He says, she says – Laos

3 March – 20 March 16 days

Places visited: Pakse, Don Det – 4000 islands, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang

Most favourite place:
Charlie: This took me a lot of thought but i think Don Det, but a close second being Vang Vieng. Don Det won because of its amazing waterfalls and the natural aspects. Vang Vieng is also amazing with its monstrous mountains and the sleepy rivers running through them.
Lisa: Don Det was a really interesting place for me. On arrival I was really confused at why people visited for long (some people stay weeks there) but once you got used to the really laid by vibe and explored the surrounding areas it was a really great place to spend your time.

Least favourite place:
Charlie: We passed through Pakse for one night and didn’t really get a chance to see if and judge it too well, but having said that, it seemed a bit characterless to me.
Lisa: Pakse was pretty unimpressive but we only spent one night there between crossing the Thai border and getting to Don Det, if I had to pick another place then I would say Luang Prabang. Whilst the town is quite a lot nicer than the others, I felt it was also the most developed and there wasn’t as much to do or see there. Don Det and Vang Vieng had the most beautiful scenery around them that I didn’t feel Luang Prabang could compete with.

Most favourite dish:
Charlie: The crispy pork! I discovered it too late and only managed to have it a couple of times though. I had something similar in Thailand, so maybe its not a great answer but i still miss that stuff!
Lisa: The Luang Prabang sausage was my favourite, although I only had it once. It’s filled with loads of herbs and the one we tried came with a really nice homemade eggplant chutney.

Best experience:
Charlie: We did so many cool things that this is hard to pick just one! I think the sunset bar in Don Det was awesome, jumping into the river from a high drop. We met the cutest little girl there too, who we spent a sunset with too which was so fun!
Lisa: I really enjoyed floating around the Mekong in Vang Vieng, especially at the Smile Bar where they had tied up tubes so you could get a drink and float there without moving whilst the sun set.

Worst experience:
Charlie: I think the night bus was probably the worst. The length of the bed meant we both had to sleep on a 5 ft single bed in a cramped spooning position. i need space to sleep so this meant i didn’t get much shut eye. Lisa of course managed to doze off well before me, but even she struggled!
Lisa: Our journey from Don Det to Vang Vieng which took a long 28 hours. Not only was in uncomfortable, we had a lot of waiting around, being messed about a little and were 4 hours late.

Something you will miss:
Charlie: The natural beauty of the country. Even with it being the dry season, we got to see some awesome natural landmarks. Waterfalls and dolphins in 4000 Island, towering mountains and cliffs in Vang Vieng, and swimming in the Mekong in all the places as it stretches the length of the country!
Lisa: The landscapes in Laos were beautiful, especially the Mekong and the mountains as they provided amazing sunsets.

Something you won’t miss:
Charlie: We’ve noticed it a lot on the second half of the trip. When you take the buses, they seem to drive you right through town, often past your hotel and back out the other side of town. Funnily enough theres a crowd of Tuk Tuks waiting for you in this random car park, charging huge amounts (in relative terms) for you to be taken back into town. It always frustrates me!
Lisa: Nothing seems to run on time in Laos. It’s a very sleepy place that seems to run on its own time which can be annoying when getting between places as you are always told the journey will be much shorter than it actually is.


Relaxing and recovering in Luang Prabang

We woke up early for our bus to Luang Prabang and unfortunately I was still feeling like I was getting sick. The journey was comfortable enough and the bus even stopped for us to take photos of nice views. We arrived and went to a cafe with Mike and Becki for lunch and to use the wifi to find somewhere to stay. The accommodation in Luang Prabang was quite expensive but we all found a place we liked and headed there. When we got there the receptionist said they only had one room and because Mike and Becki had already paid for theres we said they should take it. Charlie and I put our bags back on and went walking around town to find something else. We came across this nice little place on the main street which was cheap enough and looked pretty nice. We took our bags off and got showered before heading out for dinner near the night market. When we got back to our room there was about 10 mosquitos in the room which we thought was weird as we didn’t have any windows for them to come through. After going around the room killing them all we chilled out and fell asleep.

