Chiang Mai

15 11 2012

It’s been a while since my last post. Just enjoying my final days before heading back to the States.  I loved Luang Prabang, it was amazing and if you ever find yourself anywhere near Laos, you should go.

Monks collecting alms

Staircase to the view

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang

I left LP on Friday evening by bus. I took an overnight bus and in the morning I arrived at the river border to Thailand. Some quick stamps, a ticket across the river and before I new it, I was in Thailand. I waited at a small restaurant for the better part of two hours before my mini bus connection left the border town for Chiang Mai. It was a quick and easy 6 hour ride and I arrived in Chiang Mai before sunset.

I’ve been in Chiang Mai for 4 days. It has been fun, but I miss the quite streets of Luang Prabang. I’ve been bad about bringing my camera with me, as most days have been quite spur of the moment, hop into a random tuk-tuk and I’m off on an adventure with zero notice.

The first day I just explored the city, visited it’s many temples (of which, I honestly can’t remember any of the names) and checked out the Sunday market in the evening. The following morning, after I woke up and ate breakfast the woman running the hostel asked what my plans for the day were. I had nothing planned and she offered a full day 7 course Thai cooking course. Unfortunately, I left my camera, but I ate well to say the least. I ate so much food, it was all delicious and after all was said and done I had met some really cool people as well. That evening I ventured off to the night bazaar and roamed throughout the many side alleys and browsed all the vendors had to offer.

Temple in Chiang Mai

More temples

The next day I was feeling quite lethargic and ended up reading for the majority of the day.  And the following day I went to Tiger Kingdom, where you are able to go into the cages with tigers. The younger ones were much more playful than the more mature ones, and I have to say I was thankful for that. I was quite intimidated being that close to them; they are massive animals and it’s pretty clear that I would be torn to shreds if push came to shove. It was a really cool experience and gives you a whole new respect for the power that these animals have.

One of the big guys

Two of the tigers we got to pet

With a smaller one

There was a huge tiger in the cage next to us that stood up

Playing

And so today I catch a flight to Bangkok, where I’ll be for a little over a full day before I spend way to much time flying back to Seattle. It’s been a fun trip, but I’m exciting to be heading back home.





Riding Elephants!

7 11 2012

Today was amazing. I went to Elephant Village and did a day long outing learning, riding, and playing with elephants in the water. I can’t say enough good things about this place; they use rescued elephants from working in the logging industry and treat them incredibly well.  After all was said and done, we took a short boat ride up the river to see the Tad Sae waterfalls were myself and a fella named Luke proceeded to jump off every ledge we could find. It was an amazing day. Now I’m off to explore the night market in Luang Prabang.

I want one...

I want one…

Me at the Tad Sae waterfalls; this doesn't do them justice...

Me at the Tad Sae waterfalls; this doesn’t do them justice…

The falls

The falls

All of us about to go for a little swim

All of us about to go for a little swim

Jump!

Jump!

Chilling on top

Chilling on top

My ride

My ride

Grabbing some grub before the swim

Grabbing some grub before the swim

A quick stroll

A quick stroll

Into the river we go

Into the river we go

This descent was steep!

This descent was steep!

The group

The group

Practicing

Practicing

The first ride

The first ride

 





Luang Prabang, Laos

3 11 2012

This place is awesome. Today I rented a trek mountain bike for the day and cycled outside of town to some lesser known waterfalls. There are some really popular ones, which I will visit in days to come, but for now just exploring the lesser known roads was fun.

It’s so nice to be on the bike again and I am almost as excited to get back to the States and ride as I am to do anything else once I’m there. The roads here were pretty good; there was little traffic and after a while I turned off the “bigger” road and followed a gravel road for about 4 km.

I saw so much random stuff today on a short bike ride that I’m still trying to grasp it. Where to begin? As far as on the bike, I cycled over a live snake, I almost crashed into a herd of cattle or water buffalo (not sure what they were), saw a man put a goat in something resembling a burlap sack, flip it on its side and then drive off with it straddling a scooter, and raced a kid (probably 7 years old) on an electric bicycle for the better part of a kilometer – he was fast!

Once I got to the hiking start for the waterfalls, I parked the bike and hiked up to the falls. It took me the better part of an hour to reach the top. The entire way I was swatting awake mosquitoes and random bugs. All was going smooth, until I looked down and had a spider the size of a deck of cards on my shirt, where I proceeded to flip out in the middle of the jungle almost rolling down the side of the mountain, haha (I laugh now but at the time I was screaming like a little girl). The falls weren’t that impressive, but it was nice to be in the shade for a while before heading back out on the bike and hitting up the hills again.

