Slowboat down the Mekong – Day 2

    Read Day 1 of the trip here. At 6 am we were already awake, getting ready for Day 2 of our slow boating adventure. We got some breakfast in one of the guesthouses and tasted Lao coffee for the first time: much better than coffee in Thailand! For starters, it wasn’t over-sweetened with copious amounts of sugar!! We bought our supplies for the day ahead. In Pakbeng a lot of family businesses cater for travellers needs and they provide sandwiches, drinks and snacks for the slowboat passengers.  We hopped on the boat and were pleased to see that this boat was much smaller due to having already dropped many local passengers at various villages the previous day. Thankfully the rain also stayed away and although it wasn’t sunny it was still a much brighter and warmer day. We made sure we stayed away from the smokers and had a rather pleasant second day on the boat. It was still a long day, another 7 hours cruising down the Mekong, but again, the scenery made up for it as it took our breath away: With landscape that never gets old slowly swimming by our boat, we made our way further […]

Slowboat down the Mekong – Day 1

    Our first night in Laos was incredibly hot. Our guesthouse air conditioner proved to be useless against the all-absorbing heat, it was radiating out the walls of our room. Later on that night the weather turned and a storm that had been pushing the hot weather ahead of it ensued. It arrived with lightning forks across the night-sky followed by almighty bangs of thunder. The wind was rattling our broken window frame and after a couple of hours of thunder and lightning the rain started to come down. Adam was sitting next to the window for most of the show, impressed by the might of the thunders. I was in bed with head under the duvet getting increasingly stressed out by the thought of having to get unto the Mekong for two solid days on a teeny-weeny boat in this weather…. As morning came, and it was still windy and rainy, we started preparing for the journey and I almost bottled it. In the end, after Adam’s encouragements of ‘Don’t be ridiculous’, I put my reservations behind me to embark on a journey that was meant to be one of the most epic ones of our time in […]

Crossing borders: from Thailand to Laos

    After two days in Chiang Rai the time had come to pack our bags and make our way to the Thai-Lao border. When entering Thailand we received a 30 day visa on arrival and as hard as that was to believe our time in Thailand had now almost come to an end.  While staying in our guesthouse in Chiang Rai we discovered a lovely family owned restaurant just a few minutes down the road. We returned here for our last meal in Thailand and once more enjoyed the amazing food and the hospitality of the owners. I wish I knew what the name of their restaurant is, they served us the best pad Thai in the whole of Thailand!!! With our backpacks weighing us down in the hot midday sun we decided that this time we will try and travel by a nice air conditioned VIP minibus to the border town of Chiang Khong. However when we asked about this at the bus station’s tourist information desk we were directed to a local bus. I am not actually sure whether private buses travel between Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong, previous experiences in Thailand would have suggested yes, as […]

The White Temple

    After Adam had put his foot down and we went off-roading on our first day in Chiang Rai, I insisted we go and see the city’s most famous tourist attraction, The White Temple on our second day.  Before we made our way to get the bus we took all our clothes, shoes and bags that we had been wearing on our ATV adventure the previous day to a laundry service. The ladies were slightly baffled by the state of our clothing which were completely covered in thick orange dust. We desperately needed everything washed though as we were planning to leave Thailand the next day. After a spot of lunch in a lovely little family owned restaurant near our guesthouse we made our way to the central bus station. The White Temple is a half hour bus ride away from the centre of Chiang Rai on a local bus. We asked the tourist information desk to point us to the right platform and also to write down the name of the temple for us in beautifully drawn Thai letters so that we could hand it to the bus driver. We had found that when asking for directions the […]

ATV mountain adventure

    When we arrived in Chiang Rai we were kindly presented with a book of organised tours in our guesthouse. I carefully looked through them, trying to decide which will offer us the best value for our money and the most things to see around the city. And then Adam took one look at Tripadvisor and decided he wanted to do the ATV tour, which is currently the number 1 activity to participate in in Chiang Rai based on the reviews. Adam didn’t want to budge. So despite my careful considerations over what to see in the city and for how much, we signed up for a full day of off-roading an hour outside of the city for 5 times the price then any of the city tours and did no sightseeing. But boy, did we have a good time… 🙂 In case you didn’t know, because I certainly didn’t, ATV stands for All Terrain Vehicle. And despite signing up for this pretty last minute, there were no other people signed up for the full day adventure, like us. There were another couple to join us for the afternoon but for the morning we were to have the guides […]