The next day I woke up feeling really rough, the sick feeling I had felt the past few days had turned into a really good head cold. We had to go to the Vietnamese Embassy to apply for a visa so we headed there dropped off our passports, filled out a quick form and were told to come back in 48 hours to collect them, it was so easy! Afterwards we went out for some food and I decided to just rest for the day. We went back to the room where I could have a nap and hopefully feel better. In the afternoon we headed out again for a drink and dinner and organised to meet up with Mike and Becki the next day to visit some waterfalls.

We woke up to meet Mike and Becki for breakfast before setting off to the waterfalls. We arranged a tuk tuk for the day to take us to two waterfalls. We arrived at Kuang Si Waterfall after almost an hours drive. At the start of the waterfall they have a bear rescue centre where you can see moon and sun bears playing in an enclosure. The conditions of the enclosure were quite good but we didn’t really know where the bears had been rescued from. They seemed happy enough though.17159085_10154244967111176_8408138891496691608_oWe continued onto the waterfall which was beautiful. The water was really blue and there were lots of different levels. 17310173_10154256279536176_5572227412756317921_oThere was also lots of colourful butterflies everywhere which Charlie managed to get some photos of. 17359335_10154244967451176_7263823448935281189_oLots of people were enjoying a swim in the lagoons but it did get quite crowded quickly as more and more tour groups showed up, because of this we decided to leave and head to the next waterfall so we could have a swim there. The journey was another long one and when we got dropped off our driver explained we had to pay to get a boat to take us across the river to where the waterfall is. We all paid for a boat and headed down the river to where you can walk up to the waterfall. Once we arrived there were some other tourists at the entrance who told us not to bother as there was no water. So we had paid to get to a dry waterfall… a common trend for Charlie and I lately. We decided not to pay the entry fee and head back to town. Charlie and I enjoyed killing another 20 mosquitos when we got in, got showered and met Mike and Becki at a restaurant for dinner. It was there last night in Luang Prabang and the last night we would have with them. We had a nice dinner before saying our goodbyes, we had really enjoyed travelling with them over the past 2 weeks.

Charlie and I spent the rest of our time relaxing in Luang Prabang. We checked into a much nicer hotel with no mosquitos and good wifi. We explored the night market both the handicrafts and the food. We went to a food stall where you got an empty bowl for £1.50 and could fill it with all the food they had cooked but it was really disappointing… Not only was everything cold but it was pretty flavourless. I still wasn’t feeling great and this cold was really hard to shake so our days were very slow and I spent a lot of time editing video footage for our Laos video. We enjoyed our time in Luang Prabang but feel like we preferred Don Det and Vang Vieng much more. We did get some more nice sunsets there though!17493093_10154263640841176_3916633799665562109_o17310216_10154263640966176_1456408677356127078_oNext stop – Vietnam!

Floating down the Mekong in Vang Vieng

We had a bit of a mammoth journey ahead of us to get from Don Det to Vang Vieng. Most people stop in Vientiane but we weren’t really interested in going there so we decided to skip it. This meant that we had to get a boat from Don Det to the mainland, followed by a 3 hour bus to Pakse where we would wait 5 hours for the night bus. The night bus would then take 10 hours to Vientiane where we would switch buses onward to Vang Vieng. Sounded annoying but simple enough. Sadly it didn’t go so smooth.

