Well, this is our first blog entry from Southeast Asia. So far our travels have brought us to Laos. We started off in Bangkok after a bit of a bumpy start with confusion over whether we were actually on our flight out of Australia! We had a beer in the airport bar at 7.30 am and were seen off by a number of Aaron's friends and family. We arrived in a very hot Bangkok and had a hairy taxi ride, where the speedo showed 0 km/h all the way to our hotel! Our hotel was lovely and we had a beer on the rooftop bar. We did our own sightseeing the next day as we weren't due to meet up with our group until later in the evening. We went to a couple of temples and to the Grand Palace. In the evening we went to Bangkok's famous Khao San road for a look and a few beers.
The first day with our group we went off to Wat Pho and had a canal boat ride along one of the khlongs in the city. This was great fun and a real eye-opener. We saw huge catfish in the water and fed them bread. We then spent the evening on the overnight train to Chiang Mai, so not much time in Bangkok. The train was a good experience and we both actually slept in the fold down beds!
Chiang Mai was a little less crazy than Bangkok but we were only there one night so didn't see much of it. We went out for a nice group meal and then had a quick look around the night market.We had a great day out and rode elephants and went bamboo rafting. Aaron jumped into the river off a cliff. I was too chicken!
We made our way to the Laos border the next day and stopped off at a beautiful temple with a white exterior, a bit of a change from the ornate gold of the others we'd seen. We crossed over to Laos on a boat and went through immigration to get our visas. We stayed in a lovely guest house that night and I liked the owner so much that I wanted him to join our tour! We headed off for our boat along the Mekong River that morning and were set to be on here for 2 days. We stopped off at a village along side the river where we walked around and saw the Laos people. We spent that night in a riverside town called Pakbeng and looked around the market, had a few beers and a nice Indian meal and then got rudely awoken by cockerels in the morning. We had Laos children to carry our bags back to the boat for us for 10, 000 Kip each. Bless! We spent the second half of the Mekong journey towards Luang Prabang and stopped off at the Pak Ou caves about an hour away from the city. Luang Prabang was a lovely old town which was the former capital. It had a fantastic night market and great food stalls on the street. We were here for 3 nights so it actually felt like a base for a while! There was lots to do and plenty of time to chill out, perfect! We took a trip out to the Kuang Si Falls where everyone was disappointed that the water was too high and swollen to swim. Still a nice sight though. We spent a morning at the Ethnology museum and visited the Wat Xieng Thong temple.
We left Luang Prabang and boarded a flight to Vientiane the Laos capital. We are spending two nights here and are staying in a big guest house. We have free time here and are going to try and find a swimming pool! We had a lovely meal last night in a beautiful restaurant with live music, called Khop Chai which means 'thank you'. We are also going to visit a replica of the Arc de Triomphe,which they made with cement donated by the US to build a runway!!
Tomorrow we leave Vientiane to go and stay the night in a Laos homestay near the Vietnamese border. Exciting stuff. Two countries down, two to go!