Published: October 5th 2008October 3rd 2008
Bangkok to Hanoi in 15 days - July 17 to July 31, 2008
Oct. 3, 2008
Time for some catch up on our Blog, writing from Cebu, Philippines! We had an amazing amazing 15 day trip with Intrepid in July in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Intrepid does small group tours, taking a maximum of 12 - ours was a group of 8 - our leader, Siam from Chiang Mai, Thailand, Julie from England, Darren from Australia , Svein from Norway, Paul from Ireland, Dan from Wales and Al and me from Canada! Here are some highlights…
BANGKOK We began in Bangkok, meeting at the Viengtai Hotel on July 17th. It was near Kao San Road, so we had an interesting evening exploration there eating insects that were grilled to perfection and finding a great place for dinner -with other items on the menu!
CHIANG MAI, Thailand The next evening we headed to the train station and boarded the overnight train riding 13 hours north to Chiang Mai. Beautiful city, much smaller and more laid back than Bangkok. There are many Hill Tribe Peoples, like the Karen, Lahu, and Hmong, living in the mountainous districts
surrounding Chiang Mai. Al and I did a Thai Cooking School course in Chiang Mai - very fun! Are you ready for our Pad Thai? And we all hiked to the top of the beautiful Buddhist Temple - Wat Doi Suthep.
CHIANG KHONG - the border town between Thailand and Laos. We took mini buses to here stopping at a rice factory , the White Temple, a Hill Tribe Museum and seeing many beautiful rice paddies. We just had one night here at our Rimnam Guest House; lovely little village on the Mekong River.
MEKONG RIVER - we took a small ferry boat across the Mekong River on July 21st and crossed the Laos border. Sabaai dii (Hello) Laos! We had 2 incredible days travelling by boat down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang, with a one night stop in beautiful Pakbeng, exploring the market and the local wat and enjoying our Sivongsak Guest House. The electricity is only on in this village from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. - so lights out time is easy! The Mekong trip was beautiful and relaxing and we were able to see so much of the beautiful country of Laos including a
stop to visit a Hill tribe community. There were just the 8 of us on board. The boat owners and our hosts were a lovely family of 4.
LUANG PRABANG - Our Mekong River journey ended here and we stayed three nights at the Villa Suan Mark -relaxed accommodation and Luang Prabang is a wonderful old laid back city to explore. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The UNESCO report of 1995 identified 33 temples and 111 historic Lao-French buildings for specific restoration and cited Luang Prabang as the best preserved traditional town in SE Asia. Could definitely have stayed longer. Amazing Night Market, great restaurants, excellent museums, temples, traditional Lao and French colonial architecture. Al and I took a Villages tour where we visited a blacksmith village -everyone in the family working on blacksmithing, a silver making village - focus all on silver, a silk and textiles village- beautiful weaving and gorgeous fabrics and a rice wine(actually white lightening) still. Fascinating. People are all so beautiful and welcoming.
VANG VIENG - a small village set against a backdrop of dramatic limestone mountains along a bend in the Song River. Very fun village to relax in; great
Chiang Mai Market
first our cooking class went shopping with our teacher
laid back ambience here and at almost every restaurant there were tourists watching “Friends” episodes on TV! Go figure! The highlight here was definitely the tubing down the River on inner tubes! Felt like kids and it was so so fun! Just one night here alas.
VIENTIANE - On to the capital city of Laos in our mini bus and 2 nights staying at the lovely Mali Namphu Guest House. Vientiane felt rather posh and sophisticated compared to what we had seen of Laos so far. Not the same laid back ambience but interesting to explore nevertheless. Good trip to the National History Museum and shocking to think about the intense bombing that Laos has endured. There are some areas in Laos where you can still see huge bomb fragments and bomb craters. Somehow the people have continued to live with hope and joy.
LAK SAO - and the Souriya Hotel. Left Vientiane in our mini bus and enjoyed a picturesque trip through the Annamite Mountains. Many children and families everywhere we travel throughout Laos. We were just here for the late afternoon and evening and one overnight. The market was filthy but interesting -dead rats and squirrels
were some of the items for sale -gasp! And we ate at the “One only” restaurant so named as it is the one and only restaurant in town!
HANOI- Our final destination. Crossed the border from Laos in to Vietnam on July 29th and had 2 more days with our group and began our Vietnam journey.
We packed in a lot in just 15 days but it was fabulous to see so much and to be introduced to three beautiful Asian countries and learn more of the history and the present day lives of people here. Loved meeting the Laos people. Our time in Laos was too short and we hope to return to see more. On July 31st we said good bye to our Intrepid trippers - Julie, Paul, Dan, Darren, Svein and Siam -thanks for the fun times everyone!
Hope you all enjoy our photos! It is really hard to narrow down the selection and still share all that we want to!
Hugs to you! Take care!
Al and Robin
There are more photos below