A Travellerspoint blog

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Leaving the UK during the Christmas period has its obvious advantages; not so much of the post-Christmas clean happens, you miss out on post-Christmas depression, and you miss the crazy antics of shoppers during the sales. However, there may be a downside. As the Christmas period was not seen to the end (i.e. seeing all of the above), my brain still thinks it’s Christmas. I’ve been singing ‘Rudolph the red nosed reindeer’ nearly every single day of the trip so far. I’ve managed to down-scale it to a simple whistling of the tune, but it’s even managed to take over the constant ‘I believe I can fly’ lyrics that are usually stuck in my head (all down to watching ‘Space Jam’ one too many times I think), and as some will know (namely Elaine), that’s pretty impressive!

As if this is not bad enough, we started saying ‘Angkor Wat’ to the tune of ‘Byker Grove’, now THAT’S stuck in my head too. (Newcastle accent and all…)

Despite these annoyances, we’ve loved our crazy detour. We were back in a city we loved and had a great time revisiting sites, plus seeing new ones…this city houses the world’s 8th largest shopping mall. Inside this shopping mall is a theme park, one of its rides is a massive rollercoaster, insane did now quite cover how we felt about it!

So, time to say where our detour was: Kuala Lumpur! If you look at our trip from Vientiane, to Kuala Lumpur, to Siem Reap, you will see how utterly ridiculous it truly is. But we’re happy, our budget is happy, and our bodies are happy at the significantly shorter time we need to take horrible malaria tablets for!

So tomorrow we leave this amazing city for the last time, and head towards Siem Reap, and the wonders of Angkor Wat…we can’t wait!

Posted by Jen90 06:20 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

The unfortunate incident with the fence

OR: 'Guess the detour'

Imagine me, mahogany skin from my two month tan, my strawberry blonde/ginger hair oddly looking more ginger than usual, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how great my tan is. But realistically you should probs add some bleach, cos I aint that brown. In fact I’m not brown. But then how weird would I look if I came back mahogany! (Though I am sad about my lack of a tan, and it isn’t for want of trying either).

I nearly forgot to say…after going out in Luang Prabang with Sarah and Sophia, we came back to the guesthouse to see the gates closed. And the front door closed. Great. Thankfully they have a side section that is permanently open (so what the point in the gate or door is, is truly beyond me, as people can still get in…), not so thankfully, none of the keys worked on the gate. This called for us climbing over the fence. I’m in a dress. I can proudly say that I managed it (I may have looked extremely non lady-like or graceful, and I may have put a hole in my leggings when I got stuck on the wooden spike halfway across, but I did it. Unharmed.) Unlike Lee. Who managed to escape with a bloody toe, having had part of the toenail ripped off. Nice!

So here we are in Vientiane. I actually think that this is the first (and hopefully last) place of the trip that I can’t rave about. It started off with:

  • A 10 hour bus journey…not much leg room, barely working air conditioning, and this was the ‘VIP’ option. I genuinely think the only difference was that we got free lunch, which was pretty good actually. To be fair, the scenery along the way was amazing, we went through the mountains, so it was pretty beautiful.
  • An odd little bus station, where our tuk tuk was overfilled and our side was definitely raised up in the air!
  • Vientiane is HOT. Like, the hottest we’ve had it in a while, so we were, not-surprisingly, pretty tired.
  • We went in search of food and could only find a tiny little café type place where they tried to rip us off…maybe we look thick?!

So we were a little disappointed to begin with, though our hotel room is very nice. We visited an arch which reminded us of the Arc de Triumphe (Paris, for the non-educated out there), and its sign even admitted that ‘it looks even less impressive close up’…great!
When we walked down to the Mekong, it was kinda fun seeing Thailand on the other side, but it had an uncanny resemblance (minus the mini palm trees of course), to Otterspool Prom (Liverpool, for those who don’t know the city of greatness).

So here we are, it’s our last night in not only Vientiane, but Laos. We’ve loved Laos, but while we haven’t disliked Vientiane, maybe we won’t come back…?!

All of this to one side, we’re really excited about tomorrow. And when I say excited; I mean like kids on Christmas Eve excited. Why you ask? Because we’re going back to a place that we love. Ok, so tomorrow marks the start of our journey to Siem Reap, and we found some cheap flights (we now are taking our awful malaria tablets for a much shorter time, and save a lot of money) to this lovely place. We’ll only be there for the weekend, before we carry on our way to Siem Reap (Cambodia). But in the sense of fun, I will leave you to guess the location of our detour…please go consult ‘Google Maps’…

(P.S. Please see my Facebook for Laos photos!)

Posted by Jen90 06:03 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

Water water everywhere...

but thankfully there was a drop to drink.

We’re now in the beautiful Luang Prabang, Laos, after spending two days on a boat along the Mekong River! We had decided to get the more expensive slow boat trip (the mid-range one) from Thailand…flashpackers alert!

