After leaving the orphanage, I returned to Bangkok by bus. I was fortunate enough to not only get wifi at the bus station but to also Skype my entire family together at mom and dad's. It was a very different feeling wishing everyone merry christmas over my iphone but nonetheless it was still well worth it. It certainly wasn't the same to get the normal Lendvay hug with the merry christmas. When I say normal hug, I'm not referring to the back slap hug dad gives, just bugging you dad!
Anyways so I arrived in Bangkok on Kim's birthday (Dec.24). I felt a little sick so instead of eating turkey for Christmas, I ate Subway. What did I get for Christmas you might ask? A visit from Michelle. She arrived on Christmas night. We went out to see some of what Bangkok has to offer on the first night. She certainly was initiated to Bangkok well on Silom road. Silom has many shops and bars of all kinds. We took in one of the free shows and even saw one of the performers wearing my oilers Christmas toque that Michelle gave to me while on stage.
The next day, we returned to the airport bound for Chiang Mai. It was a pretty relaxing day trying to get over jet lag and get a little rest. Chiang Mai is in northern Thailand surrounded by jungle and trekking is quite popular. As we didn't have much time, we took in a very action packed one day tour. The morning started a butterfly and orchid farm...it was okay at best. Then we went hiking to a waterfall where there was close to a 10 meter natural water-slide, very cool. Next came the whitewater rafting which was fun for the views and also our crazy guide who did not speak much English but made up with hi random yelps from time to time. Bamboo rafting was nice and relaxing until a river snake came closer and closer and causes a few screams on board then the guide whacked at it about three times before scaring it off. By that time, it was only about a meter away from the raft. Last but not least, the best part of the day was riding Boo-Nai (our elephant). I have said for a long time that I don't really want to own a pet but you can throw all that out the window...I want an elephant! What amazing creatures. They are so gentle and just fun to be around. I got to ride on his head for about twenty minutes which was the highlight of the day for me.
If you're ever gonna be in Laos, make sure you do the Gibbon experience. A gibbon is a monkey that has become endangered because of hunting. Locals in Huay Xai, Laos have taken it upon themselves to try and save these creatures by creating a tourist attraction that makes a lot of money go the jungle to preserve the forest and the gibbons. What you do is hike in the jungle for a little over an hour until you're high enough to begin zip-lining from one side of the jungle to the other and then back and forth. This is easily the coolest thing I've ever done zip-lining above the highest trees overlooking such a vast area. Just so I don't forget, the longest line was 700 meters long. On top of all this, you sleep in a tree house again overlooking much of the jungle. Oh yeah... And the only wag to get to the house is by zip-lining there. The two dag adventure would have been absolutely prefect except that our instructions on how to brake were not well explained. I was quite nervous but did make it safely. Michelle however had issues braking and smacked into a tree on the second line. She still has all her teeth and no broken bones so it's all good, right? Thanks to Robin an Marianne from Holland who gave me the advice to do this. Great advice!
The next couple days didn't really have to many highlights because both of us took turns being sick. I'm not sure if it was from the food or what was the reason. The bus ride from Huay Xai to Luangprabang wa terrible. The road was very windy which did not allow me to sleep and didn't help my stomach problems. I had to jump off the bus and puke at one of the stops. Luckily the Laos men have the smallest bladders. At least once an hour, the bus would pull over and all the men would line up (kind of how a kindergarten class would) and everyone would pee on the side of the road. This happened about once an hour and the weird part was that it was always the same men. I seemed like a social thing like smoking for them. I'm just kidding but I found it strange. Luangprabang was okay. We saw a few temples, ate some good food.
The next stop was the very popular Vang Vieng. This is a popular backpacker haven. Why? Because there is a river running through this small town where people rent tubes and drink 'til they drop from the many bars on the river. As you float down the river, people working at the bats throw an empty pop bottle to you in the water on a rope and rope you in if you want to. There's also tons of Tarzan ropes, zip lines and watersides at various bars which add to the atmosphere. Also, I learned after I left that there are tons of drugs on the menus, all you have to do is flip the menu to the other side. Anyways, a couple days of tubing was enough for us and we still weren't feeling 100% so it was fun but not crazy. The craziest thing we did was a hot air balloon ride. It started off quite calm and amazing flying through the air seeing the mountains, river, little communities, the lush vegetation and the kids running with us waving to us but going down was another story. I could tell we were descending a little too fast but didn't realize how fast until we impacted the ground. We didn't just stop upon the initial impact, we actually jumped up a little bit an then slide into one of many tree stumps that were lying in the field the driver chose to land in. As we hit the stump, our basket nearly flipped over. Most people got thrown to the front. My toe nail is still blue (not broken) and I have a sore neck but I am fine. Everyone was fine in the basket. The girl who got it the worst was the girl in front of me who had a cut along her lips.
On our way back to Bangkok, we went kayaking along the Mekong River where we flipped our kayak over the rapids...no big deal. I guess a lot of people do it everyday. The scary part was the only instruction we got Ed hold on to your paddle if you tip otherwise you'll have to buy a new one.
Once in Bangkok, we had one more day before Michelle flew back home. The day included the Golden Mount, Wat Pho with the big reclining Buddha, the Big Standing Buddha, a ride on the river where we saw turtles, thousands of Asian Carp, little lizards or crocodiles, and ate some good food on Koh San road.
It was tough to say goodbye but some people have to work because there not as rich as me!