Page 3 of Virahita Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang October 17th 2010

Contrary to vicious rumours started by a friend I am actually a good driver, (side note: ironically said friend has lost all points and is on a probationary license for 12 months so go figure!) But tearing up and down the F3 between Sydney and the Central Coast every day is one thing - how would I go taking an elephant for a ride, getting him down to the river, bathed, fed and sent off to bed in the jungle.  We were about to find out. We were off to the Elephant Village for the day to learn to be a Mahout (elephant keeper or elephant driver) First on the agenda for the day was an overview of "Elephant Village" and it's purpose.    "Elephant Village", located 15 Km outside of Luang Prabang is a privately ... read more
Scott at the Elephant Sanctuary
Paul & Dave Going for a Ride
Scott is Driving

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang October 16th 2010

The morning started early with a walk into the main part of town at 5.30am to watch the alms giving ceremony (or as Paul so unceremoniously put it -  feeding the monks!). Monks walk through the town in single file from oldest to youngest, carrying their alms bowls so that the local people may offer alms to gain merit.  Offerings are usually comprised of sticky rice, fruit or traditional Lao snacks.  Offerings must be prepared especially for the alms giving, they cannot be left overs. Once we had "fed the monks" it was time to feed ourselves and then head off for our orientation walk with Molly and Tui, the local guide who had stayed with us since Huay Xai.  At each location Molly took us on a walk to show us the main sites and ... read more
Alms Giving
Monks Collecting Offerings
Morning Alms Giving Ritual

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang October 15th 2010

The next morning saw us dragging those heavy bags back down the hill to the boat, ready for another day cursing down the Mekong.  It was still another 6 hours till we would reach Luang Prabang, so we settled back in with our books and Ipods for a relaxing day. The Mekong is one of the world's greatest rivers (it's the 12th longest river in the world) and winds it's way from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea and is approximately 4350km long. The Mekong basin is one of the richest areas of biodiversity with only the Amazon being greater.  There are suspected to be as many as 1700 species of fish, the largest of these being the giant river carp (up to 1.5m in length) and the giant catfish (up to 3m in ... read more
Pak Ou Caves
Buddha Statues
More Stairs!!

Asia » Laos » West » Pakbeng October 14th 2010

We set out early, Molly keeping us in order like a mother duck, to get a jump start on the backpackers and tour groups that would be queuing at the border.  Once we'd completed the departure paperwork, it' was down to the waters edge to grab a long boat, across the river to Huay Xai.  This bustling riverside border town was once an important link in opium trafficking through the golden Triangle.  Here we met our local guide Tui, picked up our Visa's for Laos and exchanged money to Lao Kip,  Then we headed back down to the river to catch a slow boat to Luang Prabang...a two day trip down the Mekong.  The slow boat is one of the more popular ways among travelers to get to Luang Prabang, although it can be done in ... read more
Hitchhiking across the river to Laos
Scott and Molly
Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's Off to Laos We Go

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Rai October 13th 2010

Our next destination was the border town of Chiang Khong, located on the banks of the Mekong River, directly opposite the town of Huay Xai in Laos.  Armed with snacks, water and charged iPods we set off from Chiang Mai in our mini-vans, for the six hour drive to the border. We were headed first to the town of Chiang Rai, on the edge of The Golden Triangle - the area bordering Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos and infamous for Opium cultivation and traffiking.   The area is home to interesting and colourful ethnic minorities, known as the hill tribes.  We were stopping in Chiang Rai for lunch and a wander through the Hill Tribe Museum. There are six broad hill tribe groups: Karen, Lahu, Hmong, Lisu, Akha and Mien.  Each tribe has its own customs, ... read more
Condom Santa
Wat Run Kung

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Mai October 12th 2010

I'll start by saying that holidays are presumably for rest and relaxation, not 30km bike rides and stair drills with no less than 306 stairs.  My personal trainer would be proud. To date, the majority of exercise had been lifting beer glasses.  That was about to change.   We arrived in Chiang Mai around 8am on Tuesday morning and checked into our guesthouse - The Peoples Place.  We had a day in Chang Mai to do an optional activity and most of the group decided to take a bicycle tour around the town. Rit, the guide from the cycle tour company set off with six of us in tow.  Chiang Mai is one of Thailand's largest provinces and most of the people earn a living through agriculture and related activities.  Cycling through the streets of Chiang ... read more
Temple in ChiangMai
Teak Plantation at McKean Centre
Only 306 stairs

Asia » Thailand October 11th 2010

Monday the 11th of October is the first full day of our Intrepid Tour.  The previous night we had met up with the the other members of the tour for the first time and had an orientation session with our tour leader Molly, who was a local from Lampang in northern Thailand.  This was followed by a group dinner at a local cafe that served the best Thai food and the coldest Chang beer.  We settled in to get to know our traveling companions. The group is varied, a well travelled Welsh couple, Jacqui and Richard who had wonderful stores of their travels through India and South America.  Don, who hails from Canada, and is treating himself to a well earned holiday after successfully pulling off his daughters wedding.  Dave, a young Irish guy working in ... read more
Temples on the River
Chao Praya River
Life on the River 1

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok October 10th 2010

10th October - the Art of War (or Chatuchak for Dummies) Now any one who knows me, knows that I am market mad.  Chatuchak is the market to beat all markets.  (Actually, there are  four others that beat it, in size at least but what  in the small details right?) My long suffering husband knew it would only be a matter of time before I managed to get him there, having successfully avoided it last time, citing that the Russian markets in Ho Chi Minh, the tourist markets in Phnom Penh and the night markets in Chang Mai were more than enough. Any trip to Chatuchak requires careful planning and forethought.  I had been pre warned by a number of friends who had varying degrees of experience and were happy to give any number of tips ... read more

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand October 9th 2010

Day two of our trip to Kanchanaburi finally saw us at Erawan Falls, a place we had wanted to visit since our previous trip five years ago. The falls are located in a national park in Kanchanaburi Province near the Thai/Burmese border.  Erawan falls are named after the three headed white elephant of Hindu mythology. The seven tiered series of cascades stretches about 2.5 km from top to bottom, and if you have a few hours to spare is well worth the trek to each tier.  Due to Scott's recovering broken foot we made it to the 5th tier and decided to stop here, while Yasuihiro, who had come with us, decided to take a look at the 6th and 7th tiers.  We decided to take the extra time to have a refreshing dip in the ... read more
Erawan Falls Tier 1
Erawan Falls Tier 2
Erawan Falls Tier 3

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok October 8th 2010

So I promised everyone I would get Scott to do some stupid things (ie things I wouldn't do but needed a volunteer as they would provide good photo opportunities!) Our next cuple of days provided some wiling animals and a husband resigned to helping the cause! Before our Interpid Tour through Northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam started we had a few days to kill. Thursday 7th of October - this was a day of Massages, Manicures and Mojitos!! Not much to report except that we bummed around tiring ourselves out doing not much at all! A well earned break after the last few months of work. However if we continued the next few days like this I would have nothing interesting to write about, so it was time to get active. Our last trip to Thailand ... read more
Scott on Khao San Rd
Relaxing with a cold one.
Floating Markets

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