Luang Prabang is Lovely, and so is Chiang Mai

I apologize for this wooly mammoth of a post, I got tired and lazy and too busy watching the office. All in all a bad combination.

I left off after our day exploring Vang Vieng, which is where all activity dropped off. It continued to rain the next day and all the river activities had to close. Fine by me, as it means I got to sleep more! I did some catching up on the internet and met a dutch girl who thought I was dutch. She started speaking to me in dutch and it took her 5 minutes of convincing that I couldn’t actually speak dutch.

Katelyn and I packed up our stuff that day and were off the next morning to Luang Prabang in a minivan with our new friend Heike. We grabbed “breakfast” at the hostel, but that turned out to not be the best idea as it ended with money being thrown at us . I also got the wrong meal but that is beside the point. The ride had lots of switchbacks and that didnt agree with my stomach too much. We stopped along the way to pick up 2 locals who seemed a bit drunk. Turns out that the road didn’t agree with their stomachs either and they both ended up puking out the window. Not such a fun time.

We arrived in Luang Prabang a little worse for wear. We met our friend Heike, and her friend Dani for dinner and then were off to bed.

The next day we spent exploring the city of Luang Prabang – and it was finally sunny enough for us do it! We first explored the Old Quarter of the city with our friends Heike and Dani. It felt a lot like Hoi An with its old wooden buildings. We found an alleyway that would take us down to the river. This alleyway was spectacular as it was so green and lush and quiet. We stumbled upon a secluded Wat along the way and stopped for a few pictures.

We made it down to the Mekong River and I was immediately struck by its beauty. Laos was so green and lush. I think the fact that it was sunny for the first time added to the mood. We stopped along the river to take a few pictures and then were off exploring Wats again. This time, we went to Wat Xieng Thong. While not the most impressive Wat we’ve been to, I found the tile detailing on the building extraordinary. We didn’t stay too long here as we were starving, and Katelyn was sweltering as she had to cover up.

On the way back to the hostel we stopped for lunch (I had fried rice because #budgeting) and we stopped to grab a few postcards. We tried to see the Royal Palace before it closed, but alas time moves differently in Laos and they wouldn’t let us in. According to the sign they only admit people until 30 mins before it closes and according to my phone it was 3:50, but they said it was 4pm and wouldn’t let us in.

We decided to part ways from our friends and head back to nap. I had some calls home I needed to make so I stayed in while Katelyn went out to the markets. By this point, I had had it with markets and didn’t need to buy anything else. Although, I doubt that thats true because Singapore apparently has the best shopping in the region.

Katelyn got up the next morning to see the alms giving ceremony. 5am is not my favourite time, and I had a brutal sleep so I stayed in bed.  I met up with Katelyn later for breakfast and then we were off for the day! We met Heike and Dani downtown and headed off for Mount Poushi. The climb to the top wasn’t too bad (although that might be a point of debate among us) but the view was worth it!

We tried to go down the mount a little different way than we climbed up. This ended up taking way more time than we had estimated, and we got confused a little before we made it back to Dani and Heike’s hostel. Originally, Heike, Katelyn and I had planned to take a Boat trip down the mekong ourselves but found out we might be able to get a deal if we had more people with us. We met some people at Heike’s hostel who said they would be interested in going, and 1 hour later (and multiple stops to gather their friends) we were on our way!

The cruise down the Mekong was beautiful. It was so cool to see the locals and how they used the river. We saw lots of fishermen trying to navigate the very strong current. We made it to the Pak Ou Caves about 2 hours later. I must admit, the caves were not the highlight of the day (they were small, and we couldn’t explore them due to the 10000s of Buddha Statues) it was still really cool to see a different type of religious site.

We boated back down the Mekong and 1 hour later we had met up with Dani and her new friend Tina and were off for dinner. We ate at a “buffet” in the Night Market for our first taste of local cuisine. It was super cheap (less than $2) – so I can’t complain (even though it was all vegitarian). We got to chatting and then explored the night market!

Remember when I said I didn’t need to buy anything else – I did. I found a really cool bottle opener made out of bombs from the Vietnam War. So thats a thing. Katelyn and I were both pretty tired so we headed back to the hostel to get some sleep as tomorrow would be an exhausting day.