Next stop: Chiang Rai

    After a few days in Chiang Mai and a couple of activity filled excursions around the area (Elephant Nature Park and Thai Farm Cookery School) we made our way to the bus station to get the coach to our next destination: Chiang Rai. By now we really have got used to Chiang Mai – it seems that on our travels so far we always stay for long enough to learn our way through a town or city and navigate quite easily, but just as it gets easy and effortless it is time to move on… It would be nice to be able to stay in one place for longer than a week, I wonder when that time will come for us on our travels. For now there is too many places to go to, too much to see, no time to stop. We decided to put Chiang Rai on our itinerary as it is the last big city in Northern Thailand before reaching the Thai-Lao border. Originally we thought that if we didn’t have time to visit a hill tribe from Chiang Mai then we would still have the opportunity in Chiang Rai. However while researching the different […]

Thai Farm Cooking School

    For our second activity in Chiang Mai we chose to do a day in a cookery school. Adam and I both love Thai food, but we never cook it fresh at home. Usually we buy a sauce in a jar, add some chicken, vegetables and noodles or rice and voila! But even though the jar sauces always have the right list of ingredients, they never taste authentic. We thought it would actually be nice to know how the different ingredients come together, how they are added and cooked in all our favourite Thai dishes.  When signing up for a cookery school in Chiang Mai you have a lot of options available, many different cookery school to choose from. When we first arrived in Chiang Mai we picked up some brochures at the train station, read through all of them and chose a couple we liked the sound of. We then checked online for reviews and decided to go for the Thai Farm Cookery School. This school advertised themselves as having their own farm and that we would be picking our own ingredients from the farm. This sounded pretty cool and something different from all the other cookery schools. […]

Elephant Nature Park

It is realistic to say that as a traveller you could stay in Chiang Mai for a whole month and have something different to do each day. When you walk along the old quarter there are so many tourist offices and agencies selling various tours, activities and experiences, the range of options available can be quite overwhelming!! You can sign up for trekking, elephant riding, waterfalls, hill-tribe homestays, massage, cooking, mountain biking, bungee jumping, rock climbing, river cruising and many many many many more! When you have a limited amount of time and finances, you really have to decide early on on the activities you definitely want to do while you are in Chiang Mai, book them and then try not to get upset about missing out on all the other things you would love to try but you won’t have time or money for.  We only had a few days in Chiang Mai this time round and we decided to book a day at Elephant Nature Park and a day at a Thai cooking school. This left us with a couple of days of walking around Chiang Mai and enjoying the city as well. There are many elephant parks […]

Discovering Chiang Mai

    Previously I wrote about our first sleeper train journey in Thailand between Bangkok and Chumpong on-route to Koh Tao. That first trip was kind of OK and since we were about to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the north, we decided to get on a sleeper train again. This saved us a lot of money, not only because the train tickets were that much cheaper (1700 Bahts for the two of us, about £36), but also because we saved on a night’s accommodation. The train journey was 14 hours long, but because we were travelling overnight it meant that when we arrived in Chiang Mai the next morning we were fairly well rested and had a whole day ahead of us to explore the city. This time the train was much more comfortable as well, we managed to get two lower bunks across from each other, so the air-con was less of a problem for me. From the train station we got in a taxi which took us straight to our hotel in the old town of Chiang Mai. Yet another guesthouse booked last minute through, which so far has proved to be an invaluable […]

Back to Bangkok and a visit to Ayutthaya

    Our one week on Koh Tao had now come to an end. I enjoyed the island so much! I was quite sad to leave and already made plans for our return. We decided to go back and stop off in Bangkok for a couple of days on route to Chiang Mai. We didn’t take the sleeper train this time but spent a whole day travelling by boat and bus courtesy of Lomprayah. It was a relatively easy journey, just over 10 hours in total.  I was glad to be back in Bangkok, the land of amazing streetfood and we made sure we had it every mealtime. Streetfood in Bangkok is astonishing – we got amazing noodle / noodle soup for 40 Bahts (about £0.8) each and ate it by the roadside. It is such a cool, novel experience, I much prefer it over sit down restaurants where you are paying much more to be waited on and for the roof over your head, when the food served to you on the street is just as good if not even better! We went on a daytrip out of Bangkok to Ayutthaya. This ancient city was the capital of the […]