Right guys, could be another long one!!
Carrying on from where we left off, we headed out shortly after we blogged and met up with the guys from our trekking trip, was nice as all 12 made it to the bar aswell as the two tour guides and some of their thai friends! turned out to be quite a big one, and we were still all jumping around in some random thai club come 4am! Had a good night though and said our farewells to our tour group, as most were leaving the next day! The following day for us was a write off, up late drinking and on the back of a two day trekking session i was only awake for approximately 4 hours, and chloe much the same, so not a lot to report there!
The next day however was far better, we were up nice and early had some brekky and then headed off to the elephant show, was amazing what those clever animals can do!! playing footy, painting pictures better than i could do, throwing darts at balloons, was hilarious to watch!! then we headed off for what was, and still is, one of the biggest highlights so far...tiger kingdom!! we got to play with baby cubs and some of the fully grown tigers, was amazing to be up close to them, and cuddled up to some, chloe was a bit nervous around the bigger ones, but they were pretty playfull! we loved it though and got plenty of pictures. In the evening we headed to the night market, grabbed some grub and actually ended up having an early evening!
The next day we were on the moved again, heading to a little mountain town called pai, we had booked our coach for 11am, so were checked out, beakfast eaten and ready in reception for 10.30am...11.30am came and went and still no bus, we werent too suprised as "thai time" is usually an hour or two off what they tell you, but we thought we better ask at reception, which was good we did as the woman had forgotton to book us on the bus, so we would have to now get the 3.30pm bus...bit annoying but she was so sweet we couldnt get angry at her! it was a scorching day so we just read our books around the hotel for a few hours! the coach finally came at about 4pm and we headed off to pai arriving about 8pm after an extremely scary drive up the mountains, the mini bus driver was flying around the bends with shear drops either side!! but we arrived safe and checked into a lovely lil guest house just out of the main town overlooking the valleys! that evening we did some exploring and had some dinner...mexican night for us, big burritos etc, lovely jubbly!! Pai was lovely though, real little hippy town, loads of coffee shops, dreadlocks, reggae music and a really nice vibe about the place!
the next day we went to grab a scooter to go off exploring, but it was a saturday and rammed full of thais on their weekend breaks from cities, so we ended up waiting for almost three hours before we got one! finally we got one though and headed off for a drive into the mountains, saw a couple of waterfalls and little villages, very pleasant it twas too!! dark was approaching so we headed back and headed into pai to soak up the chilled atmosphere!!
Next day we headed to the famous hot springs! was about a 20km drive, again through beautifull scenery so was a great ride!! the hot springs were hilarious, up the top the water is above 90degrees and is full of thais boiling their eggs! hundreds of eggs just filled this pool, we sat and watched for a bit and then headed to the cooler water for a hot bath! not sure how it all works but was strange sitting in mountain water which is steaming hot! after the springs we headed to pai canyon, which had great views at the top, chloe wouldnt let me walk out to one of the ledges, under the thumb, but in a way im glad she didnt as it looked pretty scary!! we then headed back,dropped off the scooter and then started our mission journey to laos!!
first phase was a minibus to a boarder town called chiang khong, we arrived at 3am and were given rooms to crash in before we started the next leg of our journey at 7am!!
at 7am we were woken up, and given a lift to a nearby hotel who supplied us with breakfast and coffee and then took us down to the official border crossing. Here we stamped out of thailand, and then got a speedboat over the border, was only a 1min ride over a small river, and stamped into Laos and sorted out our visas. From here we were shuttled to a nearby shop where we were left for about 2hours before being taken down to our long boats, and the start of our 2 day boat ride down the mekong river to Luang Prabang!
We were really dreading this journey, but it turned out to be the best journey weve taken so far!! the scenery the whole way down was out of this world, we met some really great people and actually didnt want to get off at the end! The first day we travelled on the boat for about 8 hours, sank a few beers with the people from our bus ride over, took in some scenery and arrived at a small town called Pak Ben. We were all pretty tired so found a bed, grabbed a curry and got some much needed sleep!
The second day the boat left at 9am, and we arrived in luang prabang about 6pm! On this leg of the journey we met three guys (well actually 2 guys and one girl, dave, andy and tash) from southampton who we are still travelling with at the moment! We found a bed in luang prabang and headed out for a few drinks with our new friends!
Next day was an exploring day, we walked around the city, visited the usual temples and sites around the place, we were both shocked at house clean and advanced the town was, we had it in our heads laos would be dusty streets and bamboo buildings, but was completely the opposite! Has a real french feel about the place though with lots of bakeries, coffee shops etc, and everwhere serves amazing fresh baguettes which have served us well!! in the evening we met up with the guys again and headed out for some more drinks!
The next day we were up early, met dave andy and tash for breakfast and then chartered a boat out to some caves, and a little whisky village about 30km out of town. We were told it would take 3hours round trip, laos time seems to be more off than thai time, it took us about 6 hours in total, but again was gorgeous scenery as we sped down the mekong!! when we got back we had a couple of hours rest and then all headed out for a few beers!! dont worry vin, we are only having 2 or 3 drinks with dinner, not an all out bender!! but beer lao, the main lager out here is the best i think ive ever drunk so its always an enjoyable few drinks!!
Next day me and smithster took in a few of the sites we had missed on the first day exploring, we walked up a big hill in the centre of the town and took in some of the great views for abit, then we headed to the royal museum and got our culture hit for the day! Saw our first wild snake, and was poisoneus as well apparently, i got a few photos but chloe kept her distance! We then went and got a Laos Massage, very painful but felt good afterwards, i was a bit miffed, chloe got a little cute laos girl, so i was looking forward to having the same, but ended up with a cute laos boy instead, not happy!! Unless you hadnt guessed, in the evening we joined the southampton gang and went for dinner and a few drinks!!
Following day the 5 of us got the bus down to Vang Vieng where we are still. We arrived about mid afternoon and we scouted around for abit to find some decent digs, and we found some quaint bungalows, just over the rivr out of town which fitted the bill! Nice living out in the sticks in a bamboo shack, with cows, chicken, goats, pigs, geese, turkeys... you name it weve got them living outside our hut! We chilled abit and then......dinner and beer lao!
Next day we decided to have a quite day, so we just bummed around, explored the town abit and sorted out our vietnam visas, the evening went the same way as the past week!
Yesterday we headed off for the world famous tubing!! a 4km stretch of mild rapids, with the banks lined with bars, you grab a rubber tube and float down stopping for drinks on the way. We set off about 11.30am...by the time dark was setting in we had made it about 100m's down the river, taking in about 5 bars and plenty of alcohol! not a great effort but we are going to go back and cut out the drinking (maybe) and try and make it down the whole way..not today though as pretty hungover!! was great fun though, loads of rope swings, slides etc to through yourselve down, and the weather was perfect, scorching hot!!
Today is a lazy day, not alot going on, gonna go get some lunch and read for abit, im sure we'll head out for some drinks with the gang tonight!
We plan to stay here another couple of days and then head down to Vietianne, the capital, before making our way as far south as you can go to see the 4000 islands, which are meant to be beautifull, we will then head back up slowly, taking in a few towns on the way before moving on to vietnam! and it sounds like the three southampton guys have similar plans so we may well be with them for a bit longer, which is nice as its been great travelling in a small group, chloe was starting to bore me so got other people to talk to!!
anyway thats all for now! Hope everyone is well!!
Love and miss you all
Sam and Chloe