We got up early the next day as we were off to the Living Land Farm. We met Heike and were soon off! This experience was a highlight, as we learned how they plant and prepare rice by doing it ourselves! It was a muddy, tiring morning but I loved it! I got to plow a paddy with a Water Buffalo which was pretty amazing! At the end we ate tons of rice products (including Sticky Rice) and tried rice wine. All in all it was a great morning and well worth it.

Full from all the sticky rice, we went back to Heike’s hostel and waited for our tour to the Kuang Si Waterfalls. As soon as we got there, it started POURING rain. I was really glad I brought my GoPro as I got some really cool pictures in the rain.

Tina, Katelyn, Heike and I decided we would tackle the muddy, slippery path to the top and we were glad we did! The view was incredible, and the water was so refreshing. On the way back down, we found a secluded pool and swam there for an hour. The best part of this was sitting on the edge of the waterfall! We booked it down the waterfall (with no slips) so we could jump off a tree before leaving! We made it just in time for the bus back to the hostel!

We were starving so we went for dinner and chatted about our lives back home. Katelyn and I were pretty tired and called it a night. We packed our bags and got ready to head to Chiang Mai the next day.

We slept in a little and headed to the airport to catch our flight to Chiang Mai. We bartered a Tuk Tuk down to 20000 Kip for both of us (from 60000kip) and he didn’t seem too happy. He still took our money, so he can’t have been too mad.

We made it to Chiang Mai without incident and were soon checked in at our hostel. This one is the coolest one we’ve stayed at and the staff are so warm and friendly! We are loving it. We set off to explore the city a little bit before dinner, and we stumbled upon a Starbucks where my collection of mugs grew again. Mom, if you’re reading this I’m bringing home a ton (I don’t care what you say <3). We found a restaurant, and I ate some Thai Fried Chicken. So good. We then went back to the hostel to shower, etc and called it a day!

Yesterday, we spent the morning exploring the many different Wats in Chiang Mai and were surprised by the fact that we didn’t have to pay for any of them! Most of them had decorations out for the Queen’s Birthday which is on Wednesday which I found to be really cool! After being watted out for the day, we went to the Chiang Mai cultural centre and learned lots about the city and its history. It was fascinating! We were both pretty tired, so we headed off for some Thai massages. I had heard about a place where current female convicts are trained in Thai massage as part of their rehab program. They were cheap and so worth it!

We found a cheap local place for lunch, and I had my face melted off by the amount of spice! We had run out of things to do so we came back to the hostel to take refuge from the sun. We ended up eating dinner at hostel as we were both exhausted. Katelyn went out to the night market to get some clothes, but I stayed back as I didn’t need anything.

This morning, Katelyn got up early to head to the Elephant Nature Park. There was only one spot left in her program, and she loves them so I let her take it! My plan for today is to finally update this beast, put some pictures on Facebook, hit some of the used bookstores in the area and then go for a massage!

I’m having a little trouble coming to grips with the fact that I only have a little over a week left. On one hand it feels like an eternity, but on the other I know its going to fly by so quickly. I’ve had an incredible time so far, I’ve loved everywhere we’ve been and I’m really looking forward to seeing Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. I’m also excited for the fact that I get a comfy bed. And to shop. But mostly to shop.

Travel Blues.

I don’t normally get the travel blues which is why this is so weird/unnerving to me. Yes, I know I missed a post yesterday but this will cover it. It wasn’t that exciting of a day anyway.

Yesterday was a mammoth travel day – we flew from Heho to Yangon then waited at the Yangon airport for our flight to Bangkok. We ended up having singaporean food for lunch, but neither of us were too concerned about that as we were both starving.

Our flight was about 45 minutes late leaving Yangon for Bangkok and we got in a little later than we were expected. We made it safe to the Hostel in Bangkok which was a pretty incredible place – I’m super upset that I was so wiped because it looked like a great place to meet people.

We woke up this morning with every intention of taking the sleeper train to Chiang Mai. But, when we went to book it at the train station it was booked solid for the next few days. Instead of waiting in Bangkok we decided it would be fine to do the loop in reverse.

The plan was for us to be in Siem Reap, Cambodia tonight but that isn’t exactly how it worked out. Our train was 1.5 hours late getting into the Attarnyaphet (the border town on the Thai side) so we decided to find a place to sleep for the night then cross the border tomorrow as we are both exhausted. We met a lovely french couple on the train who have the same plans as us, and we decided to stay at the same hotel so we could share a cab to Siem Reap tomorrow to save money.