Our boat and bus to Pakse was on time and as comfortable as it could be. We then spent 5 hours having some lunch and using the wifi in a cafe before a tuk tuk showed up to transfer us to the bus station. At the bus station our bus hadn’t arrived yet but we had hope for a comfortable bus journey as the buses that were there already looked quite nice. Some even had TVs and wifi. When our bus showed up we couldn’t believe it. Not only was it ancient compared to the other ones but the windscreen had a massive crack going all the way through it. When we went to get on the bus the driver ran back over with about 10 air freshners to put in there before we got on… great! The bus of course wasn’t comfortable, we were on the top level in a ‘double’ sleeper bed which was really made for just one person. On arrival to Vientiane we got off the bus very tired after an awful night sleep to be told the bus to Vang Vieng leaves from a different station. Lots of tuk tuk drivers were trying to get us to pay them to take us there but we refused and went looking for more information. The man at the ticket office told us to wait in a corner and that a bus would come to get us in an hours time. 2 hours later a minibus showed up to collect us and some other confused tourists, we thought finally we were on our way… wrong again. We were then dropped off at a booking office where we had to ‘check in’ for the bus. Another hour later we were finally on our way, running very late. We were obviously relieved when we finally arrived at Vang Vieng 28 hours later.

Once we arrived we set off and found a place to stay. Diandra and Luigi who we travelled with in Myanmar were in Vang Vieng too so we had a little rest in our room before meeting up with them in the evening. We caught up on each others travels over dinner before heading to one of the bars that was serving free beer and whiskey for an hour. After a couple of drinks there we said we would head out for one more drink before going back to our rooms. Once we were there though the drinks kept coming and all of a sudden we were in a tuk tuk heading to a jungle party. To call it a jungle party was a bit odd, it wasn’t really in the jungle and was just 4kms out of town.17349837_10155252190234994_2433548817344771691_oIt was still interesting to see, there were lots of fire performers but also a lot of drunk people and although we were a few drinks in, we really weren’t at the level of the people there. We stayed for an hour or so before heading back into town, getting some more food and back to our rooms.

The next day we decided to go with Diandra and Luigi as well as Jacob and Mary (a dutch couple we met the night before) to the Blue Lagoon. We arranged a tuk tuk to take us there, wait 2 hours and bring us back. The lagoon was really nice but as it was a weekend the whole place was filled with locals and tourists and it was just a bit too busy for our likings.17240485_10154241449876176_89713688454132799_oWe found a restaurant and got some lunch whilst dipping in and out of the lagoon to cool down. There was a tree you could climb where you jump off one of the branches into the water which some of the group enjoyed and we found a huge spider on one of the trees. 17218524_10154241450111176_6545286749251876047_oOnce we got back we got showered and then headed out to meet Diandra and Luigi at a place called Smile Bar. The walk there was really nice as the surroundings of Vang Vieng are beautiful and there was a really cool wooden bridge to walk over.17192257_10155252186344994_5747845346511900950_oOnce we arrived the bar was awesome, it is full of open wooden bungalows with hammocks along the riverside and you can lay in the tied up tubes in the river. 17240032_10154241948546176_1670597535839720330_oAfter a drink there we all went out to dinner in town before heading home.

Mike and Becki arrived in Vang Vieng and the four of us decided to go tubing. The tubing was pretty famous here because it used to be a huge party the whole way down the river with loads of bars and rope swings for people to spend the whole day at. It got a pretty bad name as there were quite a few deaths and they shut it down for a few years however the town experienced a massive decrease in tourism so they opened it up again with restrictions. The restrictions are that now there aren’t really any rope swings, there certainly weren’t any when we were there as it was dry season and the river was quite low. They only allow 2 bars to be open on the whole river which is an attempt to control how drunk people get although after experiencing it, it definitely isn’t working as people just spend more time getting drunk at the first bar. We arrived at the first bar only 50 metres down from there they drop you off with your tube and it was again not really our thing, there were lots of very drunk people (at 1pm) all playing drinking games and being generally a bit annoying. The four of us found a table outside the bar and enjoyed a beer there whilst chatting to some other people who were seated outside. In an attempt to get to the second bar before the crazies came we left and floated down to an almost empty bar, which was annoyingly only another 50 metres down the river.17310956_10155252186484994_3507257563814973762_oWe enjoyed about half a beer before everyone else started showing up. We got chatting to a few other nice travellers before I got kicked in the face by a flying soccer ball. Some drunk fool had decided to kick the soccer ball into the bar as hard as he could and unfortunately the whole left side of my face stopped it. We finished our drinks and floated down the Mekong until dark.17218688_10155258380929994_4247567372016192202_oOnce we got back into town and dropped off our tubes, Charlie and I decided to get some take away food and take it back to the room. I ordered a soup which came in a plastic bag, the way locals get theirs so it was quite amusing to try and eat my noodle soup from a plastic bag in our room.

