What a trip it has been so far and it is still early days! I would love to tell you the names of all the temples I have seen but you all know what my memory is like - I will hopefully come back and edit all the important names and places back in - but at this stage as I am always pressed for time will just give you the major updates!
We didn't have much time in Chiang Mai after the late train so we just spent the arvo wandering around the town. It has a moat and high walls around the old city which is pretty neat, but has spread well beyond that now. It is quite a tourist destination, as I even saw an adventure company from New Zealand there who offer zorb rides! That night we went 9kms up a huge mountain where a temple has been erected on the very top - up over 300 steps! At the top we were blessed by a monk and were there in time to see them all come out at 6pm to do their prayers.
The next day we went on a bus up to the boarder of Laos where we stayed the night and then went early to the boarder to avoid the queues to get our passports stamped and into a tiny boat to the other side. At this stage we would normally jump in a house boat to cruise down the Mekong but because the river level is so low because China has made 5 dams up river we couldn't go on the boat, so we went by minivan. We all thought that this would be a drag as it was going to be 5 hours but we ended up visiting a small village that hardly ever saw westerners as everyone would normally be on the boat. The chief welcomed us in and gave us lunch - bamboo and fish soup and gave us laolao. Man now this stuff is strong - it's basically home made whiskey but tastes of tequila! And this place is very traditional - no English- but the chief would be offended if after he had a drink we would have to have one too! We got bloody smashed on this stuff haha was such a crack up! The people were soo lovely and the kids were intrigued with us - so great - such a highlight! We were there for at least an hour drinking and eating and then when we got back into the van we stopped off to get some more lao beer! We were in high spirits indeed!
When we finally got to Chiang Kong we were all smashed! and I spent an hour running around and playing with the local kids who thought it was great fun. Then I had the great idea that we should go for a swim in the Mekong! haha - this is not a small river! It was great though, nice and refreshing and I didn't even drown. However..... I did forget to take my money belt off and totally w***ed all my money and BOTH passports!!! hahahaha I was so drunk I thought it was hilarious! And still do really - what a dick! O well all good - many hours by a fan and all my money laid out all over the bead and they finally dried kind of! Pretty wrinkly though!
The next day all feeling worse for wear we boarded a house boat to take us the last 8 hours down the Mekong to Luang Prabang - a magical trip....