O.M.B – Luang Prabang & Chiang Mai

Everyone had said Laos was beautiful and they were not wrong, we only went to Luang Prabang but it was stunning and seemed like a normal holiday resort, I could easily see my family going there. The main attraction in Luang Prabang was the Kuang Si Waterfall, it was really
pretty and had so many layers to it with one bit looking like centre parcs!! We went for lunch in a nice restaurant which
looked out over the waterfall and I had my first pineapple shake, so yummy!!
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We found a new love for Asian Night markets whilst in Laos, they are just so much nicer than any market I’ve ever been to, selling little individual things all with such detail! Now everywhere we go we make sure we check out the night market!
One of the coolest dinners we went for was a BBQ along the Mekong River. It was a buffet style thing that you picked and then cooked yourself, one of the yummiest meals to date. A lot better than the next night when I decided to try steamed fish in coconut milk, that sounds good doesn’t it? But no it wasn’t a curry thing as expected it was more of a moose, it was vile and my worst decision yet. Thankfully I had chips on the side so just ate them.

After a great few days in Laos we headed back into Thailand, this time in the north to Chiang Mai. We started off our time here doing our favourite thing, a night market, and this time we decided to eat the food as well. It was so so good, and I found a new love for street food, although it was mostly just meat on a stick and I had a corn on the cob.

We went zip lining on our first day, as of course, we love our adventure days. It was great fun, I loved it all apart from a few times we just abseiled down, which I did not like as they dropped you down really fast. They found it hilarious, I did not. We went in a group with a load of Chinese people and a family from Taiwan. They loved me, eveytime I was scared or a bit out of breath they found it hilarious, definitely should start doing stand up in Asia. We had our first encounter of an Asian wanting their picture taken with a white person. A Chinese girl and her mum asked for a photo, then later on she sat with us at lunch and her mum sneaked up half way through to take photos of us. Odd but also sweet that this was a big thing for her. We were talking about singers and asked her if she knew any English speaking stars. Like me I’m sure you would expect a 19 year old girl to say someone like Beyonce or Rihanna, no, her answer was…. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sarah Brightman, she loves phantom of the opera and many of his other musicals, so we all had a little sing along of Joseph and the Technicolour dream coat. You just can’t make this up!
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On our second day we visited the ‘Happy Elephant home’ a sanctuary for elephants who had been forced to work, like having people ride them etc. We got to feed them in the morning and played a bit in the mud with them and then went out to cut down sugar cane to feed them. Felt like I was back in the fen again doing some farm work. After feeding them that we got to take them down to the river to bathe. It was such an amazing day, they are such a beautiful animal and I loved every moment of it. Also our guide was a ladyboy with the worst hair extensions I have ever seen, she provided laughs throughout the day.
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We went for a night out and had such a laugh, it was good to have a nice dance and we even saw the ladyboy guide from the elephants, she was loving it. The bar played some really good music and a few random classics like the Macarena and early Britney stuff. The Thai loved it, we loved it, everyone was happy. Louise also got hit on by a prostitute, it was hilarious as she kept touching her and kissing her cheek, lou had to keep anti- bactering her face. But then this woman bit her and that was a bit too much so she moved a way. Great laughs for me though!
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On my final full day I just relaxed, Louise went shopping with Jenny and I went off to a pool with Catherine (2 girls who we met in out dorm, they were so nice and it was good to spend some time with others) It felt so good to finally relax and it felt like I was actually on holiday! We all met up again later and went for a massage by ex women prisoners. We just had foot massages which were really good, although I’m pretty sure my lady was mocking me constantly, esp my little toe, as she held it and said something to the others to which they all just laughed. The day got even more random when we went to a ladyboy cabaret show. It was hilarious, these guys really go for it and it’s quite upsetting realising these men have better figures than me!!!

We had a great time there and met some really lovely people. Up next we are headed down to the Thai Islands for a beach holiday/ bit of partying.

Louise’s fact- if you want to learn to barter go to Luang Prabang. She would know, she is the barter queen!

