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!

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.

A not so great day trip to Kanchanaburi

We had a few days in Bangkok and had both wanted to see the bridge over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi. We originally thought that we would go to Kanchanaburi for 2 nights but when we found out the transfer there was the same price as a day trip we decided we may as well stay and just visit for the day. The lady at the travel shop told us it was a great day out, we would get to see the bridge, the World War 2 museum, Death Railway and a waterfall – what could go wrong?

Firstly we were picked up at 7am and taken around the corner to Khao San Road where we waited on the side of the street for another minibus. After much confusion we were finally on our way but being the last 2 people to be confirmed in that particular minibus we were squashed in the back grown with no leg space for the 2.5 hour drive… Brilliant.

On arrival to Kanchanaburi our guide gave us no information about the bridge or the museum but did tell us we only had 45 minutes to see both of them. We quickly walked to the bridge where we were disappointed in the lack of information about it, we kind of expected there would be at least a sign explaining the history.17212067_10154221713016176_7579590424240143486_oAfter this we went to the JEATH World War 2 museum, paid an entry fee and hoped there would be a bit more information in there. Sadly this wasn’t the case and half of the ‘artifacts’ weren’t even from that era. They also had these really weird ‘life like’ statues of famous people throughout certain historical times but they weren’t very lifelike at all and painted blue?17211922_10154221709231176_4921305040765722522_o17192388_10154221703096176_6016691918378430715_oAfter the museum we headed to Death Railway. We paid to get on the train to ride the Hellfire Pass where thousands of people died during the build of this particular train pass. The train was nice but we really didn’t get to see it as we were on top of it, on the train, which was overcrowded and so you couldn’t really look out the windows. After we passed the famous part of the railway the train became less crowded and we got to enjoy the ride a lot more.17192277_10154224593666176_4658482735755938793_oOur guide told us that we would get off at the final stop and head to lunch, only we never made it to the final stop. The train came to a halt and didn’t move for a while. When we looked out the window to see what was happening we realised that a huge tree had fallen across the tracks and we weren’t going to make it to the last stop. Luckily we weren’t too far from the road so our guide called our minibus to come meet us. We all climbed off the train and made our way through the woods to the road.17157504_10154221725941176_2276173778328572310_oWe arrived at lunch which was on the river, the food was average but the view was really lovely and we thought the second half of our day was surely to improve. WRONG! Our guide came around and told us we would head to the waterfall for an hour of free time, we were pretty excited as we had our bathers on and were ready to cool off in some fresh cold water. Except then our guide continued to tell us that due to dry season the waterfall is completely dry. We couldn’t believe our luck. I asked why we were even going and she told us that we are going because it is on the programme. We were both pretty angry at this stage as we really felt like we had been lied to by the lady in the office who showed us photos of a beautiful tall flowing waterfall. We went and walked around the dry cliff that was the ‘waterfall’ before going to 7/11 for ice creams and sitting in the gutter for 20 minutes.17097989_10154221722251176_7754513302340652716_oLast on the agenda for our super fabulous tour was the War Cemetery. We both find cemeteries quite interesting so we were looking forward to having a walk around and reading the head stones. When we arrived we were told we would only have 20 minutes here which was not enough time to visit all areas. It was really nice there though and they obviously are putting a lot of work into keeping looking so good.17239988_10154224594461176_2112190672783779981_oDisappointed in the organisation of the tour yet again, at this stage in the day we could only laugh about it. We got back in the minibus and settled into our tiny squashed seats for the 2.5 hour journey back to Bangkok.