Now, it might be because I’m tired. It could be because we’re not doing anything. But I really don’t know. The last 2 days I’ve been super “blue” – I don’t want to say I’m homesick because I’m not. I’m just upset and I have no idea why. I really don’t have any reason to be upset either. I’m on the trip of a lifetime and am eternally grateful to Katelyn for letting me crash her trip. I have no idea what this is but I hope I can shake it soon.

Again, I apologize for not blogging yesterday. I don’t even know why I’m apologizing to you. I should be apologizing to myself for not blogging everyday. But, I’m over it.

Baptism by Fire at Don Mueng Airport

Yesterday was an EARLY day, we left the hotel in Bangkok at 4:30 am and were at DMK by 5:00. Bangkok has 2 international airports – one is for all the “full service” airlines (BKK) and one for low cost airlines (DMK). We scored a wicked deal on Air Asia flights to Rangoon and so flew out of DMK.

We walked into the airport from a calm Bangkok morning and into the 7th circle of hell. There were people everywhere. We saw people screaming and yelling to try and check in at a desk, needless to say we were a little put off. We made it to the check in desk 30 mins after we got into the airport (Security screenings) and went to drop our bags off. I dropped mine off no problem, but some guy tried to push in front of Katelyn and she promptly put him in his place.

We made it though immigration and security with no issues and ate a quick breakfast at Starbucks. After that we were off to the gate, and soon enough we were boarding the plane.

Air Asia bussed us out to the plane, and we found our seats. We were pretty much jammed in like sardines but it didn’t stop either of us from sleeping. After landing in Yangon, we made it through immigration and to the taxi counter with no issues.

After a really drowsy taxi ride to the hotel, we checked in (and now are apparently married) and found our way to the room. We promptly fell asleep (9:30 am yesterday) and woke up today at 8am.

And thats it, an intense 4 hours followed by 20 of sleeping. And now, 12 of eating because I’m starving.

There’s nothing like being stuck in a monsoon in a speedboat to bring people together

As I sit here writing this, we’re on the plane flying back to Bangkok from Krabi. My phone has decided that it needs to ruin my dreams of being a celebrity instagrammer and that it needs to alternate between the Apple Logo and a blue screen (sidenote, if anyone knows how to fix this please holla bc my phone is my 6th appendage.)

Anyway, enough of my shitty luck with phones and back to today. Katelyn and I had decided last night that we would get up early and hike to the Railay viewpoint before we headed to Hong Island. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men. We ended up sleeping through the alarm and got up just in time to pack and head to the pier to go to Hong.

We met Leem, the wonderful man who arranged all our tours at his office and he took us to Railay West to meet our speedboat. Within the first 15 minutes of being on the boat our tour guide Honey turn around and said “The Rain Come”. We didn’t think too much of it until we were in the middle of a monsoon. Thank god Katelyn and Sabah brought their beach mats because they provided amazing shelter for our new Spanish friends and us. It also made us low-key celebs with the chinese tourists on the boat, but you wont see me complaining about that.

As we approached the Hong Lagoon the rains stopped and the skies cleared allowing us to enjoy the natural beauty of the lagoon. We toured the lagoon and then headed to Ko Pak Bia for a beach break. Now, stupid me packed my swimsuits in my bag that I left at the hotel. So, I just read on the beach and listened to my music. About 40 minutes later we headed back to the boat and cruised over to Paradise Island.

Here, we ate lunch and I accidentally passed out for a good half an hour. Groggy, we headed back to the boat to head to our final stop, Ko Hong Beach.

We made it there safely and immediately hit the beach. Luckily, I didn’t have my swimsuit on as Katelyn said that the water was full of rocks and coral. We spent about 2 hours here and as we were leaving we noticed that the sky had begun to cloud over. As soon as we got on the boat, it started to rain again. BUT, this time we were prepared. Fortunately, it didn’t rain as forcefully or as long as the first time so we were able to enjoy the cruise back to Railay.

We manded in Railay 30 minutes prior to when we were told we would, which allowed us to head back to the hotel so the girls could shower,etc. (No complaints here, they needed it). After drying off, Katelyn and I rearranged our bags and waited for Sabah so we could head to the airport.

The return journey to the airport was the same, and included everyone’s favourite ocean tractor. We were a little early to the airport so I brought out my deck of cards and we played President until it was time to board.