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Vietnam- you can shit like that, you can shoot like that

Vietnam was just how I expected it to be, the cities were crazy busy and the countryside was beautiful. The country is more developed than Cambodia was but still very poor in parts. Driving through I came to the conclusion that towns are just one street with a few motorbike garages and places selling food out of there house garages, no sights of a bundle of houses together.

Our first stop was Ho Chi Minh city. It had so many mopeds it was crazy, I have never seen so many in my life, crossing the roads is mental as of course they don’t seem to have pedestrian crossings and if they do they do not abide by the rules. The main reason we went there was to see the war tunnels, we had a crazy tour guide (see my fb video) he was hilarious and actually I learnt a lot from him, although not sure how much of what he said was the truth. I think he was a Vietnamese man who worked for the US army and took great pleasure in telling us how they trapped the Vietnamese in the tunnels and foiled there plans. Quite odd for telling these stories glorifying the US in a country that hates them for what they did. The title of this blog post comes from him as well when he was explaining how the Vietnamese could stay squatted for so long to shoot from a low range.
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The war remnants museum was probably the place that’s effected me the most since being away. The pictures were so graphic and it made me really despise the Americans. After studying war crimes and genocide at uni I can safely say there was definitely war crimes committed and it disgusts me they have never been fully punished for it.

On our final night we headed out with 3 English lads from our room, we ended up in a very random club which was tiny. I learnt two things: the Vietnamese love Justin Beiber and they love a good beat. They were going crazy in the club. We had to get a 7 hour bus which at first I dreaded but to be honest it was actually alright. We were on the back row at the top in these weird seats which you had to lay down in. Not too uncomfortable and only one other Vietnamese guy in the row who kept his distance. Although after the second stop (they love a toilet break every 90 minutes out here. Mums dream) he started taking photos of us, so we took some back. Strange man.
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Our next stop in Vietnam was Dalat, somewhere we had never heard of but was recommended it by a couple of people so we thought we might as well check it out. Im glad we did as it is among all the mountains and it is pretty stunning. It’s quite a small town which was a welcome break from all the cities, but only just becoming a tourist destination as most places do not have menus in English. We also had the best ever hot chocolate here. Just what I was craving!! (Side note: There are loads of cafes in Vietnam a welcome French influence.)

We stayed at Mr peaces hostel, it is definitely an experience in itself staying there. Mr Peace was very eccentric and liked to hang out with everyone and be everyones friend, but that was cool. His wife was called strawberry and they had a little daughter called Laura who was the most adorable kid ever. Each night they do a ‘family meal’ either eating in or going out and on our second night we joined them at a spring roll place, which was really yummy.

Our big experience in Dalat was canyoning, which was not exactly my forte. Before I went I had no idea what it was, which I think was a good thing, as it is abseiling down cliffs and waterfalls. The first couple of cliffs were dry then at the bottom you dropped into the river, then the third one was the waterfall. He said it was very unlikely for us to fall, well of course I fell as soon as the water pushed down on you, I completely panicked it felt like I just kneeled there for about 5 minutes with my mind blank of what to do. I finally sorted myself out and got back up thankfully. But then I had to watch Louise fall at the same spot. I was terrified for her, watching your best friend stuck dangling on a waterfall is not ideal. The worst part about the day was the rough paths in between each activity. I twisted my ankle badly (I’m gonna say I sprained it as it hurt a lot for a few days after and swelled up) it was not good for me. We also just got chucked down random little waterfalls head first, odd but fun. We also did free jumping, 7 metres off a cliff into the water. We both didn’t do the last abseil, my body could not handle that, all the adrenaline and fear takes it out of you.
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Our final stop in Vietnam was Hanoi, which at first I really didn’t like but it grew on me. We started off badly though as we were dropped off in the wrong place which was scary as the streets were so small and crowded. We walked around for ages trying to find our place asking loads of people and finally discovering there’s two streets with same name but different accents on, so frustrating. But when we got to the hotel it was totally worth it. We stayed at the Posh hotel, which actually was very posh. It was a normal hotel then had a dorm downstairs with the most comfortable beds so far. Whilst here we went to a few museums, which were interesting but the main attraction was
Halong bay. We did a day trip around the bay, we originally was going to stay over night but heard bad things. Thankfully our boat was very nice and had a good meal on board of seafood and rice etc. We went kayaking which at first we were rubbish at but I think we improved by the end. Definetely a good experience. Also went into the caves which were cool but to be honest Cheddar gorge in Somerset had more impressive ones!
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A great week in Vietnam with Laos next on the agenda.

