The Road to Eastern Thailand


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October 10th 2013
Published: October 10th 2013
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We spent a few nights in Chiang Mai after leaving Pai, to get ready for our long journey east to Laos. Sunday night was spent at the night market, where I bought Christmas presents, a few things for myself, and ate way too much food. We had some of the most amazing sushi (didn't get sick!), fruit shakes, and mashed potatoes and gravy while strolling through the maze of stalls, hordes of people, and unrelenting swarms of bugs. The highlight of the night was seeing a Pomeranian circus. One was wearing sunglasses and "driving" a kids electric pink car, another was dancing in a skirt to bad pop music, while the rest were sleeping off their hard night of performances. Pictures to follow.

I spent Monday afternoon walking around the different markets, where locals were loading up on veggies, fruits, and other wares to sell at the various stalls you see around the city. One of the alley's I wandered into was comprised of a lot of the goods I saw at the markets, sold in bulk, for a significant discount. The shop keepers in this area seemed insulted by my presence and were very unwelcoming. I know their secret. After a few hours of this I headed to the dentist, recommended by a friend who lives in Chiang Mai, called Fortune Dental. Dental services here are suprisingly cheap, yet not too different in quality than the US. I spent around $25 dollars for a cleaning and a check-up. The journey there was not easy, however, as I got lost for a good half hour walking along a busy highway entrance trying to find the place. The map on their website is very deceiving. I almost gave up and walked home. I arrived exhausted, sweaty, and stressed out. The appointment was super quick and easy though! You will be happy to know, I have very clean teeth and she didn't see any obvious cavities. Hooray! When I arrived home from the dentist Michelle was swimming in the pool with out new friend Kat. We met Kat in Pai. Yes we had a pool. Kat is from Maine, but has been living in Australia for a few years working as a speech pathologist. She was awesome.

We started on our journey to Laos on Tuesday. We broke up the bus rides to stop in 2 cities along the way to avoid a horrifically long ride. I have no desire to be on a bus for more than 7 hours if I can help it. The first bus to Phitsanulok from Chiang Mai broke down along a steep stretch of highway, where we had to sit for about a half hour while someone fixed the bus. Today, on our trip from Phitsanulok to Khon Kaen, we survived possibly the most horrific bus ride I have had yet to date, which is saying a lot. I will never take Isan Tour company again. Besides the bus being oversold and aircon which didn't work, it felt like the driver had never driven anything larger than a tuk tuk. He was getting up to speeds to where the bus was swerving out of control all over the road for the majority of the 6 to 7 hour journey. He kept over correcting and at one point we almost tipped over, as in the wheels on one side of the bus actually lifted off the ground, passengers were flown around the cabin, and people were yelping in fright. You would think after that he would slow down, but he did not. Needless to say, I am alive and well in Khon Kaen, but I will never do that journey again. I am not usually picky about bus services either. I understand I am in a different country and there are going to be some scary experiences, but with the knowledge that a few buses have crashed over the last 6 month on this very route made it nervewracking. There were parts of the journey that were incredibly beautiful though and I wish I had a window seat to take pictures. We traveled through some very mountainous areas of national parks, with temples and enormous Buddha statues dotting the hilltops. There was also some roadway projects along the way, tearing apart the hillsides and causing massive environmental destruction. Such is the way of development.

Tomorrow we are catching a bus at 5 am to go to Nakhom Phnomn, which is at the Laos border. You hear that right, 5am. It's the latest morning bus they had on a company that was suggested by an info guy at the train station. I am trusting his recommendation, as I have no desire to repeat today's experience. This leg of the trip should take us to the Laos border, where we will get another bus to Thakhek in Laos, where we will take a tuk tuk out to Green Climbers Home, approximately 23 km outside of the town. Green Climbers Home is the climbing area/camp I will be at for the next month. The area is remote, beautiful, with a lot to explore around the area. I am really looking forward to climbing, eating good food, hanging out at the river, and exploring the various caves. To use the internet I will have to rent a motorbike to town, so don't expect regular contact from me for a bit.

On another note, I am coming home early! I am changing my ticket to come home around the 14th of November. Thailand was a lot more expensive than I planned for, and my funds are running low. After a month of climbing and exercise I think I will have accomplished what I have set out to do and come home feeling good and ready to face reality. For now though, reality is still far ahead in time and I am going to enjoy the next 5 weeks!

I will post pictures once I have some! I really haven't been taking many. At this point I have only taken them on my iphone, and mostly are pictures of statues. I am going to try hard to start taking a wider and more interesting variety with my camera!

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10th October 2013

Good to hear from you....
...Jeanette, it's been a while girl. I've often thought of you and how the adventuresome Ms Du Bois was faring in this great wide world we inhabit. Yes, I am still here at HDR...sucker for punishment I guess! Look forward to seeing your pix, take care of yourself and when you get home, come say "hello"!
21st November 2013

A Pomeranian circus?! I want to see!

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