The next day we got up and had a late breakfast in town where Mike and Becki met us to make plans for the day. We decided to walk to Them Chong Cave just out of town. We all walked there in the mid day heat which wasn’t the most enjoyable but luckily it was an easy enough walk. The cave was quite impressive, it was really big inside and where villages used to hide during the civil war.17310193_10154241945596176_1217687440336846128_oIt also had a pretty impressive viewpoint inside the cave.17239988_10154241945586176_5840941825137689207_oAfter the cave we headed to Smile Bar to float in the tubes and relax for a couple hours.17434916_10155283472144994_3723592316952725641_oMike and Becki had an amazing hotel where you got a great view of the town during sunset so we got a beer and headed there to watch the sunset. While we were there we got to witness hundreds of bats flying out from one of the mountains which was a great surprise!17218691_10154241985906176_4543959023061185007_o The view was amazing but I started getting a really sore throat so Charlie and I headed out to grab some food and got a bus booked for the next day to Luang Prabang.17218579_10154241987326176_7886527520437737243_oWe had a great time in Vang Vieng. We had been warned that it was just a party town but you can definitely go there and make it how you want it. The scenery around the town is stunning and we could have easily spent more time there.17349827_10154241947986176_3407801589507525568_o17240610_10154241945016176_2091503313908978893_o

Been there Don Det

We woke up and set off early at 8am for Don Det. Our trip was to be much easier and faster than our previous journey from Thailand to Laos and we were quite excited to have a few nights chilling out on the island. After a 3 hour bus ride we arrived to the dock where we had a quick 5 minute boat ride to Don Det. When we arrived I left Charlie with a beer at a restaurant whilst I went on the hunt for a room for us. I found a guesthouse which was clean, quite new and had the option for air conditioning. We ate a quick lunch at the restaurant before checking in, showering and having a little rest. We headed to a place called sunset bungalows for a beer and to watch the sunset over the mekong river. The place was really cool as it had a ledge that you could run off and jump into the water from.17310909_10154239043936176_5735965403108370038_oWe met another group of travellers before heading to dinner. Don Det is a really chilled out, relaxing place and so the restaurant we ate in was playing friends in order on repeat. We ended up having dinner and a couple of drinks there whilst watching TV before heading to bed.

We woke up for our first full day on the island and decided to hire push bikes to ride over to Don Khone, which is a larger island next to Don Det. We set out in the mid day heat, crossed the bridge and headed to a waterfall which was on our map.17039425_10154221701131176_812669537251749391_oThe waterfall was quite disappointing but another group of travellers pointed us in the direction of a beach. We rode to the beach and enjoyed a nice cool drink in one of the restaurants there.17192656_10155234074604994_5761475535091677532_oThe restaurant owners son was very interested in Charlie’s camera so Charlie spent some time with him, letting him take some photos with it. There was a couple on the table next to us who also had some nice camera equipment so the young boy would swap between their table and ours. The beach was really nice but we didn’t wear our bathers so we just had a walk around and admired the views on offer.17097753_10155234072759994_8991147462391634533_oWe then set out to find the waterfall park at the top of the island. After a 10 minute ride we came across the entrance and parked our bikes. The waterfall was more like a huge set of rapids but it was really beautiful.17159097_10154230498941176_8785160065743550740_oWe ran into the other couple from the beach restaurant and the guy, Mike, was flying a drone. Charlie couldn’t resist and ran over to ask him loads of questions and see how it works. Mike is actually a professional photographer back home so he and Charlie had quite a lot to talk about. After an hour meeting Mike and Becki we headed off back to Don Det to get showered and head to our favourite sunset spot.17218482_10154239051306176_6204983716199484640_oAfter another sunset beer and swim in the Mekong we headed to dinner and on the way ran into Mike and Becki. We decided to eat with them at a place they recommended. The food was nice and it was nice to get to know them more. We made plans with them to meet the next day for breakfast.