Louise’s fact- The Vietnamese do not understand the term “okie dokie”

Cambodia- follow that tuk tuk

When landing into Siem reap, after only a half an hour flight  I thought the place looked beautiful, a lot of country side with little houses dotted all a round, however, I was wrong, the town was certainly not beautiful and the countryside was all dead grass. It is clearly a very under developed country, driving from the airport to the hostel was definitely a bit of a shock after being in such a big city, as it was just little shacks that lined the streets. Our hostel itself was nice, decent air con, clean sheets and towels provided. Although at first we was put into a room and assigned beds that clearly had people in them, we was soon moved to free beds in a different room with only one other occupant, an older Spanish guy who spends his days travelling the world.

The town itself  gets better the more you explore it, I thought it was just all going to be little shacks but thankfully we kept walking and found civilisation, pub street. A big street filled with bars and tourists, we had a drink there on the second night and finally got speaking to some others which was nice although when tired its too much effort to keep making small talk. The town surprised us even more when we found a hard rock cafe and Costa coffee! We treated ourselves to a decent meal, it was the first time we was able to eat without fear of food poisoning, and it felt so good to do so!! They had a band come play who asked for requests, I went for a classic – Bryan Adams, summer of 69. Surprisingly they knew it and I loved every moment.

The main reason for being in siem reap was of course Angkor Wat. We paid a tuk tuk $18 for the both of us and for 9 hours he drove us around and waited outside each temple, such a good service!! Angkor Wat was pretty magnificent, over such a vast space, although by the end I must admit it got a bit samesie, but we hung a round to climb up the small mountain to watch the sunset, which was spectacular, well worth the wait (side note the Sun sets early about 6pm). The most annoying thing about the day was all the people constantly selling you stuff. “One dollar, one dollar, one dollar” it does slightly do your head in by the end of the day. ( a side note; everything here is in US dollar. You can use their currency but everything is priced in dollar, which they prefer). We had a couple of little girls approach us & segregated us from each other and forcing bracelets on us “if you don’t take it mean you don’t like me” well to be honest I didn’t, I would rather do this trip without being hassled at the entrance and exit of every temple. Don’t worry I  excepted the bracelet and bought a drink from her stall. Although once you buy one thing they try to sell you everything else they own.
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The journey to Phnom Penh was just unbelievably awful. If you’ve ever been in a car with my dad then it will be easier for you to imagine, although take his crazy driving and instead of a decent car make that a 16 seat mini van packed with Cambodians, and oh yeah no suspension!! Driving along roads that was still under construction, worse than most fen roads. It took a nice 6 hours 😦 Surprisingly I wasn’t sick, quite an achievement in itself I think, although I do think my organs may have been misplaced!

Down in Phnom Penh we stayed at a mad monkey hostel, which we heard was quite a party place and on our second night we discovered it definitely was. It was so nice to just relax, drink and make some new friends, so many Australians out here it’s ridiculous!

On our first day we visited the killing fields and S-21 Genocide museum. Both were quite hard hitting but so interesting, after studying it at uni for a term it was great to actually come out here and see it. It was absolutely awful what happened here but these memoriams certainly are the perfect away to remember the loss of life.
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The next day we went to the royal palace, which was beautiful but rather small when comparing it to Buckingham Palace. We went round there with a German girl from our dorm and a Dutch girl who we met when getting the tuk tuk. It was cool to have some more people to go around with, added something different to the conversations. We all decided we would treat ourselves to a massage, we all went for the native ‘Khmer massage’. Well massage is certainly a word that should be used loosely when describing my hour of being stretched and slapped, even slapped my head. I had a guy doing mine but thankfully I was still in a room with Lou. The masseuse were up on the beds straddling you, kneeing you in the back, lifting you up. Odd odd experience (you are fully dressed in this baggy outfit they give you).