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Halong Bay, Vietnam

3 11 2012

The past few days have been a ton of fun. We just spent three days in Halong Bay, about 4 hours outside of Hanoi, Vietnam. A typhoon had just swept through the area, so we were a little anxious about how that would affect our trip, but everything went quite smooth.

The trip included much chill time, both on the boat and on a private island. Swimming, kayaking and general laziness took up much of my time. It was definitely a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, where I feared for my life every time I crossed the street. As a wise man told me, just close your eyes and maintain your pace; you’ll be fine.

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And so now I am in Luang Prabang, Laos. So far it’s very relaxing. It’s nice to know that the people are not out to screw you over for being a tourist, unlike most of SE Asia. Today I am going to rent a bicycle and go explore a little. Wish me luck!





Vietnam

29 10 2012

Sorry for the delay. Once our bus arrived into HCM, Vietnam we checked in our hostel and quickly went to sleep. I started to feel bad on the bus, thinking I was running a fever, and by the time I woke up in the morning, I was fully sick.

The next two days I laid in our room, which eerily resembled a solitary confinement cell at a prison, battling a fever and diarrhea. Meanwhile, Lauren explored the town, got taken for a ride on a motor-taxi (in more ways than one), and toured the Mekong Delta. The only time I left the room was to grab a bowl of Pho, which was delicious, but unfortunately didn’t save the day and make me feel any better.

On Wednesday evening, I finally broke down and visited a doctor as the OTC medications I was taking just weren’t doing the trick. I got some antibiotics and other meds and went to bed. The next morning, we started packing our bags for the long train ride ahead. That afternoon before we boarded the train, we visited the War Remembrance Museum. It was quite intense, and I don’t remember being shown a lot of that information in school in the States….

The train was 14.5 hours to Da Nang. It wasn’t too bad, but since we were on the top-level we couldn’t sit up, so laying down got old after about 5 hours. From there we jumped onto a yellow local bus for approximately an hour and it dropped us off at the bus station just outside of Hoi An. We spent the rest of the day roaming throughout the town. It’s a beautiful area and was a nice break from the rush that is SE Asia. It is very calm, and at dusk the area lights up with lanterns. It’s quite a sight. Saturday we were off on the train again for a little longer than the day before to get up to Hanoi.

Hoi An Riverfront

Awesome alleyways

Sailor’s Delight

Hoi An Nighttime

Overlooking the river

Evening boat ride

The train to Hanoi was much easier. We rode in a soft-sleeper this time (only 4 people in a room) and had plenty of room to sit up. The majority of the night Lauren and I were the only two in the room, which was nice.

There is a typhoon currently in Halong Bay, so we hung out for a day in Hanoi. Tomorrow we are doing a three-day trip to Halong Bay. I’ll update soon afterwards.





Sunrise at Angkor Wat and the last day exploring

21 10 2012

My alarm went off at 4:15 this morning. We were to meet our tuk tuk driver at 4:30 downstairs to make it in time for a good spot for the Angkor Wat sunrise. Our driver, Mr. Mourn was awesome and we were there early and got an amazing spot. Unfortunately, mother nature didn’t grace us with a beautiful sunrise, more of a gloomy overcast haze. Oh well, prior to realizing our disappointing news, the sky changed through various shades of red.

Oh how I’d love to show you the pictures. For some reason,  my camera randomly deleted all prior photos on my memory card. Thankfully I downloaded it the night before onto my computer, I still have no idea what happened. So sorry, I guess some sunsets just weren’t meant to be.

Afterwards, we jumped into the tuk tuk and headed off to the Bantreay Srey temple. famously known for how well-preserved it is. There were some awesome photos of us at the entrance, however they were lost in the mysterious deletion of photos from earlier as well.

We spent a good amount of time here, roaming around and admiring how intricate all of the engravings were. The rest of the morning we went to a handful of other temples before heading back to the hostel.

It was a solid last day exploring the ruins, but I was a little let down about the photos and the begging seemed to be worse today than any of the others, maybe I was just tired.  Once back, we grabbed a bite to eat and then decided to get a massage. It was my first time and I guess to make it a bit more special we choose a place who only employed people who are blind. Yep, it was an experience, haha. Not sure if it was good or bad by normal standards (because I don’t know what those are), but I guess you can’t beat $5 hour-long massage.

Tomorrow boarding a bus for 12 hours from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam!





Beng Mealea and the Roluos Group

20 10 2012

Lauren and I visited some more awesome temples today. It took a while to get there, but it was well worth it. The first was Beng Mealea, a temple found in the jungle of Cambodia about 60km outside Siem Reap and completely overrun by trees and wildlife. It was super cool. Afterwards, we headed back into town and stopped by to see the Roluos Group of temples. Enjoy the photos, sorry for the lack of description; trying to plan out the next week.

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