We woke up wanting to go on a kayaking tour but after realising we needed to book the night before we decided to have a chilled out day on the island. We met Mike and Becki for breakfast at the restaurant that plays friends on repeat. We caught up with them, watched friends and used the wifi to plan our next few weeks in Laos. That evening we all headed to Sunset Bungalows for a drink and a swim where we met a cute little girl called May. She took a real liking to Charlie so the two of them waved and laughed at boats going past, whilst dancing to Katy Perry.17239635_10155252173549994_8188252633632789874_oMike and Becki came to meet us so afterwards we headed out again to grab some dinner together. After dinner we booked onto the kayaking tour for the next day and book our onward travel for the day after.

The kayaking tour started at Green Paradise for breakfast which was included in the tour. We filled up on Pad Thai style noodles and scrambled eggs before climbing down to the Mekong and getting into our Kayaks. We kayaked down stream for about 45 minutes before stopping at another island to go visit another waterfall.The walk there was really nice as we passed through a village where kids kept running out to say hi to us. The waterfall was really nice and much safer than the rapids (although still very powerful) so our guide got some people to go along the rocks and under the fall. Charlie went alone as I am too much of a scaredy cat sometimes but it looked like a lot of fun.17310023_10155252175544994_6300121359914295376_oWe then walked through the island to a beach area where our guide cooked us some bbq skewers and rice for lunch. We then jumped back in our kayaks and continued downstream through some grade 2 rapids which was really fun. The next part of the tour was to see the rare irrawady dolphins. We originally were told at the office there were only 7 left, however our guide believes there are only 3. We were lucky enough to see 2 of them though, albeit from a distance. We then kayaked to another island to visit another waterfall/rapids.17212048_10154239044626176_3302446458893385432_o17240691_10154239040936176_6818827410689191148_oHere we got to watch Mike fly the drone again and have drink at a restaurant before setting off one last time to Kayak back (much to my disappointment – kayaking is hard work!).

We had a fairly chilled evening after Kayaking. We headed to sunset bar with Mike and Becki, as well as another couple from Kayaking, Dan and Beth. We all enjoyed a drink and a swim before heading for an early dinner and then back to the room to packed our bags. We really enjoyed out time in Don Det, it was the perfect combination of relaxing and exploring.

Sunrise to sunset in Bagan

The bus ride to Bagan took around 6 hours and if the road conditions were better, it would have been quite a comfortable journey. The ‘VIP’ overnight buses in Myanmar are actually quite spacious. On this particular journey we had a tv in the back of the seat and they even stopped at a restaurant for our dinner which was included in the price! Sadly due to the roads being so bad, its almost certain you are in for quite a bumpy ride.

Arriving at 3.45am ahead of schedule was kind of annoying as we didn’t get as much sleep as we thought we would have. We were dropped outside of town and therefore were forced to pay quite an overpriced fare to get a taxi to the hotel. We drove up to the ticketing gate where tourist have to pay a fee (25,000 Kyats / £14) to enter Bagan, this ticket then gives you access to all the pagodas and temples which isn’t too bad considering there is around 2000 of them.

