We both took turns riding on the elephants neck. Once we arrived at the next village we unloaded and the elephants were given some well deserved play time in the creek. We had another great dinner and then had a performance of local song and dance by some of the local women.
After their performance they told us it was our turn and between the 9 of us we came up with some Spice girls, Queen and a wonderful rendition of Summer nights from Greece. We laughed and they seemed to enjoy it. Had another camp fire and hit the sack.
The net morning we walked for two hours and then hopped in the truck and headed to our white water rafting. For the first 15 minutes I couldn’t understand what we were doing wrong because it seemed like if there was a rock we would hit it and get stuck on it. Then I realized that our rafting guide (not Jay) was completely incapable of steering or giving directions to the group. I was at the back of the boat and starting steering and things went much better from that point on. It is the dry season right now so the water is very low and to be honest the “whitewater” was no where to really be seen. It was probably better due to the lack of ability of our guide. It was more fun to splash other boats and try and pull each other overboard anyways. After we reached
Riding the Elephant
I can check that off my bucket list!!
the end in which no one was in the boat and we were searching for our paddles we laughed at how much fun you can have despite the lack of rapids. Then we boarded the bamboo rafts and floated gently down the river to the end of our trek. Lots of laughs and lots of fun. We returned to the travel company shop to ice cold cokes and our thank you t-shirts. The white water rafting was in an area that all the treks go to and seeing how many groups there were made us very glad that we went to the more remote areas. That night the nine of us celebrated with dinner and drinks.
The next morning we said our good byes to Lee and headed to the bus station. We have been with Lee for almost 2 weeks so it was sad to say good bye. We got on our six hour bus to Chang Khong, the Thai Laos border. Went quickly as we both slept the whole way. We crossed into Laos and spent the night in Huay Xai. The next morning we boarded a slow boat to Luang Prabang. The slow boat takes 2
On the elephants head
Not comfortable!!! haha
days, stopping at night in a little village called Pak Beng. The other option is a fast boat that takes 6 hours but people die yearly when the little speed boats hit submerged rocks. We decided on the slow boat. It wasn’t to bad as the scenery was beautiful and the drunk Irish people on board were very entertaining.
Laos so far is very beautiful and we are happy that the long travel days are over. We are currently in Luang Prabang and have three days planned. One more week with Stacey and then I am on my own. We have found it so easy to meet people here that I am not worried. I will miss her as we have had a blast together.
Miss you all, lots of Love,
There are more photos below