Blogs from Ban Houayxay, West, Laos, Asia - page 5


Asia » Laos » West » Ban Houayxay April 11th 2007

Hopped into the mini-bus that would drive us the five hours to the Laos border north west of Chiang Mai and get chatting to two red-haired Irish lads, one of whom has his head stuck out the side of the bus from a dodgy pizza the night before - better off sticking to the street stalls and none of that western muck! They be the brothers Colin and Derek Henison, hailing from Millpark, just outside Roscrea in the good auld Co. Tipperary - my home town, amazingly enough! It's a small world, but seeing as they are a good 10 years younger than I am the only person we know in commom is my uncle Dan, the town plumber. Their Dad was on the munster side that beat the All-blacks all those moons ago, so ... read more
Pointless water attack!
First View of Laos
Pick-up truck

Asia » Laos » West » Ban Houayxay April 6th 2007

Hey everyone, Geez, there is so much to tell...where do we start? From Pakse, we decided on a last minute whim to skip Tadlo and the waterfalls and go straight to Vientiane instead. Bad choice, seeing as apparently everyone thought Bolaven Plateau was amazing (thanks for everyone who emailed us after the fact...ha) and the bus ride was probably the most uncomfortable form of transportation for Kris yet. Sleeper Bus!! Advertised with great pictures showing how for just 2 extra dollars you get your own bed to lie down on for the overnight trip. Bed my ass. It was more like a yoga mat (yeah, that would be the right size to compare with), maybe a little more cushiony. To make it all worse they played Laos Karaoke at intervals all through out the night. ... read more
Bella--the cave dweller.
Tube o mania
Rope Swings

Asia » Laos » West » Ban Houayxay March 22nd 2007

Alright, now that the suspense has built I will tell you what we were doing in Huay Xai. This small, extremely boring town is the departure point for the Gibbons Experience. This eco-tourism forest conservation project was started by a guy from France in response to the widespread poaching, logging and slash and burn practices that were destroying Laos primary forests. Basically, the money made has allowed them to create and protect a nature reserve, complete with patrolling guards. They work very closely with local villages and virtually every employee is from a village. It is their hope that one day they can hand the project over to the villages. Our journey began with 11 tourists and 3 employees piling into an old 4x4 van for a long, dusty and often bumpy trip. Our bags ... read more
The highest zipwire
The view from above
Reeling myself in

Asia » Laos » West » Ban Houayxay March 4th 2007

Slow Boat down the Mekong Ok, so we made it to Laos alright, with one of the most lax border crossings we have seen so far, as well as one of the most novel. Arrived off our minibus, and had our visa taken care of whilst we sat and had a rest, then a longtail boat across the Mekong River, then checked in on the Laos side, without anything so much as an official in sight, except behind the counter asking for an extra 2000kips of "overtime money" (about 20p). After some bad advise by a Thai person, on the Thai side of the border, we made the crossing without hardly any cash, only to find no cash machines available, and no other means of getting cash out (visa or money exchange). Meaning James had to ... read more
Mekong River
Mekong River
Mekong River - Pakbeng

Asia » Laos » West » Ban Houayxay February 28th 2007

So as previously mentioned, we made it up to Chiang Mai on another sleeper train, and another 18 hour journey. Seems easy now! 2 hour European flights will be a breeze... Spent the first day getting our barings in the city. We quite like Chiang Mai, for a city of its size, its fairly relaxed. Not quite as manic as Bangkok! A moat envelopes the old town district, with more of the commercial markets and businesses further out to the east. Made a quick scout of the tailor shops to see where James was to get his suit made, before visiting the night bizarre. Were quite looking forward to looking round the night market, as we had heard it was a great place to do some shopping, however, we were quite dissapointed, as it seemed to ... read more
Thai Farm Cooking School
Thai Farm Cooking School
Thai Farm Cooking School

Asia » Laos » West » Ban Houayxay February 20th 2007

Next stop after the Gibbon Experience was Luang Prabang, however to get there from Huay Xai you had to get on a boat for two days down the Mekong. We had bought our boat tickets from an agency in the town to make sure we got on the boat but when we went to pick the tickets up we found that she merely gave us some money to go and buy the tickets from the ticket office, needless to say the money she gave us back was less than that which we had given her - we felt a bit duped. There were no problems getting the tickets but we had to have our passports checked and the immigration man noticed that Helen’s visa ran out in 3 days time and she wasn’t going to be ... read more
Before and After
River Views

Asia » Laos » West » Ban Houayxay February 18th 2007

Sat 17th Feb We all went for a last breakfast at JoMa’s I was devastated as they had run out of cinnamon swirly buns. Keirra and I got a TukTuk to the ferry port and got on our boat for the day. There were a few comfortable seats but they had already gone. The boat filled up as we were sitting on a small wooden bench with upright back. We took it in turns to sit on the floor leaning against the wall and on the bench (the floor being more comfortable!) There was an elephant festival that was on this weekend and when we got there most of the boat got off (including Kerra). So for the last bit of the journey I got a more comfortable seat. Shared a room with Bex and Lauren ... read more
The Mekong
Dinner with Lauren, Bex and the boys

Asia » Laos » West » Ban Houayxay February 17th 2007

To get from Nan to the border town of Chiang Khong required one bus journey to Chiang Kham, which was extremely crowded with the aisle completely full as well as the seats, then another to Chiang Khong. I had absolutely no idea what the procedure would be there, so I asked the tuk tuk driver to take me to the jetty from which boats departed for Houayxai in Laos. He asked if I had a visa then, when I said no, took me to a travel company. They said they could arrange a 30 day visa in 1 hour for the same price I'd pay at the border, but in the meantime I could use their free Internet and drink their free coffee. This sounded acceptable so I filled in the form, handed over THB 1,700, ... read more
Mekong at dawn
Wat Chom Khao Manilat
My first Laos dish

Asia » Laos » West » Ban Houayxay February 8th 2007

Our last 2 days in Laos. We leave our beautiful quiet guesthouse at 7 am and walk to the landing place of the slow boats and successfully secure 2 tickets for the slow boat up the Mekong towards Thailand. (We are well proud as we have done it all ourselves, despite travelagents trying to sell us the same tickets for 10-20% surcharge) I have noodlesoup and strong coffee for breakfast after we have dumped our luggage on the boat and are told that we won't leave for another hour. The wooden benches look quite uncomfortable but we wanted the slow boat (as oppossed to the fast boat - a speedboat which cuts the 2 day journey down to 5 hours - initially Terry wanted to at least consider this as an option despite the fact that ... read more
a long day
Slow boat

Asia » Laos » West » Ban Houayxay February 5th 2007

Sleeping that night with visions of Laos still in our heads, we were off to Chiang Khong & the Thai/Lao border. About 3 hours later there it was and as the animated French Canadian, Eric, put it..."the Mighty Mekong--the most important river in all of SE Asia!!!" No armed guards, one wooden sign and an exit stamp, 30 baht for the boat & we were off--Jesse, Eric, Tomanko & I in our little ferry boat--Lao land in sight! I somehow managed to barter a bit at the border & ended up only paying 32 dollars instead of 35. Guess the baht to dollar conversion didn't quite translate & I think the guard gave up. And once again, no hasseling, no stress, but at the same time no chorus of hello, hello, hello from the children. Boohoo! ... read more
Sunset Over the Mekong
Dirt Roads of Lao
The Club

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