Our hotel were kind enough to let us check in early, so we dumped our bags off in the room and decided whilst we were up we may as well enjoy our first sunrise here. There was a pagoda 3kms away we had been told was good to watch from so we headed out in the dark, walking quite quickly to ensure we got there in plenty of time. The fun but also annoying thing about Bagan is that some of the pagodas have a ‘key master’ who locks them at night and opens them in the morning. This means that you need to find a sunrise pagoda that will be open. The first one we tried was locked but luckily the next one we found didn’t have a gate. The staircases in the pagodas are very narrow and small meaning those who don’t like confined spaces (like me) will not enjoy going up or down them. Luckily sunrise was approaching so we didn’t have time to waste, also the staircases were full of mozzies so I had no other choice once I was inside and just ran up as quickly as I could. The sunrise was really nice but what was really amazing was that when the hot air balloons were up, they came right over the top of us, making for some pretty great pictures.17038574_10155212829569994_4897714241080400021_oThe hot air balloon rides in Bagan are famous and the season runs until March so we were lucky to here at the time. We found out it costs $380 per person!!! We also felt that we wanted the view with the balloons, which you obviously wouldn’t get if you were up there. 16991968_10154198912756176_4121071201033575209_o17016851_10154197597456176_2204713242663922862_oAfter sunrise we headed out for breakfast with everyone before heading back to our hotels for a rest. I still wasn’t feeling 100% and was still struggling to eat a bit so I was happy to have a rest.

That afternoon we headed out with Heike and Julia to get a snack, the walk to the restaurant almost made me faint and I was feeling quite bad again as I hadn’t been able to eat properly. I decided to go back to the hotel with some food so I could eat in the aircon as the heat wasn’t helping me. I managed to eat most of my dinner and watch a couple of shark documentaries before falling asleep at 8pm. Charlie had gone out with the others to watch the sunset and then get some dinner.17016994_10154197698916176_645629017390190087_o17039069_10154197698861176_7393355467633041613_oThe next morning we woke up for another sunrise. Still not 100% I was very happy that today we were all hiring e-bikes to drive ourselves around the pagodas on. We headed out to a pagoda much further away to get a different view of the sunrise and the balloons. As usual there was a cramped mozzie infested tunnel to climb up but luckily the sunrise was worth it. The balloons were further from us today but still came along either side of the pagoda we were on and we were really happy with the recommendations we had been given.17016114_10154199224061176_7510423973062273003_o16991974_10154198912196176_8820783653511435634_o16836622_10154199178291176_2263939940057434845_oSome of the pagodas were known to get really crowded at sunrise but so far we had managed to escape the big crowds. We went back to the hotel for a little rest and to get our e-bikes battery recharged. After the mid day sun had settled a little we were back out exploring, annoyingly the shop had given us a different e-bike which didn’t have much charge on it and we didn’t realise until we were out so Charlie and I had to turn back to go get the battery changed. Luckily we did as on the way home our bikes battery was almost dead and we were pretty much rolling there (sometimes at as little as 5km per hour). We ended up missing one or two of the pagodas we wanted to see because of this but managed to get ourselves to the sunset pagoda in time to meet the others.16991558_10154199184581176_5690989643330815843_o17016932_10154199184776176_2057979346080650796_oWe had one more morning in Bagan and whilst I didn’t want to get up for sunrise again, Charlie was very good to convince me that we may as well while we were here. We walked again this time hoping to find another one close by. We tried a few with no luck / no sign of the key master and we were about to go back to the one we knew from the first morning before we could see some small figures on the top of one nearby. We headed there, climbed up and found a spot just in time for sunrise. The sunrise was probably the least impressive of the 3 due to the balloons being so far away but the sunrise itself was still very beautiful. It was interesting to see that every day the sunrise changed and the balloons went in different directions, which was why getting up each morning was worth it.16836355_10154197698101176_8650856206020230692_o

Trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake

Our 9 hour night bus journey wasn’t as comfortable as we had hoped. The bus itself was comfortable and even provided snacks, a blanket and had a toilet. Sadly the driver was a bit of a maniac and the roads were quite bumpy so the quality of sleep we got was not too good. We arrived in Kalaw at 4am and had until 8am to wait around for the trekking office to open. The only thing open was an open air tea shop which wouldn’t have been bad in the day but the evenings in Kalaw get down to 10 degrees so we all sat around freezing whilst drinking hot tea for 4 hours.

