Hii after a long and tiring journey I am now in Hanoi, Vietnam. First though I need to write about Chiang Mai and Laos. We arrived at Chiang Mai airport at around 8:30am and got taken to Moon Muang for a guesthouse, after being up all night partying we hadn't slept yet and so needed to nap. We got up and went for something to eat and decided to book ourselves onto a cookery course for the next day. On the evening we visited the night markets just 5 minutes from where we were staying. These markets went on for ages all down different streets and sold everything, mostly just tack though. The next day we got picked up and 9am and taken to Thai Cottage cookery class we walked in through an openair kitchen with cookers and a big preperation table in the middle. Inside was a table low down with cushions to sit at. There were 8 of us on the course (all girls too). Firstly we walked to the local food market, we got a talk from Zee, our teacher about all the ingredients Thai people use in their meals. We went back and for my first dish I made chicken in coconut milk soup. A lot of the ingredients we were just told about went into it, like lemongrass, thai ginger, mushroom and it gave it lots of flavour. My second dish was chicken with kashew nuts, this was my favourite. Then as a group we made spring rolls, then had to make our curry paste for the curry, this was hard work as we had to chop all the ingredients into tiny bits and mash it together. When that was done I could make my Thai yellow curry, the last dish we made was dessert and I made bananas in coconut milk. Making and eating all the food was great but tired us out by the end.
The next day we got a taxi to take us out for the day, firstly we visited some tribes in a village, the long neck tribe was girls and women with gold rings round their necks to stretch them. We walked round and they didn't look happy, we asked politly for photos and I felt sorry for them because they are just an attraction. We held one of the neck braces and it was so heavy. We didn't have a tour guide or anything so we didn't get to find out too much about why they do it or how it came about which was a bit of a shame.
Next we went to Tiger Kingdom, it was very expensive and you could choose packages of which age group tigers you want to go in and see. We wasn't bothered about the bigger ones just the newborn ones so we went to see them. We got ten minutes to see them and get photos, they were very playfull with us. We walked round and looked at the other tigers and then left.
On our last day we walked to the women's jail, they had a correctional institution and you could get a thai massage or visit the restaurant. We went to the restaurant and had a meal, it was actually delicous.
The next day we headed for Laos, we got picked up in a mini bus and drove all day to the border. On the way we stopped off at The White Temples, these were beautiful just all white and seemed to glimmer in the sun. At the border we had to stay one night in a guesthouse, there was nothing in the town where we was and it had started raining so we had a night in.
The next morning we were woken up at 7am to a man singing outside our door, we had to get up and go for breakfast. Afterwards we drove down the road to get a boat across the river, we went through immigration and that was it we were in Laos. Our final destination that we had to get to though was Luang Prabang. We had bought tickets to get a two day slow boat down the river however the man at the travel agents scammed us. He told us that the weather was forcast heavy rain and if it rained the boat would have to stop and we'd be sitting in the rain with mosquitos everywhere and it would be uncomfortable and could take 3 days to get there. The alternative was to get the bus, so thats what we did, on the way to the coach station we realised we'd been scammed. The man also told us it would take 10 hours to get to Luang Prabang and the bus would leave at 1pm, we sat for hours at the coach station and finally left at 2pm. At midnight we thought we must be nearly there, at 2am we still wasn't there and the roads had gotten really bad and the bus was rocking from side to side as it drove through massive wholes in the ground. At 5:30am we eventually arrived and got a tuk tuk to the centre. We were just in time for the Giving of Arms. This is something that happens every morning at around 6am, a women approached us to buy some food so we each bought a basket and went to kneel by the side of the road. We could see loads of monks walking single file up the road carrying bowls. As they walked past we put the food in the bowls for them and they give it to the poor. After this we went to find a guesthouse and slept till 10am. We got up and visited Kuang Si waterfalls. We got to walk up it and there was a section for swimming with a rope swing off a tree to swing into the water. They were refreshing and amazing to look at. We got quite a few nice photos of this too. When we got back the town was setting up coloured marquees ready for the night markets. We went down one of the lanes that was all food markets and some tables and chairs to get food. Afterwards we climbed up Phu Si hill in the town to look down on the rest of Luang Prabang and the river. We got up in time to see the sunset but it had been raining most of the day and was cloudy so not a great sunset, apparently it's meant to be very good though.
On the night we went to a chilled out bar called Utopia, we met 3 lads who told us about the nightclub and we all ended up there, it was a mixture of laos people and backpackers afterwards we went to a bowling alley that was open till 3am so we went and had a game and more socialising with other people. We got in at about 3:30 and had to be up to get the bus to Vang Vieng at 8:30.
The mini bus took us on the journey and it took 6 hours, the roads are so bad here and a lot of the time it's driving through the mountains so it up and down winding roads. When we got to Vang Vieng we found a nice guesthouse with a massive bathroom and flat screen telly on the wall showing films in English, we paid £2.80 a night here or about that. The money is still very confusing (12,200 kip is £1). Vang Vieng is a little town and filled with backpackers that come here for one reason and that is tubing. The town is small and filled with guesthouses and cafes with cushions and low tables showing episodes of Friends and Family guy all day long. We got something to eat and then got ready to experience the night life. We went to Oh La La for food and they gave us a free bucket of whiskey, 7up and redbull. Afterwards we went to Q Bar the best and busyiest bar to go with good music and just where everyone went. The next day we were a little hungover but we got up and went to the river, we decided not to get a tube today as we wanted to see what it was all about. Basically at this river you buy a tube for the day and you go along the river in your tube to all the different bars that are lined along it. There are bars with zipwires and a bar with a slide into the river, it's quite dangerous and people die every year from it. At the moment the river is high and the current is strong so it was probly best we didn't get tubes. Also when people are drinking all the cheap alcohol from the bars it makes it even more dangerous. We got to the first bar and a guy stood at the front with a watergun filled with alcohol making sure everyone got a squirt as they went it. We got a bucket of whiskey, 7up and redbull. We stayed here for a bit and then moved to the next bar, we walked down the river to all the bars and the last bar everyone was so drunk dancing on a wooden deck above the river, you can buy happy shakes and spliffs at the bars towards the end aswell so mostly everyone was high and drunk, good to people watch right now. It is so easy to see how people die especially now as the weather has been bad and it's such a strong current.
On the night we went back out to Q bar and when this closes at 1am onto a quieter chilled out bar till later, the next day we had to have a lazy day sitting in one of the cafes watching family guy and then back out on the night. We stayed here 4 nights and decided we should leave before we end up staying too long. So we got the bus for 4 hours to the capital city of Laos, Vientiane. We didn't have much money left and there is not alot to do here so we booked the bus for the next evening to Vietnam. A bus journey we were told would take 22 hours took 26 hours but we survived and are here.
Thank you for your messages, it means alot.