Our final stop in Mandalay

After our last sunrise in Bagan we headed to the hotel to pack our bags and get ready for our bus. We had booked a ‘minibus’ to take us the 5 hours to Mandalay. The first issue we had was the bus, it wasn’t what we were used to as far as a minibus went. It was a very old smaller version of the night buses, but when I say small, there was almost no leg room. I guess they aren’t lying by calling it a minibus, it really just should only be used for transporting small children. The next issue with this bus was the religious chant they then played through the bus for close to an hour before turning on the TV and playing some Burmese Karaoke. The journey felt long and throughout it started filling up more and more with locals. I don’t mind the locals getting on our buses however these ones were all chewing the leaf covered red tobacco, the one you have to continually spit with so when I saw the driver passing around plastic ‘spit bags’ I just put my head down and tried to sleep through the rest of the way. Finally as we got closer to Mandalay we got off the bus and were shown our taxi that would take us to our hotel. The driver opened the boot, put all our bags in and then advised that we would all need to fit into one car. Julia being the smallest was then placed in the boot with our luggage whilst the rest of us squashed in the back seat. Luckily the journey wasn’t too far.
16904608_10154199386761176_6547435355554644638_oFor our first day in Mandalay we spent most of our time walking around and exploring the city. Whilst walking around we came across the most confusing (for us) local eye test sign.16905013_10154199386301176_5147047558094645978_o We went up to Mandalay hill and visited another pagoda.17039188_10154199387691176_519706293008290843_oThere were a lovely group of nuns who were more than happy for us to take their photo, they even spent a minute or two fixing themselves up for it.16903581_10154199387111176_555657655961569128_oAfterwards we had lunch at a restaurant before heading to U-Beign bridge for sunset. The bridge was really busy and quite scary to walk over as it didn’t feel as stable as it was. You could also see the ground as you were walking across the wooden planks. 16991723_10154199836461176_5701087000840008844_o16992535_10154199892746176_7384913067388025053_oThe next day and for our final day in Myanmar we headed out of the city to visit some waterfalls. Our first stop was the jade market which was selling more larger stones than handicraft work. It was still very interesting to see and we got to see the machines they use in production to cut the stones.

The first waterfall we visited was Aniskan falls which was lovely but quite a trek to get to. We got dropped off at the top of the hill where we had to walk down for about 45 minutes over unsteady and steep ground. We spent a little while there soaking our feet in the ice cold pools before building up the courage to walk all the way back up. The walk up is tough and we honestly thought there would be some kind of jeep or car that could take you up for a fee, but there wasn’t. They did however have hammocks on wood where women would put the wood on their shoulders and carry someone in the hammock up to the top. We originally thought a woman had hurt herself when we saw it but we later found out this was the only service provided and one none of us would feel comfortable using. 17097163_10154200098041176_878957932788682301_oOur next waterfall was called Dee Doke and we had read online it wasn’t visited by many tourists. We arrived and had another hike to get to the falls, luckily not as bad as the previous one. The pools were filled with locals playing and hanging out which was really cool. We all jumped in and had a little swim before things got a little uncomfortable as 3 of us girls were in our bikinis and a few of the local men were enjoying looking at us a little too much. We put our sarongs on and dried off before heading back.17097239_10154201347116176_1550985829428861529_oWe didn’t really love Mandalay, it was just another big city to us. We really enjoyed our trip out of the city though, getting to see a different type of landscape and nature to that which we saw on our trek.

Tax free beer and stunning waterfalls in Langkawi

I had read that Langkawi was home to some beautiful beaches before we arrived and we decided to stay near Chenang beach at a place called Rainbow Lodge. It was probably one of the worst rooms we’ve stayed in so far but the location was pretty perfect. img_0713Not only were we close to a gorgeous beach but across the road from our accommodation was some nice green land which had a mumma cow and its baby cows!img_0712Oh and we had a hammock so all was not as awful as the interior. img_0710The sunsets in Langkawi were the best we’ve had on our trip so far! Each night the sunset was different so we enjoyed going down to the beach every night and seeing what was in store for us! Beer is also super cheap as Langkawi is a duty free location. £0.50p for a tiger beer or a Guinness meant we were taking full advantage of afternoon/sunset beers. It’s an easy place to fall into full relaxation mode!

One of the days we hired a scooter and road around half of the island visiting waterfalls. One in particular (Temurun Waterfall) was breathtaking! It was around 200m tall and had a lagoon type pool at the bottom.DCIM100GOPROGOPR0610.While we were there taking in the view a group of young local boys started climbing really high up the waterfall and then got out soap and shampoo and started washing themselves. They then took turns diving into the bottom.img_0711Langkawi was a nice relaxing few days and there is loads of fun things to do there. Sadly we didn’t get to do some of them as the weather was a little temperamental. It was overcast a lot of the time (except our day out to the waterfalls) so we didn’t get to do a boat trip to the caves or the skywalk as it was hidden in the clouds. Definitely somewhere I would love to visit again though.