Finally we went to the trekking office and after a long winded hour and a half of sorting out 35 tourists into 3 groups we had been assigned a group of 11 and a guide. In our group was the 6 of us who had travelled to Yangon plus another 5 people who were either travelling together or solo. A big mix of Australians, Germans, a Brazilian girl a Polish girl, a guy from Colombia and Charlie. Our guide was a 19 year old girl from Inle Lake called Ooh Ooh. For 40,000 kyats each (around £23.50) we had our guide, 2 nights accommodation, 7 meals, a boat tour of Inle Lake on our arrival as well as our big bags transported to our hotels. 

The trek to Inle Lake would take 3 days and cover 65km of hills. We set off at 9.30am for a mostly uphill walk through ‘jungle’. It was lovely but the jungle wasn’t the jungle we imagined, it was more of a forest. We made it to the viewpoint where we were given time for a rest and lunch. The view was amazing and we got to eat right on the end of it. We were given nepalese style bread with traditional Burmese Tea Leaf salad, non traditional avocado salad and lots of fruit. Our guide was a young 19 year old called Ooh Ooh who never seemed to get tired, whilst we all struggled uphill, she would just be powering on up front.17015774_10154197299251176_5648007295460664436_oWe continued to walk for another couple hours before having a tea break in a local village in one of the villages house. He was retired and he and his wife looked after their grandson during the day whilst in kids were at work in the fields. The little boy was so cute and kept blowing us all kisses. We also found out that most of the people in these rural villages have their own language and there are around 500 different languages in Myanmar. This means that the villages are left alone but also that they cannot really leave their village as they do not know the Burmese language.16825850_10154181175091176_6018532197525194254_oWe then continued walking until dark where we passed by local villages, rice paddies and plenty more amazing views.
trek-3We arrived at the village we would be sleeping in and were greeted by a lovely family who were preparing our dinner. The house was basic, as expected, with a shed squat toilet and thin mattresses lined up in the upstairs room with warm blankets for us to sleep on. The dinner was amazing and very filling consisting of a soup starter followed by lots of different dishes to have with rice. We were all so exhausted when we finished eating and were in bed by 9pm.

We woke up after a surprisingly good sleep to breakfast prepared by the family again. We ate, got ourselves ready for the day at set off by 8.30am. Ooh Ooh had told us today would consist of a lot of walking up and down and up and down and that it would be easy. It is amazing what she finds easy, whilst it wasn’t too hard the ups were quite steep still but not as steep as the day before.trek-6We stopped at a small tea shop for a break before heading off and continuing until lunch. We walked through paddies where we stopped where a family of 6 were working and Ooh Ooh translated as they explained what they were doing. They were ginger famers and they gave us lots of free ginger to make tea out of later. The male also told Ooh Ooh that he thought Charlie looked like a football player. We continued up to the village we were to have lunch in and were given a nice break out of the hot sun for an hour or so where a cheeky puppy chewed up one of Ooh Oohs socks. She didn’t want anyones spare socks so she continued the rest of the day and the next day with only one sock!