The trip was really good though, well worth paying more for…everything was easier; getting our visas, finding somewhere to sleep, and eat in the halfway point at Pak Beng.

We were picked up from our hotel in Chiang Khong at 8am, and taken down to get our exit stamps on the Thai side of the Mekong River. We eventually got our lovely triangular stamps before climbing onto a tiny long boat to sail across to the Laos side of the river. There we were met by chaos! Our boat guide took our arrival cards, passport and photograph, and handed them round to the official. We then had to ‘queue’ to pay the US$35 for our visa. The crowd was crazy, nobody really knew where to stand, everyone was pushing and shoving, and rucksacks kept on hitting people in the face! A group full of Americans pushed through us and were letting out whoops whenever their name was called for payment…annoying! Everyone in our group finally got through and we all headed up to the tuk tuks to be taken to our boat.

The two days on the boat were really nice, the scenery along the way was beautiful, we saw elephants, buffalo, cows, goats, and one unfortunate dead pig floating upside down in the river… We went passed rocks shaped like ducks, whirlpools, children playing in the river, while speedboats occasionally sped past us, its occupants wearing helmets, not fun! We sat with two English girls, and chatted to two American guys; John and Wayne (no joke!) and enjoyed cuddles from the baby on board!

We eventually came to the halfway point along the river, Pak Beng, and were taken up to our guesthouse. We’d all been expecting something ‘not so nice’, but the place was lovely, the huge terrace showed beautiful views of the river at both sunrise and sunset (sunrise was sadly hidden by mist), and our rooms were large with our own private bathroom. We all had dinner together and were given some Lao whiskey to try by our boat guide (burns your throat!). The food was really nice, we paid buttons for it, though we had ‘BeerLao’s. We had good conversations with John and Wayne, and another American couple before heading back to our nice cool room…we even found postcards in Pak Beng to add to the collection (a postcard from each place visited!).

The next morning on the boat was amazingly cool, some found it cold, but we enjoyed having goosebumps (horripilation!) that for the first time in months was a result of the weather, and not an over-zealous air conditioning unit! We stopped off a local village, which was interesting, but we felt a bit intrusive, and it felt a bit touristy as scarves were shoved in your face as you walked past. We also visited caves, not too far out from Luang Prabang…our guide pointed out marks on the rocks to show how high the river had swelled to at various years and it was completely insane, scarily high! The view from the caves was really nice too. Unfortunately, today was the day that I decided I really needed to highly embarrass myself. I’m sure you all know that it isn’t hard for me to do, and it’s something I do on a regular basis…but this was worse! I stood up after lunch to go to the bathroom, I’d only walked like 3 steps before I felt something at my feet…my shorts had fallen down! The older Swedish lady was in hysterics, as were everyone else! Lee, Sophia and Sarah also thought I was hilarious…embarrassing! You’ll all be pleased to know that I did actually have leggings on, but seeing somebody’s shorts fall down is apparently hilarious, whether they’ve flashed or not :)

We finally arrived at Luang Prabang, and headed off to walk to our guesthoust, on the other side of the river to the old town. The way to get to our side was by bamboo bridge, and it is the scariest bridge I’ve ever had to walk across! Every step feels like you’re about to fall in, especially while carrying an 11 kg rucksack! The steps leading to and from the bridge are ridiculous too, they’re far too high, anyone with short legs would have to scramble up them! Our guesthouse however is really nice, our room is lovely, and the included breakfast is also very nice!

We really like Luang Prabang, it’s so pretty, and so small, we walked the whole of it one day, and didn’t feel like we’d missed out on much! The food is really cheap, and we’ve already found a favourite restaurant! The Grand Palace, whilst maybe not so grand on the outside, is amazing on the inside, intricately decorated with glass mosaics depicting traditional Lao life. We keep on bumping into people from the boat which is really nice! We’d swapped emails with the English girls on the boat, and are meeting up for food and beer tonight which should be fun. The day after tomorrow we head off on a 10 hour bus journey to Vientiane…how fun!

Some of our Thailand photos are up on facebook for you all :)

View from the guesthouse terrace in Pak Beng

View from the guesthouse terrace in Pak Beng

This is our lovely sunset view from the terrace of our guesthouse/hotel in Pak Beng

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Standing on one of the river beaches along the Mekong River

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One of the elephants we saw here, about to have some fun in the river!

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Here you can see the river at the bottom, I've annotated it so you can see the water height (yes, I am a geographer...). The white line shows the water height in 1966, and the yellow line shows the water line in 2008...scarily high in comparison to what it's like at the moment!

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The view from the caves

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The scary bamboo bridge we walk across 4 times a day!

Sorry if the photos are the wrong way, I did rotate them, but I don't know if it worked on this!