The final night we went out, and we went hard. I may have drank slightly too much 😦 Definitely paying for it the next day. But we finally met some English people and a nice bunch on Canadians so had a really good night out on a mini bar crawl which was so much fun.

Off to Vietnam we go with me feeling sick and taking another plane bleugh.

Louise’s fact- Cambodia isn’t as cheap as you think!

We own Bangkok

Starting out in Bangkok worried me, completely different culture & language as well as bad stories I had heard. I need not have worried, what I found was an up and coming city filled with hard working/ friendly people who couldn’t do enough for you, yes it may have been a bit smelly in places and dirty but it is a city after all. People said we would start of loving it but in the end hate, quite the contrary at first I was suspicious but by the end I really enjoyed myself and would recommend it.

Whilst there we did the usual touristy things we visited Koh san road which was not as crazy as I thought it would be, more like a malia strip. We just had a couple of beers and watched everyone, including a lot of drunk Brits. Only odd thing was the men holding up signs for ping pong shows and monkey blowjobs-what ever they are. We also visited some temple, the architecture on these is magnificent such intricate details which are beautiful and very peaceful. Best thing I saw was the reclining Buddha in Wat Pho which I heard was big but that did not prepare me for the size of it. Massive. Definitely gonna get one created of my self when I’m old and rich. We then went on to the Grand palace which like the temples was set over a huge area. It had very pretty temples within the grounds including the Emerald Buddha. The other Temples we visited lacked information but this did not, here it filled in history questions and a lot about the royal family etc. Palace itself I thought was very European but with a Thai style roof. We got along the river on a long tail speed boat, it was a rip off but very fun.

I was excited we got to ride in a Tuk tuk- crazy driving esp as roads are so busy as like any city. We also rode the Bts- which is there over ground train system I found this a lot better than London underground. It had good air con and little lights on the map to show where you are. It was also very cheap and it seems the wealthy people ride it as opposed to the buses.

An added bonus to our trip was a visit to a Health clinic, Louise convinced herself she got rabies from treading in a puddle. Here are some facts about rabies we learnt, once airborne it doesn’t survive long, the virus needs a host to survive and once hits water it is killed. A nice thai doctor confirmed this for us in a dodgy clinic which was useful to have although it was said by everyone to be a clinic for passion haha. We also had to go to the Vietnamese embassy- which was not what we expected, it was just a little shack with a fan, not the place to be when I was already over heating.

My traveling partner would like to give a fact each time, her fact of Bangkok is- the pavements are bad.

Just arrived in Cambodia already know my next blog post will be full of some disasters!

And so it begins…

Our adventure started at 4am UK time, early start but certainly worth it. The flights here were actually OK, the food that came round was a curry which I tried but didn’t eat much of it as it was spicy. But I did accept a hot chicken wrap later on which was a flavour I’d never tasted before but loved it! (I love food so knowing me this may turn into a food blog)

Stopped over in Mumbai which was a mad rush with some very shouty security staff. The airport was lovely though, shame we didn’t have an extra hour to explore it more.  The next flight dragged, only 4 hours but it felt like forever.

Arriving in Bangkok it was 7:30am local time and 26° heat. The heat is very odd, no wind just very warm air! The hotel is tucked down a side street but it is lovely, and the staff are so friendly, can’t do enough for you. We was supposed to go to the Vietnamese embassy to get our visas but instead our 2 hour nap turned into 7 hours, bur it’s definitely important to catch up on your sleep whenever you can.  We ventured out to get dinner, the area we are in is very built up with big skyscrapers, the business district- Sukhumvit. We first went into a Argentinan steak house, although after sitting down we realised we could not afford it and literally ran out,so cringe. We resisted the kfc, McDonalds and starbucks on our road and ended up in a Thai restaurant at the top of a huge shopping centre, the food looked OK, tasted good as well. One meal down so should be able to survive the rest!

Little pamper session back in the hotel and off to bed we went.