As I was leaving for Vientaine in Laos that evening I decieded to spend my final day in Chiang Mai just chilling out. First I went off to see the Tiger Kingdom a sanctuary about 40 minutes tuk tuk ride from Chiang Mai. It was a great experience. Unlike the elephants the tigers are treated really well, though they are especially tame. You are able to go into their pens and pet them and as daft as it sounds they were litterally big cats. As they were so use to human contact they roll around when you stroke them in the same way as cats and perk up to attention when the trainers shake a rattle to get their attention. I also was able to play with 3 of the 5 month old cubs, really sweet and as bouncy as anything; apparently they had only recently managed to make it up unaided onto the tables in their pens. Also within the area are large pools for the adults to swim and you can tell from the shere bulk of the animals that they are especially well fed. Apparently it takes numerous kilos of chicken to be able to sleep 18 hours a day. Although you would like to see them in the wild as the species is especially endagered I think the cats are happy living without the treats of disease, starvation and poaching.
That afternoon I had a thai massage to ease out the pervious days activities. Now I know I can crack my knuckles and indeed relish the fact but it was novel to hear my hips, knees, spine all cracking away as I was tugged pushed and prodded into a relaxed mush.
So that evening I took the bus to Vientiane.
We finally crossed the border, after an hour waiting to get visas just after midday. I was exhauseted by the end of it, 16 hours is a long time to spend on a minibuys and crampt coach.
I had to stay in Vientiane for 2 days to get a new Thai visa as I was crossing by land and would be there for over 15 days. This took up most of my time so the only thing I really experience in Vientaine was the food. It is awesome! Well done the French for teaching them. Perfect rare filets of beef, the first piece I'd eaten since South America and the fish is equally mourish. Especially when the chips element involves a souffle.
However, after two days I headed straight up to Vang Vieng.