This brings us to full circle… in a similar manner to what my phone is still doing. Seriously, if anyone knows how to fix it please let me know because I would love you forever.

Now – Katelyn and I are off to Myanmar in the morning and really don’t know what the connectivity situation is going to be like. I’m going to write posts daily, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to post them. So, If I can’t, expect a doozy of a post as soon as we get WiFi.

Ok, back to crying over my phone. À Bientot!

Surprisingly there was no pee pee at the Pee Pee Viewpoint

(Actually thats a lie. I saw an american bro watering the flowers on my way up).

Smile more. Ive been told I have a nasty resting bitch face, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. The last person to remind me of this was a 20-something Aussie guy working in a dive shop on Ko Phi Phi. So, thanks mate. I really appreciate it.

After a fun night out on the town, we had a late start to the day. After breakfast, we hit the market stalls and I decided to hike to the Phi Phi (or PP or Pee Pee) Viewpoint.

I left the girls to shop around Phi Phi Town and navigated the warren of streets to the base of the stairs to the viewpoint. Someone really needs to start cracking down on building codes in the country because my quads would really appreciate it. I mean, I like my stairs to be of even height and like not 70 degrees steep. But like to each their own.

I made it to the top of the 70 degree incline (I know I’m prone to over exaggerate. But not in this case friends) and was surprised to find a little shop selling Gatorade. Bless whoever decided to put that there. I downed three (no lies. My shirt was drenched with sweat and headed to the first viewpoint.

The view was spectacular. Theres no way to describe it. But here I am going to try and do it justice. Theres just something about the way that the stark limestone cliffs drop sharply into the crystal blue water that makes this place truly special. Holy fuck, look at me sounding like someone who can speak coherent English. Someone stop me.

Now, after hiking to the second viewpoint and taking the obligatory selfies, I paused for a moment. Lately, I’ve realized how important it is to put the camera down and experience the moment for myself. Its so easy to get caught up in doing things for the “likes” but we need to remember to do things for ourselves.

*gets off soapbox*

After hiking back to town, I met up with the girls again. Sabah wanted a fish pedicure (fish + feet = bad combo), so Katelyn and I decided to write a few postcards before heading back to Railay.

We got on the ferry to take us back to Railay and I was overcome by a sense of peace. For the first time in a long time I felt calm. Which isn’t easy for a Grade A ball of stress like me.  After we left the pier, I found the combination of the view+reading+music to be enough to lull me to sleep.

I woke up just in time for us to get off the boat at Railay. We disembarked with only minor issues (namely balancing the boat) and were back at the hotel in no time. We swam in the pool for a bit and headed off to dinner with our new friends from the UK.

The place we ate at had the best menu I’ve seen on the trip so far. Menu options included “toodt”, “toofu/”tufu” and we had the option of “choodting” between different meats including “shimp”.

Katelyn and I left our friends at the Last Bar on Railay East to blog, and get some rest before we tackle the Railay Viewpoint Hike and Hong Island tomorrow.

Ok, I need to shower so Katelyn doesn’t have to smell me anymore.

Bonus: 5 Songs to Enjoy a Boat Cruise to (this is my way of apologizing for my soapbox rant)

1. On the Rocks – The Rural Alberta Advantage

2. Whatever Forever – The Mowglis

3. No Shade In The Shadow of the Cross – Sufjan Stevens

4. Lost in the Light – Bahamas

5. He’s a Pirate – Klaus Badelt (LITERALLY NEVER APOLOGIZING FOR THIS. YOU’LL THANK ME ONE DAY)

Nothing Ruins a Sunset Like a Chinese Man Puking In a Shopping Bag

Well friends. If you’re ever taken on a Sunset Cruise and really not enjoying it. Start puking in a bag. It will end that cruise quickly.

Ok. So a little bit of a backstory here. We decided this morning that we would head to Ko Phi Phi for an over night trip. Best decision ever.

We left Railay beach at 9:30 and took a long tail boat out to the ferry (it was too shallow for it to dock at the pier). Once we pulled up beside the ferry they expected us to basically jump from the long tail up onto the ferry… We managed no problem but some warning would have been nice!

The ferry landed in Ko Phi Phi (pronounced pee pee) at about 10:30 am. We said good bye to our little friend (the praying mantis) and headed into Phi Phi. Once on dry land, we found a hotel for the night and booked a day trip to Ko Phi Phi Le and then ate lunch.

