A taste of our trip…
The humid air causes beads of sweat to roll down every vertical surface on our bodies. Everything is sticky, warm and probably crawling with all sorts of devilish bacteria and foreign diseases that would make even the most immune die a long, slow death. The rain appeared suddenly out of no-where in the bustling city causing market holders to spring into action to conserve their precious items and bystanders dash for cover under leaky tin roofs. Skinny cats flee to find shelter and sit licking their fur, congratulating themselves on a lucky escape. Children scream with excitement as the rain pours down, drenching them from head to toe. Motorbikes carrying whole families of helmet-less passengers continue to weave stealthily in and out of traffic. Tuk Tuk’s toot their horns cheekily. We sit in our air conditioned room gazing out at this world through rain stained windows…it is all so unfamiliar and yet vastly intriguing. We are in Bangkok.
Owen in a tuk tuk
Roof tops, Bangkok
Siam Centre in all its extravagance, Bangkok
2. Pattaya- Koh Larn Island
We spent a day on the beautiful island of Koh Larn, which is about 12km off the coast of Pattaya city. We hired a motor bike and spent the day riding around the island stopping at beaches and swimming at our leisure.
Our Hotel view at Jomtien Beach, Pattaya
Floating Market, Pattaya
Floating Market Street Food, Pattaya
Koh Larn Island, Pattaya
Dynamic clouds, Koh Larn Island
Owen enjoyed the bike immensely!
3. Overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Ever since I was a little girl, I had read Richard Scary’s book “What do people do all day” and wanted to go on an overnight train. The pig family all take an overnight train somewhere exciting, have bundles of fun and get pancakes in the morning (that consequently go flying outside as the chef didn’t close the window..haha). You must be careful not to imagine real life experiences as they are played out in children’s story books. Our experience on an overnight train was not wonderful, but it was an experience and for that I’m glad that we did it.
We slept little, woke very early in the morning, ate a very average breakfast and sat watching the unfamiliar but extraordinary lush green foliage race by on our way to Chiang Mai.
O/N train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Owen and I watched amazed as the Carriage Matron magically (or at least, very efficiently) turned our table and chairs into a bunk bed!
4. Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a wonderful city in north Thailand. The atmosphere here is polar opposite from the chaos of Bangkok. People move slowly, meandering along the quiet leafy streets…it’s a city of day dreamers. We are surrounded by mountains and this causes an afternoon shower that is refreshing and therefore welcome. There are lots of trendy cafes selling great coffee and food and a plethora of second hand book shops where Owen and I bought a few novels to get us through the 3 day slow boat trip to Luang Probang. We did a full day cooking course on a farm which was wonderful and learnt all about ethical farming and cooked 6 different Thai meals each. We also hired a motor bike and rode up a very windy and steep mountain to a temple over looking the city. A highlight of the whole trip was on the way back down the mountain, it absolutely bucketed down…it poured and poured. We had a blast weaving through traffic, splashing through the puddles on the road that were quickly becoming rivers and getting completely drenched.
Temple Ornaments, Chiang Mai
Rice at the local market, Chiang Mai
Fresh Produce, Chiang Mai
Thai Cooking Class, Chiang Mai
Left: Owen showing of his beautiful spring rolls. Top Right: Home made curry pastes. Bottom Left: Owen’s Chicken Panang Curry
5. Slow Boat trip from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
I’m writing this sitting on the slow boat from Pak Beng to Luang Prabang as it putts along, hemmed in by lush green mountain ranges on either side. The Mekong river is a large, brown water way with dangerous boulders lurking below, deceptively out of sight. Their only giveaway is the whirlpools of rubbish and debris that circle around these rocks, notify the driver and keep us out of danger. The mountain ranges on either side of us are completely captivating in that they resemble a rather jagged patchwork design. Although incredibly steep, there are patches of short grass, thick jungle like vines, banana plantations and what looks like corn crops. All shades of green with a spattering of yellow here and orange earth there. This place is incredibly remote and the only signs of life are the little villages that are scattered haphazardly along the river or mountains. The little tracks they use are very evident as the earth is a bright orange colour and it shows in great contrast to the ever green hillside. Our trip will take 3 days, it will be long and tedious yet the cool breeze and incredible view just seem to make it all worthwhile.
The boats are very long and narrow, but have a really comfortable seats.
Gorgeous scenery on the slow boat
Little villages, almost camouflaged, dotted along the river side.
6. Luang Prabang
Luang Probang is a city in Northern Laos. It’s is our favourite place so far actually. It’s on old french colonial town on the edge of the Mekong. More great coffee, beer (Beer Lao is very tasty and it comes in a long neck… always), and has delicious french patisseries. Laos is a little more expensive than Thailand as everything has to be imported and the roads in Laos are only just beginning to improve. We took advantage of the wonderful variety of cafes and restaurants while we were here, trying local favourites like herbed fish in a banana leaf and sour pork with tamarind sauce. We also had a great Korean BBQ style meal where we got to cook all our own meats, seafood and vegetables on hot coals. And we had the tastiest Buffalo burger from Lao Lao Garden and a fresh coconut shake to wash it down. All in all a wonderful gastronomical experience to say in the least. We went out to Kuang Si Falls in a tuk tuk with a group of friends for an afternoon, hired a motor bike and explored the city, drove 1 hour to the Pak Ou Caves which are filled with over 4000 Buddha statues and just spent lots of time relaxing and enjoying the quiet, friendly city.
View over Luang Prabang
Every day at 6am, the monks come out in their hundreds to collect ‘alms’ or sticky rice from the local residence. It’s a very old and quaint tradition.
A young monk on his way to the temple
Top 3 photos: Kuang Si Falls, Luang Probang
Top 4 photos: Our adventure to Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang
And that concludes the adventure that was South East Asia. The next leg of our journey will take 40 hours, 4 countries, 3 planes, 3 trains, 2 buses and a tuk tuk, landing us very much in need of a shower in the old city of Lyon, in the south of France. It is from here we launch our EUROPE ‘escapades’. We’ll update the blog again in a month as we fly from Paris to Florence to embark on our second of three farm stays, living with locals and immersing ourselves in the culture. Till then…