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!

Short stays in Surat Thani

We decided the break up the trip to the islands we would spend a night in Surat Thani either side of our boat journey to and from Koh Tao. To make blogging this easier, I’ve combined both of the nights into one blog post.

We arrived the first time by air from Chiang Mai and after checking into our hotels we dropped our bags off and went for a big walk around the area. We found the night market which we would head back to for dinner and continued to walk along the river. surat-thani-1We ended up walking through lots of different little streets and got to see lots of locals homes which was really interesting, they also seemed a bit surprised to see us which made us think tourists didn’t really venture out their way.surat-thani-2We ended up going back to the night market to pick up some food, got some beers on the way home and then had a picnic together in our room which was really nice. We had an early boat ride the next morning so we called it a night, excited to get to Koh Tao!

When we came back to Surat Thani from Koh Tao we pretty much did the same things as the last time, we walked around the town before heading to dinner. We found a little restaurant to eat at in the night market which was really fun because the market is mostly for locals so the stall owners don’t speak much english. After dinner we went out for some ice creamed. Very full up and tired we headed to bed before our flight to Bangkok the next morning.

Surat Thani was really interesting as it really isn’t that touristy at all. We only ever saw a handful of tourists there when we were there and whilst there isn’t much to do there it was really fun just to walk around and see the lives of the locals.

Temples, Elephants and night markets in Chiang Mai

We arrived into Chiang Mai around midday. We checked in and got ourselves ready before heading out for a big walk around the old city. The city was really interesting, filled with temples and some really cool street art.chiang-mai-6We stopped in at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary office to book our Elephant experience before heading to a night market. The night market was really good, it had lots of stalls for shopping and a separate area for food. The food area looked so modern we almost felt it belonged in Melbourne or London.chiang-mai-3We walked around picking foods from different stalls so we got to try lots of different things. The Chiang Mai sausage was a big hit with all of us, it tasted like a Tom Yum soup flavoured sausage. On our way back we came across a classic car meet up where there were loads of cool trucks and cars that locals own parked up for people to see. We all then headed back to the hotel for an early night, ready for another day of exploring.
chiang-mai-2We woke up and had breakfast at our hotel. We decided to visit one of the many temples in Chiang Mai but one that online looked quite interesting as it had a mix of old and new temples within the one area. We arrived at War Chedi Luang and spent a good hour or so in there visiting all the smaller temples as well as walking around the older one inside. There were lots of monks which made Su very happy as she had taken a liking to taking pictures of them and often followed them around.chiang-mai-5We continued walking around and doing a little shopping, Kev has embraced the culture so much he even purchased a bum gun to install in the Spain house. Taking a little rest back at the hotel to hide from the midday sun we were ready for some more exploring a few hours later with the Saturday night walking street market our main target. It was manic, it was spread over multiple streets which ended up so busy you could hardly move. It was quite stressful so we decided to leave and go get some dinner elsewhere. It was here where we all got to have Khao Soi which is a northern Thailand curry noodle soup and its so so so nice! We had a couple beers before heading home as we had an early start the next morning for our Elephant half day trip.

We woke up at 6am and got picked up to head to Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is an organisation that rescues working elephants and elephants from riding camps. We had done some research as well as heard from others that this was a good place to have an ethical experience with an elephant. The money you spend goes towards the camps as well as buying new elephants off riding camps or an animal circus. After a long and cold ride in the back of a pick up we arrived and had to walk through rice paddies and across bamboo bridges to the camp.chaing-e1 We got given a quick run down of how everything works and what they are doing to help elephants before it was time to meet the elephants. The first interaction we had was feeding. We got to feed the elephants banana and sugar canes and get up close to these amazing animals.chiang-e7Once feeding time was over we were to get changed into our bathers, whilst we were doing this the elephants were left to roam around and some cheeky ones even tried getting up to the changing area.
chiang-e3Next was time for the elephants mud bath, of the 8 elephants at this particular camp only 2 wanted to get in the mud so the others were left to do their own thing which we really liked. The elephants rolled around covering themselves in mud while the rest of us had a little mud fight. After the mud fight it was time for a wash in the river.We got to splash water on them as they rolled around kicking their feet and trunks in the water.chaing-e8We had such a great day and it was an amazing experience. We headed back for a hot shower and to get ready for another night market.

Hoping the Sunday night walking street market wouldn’t be as hectic as the Saturday night one we headed out for a few drinks to ensure we got there a little after it had started. It was manic, possible worse, we tried to entertain it for a little while but again just had to leave. We went for a little walk around before stopping for some dinner at a little local restaurant. We were flying to Surat Thani the next day so we all headed back to pack our bags and get to bed.

On our last day in Chiang Mai we took a tuk tuk to visit the long neck tribe nearby. Whilst this is completely set up for tourism we were told that the members of this tribe fled from Myanmar and are not allowed to get jobs doing anything that a Thai local can do. Hence why they set up a market where tourists can visit and buy their handicrafts. It was really interesting to walk around but we felt it would have been even better if we had of had a guide so we could have asked them more questions as their English was very limited.chaing-village-1chiang-village-2