Posted by Jen90 21:44 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

We love bicycles

So here we are in Chiang Rai...our room is pretty nice, but they seem to be pretty minimalist on the whole decoration front, 2 concrete walls, and 2 white walls! A boutique hotel in the making?! Or maybe not, as the B2 seems to be similar to an Etap...

We're becoming a bit bicycle obsessed over here, we rented one in Sukhothai (pronounced Soo-koh-tie), one in Chiang Mai, and we're going to get one tomorrow in Chiang Rai. It's all about waking up early enough to get 3 to 4 hours in before it gets too hot...then a couple of hours to chill before heading out again.

So Sukhothai was amazing, we were only there for a day, but we would have loved to have stayed longer. Sukhothai is Thailands version of Cambodia (or so they call it), and it was amazing to see, so much of it had survived, and you could still see all of the intricate details, definitely can't wait for Angkor Wat now!

Chiang Mai was also pretty amazing, within the walled city they have 27 small wats (temples) alone, plus 3 large ones. We pedalled off in search of as many as we could...we saw stone elephants, horses, dragons...gold plated tigers, and more dragons...2500 yr old buddhas and lots of peaceful looking monks.

So tomorrow we're off to pedal round Chiang Rai, see some of their temples, clock towers etc, before moving on again to Chiang Khong for just 1 night before getting the slow boat to Laos.

So, I'll talk to you all in Luang Prabang!

Posted by Jen90 01:39 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Humidity 37-1 Jenny

You’ll all have seen the friends episode where they’re all in Hawaii…remember Monica’s hair? Now think of Monica’s hair, on me (blonde of course. Or ginger, whatever takes your fancy), and you will have a pretty good idea of what my hair does in humidity. Not a pretty sight. We have recently made an investment purchase however, and it makes both parties happy. Firstly me, because I finally have nice hair; and secondly Lee, as he no longer feels he’s going out with a troll doll. So thank you Tresemme, and the big Boots in Bangkok, hopefully the days of frizz are over (fingers crossed).

So, I’m sure you’re all wanting to know what we’ve been up to in this very quiet blogging period. Well we’ve had:

  1. A delightful 7 hours journey from Koh Lanta to Koh Samui. Bumpy roads + rocky water = travel sickness…not fun!

  1. A very nice 4 nights stay in Koh Samui…our very nice hotel (Hacienda Suite) was right on the beach, we could eat our breakfast on the outdoor terrace, and there was a rooftop pool with amazing views of Bo Phut (our beach) and sunset over the hills (all for a very reasonable price per night!)

  1. An interesting 12 hour journey to Bangkok, flying from a tiny airport on the mainland just off Koh Samui. When I say tiny, I don’t mean Speke in comparison to Manchester airport tiny, I mean my house in comparison to Amsterdam airport tiny!

  1. A realisation that Lee had got directions to our Ibis in Bangkok from a different airport to the one we were landing at…

  1. A taxi ride from a driver who had no clue whatsoever where our hotel was, despite the address, despite Lee’s hand drawn map, despite it being in a main area and despite the map that our lonely planet guide book has of the area…luckily Lee redeemed himself by spotting the Ibis sign down the road (there was no way my dodgy eye could see it!).

  1. A lovely 4 nights in Bangkok, with a breakfast included…if I eat any more pineapple, I may well come home looking like one, just to warn you all now.

  1. A visit to Wat Pho, the largest reclining Buddha. It was amazing, the details that they put in to their temples are fantastic, and they were beautiful and relaxing. We’d covered ourselves up out of respect, and unfortunately it was the hottest day we’d had in Bangkok, so saying we were a little warm would be a very big understatement.

  1. A lovely river cruise (same day as Wat Pho), the views were great, and the breeze we got was lovely…thank goodness for breezes!

So here we are in Bangkok airport (a different one to where we arrived), waiting to board our plane to Sukhothai. Leaving Bangkok kind of signals the start of the second part of our trip. We’ve now been away for 39 days, and it’s going too quickly! We only have a week left in Thailand, which is a bit sad, but we’re looking forward to some crazy travelling days ahead, as we make our way to the Thai-Laos border, where our slow boat awaits!

We were in Bangkok airport when I wrote that, but it turned out I couldn’t upload it. So we’re now sat in our lovely room in Sukhothai (At Home Sukhothai). Our room is so lovely, it’s like our own mini bungalow, with our own very nice bathroom…I wish prices at home were as cheap as this! The main reason I decided to add a little extra is because of Sukhothai airport. Google pictures of ‘Sukhothai Airport’ and you’ll see what I mean when I say it is the prettiest, most lovely airport I’ve ever seen! With giraffes next door! So far Sukhothai has impressed us a lot, it’s a shame we’re only here for 2 nights!

Internet isn't the greatest, so apologies for the lack of photos, as I had meant to put some up. If our internet is better in Chiang Mai then we'll be posting our Thailand photos onto facebook (same as Malaysia and Singapore) :)

Posted by Jen90 03:20 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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