The trip we booked went to Monkey Beach, Lo Sama Bay and then Maya Bay. We got a wicked deal and really couldn’t say no. We headed down to the long tail boats at the beach and met the with the rest of our group.

The long tail left the beach and headed to Monkey Beach. Supposedly there are lots are monkeys but we only saw one. But hey, I’m not complaining. Monkeys scare me.

We headed back to the boat and left for Pi-Leh lagoon for some snorkelling. The girls were champs and it was probably the best snorkelling I’ve ever done. There were soanh fish, and I even touched a fish. Can someone please take me back?

After getting back on the boat, we took a Cruise to Maya Bay. What a gem. This is probably the best beach I’ve ever been to. The water was so green and so warm it was amazing.

The boat dropped us off about 25m from a rope ladder and we had to swim over and climb up to get to the beach. Or so we were told.

This is where I’d like to thank my water polo skills. I was bag bitch (again) and even though Katelyn had a dry bag, we didn’t really trust it and I egg-beatered over to the rope ladder with it high above my head. Now, here comes the fun part. I had to climb up with it. Which happened no problem (thanks to my Pt for giving me upper body strength).

After the climb, we walked the path to the beach. What a treat. It was incredible. Because of the scenery we decided a photo shoot was in order. I’m waiting on that call GQ.

After swimming and just chillaxing (ew. Why did I just that word) we headed back to the boat for the sunset cruise back to Ko Phi Phi Don. Now here’s where it all went to shit (or puke as it were).

We noticed our lovely Chinese friend looked a little worse for wear getting back on the boat but didn’t think anything of it until his friend went running to the front to get a shopping bag. All I can say is, thank god we were in front of them.

Now, the sunset wasn’t that great but it would have been wonderful to sit out on the water to watch it. But, we decided to skip that because there’s something about the sound of vomiting that kind of kills the mood.

We made it back to the hotel safe and sound and are headed out for dinner and a few drinks.

So friends, like I said, if you’re on a sunset cruise for a date and want to kill it ASAP Ferg. Start puking. It’ll work wonders.

Sax on the Beach

Sorry mom and dad. But I’m not coming home. It’s decided. (Ignore the fact that I say this about everywhere ago, I’m serious this time). There’s something about Rai Le that makes me want to stay here forever. I think it may be the fact that you can only get here via long tail boat, which makes it so peaceful and serene.

We got in to the hotel last night around 7:30. We arranged a transfer from the airport through the hotel, which was probably one of our best ideas to date. There was a van ready for us at the Krabi Airport when we landed, we hopped in and then drove about 30 minutes to the pier in Krabi town where we boarded a long tail to take us to the Rai Le peninsula. Even though it was twilight, the boat ride in was incredible. About 15 minutes into the trip, we slowed down and pulled up to a tractor that was waiting in the shallows of the ocean. Katelyn and I proceeded to look at each other with a look of mutual confusion but went along with it. The girls (Katelyn and Sabah) took the front of the trailer while I was in the back making sure that the luggage (and myself) didnt fall out of the back of the trailer while we went up the 60 degree slope to the hotel.

We checked in, and then decided that it was a little late to go exploring the town so decided to stay in our room and relax/blog/upload pictures/facetime, etc. Its important to note that Krabi is in the tropics, meaning that we had lots of little visitors throughout evening, which some of us weren’t to thrilled with. Over the course of the evening I think I killed about 7 moths, 1 cockroach and a couple spiders. There were a few lizards too, but we left them alone.

We headed off to bed, with dreams of Rai Le beach in our heads. We told ourselves that we’d get an early start to the day, but alas, with 2 girls that wasn’t the case. We spent today at Rai Le West beach and even though the weather wasn’t that great it was still breathtaking.

After lunch (with the best English I have seen to date…. “Sax on the Beach with Vodka and Syrub”) Katelyn and I decided to hike the Viewpoint trail. We though we knew where we were going but that was super not the case. We did some awesome exploration of the area but then bailed as it looked like a storm was rolling in. We stocked up on snacks on the way back to the hotel and looked into tours for the day.

This brings us to now. The girls headed off on an Elephant Trek which I decided to skip out on. While I was in Nepal, we did something very similar so I decided to save the cash and buy myself something pretty for being a bug murderer. This afternoon my plans are nothing other than sitting by the pool finishing this post and making some arrangements for the next few legs of our trip.

That’s all for now. I’m off to go find a beer.