 After lunch we got to walk past a 13th century pagoda which was really cool as it was so old and reminded me of the Angkor Wat temples. I also had some Haribo sweets/lollies in my bag and gave some to Ooh Ooh who had never tried them before. She loved them so I said I would save some more for tomorrow.trek-1We continued to walk until dark again but this time we got to walk along one of the train tracks, the trains here are so slow that if one was to come we would have plenty of time to move off the track but Ooh Ooh had timed it just right and as soon as we got off the tracks onto the next path the train went by. We also walked passed another village where Charlie, Heiki and I got chased by a water buffalo up hill. We escaped and had a rest at the top admiring the view. We continued to walk along little paths until we reached one of Ooh Oohs favourite views. We stayed there for a brief moment before being rushed up the hill towards to village we would be sleeping in to see the sunset.trek-7The sunset was really pretty and the view was one of my favourites on the trip. We also got to see all the villages coming back from their days work. We arrived to the village and met the next family we would stay with. We had a nice meal and they made a fire for us to sit around. The amount of stars in the sky was so pretty and it was so clear you could make out the milky way. It was such an amazing day to see how local villages live and we felt lucky to see its authenticity before tourism and technology changes it.trek-10We woke up and had a typical Burmese style breakfast of potato and rice which had really nice flavours for something so simple. Ooh Ooh put some Thanaka on all of us which is a burmese paste that they wear as protection from the sun.
We then headed off for our last day of trekking, all feeling a little sad that this experience was coming to an end. We walked through more villages where we got to see the local primary school and watch locals make bamboo baskets. trek-4We had a tea stop where Ooh Ooh bought some of the local red chewing tobacco that they wrap in leaves with different spices. Charlie tried one but said it wasn’t very nice. We continued to walk down all day finally arriving at lunch in a bamboo stilted restaurant serving home made food on the lake.

The whole trekking experience was amazing and we are both so glad we decided to do it. We met some amazing travellers and got an authentic insight into the culture here that we don’t feel we would have got otherwise.trek-14

Angkor Whaaaatt?!

We left Battambang on a bus to Siem reap along with Paul and Hannah. The bus was shorter than the others we had been on but otherwise much the same, full of locals and karaoke music. As usual we arrived quite a bit later than we should have so the four of us had a beer and some lunch before heading to our accommodation.

We had a quite day when we first got to Siem Reap which was great as we used it to plan / book upcoming travel arrangements. Siem Reap was a really cool city though and we even got to see a few really beautiful orange sunsets during our stay.
Jenna who we met on Koh Rong Samloem was also in Siem Reap as she had one more night before she flew home. Looking forward to catching up with her again, we decided a night out down pub street was in order. We met Jenna for happy hour drinks around 5.30 and not too long after that Paul and Hannah arrived so we continued drinking until we needed some food. We had dinner around the corner on a quieter street before heading back for some more fun. Pub street around 8pm basically turns into a big street party where everyone dances and drinks in the street. Its also cheaper in Cambodia to drink beer than water so it’s an easy place to get into the drinking spirit!
We had a really fun night and don’t have nights like that often on the trip however it did mean we pretty much rode off the following day and we felt quite guilty for wasting it. Also when we woke up we had a message from Jenna saying she had missed her flight! Luckily she only missed the first leg and could get another flight in time for the second one.
One of the main reasons we came to Siem Reap though was to see the Angkor Wat temples! Hannah, Paul, Charlie and I all hired a tuk tuk for the day to take us around all the different temples. It’s basically a big park with loads of different temples inside but the distances between the temples are quite far. We started at Angkor Wat which was impressive but so overcrowded it ruined it a little bit.
The second temple we went to was Ta Prohm which is well known from the movie tomb raider.
It’s also in my opinion far more fascinating that Angkor Wat! The temple has these amazing trees growing all over it and through it.
We were doing well on time so we visited what our driver called a ‘small’ temple which turned out to be massive. Being super hungry we stopped for a lunch break, our driver took us to a place he knew and annoyingly the food was extremely pricey. Full up from our overpriced lunch, we moved onto Bayon. It was very impressive from the outside and inside it was full of faces. It was really cool to walk around and see all the faces in the stone. We then walked back towards the restaurant where our driver was waiting and stopped at a couple more temples along the way including the Terrace of Elephants. Our day ended back at Angkor Wat temple for sunset where we enjoyed a couple of beers on the lake whilst watching quite a disappointing sunset. Sadly it was too cloudy to see the sun but nonetheless it was still really enjoyable.

Our last couple of days in Siem Reap were spent relaxing by the pool and catching up with Paul and Hannah. We had absolutely loved our time in Cambodia and meeting some great friends along the way. We were sad to say goodbye but we were also pretty excited as Charlie’s parents were flying out to Thailand to meet us.